Thursday, March 31, 2022


I read that today is "Transgender Awareness Day" and so I post this photo of one of my heroines, Janet Mock, as emblematic of all the transgender people I admire and love whether in person, or from afar—as in her case—and especially in heartbreaking but loving memory of those who have lost their lives just for being who they are.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022


As  someone who needs some help these days, I appreciated this.

Monday, March 28, 2022


 Think he would have done it if it was The Rock or Mike Tyson who made that joke?

Friday, March 25, 2022


When I heard Nicole Kidman was going to play Lucille Ball in a film I thought no way. Buy way. She does a magnificent job of getting, for me, the essence of Ball without imitating every aspect of her. The real miscasting is Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. It's like casting Liam Neeson to play Hugh Grant or Sonny Liston to play Muhammad Ali. Arnaz's sweet-looking "pretty boy" face and smile was as essential to his disarming screen presence and charisma as his Cuban accent. However attractive you might find Bardem, "pretty boy" is not a part of his particular charm. It changed the quality and impact of Desi's and Lucy's feuds and along with a few historical revisions left me disappointed in the movie. Though I still found it worth watching for Kidman's performance, and J.K. Simmons's and Nina Arianda's as Fred and Ethel.   

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


A book I highly recommend which is also appropriate for Women's History Month because Sharon Stone is definitely a seminal figure in US film and cultural, and even political, history (and, full disclosure, a friend for over forty years). This is very much the story of a woman standing up to the challenges of a lifetime of being underestimated because of her gender and more.

THE BEAUTY OF LIVING TWICE is as bluntly authentic and brilliantly insightful a memoir as you might expect from someone who has never been afraid to tell the truth as she sees it and has experienced it. And always with disarming wit and intellect. It immediately engaged me so thoroughly I read it in one day, couldn't put it down. And it's also appropriate for a belated Saint Paddy's Day tribute, as she is a descendant of the Irish diaspora and makes clear how much her Irish-American heritage has influenced her.

Monday, March 21, 2022


Back in the early 20th Century there was a lot of talk in the literary world about "The Great American Novel." Some thought it had already been written in the previous century (e.g. Moby Dick) or claimed newer titles (e.g. The Great Gatsby) or midcentury (e.g. Invisible Man) or later ones (e.g. Beloved). In this century it seems like the absurd game it always was and who cares anyway.

But if we were still playing, I'd throw Dale Herd's Dreamland Court into the mix along with the examples cited above and others. A series of mostly overlapping monologues by a varied crew of smalltime drug dealers and thieves and general fuckups and their partners and lovers and spouses and friends, Dreamland Court may not sound inviting, but once you've met them and been drawn into their stories by Herd's original styling and eye and ear for character, you're hooked, 

Reading Dreamland Court is like watching one of those streaming series that you can't help binging on because you want to see what happens to these uniquely distinct individuals that you've come to know so intimately. Someone once wrote about Hubert Selby's achievement in his novel Last Exit To Brooklyn being that he got readers to care about the "lowlifes" he was writing about. In Dreamland Court the characters themselves seem to write themselves and their stories into existence, and so authentically they continue to live in my consciousness long after I reached the end of the book, which I was sorry to.

Saturday, March 19, 2022


This is the photo Tom used on Facebook, so I'm using it here. Even though he was 78 when he passed several days ago, that face and smile and look in his eyes remained the same throughout his life. We met in LA in the last century through a mutual friend, Hubert Selby, and stayed in touch, He moved back East after I did and for a few months lived in the basement of my half of a duplex I rented. He was a chef, so his contribution was cooking amazing meals for me and my youngest child Flynn.

You can read his obituary on his FB page, but they left out the two life changing experiences he often talked about. His time in a little village in Latin America where he had an epiphany about how happiness did not depend on worldly possessions, and his stint (a year and a half, or more?) in prison during The Vietnam War because he refused to take part in any way. I was always impressed with that commitment. I had been an anti-war activist back then and received death threats and was arrested but don't know if I would have gone to prison willingly as Tom did.

He moved to Vermont to be near his daughter years ago, but he and I spoke on the phone often. In recent  months he was definitely tiring from the physical challenges of aging, so I'm grateful he's free of that now. Condolences to his daughter and extended family and many friends.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

HAPPY SAINT PADDY'S (from March 17, 2019)

Something I heard today that I wanted to pass on (and I'm sure I'm not getting the wording as well as the speaker but you'll get the idea). A woman referred to that line in the typical "Irish blessing" where it says "May the wind be always at your back" then she added, "but if it isn't may you know how to adjust your sails." 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022


This is a memoir movie, and like all memoirs highly selective. It's told through the eyes of a boy growing up in Belfast (capital of the still English controlled "Northern Ireland") played by Jude Hill (my choice for Best Actor of 2021), representing the young Kenneth Brannagh (writer/director/producer) during the early years of "The Troubles" (late 1960s) when Catholics, treated like second-class citizens in their own land for centuries, emulated the Civil Rights Movement of the USA and received similar treatment, including being attacked, beaten, imprisoned, and killed.

But, by mostly filming (in black & white) from the perspective of a boy from a seemingly non-aligned Protestant family, the story focuses on the impact the brewing wider troubles have on family life. Growing up in the USA in a family of Irish Catholics, part of the Irish diaspora, I could relate to much of the charm and humor and feisty tenacity of the film's family and their domestic troubles. The acting is wonderful and as a nostalgic dramedy the movie worked pretty well for me, and I know very well for many of my friends who have no personal stake in the story's historical setting.

But I kept getting distracted by the false equivalency of Brannagh's Belfast Protestant family's "Irishness" (e.g. accent in one plot point) with a Belfast Catholic one, as though centuries of being terrorized by the English and their Irish Protestant allies wasn't "trouble" until the Catholics started protesting against it. Brannagh's entitled to his perspective, as we all are. Mine is this is an easy take on a hard time.

Saturday, March 12, 2022


 from The Scripture of The Golden Eternity:

"While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light."

"'s impossible to miss your reward."

from a letter to Don Allen, Fall 1957:

"I have been writing my heart out all my life..." 

"I would like everybody in the world to tell his full life confession and tell it HIS OWN WAY and then we'd have something to read in our old age, instead of the hesitations and cavilings of 'men of letters' with blear faces who only alter words that the Angel brought them...."

from Vanity of Dolouz:

"...all life is but a skull bone and a rack of ribs through which we keep passing food and fuel just so's we can burn so furious (tho not so beautiful)..."

"If you don't say what you want, what's the sense of writing?"

"—who's going to come out and say that the mind of nature is intrinsically insane and vicious forever?

from Visions of Cody:

"(but I've known the world, it's all happened before, why do I kid myself with these artificial newnesses)"

"—I must write down books too, story-novels, and communicate to people instead of just appeasing my lone soul with a record of it—but this record is my joy."

"All you do is head straight for the grave, a face just covers a skull awhile. Stretch that skull-cover and smile."

"Time is the purest and cheapest form of doom."

from Visions of Gerard:

"My heart is where it belongs."

Thursday, March 10, 2022


CODA is my choice for best film of 2021. The cast is magnificent (great to see Marlee Matlin back on the big screen—full disclosure she was a friend in my Hollywood years—joined by two equally extraordinary deaf actors Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant), the directing and editing terrific, and the story original and well told. I could quibble over some plot predictability, or question why the main "American" character is a British actor (Emilia Jones, Welsh mostly, and her "American" love interest is played by Irish actor Ferdia Walsh Peelo from another favorite film Sing Street), or point out that the title is not one to make people think "I gotta see that" as most won't even know what it means (Child Of Deaf Adults), but the movie is so totally satisfying (for me) why bother? In short highly recommended, i.e. love love love this flick.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022


I've posted this favorite photo before. It's my mother, at the time still Irene Dempsey, and her mother, my grandma Dempsey (maiden name Ann Frank!) who lived with us from when I was three until she died a few years after I left home at 18, and her mother, who died before I was born and I knew as great grandma Ward. I'm guessing by the styles this was the 19teens so my mother, born in 1905 was probably in her early or midteens. I don't know what the pieces of paper represent, but they were all members of the relatively new organization Daughters of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) meaning they were descendants of veterans who fought for the Union in The Civil War (interestingly the organization ended in the 1970s while the Daughters of the Confederacy is still going!). My mother became the youngest president of the New Jersey chapter of the Daughters of the G.A.R. and was very proud that our pre-Civil War Irish immigrant ancestors fought for the Union.

Sunday, March 6, 2022


Moving documentary about an icon of "Black History" and "Women's History" and especially Black Women's history. And not just culturally, for her uniquely exquisite vocal expression and innovations, but for her social and political impact as well. And a righteous tribute to her overcoming challenges that would defeat most people. Just her teen years alone deserve a film, going from reform school and homelessness in early teens to recording star in late teens and never stopping her evolution to worldwide beloved musical genius. (Only thing that bothered me was occasional use of later decades performance photos and video over narration about earlier periods.) On Netflix, highly recommend.

Cleverly framed doc about a 1978 coffee table book of photos of second wave feminists and where some of them are today (or rather "were" when the film was shot a few years ago). Focused on NYC and LA it misses some major figures, but selects a representative group that covers a lot of the stories and perspectives of an impactful movement. I was surprised at how many people in the movie I knew personally, and was happy and moved to see dear friend the late Aloma Ichinose featured. It felt like a visit from her. It covers a lot of people so some critics felt it could have narrowed the focus to just a handful and thus been able to dig deeper. But as it is, it's a lively and well done introduction to vital history and a movement more relevant than ever. Also on Netflix and highly recommended.

Friday, March 4, 2022



The Parkinson's (+) makes it challenging and tedious to type.

Putin's villainous destruction of Ukraine makes it challenging

and disappointingly ineffective to write anything that will stop

the death and destruction. I understand the nuclear fear but it

feels like because he has nuclear capability it's here's the keys

bully take what you want cause you got nukes you might use

if "we" enforce a no-fly zone or use "our" drones on your tanks

and missile launchers and parked planes instead of Yemen.

And yeah, I know, I'm always saying and writing: "Choose

Love Not Fear." And: "Hate is just one of the forms fear

takes." But I hate bullies, having been bullied mercilessly

in my childhood and teenage years. And though I know I

am as capable of being a "bad" person as being a "good"

one, my "bad" stops at murdering others, excepting Putin.  

(C) 2022 Michael Lally