Movies for Grownups Weekend Update: Dec. 6

Just one bona fide grownup movie opening this weekend, but it’s a doozey: The return of the Coen Brothers and their favorite cameo star, John Goodman.  The New Stuff:     Inside Llewyn Davis Filmmaker brothers Joel and Ethan Coen made their name as outrageous geniuses (Raising Arizona; O, Brother Where Art Thou?; No Country for Old Men), but this time they’ve dampened their quirky tendencies-and created what may be their most balanced movie ever. Inside Llewyn Davis is a …

J.J. Cale: Rock Stars Made His Songs Into Hits

Somehow, J.J. Cale never became a rock superstar, even though the great Eric Clapton once confessed that he looked up to the Tulsa-born guitarist and songwriter as a role model and Neil Young ranked his 1972 rock classic “Crazy Mama” as the one song that most shaped his own songwriting. That superstardom bypassed Cale, who died on July 26 at age 74 in La Jolla, Calif., undoubtedly had something to do with fate but probably more to do with principles. …

Two New Novels Tackle Regrets and Past Lives

How do you process regret at midlife? Two new novels tackle that question in interesting ways. The Original 1982 imagines what might have been if its protagonist, a singer-songwriter-waitress named Lisa, had decided not to terminate an inconvenient pregnancy 31 years ago. Lori Carson, the former lead singer of ’90s experimental band The Golden Palominos, hooks you with nostalgic references to bygone music venues like Folk City, the West Village club that launched the careers of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy …

Bob Dylan Recognized by Stuffy American Academy of Arts and Letters

While the world was watching for white smoke from the Vatican chimney, the undisputed master of American songwriting in the post-Tin Pan Alley era was himself inducted into an exclusive club. Officials of the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced that Bob Dylan had been elected, the first rocker to make the cut for a stuffy Academy that may be trying to remake its image. (In fact, as the Associated Press pointed out in its story about Dylan’s election, …

Happy July 4 (but not to Will and Kate)

If I needed one more reminder of what we have to celebrate on the 4th of July, I got it last week – when the Daily Telegraph reported that Kate Middleton is required to curtsy to her husband’s aunt and female cousins, unless (of course! I should have guessed!) her husband is with her. (Whether he’s with her or not, she must always curtsy to the Queen and Prince Phillip, which I’m sure is every granddaughter-in-law’s idea of how to …

Levon Helm: One More Brother Gone

The following is a guest post from Steve Mencher, AARP Multimedia Editor. On the death of Levon Helm today: They say if you remember the sixties, you weren’t there.  And I’m not sure if the seventies are any different, but a bunch of us made it to the Oakland Coliseum on February 11, 1974, watching Bob Dylan and the Band in one of the most eagerly awaited tours of the decade. Dylan hadn’t been touring much, and The Band had …