Category Archives: Sights and Sounds

How Gorbachev Ended Up Believing American Propaganda

The biggest question about Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who essentially agreed to demolish the Soviet Union (*) is why. He took over in 1984 and, in less than the time-span of two U.S. presidential terms, the space-faring, globe-encompassing superpower … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Bishop Once Danced with a Man who Danced with a Girl who Danced with the Prince of Wales

In the Times Literary Supplement, Michael Hoffman puzzles me with a review of Megan Marshall’s “A miracle for Breakfast,” a biography of the much-celebrated poet Elizabeth Bishop. I understand that Bishop must have been good at the business of writing; … Continue reading

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Against George Plimpton

I don’t remember how or why I came across the self-published autobiography of Robert S. Griffin, a cranky, retired college professor. I certainly forgot why I felt compelled to download it and put it in my tablet reading list, but … Continue reading

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The Ugly Truth About Editing (feat. Raymond Carver)

Some eight years ago, a particularly irritating day during my tenure as correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires in Singapore, I came up with a list itemizing the three kinds of copy-editors one can find: 1.The hands-off editor, who will change … Continue reading

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The Zizekian Horror of Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”

In a review in The New Yorker, Richard Brody obviously channels his inner Slavoj Zizek when he writes, right off the bat: Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is not a video-game-centered dystopian teen adventure but a horror film, a movie of … Continue reading

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A Few True Statements on the Ukrainian Revolution

(If you can read Spanish, I just published a novel based on my experiences as a Wall Street Journal covering the Maidan revolution of 2014 and the subsequent war. You can have a look here or here in Amazon.) I … Continue reading

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This Picture Was the Turning Point for the Vietnam War 50 Years Ago

This picture, taken at the turning moment of the Vietnam war 50 years ago exactly, had a very significant contribution towards U.S. defeat: Stephen J. Morris explains: The classic episode (of media manipulation), one that had a huge effect on … Continue reading

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