Some of my most recent PopMatters reviews:The Box
"Of course, in the hands of director Richard Kelly, even a simple thought experiment becomes not-so-straightforward."Moon
The most compelling movie futures are not necessarily the shiniest. They don’t always show us the sleekest designs, most efficient technologies, or the most spectacular visions of what’s to come.Staten Island
"With the film Staten Island, director James DeMonaco promises to push past all of the borough’s stereotypes—which, let’s face it, are mostly negative—for a more honest look at what it means to be from the Island. He does so, as he mentions in a thoughtful commentary with stars Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, because he grew up on Staten Island, and always felt a sense of being mocked when he told that fact to outsiders."The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
"The huge ensemble is reduced to as series of one-note or half-note gags—get this, Ken Jeong’s character is Asian!—used to kill time when Piven is off-screen. And, since yes, it is funny to watch Piven go off on some type of ranting monologue, the film gets out of his way and gives them to him—many times."The Monster Squad: 20th Anniversary Blu-Ray
"The Monster Squad is one of those ‘80s underdog-adventure movies that’s just one Corey shy of being a Saturday-afternoon television mainstay like the most famous of its brethren, The Goonies."V: Series Premiere
"Viewers barely had time to wonder at the potential metaphors embodied by the extraterrestrials before we were hit with another shift in identity or expectation."Flash Forward: Series Premiere
"Instead of engaging in diplomacy and cooperation, the episode focused on investigation: just three FBI agents—Benford, Demetri Noh (John Cho), and Janis Hawk (Christine Woods)—were assigned to figure out the cause of the blackout and the probability of its recurrence. Worse, instead of developing into an international procedural, the show immediately and extremely narrowed its focus, emulating every other unexplained-phenomenon series, from The X-Files to Fringe."PopMatters's Year-End Lists Contributions:
Best Singles of 2009: Bishop Allen's "Oklahoma."
Best Albums of 2009: The Decemberists's The Hazards of Love (No. 25).
Best Movies of 2009: Coraline (No. 14)
Best TV Shows of 2009: Kings (No. 24).
We started 2010 with lots of service, and I put together some great packages for the beginning of the year.
How to Do Just About Anything
A huge package full of tips on picking up any skills, from beer pong strategies to nuclear-meltdown preparedness. "Look back on your New Year’s resolutions. Did you vow to become a smarter, handier, more well-rounded person? That’s all well and good, but did you come up with a game plan for how to do it, too? No? Lucky for you, we did. Westchester’s packed with experts ready to teach you everything from the art of faking conversations with wine snobs to shedding those holiday pounds (while at work)."Read This and Save a Bundle
Another service-packed feature, this time about saving money in the county: "How smart you are, you will think as you gaze at the best buy in your closet, that you were able to find that of-the-moment hot-ticket item for half price while your neighbors had to pay top dollar. And that’s what the best shoppers do: they don’t buy cheap items—they hunt, scour, and hustle until they can find great items at lower prices. And, believe us, it takes a lot of work. Lucky for you, we’ve done a lot of that work for you. We asked the pros, expert shoppers, and proud cheapskates (meet some of them here) to tell us how to find the best bargains in the county. Put down those coupon-clipping scissors and read on."The Producer: Emily Gerson Saines
A profile of the executive producer of Temple Grandin: "When Cynthia Nixon accepted the Best Actress Tony Award for her performance in Rabbit Hole, there were only three people she mentioned by name: the playwright, the director, and Emily Gerson Saines."Theater Review: 42nd Street
A review of a local production of the classic musical: "The characters in 42nd Street are excited to be cast in a new Broadway musical, not just for the sake of their showbiz careers, but because the economy is bad and they’re grateful for the jobs—sound familiar at all? Luckily, even if you haven’t been touched by the recession, the Westchester Broadway Theater’s 42nd Street gives you a lot of show for your money."Five Places to Propose
Where to pop the question: "With Valentine’s Day in the air, and thoughts turning to romance, are you feeling inspired to buy a ring and ask for your true love’s hand? Finding someone to marry is the hard part—proposing should be easy. And, now, it’s even easier with our helpful list of five perfect places to pop the question. Take your pick from our à la carte menu of proposals."January Highlights
Marianne Faithfull, Gregg Allman, and more.January Home Theater
The Simpsons, Moon, and more.
Mardi Gras galore!February Home Theater
A Serious Man, The Wolf Man, and more.March Highlights
Henry Rollins, Ronnie Spector, and more.March Home Theater
Kids' movies: Ponyo, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and more.
I've been a bit behind on posting recent articles, so forgive the pile-up. The December issue just came out, and I had the pleasure of writing the cover story for it.52 Reasons to Love Westchester
"Most people assume that people who live in Westchester are going for a New York City Lite experience. It’s an easy mistake to make, since we eat BLT steaks, get our hair cut at Devachan Salon, shop for new wardrobes at Rothman’s, and commute down south for a job, a night out, or a Broadway show. The truth is, while we may spend a lot of time in the City and patronize City-based businesses, we choose to live here precisely because Westchester is not New York City. We want to give up the steel and concrete for a little bit of greenery and some breathing room."Guitar Hero
A profile of local guitar-maker Rudy Pensa: "Pensa got his start building guitars when he was just 13 years old. 'In Argentina, when I was playing in the late sixties and early seventies, it was difficult to find good instruments,' he says—so he started building his own. He opened the famous-among-music-geeks Rudy’s Music Shop in New York City in 1978 and has been commuting there from Scarsdale for almost three decades."7 Days of Holidays
A round-up of local holiday events: "For you, our true loves, we present seven sets of seasonal events—no leaping lords or milking maids required."Culture, Etc.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, the Subdudes, and more.Home Theater
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and (500) Days of Summer.November Culture, Etc.
Neko Case, Linda Eder, and more.November Home Theater
Star Trek, Up, and more.October Culture, Etc.
Sumi Jo, Wallace Shawn, and more.October Home Theater
Drag Me to Hell, Karloff & Lugosi, and Trick 'r Treat.Halloween Happenings
A round-up of Halloween events.Where the Pros Go for Halloween Clothes
A look at the best costume shop in Yonkers.Witch Craft
A Q&A with The Blair Witch Project's Michael C. Williams
Here are a few thoughts about So You Think You Can Dance.
So You Think You Can Dance: Season Six Premiere"Then again, So You Think You Can Dance seems willing to shake things up. For one thing, the move to fall suggests it the series is no longer content to dominate the summer, where its competition is comprised of reruns and other reality competitions. But this means the show needs to surprise us each week with knockout numbers. While other reality competition shows pin their hopes on the contestants and judges, in this case, the choreographers finally get their wish: It’s their show. They will determine if this season will fall flat."
It's not Vogue, but the September issue is still my favorite issue of the year. Fall Arts Preview! I take a look at upcoming arts, culture, and events.Fall Movies
"Where the Wild Things Are: It might seem like Maurice Sendak’s chidren’s book classic is impossible to adapt into a feature-length movie, but leave it to a couple of hipsters: Being John Malkevich director Spike Jonze and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius writer Dave Eggers have come up with a big-screen version that actually looks faithful to the spirit of the book. Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O. stirs up the wild rumpus by providing original music."Fall TV
"Melrose Place: Consider Tuesday flashback-to-the’90s night. Coming on the heels of the CW’s 90210 revamp, Melrose Place is another resurrected, catty, soapy, California-based drama with an ensemble of fresh-faced up-and-comers (and a couple of original Melrose Place veterans). Watch it while wearing your old flannel and drinking a Zima."Fall Books
"The Humbling: Philip Roth is one of the country’s most decorated authors, winning the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Nabokov Award, and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, among others. It’s strange, then, that the protagonist of his newest book has lost all confidence. The celebrated actor no longer feels at home on stage, and he has to learn to get through his most challenging performance: life in his 60s."Fall Events
"Bike Rides: In between releasing albums with Brian Eno, staging critically raved-about tours, and generally being awesome, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is a tireless bicycle advocate. It’s no shock, then, that he is an advisor on this exhibition, which features two-wheelers that have been customized and repurposed by artists. We love the Pimp my Piragua bike, which is essentially a giant boom box with huge speakers attached to the bike frame. Keep an eye out for museum-sponsored bike rides (where some of the artwork actually performs), bike raffles, and other fun two-wheeled events."In addition to the Fall Arts Preview, it was also an issue devoted to kids, so wrote about the best in children's books and movies.Book Reports
A survey of almost two dozen local children's book authors and illustrators: "No matter what your book is about, two things will always happen on a school visit. A kid will ask you about dinosaurs, and another how much money you make. I know a fair amount about dinosaurs. As for the other question, I usually reply, ‘More than you do.'"New Classics
Local children's librarians and film educators were asked to name recent classic books and movies: "It’s inconceivable that you haven’t heard about the young wizard and his attempts to avenge his parents and stop the evil Lord Voldemort. 'Part of the series’ appeal is the proximity of the magical world to our world,' Rovenger says."On top of all of that, there were my usual departments:Craft Work
A look at some upcoming craft fairs: "Why learn to knit, decoupage, or make jewelry when you can buy artisanal goods from neighbors much handier than you?"Culture Etc.
Los Lobos, John Scofield, Alan Menken, and more.Home Theater
Sugar, The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition, and more.
My interview with director Joe Berlinger about his documentary, Crude: "Boy, I’ve never appreciated my home in Westchester more than in making this film. First of all, it was extremely hot—one-hundred-twenty-degree heat. We were in the rainforest, in a part that was devastated by pollution, so the air smelled and you’d go back to your hotel room with a splitting headache...The first night I checked into my hotel in Shushufindi, somebody had been shot in front of the hotel. The crime was being cleaned up as I was checking in. It was really a dangerous part of the world to be in."Archie Pops the Question
A small item about Archie Andrews's upcoming nuptials: "Whether or not Veronica will keep her maiden name of Lodge or become Mrs. Veronica Andrews has yet to be decided."Culture, Etc.
This month's highlights: the International Noir film series, M. Ward, B.B. King, and more.Home Theater
Adventureland, Flight of the Conchords, Battlestar Galactica, and more
The cover of our July issue was illustrated by J.J. Sedelmaier, of TV Funhouse fame.Best Of: Arts & LeisureThe best artistic and cultural offerings in the county: "Just down the street from the Jacob Burns Film Center, the professionally outfitted Media Arts Lab is buzzing with people who want to know more about filmmaking. Three- and four-year-olds learn the basics of telling visual stories. Eight- to 10-year-olds practice using the real tools of animation. Teenagers make music videos using the same programs as the pros, with professional producers as their instructors. College-aged and adult auteurs are taught how to make documentaries with an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker. Everyone, regardless of age, discovers how to tell an effective story in this increasingly digital age." (Also: Bargain Arts.)Best of FestchesterA round-up of local festivals: "If you plan your summer right, you can get your live music (classical, cabaret, jazz, rock, and even Celtic reggae), world-class theater, ethnic food, enviable crafts to purchase, and kids’ activities all from these seasonal extravaganzas."Super SeniorWhy I want to be like Lois Steinberg when I grow up: "At age 70, Lois Steinberg was ready to leave her job as VP of a market research firm, where she worked with big-name clients like AT&T and Citibank. After 20 years in the corporate world, was she going to retire? Heck no. The Larchmont resident and mother of two baby boomers enrolled in Sarah Lawrence College and earned another master’s degree in health advocacy (on top of the PhD she earned from Fordham—in 1978)."Culture, Etc.Fountains of Wayne, Maya Lin, plus this month's Quadricentennial events.Home TheaterWatchmen, Coraline, The State, and Peanuts.And one I assigned:Local Currency, Local Comfort
An essay on how to use the current financial climate to reinvest in our communities: "The great cathedrals of Europe were not funded by any central bank or the Vatican, but by small communities looking to invest their profits in their own futures. The cathedrals they built drew pilgrims from around the world, and bequeathed prosperity to their grandchildren."
Two more gig reviews for Beyond Race:
The Decemberists @ Radio City Music Hall"The looming deadline for the show's end only inspired The Decemberists to perform two ultra-compact sets. For the first, the band played its newest album, The Hazards of Love, in its entirety. Since Hazards is an ambitious prog-rock opera, this doesn't leave much room for screwing around to begin with. Yet the band managed to somehow make it even sharper, playing through the entire album without taking breaks between songs."Art Brut @ The Mercury Lounge"Britain's Art Brut has started the musical equivalent of the slow-food movement—call it the slow-tour movement. Instead of rushing through a multi-city American tour as quickly as possible or, as is more common with British bands, playing just a handful of token dates on the East and West Coasts (thanks, Radiohead), Art Brut is taking its time."