Someone is on Your Side…

Stephen Sondheim, the unparalleled genius of American musical theater in the late 20th century, turned 90 yesterday. His work is known for its complexity, its darkness and its ironies, but as is often the case, scratch an ironist and you’ll find a sentimentalist. His memories of attending the opening night of Carousel are instructive: “IContinue reading “Someone is on Your Side…”

Establishment! Establishment! You Always Know What’s Best!

Full disclosure: after the Nevada caucus but before the South Carolina primary, I started writing a post about how hard it would be for the fractured Democratic moderates to stop Bernie Sanders’ momentum in time to deny him a delegate plurality. So you can see what my predictions are worth (though to be fair, IContinue reading “Establishment! Establishment! You Always Know What’s Best!”

Book Notes: Elaine Stritch and J. R. R. Tolkien

Today I finished reading Alexandra Jacobs’ biography of Elaine Stritch and Christopher Tolkien’s edition of his father’s writings on the Gondolin story. The Stritch biography is casual, eminently readable, and fairly superficial. Jacobs never spends more than a couple paragraphs on any subject involving psychological depth: alcoholism, sexuality, the precise roots of Stritch’s showy, sometimesContinue reading “Book Notes: Elaine Stritch and J. R. R. Tolkien”

More on Maine’s Vaccination Referendum

I received my absentee ballot in the mail yesterday. Imagine my surprise on finding a referendum question, not about sticking it to big pharma, or about the sacred principle of bodily autonomy, but about routine vaccination requirements for people choosing to attend public schools or seek employment in certain settings. It’s almost as if theContinue reading “More on Maine’s Vaccination Referendum”

The Choice, As If It Matters

Maine’s presidential primary is about a month away. If she’s still in the race by then, which seems reasonably likely, I’m going to be voting for Elizabeth Warren. The first thing that needs to be said is that in this disastrous political moment, the conventional process of selecting a candidate is barely relevant. This postContinue reading “The Choice, As If It Matters”