I’m still not really over the death of Amy Winehouse, or James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Kurt Cobain, for that matter. People we don’t know die all the time, but when someone we don’t know who created art that touched us in some profound way dies, we mourn them almost as if they were family. It’s like we lost a part of ourselves, and very, very important part. When an artist dies who touched us, we mourn them fiercely… Read more »

Louise Belcher is a force of a little girl. She insidiously smart and unapologetically selfish. She thrives on drama and conflict and manipulating others just to manipulate them. She has affection for her family, mostly her father, but her tender feelings are dormant and have to be forced out by acts of terrible uncomfortableness. Her antics are relentless, ruthless, and just shy of pure evil. And that’s why we love her.

Dylan knew something was terribly wrong with the world in a way she could not fathom. As a child she had just trusted that things would work out and adults would show her the way. Everything had seemed inevitable and settled until then, but that summer she got acquainted with a new curl of doom that started her belly and spread to her fingers and toes and kept a constant white buzz in the back of her head.

On “Big Edie” Beale’s death bed her daughter “Little Edie” asked her if there was anything she wanted to say. According to Little Edie she replied “There’s nothing more to say, it’s all in the film.” Groundbreaking documentary filmmakers The Maysles Brothers presented Big and Little Edie Beale to the world in 1975 with the splendid documentaryGrey Gardens, a film that rivets you where you need to be riveted, if you’ve got the groove for it.

The first image I saw of Anna Schuleit’s 2003 art installation project Bloom was a sea of orange tulips, lit up as if they were made of glass, in an old room with an office chair floating among them and an old air conditioner window unit. It was otherworldly and transcendent, and then I read that it was in a mental hospital, and I fell in love with it.

Celebrated contemporary writer George Saunders’ stories are works of futuristic satire that sting with the dark truth of pessimism, but still have a moving sweetness at their core. Binging on his short stories is like binging on raspberries; they taste like candy, but they are still really good for you. While many of his stories are emotionally moving and infused with a thread of kindness, they are still quite dark. Uplifting isn’t exactly a word I think of when I… Read more »

“When you grow up, your heart dies.” That line from The Breakfast Club is so painfully true, it shatters me every time. The good news is that you can grow a new, improved one if you’re up for it. As we mature we learn hard truths about the world, and ourselves, our innocence shatters, and we feel betrayed by all the lies and misunderstandings we had as a child. We see how ruthless people can be, and how devastating hard it is to live your dreams or find any little scrap of happiness. Growing cold and bitter can seem like a perfectly reasonable response of a sensitive creature to a cruel world.

We all know grumpy older people, and may even feel that we are becoming one ourselves, but in reality it may actually be younger people, teenagers and twentysomethings, that struggle the most with blaming their problems on others, and having sour world views. You can make disillusionment work for you if you realize you don’t need illusions to begin with.

Mariel Hemingway is attempting the lift the “curse” of self-destruction that plagues her gifted and beautiful family. The patriarchal figure, Ernest Hemingway, whose golden words still seduce the masses, is at once a symbol of robust life, and of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. There is growing research that indicates these traits: alcoholism and mental illness are often linked to genetics. Of course, a toxic or emotionally unstable family life can lead to mood problems regardless of the genetics – whether it’s nature or nurture or a poison soup of both, madness tends to run in families. In Running From Crazy, a Barbara Kopple directed documentary film that came out last year and is now getting a run on Oprah’s OWN Network, Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter Mariel Hemingway confronts her family’s decades-long curse of despair in an attempt to understand it and break free of it.