Pamela Moore wrote Chocolates for Breakfast, an eyebrow raising 1956 novel about lost teenage girls living privileged and depressing lives, when she was only 18. The book was a hit and put the female name Courtney on the map (Courtney Love counts herself among one of the girls named after protagonist Courtney Farrell,) but Pamela never had another hit and killed herself when she was only 27 years old. The popular book had several prints but lay dormant for years… Read more »

Honestly, I hardly notice when I’m confident. It feels like water through my fingers. It is smooth and quiet bath, this state of confidence I step into from time to time. Most other times I am very aware what I am feeling, and what I am feeling is self doubt. Self doubt isn’t a spring day where you barely notice a breeze, it is a pricking cold, a suffocating heat. It is present and whining, an alarm.

Vivian Maier’s secret dust of art and grit was part gunpowder. Lying dormant, it was nothing, but when it got kicked around it lit up the world. Her work also caused legal complications, dueling documentaries, a host of questions about Vivian’s intent and desires, and a lot of talk about her difficult personality. Her identity and her story got packaged as a mystery tale. As her photographs gained fame, Vivian herself garnered intrigue. The more we scrutinize Vivian, the longer we stare into ourselves.

The human experience is rife with darkness and horror. When most people encounter gross violence or monstrosities depicted in art, they may be shaken, sickened, intrigued and/or become desensitized to it, but a homocidal person may connect in a more sinister way not only to disturbing art, but to seemingly unrelated things. Art effects people, but it doesn’t cause people to kill people, or to commit crimes, and the artist isn’t to blame for actions people take after they encounter theart. That’s what I think, at least, but writer John Grisham once very publicly stated that he believed this wasn’t the case. He thought Oliver Stone, and practically everyone involved with the making and distribution of Natural Born Killers, should be help responsible for the deaths of people killed by “copycat” murderers. He argued that people can be “under the influence” of art to a degree where the artist should be held accountable. When art imitates life, and life imitates art right back, who’s really to blame?

Ariel is grand, but you don’t know the tale of the little mermaid until you’ve read Hans Christian Anderson’s version. His decadent and mournful twist on mermaid lore has shaped our imaginations for centuries, and shines a searing light on the pains of growing up, identity crises, and, of course, unrequited love, which can snap an indescribable place in the heart. Cloaking this particular hurt in a macabre mythological tale gets this feeling precisely right, especially if you throw in the problems of bisexuality in an especially unaccepting time.

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.

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.

A large portion of the common stale well of advice we dip into and serve up to each other is to forsake regret. Contemplating untaken paths and unsnatched opportunities can leave us forlorn and stuck; staring endlessly into the limitless alternate worlds our imagination brews up for us. But these “might-have-been” world don’t actually exist, and getting distracted by them can take the color out of this life we have now. The Land of Regret is surely no place to reside, but does that mean we should abandon regret altogether?