The Magic of Christmas in New York


I have a piece in the December 25 issue of The Catholic Herald about Christmas in New York — specifically how movies have shaped our perceptions of the city as a romantic backdrop for the holiday. Alas, the article is not available online (at least not yet), but here is a snippet from the print edition:

Whenever I speak to foreign friends, acquaintances and even strangers near Christmastime, they often openly fantasise about spending the holiday in New York City. They also tend to cite the film Home Alone 2 as the source of this fantasy.

Films have that effect: they alter our perceptions of a time and place into impossible standards by which we judge our real lives. I won’t pretend I didn’t develop my own fantasy of spending Christmas in London when I first saw Love Actually.

Everyone wants to fall in love, actually, and wants it to happen in certain places: on the Pont Alexandre III bridge in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower rising in the background, just as Jack Nicholson did in one of the 57 movies he made with Diane Keaton (or was it Helen Hunt?) — or, if Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron have any say in it, in Yuletide Manhattan.


Would You Use A Time Machine To Kill Hitler?

At PJ Media, I discuss using time travel to kill Adolf Hitler:

Of course there are logistical problems with this, as in any hypothetical time-travel scenario. Would this time machine drop you off armed with a suppressed pistol in Hitler’s bedroom while he slept, or would you simply be dumped onto Unter den Linden in broad daylight with nothing but a cheap folding knife? It says “kill a young Adolf Hitler,” but what fun would that be?



Bad Boys Make Bad Men

At PJ Media, I ponder the idiotic human attraction to “bad boys” and their rebellious behavior:

But why is this destructive and often sociopathic behavior so appealing to so many people? I learned yesterday, for instance, that Charles Manson, the 80-year-old psychotic who has been in prison for decades with a swastika etched into his own forehead, is to marry a not-unattractive 26-year-old frequent visitor of his. I really do give up. Like much about human psychology, the what is very easy to ascertain, but the why eludes us. We all know that many people find rebelliousness, and even criminality, attractive. And we all know that the standard reason given is that it’s sexy to break the rules. So we are stuck in a circular argument that tells us that it’s sexy to be rebellious because rebelliousness is sexy. We are still not any closer to understanding why certain criminals are more sexually marketable than the quiet solid-state physicist or the hard-working janitor.

Read the whole thing here. (more…)

Mike Tyson Punches Out

I have reviewed Mike Tyson’s strange new animated television show, Mike Tyson Mysteries, for PJ Media. My verdict is that Tyson has so much baggage from his past that anything with which he’s involved is tinged with the bizarreness of his life:

Seeing Tyson these days, even an unsympathetic onlooker can’t deny that he has mellowed. He claims his wild days are behind him—the days of entering the news cycle periodically for drug- and violence-related arrests. He hasn’t boxed since 2005, when he lost his final match to a palooka named Kevin McBride. The interviews he grants nowadays reveal an aging Tyson coming to terms with decades’ worth of shameful behavior. His tone is pensive and pleasant: none of the classic threats or vulgarities. It is like a newly sober man watching a video of his embarrassing life played back to him. But is anyone else watching? Does anyone care anymore?

Read it here.