New Trailer for “The Giver”


Scroll down to see the new trailer!

And from Comic-Con 2014

Bridges said he had fought to produce the movie for nearly two decades, acquiring the book’s film rights a full 18 years ago. He told the crowd that he wanted to make a film his kids could watch. He originally intended to also direct the book’s adaptation and cast his father Lloyd Bridges in the role of The Giver. “That controversy I think scared some financiers away, but it also inspired me, the energy of this thing.”

The Giver takes place in a future society that was rebuilt “from the ashes” of a devastated planet, one without war, pain or suffering but also one devoid of imagination or free will. When 16-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is selected by the community to be its Receiver of Memories, his mind is awoken by The Giver (Bridges). Meryl Streep co-stars as the Chief Elder, who also serves as the chief antagonist when Jonas attempts to lead a revolt against this manufactured society.

Lowry doesn’t see the Chief Elder as evil, though, citing parallels between art and life: “It’s actually the same thing that happens when people try to ban the book,” she said. “They’re not evil people. They’re people who care about their children and want to protect their children. I always try to remember that when they write me letters saying, ‘Jesus would be ashamed of you.’


Published in: |on July 27th, 2014 |No Comments »

Doc McStuffins and Dolls


Nancy Kanter, general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, which developed “Doc McStuffins” — and who suggested the character be African-American in the first place — said Doc’s wide-ranging fan base could be gleaned from a spreadsheet. “If you look at the numbers on the toy sales, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t just African-American families buying these toys,” Ms. Kanter said. “It’s the broadest demographics possible.”


Published in: |on July 27th, 2014 |No Comments »

Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

18BOOKMILLS-master180-v2 (1)

Dwight Garner reviews Marja Mills’s The Mockingbird next Door.  At least now why know why Harper Lee never wrote another novel.…

Here’s Alison Flood at the Guardian on that same question as well as on  Lee and Capote.

Covering why Lee never wrote another novel after To Kill a Mockingbird – “it was hard to live up to the ‘impossible expectations’ raised by her first, and Nelle hated the publicity and hoopla”, writes McAlpin – Mills also details the friendship between Lee and Truman Capote, and their falling out. “Truman was a psychopath, honey. He thought the rules that apply to everybody else didn’t apply to him,” Lee told Mills, according to the author.…

And so much for the theory that The Mockingbird next Door grew out of a friendship: Lee first made her objections to the book clear in 2011, when she issued a statement via the Monroeville law firm Barnett, Bugg, Lee and Carter where Alice works, saying that she had “not willingly participated in any book written or to be written by Marja Mills”. “Neither have I authorised such a book. Any claims otherwise are false,” wrote the Pulitzer prize-winning author at the time. A new statement, released on Monday in the US and published online in full by Entertainment Weekly, saw Lee write that “Miss Mills befriended my elderly sister, Alice. It did not take long to discover Marja’s true mission; another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised. I immediately cut off all contact with Miss Mills, leaving town whenever she headed this way.”

Published in: |on July 20th, 2014 |No Comments »

Kate Bernheimer on Surviving An Adult World In Fairy Tales, And Real Life


Kate Bernheimer reminds us that stories like “Hansel and Gretel” are just as relevant today as they were 200 years ago.  We think of fairy tales as sheer fantasy but they can hit closer to home than we ever imagined.

I live in Tucson, Ariz. National news about thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — some as young as 2 years old — is local news here. A front-page headline from this week’s Arizona Daily Star reads, “Immigration tension boils over in Oracle.” It’s subtitled “Protesters, supporters, clash; bus carrying children fails to show.”

The article featured a photograph of protesters, adults standing by signs scrawled with red and blue markers. “Remember the Trojan Horse” and “No se Puede” — “it cannot happen.” Protesters and supporters comment on whether the “youths” posed a threat to the community, as the sheriff claimed they did.

“Where did the children go? What will happen to them?” my 9-year-old asked over cereal and juice, which suddenly seems like a luxurious breakfast.

Kate Bernheimer, author of HORSE, FLOWER, BIRD and many other volumes connects this real-world situation with stories like “Hansel and Gretel” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”  I appreciate her recommendation of Grimm Reader, and I’m glad that we now have so many different reliable translations of the stories published by the Brothers Grimm.

Published in: |on July 19th, 2014 |1 Comment »

Peter Pan is Coming to Harvard’s ART: Finding Neverland Musical Runs from July 23-September 28


Published in: |on July 18th, 2014 |No Comments »

“All Children Should Be Delinquents”



John Beckman writes about thrill-seeking kids and how they learn to protect themselves.  His recollections brought back memories of breaking the windows of a long abandoned house in my home town–and having the police show up.  I was the only one who had not broken a window, but when the cops showed up, I had a rock in my hand–lesson learned.  Do delinquents play a leadership role in disruptive innovation?  Or are the delinquents the same ones being written up on the front page of today’s NYT’s story about sexual assault?…

The older we got, the more dangerous our fun became. We raced on wobbly plastic skateboards down smooth, fast Devon Drive. We crafted jumps from boards and bricks and caught premium air on our Schwinn Sting-Rays — which we also sent sailing off alone on comically reckless “ghost rides.” At one point or another, just about everyone took the plunge from the top of the train bridge into the mouth of Catfish Creek. And while I never had the guts to join the BB-gun wars over in the Southgate neighborhood, I deeply admired them.

But even at our most delinquent — swilling bottles of altar wine stolen from the sacristy or passing around fiery “suicide” concoctions siphoned from our parents’ liquor cabinets — we were learning.

Much of my very worst behavior flooded me with wild, unfamiliar feelings — feelings that, in lasting ways, mapped the outer limits of my ethics. In sixth grade, a shoplifting contest in a convenience store thrilled me to the point of nausea. It was an experience I never wished to repeat. And I still shudder to recall the hair-raising afternoon when three of us, armed with 7- and 9-irons, chipped a bucket of golf balls off a cliff, over four lanes of highway traffic and into the Regal 8 swimming pool. That night I couldn’t sleep for all my fear and regret.

A key component of all this fun, from the wholesome to the ugly, was that we sought it out on our own. Many parents (like mine) were actually quite strict and culturally conservative, but their prohibitions only inspired us to find rowdier and more independent diversions. But many other parents — most, it seemed — were just checked out; they were either exhausted by broods of seven to 12 kids (at one point we counted five such clans in a one-block radius from our house) or simply invisible.

Published in: |on July 13th, 2014 |No Comments »


Lois Lowry and Jeff Bridges discuss “The Giver” at the meetings of the American Library Association in Las Vegas. Lois Lowry describes herself as having an eidetic imagination, and she once told me that, had she been born 25 years later, she would have become a filmmaker.  The photograph as memory trigger and madeleine would make a great term paper (JK).  Lowry’s writing moves in a cinematic mode. “In my writing I focus lenses,” she tells us, and suddenly we have a mental image.  

Lowry, the experience of memory is strongly associated with photographs. She described looking at a black and white photo from her childhood and recalled how it instantly triggered memories of that time – even the smallest details, such as the color and texture of her socks. Photography also influences Lowry’s work as a writer. “In my writing I focus lenses,” she explained. “I’m almost always seeing when I am writing.” Bridges described a similar experience when he first encountered Lowry’s book 20 years ago. He initially was drawn to the book because the photo on the cover, which was taken by Lowry, reminded him of his father (actor Lloyd Bridges)

Published in: |on July 8th, 2014 |No Comments »

Trevor Blank on Folk Cultures of the Digital Age

Trevor Blank talks about everything from photo-shopped memes (see below) and emoticons to rants and conspiracy theories in an interview with Julia Fernandez.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Contrary to popular belief, folklore is just as much, if not more, of an agent of the present as it is of the past. As a folklorist, I am interested in vernacular expression; understanding how people forge traditions, share knowledge, and make meaning in everyday life is central to my work. For me, that centrally involves working with new media technologies and observing the ways in which they’re implemented by individuals and groups in everyday life.

It is critical to document the myriad ways in which folk culture adapts, influences, rejects and responds to changing cultural tides, especially amid the exponential growth of computer-mediated communication technologies. Folklorists are uniquely positioned to comment on emergent forms of communicative expression, noting traditionality and innovation in seemingly new material while contextualizing and interpreting the forms and meanings behind its deployment. Whereas other humanities and social science fields may favor statistical analysis, data mining and text collection/comparison, folklorists employ interdisciplinary approaches, often using ethnographic methods, that strive for a more holistic representation of research subjects. At the end of the day, the emphasis remains on individuals and groups– even if they’re united in an online venue.…

And I’m very eager to read his The Last Laugh: Folk Humor, Celebrity Culture , and Mass-Mediated Disasters in the Digital Age, which is next on my list of summer reading.  I’m hoping he has something to say about “Hitler responds to . . .”



Published in: |on July 3rd, 2014 |1 Comment »

Mind-bending Social Experiment

banner4What does “Like a Girl” mean?   I don’t usually use clickbait in my titles, but this little video needs to get as much attention as possible. Click the caption above for the video.

Published in: |on July 1st, 2014 |No Comments »

“Telling Folk Heroes from Monsters”


Chris Wallace reviews “Internet’s Own Boy” and identifies hackers as modern-day tricksters.

If tricksters are among us, they are probably online, in the digital forest where morally ambiguous “gray hat” hackers and bands of pranksters like Anonymous roam as if they were Robin Hood and his Merry Men. In films, at least, the hacker appears as a kind of complicated folk hero.…

I made a similar point in a blog post for the New Yorker, when writing about Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In a world that enforces boundaries by technological means, Lisbeth Salander enjoys unparalleled freedom and mobility, mirroring computers, tapping telephones, and deactivating alarms, “leaving the collective magic powerless,” as Lewis Hyde so aptly tells us in his book Trickster Makes This World.  An expert at “unlawful data trespassing,” as Lisbeth puts it, she leaves “no traces” and is able to outwit even top security consultants. As it happens, Lisbeth is most often on the wrong side of the law but on the right side of justice.…

I’m not sure if I agree with Wallace’s opening argument: Woe to the once-hallowed trickster. In ancient mythologies, the riddler-thief and agent of change held a position of prestige. Now, we don’t know what to do with him. In our two Americas, we do black and white, either/or, with us or against us. The trickster is in between, both and neither, a character on the fringes.

We’ve never know how to deal with “him,” because Hermes, Loki, Anansi, Coyote, and Brer Rabbit embody and enact all the contradictions imposed on us by civilization.  And now a skinny hacker from Stockholm has added further complications.

Published in: |on June 25th, 2014 |No Comments »