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Dr. Dolen's Divinations

Dr. Dolen's Divinations
could a doctor of philosophy hoodoo you with thoughts about literature, music, film, and other artistic creations...
Articles: 1, 2, 3, 4


Essentials of Cooking
2008-05-19 18:49:00
There are some gifts that just keep on giving. This one was given to me by my girlfriend about 4 years ago. It is one of my favorite gifts of all time. If you are a home cook who has always dreamed of going to culinary school, who knows that this is one of those dreams that will remain just so...think again. Just buy the Essentials of Cooking . This is a BIBLE in the kitchen, y'all. I go to
GraceLand (2004)
2008-05-13 07:36:00
Let me just put this out there for all y'all who don't know. Chris. Abani. is. fascinating. I have finally gotten around to reading his novel GraceLand. It has been on my shelf for some time now. When I finally picked it up, I finished it in a day (no small feat. It's a "large" ambitious novel). Set in the late 1970s early 80s, the novel follows a young man named Elvis who comes of age in
Concha Buika
2008-05-10 21:28:00
Okay, party people. It's time for another musical recommendation. I took my iPod on a flight with me yesterday, and I got a chance to lose myself in some music. Such abandon is a luxury these days. I'll just say briefly before I begin that I reconnected with Robin Thicke also and the romance is definitely still there. So who do I recommend this week? Concha Buika. Oh my goodness. (You can
All for Kids Books
2008-05-07 08:17:00
I may be the last one to know this, but I found out today that the most wonderful children's bookstore in Seattle will close in a couple of weeks. The owner is retiring, they say. But we all know how it goes for independent booksellers. I hope someone buys it. I wish I could buy it. I will never buy a children's book from Barnes & Noble again.
More About: Kids , Books
Nabokov's Last Novel
2008-04-28 06:56:00
Well, it appears that Vladimir Nabokov's son has finally made a decision to publish his father's last novel, which has been in a vault in Switzerland ever since his death. It is written on a collection of 50 index cards (an entire novel???). Apparently, the novel is titled "The Original of Laura" and the son has no plans to finish it. Does that mean he will let someone else finish it? Or
Get it together, Amy!
2008-04-27 17:04:00
Can somebody please tell me what is going on with Amy Winehouse? I just love her music (although I think a couple of songs suffer from a bit of a...shall we say...originality problem). But that style! that voice! What is going on, Amy? CNN is reporting that she was involved in a barfight? She is reviving old, dated images of neurotic artists that I find so problematic. I wish much peace and
It's nice to be Joyce Carol Oates...
2008-04-21 05:34:00
When you're Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific literary writers that ever breathed, you get to be wildly creative. And so it goes with her latest book, Wild Nights, a collection of stories that imagines the final days of five writers: Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry James. She does choose the "usual suspects," though. I would have loved an
More About: Nice
I See Dead People
2008-04-18 08:46:00
Now here's something interesting. There's a group over at LibraryThing cataloging the library collections of famous dead people. Go on over and check it out. Some of the names include: Tupac Shakur James Joyce Charles Darwin e.e. cummings Sylvia Plath Ezra Pound (he read Langston Hughes!) Ernest Hemingway
More About: People , Dead , Dead People
La Isla Seattle
2008-04-14 06:13:00
Now I wouldn't be a proper aesthete if I weren't also a foodie, now would I? I had dinner at La Isla restaurant in Seattle last night and man was it good. Want Puerto Rican cuisine in the Emerald City? La Isla is the place.
Junot Diaz wins Pulitzer Prize
2008-04-08 22:36:00
This just in: Junot Diaz has won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Congratulations Junot!
More About: Wins
Unaccustomed Earth (2008)
2008-04-06 03:55:00
Yay! Jhumpa Lahiri has a new collection of short stories out. The NY Times has a review of the book in today's Times. Here's what Liesl Schillinger had to say: "Here, as in her first collection, “Interpreter of Maladies,” and her novel, “The Namesake,” Lahiri, who is of Bengali descent but was born in London, raised in Rhode Island and today makes her home in Brooklyn, shows that the place
More About: Earth , 2008
Kindle Reading Device
2008-03-31 01:35:00
Okay. I'm scared. My student reports that the new Kindle device is flying "off the shelves." Amazon can't keep them in stock. There are more than 2,000 reviews on the Amazon website, meriting the average of 4 out of 5 stars. The description says that the device can access and download more than 100,000 books and newspapers. But I love the printed book. I love the feeling of the paper in my
More About: Reading , Device
Making Up Bedtime Stories?
2008-03-31 01:28:00
Thanks to for turning me on to the recent Guardian article about the benefits of parents actually making up bedtime stories rather than reading books all the time. I like the idea (although it seems yet another thing to do on the exhausted parent's list). But this paragraph is the gem: "But Cole sees even more long-term benefits to both parents and their children of making up
More About: Stories
Macbook Air
2008-03-29 19:45:00
Now, I do not own an iPhone and I didn't own (nor want) an iPod until my significant other gave me one for Christmas (and he bought the smallest cheapest one because he knew I would only use it in the gym). I enjoy a Mac as much as anyone else, but I also enjoy a good, fast PC. When it comes to technology, I am more of a functionalist than I am an aesthete. But. When I saw the new MacBook
More About: Macbook , Macbook Air
The Power of Now (1999)
2008-03-27 19:28:00
So I was complaining to one of my dearest girlfriends that I was feeling depleted and low on energy now that I'm playing the "three p's": parent, professional, and partner. (I suppose I should capitalize those p's since these are major roles). And she recommended The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Now I know that Tolle has been getting major press since Oprah picked his most recent book (A
2008-03-23 17:25:00
I went to see yet another opera performed by Seattle Opera--Tosca. Unlike Pagliacci, Tosca is an opera in the grand style, complete with fabulous costumes and an elegant set. The storyline was more complete than Pagliacci (in terms of historical context, etc.), but I have to say that I love the music of Pagliacci a bit more. (Hey, just my opinion). Pictured above is Lisa Daltrius who starred
National Book Critics Circle Awards
2008-03-13 07:09:00
Some writers of color had a good result with the National Book Critics Circle Awards last week. Junot Diaz won in fiction for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (I gave this as a gift to a friend and she loved it) and Edwidge Danticat won in autobiography for Brother, I'm Dying (gosh I want to read this). The nonfiction prize went to former Harvard fellow Harriet A. Washington for Medical
50th Anniversary of Lolita
2008-03-13 06:50:00
I've just learned that 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of what is probably my all-time favorite novel: Nabokov's Lolita. I wish I was in Philly where the Kelly Writers House is beginning a marathon "out loud" reading of the novel on March 27th. That is going to be a feast for the ears!! But it's also going to involve some very tense moments. I wonder how long it'll take. (Note: the novel
More About: Anniversary
"learnin to read good"
2008-03-08 06:47:00
Today I told my students that as senior English majors, they should at least come out of the program knowing how to "read good." Now what I was trying to say was that the one fundamental skill they should know when they graduate is the art of a detailed and close analytical reading. But what came out was the Tennessee in me. It wasn't incorrect grammar on my part. It was my roots. "read
More About: Read , Good
Olympia Vernon
2008-03-06 20:11:00
I have discovered a new author!! And she's a black female writer from the South, to boot. Well, I actually discovered her months ago (can't remember how, surfing the Internet probably) and I am just now getting around to reading her 2004 novel--Logic. Let me tell you. This girl can write. She's a major talent. She just won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for her latest book--A Killing in This
More About: Olympia
Juno (2007)
2008-02-11 07:10:00
Please go see this film. It's fabulous. I haven't seen writing this quirky and funny since The Squid and the Whale. I totally underestimated this one (partially because I saw Jennifer Garner was in it and I'm totally underwhelmed by her acting). But this was good, partially due to the awesomely talented Ellen Page. And yes, Jennifer Garner was good in it. But here's the juicy: the
More About: Juno
There Will Be Blood (2007)
2008-02-04 05:51:00
I went to see this movie not knowing one single thing about it. All I knew was that Daniel Day-Lewis had delivered a knockout performance and won a Best Actor Golden Globe for it. Well, it's true. Daniel Day-Lewis is riveting in his leading role in this difficult-to-categorize film. At times, the movie seemed like a historical film. At other times, a drama. And yet, it was darkly funny.
More About: Blood , There Will Be Blood
Marlena Shaw
2008-01-31 17:53:00
I went to see Marlena Shaw the other night upon the strong recommendation of a friend, and I have mixed reviews of the performance. Shaw still has that beautiful timbre that propelled her to fame. When she's on, she's really on. But there were a few moments here and there where I felt like her range was not as great as it once was. She was best when she was singing "straight up." I know, I
Toni Morrison endorses Obama
2008-01-29 00:15:00
Well, it appears that after being injected into the current Democratic primary in a very unusual way--during the South Carolina primary Obama was asked about Morrison's reference to Bill Clinton as America's first "black president"--Toni Morrison has decided to endorse Obama. What I'm interested in is her personal letter of endorsement to Obama. Check out this quote: "In addition to keen
2008-01-27 19:22:00
I went to the opera last night fully expecting to snooze through much of it until the most famous song sung by the play's lead, Canio played by Antonello Palombi. But wasn't I surprised!! I was riveted the entire time. It was wonderful. I haven't been to the opera in years. What I remembered, therefore, was nice classical music but hours of incomprehension punctuated by a few moments of real
Time to Read?
2008-01-09 01:38:00
Who has time to read when historic presidential primaries are happening and the Australian Open is about to start and there is still pregnancy weight to lose and the baby is cutting her first two teeth? I've been reading Ian McEwan's Atonement for about 6 months now. Why, oh why can't I finish it? It reminds me of a 19th century British novel and I'm just struggling to get into it. But I
More About: Time , Read
Cheryl West-playwright
2007-12-13 22:09:00
I went to see a play the other night written by Chicago native Cheryl West . The play was "Birdie Blue." I have to say that the first 30-45 minutes of the play were a bit less than stellar. But at some point, the drama heightened and West had me in the palm of her hand. The last half of the play was riveting. I think West should tighten some of the chronological transitions, but then again
More About: Playwright
Dr. Dolen's Favorites
2007-12-13 06:47:00
Sooo sorry I haven't been posting in a bit. I've been crazy busy. I won't bore you with the details. And then once I do post, would you believe it...I'm going to post about what has been consuming my life for the past 9 months. Baby products!! So, akin to "Oprah's favorites" I'm going to post "Dr. Dolen's Favorites " except mine are all baby products. If these things don't pertain to you,
Things We Lost in the Fire
2007-10-25 09:15:00
I went to see Halle Berry's new movie, "Things We Lost in the Fire ." It's actually pretty good. She has matured as an actress. I do wonder, though, why every filmmaker who films her has a love affair with her. It's as if her body is fetishized. This was so true in "Catwoman" that it thrust me out of the movie. In this latest movie, the cinematography once again focuses on her body in
Men and Cartoons (2004)
2007-10-22 20:04:00
I just finished Men and Cartoons by Jonathan Lethem and I have to say that he's got me. I'm a fan. (He's also got a really cool website, by the way). The stories are fresh and interesting. His sentences are unassumingly brilliant, and knock up against one another in unexpected ways. You know, short story collections are often like albums--uneven in quality. This one isn't. They're all
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