Preface to “The Sedervantes”

In 2006, I began research in earnest on my master’s thesis on “Narrative Complexity in the Talking-Dog Stories of Cervantes, Hoffmann, Gogol, Bulgakov, and Kafka.” That’s when I first came across the question of Cervantes’s alleged Jewish ancestry. To my mind, if Cervantes had known that he was from a converso bloodline, it would answer […]


Coppélia, playing through Sunday at Pacific Northwest Ballet, has a “kid-friendly” reputation in ballet circles. One reason is because the ballet has actual kids on stage. There’s a waltz that calls for 24 children, each representing an hour of the day. This lends credibility to parents who tell their children that if they keep practicing, […]

What I learned from sketching at conferences

I’ve brought my drawing materials to three conferences this year to sketch the speakers during their presentations. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to being a courtroom sketch artist. Conferences are hardly ideal settings for sketching people, but they’re better than stealing glances on a downtown bus. The speakers stay on a single stage with […]

Summer Book Bingo 2015

This summer, Seattle Arts & Lectures and Seattle Public Library sponsored Summer Book Bingo, a self-directed reading project that encourages participants to read a variety of books associated with certain predetermined categories, e.g. “Prizewinner,” “Author under 30,” “Turned into a movie.” Sure, great, reading is fundamental. But it ain’t Bingo. Bingo works on the element of surprise. In real Bingo, first you get […]

Bankers And Revolutionaries

“There ain’t a winner in the game / Who don’t go home with all” (Garcia/Hunter, “Jack Straw,” 1971.) Raise your hand if you’re sick of the “fintech innovators vs. incumbent banks” conversation. I’ve been following this debate for a while now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the framing is entirely wrong and the terms involved […]


Today, August 28th, 2015, is the 12th birthday of Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest-ever Oscar nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Happy birthday, Quvenzhané! Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Quvenzhané, Happy Birthday to you! Suppose you were asked to sing this song, solo, at Quvenzhané’s birthday party. But […]

I faked my bar-mitzvah. 

The rabbi gave me an audiotape with instructions to memorize my portion. I quickly learned the first five lines of text. The rabbi trusted that with practice, I would learn the rest. On the big day, after exhausting my five-line repertoire, I improvised guttural noises to a Torah-y tune. The rabbi tapped me on the […]

Tuba-X, the Tinder Killer

Tinder, like eBay, finds strangers to take your unwanted junk. Shouldn’t there be a better way? Dating sites profit from recurring revenue, and the incentives follow from there: The best customers are players. Marriage is attrition, slightly ameliorated by positive word-of-mouth. Divorce is a double payday. Imagine a diaper business that wants you to stay in […]

The “Cli-fi” bank shot

Reduce. Reuse. Run for the hills. In August 2008, I started blogging for EcoTech, a IBM-sponsored, TechWeb-produced website that explored environmental-themed business opportunities for banks and insurance companies. From the press release: EcoTech is dedicated to practical applications of green technology and ecologically sound business practices in financial services, with a special focus on reducing […]

The youngest at the Eagles, the oldest at Titus Andronicus

The creaky oldsters in the top rows grudgingly stand to allow me to pass to my seat, pungent quasi-legal herbs in the air, the music already started, 45 minutes into the show, it’s “Desperado.” I’m here because the Eagles permitted their music to stream on Rhapsody starting June 25; because in the early 80s Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) […]