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Stories by Matthew Lickona

The gosh-darned Götterdämmerung

When the impending end of your own personal world looks like the end of the world at large

Like more than a few members of my generation, I had Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece Citizen Kane “spoiled” for me by Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip. (A sign that I’m getting old: I feel the ...

Young chessmen

“You only get mismatches like that in this tournament”

It’s a little after 7 pm on January 2nd, and the San Diego Chess Club is holding the club champtionship qualifying round in its mid-century Balboa Park digs along Sixth Avenue just north of Ivy. ...

Christmas with intoxicated Bob

Bob was the opposite of transcendence

I missed the first half of Mass on Christmas Eve because I’m an usher down at Our Lady of the Rosary. That means I wind up dealing with the busyness at the back of the ...

Bridge booms in Balboa Park

An old ladies' game no longer

“I didn’t know people still played bridge.” “I guess you could say it’s extremely vulgar. I like it a lot.” — Exchange from Whit Stillman’s excellent movie Metropolitan, which came out in 1990, 17 years ...

2018: Apparition to Zama

If a movie releases on Netflix and not in a theater, is it a movie?

A strange year at the movies for your exceedingly humble correspondent. Only about 100 reviews this time ‘round, and three of my notable ten didn’t even make it into the paper. The first of those ...

The Favourite: Pretty ugly people

At the outset of The Favourite, director Yorgos Lanthimos’ scabrous and nihilistic romp amid the English royals, Emma Stone — playing Abigail, a clever girl from a fallen family — faces an unpleasant choice: either ...

Baja’s Hearst Castle

“A hallucination materialized”

Back in 2011, a real-estate man named Tony Wells caught the attention of the LA Weekly with El Bordello Alexandra, a Venice Beach apartment complex that he’d spent ten years transforming, along with his partner ...

The journey to “see the end of the wall”

“If I had known the walk was what the walk was, I would have stayed in the car.”

“If I had known the walk was what the walk was, I would have stayed in the car,” says the man at the beach where the United States ends and Mexico begins. And it was ...

Memorial for The Man

Stan Lee, the Creator

“The man is dead,” texted my brother on November 12. “Which man?” I answered. “The Man.” The capital “M” got my attention. “God?” “Yes. Blasphemy, but not by much. He was the Creator. Stan Lee.” ...

Melancholy vs. midday meal

“Smile — You’re in San Diego.”

November seems odd/ You’re my firing squad/ November — Tom Waits, “November” My wife might say that anyone who goes listening to Tom Waits’ “November” in November — when the darkness starts closing in even ...

Local boy makes good

An interview with Character Designer Jeff Merghart

Ralph Breaks the Internet, Disney’s sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, is superior to its predecessor in several ways. Character Designer Jeff Merghart, a La Mesa native who attended Helix High and Grossmont College before heading to ...

How your genetic makeup impacts your health

Your genetics might mean your jar is already half-full

November 8 is Genetic Counselor Awareness Day. National Society of Genetic Counselors president Erica Ramos lives and works here in San Diego, and wants you to know that “your genes and your predispositions to disease ...

Skeletons and spiderwebs

“We live in hearts that we leave behind.”

On November 2, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of All Souls, commemorating the faithful departed who have died but who have yet to attain beatitude in heaven. The feast reminds the living to pray ...

The Inkwell Incidents

The details are difficult to hear

Inkwell Tattoo & Body Piercing on Main Street in Ramona is not on any of San Diego’s haunted house tours, and perhaps it’s just as well. Owner-operator Christopher Fowles has a business to run, and ...

Academic Anomaly addresses the Grievance Imbroglio

Scholarly journals publish hoax articles

In 1996, physics professor Alan Sokal submitted an article to the cultural studies journal Social Text claiming that “it is becoming increasingly apparent that physical ‘reality’ is fundamentally ‘a social and linguistic construct.’” His aim ...

Bad Times at the El Royale is good

Director Drew Goddard is clearly a man who views his setting as a character

In 2012, writer-director Drew Goddard took a bunch of teens to a Cabin in the Woods for a rollicking nightmare subversion of the horror genre. Here, he takes a bunch of strangers — Jeff Bridges’ ...

A festa amid the fury

“O beautiful virgin of the rosary, who intercedes for us during the storm...”

“Julian had a polite but implacable contempt for Judeo-Christian tradition in virtually all its forms. He would deny this if confronted, citing evasively his affection for Dante and Giotto, but anything overtly religious filled him ...

Marsden’s military movie

“We decided the best thing we could do is tell stories”

“A few years ago,” said KPBS general manager Tom Karlo to the 25 or so people gathered in the plush quiet of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Theater at the San Diego Museum of Photographic ...

As fall comes in, the stars come out

Three three-star new movie releases this week, including Golden Job and I Am Not a Witch

Three three-star new movie releases this week, including Golden Job and I Am Not a Witch

I Am Not a Witch: craft and care

A remarkably assured debut, one that knows its strengths and plays to them

I Am Not a Witch: craft and care

His and Hers memory quilts

“It gives you nice memories and something to snuggle under — or in Izzy’s case, sleep on.”

His and Hers memory quilts

Pick of the Litter is the pick of the litter

Plus other new movie releases, including The Predator and The Apparition

This seems to be shaping up as the Year of the Dog in cinema, what with Alpha, AXL, Dog Days, and now the delightful documentary Pick of the Litter. After that, you may end up ...

Dingle detour

“We’re not tourists, we’re travelers”

Dingle detour

Kenny Bania buys a slice

Scorched pesto is not something worth paying to endure

Kenny Bania buys a slice

Nun better? Nun worse.

But The Nun will still probably top the rest of this week's new movie releases

A long time ago, a friend gave me a copy of Gerald Brittle's The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and warned me not to read it before going to sleep. I ...

On your Marks...

...supercritic Scott tackles movie releases both old and new

September doesn't start until tomorrow, and Fall's not for another three weeks, but Scott Marks has shaken off the torpor brought on by a slew of summer snoozefests and lept back into the fray like ...

Car-crazy Carlos’ crazy car

It’s the brands that get a bump

When the Chula Vista cop pulled Carlos Abram Reyes over, he thought maybe the 21-year old was driving a Nissan 350Z. He had some reason to think it: the rear diffuser surrounding the twin exhaust ...

St. Malo serenade

I have long held that happy people don’t make art

Through the kind indulgence of the residents and the largesse of friends and loved ones, I have on occasion been allowed to visit St. Malo, a private community of beachside homes situated at the southern ...

The Jack Ryan Experience experience

“These are getting more elaborate every year,” said my fellow media person Callie as we gazed up at the full-scale model helicopter above the two-story set intended to invoke a bombed-out Middle Eastern edifice. We ...

Mission: Impossible’s Modest pleasures

There’s a moment near the beginning of Mission: Impossible: Fallout — when can-do American agent Ethan Hunt is receiving the recorded details of his impossible mission via reel-to-reel video embedded in a copy of Homer’s ...


It's that time of year again...

You don’t need no stinkin’ badges

Cosplay is Mom’s thing

“I always joke that we need a smaller house and a bigger garage."

Sheila Szilagyi-Noseworthy is getting the upstairs bathroom remodeled in her pretty Poway home. “It’ll be nice,” she muses. “But I always joke that we need a smaller house and a bigger garage. That’s my dream, ...

Goodbye Adams Avenue Bookstore

Another temple gone

The Adams Avenue Bookstore in Normal Heights is closing after 53 years of operation. I stopped in at the Store Closing sale, and overheard one fellow tell another that he had 16,000 books in his ...

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

If you didn’t want to inspire comparison, maybe you shouldn’t have made a sequel

Needless to say, most people, critics and civilians alike, disagreed with my negative take on Incredibles 2. Biggest opening of all time for an animated film, 94% fresh rating at, A+ Cinemascore — plus ...

Unstuck via stick and poke

"When you etch something into flesh, it’s almost like a spell."

Sarah Kahn was stuck — “in a lot of areas in my life, but really in my career.” She’d gotten her doctorate in clinical psychology, but didn’t want to get licensed, because she “didn’t like ...

We have met the Underminer, and he is us

Alas, Incredibles 2 is not too incredible

I loved the first Incredibles movie. I especially loved the ending. Journey back with me to 2004, and mind the fourteen-year-old spoilers along the way. The super-powered Parr family has triumphed: in stopping the killer ...

Women in Hollywood

Ocean's 8, Hereditary and more "women's pictures" among this week's new movie releases

Well, director Colin Treverrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World, and um, The Book of Henry) went and gave a barn-burner of an interview to the good people at Uproxx that should have folks talking about ...

Romance on the rocks

Maybe the On Chesil Beach kids should have stayed at the Carlyle, and other new movie releases

Love is hard. Sometimes, it's going well, and the past intrudes in unexpected ways. Sometimes, it's going well, and you hit an unexpected squall. Sometimes, it's going well, and someone murders your wife and all ...

"Watch this." (Or maybe don't)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is half a good Star Wars story

I played an awful lot of Star Wars when I was a kid. My snowy backyard in upstate New York was the ice planet Hoth. My jungle gym was The Millennium Falcon. And my best ...

A burlesque extension of the Star Wars universe

The Empire Strips Back aims for the funny familiar

Pulitzer-nominated political cartoonist Jeff Danziger once wrote that he wanted his panels to work like an icicle slipped down your back — funny in a way, but also discomfiting. Laughter tinged with the twinge that ...

Dressing the part, from Atlanta to Vegas to here

Sartorial scientist Pearce Cleaveland helps host Happy Hour poolside at the Pendry

There’s an elevator at the Pendry hotel on Fifth that runs from the underground Oxford Social Club, with its $1500 Saturday night bottle service, up to the ground-floor Lionfish restaurant, home to Eater “Top-50 Young ...

"You're tearing me apart!"

James Dean has nothing on Ryan Reynolds in this week's new movie releases, including Deadpool 2 and The Desert Bride

I've been on about this before, but one of the things that make so many superhero punch-ups so deadly dull is the Toughness Inconsistency Index, which states that the amount of punishment a hero can ...

Post-movie problems

A potentially profitable plight?

Avengers: Infinity War was a long movie: 160 minutes or so. After a long movie, there is often a general rush to the rest room, followed by an increasingly uncomfortable wait among a crowd of ...

The keening whine and thrilling drone of the bagpipes

Weird war music

Bagpipes are mostly synthetic nowadays — reeds, chanters, drones; even the bags are rarely fashioned from animal hide any more. But the sound is still primitive, primal: a single octave plus one, the keening whine ...

Spoiler Alert

The fans have spoken

The Supergoose that Laid the Golden Eggs?

Marks madness

Scott Marks covers the movie front for this week's new releases, including Wildling and Tully

For a while there, Ye Olde new release schedule seemed to be waving a blank white flag of surrender: "Oh, Avengers: Infinity War, we know better than to try to compete with your awesome earning ...

You can't have anything bigger than Infinity

Avengers: Infinity War doesn't leave much room for other new movie releases

This week's big new release is very big: Avengers: Infinity War is here to mash up The Avengers, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and probably a bunch of other stuff into ...

Horror in the high desert

My dad had this half-finished cabin in Descanso

Last Sunday, I took the 79 up to Julian for a family gathering with friends. I usually take the less-winding 67-78 route, but I was trying to work out a musical round about the French ...

The Sweet Taste of Souls

Flying Dolphin’s first flight

Bee Pedersen can still remember when she saw the thriller Seven in a theater. “We were going to have dinner after, but when we came out, I said, ‘You know, I think I’ve got to ...

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