April 9, 2016 |
Rebecca Barnard was in the early stages of dementia when her husband, a fellow software developer with a Ph.D. in philosophy, dragged her to a philosophy conference in Baltimore. They heard a young philosopher muse about ethical questions that arise late in dementia. Should the wishes a patient had when her brain was working properly be honored "after she ceases to be a person?" the speaker asked. Beck, as Barnard was known, turned to her husband and whispered, "She doesn't know what she's talking about.
February 17, 2016 |
Sayed Kashua's life story reminds one of that wonderfully inappropriate line from Steve Martin's 1979 classic, The Jerk . "It was never easy for me," Martin says, forcing each syllable with the slow, careful deliberation of the addled. "I was born a poor black child. " Kashua was born a (somewhat poor) Palestinian child in Tira, a small, predominantly Arab town 20 miles north of Tel Aviv. But he grew up to become one of the most celebrated satirists in Hebrew literature. You heard right: The novelist and screenwriter writes passionately about the daily injustices faced by Israel's Arabs, yet he writes exclusively in Hebrew.
December 18, 2015 |
I've been wracking my brain for the past couple of days trying to think of what to ask Dr. Ruth Westheimer when she's back in Philadelphia on Monday. She'll be at the Walnut Street Theatre's production based on her life called, "Becoming Dr. Ruth. " The play, which continues through Dec. 27, tells her inspiring life story of fleeing Nazi Germany as a youngster and decades later emigrating to America and becoming the nation's leading sex expert. Following the sold-out performance, yours truly will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to interview Westheimer on stage.
October 21, 2015 |
Langhorne native Jesse Vile brings a very Philadelphia story to ESPN's excellent 30 for 30 documentary series when Prince of Pennsylvania premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday. The film also screens as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival on Saturday and Nov. 1. Prince chronicles millionaire John du Pont's murder of Olympic wrestler David Schultz. The story is predominantly told through the voices of those who lived and trained with du Pont and Schultz at Foxcatcher Farms in Newtown Square, including David's brother Mark.
February 20, 2015 |
It wasn't Charlie Gracie's idea that he write his life story. The South Philadelphia native was one of the first stars of rock and roll, one who inspired numerous future superstars. But his life has contained not even a hint of the scandal and salaciousness that usually draw publishers to rock memoirs. "Why would you want to write about me?" the still-vibrant 78-year-old singer and guitarist says at the home in Drexel Hill he shares with his wife of 57 years, Joan. "I don't have anything spectacular outside of my music.
February 16, 2015 |
Before Twitter used brevity to speak volumes, SMITH Magazine launched what became a mini-phenomenon called the Six-Word Memoir. Old mixtapes foreshadowing my postmodern troubles . And before popularizing haiku-like autobiographical writing as fun for the entire family, magazine founder Larry Smith was the student council president at Moorestown High School. "I was cursed with a happy childhood," says Smith, a 1987 MHS grad who remains friendly with several of his teachers and often visits his parents in the Moorestown home where he grew up. Smith now lives in Columbus, Ohio, where his wife, writer Piper Kerman ( Orange Is the New Black )
January 19, 2015 |
At one point during his fraud trial last week, Don Tollefson wanted to testify about a Skittles-eating contest. The prosecutor objected. The judge sent the jury out of the courtroom. For nearly an hour, the former sportscaster delved into yet another tale about his charity for poor children. Tollefson, who is serving as his own attorney, told a story to the judge that involved kids from his charity catching Skittles in their mouths. Out of nowhere, Tollefson said, one boy spoke a few words and expressed a desire to play professional hockey some day. "It's one of the moments I'll cherish for the rest of my life," he said.
November 25, 2014
AS SOMEONE who grew up in Washington, D.C., I was one of those folks who jokingly called former Mayor Marion Barry Jr. "Mayor for Life.' Sometimes I said it with admiration. Other times with disgust. There were times when I said it with sheer embarrassment. Today, I call him "Mayor for Life" with sadness. News that Barry had died early yesterday at the age of 78 hit me as if he'd been a long-lost relative. I had just seen a photo of Barry on a friend's Facebook page and noticed that Barry looked feeble, grandfatherly even, as he held the hand of the D.C.'s new mayor-elect Muriel Bowser.
November 1, 2014 |
We enter actor-director Mathieu Amalric's startling, challenging, and spectacular postmodern murder mystery The Blue Room in the most intimate place imaginable: in a hotel room, in bed, in the space between two naked bodies. A montage of extreme close-ups - her thighs, his hands, her belly, his shoulders - discloses, piecemeal, the couple whose names we learn much later are Esther Despierre (Stéphanie Cléau) and Julien Gahyde (Amalric). Old friends from high school who haven't seen each other in 20 years, the lovers are married - she to a wealthy pharmacist, he to a pliant housewife eager to please him - when they reconnect for an explosive, passionate affair.
October 17, 2014 |
The title of Norman Lear's new memoir, Even This I Get to Experience , doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. What's this this the visionary creator of All in The Family and The Jeffersons gets to experience? Can we have it, too? The phrase, Lear said, is a sort of mantra. Speaking on the phone from a book-tour stop in Washington, D.C., Lear says he's been able to get through life's challenges, disappointments, and tragedies by remembering that even the worst event is an experience, an opportunity for learning, for growing.