Author: Dennis O'Neil

Dennis O’Neil: Stealing Jesus

O'Neil Art 131017Well, celebrities have certainly been in the news lately, haven’t they?

You might be expecting a reference to Miley Cyrus here, the pathetic child who cries for attention by participating in grotesque displays of herself. You might even expect a grumpy septuagenarian to wonder if the guardians of a child raised in the humid heart of show-biz, as poor Ms. Cyrus was, could not be accused of a form of child abuse. Don’t look at me. This is one of the many things that I’m not sure about.

I can’t be sure about the dealings of Bill O’Reilly and Michele Bachmann with the Almighty, either. Both these celebrities claim to have received direct communication from on high – on very high. Mr. O’Reilly, an opinion-offering stalwart who gets paid by Fox News, apparently believes that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write his latest book, Killing Jesus. (Earlier books include Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. If you find something that works…)

As for Ms. Bachmann, the Republican congressperson from Minnesota, she thinks that same Holy Spirit wants her to ditch politics for a career in the private sector, wherein serious money can be made. But if Ms. Bachman is right about another matter, she’d better get started on that next career because the clock is ticking. Representative B has recently revealed that we’re living in the End Times – the big rock candy mountain is gnoing to crumble any nanosecond now and you and I can watch Michele and her posse ascend to eternal glory while we…gee, I don’t know. What are we sinners going to do? Miss our bus? Catch a really bad cold? Anyway, something.

Jesus got disrespected from another source last week. The Vatican misspelled his name on an issuance of a special medal commemorating Pope Francis’ taking over the big job. Ooops! Doesn’t say much for Catholic Education, but maybe we should blame, not the good sisters and brothers, but the devil, who still exists, but has gotten wilier, which explains why we don’t run into him much. This is the opinion of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, an eminent jurist who says that he gets most of his news from Bill Bennett, a conservative talk show host.

Note, please, that I’m not questioning the beliefs, just those who reap power and/or profit from them, or who may employ them inappropriately.

And all this snarkiness has what, exactly, to do with pop culture, our presumed subject?

Last week, in a Facebook posting, Larry Hama asked why we still call them comics conventions when they aren’t. Larry’s right, of course. These monster affairs aren’t about comics and haven’t been for a while now. They’re about selling stuff and the creatures mentioned way back in our first paragraph, celebrities. The celebs are rewarded for showing up while some of the comics folk must pay to get in and even those who get comped often get stuck with parking fees which, in someplace like Manhattan, aren’t exactly small items. In the end, most cons are mostly about money instead of promoting a quirky hobby.

The above is not a complaint, just an observation. Things are what they are. I might lament just a bit, but complain? No.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Dennis O’Neil: Daily Devotion

O'Neil Art 131010Pretty day outside, if you like bleak. Mist, rain, a world of grey. October in the northeast. Bleak.

Not much better inside. It’s becoming a chore to watch some of my favorite television programs. The other night, after sitting through about 10 minutes of The Daily Show, I walked out of the room. I deeply admire Jon Stewart: he’s a national jester and as such, one of our treasures. Four nights a week, he manages to inform and entertain simultaneously, and he does this nifty trick consistently, show after show. He was riffing on the shutdown of the national government and suddenly I didn’t want to hear about it anymore, not even when Jon Stewart was the messenger and the message was leavened with comedy. To hear yet again of the antics of that herd of egotistical narcissists who are our elected leaders – enough! Let them take the nation to hell. I’ll just shut my eyes and cover my ears and try not to breathe in the dust.

Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep for ever.”

I’m not blaming the politicians. They are what they have to be. In a system that values greed above all else, in which congressmen, who are charged with regulating an enormous and ever increasingly complex commonwealth must spend 30 hours a week on the phone begging for money instead of learning what they should know, and in getting what they beg for place themselves in indentured servitude to the check writers, who were taught that education is passing tests, whose egos might need to be damaged before they can even aspire to the jobs they hold, and who have begun to behave like history’s great mischief makers, zealots who are incapable of questioning their zealotry, who are unable to identify with human suffering other than their own…yeah, they are more to be pitied than hated. But such creatures can foster ruination, pitiable or not.

There’s nothing I can do about the Washington mob that’s shaping our collective destiny. But please don’t ask me to share an elevator with any of them.

So I ducked an episode of The Daily Show. Then, the following evening, I got over my snit, stopped wishing that reality to be something other than what it is, and tuned in for my eleven o’clock Jon Stewart fix.

•     •     •     •     •

And now to answer a question you may or may not be asking: can’t we please, for the love of Pete, end on a cheerier note? Okay, how about a dose of…

RECOMMENDED READING: The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling, by Carl Potts. There are a number of books like this currently available, including one I wrote. This one, I think, is the best.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


DENNIS O’NEIL: The Slings of Arrow

O'Neil Art 131003Sauntering through Digitalville, sipping news and trivia like a hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower, looking for nothing in particular, except maybe an idea for something to write about. Anything in the comic book line?

Ah. Here’s a news item (if you can call this kind of stuff “news”) informing us that in the coming season of The CW’s Arrow, there will be more superpowers, including a three-episode arc featuring The Flash, who is certainly one of DC Comics’ mightier superguys – not as powerful as big daddy Superman, but way above, say, The Atom. And there will also be more costumed characters. Will these be equal to The Flash, or closer to the series’ title character, whom I’ve always considered a human-scaled guy, as opposed to a demigod? (And if you want to lose the “demi” how can I stop you?) Or maybe they’ll up Green Arrow’s power quotient – have him stand near a chemical explosion, maybe, and then…I don’t know – use his bow to shatter Jupiter?

And yeah, yeah, I know I referred to the character as Green Arrow instead of the name the video folk prefer, just plain “Arrow.” Well, hey, I knew him when.

I guess I’ll be parking myself in front of the screen on Wednesday nights at eight and watch the questions asked above get answered over the next several months. I may not like the answers, but if I did, the storytellers might not be doing their jobs, which involve engaging a certain demographic, My children are just barely young enough to be part of said demographic. I am way north of it. I am not (Green) Arrow’s audience and so my preferences and quibbles are relevant only to me, and maybe long-suffering Marifran, who has to listen to me express them.

The Arrow story was what I found in Digitalville this morning. This afternoon, it got ugly. Another comic book-related story, the kind we’d rather not see.

It apparently originated at New York City’s CBS outlet, and reported a comic book artist’s loss of 30 years’ work. The artist is my old colleague, Neal Adams. Though I’m not clear on details, it seems that Neal lost the art in a taxicab. I can’t begin to estimate the financial loss Neal has incurred, and bad as that is, the psychological loss might be greater. All those hours of thought and effort and inspiration, hunched over a drawing board, and the sense of achievement and satisfaction manifest in the work…

There is hope. The loss is recent and in the video clip that communicated the story Neal hopes that his portfolios will be returned. So do I.

There is a reward. Somebody claim it, please.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases



Dennis O’Neil: Go Know?

oneil-art-130926-150x107-4571681C’mon. You can trust me, you know you can. Just tell me your secret – whisper it in my ear…

Secrecy is a’riding the autumn air. Bradley Manning, who revealed hush-hush information while in the Army, was sentenced to 30 years; Edward Snowden, who leaked details of government surveillance programs to the press, is hiding out in Russia; and the lid has been pried off J.D. Salinger’s long reclusion.

We all be watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., an ABC show based on Marvel’s 60s-era secret agent comic book. At least, I think the SHIELDers were supposed to be secret, though I don’t know how secret the organization could have been since its HQ was a giant helicopter held aloft by a pair of oversized rotors fore and aft. (And how did they ever keep the thing fueled?) S.H.I.E.L.D fills the spyguy hole in televisionland left by the end of Burn Notice. Now Covert Affairs’s Annie Walker won’t have to bear the burden of televised espionage alone.

S.H.I.E.L.D., the comic book, debuted when James Bond was early in his career and television had The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and yes, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., and on a somewhat grimmer note, Secret Agent and, for laughs, Get Smart. Who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, one of my favorites: Modesty Blaise, who appeared in a movie or two, a series of novels, and an excellent adventure newspaper strip. And more comedy: James Coburn in In Like Flint and Our Man Flint.

The tools these patriotic good guys used aren’t much like what real life snoops are using, maybe on you, as you read these words. That technology would have been science fiction when the entertainments first appeared, and pretty dull science fiction at that, nowhere near as much fun as James Bond’s tool kit. Nor could the creators of spy fiction, back in the day, have anticipated just how much snooping would be going on, by both government and industrial snoops, as civilization duck-walks into the twenty first century.

It’s become pretty hard to be a reclusive introvert, if only because somebody wants to sell you something. Occasionally, though, somebody does manage it, not always beneficially. A guy named Ariel Castro kept three women prisoner on a residential block in Cleveland for 10 years. There are probably other Castros out there.

And the late J.D. Salinger ducked hordes of journalists, academics, curiosity-seekers and plain old fans for 40 years. Now, though, his privacy seems to be gone. A book and a related movie are revealing information about one of my favorite writers that I don’t necessarily want to know. Unlike you and I, Salinger did not always behave appropriately, it seems. Unlike you and I.

I don’t necessarily want to know the dirt, but if the movie crosses the Hudson into Rockland County, I’ll pay the admission, and if it doesn’t, I’m sure I can borrow it from Netflix or Blockbuster. I might even decide that the book deserves a place on my Kindle. Salinger, I’m sure, would not approve of my snoopery, and I’m not sure I do, either. But what I wrote at the beginning of this paragraph isn’t true. I do want the dirt, dammit, andI wish I didn’t.

RECOMMENDED READING: The Essential Crazy Wisdom, by Wes Nisker.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Debut of Tweeks!

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases’ Friendly Neighborhood Cosplay


Dennis O’Neil: Creator’s Right

oneil-art-130912-150x197-1891697(Reuters) Marvel Comics has agreed to settle a lawsuit by a comic book writer who sued the publisher over the copyright to the flaming-skulled character Ghost Rider.

The agreement, disclosed in a letter filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, if finalized would resolve five-years of litigation brought by former Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich, who claimed he created the motorcycle-riding vigilante.

The Reuters story quoted above is pretty sketchy, but maybe we should celebrate anyway. We don’t know the terms of the deal and we may never know them; the only instance I’m aware of where a comics creator didn’t get creamed when he tried to get paid for the success of a character happened years ago when the late Steve Gerber tried to get a piece of the Howard the Duck action. Steve got some kind of settlement, but the terms of it were never made public, possibly because non-disclosure was a condition of the agreement. Whatever Steve’s reward was, it didn’t make him rich.

I first heard of the Friedrich suit from Gary himself, when we were guests at a small Missouri convention. He couldn’t say much at the time, just that the litigation was happening. I had immediate doubts. As noted above, comics guys had a habit of losing in courthouses. And Gary did lose the first round; a judge smiled upon the corporation. That seemed to end the matter.

Next, Marvel countersued to regain the money Gary had gotten selling Ghost Rider souvenirs at cons. You could argue that Marvel’s legal cadre had to do what they did in order to protect the company’s copyright/trademark – that’s their job, after all, and this is not the place to debate the merits of their livelihood. But I couldn’t help feeling that Gary, a man who lives modestly, was being bullied by a New York behemoth. The money involved could be important to Gary, and wouldn’t make a blip on the corporate accounts.

Then, today, the good news. Gary won an appeal and, barring further legal shenanigans, his retirement became a bit easier.

Anyone familiar with the history of our peculiar medium knows that its dominant narrative is that business guys get fat from the efforts of creative guys, who don’t get fat. (This is pretty well documented: see Larry Tye’s recent history of Superman, Gerry Jones’s Men of Tomorrow, and a lot of journalism in Roy Thomas’s magazine, Alter Ego.)  But their are indications of change – glacially slow change, to be sure, but change nonetheless. When I cashed my first comic book check, we pale scriveners got a flat, one-time-only payment, for which we relinquished all rights. No royalties, no foreign income, nothing for use in other media, on t shirts, lunchboxes, promotions…None of that’s true anymore. We still don’t own copyrights on work done for the big publishers, but we are guaranteed back-end money. Some might claim that we should get more, but we get something, and that counts as progress. .

Meanwhile, in legal land, Mr. Friedrich won his appeal and, as far as I know, the efforts of the estates of Superman’s creators are still in litigation, and maybe they’ll prevail. It’ll be much too late to do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster any good, but it might benefit their descendants.

One of our kids is a lawyer. We love her anyway.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Dennis O’Neil: A Marvel-ous New Year

O'Neil Art 130905Imagine: the word Shazam is uttered and Boom! – from the far reaches of nether being a lightning bolt, a very peculiar looking lightning bolt, flashes toward Earth. But something goes amiss! A crack in the cosmic egg? A misalignment of creational energies? Instead of altering a red-sweatered youngster into a larger and much, much mightier version of himself, the boomer veers through a twilight zone and a lot of alternate dimensions and…

… there I am, newly arrived in New York City, standing on a sidewalk, puzzled. I’m supposed to begin my comic book job today, but the Marvel Comics office is closed – closed at ten in the morning! – and as I look around, I see that most of the stores on Madison Avenue are also closed. What the heck? Isn’t this a plain old weekday? What’s with the closing?

I know no one in the city except Roy Thomas, and I don’t know where he’s staying. But I remember a name that was mentioned in a Marvel comic book: Flo Steinberg. I find a pay phone. (Ah, yes, pay phones. Remember them?) Ms. Steinberg is listed in the directory and I put a coin into a slot and dial her number. A pleasantly feminine voice answers and after a brief conversation, I have the answer I sought. Stores and offices are closed because this is something we didn’t have in the Missouri town where I was, until three days previous, a newspaper reporter: a Jewish holiday. Specifically, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

I didn’t know, on that Manhattan morning 48 years ago, that Rosh Hashanah was a new year’s celebration – I’d probably never even heard the words “Rosh Hashanah” – but the holiday and my life were in fortuitous synchronization: the Jews were beginning a new year and I was beginning a new life. I was undergoing a transformation, not as arresting as the morphing of the red-sweatered kid into a red-costumed superhero, but considerably more enduring

Flo told me how to find Roy, who was rooming with Dave Kaler in a lower east side tenement. I sought him out and the next morning, which wasn’t any kind of holiday, he introduced me to Stan Lee and…Shazam? I entered a building at Fifty Ninth and Madison a smarty-ass journalist and, eight hours later, exited it a comic book guy, probably a little less smarty-ass.

Hours and days and years and decades filled up. Comic books evolved from what was widely considered to be disreputable trash into a recognized and reputable narrative form and I evolved into…what? Somebody with the same name as the twenty-something who stood on Madison Avenue, puzzled – a slender fellow with hair, he was – into who or whatever is sitting in front of a computer – a computer? – and typing these words.

Oh, and not complaining.

RECOMMENDED READING: Big Bang, The Buddha and the Baby Boom: The Spiritual Experiments of My Generation, by Wes Nisker


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Dennis O’Neil: Of Ben And Fans

Dennis O’Neil: Of Ben And Fans

Gold Art 130828Gawdy laws! What is all the commotion?! Somebody find out about the attack on voting rights? The bloodshed in Egypt? In Syria? The shrinking food stamps program?

Oh. An actor was hired to do an acting job. And a lot of moviegoers are unhappy about it.  Well…

The angst might be a little premature. A special effects film doesn’t find its final form until shortly before it graces your closest multiplex and so we can’t know how casting Ben Affleck as Batman will parse out. We have no idea how the character will be used, where he will fit into the screenplay, whether or not he may have some quality that the filmmakers will find useful.

When the world learned that Michael Keaton had been chosen to drive the Batmobile in director Tim Burton’s 1988 Batman it seemed like a highly questionable pairing of performer and role. But what we didn’t know, all of us inclined to say nay, was that Mr. Burton had his own vision of what the character might be and proceeded accordingly. Not my vision, but a vision that was valid on its own terms. Burton made a pretty good movie and then he made another. Not great flicks, but I’ll generally settle for pretty good.

Unless you’ve been on a digital media fast for the past several days (and if you have, good for you!) you’re aware that the next movie adapted from DC’s comics will team the company’s two signature heroes, Superman and the aforementioned Batman and if I were looking for something to fret about, that teaming would be it. Since both cape wearers are immensely popular, it makes marketing sense for the movie guys to costar them, just as it made marketing sense for the comics publishers to put them under the same covers, way, way back in the 1940s. We all know that more = better. (Don’t we?) But I’m not a marketing guy, I’m an editorial guy, and I will claim that, really, Superman and Batman don’t belong in the same story. There’s a problem of proportion. Superman, at his mightiest, could haul planets around. Batman… gee, he’s real smart and strong and –

– and he doesn’t partner well with Superman. The problems and antagonists appropriate for one are not appropriate for the other. In putting them both at the center of a story simultaneously the storyteller can either ignore the implicit contradictions (or be blissfully unaware of them) or devise separate story arcs for each, different but interrelated, which is how we usually dealt with company-mandated crossovers that had to involve Batman and Superman and whoever else had to be in the mix.

Or – best case scenario – the writer can be so clever and sly and ingenious that he solves the problem in a way that has never even occurred too me.

Casting is a big part of film making – there are highly paid professionals whose sole task is to help directors with the chore – but its not the only part; let us not forget writing and editing and production values and cinematography and locations…

I’ve liked Ben Affleck’s recent work behind the camera – Gone, Baby, Gone is surely one of the best private eye pictures – and so I’m willing to forego prejudging his forthcoming incarnation as Batman and, what the hell, wish him luck.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Dennis O’Neil: In The Great State of Bardo

O'Neil Art 130822Here we are again, in a bardo state. (Note: “Bardo,” as all you Tibetan Buddhists know – and among our readers, you are legion – refers to an intermediate state, as between one life and the next. I’ll use it to mean any state between a current important thing and the important thing one is anticipating. I don’t know what the Dalai Lama thinks about this, but I hope he approves.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, between the end of summer and the beginning of fall. For me, this year, it seems to be a time of nostalgia. Today, for example, is the anniversary of the day, 25 years ago, that I met a woman who had been, 30 years earlier, a girl to whom I’d given, as a birthday present, a subscription to Mad Magazine. Unknown to me, she had maintained that subscription all those years and so, learning that I’d become a comic book writer might not have been deeply surprising to her, (Maybe slightly surprising? I mean, does anyone really become a comic book writer?) I’d forgotten the gift subscription and what I find interesting about it is that back then, in my late teens, I still had some tenuous connection to comics. Before the girl-turned-woman gave me a reminder, I thought I’d abandoned comics much earlier, before I shut a figurative door with the cold breath of an individual I shall call Sister Henrietta still chilling the nape of my neck.

Then, off to school plays and speech contests and the misery men know as military high school and girls…one girl in particular. There was an annual bardo, that occurred just about now, when the frolicsome summer days were expiring and school loomed and you couldn’t help but wonder what lay between you and Christmas. (Note: the days weren’t always that frolicsome because, there was work to be done, my family being one of modest means sustained by a neighborhood grocery store and I’d better get out of this parenthesis before I begin ranting about how the kids of today don’t know how good they got it…and, work or no, we did manage some fun, and even a bit of goofiness.)

Okay, now imagine a montage of uniformed service and slum living and empty highways and empty rooms and empty bottles and Manhattan office buildings and hospital wards and protests and anything else you’d care to imagine and end your montage with me meeting the girl-turned woman in the vestibule of a church, both of us a ripe middle age, accompanied by our grown children, walking between the pews to the altar to speak vows I’d typed on file cards – not great vows, but they did the job. That was August 19, 1988.

Let me tell you, August 18 was for me one hell of a bardo.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Dennis O’Neil: Graphic Storytelling… and Excess

O'Neil Art 130815A big black hole –

The galaxy’s bowl?

Captain Power’s goal?

Enough poesy. What we’re dissertating on today is not verse, which I’m pretty sure I don’t quite understand, but goals.

But first, a brief look at what are widely considered the seven basic plots. I’ll be courteous enough to add, under each one, an example of what it is. This I will do in italics.

Here we go:

Overcoming the Monster – Gilgamesh

Rags to Riches – Cinderella

The Quest – Lord of the Rings 

Voyage and Return – Wizard of Oz

Comedy – Modern Times

Tragedy – Oedipus Rex

Rebirth – Christmas Carol

Most of what I’ve just tossed at you are narrative germs that involve somebody trying to get or accomplish something – somebody with goals to achieve. (Tragedy and Rebirth are hereby excused. And Comedy can take a nap, if it wants.)

That’s mostly the stuff we see at the monsterplex and it is a sturdy beast that’s been transfixing audiences for…I don’t know – fifteen centuries?

But, I shall now claim, to be as effective as they can be, goalish-stories must have clarity: the goal itself must be clear and the obstacles between the hero and his goal must also be clear. In order to pull us to the edge of our seats, the storyteller has to let us see and know exactly what the hero has to overcome and in so doing, generate and the suspense and thrills and chills that we’ve paid for.

And here comes the kvetch: Some of our storytellers are failing, just a bit, by giving us too much. You’ve probably seen it: Good guy has to rescue good girl and to accomplish this he must get past the head villain’s henchman. Okay, fine. But – we don’t know who these henchmen are, how many there are, what they’re capable of. So good guy stalks through someplace that’s badly lit and has a lot of corners, and maybe a lot of door and-what the hey? let’s throw in a balcony or two, and a skylight would be nice. Now, the big action: out pops a bad guy and bangbangbang. Out pops a bad guy and bangbangbang. Out pops a bad guy and bangbangbang. Out pops a bad guy and bangbangbang. Out pops a bad guy and bangbangbang. And bang bang bang…We don’t know how many of these faceless nasties the hero has to vanquish so we can’t tell exactly what he’s overcoming, nor what progress he may be making. And he does pretty much the same couple of things to achieve his victories: a trio of shots from his Glock, with the occasional lethal martial arts move for lagniappe. Finally, he confronts the chief stinker and do we doubt that, after the hero’s dispatched legions, he’ll be stymied by this loser?

Are you bored yet?

Two words, Mr. Filmmaker: rising action. It’s part of your medium’s basic vocabulary and it is still as potent an audience-transfixer as when, way back, Laurel and Hardy used it to get laughs.

The same act of mayhem repeated and repeated does not constitute rising action.

And who the hell is Captain Power, anyway?


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Dennis O’Neil: Storytelling and Inconsequential Trivialities

O'Neil Art 130808Well, I see that 2 Guns was the weekend box office champ, followed by Wolverine, though the latter has underperformed according to some estimates though we shouldn’t worry because it will almost certainly make a profit when the final reckoning is in and… I didn’t have to go far to learn these facts, and many, many more like them – some of them are in the Monday business section of the New York Times, which is where they belong, and the rest were right in front of me, on the computer screen that is at this moment right in front of me. Lots of inside show biz stuff on the web and maybe that’s not so good.

Stripped of all distracting fiduciary ornamentation, movies and comics and novels and TV shows are about telling stories On the pre-verbal level they’re how infant human beings begin to understand cause and effect, understand how all that color and sound beyond the crib and those warm and comforting holding-things add up to an intelligible world. They assure us and they comfort us: See – it does make sense, you can understand it. As an individual’s biography begins to mimic that of the race, stories morph into other things, some of which do new versions of what the pre-verbal narratives did when the storyteller was just the sweetest little angel! some of which just provide a pretty good evening at the multiplex. They distract us, they entertain us, they provide temporary but welcome respite from current woes.

The business stuff… Not so much. Business these days is about competition and accumulation of wealth – call that greed and I won’t object – and back in the days of our tribal ancestors it was about brute survival. Be tough and ruthless and uglier than the man in the next cave or your genes won’t make it to the next generation.

Evolution obviously selected for both storytelling and acquisitiveness, and so here we are with our share of both. But – I doubt that evolution intended for us to conflate them, They serve separate functions and what I fear is that all that financial information and insider gossip about whose salary is bigger than whose and what kind of contract a given luminary has wangled and other items that I suggest do not even rise to the level of trivia is distracting us from the story! It’s like being backstage at a magic show: if you can see how the tricks are done, they’re not magic anymore.

The other danger is that we’ll become so mired in what are no more than inconsequential trivialities that we’ll bury what should be our real concerns – all those bothersome tidings about war and famine and terrorism and corruption that are no fun at all, but pretty easy to understand. They are, in ironic fact, often part of the stories we enjoy as a way to stop thinking about them.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Martin Pasko’s Moving Experience

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases – Can’t See TV