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A Man, Measured

The newest installment in an ongoing series of essays on culture

Having a birthday this week lead me to some reflection.  Not on myself, of course, since I’m already too hip for the room. But I’d just seen the very decent 12 Strong the weekend before and I’d been contemplating why this enjoyable story of duty, heroism, and general smack-down of some very real, very bad guys had performed rather poorly at the box office after receiving the traditional golden shower from a lot of film critics.

To ask the question is to answer it: because it’s an enjoyable story of duty, heroism, and a general smack-down of some very real, very bad guys.

Johnny Tremain: Rites of Passage in Classical Literature for Boys, Part 4

And some of us would die – so other men can stand up on their feet like men. A great many are going to die for that. They have in the past. They will a hundred years from now – two hundred. God grant there will always be men good enough.”

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes is an overtly moralistic tale, and an unabashed, old-fashioned ode to the patriotism and spirit of the founding generation. It was written in the afterglow of “the Greatest Generation’s” victory in WWII. Its protagonist begins the story as a uniquely talented and bright silversmith’s apprentice. Johnny was only too aware of his best qualities – which in turn brought out his worst. He lorded over and bullied the other apprentices, especially the older but duller Dove. The blowback was disastrous – literally crippling – and changed the course of a life Johnny had well planned.

Sex, Love and a Soviet Obituary

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about how she died or where she died, bitter and surreal as the news struck me, and bare enough to make me feel cold, hollow, unclean. I’m really not sure if what I felt, or feel, for her is really what I would call love. Especially in light of what she did. Could anything be more perverse and despicable? We met at Columbia University before the War when we both majored in physics. I knew her from a class and we had spoken a […]