My aspiration to be a critic took seed early on: as a teenager, I wrote movie reviews for my high school paper and launched my Front Row Seat column, which continues to this day in the Duluth News Tribune. Today, I write criticism covering a wide range of media. I’m an alumnus of the National Critics Institute, and a member of the National Book Critics Circle as well as the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance.
In July 2023, I was pleased to have my criticism honored with a first place Page One award from the Minnesota Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
- Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is a celebration of found family (Duluth News Tribune, Sept. 22, 2023). “When the lights went up for intermission on Thursday night, one audience member declared, ‘They don’t have to impress me in the second half, because they already did in the first!’ If only it worked that way for the Vikings.”
- In Heroes of the Fourth Turning, right debates right (Duluth News Tribune, Aug. 18, 2023). “In Arden Weaver’s unfussy set, the most evocative touch is a pattern of small white lights glowing against a curtain to remind us these characters are out under the stars. God, they believe, is looking down on them. They try to meet his gaze, but keep being drawn back toward one another, wondering what to do with the inconvenient bodies that happen to hold their souls.”
- Reimagined Oklahoma! hints America is not O.K. (The Tangential, Nov. 12, 2021). “It’s a pointed challenge to the many culturally complacent productions that have come before, but it also has the effect of shaking the dust off one of the most influential works of American art ever created, reclaiming Oklahoma! as a product of the modernist era.”
- In Daniel Kraus’s Whalefall, it’s a long way down (The Tangential, Sept. 26, 2023). “You may have seen this coming, but the whale is a metaphor.”
- Book chronicles Bob Dylan’s one, perfect Minnesota album session (Duluth News Tribune, Sept. 14, 2023). “The song ‘Funkytown,’ recorded five years later at Sound 80, is about leaving Minneapolis to find “a town that’s right for me.” For Dylan — if only for one, crucial album — that meant making a reverse journey and coming home to Minnesota.”
- Maria Bamford says Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult (Duluth News Tribune, Sept. 7, 2023). “Although Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult recounts a long journey through support groups and professional care, with no pat resolution, it’s not cynical. The book acknowledges that a human brain is a complicated thing to have, and that even if no one cult — er, program — can solve all your problems, it just might save your life.”
- Every Star Wars movie, ranked (Creepy Catalog, Aug. 31, 2023). “If the #MakeSolo2Happen movement hasn’t been quite as successful as #WeezerCoverAfrica, well, you know what Han Solo says about the odds.”
- Nope is more than meets the eye (Duluth News Tribune, Aug. 1, 2022). “Peele’s third feature film as writer and director is a popcorn movie about a cowboy and a flying saucer. It’s also an allegory, layered with symbolism, about race and representation spanning the entire history of the motion picture as a medium.”
- One Fine Morning a subtle study of loss, life (Duluth News Tribune, March 2, 2023). “The film’s most moving quality is Hansen-Love’s refusal to portray Sandra as a victim of fate.”
- “Folk piano” by way of John Cage: George Winston defies musical stereotypes (YourClassical, December 24, 2013). This concert review was quoted in the New York Times obituary for the artist upon his death in 2023.
- Bon Iver headlines poignant show at Bayfront Festival Park (Duluth News Tribune, Aug. 3, 2023). “Vernon’s songs are built on gorgeous soundscapes with piercing moments of emotional clarity, their introversion emphasized by the singer’s varied use of his signature falsetto and electronic voice modulation.”
- The 9 types of horror movie soundtracks (Creepy Catalog, Sept. 22, 2023). “The Suspiria score generally sounds like Goblin took Mike Oldfield’s tubular bells, put them in a shopping cart, and pushed it down the Exorcist steps.”
- Thoughts I had while watching 468 minutes of The Beatles: Get Back (The Current, Dec. 3, 2021). “There’s exactly as much eating of toast and drinking of tea in this footage as I expected…and I expected a lot.”
- Holding onto the cracks in Foundation (The Tangential, July 14, 2023). “Only a few minutes into the season premiere, Lee Pace is fighting for his life in a fully nude scene that would be awkward enough if it hadn’t already been shown up by Jennifer Lawrence — who didn’t, unlike Pace as Brother Day, have her naughty bits hidden by careful camerawork.”
- Why Ahsoka has a cult following (The Tangential, Aug. 19, 2023). “Princess Leia was iconic, but didn’t get to use the Force onscreen until she was nearly on her deathbed. Padmé had her moments, but was inexplicably putty in the hands of her problematic fave, Anakin. Ahsoka, on the other hand, was written as a powerful Jedi who was so independent, she walked away from the Jedi Order when they failed to trust her at a critical juncture. What a badass.”
- An Art of Changes brings a lifetime of Jasper Johns prints back to the Walker Art Center (The Tangential, Feb. 14, 2020). “The eye is immediately drawn to the work, trained to look for meaning and context, only to discover that the latter is detached and the the former is vacant.”
- With Assembly Hall at the Walker Art Center, Theaster Gates creates a space to contemplate culture (The Tangential, Sept. 6, 2019). “‘By saying I’m a potter, I’m actually a fucking philosopher.'”
- Guillermo del Toro is At Home with Monsters in new Mia exhibit (The Current, March 4, 2017). “The new exhibit [draws] you into del Toro’s wide-ranging, seductively creepy imagination — as well as into the imaginations of the underappreciated artists who inspired him.”
- Minnesota State Fair 2023: The five most intriguing new foods (Duluth News Tribune, Aug. 25, 2023). “Lutefisk isn’t really something you can review: It simply exists.”
- 10 new Minnesota State Fair foods: Hit or miss? (Duluth News Tribune, Aug. 26, 2022) “The problem with Pickle Pizza isn’t the pickle — it’s the pizza.”