Monthly Archives: December 2018

“LEAN ON PETE”— Boy and Horse

“Lean on Pete” Boy and Horse Amos Lassen
Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table and a high school he can attend for more than part of the year. He is the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest making stability is hard to find. Hoping for a new start, Charley and his father move to Portland, Oregon where Charley takes a summer job with a washed-up horse trainer and befriends a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete.
The story gets lost in the vastness of the landscapes, buffeting between genres and sometimes uncertain of what it wants to be. Yet, Haigh uses sincere melancholy that elevates Lean on Peteabove its faults, aided by a wonderful performance from Charlie Plummer.
Plummer is Charley, a 15 year old who speaks so softly that his words barely leave his body. His life is both familiar and original for a film like this and  the genuinely caring relationship between Charley and his single father (Travis Fimmel) is a rarity, and one that is very comforting to watch. It’s a refreshingly upbeat look at the working class before Charley gets a job at a racing track and Haigh pivots to a touching boy-and-his-horse story.
The film becomes an unfocused but powerful road movie after Charley gets some tragic family news and runs away with the horse, Pete. It’s a bold move, as it completely leaves behind two excellent performances from Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny, the trainer and jockey who own Pete. It’s not an entirely successful gamble, but there are still some superb scenes in this final third, like a chance encounter with two kind-hearted, horse-loving veterans in the desert and a terrifying moment in which Pete tries to bolt after being spooked. The title comes from the aging racehorse. It pans out as a great character study of people and horses,  but it doesn’t work as a children’s picture–it’s too haunting and downbeat. British filmmaker Andrew Haigh is writer and director of this emotionally moving unconventional arthouse poor boy meets poor horse drama that never becomes sentimental and ends in gloom. 

When Charlie and his dad move to Portland, they find the nearby third-rate local racetrack where he meets cranky but kind horse trainer Del (Steve Buscemi), who offers Charley part-time work cleaning the stables. At the job he learns a lot about caring for horses, while meeting others at the track he can relate to like the psychologically wounded jockey Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny). Soon he forms a bond with the 5-year-old  quarter horse Lean on Pete and also a friendship with the jockey. As time passes, he sees the ugly side of the business, of how the horses become expendable when they can’t race any more, like Lean on Pete, and can be sold for horse meat in Mexico. This is too much for the kid, who thinks of the horse as a kindred spirit and thinks they both can escape from their destiny by going someplace else.
This is not a tearjerker because of the film’s gritty humor, prevailing horse sense and the way it keeps itself sparse. It’s a s coming-of-age drama, that is good at observing nature, people and animals in a lyrical way. It takes a familiar story and puts a different face on it and gets terrific performances from Pete, Charley and from a wonderfully complex character played by Buscemi. There’s also a catchy performance by Steve Zahn that comes in the second part.

“DEAR EX”— A Contentious Issue and a Human Backdrop

 “Dear Ex”

A Contentious Issue and a Human Backdrop

Amos Lassen

In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage and thus paved way for other countries to do so. Photos of Taipei’s gay pride parade showed the world the joy that came with the decision. However, even with Taiwan’s reputation as one of the most progressive countries in Asia, conservative groups fight back against the decision. We sometimes forget how such debates affect real families and real people, many of them who are marginalized. “Dear Ex” takes this often contentious issue and frames it against a very human backdrop. Famed director Mag Hsu and new director Hsu Chih-yen have crafted a compelling story about a teenage boy, his widowed mother, and his late father’s gay lover.
This is a touching film that avoids histrionics or sentimentality by framing everything through the lens and perspective of a boy, Chengxi (Joseph Huang), whose life is thrown into chaos. After his father, Song Zhengyuan (Spark Chen) dies of cancer, Chengxi finds himself caught in the middle of a feud between his enraged, divorced mother, Liu Sanlian (Hsieh Ying-xuan), and his father’s free-spirited gay lover, Jay (Roy Chiu), who Zhengyuan named as his insurance beneficiary.
Even though “Dear Ex” most certainly touches upon sexual orientation and how it is considered within Taiwanese society, the issue the film is after is much more universal. Liu Sanlian thinks that Jay’s mother (Ai-lun Kao) does not know about her son’s homosexuality and we immediately recognize the kind of social taboo linked to sexual orientation. In general, the film often plays with the concepts of private and public when depicting homosexuality as a purely private matter limited to the confinements of Jay’s apartment. The idea of restrictions such as these are not limited to his character. Through the visual approach the narrative often uses, fragments of animation mimicking Song’s scrapbook drawings, the viewer is constantly aware of the presence of these metaphorical prison bars. Many of them have been designed by their environment, but some are the creations of the characters themselves. For example, while Liu may appear like a “nagging” annoyance at the beginning, the mixture of anger, disappointment and downright fear to once again be ignored (this time by her son) becomes a framework through which the character’s action can be understood. This is largely due to Hsieh Ying-xuan’s performance that ranging from hysterical to finely nuanced scenes expressing how much her character is afraid of being considered a failure in the eyes of society
Watching his mother hound Jay for this insurance payout, Chengxi expresses contempt for what he perceives as his mother’s greed. This leads him to move in with Jay, an eccentric theatre producer who is struggling to stage a final production of the play that brought him and Zhengyuan together Jay and Zhengyuan met many years ago and were in love, but Zhengyuan turned away from Jay in order to live a “normal” life, later marrying Liu Sanlian and having Chengxi. After being diagnosed with cancer, Zhengyan decided to live out his final days with Jay, who he called his husband. After his death, the lives of these three individuals come together in a way that is life changing for them all. The backstory of the film is incredibly painful and emotional, but “Dear Ex” avoids melodrama by subverting expectations of what such a film should be.
Chengxi, though clearly confused and grief-stricken, does not wallow in this anguish, but instead his irreverent voice-over and hand-drawn annotations on screen add many notes of levity to what could otherwise turn into a story that is ultra-serious. Of his mother’s histrionics, Chengxi says, “Not going to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting would be a great loss.” The standout moments  really show the pain that comes with any relationship. Many of them are flashbacks. Jay violently cuts his hair in an attempt to convince his dying partner to do the same; the two men, both beaten down, look in the mirror, allowing the viewer to identify even more strongly with the men looking back at us. In his cramped office at a local university, Zhengyuan tells his wife that he is moving out as she begs that she will change so that he will want to stay. When he tells her the real reason their relationship will never work out, she collapses to her knees. This enclosed space, combined with the beautiful cinematography, makes the viewer feel like a voyeur during this intimate moment. Going back to the present day, Jay’s relationship with his mother is examined, and the result is an unexpected moment that demonstrates the power of love to triumph over bias.
This is a powerful portrait of contemporary Taiwan in transition. It strips away the headlines surrounding the fight for LGBT rights and  examines the inner life of a family—brought together not by blood, but by love. On the surface, “Dear Ex” may be regarded as a melodrama and it certainly shares some ground with these in terms of writing and character development. However, during the course of the film we are won over thanks to the visual approach and the performance by Joseph Huang as the frustrated adolescent, constantly at odds with the outside world. Confronted with Jay’s story, his love and affection for his father, the tables are suddenly turned against his mother, but even that does not work, as her story is equally a series of disappointments and trying to accommodate a notion of “being normal”. The film moves  from coming-of-age drama to a story about weakness, love and grief, as well as the personal drama of letting go of the kind of life one promised himself, or which was promised to him.
On a technical level, “Dear Ex” embraces character-driven drama through its depiction of spaces. Each of them constitute a universe connected to memories of love, regret and laughter, highlighted in this case by the frequent use of flashbacks, often blurring the lines between present and past. At the same time, they reflect the contrast between the characters: the chaotic, extroverted nature of Jay and the controlled character of Liu Sanlian who likes to keep things nice and neat. “Dear Ex” is a drama about loss, growing up and people’s weaknesses. It is a story about many serious issues handled with the right balance of comedy and sincerity supported by the good cast and a playful use of animated sequences. It is a film that is not easily forgotten.

“THE STORY OF THE STONE”— A Raw Portrayal of Taipei’s LGBTI Scene with a Classic Chinese Love Story


“The Story of the Stone” A Raw Portrayal of Taipei’s LGBTI Scene with a Classic Chinese Love Story Amos Lassen “The Story of the Stone” is an honest and natural depiction of the gay life in Taipei, as well as exploring despair and hope. It offers a raw take on Taipei’s LGBTI scene going into a life of drug abuse and orgies. Its unflinching treatment, complemented by the film’s cast of twelve hunky actors, leaves nothing to the imagination. The plot  is a modern adaptation of the iconic Chinese classic novel, “Dream of the Red Chamber”. Now the story is now set in the Red House, at the heart of Taipei’s LGBTI scene. We realize that beneath the debauchery lies a tale of loss, despair, and importantly, hope. While the film is an honest look at gay life in Taipei it is also a way for people outside of the LGBTI community to understand that this is actually happening next door without them knowing it.
“The Story  in the Stone” comes  at a relevant time. Taiwan is widely considered to be the most LGBTI-friendly country in Asia,  yet Taiwanese voters rejected the legalization of marriage equality in a recent referendum. These referendum results were considered to be a major setback for the LGBTI rights movement in Asia and followed deeply bitter and divisive campaigns from both pro- and anti-same-sex marriage advocates. Human Rights Watch, wrote an open letter to Taiwan’s government calling for the implementation of marriage equality regardless of the referendum result, arguing that the fundamental rights of the LGBTI community come first. The. Film really just depicts almost ‘a day in the life of’ a particular segment of the gay world that genuinely exists. We recognize most of the characters in the movie as people we know and have had most of those conversations over the years and seen or experienced most of the events that happen. Moments were happy, others were sad, some were matter-of-fact, but most of it is an objective view of the gay world that many hetero friends would be shocked to hear of. This is not representative of the entire gay community, or even the majority, but it feels real for that certain segment it is very real.
Starr Wu’s debut feature is a strikingly modern adaptation of one of China’s Four Great Classics, from Cao Xueqin’s 18th century novel Dream of the Red Chamber, but set in Taipei’s iconic LGBT location, Red House. The film displays an honest and natural depiction of the gay life in Taipei, as well as exploring despair and hope. “The Story of the Stone” is provocative and fun, a pumped-up retooling of the 700 page epic for the Grindr generation. The plot goes like this: after the death of Lin’s boyfriend Bao, Lin heads to Taipei and meets Josh, who has also just arrived in Taipei as a new waiter at the Stone bar in Red House. Slowly a new relationship sparks between Lin and Josh. However, the relationship turns complicated in Red House, involving the clothing store owner Sean and his friend Lian. Josh ends up in the hospital. Meanwhile, a fire breaks out and almost destroys Red House. Lin’s search for his boyfriend Josh leads him to discover a rumor of an affair.

Publisher looking for LGBT authors

I just received this and am happy to pass it along From: M.Christian mchristianzobop@gmail.com
To: M. Christian mchristianzobop@gmail.com
Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2018 5:03 PM
Subject: Publisher looking for LGBT authors Howdy, friends – hope you are having a great holiday season! I’m
writing because a publisher I work with has asked me to put out some
feelers for LGBT authors who might be interested in his press. If you
know of any writers (or yourself) who might be interested please feel
free to pass along this info. The company is called Wordwooze and his name is Jim Lofton. You can
reach him at wordwooze@yahoo.com. He’s quite a nice person and has
been doing a lot of my own books as audiobooks (which you can see
here: https://tinyurl.com/y73jaxpf) but he also does ebooks as well. Best wishes, Chris — M. Christian www.mchristian.com

amazon.com/author/mchristian

“HONEYGLUE”— Morgan and Jordan

“Honeyglue” Morgan and Jordan Amos Lassen “Honeyglue” is the story of a dying girl, Morgan (Adriana Mather), with a gender-bending writer, Jordan (Zach Villa), who has a penchant for wearing skirts, burgundy-colored lipstick, and noting thoughts about honeybees. The film begins as a wigged-out Jordan flirts with Morgan at a club only to receive a barrage of uncalled-for questions: “Are you a boy or a girl?” and “Are you gay? It’s okay if you are.”
Writer-director James Bird quickly takes us away from the strangeness of a dance floor where anything seems possible to a suburban American home where Morgan lives with her parents and brother who are openly transphobic. A large part of the film is spent on
Jordan’s gender fluidity. I wonder if the idea was to pit  Morgan’s terminal condition against Jordan’s queerness as mirroring metaphors, but they seem to belong to completely different films.   The look of cancer here becomes a demystified look as the film is more interested in borrowing cancer as a narrative shorthand for intensity rather than investigating terminal cancer as a lived experience. We also have a subplot about violent Hispanic thugs being on Jordan’s case for money that he owes them.  In one scene,
Morgan and Jordan are having a drink at a pub; she wears a Chaplin-like hat and moustache and he has on a jet-black wig and for a moment, we see two people embodying a concept without having to spell it out. It’s a fascinating image that requires nothing to support itself.
Telling the story of Morgan (Adriana Mather), a dying girl with three months to live, who falls in love with Jordan (Zach Villa), a gender-bending ex-junkie, “Honeyglue” makes repeated stabs at breaking down the gender binary, but it cancels itself in many cases. One minute, Morgan and Jordan are robbing convenience stores and contemplating suicide, the next they’re trading romantic thoughts on the beach. Bird’s interest in subverting society’s norms around gender and sexuality seems genuine enough, he goes about it in a maudlin fashion.
The actors give the film life along the way. Jordan is an extremely tricky role, an only-in-the-movies runaway with good skin and perfect hair, but Villa somehow manages to turn him into a credible human being. Mather is saddled with the dying-girl part, the kind of role that usually requires a lot of coughing and sad looks, but Mather really elevates it, giving a beautifully nuanced performance, resilient and quirky without becoming cloying. The duo forms a surprisingly potent chemistry that really shines in scenes where Bird puts down his pen and lets the two interact physically. This is the rare film where the best scene may actually be a nudity-free sex scene. Morgan and Jordan, both wearing female undergarments almost merge into a single person. 
Director Bird repeatedly returns to an overwrought children’s story about dragonflies and honeybees written by Jordan. The insect metaphor is overdone here. Neither Jordan nor Morgan seem to have friends.
It seems that Bird’s goal is to discard the deeply held notions about gender and sexuality so if the film helps make issues surrounding gender normativity accessible, then it has done a great job.

“DICK CAVETT SHOW: AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS”— The Icons of Network News

“Dick Cavett Show: And That’s The Way It Is” The Icons of Network News Amos Lassen Since 1968, Dick Cavett has hosted his own talk show, in a variety of formats and on a number of television and radio formats. What we have on “And That’s The Way it Is” were taken from episodes that aired between 1968 through 1996 and feature some of the best known news reporters of the era. News-people appearing include: Walter Leland Cronkite (November 4, 1916 – July 27, 2009: Cavett conducted two one-on-one conversations with Cronkite, October 16, 1974 and the other on March 11, 1982. Thomas John Brokaw (February 6, 1940) : Cavett and Brokaw chatted face to face on May 29, 1989 Daniel Irvin Rather (October 31, 1931): Rather and Cavett conducted their interview October 26, 1991 Myron Leon “Mike” Wallace (May 9, 1918 – April 7, 2012) : Mike Wallace was a participant on a Cavett panel that included Robert Klein, Joan Gans Johnson and Nicholas Johnson on June 30, 1970. Barbara Jill Walters (September 25, 1929): Walters was on a panel with Gig Young, Melvyn Douglas and fellow newscaster, Frank Reynolds, on October 15, 1970 Lila Diane Sawyer (December 22, 1945) : On November 18, 1985, Sawyer appeared on a panel with 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, Morley Safer and oddly, Teddy Ruxpin and Don Kingsborough (the man who introduced the Teddy Puxpin toy). Cavett is brilliant and a linguist. Many of his interviews are legendary. This 2-DVD set has almost 5 hours’ worth of interesting conversation. They come from the ABC series, the PBS series and the most recent is from 1991 (Dan Rather from the CNBC series.

In in some cases there was just one guest, while in others we get to see the news people along with others. A 1970 section with Mike Wallace also includes then FCC Chairman Nicolas Johnson plus Robert Klein and Joan Ganz Cooney (creator of Sesame Street). There are two Cronkite sections (1974 and 1982) – one in Cavett’s studio and another where Cavett goes to Cronkite’s New England summer home.

The earliest one – from 1970 – features a YOUNG Barbara Walters, Actors Melvyn Douglas and Gig Young, plus ABC newscaster Frank Reynolds (who seems to be uncomfortable). If you loved Cavett and want to watch a time capsule of what were current events, this is for you.

“THE CAPTAIN”— Based on a True Story

“The Captain” Based on a True Story Amos Lassen Robert Schwentke’s “The Captain” follows the true-life exploits of Willi Herold (Max Hubacher), a German soldier who deserted his post in World War II only to turn the Nazi machinery of mindless obedience on itself. The film opens two weeks before the end of the war in 1945 and Germany is chaotic and as concerned with prosecuting its own as it is with fighting the Allies. Herold evades his pursuers by fleeing into the countryside where he luckily stumbles upon a Luftwaffe captain’s uniform in an abandoned military vehicle. He wears the uniform for warmth at first but then uses it to impersonate a Nazi captain. He then  seizes control of Camp II, a prison camp for German deserters. There, Herold oversees the execution of men who should theoretically command his empathy.
The viewer is instinctually encouraged to sympathize with a man on the run from the Nazis and this makes it shocking when Herold shoots another deserter and looter point blank in the head in order to maintain his own lies. This wakes us up regarding the extent of Herold’s conviction in his new role. But Herold remains a cipher throughout the film, exhibiting few emotional reactions about anything. I saw him as a character who existentially emphasizes humankind’s primordial capacity for selfishness and arbitrary cruelty. This plays into the cliché of the Nazi as an unfeeling monster. Herold is a concept rather than a character, and so the film has nowhere to go aside from reminding us over and over again the hunted are prevented only by superficial status from turning into the hunters.
When Herold and his soldiers reach Camp II, which is in the midst of crisis, Schwentke gives us the specifics of the Nazi regime through hindsight and symbolism. Control of the prison camp is divided between the German military and the country’s justice department. Schütte (Bernd Hölscher) is the military’s top man at the camp, and he wishes to execute the prisoners without the court martial that he’s been awaiting. Hansen (Waldemar Kobus), the leader of the camp’s internal prison wing, sees this as a threat to his own power. Schütte and Hansen are recognizable everymen who have been conditioned by bureaucracy to reduce human atrocities to numbers and signifiers. “Schwentke recognizes an irony that’s familiar of the Holocaust and other campaigns of evil: that such vast cruelties are composed of minute actions that are governed by an everyday desire to honor protocol, to commit evil the “right way”.” These scenes are the high point of a film. The black-and-white cinematography and stark framing encourage one to take history as a given, playing into our preconceptions of how the Holocaust is supposed to look. In one fashion, Schwentke proves to be too complicit with his protagonist regarding evil and human banality as stimulation to tells us things we think we already know. What this is, I believe, is a farcical set-up to tell quite a brutal story.
The film has the structure of a classic mistaken-identity farce and the tone of a serial-killer film. It’s too bleak to laugh at and too absurd to cry over. It was an insane time in April 1945, months from the end of World War II and when exhausted German soldiers deserted the collapsing front in huge numbers. “Willi” Herold  has scarcely escaped death and after putting on the captain’s heavy overcoat to stay warm, Herold begins to clown around, taking both sides of a dialogue between his own self and an imperious Nazi officer. That’s when another lone private, Freytag (Milan Peschel), spies him from afar and assumes that he’s the real thing. This is a comedy with a single joke and that joke becomes larger and more consequential at every stage: to escape detection and certain death, the young Herold must not just pretend to be a captain, he must also exercise dominance over anyone liable to discover his secret. He is constantly challenged and he gets the better of his challengers, either by demanding to see their papers, announcing that he’s working directly for the Führer, or, eventually, ordering executions. His “Task Force Herold” is composed of ex-deserters now charged with finding and killing other deserters. Only little Freytag seems to understand the larger absurdity: that these men are in effect murdering themselves in a nihilistic endgame.
The film is in the face of our deeply held notions of individuality and free will: We’re convinced that both things exist, while Germans have learned from experience that “identity is elastic and most wills are too weak to escape the pull of prevailing norms.” There are “good” Germans in “The Captain” andamong them is the head of a prisoner camp who watches men dig burial pits for their own future corpses and demands to know on whose authority Captain Willi Herold is acting. But for every man who objects, there are more who murder with a sense of relief, on the assumption that a bullet in someone else means one less for them. It is lightly noted by a Nazi higher-up that, if nothing else, Willi Herold did much to “curb the defeatist mentality” in those he did not murder. We are left to contemplate this vision of Fascism as a machine that can sustain itself even in the absence of explicit directions.
 “The Captain” begins, in tonally rich black-and-white, with a desperate bedraggled soldier fleeing on foot as a jeep pursues him. We see a parable that shows that  even the smallest people can rise to the occasion when suddenly given authoritarian power to wield.

“DICK CAVETT SHOW: INSIDE THE MIND OF…”— The Man and the Talk Show

“Dick Cavett Show: Inside The Mind Of….” The Man and the Talk Show Amos Lassen Dick Cavett has had his own talk show in a variety of formats and on a number of television and radio formats since he began in 1968. What we have here are releases that were taken from episodes that aired between 1968 through 1996 and feature some of the wittiest, edgy comics of the era including Robin Williams, Bobcat Goldthwait, Richard Lewis and Gilbert Gottfried.  Cavett conducted a two part interview with Williams on April 17, 1979, prior to the release of Popeye but at the height of his fame as Mork. Robert Francis ”Bobcat” Goldthwait continue their conversation in March of 1962 on May 26, 1962 on Cavett’s show. Richard Philip Lewis sat down with Cavett on September 13, 1990, during his run of starring on “Anything But Love.” Cavett’s conversation with Gilbert Jeremy Gottfried was added on in August 6, 1990, while he was still appearing on Saturday Night Live and in the midst of the release of 2 films and other television work. I found this DVD set to be a true treat and as a reflection of classic film and television comedy. Every Williams film that I have seen has been special and this is yet another one. I was reminded of the reality of a different place and time and of the genius of the set. Williams was still known for “Mork & Mindy” and was just starting to film “Popeye”. As expected, Williams used every prop he could find on the set to come up with something creatively funny. He is also honest and serious when he speaks about his depression issues (the ones that later killed him. The clips are unedited and include some adult language which probably was bleeped on TV.

“A Short History of German Philosophy” by Vittorio Hosle— Concise and Comprehensive

Hosle, Vittorio. “A Short History of German Philosophy”, translated by Steven Rendall, Princeton University Press, 2016, paperback reissue, 2018. Concise and Comprehensive Amos Lassen “A Short History of German Philosophy” is a concise yet comprehensive original history of German-language philosophy from the Middle Ages to today. It is written as a narrative that explains complex ideas in clear language. Vittorio Hösle traces the evolution of German philosophy as well as describes its central influence on other aspects of German culture, including literature, politics, and science. The narrative starts with Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic Meister Eckhart and then moves forward to look at the philosophical changes brought about by Luther’s Reformation, and then presents a detailed account of the classical age of German philosophy (Leibniz and Kant); the rise of a new form of humanities in Lessing, Hamann, Herder, and Schiller; the early Romantics; and the idealists Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. The following chapters investigate the collapse of the German synthesis in Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche. Turning to the twentieth century, the book explores the rise of analytical philosophy in Frege and the Vienna and Berlin circles; the foundation of the historical sciences in Neo-Kantianism and Dilthey; Husserl’s phenomenology and its radical alteration by Heidegger; the Nazi philosophers Gehlen and Schmitt; and the main West German philosophers, including Gadamer, Jonas, and those of the two Frankfurt schools. There was a distinctive German philosophical tradition from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and the book closes by examining why that tradition largely ended in the decades after World War II. If you have ever doubted the German contribution to philosophy, you will quickly change your mind when you read about the depths of Germany’s philosophers and their influence on the world of philosophy. It was difficult for me to realize that the Holocaust emerged from a society that was so rich in the world of thought yet chose not to speak out against the tide of Nazism. Of course there were Nazi philosophers as well. I so remember my father’s reaction when I decided to get my degree in philosophy. I was warned by him that the great German philosophers came rise to Hitler and his twisted idea. Yet even with the evil that came out of German philosophy there was also good. This philosophical history  is quite remarkable in scope, brevity, and lucidity and is an invaluable book for students of philosophy and anyone interested in German intellectual and cultural history. I found the section on Heidegger to be exceptionally well done. (Yet Arendt is missing and only briefly cited on two entries. I see in Arendt the continuation of the great German philosophical heritage which she so successful brought to and used in the United States. Like her or hate her, we do not see too many minds of her caliber. Hösle’s summaries capture the most important characteristics of German philosophers in a stimulating way and his book is a literary as much as an intellectual work. This is a survey of the full landscape of German philosophy and I believe that the reason that Vittorio Hösle can make the names come alive is because he evaluates philosophers with a light touch. Hösle wrote this book for general readers and he is both lucid and forceful mixing analysis and polemic.

“Catholics and the Jew Taboo” by James E. Michael— “It’s Time to Drop the Jew Taboo”

Jones. E. Michael. “Catholics and the Jew Taboo”, Self-published, 2018. “It’s Time to Drop the Jew Taboo” Amos Lassen Over the last 50 years, the Catholic Church has lost every single battle in the culture wars. These battles include the breaking of the Production Code in 1965 to the Irish abortion referendum of 2018. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia in a recent speech, identified the enemies of the moral and social order as “secularizing activists.” The time has come for a different approach that includes breaking the Jew Taboo (and I can now have Catholic friends). Writer E. MichaelJones makes the critical point that weaponized euphemisms, as he refers to them (“Dynamic Silence’, the Lie of Omission”) have crippled the ability of the Church to deal with Jewish issues that directly affect the operations of the Church, and most importantly, not being able to define the category of ‘Jewish attacks’ on the Church makes it impossible for people to understand what the conflict is really about. Identity politics are deliberately used as a tactic to implicate everyone when they say ‘white people’ did this or ‘black people’ did that.  Do we ever know who ‘they’ are? The moment that we label someone with race, etc., honesty is gone and nothing can be discerned or dealt with intelligibly or honestly.  Americans cannot navigate through this because they have been blinded by their government through the abuse and weapon of the CIA-media. This is a quick read on what Jones sees as the biggest challenge for the church and while it is interesting, it is also garbage. Jones claims that  the reasons why the Catholic Church has been crippled since the mid-1960s… (did I miss the end of that sentence? I do not think the sentence was ever finished).  He further says that “our culture has been under attack for a long time. Until we know who our enemies are and why they do what they do, we are destined for the dust heap of history.” I want to add this book to that very same dust heap. I am sure that there is some meaning her but I cannot find it.