AWP: In Love with Words, at a Loss for Words

By Daria Radler

awp

Writers are a special breed. Constantly shifting through their perception of the environment with detailed attention, they store and analyze any piece of information on the endless shelves of their flourishing mind. Everything is of value. The way the grumpy barista was holding the pen as he scribbled their name on their cup of take-away coffee; the momentary silence before a daughter answered her mother, assuring her that she would be home in time for dinner; the way he brushed her cheeks ever so slightly, tracing the outline of her cheekbone with the tip of his thumb as they sat on the park bench next to each other, their eyes drinking in each others’ presence.

Writers are like magicians. They turn to the world for inspiration to create a universe of their own, using a handful of words to later engage their readers. They feed the pages of a satirical play, a lost romance, or a spectacular crime. I’ve always found writers fascinating.

When I came to America as an exchange student in the spring of 2015, I was burning with curiosity but rather shy of expectations. Little did I know that the U.S. would be my literary haven.  Read more »

Following Convention (or Political Mathematics)

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee

The political parties spend countless hours planning their conventions. This is, after all, four nights of free advertising and their first chance to introduce their candidates to the public, who haven’t been paying attention through the primary elections. Everybody works for a great start. It almost never happens. This year was no exception. Interestingly, you could say that it was the same woman who saved both conventions. Read more »

Eyes Open – Eyes Closed

By Maike Newman

MaikeEven if I am not able to remember the pitter-patter of my little feet on the rug-covered hardwood floor anymore, I still recall this comfortable feeling I had sleeping over at my grandparents. The times I woke up in the morning in my room, climbed out of my bed, sneaked across the hallway to my grandparents’ room, and came to a stop right in front of my grandmother’s bed. I looked straight at her face, her eyes still closed. It never took more than a minute before she opened them, smiled at me, and said, “Good morning, my little darling.”  Read more »

The Last Tycoon: The Golden Age of Hitler’s Hollywood

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Hollywood, 1936: Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), co-founder of the Brady American film studio, has just begun shooting a film about – and dedicated to – his deceased wife and well-known actress, Minna Davis (Jessica DeGouw). Suffering from a terminal heart condition, the young production chief has set his mind on finishing the project – the ‘baby’ as he calls it – as quickly as possible. However, Stahr’s ‘baby’ seems doomed to become a stillbirth: “This one won’t do at all,” says German consul Georg Gyssling (Michael Siberry) in a meeting with Stahr and studio boss Pat Bradey (Kelsey Grammer). Stahr is Jewish. A movie about a celebrity who was married to a Jew “offends the racial sensibilities of the German people,” as Gyssling puts it. The German Reich has just passed a law that forbids the import of any movie that contradicts Nazi ideology. Bradey – along with most other studio bosses of the time – considers it a financial risk to produce a movie that cannot be exported to the big German market. The production of the movie so near to Stahr’s heart comes to a harsh halt; the blank check Bradey offers his protégé as compensation seems like a cold comfort to Stahr.

But then Bradey’s daughter Cecilia (Lily Collins), who has set her sights on Stahr as well as the movie business, presents the disappointed filmmaker with an interesting and provocative movie idea. Using the blank check, Stahr intends to bring the idea to life with Cecilia as the producer –albeit against the will of his boss. Read more »

Memorial Service

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Bobbie

Recently, I attended a memorial service for an old friend. Peg had led a long and accomplished life before her final years of excruciating pain and frustrating helplessness, so while we mourned her loss, we were there to share the joy of having known her. Peg was a firm atheist, a founding member and generous supporter of Atheists United, but most of her time was spent riding the horse trails that she loved, so it didn’t surprise me that I was the only person from the freethought community at the invitation-only event.

Her oldest son led off with a long remembrance, and then various friends and family shared anecdotes and enumerated Peg’s many contributions to the community. Peg’s involvement in freethought wasn’t mentioned. It was not that people were avoiding controversy; Peg’s colorfully negative opinion of Republicans was fondly recalled. Still, even in liberal Southern California, atheism is a whole different measure of controversy.

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This is a (M)ad Men’s World

By Kai-Arne Zimny

mad men
Photo credit: Christina Sainte Marche 

1960: Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) holds a high position in a renowned New York advertising agency, has an ex-model wife he calls “Betts” (January Jones), two kids, and a beautiful home. However, that is just the outside view of the protagonist’s life that is as multi-layered as the show itself. In the course of the decade-spanning seven seasons of Mad Men (2007 – 2015), the viewer gains revealing insights behind the so very appropriate facades of Don Draper and his fellow (m)ad men – and one (m)ad woman. Despite Don Draper being the show’s center, there are several plot lines being followed, for instance that of secretary Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), who against all odds and conventions of the time aspires to a career that goes beyond wearing a tight dress, getting coffee, and operating a typewriter “simple enough for a woman to use. Read more »