“The Writer” will appear at Every Writer!

I’m honored to share here that Every Writer has selected one of my poems, “The Writer,” for publication.  Editor Richard Edwards passed the news along to me this morning.  Every Writer is one of the oldest comprehensive resources for writers on the net, and I’m grateful to Mr. Edwards for allowing me to join the creative community there.

I’ll post a link here when the poem appears.



“Wild Life — The National Parks Preserve All Life,” Frank S. Nicholson, 1940

Silkscreen color print on posterboard.  Works Progress Administration.

I’ve got these guys running all over my neighborhood after dark every night.  (I’m referring to deer — not staffers for the pre-WWII Works Progress Administration.)


A review of “Us” (2019)

“Us” (2019) passes the litmus test for a good horror movie — it is genuinely scary, thanks largely to Jordan Peele’s terrific directing and its cast’s immense talents.  Lupita Nyong’o shines the most here; she gives a tour-de-force performance in the dual role of both a terrified woman and her savage, homicidal doppleganger.  (If you’ve seen the trailer for “Us,” you know it portrays a nuclear family of four being assailed by their mysterious, murderous lookalikes.)  Shahadi Wright Joseph is also especially good, in the dual role as both the family’s traumatized daughter and her cherubic-yet-stabbity twin.  This is a creative horror film with excellent shooting and imagery, and I’d rate it an 8 out of 10.

I don’t know that everyone will enjoy the film as I did, as I don’t think it is perfect.  Its overlong third act is easily its weakest, when the traditional cat-and-mouse horror-movie antics eventually take a back seat to the film’s key reveals.  We do get an explanation for the clone-tastic shenanigans in “Us,” even if it isn’t altogether satisfying. There is actually an extensive fantasy/sci-fi backstory that Peele has prepared, and which I will not spoil here.

But I do think that many viewers would enjoy the story more without it, as I think I would have.  The movie’s key reveals are implausible and slightly befuddling at first, and then grow preposterous in the viewer’s mind the more that he or she thinks about them.  They’re presented a bit ploddingly, too, in a film that feels maybe 20 minutes too long.  As good as it was, “Us” would have been a more entertaining film if it had left the genesis of its strange events a mystery.  If it had been presented as a simple, violent parable about the id, for example, it would appeal to a far wider audience and might approach the status of a horror classic, as Peele’s outstanding “Get Out” did in 2017.

But that isn’t what Peele wanted.  The friend with whom I watched “Us” last night sent me a great March 22 article by Aja Romano at Vox that admirably breaks down the movie’s ending.  Peele indeed had a more detailed and thoughtful message than a general statement about mankind’s duality.  Long story short — the movie’s mythology might not make a lot of practical sense, but it makes a lot of sense thematically.  There is some intelligent social messaging here, even if it isn’t perfectly delivered.  It helps if you think of “Us” as a surreal horror story instead of a realistic one.  I found that I liked the ending much more after reading this, and you might too.

One more note — this is the first time I’ve seen Elizabeth Moss on screen.  (She’s in a surprisingly hilarious supporting role here; I think most readers of this blog will recognize her as the protagonist of Hulu’s adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)  She’s got great comic timing, and she’s absolutely magnetic.  People keep telling me that I should watch “The Handmaid’s Tale;” maybe I really am overdue for that.



Throwback Thursday: “THE ICE CREAM MAN!!!”

Happy summer.

These are just a few of examples of the fare that we kids would get from the ice cream man in the early 1980’s, either at the beach or during the trucks’ occasional visits to our street.  (My friends and lived in an out-of-the-way neighborhood in rural suburbia.  During most summers, the ice cream man came through only sporadically — which made us even crazier and more frantic when he did unpredictably arrive.  Eddie Murphy’s recollections of the ice cream man in 1983’s “Delirious” covered it pretty well.)

The older kids typically got the Bomb Pops, Snow Cones or various ice cream bars, the younger kids favored gimmicky stuff like Froze Toes and Push Pops, while the adults stuck with familiar cones, if they ordered anything.  Eeeeverybody loved Marino’s Italian Ices.  If you were at the beach when the ice cream man came, you almost always saw kids with those seemingly indelible cherry smears around their lips after the truck left.

But my favorite appears to be one that apparently almost no one else remembers — the Chump bar.  It was an ice cream bar with a chocolate bar hidden inside it, and that chocolate was intensely sugary — far sweeter than any Easter candy or Hershey bar from the store.  That rarefied quality made it exotic to me, and I was thrilled to order the Chump bar whenever a parent of older sibling forked over the necessary funds for it.

It might have been overpriced.  (But wasn’t everything from the ice cream man?)  My older brother asked me how much it cost once after he was surprised he got so little change back.  When I told him, he rolled his eyes narrowly at the truck pulling away: “Yeah.  That guy’s a chump.”

But — again — it looks as though nearly no one else remembers this.  I couldn’t find any information about the elusive, exotic Chump online.  And I take pride in my Internet nerdery.  The most that I could find was a single image — and it’s a licensed image for a t-shirt, so I can’t run it here.

Life is weird.  Maybe I’ll just chalk it up to the Mandela effect.