Here we are in the final third of 2021, which I think has given us enough time to gain some perspective on the previous decade. Of course our understanding of a "decade" as a distinct collection of fashions, fads, and cultural mores may have ended with the 20th century. In other words, while the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s remain very… read more!
Lists of Nine with Keyword "history" (most recent at top)
As we wade into a new decade, some people believe, as always, that everything's getting worse and that everything used to be so much better. I disagree. For instance, you can't convince me that any era before the advent of indoor plumbing was better than this one. We romanticize the past because we survived it – we gloss over the… read more!
It's a clunky title, I know. But I didn't want to call these people the "best" directors of the decade, and certainly not the "most successful", for how do you define these things? Awards, critical praise, and box office only tell part of the story. In any case, these notable filmmakers were the most influential and most discussed and/or worshipped… read more!
What does it mean to "rule" a year? For this list, I chose people who not only met with great success in their chosen fields in 2019, but who dominated the media landscape (especially on the Internet, where I live). People whose names and likenesses you saw again and again, who were the constant subjects of praise, opinion, and fascination.… read more!
Lots of famous people were born and/or raised in San Francisco: Joe DiMaggio, O.J. Simpson, Danny Glover, Courtney Love, Margaret Cho, and so on. But you won't find any notable names when you Google the phrase "lifelong San Franciscan". In true California spirit, the people most associated with the City by the Bay either came from elsewhere to make their fortune,… read more!
One year ago today, I posted a List of 9 detailing my predictions for 2018. As I mentioned back then, the fun part of annual predictions is checking in later to see how wrong these arrogant prognosticators turned out to be. And oh, how wrong I was! I honestly tried to be realistic, dear reader. I didn't try to game… read more!
Middle names are mutable things. Without going too deeply into my own biography – because we'd be here all day – my middle name Tapio is actually my father's surname, and it was mine too at birth. Technically, I've had three different middle names in my life. And my wife changed hers after we got married; now she's a Tapio… read more!
Ever since Goodfellas set the tone in 1990, countless films and TV shows have been set in the 1970s, all with soundtracks of cool '70s songs that are possibly more popular now than they were back then. These soundtracks might lead you to assume that everyone in the '70s listened to David Bowie and Steve Wonder, Led Zeppelin and Blondie.… read more!
A list like this is a fool's errand. How can anyone choose one song to represent an entire year, much less an entire decade, with all its trends and transformations? It was hard enough to do it with movies. But I'm making an attempt anyway, because it's been fun to think about. Here goes. The 1930s: "BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE… read more!
Lately it seems like we have more period pictures than ever. It's not unreasonable to conclude that filmmakers are setting their stories in pre-digital times because mobile phones and the Internet screw up traditional dramatic tropes. (More ominously, it's possible that some current films take place far in the past in order to justify non-diverse casts.) But what 2010s films best represent life in the 2010s? Will it be the upcoming The Circle, based on Dave… read more!
In the 1980s, it was easy to define the previous decade by ticking off singular '70s fads: bellbottoms! disco! Leif Garrett! Likewise, when the '90s rolled around, one had no problem summing up the '80s: New Wave! Pac-Man! Moonlighting! Yet here I am in 2015, finding the current decade indistinguishable from the last. Part of this is me getting older and thus less attuned… read more!
Surprisingly, not many people know much about milestones in the evolution of cinema. Sure, you could probably name 1927's The Jazz Singer as the world's first "talkie" (meaning the first feature film with synchronized sound taken from live recorded audio). And if you're a real movie trivia buff, you might remember that 1952's Bwana Devil was the first color 3-D… read more!
For the purposes of this list, I'll define a "mockumentary" simply as a fiction film that is made to look like nonfiction. It could be a parody, it could be a pastiche, it could be a put-on. And like it or not, we seem to be stuck with it. Although certain protocols have settled in over the past decade, with… read more!
All things considered, 2012 was a relatively slow news year. Sure, plenty of important things happened, but when you compare it to other recent years, with their tsunamis and their earthquakes and their revolutions, this year mostly offered just "more of the usual". Still, there were some major stories, and many of them can be summarized by single words -… read more!
Election Day is tomorrow! Let's celebrate by looking back at the nine most recent American presidents who have been portrayed on screen by famous actors. I'm not including all the various Saturday Night Live performers and sketch artists who have lampooned our Commanders in Chief. These are just the bona fide film and TV stars. George W. Bush. No Obama… read more!
This year I keep hearing about various institutions turning fifty, which has led me to one conclusion: 1962 was a pretty big year, especially for pop culture. Here are some of the many things hitting the half-century point in 2012. Sixties music. Technically, sixties music started in, well, 1960. But look at this: in 1962, Bob Dylan released his first… read more!
There are over 19,000 incorporated municipalities in the United States. I have no idea how many of them have English-based names. It may not even be a majority. But since English is still the primary language of this country, it's easy to assume that it's the default source for most of our city names, e.g., all the Springfields, Fairviews, Greenvilles… read more!
At first this seemed like an easy list to write; anybody can look up what happened on this day in history without doing a lot of legwork. But as February 29 only comes around every four years, that means it's four times less likely to have had anything interesting happening on it. Thus, finding the good stuff took a bit… read more!
As the saying goes, "comedy is tragedy plus time." One may also say, "a tourist trap or Halloween costume is tragedy plus time." Because there are some disturbing things that, decades or centuries later, have entered the realm of popular culture and are now accepted as entertainment. Here in Hollywood, for instance, there are tour bus companies that will take… read more!
The concept of the "group show", where the general public is invited to view new work by a collection of artists, is a relatively recent one in art history: it all began with the Paris Salon, first held in 1737. And so it continued, rather stiffly, for the next 130 years or so, until the art world rebelled. Since then,… read more!