In 1986 a Honolulu jury watched Margaret Keane paint Exhibit 224, a signature “Big Eyes” painting, in just 53 minutes. Her ex-husband Walter Keane, who had claimed to be the true painter of this unique style for decades, declined to prove himself on the canvas because, conveniently, he had a shoulder injury. “I never saw a cent of it,” the now 87-year-old Margaret Keane says of the $4 million the jury awarded her after a 3 1/2 week trial. “But I won.”

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I worked in a bookstore once. The assistant manager hired me because I loved to read. He had also been an English major, and he wrote about Japenese film on the side. His shirts were always blue and he had a sandy mustache and sandy hair he was also brushing out of his eyes.

stnicholas

The modern Santa Claus is a mixture of symbols and legends built around a 4th century Saint with a fiery temper and an anti materialistic spirit. How this man, who was thin from being starved during religious persecution and exile, morphed into a rotund magic elf of consumerism and cookie consumption, is a pretty fascinating tale.

Whiplash-Scream

Whiplash an intense emotional experience, a rollarcoaster built on drumbeats, sweat, blood, and screams. It gets into your nervous system. It’s a myth-building movie, not only building the myth of these characters hurtling themselves towards a perception of greatness by sacrificing key parts of their flesh, emotional-well being, and humanity, but also rebuilding the myth of Charlie Parker into something far more soul-gouging that it already was. I saw too movies yesterday. One was the horror film The Babadook, but Whiplash is the one that will probably give me nightmares.

blackhole

The general understanding of Murphy’s Law is, “Anything that can go wrong will.” We say this anytime anything sucks, like some mantra of pessimism. When Interstellar‘s Murph Cooper asks her dad why she was named after something bad, he explains with the original wording of Murphy’s Law, a version of “Whatever can happen, will happen.” This is the key to the entire film, plot holes and all.

SPOILERS ahead!

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It’s hard to be a child. You have no rights, you are trying to get your grip on the world, and the act of growing up is happening too fast. Adulthood is both infinitely far away, and hurtling at you at a startling speed. There are so many opportunities for trouble to crop up, and I’m not a parent myself, but I can imagine how difficult it is to be a parent watching your child move into the uneven land of adolescence. There are so many pitfalls, so many wrong turns your child could make. And just as children enter this difficult land, they start to turn inward, they yearn for privacy, they detach from the parent while they try to carve out their own personal identity and life. During this time, is it ever okay for a parent to secretly read their child’s private writing?

cherylstrayed

Cheryl Strayed, like many, found in an opiate a temporary patch for life’s wretched emotional churning. Thankfully, she didn’t dance with it long enough to become physically or psychologically addicted. Instead, she sought out a different cure: solitude and physical pain on the Pacific Crest Trail. 17 years later, she published a memoir about that experience brimming with insights about memory, love, and wrestling with the self.

vanity

When actress and socialite Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter fled to the South of France from Paris at the start of WWII, she left behind her grandmother’s picturesque, lavishly furnished apartment.

Although payments were maintained for decades, no one returned to the apartment until 2010, after the granddaughter’s death, when auctioneers came to take inventory of the estate. What they found was preserved physical snap shot of a particular time, its state only altered by spiderwebs and dust.