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The Rise of Skywalker had a lot to live up to and mostly delivered. It had a powerful plot and an assuring conclusion, but it might be better appreciated for the relevant cultural themes than for the credulity; like its predecessors (and like the Marvel/DC franchises), each new episode has to ratchet-up the limits of the imagination in order to impress. For example, this one went farther with the concept of deus-ex machina (from Greek theatre when gods were brought down on stage) to resolve plot barriers: people are reincarnated, resurrected, or move between worlds more on a par with the Harry Potter series. I don’t wish to disparage the experience, however.  In a post four years ago about “The Force Awakens,” https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/not-long-ago-and-not-far-away/, I celebrated the

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She is Winter      by William Hecht Deep December night and she is spent. She is consumed–like the fields after a greedy harvest. She slumbers—as does the world. Only her essence is sentient, aware. It is a spell: cast in the light of the great moon, it will break with the first rays of the equinox sun. Her hair is black. It is a wave of boreal night that flowed through the glass, swept down her  cheek, and spilled on a pale shoulder.  Things made of night are smooth–and softer by far than anything made from day. She dreams—as does the world–of light and warmth, of aromas and twitching roots, the vibration of launching sprouts: calls to life. If I could dream with her, I would

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[Note: This content is for entertainment purposes only] I WAS FIRST introduced to the concept of cycles through my career in financial services. The idea was that the natural world operates in waves, recurring patterns or “cycles” of varying lengths of time. The general premise is that people are part of nature and thus generate predictable patterns–and anything of predictive value was, of course, deemed useful to investors. One longer-term social cycle that is starting to get attention is the eighty-year cycle; history has produced some evidence that a serious calamity occurs roughly every eighty years. The most recent “serious” calamity was World War Two–which started eighty years ago in 1939 (we didn’t enter until 1941). Eighty years before that it was the Civil War,

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  [Note: I wrote this seven or eight years ago, before I moved back. But every time it snows during the night, I am reminded of this piece.]       I am in the North for a family visit. My elderly parents manage their simple life with a grace that humbles me. They could be threatened by the simplest acts. My minor setbacks would be their calamities: a fall, the flu, a minor accident driving to the store. Today they were mirthful and sweet and I could not decide if they were revisiting childhood or auditioning to become angels. Last month, I watched the movie “Amour,” an intense look at a couple managing change after half a century of life together (they managed it

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  Midway As with Dunkirk, the film focuses on a handful of individuals and their roles and experiences in the context of that critical battle in the War in the Pacific. A well-made historical war film, the Midway story shows how (as in Imitation Game) intelligence gathering–not merely firepower–turned the tide.  The special effects were thrilling, and the experience of a lower-tech war fought with what are now mostly relics as war machines made for an engaging movie and history lesson. They did well to consider the perspective and sensibilities of the Japanese, perhaps, more than in past films on WWII.     The Irishman Martin Scorcese’s 3 1/2-hour long saga of a teamster turned mob insider stars three heavyweights of American gangster films: Robert

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WHILE THE SPECTACLES of impeachment, daily scandal, and the democratic primary distracted voters from almost everything else, the 2019 Federal deficit accelerated to nearly a trillion. The interest alone  got to 380 billion per year.  In 2015, Obama only needed 485 billion for the whole year. Let me see…1) stock market is right on top of a new high, 2) unemployment is extremely low, 3) countries are supposed to use extended booms (ten years now) to pay down debt, and 4) the GOP—especially the “tea partiers”—have, prior to Trump, represented themselves as deficit/budget hawks. What’s wrong with this picture? There’s no mystery; it’s what Trump has always done: borrow big, promote shamelessly, get paid no matter what, and never use much of your own money.

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At an turning point in the film Joker, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), is assaulted on the subway.  Due to a disability that causes him to laugh randomly, some fellow riders described as “Wall Street types” decide to rough him up. Because Arthur still wore the clown outfit he used as part of his work, one of the assailants tried to sing “Send in the Clowns” as a prelude to the onslaught. That scene propels the action to the next level. Arthur Fleck, The Joker, in the corrupt and failing city of Gotham and with no intention of doing so, becomes the name and face of  what is best described as an anarchist movement [Note: The Joker, in his madness, may incline toward nihilism or absurdism

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[This is a seasonal piece from Unit Three Writings]     My Parents, a Forest, Some Clues My season approaches and with it arrive my best prospects for redemption. I refer to September, both as the ninth month and as a stage of Life–the ripeness of being that precedes the bitter cold. I refer to the September I was born in and those sweet, sad days that invite surrender to Melancholy’s caress. This belief takes shape in me only now, at fifty. It formed in increments by way of three separate and eclectic experiences. The first came while I was away at college, that blissful period when my future was undiminishable by doubt or skepticism, and a writing pad stuck out of my back pocket

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[This post is for entertainment or educational purposes only and does not offer investment advice of any kind. Investments decisions should be made with careful consideration on an individual basis along with a professional.] PUNDITS AND POLLSTERS will soon begin to argue passionately over their predictions for president in 2020. They usually make emotional cases and use tired, second-hand reasoning on either side–sounding much like sports bums at the beginning of a new season. Everybody loves a fortune teller. But despite the minor blips in the polls, the outrage du jour, and the talk of impeachment (and the expanding list of reasons for it), the best predictor of the election–assuming it’s held on schedule–will be the performance of the stock market over the next year.

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  MY INTRODUCTION to the concept of gold as an investment began in the late 1980s. I was a young stockbroker in Arizona, and while copper mining dominated the extraction industries then, there was still talk of gold mines and claims on thousands of acres that might translate into billions for lucky investors. After the inflation scare of the late 1970s (shortly after the US abandoned the gold standard), confidence in the financial system had eroded. Gold was seen as a way to preserve purchasing power if a currency kept losing purchasing power (due to inflation). Even as prices were coming down in the late 1980s, investors called in to arrange purchases of gold coins and silver bars. They brought guns and family. Precious metals

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