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Stories by Matthew Lickona

Mr. Halfright

The wheelchair encyclopedia of Normal Heights

It’s not his real name, but the name he gave me wasn’t real, either. He’s navigated his dual wheelchairs, one for his luggage and one for himself, with impressive efficiency — and even agility, despite ...

Eighteen is the new fourteen

But putting down my phone is futile

A while back, I sent my collegiate son a text with the following quote from a letter by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his collegiate daughter: “Once one is caught up in the material world, not ...

Spoilers ahead!

A few not-so-shocking giveaways about this week’s new movie releases, including Justice League and Frank Serpico

Okay, people, spoilers ahead. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Justice League: Aquaman’s powers mostly go unused. BPM: AIDS kills. Frank Serpico: The hero cop of Serpico is a hero cop. Bill Nye: Science Guy: Bill Nye defends ...

Barbarians at heart

The Square is lengthy, sometimes luxuriating in its long takes...to the point of discomfiture

What is The Square? Well, it’s a piece of art, so there are no doubt any number of interpretations. But I’ll hazard a guess: The Square is writer-director Ruben Östlund’s latest salvo against institutions that, ...

That ’70s feeling

This week’s new movie releases look back: Murder on the Orient Express, Last Flag Flying, Novitiate

Novitiate? The Devils. Last Flag Flying? The Last Detail. Murder on the Orient Express? Murder on the Orient Express. No Greater Love? It ain’t exactly Winter Soldier, but it does involve war footage and traumatized ...

What’s in a restaurant name?

How Stake, West Pac Noodle Bar, Moo-Time, Leroy's, Lil Piggy's Bar-B-Q came into being

David Spatafore, the “visionary” and “primary owner” at Blue Bridge Hospitality, goofed with the name of his first restaurant. “We called it MooTown Creamery, and the concept was that we were going to make homemade ...

San Diego County Gestapo drove away farmer

Mikhail Baryshnikov poster: "Don't come back"

The House Where Nobody Lives sits out on Fuerte Drive in El Cajon. Kids sometimes visit at night to scare themselves: “Don’t come back” has been scratched into the black-and-white poster of a shirtless and ...

Starstruck

A plethora of three- and four-star movies in this week’s new releases, including Thor: Ragnarok, The Nile Hilton Incident, Jane, and Tragedy Girls

As the Beast used to say in the old X-Men comic books, “Oh my stars and garters.” (And yes, that’s a cheap way of referencing this week’s comic-book movie release, Thor: Ragnarok. Let’s get back ...

Death, stabby and otherwise

Knives abound in this week’s new movie releases, including 78/52 and Suburbicon

Guns are fun, but when directors really want to paint the screen red, they go for the stabbing, slicing, slashing goodness of blades. And this week sees the opening of 78/52, a documentary about maybe ...

A view of Mexico from the bathtub

Mel Taylor's home on Panorama Drive lot

It was the last undeveloped ocean view lot on La Mesa’s Panorama Drive, and the view was what made artist/designer Mel Taylor bite. The 7000+ square-foot home he nestled against the steep slope features decks ...

Qualcomm wants to be loved

“The genius behind your smartphone’s smart is a San Diego native.”

“Qualcomm: why you love your smartphone,” proclaims the company’s regional ad campaign, the one you may have seen on billboards, at bus stops, or on electric taxi carts around town. Curious: ­an ad campaign that ...

Kid stuff

Children abide (or don’t) in this week’s new movie releases, including The Florida Project and Goodbye Christopher Robin

It’s tough being a kid, especially when Mom is an unemployed stripper. Or a suicidal lover. Or something of a child herself. And then there’s Dad — you know, the distant guy who pushes you ...

From minx to hellcat

The Florida Project: A different sort of Disney movie

“My soul is humbled when I see the way little ones accept their lot,” says Mrs. Cooper at the end of Night of the Hunter. “Lord save little children. The wind blows and the rains ...

Movie multiplicity

Lots of new movie releases, including The Foreigner and Trophy

Suffering Sappho! There certainly are a lot of new movie releases this week! (Yes, that’s Wonder Woman’s catchphrase, chosen in honor of the Wonder Woman origin story biopic Professor Marston & the Wonder Women.) And ...

Consider the lowbrow Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

A brisk, brusque, bloody, bawdy Italian cheapie

That thundering synthesized flop you hear is Blade Runner 2049 coming in well below industry expectations; guess you people don’t have much use for highbrow, three-hour sci-fi epics that are long on scenery and short ...

Did the Glen Street killing start at El Cajon Oktoberfest?

Death next door

I moved from Normal Heights to La Mesa in 1999, mostly because I wanted a yard for my kids. But also because an old woman was attacked across the street from my house on East ...

DJ Ferny prefers to go manual

Heartfelt '80s music at TJ's Privee Lounge

Green light glows off the stippled white exterior of Priveé Lounge Bar, perched above the Plaza San Angel on Tijuana’s Avenida Sonora. (Just off Boulevard Agua Caliente before the Club Campestre.) Inside is white as ...

The trials and triumphs of women, synthetic and otherwise

This week’s new movie releases include Blade Runner 2049, The Queen of Spain, and The Mountain Between Us

Ryan Gosling may be at the center of Blade Runner 2049, but he’s surrounded by women: his boss at the police station, his opposite number on the corporate side of the investigation, his digital girlfriend, ...

We’ll never be royals...

...but we can watch them on screen in this week’s new releases, including The King’s Choice and Victoria and Abdul

Royals: they’re just like us! King Haakon VII of Norway liked to play hide and seek with his grandchildren and even pretended to have conversations with his grandson’s teddy bear! I mean, he also had ...

Liberty Station gallery shows crossover power of comics

Feeds and is fed by popular culture

“The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” says San Diego Comic Art Gallery manager TJ Shelvin, “are unlike anything else. On the one hand, you’ve got this major machine that it became” — six movies, six TV ...

Victoria and Abdul, out this week

A chat with Shrabani Basu, author of the book on which the film is based

“I think it’s significant,” says Shrabani Basu, “that Queen Victoria, in those days, over 100 years ago, chose to learn Urdu,” the language of a people under her rule. “And that she placed a young ...

I’d have cut off my hands

Drawing Blood — a combination of Breaking Bad, Spinal Tap, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Wally Wood is regarded as one of the great comic-book artists of all time. He was with Mad magazine from the very beginning; he created Daredevil’s red costume; he (probably) drew the Disneyland Memorial Orgy ...

I really wanted to use a live cat

Director Charlie Bean gives background of Lego Ninjago Movie

At the Lego Ninjago Movie press conference held last week at Legoland Carlsbad, a child asked the film’s assembled cast and crew, “What happened to the cat?” The tot was referring to the monstrous beast ...

Sex & violence & sex & violence

Flesh and blood in this week's new movie releases, including The Villainess and The Wound

I mean, it's the movies, so what else is new? But still. The Wound has violence done to a bunch of guys' sexy bits. Also, sex and violence. mother! has much more violence than sex, ...

Certified in San Diego

There was something about the freedom of Ocean Beach

“We live in cities you’ll never see onscreen,” sang Lorde on “Team,” trying to make obscurity sound cool but fooling nobody. If it were really cool you wouldn’t have to make a cool song about ...

Short-lived TV shows made here

If Netflix's Ted Sarandos reads this...

Simon & Simon was a buddy detective series set in San Diego that ran for eight seasons on CBS during the ’80s. Veronica Mars put a teenage girl in a noirish milieu and managed three ...

Here It comes

Horror flick heads up this week’s new movie releases

It is out, but is It good? Well...there are good bits. But it doesn’t touch Get Out as the year’s best horror flick. Because the real horror is the evil that men do. The monster ...

Take comfort, Dane DeHaan: 2017 is three-quarters over

The star has three lackluster vehicles currently in theaters, including this week’s Tulip Fever

Poor Dane DeHaan. He started 2017 by starring in the criminally underrated A Cure for Wellness, then starred in the monumental flop Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and now here he is ...

Local boy Dylan Moran makes good, and also makes a movie, Get Big

The kids of today

If last year’s The Edge of Seventeen felt like the kids of today as portrayed by a (smart, sensitive) grown-up, this year’s Get Big is very much the kids of today as portrayed by the ...

Another good turn at La Mesa Walmart

The price of cream

The wife and I like cream in our coffee. So do our kids. Trader Joe’s in La Mesa charges $3.29 for a half-pint. Walmart charges $4.14 for a full pint. I resolved to make the ...

Horton Plaza has gone to seed

Even the Ben & Jerry’s is gone

On my first morning in San Diego — July 1995 — I set off walking toward downtown. I was young and I didn’t know anybody, so I went to be where people were. Once there, ...

Escape to a good time at the movies

Escapes and Good Time are among this week’s new movie releases

It’s stupid jokes week here at The Big Screen... Patti Cake$ fails to rise. Good Time mostly isn't, though it is pretty good. Leap! should take a flying...leap. Lemon is a lemon. The Trip to ...

Good Time, a soundtrack in search of a movie

An honest portrait, if an unattractive one

My first thought upon leaving co-directors Benny and Josh Safdie’s Good Time (Josh co-wrote, while Benny co-stars alongside an intense, controlled Robert Pattinson) was: A soundtrack in search of a movie. That’s not altogether fair, ...

Exploring the underbelly and outliers

Including 68 Kill, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Logan Lucky, and Menashe

You know what I’d like to do? I’ll tell you what I’d like to do. I’d like to host a redneck film festival. Maybe not this year, what with all the awfulness surrounding disenfranchised white ...

Endless Poetry, very much a picture show

Jodorowsky’s juvenalia journal

With Endless Poetry, Chilean surrealist (super-realist?) Alejandro Jodorowsky continues the fantastical memoir he began in 2013’s Dance of Reality. But where that first film made a tragic-absurdist hero out of young Alejandro’s father — he ...

Kids today — and yesterday

Offspring abounds in this week’s new movie releases, including The Glass Castle and Wind River

A strong week at the movies, if not necessarily a happy one for the kiddies. Not so much the ones in the seats — though we’re not holding out much hope for The Nut Job ...

An inconvenient weekend at the movies

There’s not a lot of good stuff in this week’s new releases

This was...not a great week for movies. The big drama? Well acted, badly built. The big adaptation? A fizzle by all accounts. (Your humble correspondents saw it coming and steered clear.) The “starring Academy-Award winning ...

Comic-Con sideshows: the $6 million yacht, the preacher, the cigarette bummer

Why follow a fantasy?

Mark came to Comic-Con from Laguna aboard his friend’s 85-foot, $6 million yacht Motown, a sleek gray vessel tied up alongside the Embarcadero just south of the convention center. “I’ve been here every year for ...

Mideast woman and child get baby back ribs and ribeye steaks at Walmart

Immigrant exploitation

Walmart Neighborhood Market carries El Jimador reposado tequila for $15.97 a bottle, which is $4 cheaper than my local liquor store, which is why I went there on the night of July 7th. As I ...

[Sad face emoji]

This week’s new movie releases include The Emoji Movie, which almost (almost) no critics like

As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes features only one positive review of The Emoji Movie: that of Betsy Bozdech of Common Sense Media. Brave, brave Betsy. Of course, it’s not as bold as being one ...

Pictures at a (Movie) Exposition

Visuals are the story in this week’s new movie releases, including Dunkirk and Lady Macbeth

Director Christopher Nolan wants to remind folks why they go to movie theaters — instead of, you know, watching a movie on a telephone. In this critic’s humble opinion, he succeeds admirably in that effort ...

Lady Macbeth’s director on morality, animals, and his star Florence Pugh

Smart about evil: matrimony, misery, murder

William Oldroyd’s elegantly executed debut feature Lady Macbeth may prove to be the sort of quiet breakout for star Florence Pugh that Martha Marcy May Marlene was for Elizabeth Olsen (as opposed to the more ...

Will the monkeys do good business?

This week’s releases include War for the Planet of the Apes and not much else

Like Scott Marks, the other film critic here at the Reader, I thought the first two films of the rebooted Planet of the Apes series were excellent. Which is why I was so saddened to ...

A bleat from a critical scapegoat

Studios would be deeply foolish to make big-budget movies primarily for the domestic market.

Pity the critic. Once, he bestrode the gulf between artist and audience like a colossus (no, not the big metal guy from Deadpool), raising up and casting down the creators, guiding and shaping a lively ...

I’m going to have to shoot you

La Mesa police Firearms Training Simulator

The La Mesa Police Department’s Citizens Academy is, in the words of training sergeant Kate Lynch, “a great way to share the unfortunate realities of the job without putting citizens in harm’s way. It helps ...

Who's the handball king of Chicano Park?

"I was born where the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego"

King David is holding court today, even after suffering the bites of at least nine King Cobras. The court is the one used for handball in Chicano Park; the King Cobras are malt liquors. His ...

Reader critics go soft for summer?

Starry-eyed for this week’s new releases, including Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Journey

“No Aunt May, no Spider-Man,” says my brother, and I know what he means. Without that frail and innocent soul that quietly cries out for protection and sacrifice on its behalf, Spider-Man loses a chunk ...

B movies

Plenty of second-letter fare in this week’s new movie releases, including The Bad Batch and The Beguiled

I’m of the opinion that “B movie” stopped having much useful meaning some time ago, certainly by the time the Transformers series became the box-office juggernaut that it is today — or was, until its ...

Front to back... awesome

Debra found herself stranded in a mosh pit at the Casbah

The professional and personal collaboration that is Wrensilva audio began at a Supersuckers show at the Casbah. Debra Salyer didn’t know the band, and found herself stranded in a mosh pit during a cover of ...

When she starts dancing, I know it’s right

Wrensilva audio produces “the best console ever built”

Today, in its long sliver of a factory facing a North Park alley, Wrensilva audio produces, in the words of co-founder Scott Salyer, “the best console ever built” for playing music. “Nobody’s ever done anything ...

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