Archive for Film/Television

Remembering Wake Island…

“When we got up, a wind of between 20 and 25 miles was blowing from the north. We got the machine out early and put up the signal for the men at the station.”  Orville Wright’s Diary, December 17, 1903

That was the day of the Wright brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk. I was born the same day (December 17) thirty-four years later, and in 1960 the Chance-Vought Aerospace Company gave me a pin for flying one of their F8 Crusaders 1000 mph. It seems impossible that time could collapse so dramatically in 57 years. read more

Can We Stand Together?

M and I live in an autonomous zone, not the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) you’ve read about – where Black Lives Matter protestors are occupying six city blocks and a park in Seattle – but our own Covid-19 autonomous zone ten miles north of the CHAZ.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines autonomous, an adjective, as meaning:

  1. (Of a country or region) having the freedom to govern itself or control its own affairs (self-governing, independent, sovereign, free, self-ruling, self-sufficient)
  2. The freedom to act independently 
  3. (In Kantian moral philosophy) acting in accordance with one’s moral duty rather than one’s desires.

I’m not being flippant; M and I are locked down in our own “zone” to protect ourselves from the death-dealing virus but equally concerned – not about protests in the CHAZ – but over the mounting crisis in America. What can we do about it? This is about more than Covid-19. This is a global crisis with America is its epicenter. We sit in the throes of a viral pandemic with a surfeit of African-Americans dying at the hands (or knees) of white police officers and a White House willing to use pepper spray, flash bangs, and rubber bullets against peaceful protestors to clear a path for the president to stand awkwardly holding a Bible in front of a church. read more

American Master…

We may all have a case of cabin fever but there is no scarcity of good books, videos, films, and music to keep us occupied while we wait for Covid-19 to be vanquished. On Sunday night M and I watched a beautifully made PBS documentary American Masters:Wyeth, chronicling the life and work of Andrew Wyeth the great American realist painter–who lived most of his life, by choice, in self-isolation. 

While taking an art history class in the 1950s, I became aware of Mr. Wyeth’s work but didn’t understand how to place it in the continuum of American art. Neither did the arts experts; realistic painting seemed old fashioned to them. But, in 1948, Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, purchased what has become Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, for $1800 and that act helped change the art world’s perception of what “might” be modern. At the time abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still and others) was the big thing in modern art and realism was out of favor and assigned to a place in art history.  read more

Chernobyl and Coronavirus…

I think of myself as a healthy person, but airborne contagion doesn’t care what I think, and it doesn’t care if I go to fitness class or run marathons. It’s an equal opportunity disrupter. A neurologist once told me that some people are more vulnerable to diseases of the central nervous system than others. He thought I was one of them because in my time on the planet I have uploaded viral meningitis, polymyalgia rheumatica, transient global amnesia, two episodes of myasthenia gravis and what a pediatrician diagnosed as a mild case of polio. I’m lucky that they’re all in the rear-view mirror now. read more

I’ve Seen this Movie…

It was a different time and a different contagion, but the set up was eerily similar. A mysterious microbe, the Andromeda Strain, was loose and threatening life on the planet. It first appeared in Arizona where it wiped out most of the population but left two survivors – a dyspeptic old man and a bawling infant.

Back to the future… in 2020 we see a dyspeptic old man and bawling infant rolled into one golden combover and the arrival of a new contagion. Will Donald J. Trump with both ends of the Andromeda spectrum covered help us survive the coronavirus? read more