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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Helichopticon Parents

April 30, 2014, 11:36 am

One of my lifelong friends and I happened to have our first children in the same year, 2009. About a year later, we were joking about our boys, and my friend said: “Do you want him to be bullied, or be the bully?” I wanted to think that was a false choice. After he was diagnosed with autism, I wondered if I had any choice at all. As we prepped for preschool, the Berkeley Unified School District was asking me […]

2001: A Fallon Oddity

April 28, 2014, 1:09 pm

I’ve been seeing Jimmy Fallon’s name in the news a lot lately, ever since he took over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno. Slate mentioned his “ultimate nice-guy persona.” The L.A. Times discussed his “signature humility.” The Hollywood Reporter called him “simple and ego-less,” and Variety cited his “‘aw shucks, I’m so happy to be here’ posture” in their review. The vibe you get is: sure, he’s nice, but is that his only talent? Those are the views of insiders, […]

4 Guns to the Head, or How the Early 90s Became the Late 90s during 1994 / Part 4 of 4: The Movies

April 25, 2014, 3:14 pm

It’s time to wrap up this four-part series on 1994. In the last three weeks, I showed that in 1994, three separate guns to heads – those of Kurt Cobain, O.J. Simpson, and the Health Security Act – moved America from the relatively populist, solution-driven early 1990s to the more repressed, superficial late 1990s. Of course, these are in many ways over-simplifications of history, but there’s still something striking about pivotal events and the centrality of skull-directed firearms. Perhaps in […]

Jump (for my love)

April 23, 2014, 11:32 am

Last week in this space, I discussed my issues with the film The Horse Boy, more specifically the many PhD-level experts in that movie who gloss over the fact that they’re advocating cognitive dissonance for parents of autistic children. This week, partly as parity, I want to give my unconditional love and respect to a book called The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. This won’t come as a surprise to those of you who identified the quote that headers […]

Ratings, Low, Killed the Video Star

April 21, 2014, 11:16 am

A previous generation asked, what if they gave a war and nobody came? Today we reframe that existential query for the current young generation: what if MTV gave a party and nobody came? This year’s MTV Movie Awards ratings were down 27%. Why? Eight reasons: Scheduling. I mean, when you can choose, why schedule a basic-cable awards show against the season premiere of Mad Men and the rather eventful second episode of this season of Game of Thrones? It’s too […]

4 Guns to the Head, or How the Early 90s Became the Late 90s during 1994 / Part 3 of 4: The Domestic Politics

April 18, 2014, 12:23 pm

Over here on the populism part of this blog, this April is about 1994. In the last two weeks, I’ve identified two linchpin moments that shifted the early 90s to the late 90s – in brief, the guns to the heads of Kurt Cobain and O.J. Simpson. There was a third gun to a head in 1994 – or at least, that’s what Bill Kristol called it. This was the gun that moved American political affairs from the populist, solution-based, […]

Why the Long Face?

April 15, 2014, 9:52 pm

Recently, wifey and I watched the DVD of The Horse Boy. It’s a full-length documentary about a married couple whose 6-year-old son is suffering from autism. To over-summarize it, they travel to Mongolia, see some shamans, and the boy is better when they come back – a lot better. He can now go to the potty; he can socialize with kids without his parents’ help; he seems to tantrum less. The book upon which the movie is based spent months […]

The axis of acting

April 14, 2014, 11:54 am

We don’t know how to talk about acting. Take it from someone who wrote a book about it. We don’t know how to say what distinguishes good performances from bad performances. This is partly because actors and casting directors don’t even know how to explain what good actors do and don’t do. We don’t know how to explain, for example, why Elizabeth Olsen can clearly act, but her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley, can’t. Why does Elizabeth project an inner pathos, […]

4 Guns to the Head, or How the Early 90s Became the Late 90s during 1994 / Part 2 of 4: The News Media

April 11, 2014, 12:31 pm

Over here on the populism part of this blog, this April will be about 1994. Before there was new media, there was news media, and it had a genuine seriousness and sobriety. I speak of the post-World War II journalism credos and ethos that dominated TV and major newspapers from Edward R. Murrow to Woodward and Bernstein to The Big Three (Brokaw, Rather, and Jennings) to the start of CNN. You, you the American taxpayer, owned the airwaves just like […]

Avonte, bambinos

April 9, 2014, 7:38 am

Today, I want to shine a light on Avonte Oquendo, and ask him to shine a little light on me and my family. I’m going to quote liberally and in italics from Robert Kolker’s recent article about him in New York: The diagnosis came a few weeks later: Avonte was severely autistic. But Fontaine resisted the label severely from the start; she had seen children at Shriners who seemed so much worse than her son — children who hurt themselves, who were […]