The man in black is back. And most movie critics, along with theater owners, are glad that he is. We’re talking, of course, about Batman as he is portrayed in “The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his 2005 film “Batman Begins.” “The Dark Knight” opens today on more than 4,300 screens.
Ernest Hemingway is, to a number of academics, little more than a joke. Despite having won the 1954 Nobel Prize, he's seen as a writer whose terse prose is ploddingly simplistic. And his themes, which so often detailed his own view of what it means to be a man, are prone to caricature.
There's nothing special about, say, an old man folding a handkerchief. Unless, of course, you're a poet. And such a poet is Sam Green, Washington state's poet laureate. The first to hold the position – he was appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire in December – Green is all about looking at things in new and different ways. Which is what he'll talk about when he appears at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Eastern Washington University's JFK Library, which is located on the school's Cheney campus. The title of his free lecture: "Poetry in the Every Day."
Rich Landers and Dan Hansen, longtime colleagues of mine here at The Spokesman-Review, have forgotten more information about Washington's waterways than many of us ever would want to know. That's why those of you who are interested in boating, floating or merely exploring the state's many rivers, streams, lakes and ponds might want to catch the two of them when they give a free slide-show talk about their new book at 7 p.m. Tuesday at REI, 1125 N. Monroe St.
If it's true that history is written by the victors, then men have been victorious at most things. Traditional history, the kind that many of us learned in the decades immediately following World War II, is largely a story of men – fighting wars, negotiating peace, exploring the unknown and recording their exploits for the generations that followed.
His name is Henry Walton Jones Jr. But everyone knows him as Indiana. He's the protagonist of four films, all directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas, based on Lucas' original idea and on scripts co-written by Lucas and writers that include Philip Kaufman, Lawrence Kasdan and – with the most recent film, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which opened Thursday – David Koepp. He's also been the subject of a television series, a book series, a Disney theme-park ride and has even appeared in a number of video games. Those of us who have seen the films all know the character. Or at least we think we do. But who is Indiana Jones, really? A trek through Web sites such as www.theindyexperience.com can elicit lots of information, most of it compiled from the sources listed above balanced with the odd interview from the Lucas-Spielberg crowd. The rewards of such a search can result in a fascinating look at a fictional life. (Warning: There may be a spoiler or two for those who haven't yet seen "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.")
The name Anu Garg likely means nothing to you. Garg, a computer software and network guy who lives in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville, is creator of the Web site www.wordsmith.org and the person who oversees the A.Word.A.Day e-mail newsletter (which has more than 600,000 subscribers, some 500 of whom live in or near Spokane).
They call it "reality television," but the shows that make up that genre never tell the whole story. Take "The Deadliest Catch," for instance. The popular Discovery Channel program pulls viewers out into the waters of the Bering Sea, documenting the lives of the crews that work crab-fishing boats in some of the worst weather conditions imaginable.
Culture, like the approaching summer, is in the air. In the paragraphs that follow, you'll find references to Irish poet Kevin Kiely and Puerto Rican memoirist Esmeralda Santiago, both of whom will give talks at Eastern Washington University's Cheney campus during the coming week.
Summer's coming, which means something special to young readers. Free from the need to worry about homework, June, July and August offer a collective opportunity to discover all those great novels your teachers have been recommending as long as you can remember.
Anyone who came of age in the 1970s should remember the Symbionese Liberation Army. The SLA was a revolutionary group known mostly for a fiery 1974 shootout with Los Angeles police in which six members died.
There is a literature of rage, one that has long and noble roots. It ranges from the Bible to Cormac McCarthy, encompasses every style and tone from the epic Russian novels to the comic plays of Oscar Wilde, and it became the catalyst that helped fuel the school of hardboiled detective fiction as the genre evolved from pulp magazines to hardback novels.
It's May, and – with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore – it feels as if we've all emerged from a long winter's nap. Yet things are going to heat up eventually. And, following the recent Get Lit! celebration, they're already starting to heat up on the literary-reading circle.
Like many young boys, and a growing number of girls, Sam Clay grew up fantasizing about doing great things. Super great things. As one of the two title characters in Michael Chabon's novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," 17-year-old Sam "dreamed the usual Brooklyn dreams of flight and transformation and escape." His dreams ultimately would come true, more or less, through the World War II-era comic-book superheroes he would create with his cousin, Josef Kavalier. But long before then, Sam's major form of escape came through his active imagination. "He had devoted an embarrassing number of hours of mute concentration – brow furrowed, breath held – to the development of his brain's latent powers of telepathy and mind control," Chabon wrote.
There's never been a middle ground in the battle between the sexes. In David Mamet's play "Oleanna," that sense of singular perspective – colored in determinedly gender terms – wafts across the footlights and permeates the house, making it just as likely that you'll leave the theater as set in your opinions as you are confused about what you've just witnessed.
Psssst! That nonprofit state group is giving out some free money to artists again. Here's the official explanation: "The Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship Program recognizes practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and demonstrated quality, acknowledging an artist's creative excellence and accomplishment, professional achievement and continuing dedication to their artistic discipline."
And last, but not least, for Get Lit! 2008 we have Tobias Wolff. Wolff, the acclaimed author of the memoir "This Boy's Life" and the 2008 fiction collection "Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories," will read from his newest book at 1 p.m. today at the Spokane Athletic Club, 1002 W. Riverside Ave.
When you've written a book titled "The End of America," you're not likely to be seen automatically as a beacon of hope. Yet that's exactly the tone that author Naomi Wolf attempts to strike in her books, her speeches and during interviews with inquiring journalists.
These aren't great times for memoir writers. Oh, the writers are there. Idaho author Kim Barnes, for example. And her work – especially her two-volume memoir "In the Wilderness" and "Hungry for the World" – ranks with the best the genre has to offer.
Last week in this space I reminded readers about the ongoing online novel, "Valley of the Shadow," that is being published weekly, chapter by chapter, on The Spokesman-Review's Web site. A bit of historical fiction set in 1849, the book was written by Cheney writer John Soennichsen, author of the nonfiction book "Live! From Death Valley: Dispatches from America's Low Point" and the forthcoming "Bretz's Flood: The Remarkable Story of a Rebel Geologist and the World's Greatest Flood" (due in October from Seattle's Sasquatch Books: www.sasquatchbooks.com).