“I dreamed of becoming a chemist (which my children assure me reveals the true geekiness at the core of my personality). I changed my mind on the day that I set my hair on fire—think long, dangling braids, think Bunsen burner….A chemistry lab is a dangerous place for an absent-minded daydreamer of a student—namely, me.”—American science and history author and journalist Deborah Blum, The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York (2010)
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
"There was some kind of passion between them. It gave off a faint wrong smoky odor, like something burning where it shouldn't be, arson committed by children playing with matches." ― American mystery novelist Ross Macdonald (1915-1983), The Instant Enemy (1968)
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
“Fear’s a powerful thing
It can turn your heart black, you can trust
It’ll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust.” —Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, “Devils and Dust,” from his CD of the same name (2005)
Fifteen years ago this week, Springsteen’s Devils and Dust CD was released. It was less anthemic than The Rising from three years before, more filled with quiet, unmistakable rage against the Iraq War.
At the time, the full dimensions of what would be a disastrous conflict had not yet come fully into view. But now, it is clear that fear did indeed distort American policy abroad. I am afraid that today, fear is once again clouding the vision of many citizens of this country—about their fellow men, even about the nature of truth itself.
Even aside from a death toll that has already surpassed American casualties over 12 years in Vietnam (an even more misbegotten military misadventure than the Iraq War), the coronavirus has brought us to a more dangerous pass than The Boss could ever have imagined 15 years ago. We are miles away from FDR’s confident claim that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“We [Allen and Diane Keaton] never fought and would work together many times in the future. In time I dated her beautiful sister, Robin, and we had a brief romance. After that I dated her other beautiful sister, Dory, and we had a little fling. The three Keaton sisters were all beautiful, wonderful women. Good genes in that family. Award-winning protoplasm. Great-looking mother.”—Writer-director-actor Woody Allen, Apropos of Nothing: Autobiography (2020)
It seems that there’s a movie that Mr. Allen never quite got around to making. It would have been called “Woody Does Diane And Her Sisters.” And let’s not even talk about Mrs. Robinson—I mean Mrs. Keaton.
Please excuse me while I barf now…
Monday, April 27, 2020
“It was definitely an occupational hazard to be Dennis's girlfriend.”—Celebrity Carmen Electra, on her time dating Chicago Bulls power forward Dennis Rodman, featured in the ESPN documentary The Last Dance, Episode 4, original air date Apr. 26, 2020
When it comes to depicting Michael Jordan and the group he famously called “my supporting cast” are concerned, only one writer could depict them in all their complexity: William Shakespeare. And The Bard would have to look beyond the conventional tragedies and comedies he is generally known for, to the “problem plays” of his late period.
The Tempest comes to mind in thinking of the storms threatening to capsize the Chicago Bulls in their 1997-98 season. Jordan is easy to imagine as Prospero, a ruler brimming with old hurts and resentments, who dominates his carefully preserved realm against outside usurpers through an iron will and magical abilities.
But Shakespeare would have to fashion the rudiments of Dennis Rodman from another character: Falstaff, another lord of misrule and virtual law unto himself. Rodman might be more notable for length than girth, but he was as bent on revelry as Prince Hal’s roguish pal, his immense skills leading coach Phil Jackson and the team to barely tolerate his antics.
I missed the first 2½ hours of The Last Dance, but came in on what may well end up being the comic highlight of the series: Dennis Rodman’s “vacation” in Las Vegas, in the middle of the last season of their legendary championship run, taken when the forward could no longer take being “a model citizen” for the team while Scottie Pippen recuperated from a lengthy injury.
The 48 hours allotted by Jackson to Rodman went longer, as Jordan had correctly predicted. So it fell to His Airness to drag Rodman out of the Sin City hotel room where he was holed up with Ms. Electra.
Jordan’s comments on what he discovered are hilarious: “We had to go get his ass out of bed. And I'm not gonna say what's in his bed, or where he was, or blah blah blah." But Ms. Electra—perhaps better known for his visual appeal than for her way with words—was, in the quote above, masterfully succinct.
Yeah, I know—there are six more hours to go in The Last Dance. But right now, I have my money on Ms. Electra delivering the comic sound bite for the entire series.