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Sunday, August 28, 2016, 5:23 p.m.
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Philip Martin

Stories by Philip

Critical Mass: 'Stop staring at all that blood; it won't do you any good'

posted: 08/28/2016 2:30 a.m. Discuss

It is a truism to say that comedy comes from misery. Clowns are depressed, fueled by anxieties and neuroses. To be funny you have to present something true and to present something true you have to confront the awful emptiness at the world's core. You have to stare down the absurdity of creation.

Awful disclosures and American decency

posted: 08/28/2016 1:52 a.m. Comments 4

In January 1836, a book called The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk: the Hidden Secrets of a Nun's Life in a Convent Exposed was published by a New York publishing house under the imprint of Howe and Bates.

Review: By the playbook: Film about former Razorback Burlsworth scores with authenticity

posted: 08/26/2016 5:45 a.m. Discuss

Greater tells the story of University of Arkansas standout Brandon Burlsworth, who is touted in the film's promotional materials as "the greatest walk-on in college football history." He may well have been.

Review: Southside With You

posted: 08/26/2016 1:50 a.m. Discuss

A sweet and minor bit of hagiography, Southside With You is a subtler but still freighted counterpart to political broadsides like Dinesh D'Souza's regrettable Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party. It's radical in that it invites us to consider two political lightning rods as people first.

Columnists: Just there to ask the questions

posted: 08/23/2016 2:52 a.m. Discuss

Working in journalism isn't a hard job like running a tree saw or comforting a dying child. It's not that different from the sort of jobs a lot of people have. There's nothing especially noble about it and it doesn't require extraordinary talent or skill. That's why journalists--real journalists, not TV ranters--aren't paid particularly well.

Critical Mass: Prolific Woody Allen wades into shallow end

posted: 08/21/2016 2:06 a.m. Comment 1

It is silly to think bad people are incapable of great art.

In the garden of idols and cenotaphs

posted: 08/21/2016 1:50 a.m. Comments 2

Lately I've been urged by letter writers and emailers from around the state (and possibly from as far away as Nizhny Novgorod) to stick to writing about movies. Well, all right. Here's a column about the movies.

Columnists: PHILIP MARTIN: It won't stay this way

posted: 08/16/2016 5:45 a.m. Comments 11

"Do you think it'll stay this way?"

On Books: Out of frying pan, into the wild

posted: 08/14/2016 2:08 a.m. Discuss

Then there is the happiness of one's personal slum. The happiness of being alone, and tipsy on red wine, in the passenger seat of an ancient recreational vehicle parked somewhere in Alaska's deep south, staring into a scribble of black trees, afraid to go to sleep for fear that at any moment someone will get past the toy lock on the RV door and murder you and your two small children sleeping above.

The fire next time: Demogogue 2.0

posted: 08/14/2016 1:59 a.m. Comments 20

There's not much reason to be worried about the possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidency in November.

Review: Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words

posted: 08/12/2016 1 a.m. Discuss

Frank Zappa is one of those artists whose persona has always overshadowed his art. Some 23 years after his death from prostate cancer, most people can conjure up a mental image -- the prominent nose and hair, the soul patch, the sneer -- of the iconoclastic musician while a relative few recall the music he made with the Mothers of Invention in the '60s and '70s. Some might recall his greatest hit, the novelty song "Valley Girl," recorded with his daughter Moon Unit improvising lyrics over an atypically "straight" 4/4 time (though it shifts into 7/4 in the outro). While he was alive Zappa often lamented that despite the seriousness of most of his work, he was doomed to be regarded as a novelty artist or, worse, an empty celebrity icon.

Columnists: Smooth running crazy

posted: 08/09/2016 2:24 a.m. Comments 2

Most of us, from time to time, act irrationally. We let our wishfulness or our emotions override our better judgment. That's why people gamble, why they indulge in all sorts of endeavors that involve risk. Maybe it's not exactly rational to ride a motorcycle, because you know if you ride for long enough you'll eventually have a situation where you'll have to lay that bike down. Maybe for you the pleasure you derive from riding motorcycles (or smoking cigarettes) is worth the pain you expect to experience some day.

Critical Mass: Aggressively retro: Stranger Things

posted: 08/07/2016 2:26 a.m. Discuss

We are not masters of our own taste. What we like owes much to what we were exposed to in a relatively narrow window of experience. Our parents and peers imprint us, the television shows and movies we attend to between the crucial ages of 10 and 13 will become our stuff. (That's why some people get so protective of objectively silly artifacts like 1984's Ghostbusters.)

Columnists: If Trump were still a Democrat

posted: 08/07/2016 1:45 a.m. Comments 3

In Slate recently, Seth Stevenson proposed a thought experiment: "If a dopey populist surge somehow contrived to foist a wackadoo lefty nominee on the American electorate, how many of my fellow Democrats would feel obliged, for the sheer safety of the nation, to vote for an especially hated but well-qualified right-wing opponent?"

On Film: Nine Lives comes on tiny little cat feet

posted: 08/05/2016 1:50 a.m. Discuss

"When two persons in search of a Pokemon clash at the corner of Sunset and San Vicente is there violence? Is there murder?"

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