Commentary

'Criminal' Is Consistently Interesting

Apr 21, 2016

Criminal starts out with a premise strongly suggestive of a horror movie, progresses with fairly believable developments like a mystery story, and concludes with a sudden outburst of violence like an action thriller. The progression is not particularly illogical, but it is misleading, and it may leave everybody with a feeling of having been served satisfaction at one point or another, but very few being happy with the movie as whole.


There’s a mesmerizing video making the rounds lately on the Internet. It’s a computer animation of the sinking of the Titanic. The whole thing takes place in “real time,” meaning in exactly the amount of time that the real sinking happened: 2 hours and 40 minutes. The tragedy unfolds at a languid pace in an eerie silence.

When does a current event become history? As a historian of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this transition has already occurred for the subject matter of my work. While new research can deepen my understanding of people, places, and events, very rarely does the historical landscape seismically shift under my feet. Colleagues writing about the late 20th century—like those of us who lived through it—have a different experience.

OnWords: Huge

Apr 19, 2016


I’ll try not to spend the next several minutes on the word “huge” just making fun of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. 

But I think The Donald’s obsession with “yoodge” things is a great example of how we think in the US of A.

Lynne Davis is associate professor of organ at Wichita State University, where she is the Robert L. Town Distinguished Professor of Organ. Davis also hosts the Wednesdays in Wiedemann concert series, which celebrates the Marcussen organ which is housed there. 

'Midnight Special' is a Challenging Brain Teaser

Apr 14, 2016

As much as I could figure it out, Midnight Special is a fascinating movie full of suspense and mystery, a sort of challenging brain teaser that I'm willing to risk spoilers in my review of because I'm not at all sure my interpretation is right. You may want to pass this review up if you think you're going to see Midnight Special, but it might give you a bit of a head start.


There has been a quiet, brilliant force taking place at the hands of Wichita painter, digital artist, and graphic designer Dustin Parker. Since April 2007, Parker has been publishing an online blog known as Proteus Mag, and the results have been extraordinary.

Let’s consider Jon Benjamin’s piano playing on his provocative new jazz album “Well, I Should Have.” This effort follows the time-tested formulas of the genre: traditional arrangements, a world-class back-up band, and high production values. But Benjamin is a comedian, doesn’t like jazz, and, most importantly, doesn’t know how to play piano.

There’s a film documentary of the session; the interaction between his complete failure at the keyboard and the highly experienced and unsuspecting side-men is a bold exercise in confrontational comedy. But it also raises the question: Can a bad musician make good music?

On the list of influential choreographers of the 20th century, one name stands in bold relief: Bob Fosse. Born in Chicago in 1927, Fosse showed exceptional talent for dance at an early age, and was tap-dancing on vaudeville and burlesque stages before he was old enough to attend high school. As the only male at dance school, Fosse initially endured teasing and whistling, but the joking didn't last long. “I beat up a couple of the whistlers,” he said, “and the rest sort of tapered off after a while.”

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