Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Between my dad's love for upstate New York's sharp cheddars and the annual gift-pack of farmhouse cheeses my brother sends from California, cheese figures pretty heavily in my holiday season. This year Bronwen and Francis Percival's new book, Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese, makes that not just cause for pleasure, but reflection as well.

The Last Jedi — the newest chapter in the Star Wars saga — marks the return of actors Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and the late Carrie Fisher to their Force Awakens characters. The space opera was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who's also set to work on the next Star Wars trilogy.

Johnson has been a Star Wars fan since he was a little boy in Denver, playing with his action figures.

For a simple children's story about a pacifist bull in Spain who would rather smell the flowers than charge a matador, Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand generated tremendous controversy, owing to its worldwide popularity and its date of publication, 1936, which found it caught in political crosswinds. It was banned in Franco's Spain. Hitler ordered it burned as "degenerate democratic propaganda" in Nazi Germany, though it was republished and distributed for free in the same country once the war was over, to teach children a message of peace. Gandhi was a fan. So was H.G. Wells.

Jared Moshe, the writer and director of The Ballad of Lefty Brown, is a fan of classic Westerns and he's made a movie that should please fellow aficionados. He offers one twist on the formula, but the plot, setting, and widescreen images are all as standard-issue as a Colt 45.

What is known for sure about American military scientist Frank Olson is that on November 28, 1953, the bacteriologist and father of three plunged to his death from the 13th floor of the Statler hotel in New York City, not long after he was secretly drugged with LSD on the orders of his CIA superior. Whether Olson was pushed, or jumped, or was nudged into committing suicide remains unclear.

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