By Paul Koch

Jack Donovan in his book Becoming a Barbarian has a chapter titled “The Empire of Nothing.” In it he offers a compelling critique of our current political and cultural milieu. In fact, he argues that it isn’t so much a culture that is being forwarded but an anticulture where there is no “Emperor, no center and no people.” Instead, the Empire of Nothing is a collection of businesses and institutions that have aligned against identity in some vague hope of “progress.”

By Tim Winterstein

I’m not proud of it, but Alfred Hitchcock is one of the gaps in my film self-education. It’s sort of like those classic books of the Western canon I always tell myself I’ll get around to. I’ve got good intentions to read more Dostoevsky or Greek dramas or Moby Dick or Les Misérables… well, they look good on my shelf, at least. So I finally watched Vertigo last year, and now Rear Window. Rope and North by Northwest are next. (I know, I know. By the way, have you all seen these great new shows, Breaking Bad and Justified?)

By Graham Glover

I’ve been thinking about it for almost 22 years. Sometimes it’s simply a fleeting thought. Other times it preoccupies an inordinate amount of my day. Making this jump – taking this plunge, is something I’ve considered my entire adult life. And now I’m ready. After a long journey of vacillating, I’m really going to do it. I’ve spent countless hours researching every conceivable reason why I should and even more why I shouldn’t. I’ve analyzed copious amounts of data, including primary and secondary sources, as well as scathing critiques of them all. I’ve carefully deliberated what my decision will mean, both immediately and in the long term. But it’s not just my decision. It’s a family decision, because my decision will affect them all. It’s no wonder then that my wife has been instrumental in leading me to this point. You might even say she is the one who pushed me over the top – the one who gave me the final bit of encouragement I needed.

By Paul Koch

Last taco Tuesday, I sat next to my buddy Tim at our usual spot. Televisions surrounded us above the bar and throughout the whole cantina. Almost all of them had some sort of sports on display from the LA Dodgers to the beginning of NFL training camps to just about anything you might find amusement in (even the terrible game of soccer). But every once and a while, a particular TV will stream the daily news that exists outside of the sports world as a sort of reprieve from the rest of the familiar storylines.

By Paul Koch

An 18-year-old woman was flying down the highway in the central valley of California when she lost control of her vehicle and rolled the car, killing her 14-year-old sister, who was thrown out the back window. As far as tragedies go, this one was pretty run of the mill. Tragic, to be sure. Avoidable, absolutely. But it was not unusual on the highways of California. To be sure, such a moment would hardly make the nightly news these days, except for one bizarre twist. The whole event, from the reckless driving to the death of her sister, was streamed live on Instagram.

By Tim Winterstein

Warning: Spoilers! If you haven’t seen the film and plan to, you may want to postpone reading this until afterward.

In light of last week’s post, I hesitate to make too much out of my movie of the week, War for the Planet of the Apes. That is to say, you need find nothing particularly meaningful in the movie to enjoy it. Not only is it a great conclusion to Rise and Dawn, War is certainly the best of the three films. The story is complex and well-paced. In the few scenes where the story slows and feels like it might get bogged down, it is saved by raw emotion or humor (such as Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape). The CGI on the apes is astoundingly good, particularly with Caesar and Maurice. There’s nothing mechanical or unrealistic about them.