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Fred's dreams


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June 30, 2008
I dream I am in graduate school doing a class presentation on an elaborate circus set. I don’t know what I’m going to say, but I make it all very obtuse and ironic as I swing from one piece of apparatus to another. There is a competitor who is swinging, but his irony is not as good as mine. Later on, I am teaching a seventh grade class in which I insist that all lessons are to be taught while singing. My teaching assistant, Kevin Cooney, is not thrilled with my edict, but he acquits himself well. I find that the kids are getting overly excited. [Read more →]

announcementsbooks & writing

Our contributors in the news

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We are pleased to announce that Mean Martin Manning, a novel by our very own Scott Stein, was reviewed yesterday by the American Spectator:

Crafting a breezily subversive, funny narrative out of a barely hyperbolized modern American zeitgeist, Stein spins perhaps a bit too-timely-for-comfort cautionary tale.

Read the whole thing.

art & entertainmentends & odd

Examining my belly-button

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I had an opportunity, recently, to reflect on the nature of man’s search for unique ways to express his creative drive in socially acceptable fashion.

My, that sounded pretentious, didn’t it? The truth is that I got frustrated and didn’t have a clue why. This led to one of those moments I, like most people, avoid like the plague.

Self-evaluation. [

conversations with Paula and Robertmovies

Hancock: What’s race got to do with it?

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(Warning: Plot spoilers ahead)

Paula: The movie Hancock, starring Will Smith, recently opened in theaters to excellent reviews. Smith plays a surly superhero who gets “reformed” through the intervention of a good-hearted PR guy played by Jason Bateman. Bateman is married to preternaturally blonde Charlize Theron, who it turns out has been keeping under wraps the fact that she is a superhero, too. Most of the hype and resulting reviews claim the movie is no ordinary superhero movie but a kind of allegory about the problem of being human. I’m frankly puzzled. The movie struck me as an unsettling and unsatisfying amalgam of possibly racist motifs. [Read more →]

animalsbooks & writing

Two books go far beyond just looking at birds

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Plenty has been written about humans bonding with dogs (Old Yeller, The Call of the Wild, The Voice of Bugle Ann) or with horses (National Velvet, The Black Stallion), but not much about humans bonding with birds. Which seems strange, since falconry certainly has an ancient pedigree (the earliest evidence of it dates to the eighth century B.C.).

Nowadays birds are pretty popular. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, nearly 48 million Americans have taken up bird-watching as a hobby. Throughout the pleasanter months of the year a good many of those millions will take to field, forest and wetland to renew their acquaintance with the feathered flocks.

Most will engage in just looking at them, hoping to add another name to the list of those they’ve seen. But avian encounters can prove a good deal more profound than that, as two books in the outstanding NYRB Classics series conclusively demonstrate. [Read more →]

Fred's dreams


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August 25, 2006
I dream I am with my father in some combination of Vegas, Niagara Falls, and a theme park. We go to see the Penn and Teller show in a futuristic auditorium, which suddenly divides itself into 8 or 10 separate areas. A young woman I don’t know who seems to be sweet on me is sitting in front of me and I dribble chewed up peanuts into her hair. My dad would like a soda, but all they have are expensive beverages in souvenir glasses with umbrellas. I commiserate with the girl’s mother and reminisce about the good old days in Vegas when you sat at a dime slot machine and buxom women served free drinks.

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conversations with Paula and Robertpolitics & government

Having fun talking about politics?

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Robert: I tell you, this election season has been fun. I cannot remember having anything like this amount of fun four years ago when John Kerry was challenging George W. Bush. Was it that Kerry was boring? That Bush was also boring? Is it that the Hillary-Obama contest made following this race so interesting? Or is it fun because I’m a Democrat and the Democrats are clearly on the upswing in the polls with a Republican president at a 20-percent approval rating? The media environment is changing at warp-speed and I wonder if the further advance of the Internet has added to the fun of following campaigns.


 Paula: I suppose it depends upon what your definition of fun is, to borrow some phrasing from the master of fun. Yes, I have been more stimulated to talk about this campaign than in the past, and it’s true that lunch and dinner conversations have been a lot more lively. But I wonder if there isn’t something sort of macabre, creepy really, about having so much fun parsing, comparing, teasing out meanings as they pertain to the candidates. [Read more →]

politics & government

Advice to Obama (part of a regular plea until he wins the friggin presidency)

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Get bigger.

No, I’m not some sort of freaky Obama girl with inside information, I’m a voter. I’m a damn Obama voter and I need for him to get BIGGER. By that I mean, get higher.

Okay, this isn’t working. I need for Barack Obama to stop feeling and reacting to all the tiny Lilliputian arrows — the Bernie Mac jokes, the New Yorker cartoonist, the Wright sermons, the McCain snarks. Don’t go to freaking Kabul because McBush tweaked your nose, don’t chide Bernie for being naughty, just get out of reaction mode and delegate that shit! Appoint a High Chief Offendee who can get all hurt and outraged for you and then get bigger. Set the tone, act, be the cowbells, I don’t care — I don’t even want to be telling you this. You don’t know how much I don’t want to be telling you this.

Getting offended is over. Getting offended is for those goofballs who are still boycotting Denmark. Ignore negative behavior, stop acting like a scold, set your terms, stop talking about God, and start talking about how John McCain still cashes his $1900 social security check every month instead of donating it to Cindy’s favorite charity — Guccis for the Ghetto. Talk about the video of McCain choking on the fact that he voted against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control! Dude, there’s lots to talk about. Big stuff.

Barack, we’re there for you baby, but you gotta put on your big suit and get some height. We can’t see you down there in the snake pit shaking your finger at the snakes.

educationhealth & medical

We’re so proud. He graduated at the bottom of his class.

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My cousin will graduate from the nursing program at Ball State University today. Last night I went to the pinning ceremony and was the first to stand in ovation when the audience was invited to acknowledge the accomplishments of the 2008 baccalaureates. I stood because she is one of the dearest people in my life. I stood because she has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and despite all, she has achieved her dream. I stood because she is graduating with honors at the top of her class.

Other than those attending with me, applauding our particular graduate, I don’t know why everyone else stood up when I did. [Read more →]

family & parentingtrusted media & news

Barbie gone wild?

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Barbie’s new S&M look has whipped up a storm — with protestors dubbing it “filth.” A religious group, the Christian Voice, has been quoted as saying, “this is taking it too far. A children’s doll in sexually suggestive clothing is irresponsible — it’s filth.” [Read more →]

conversations with Paula and Robertpolitics & government

The New Yorker and Obama

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Paula: The July 15 New Yorker has as its cover a satirical sketch of Barack Obama dressed in Muslim garb beside his wife in battle fatigues, rifle, and Afro hair, reminiscent of a ’60s-style Black Panther. New Yorker editor David Remnick and cartoonist Barry Blitt say their goal was to parody the way the couple is portrayed by the right wing press. But the cartoon has upset Obama supporters who feel it reinforces prejudicial views about their candidate.


 Robert: I like the New Yorker. And I don’t want to accuse them of astonishing misjudgment, but my sense is that this is an instance of astonishing misjudgment. [Read more →]

Fred's dreams


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June 27, 2008
I dream I am at a resort during a political season. The resort centers around an enormous multi-leveled wave pool and your political affiliations move you to different areas. My political affiliation is causing my left nipple to bleed with a blue gelatin and I have to keep wiping it off. Furthermore, I keep going down the wrong waterfalls and winding up in the wrong wave pools.

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his & hersreflections & recollections by Scott Stein

The death of me

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According to the most reliable sources, the mythological Cyclops was tortured by the precise advanced knowledge of when and how it would die.

I’m no mythological creature, but I too know the precise how — if not the when — of my death. I will die by tripping over shoes my wife has left on the floor. [Read more →]


Call for Writers

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When Falls the Coliseum is looking for contributors. If you’re a writer — professional or otherwise — who can be provocative, funny, or otherwise engaging and fun to read, visit our submissions page. Our contributors are invited to write short blog posts, mini-essays, and longer, more developed pieces, on just about any topic and with any approach. A look at our key page should give you a good idea of how wide-ranging the writing opportunities are. Spread the word. Come play our little reindeer games.

educationpolitics & government

The American Way

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Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics Blog notes that “there aren’t many goods and services in this country that you can’t significantly upgrade if you have the money.”

Of course. That’s part of the American Way — the wealthy are able to afford better goods and services than are the poor. This is the type of thing that people lament when they are relatively poor, but then relish in when they have some money. In fact, it’s the whole point of dragging oneself out of poverty — to live a more comfortable life. The wealthy can have better cars, better clothes, better communities, and better schools.

Yes, better schools. Higher income areas generally have better school facilities, in an effort to provide a better educational experience to the children of the well-to-do. [Read more →]

educationon the law

A Matter of Justice

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You’ve probably heard by now about the awful incident at Binghamton University (my alma mater), where a 6’9, 280 lb. sophomore center on the basketball team stomped on the head of a 5’9, 130 lb. senior. The smaller man now lies in near-comatose state

To make matters worse, the basketball player, Miladin Kovacevic — with the help of his parents and Serbian consulate officials — has fled to his native Serbia and is fighting extradition. Kovacevic’s mother said, “My son is not running away from justice, he’s running away from injustice,” while CNN.com also reports that, “Kovacevic’s parents said their son was threatened and disdained because of his nationality and they felt they had to rescue him.”

Injustice is afoot, but not the kind the fugitive’s mother speaks of.

The victim, Bryan Steinhauer, a Brooklyn-raised accounting major, is “unable to drink or eat on his own. “ His father says, “He has enough awareness to realize what situation he is in, especially when he sees us…He starts yelling out and crying out with a tortured look on his face. He’s starting to realize what has happened to him.”

All this over a girl who may have been pinched or groped. All this at one of America’s best state universities. All this two weeks before graduation. Injustice indeed. [Read more →]

moneyon the law

On guard

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I was at Lowes today with my son buying a new faucet for the bathroom when a guy tried to scam me. He was a young guy, short hair, wearing some team’s sports jersey. I don’t know why he thought I’d be an easy mark. He came close to me and my shopping cart and, in a low voice, like he had a valuable secret to share, asked if I would do him a favor. His wife was waiting outside, and they were low on gas, and he was in a hurry, so would I mind buying my stuff with this gift card he had? He showed it to me. [Read more →]

Fred's dreams


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June 3, 1998
I dream a cooking show is being shot in my father’s basement. The host, a lustful Englishwoman in her 60’s, cooks an elaborate, multi-course breakfast. Meanwhile upstairs, a middle-aged man is laying carpet, and the cooking show host tells her audience she wants to have sex with him. She asks the man [Read more →]

books & writing

Making Time

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“How do you find the time to write?” is a question that I, and surely other writers, am often asked.

My answer is, “You don’t find time — you make time.” [Read more →]


Fred and his dreams

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Fred Siegel has created a Who’s Who and introduction to his dreams. Check it out and offer your interpretations. There’s some strange stuff going on inside that head. Fred’s dreams runs every Wednesday.

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