Forget the calendar. With The Avengers, Battleship, and Men In Black already battling aliens at the multiplex, Hollywood's summer has arguably been under way for weeks.
No doubt, the tent-pole blockbusters — Ridley Scott's Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy, and the rest — will offer plenty of entertainment value, but there are a couple of hardy, resourceful little girls you might want to attend to, too.
Like many people, I long wanted to read, or at least be able to say that I had read, Walter Benjamin, widely acclaimed as one of the geniuses of 20th century literature. But I was daunted by the fact that his most celebrated work, The Arcades Project, is difficult, long and surrounded by dense clouds of academia, mystifying would-be readers in Europe and America.
I became un-daunted, and un-snobbed, when I discovered his Berlin Childhood around 1900.
Movie sets are usually sort of surreal — all that make-believe and artifice wrapped in the mechanics of a high-stakes industry. But this particular set, in the Universal Studios back lot, is even weirder. It was built for Westerns, with an old-timey saloon and hitching posts.
Right now, it's overrun by professional football players dressed up as cowboys or working as crew.
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel's first memoir came out in 2006. Called Fun Home, it dug deep into her complicated relationship with her father, a closeted gay man who poured his emotional energy into redecorating their Victorian Gothic home. He died, possibly a suicide, shortly after Bechdel herself came out as a lesbian in college.
That's a lot of information to take in, but it's an essential backdrop for Bechdel's new book, Are You My Mother? It's a searching, and at times visceral, portrait of Bechdel and her mother — a relationship that's still evolving.