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Stories by Matthew Lickona

Madeleine George’s Hurricane Diane: devoted to Dionysus

There are many amusing moments in Madeleine George’s Hurricane Diane. That's to be expected, given its premise: sending the Greek god Dionysus — here rendered as the butch lesbian Diane — on a mission to ...

February 26, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2007

Does Christmas offend you? Christmas has to start with the Jews, I guess, no matter where you start. It was Jews who were killed by Herod and Jews who were chased into Egypt by him, ...

February 22, 2020
August Wilson’s Jitney ripples and runs like fabric

Playwright August Wilson is rightly celebrated for his wordsmithing — or maybe word-weaving would be better, or word-spinning. The talk that animates his late-’70s work Jitney (though it wasn’t produced until 1996) doesn’t feel worked-over ...

February 19, 2020
Seeing red at the SD Film Foundation’s Oscar Party

Nobody watched the Oscars on February 9. But lots of people watched Connie Sundstrom at the San Diego Film Foundation’s Oscar Party, held this year in four ninth-floor penthouses at 41 West in Banker’s Hill. ...

February 19, 2020
The Dockside Market: The family misery business

Luke Halmay started fishing with his father Peter when he was still a kid. “He’d take us to San Clemente Island, Catalina. Now, he won’t even go to the beach.” Forty-odd years of commercial fishing ...

February 19, 2020
Lauren Yee returns to her one basic story

Rob Lufty’s “From the Director” letter in the program for Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap notes that “Lauren often talks about how every playwright has one basic story that they are trying to perfect with ...

February 12, 2020
Short takes: Jitney and Italian-American Reconciliation

No full review this week, but I did stop by Jitney at the Old Globe and Italian-American Reconciliation at Scripps Ranch Theatre. Cheers!

February 7, 2020
Sex and violence in La Mesa

Grabby headline, no? Not quite as gloriously specific as “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar,” but still eye-catching. And catching eyes is how you stay alive in these dread latter days of content overload. So, ...

January 30, 2020
Tricky Irish: Bloomsday traces wanderings of James Joyce’s Ulysses

G. K. Chesterton, in his poem The Ballad of the White Horse, famously wrote that “The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry and all ...

January 29, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2000

Rancho Peñasquitos boys, charged with hate crime The teenagers shot at Roman from the Subaru with the BB gun during three or four passes. They took turns shooting at him as they drove by, but ...

January 26, 2020
Stephen Karam’s The Humans gets tense

San Diego Repertory Theatre’s production of Stephen Karam’s The Humans does a good deal of stage-setting before you even take your seat. A display by the box office provides “a behind-the scenes glimpse of the ...

January 22, 2020
Brad Taylor talks Hunter Killer at Warwick’s

Brad Taylor does his homework. Twenty-one years in the Army (including eight with Delta Force) is an education in itself, but it’s research that has helped make his Pike Logan novels bestsellers. “Newsfeeds,” he told ...

January 16, 2020
Mynd: helping you achieve lasting beauty and wellness

On January 10, University of San Diego law professor Steven Smith shared a lunchtime lecture stage at the American Enterprise Institute with New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and novelist/reporter Tara Isabella Burton. The topic ...

January 16, 2020
Jean Genet’s The Maids baffles

Toward the end of the Nervous Theatre’s production of Jean Genet’s The Maids — which, by the time you read this, will have departed for Seattle after a one-weekend run at the Tenth Avenue Arts ...

January 15, 2020
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Star Wars, and me

Permit me a wry grimace as I imagine theatrical legend Alec Guinness’ reaction upon learning that a theater critic’s first memory of him — of any sort of performance, really — came from Star Wars. ...

January 8, 2020
Mission Hills – don't be fooled

Book-lovers chew the fat at the Mission Hills Library His watch tells him 6:45. This Mission Hills branch stays open tonight — it’s Monday. He slaps the book closed, reshelves it, glances to his left. ...

Best Reader Christmas stories

Sister Santa’s once-a-year smile I fell in love with America for the first time on a sweaty night in a Bangkok refugee center in March 1991. “In America people have meat with every meal,” my ...

December 24, 2019
Something Fishy at Seaport Village

When Max Robert Daily ran Oslo Sardine Bar inside Logan Heights’ Bread & Salt art center, visitors would ask, “Is this art?” Fair question. Now that he’s setting up in a Seaport Village storefront, the ...

December 19, 2019
David Benardo’s electrified Beetle illuminates memories

“What year is this?” asks the gentleman passing David Benardo on his way into the Bali Hai on Shelter Island. He has noticed Benardo’s pristine white Volkswagen Beetle convertible parked outside, and as he leans ...

December 19, 2019
The Santaland Diaries: more tidings of comfort and joy

Last week, I mentioned the various ways that A Christmas Carol has been tweaked and updated by San Diego theaters in an effort to keep the story from getting lost in its own comfortable familiarity. ...

December 18, 2019
Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big San Diego Christmas Show: Ha! Humbug

The holiday season is a fine time for recalling the way that familiarity breeds…well, if not contempt, then comfort. If a thing sticks around long enough, it’s easy to forget the revolutionary, shocking, or even ...

December 11, 2019
The Frozen 2 Big Golden Book, scrapped

Casually Googling to figure out which one was Elsa and which one was Anna was enough to awaken the Algorithm, and it wasn’t long before I was presented with a sidebar ad from Target that ...

December 5, 2019
A lesson in Latin history by John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo is having a moment. His one-man show Latin History for Morons, which relates his effort to instill a sense of Latin pride in his middle-school-aged son, played San Diego over three years ago. ...

December 4, 2019
Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band: more than a feeling

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, currently playing at La Jolla Playhouse, opens like a low-budget rock n roll show: black stage, a few colored lights mounted on steel scaffolding, ...

November 27, 2019
More than one point of view on Thanksgiving

The ideal hipster Thanksgiving As I’ve pointed out before, no holiday lacks the potential for a hipster makeover. Thanksgiving is no exception. Not only is it nestled comfortably between epic Halloween costumes and ugly-Christmas-sweater parties, ...

November 26, 2019
Rancho Santa Fe Snakes relocated

“Free snake removal,” read the ad on Craigslist. “I am a lover of snakes and hate seeing them killed. I relocate all the snakes I catch. I am an expert on the snakes here in ...

November 20, 2019
America’s Got Talent in San Diego

On November 10, America’s Got Talent kicked off its latest multi-city audition tour at the San Diego Convention Center. Comedian Sam Brilhart brought the chicken costume he started wearing on the Santa Monica promenade “just ...

November 20, 2019
Globe for All's touring Winter's Tale

Artistic Director Barry Edelstein’s welcome letter for the Globe For All’s production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale explains that “The Old Globe’s goal is to make theater matter to more people. We want this play, ...

November 14, 2019
Members of P.O.D. and Santana give back with Ruben Torres’ Love Thy Neighbor nonprofit

It’s November 1 as I write this, the Catholic Church’s Feast of All Saints. I’m sitting in Chula Vista’s Lauderbach Park, looking from the vacant community center to the homeless encampment on the hillock and ...

November 7, 2019
Jojo Rabbit: Hilarious Hitler?

There’s a deep and sincere sweetness in the work of writer-director Taika Waititi. It’s a kind of relentless and innocent good cheer that persists in the face of horror — to the point where the ...

October 31, 2019
Cheers to Al Hirschfeld and other cartoonists at Café La Maze

The afternoon sun that tries to slant its way into Café La Maze’s open front door runs smack into a brick wall, but the accompanying breeze does a neat little dogleg and finds me at ...

October 23, 2019
Misadventure & Company: the positive side of a carbon-negative product

Liquid future Bartender Whit Rigali and agricultural economist Sam Chereskin didn’t set out to make vodka. They wanted to make bourbon. But what do you know: bourbon takes time to age into its glory, and ...

October 23, 2019
Matthew Lickona and the Reader

Lickona has been at the Reader since 1995. He is the author of a couple of books (Swimming with Scapulars, Surfing with Mel), and his essays have appeared in places like The Awl, FirstThings.com, and ...

October 20, 2019
Pop-Up Magazine’s touring show

The California Sunday Magazine is included with “select Sunday copies” of the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. A one-year, six-issue subscription costs $39.95. The October 2019 issue featured a total of seven ...

October 9, 2019
The Geppetto of Taylor Guitars

I once asked my wife if she thought I should attend art school. “How about business school?” she replied. A fellow I know, call him Tony, recently pared his collection of 40 guitars down to ...

October 9, 2019
Takashi Miike’s First Love: Why we fight

My friend shook his head. “It’s been a bad year for movies,” he said. “A couple of blockbusters, and what else?” Well, a few things, at least. My favorite for the year so far is ...

October 3, 2019
The Russian Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake: something for everyone

For the dark young man in flowing white drag: a heightened sense of reality, folk tales and folk dances transmogrified into sinuous spectacle by the touring company. Each movement considered and choreographed and beyond the ...

September 25, 2019
The Sound of Silence “muted” by Peter Sarsgaard’s strained expression

Director and co-writer Michael Tyburski’s The Sound of Silence is, fittingly enough, a quiet film. In telling the story of a room tuner — a man who solves his clients’ problems by identifying dissonant sounds ...

September 19, 2019
El Norte: before and after

El Norte: Before Film director and self-identified Mexican-American Gregory Nava grew up in North Park during the ‘50s, but he had family in Mexico, and crossed the border “three to four times a week.” And ...

September 11, 2019
Los Reyes: Dog days and nights

There are two real dogs behind the canine stars of Los Reyes; their names are Football and Chola, and they really do spend their days (and nights) hanging around the titular skate park — the ...

September 5, 2019
One Child Nation: People v. Policy

There are a great many talking heads in Nanfu Wang and Lynn Zhang’s One Child Nation, a documentary devoted to exploring how exactly China went about preventing 338 million births between 1979 and 2015, when ...

August 15, 2019
Is San Diego like Chinatown?

Jonathan Lethem, whose Motherless Brooklyn has got to be one of the only detective novels to snag a National Book Critics Circle Award, liked Fallbrook author T. Jefferson Parker’s The Last Good Guy enough to ...

T. Jefferson Parker enshrines Fallbrook in The Last Good Guy novel

In 2018, Jason Berry published City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300. James Carville blurbed it thus: “We’ve been taught since we were children that New Orleans has the ...

August 14, 2019
How Mike Wallace helped turn TV news into show business

Remember 60 Minutes, America’s first TV news magazine? Remember its tenacious terrier of a host, Mike Wallace, he of the insistent, accusatory question? Yes? No? C’mon, the guy interviewed Putin just a few years ago. ...

August 1, 2019
Mark Miner's classical take on gender fluidity

When classicist Mark Miner read that Mission Hills Town Council President Leah Shuchter was interested in hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour in the Mission Hills Library on Washington Street, he wrote her a letter ...

July 31, 2019
Storytime with Miss Oona Upland

There was no discussion of drag at the Drag Queen Story Hour held in the clean, well-lighted You Belong Here community space last Sunday morning. Charles McGrath, performing as Ms. Oona Upland, noted that he ...

July 31, 2019
The Lion King: Unlively action

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you they were going to take you to a movie and you responded by asking, your voice leaping with a combination of hope and trepidation, ...

July 18, 2019
Superhero psychology: fans of Harry Potter and Batman cope

“Janina Scarlet is a real-life superhero with an origin story to rival any Marvel character. After surviving a childhood radiation spill [at Chernobyl], she moved halfway around the earth [to San Diego], overcame PTSD and ...

July 17, 2019
Comic-Con – 50 years in San Diego

The real stars of Comic-Con By Jay Allen Sanford Not long ago, few had ever heard the word “cosplay.” Nowadays, pretty much any pop culture convention will be overflowing with costumed role-players posing for snapshots ...

Christo goes Walking on Water

Say this for Walking on Water, Andrey Paounov’s documentary on the installation artist Christo’s 2016 effort to mount an enormous orange floating pier on the surface of northern Italy’s Lake Iseo: there are no talking ...

July 11, 2019

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