Features and criticism

I’m an experienced, digital-savvy writer experienced with writing about a wide array of complex or unfamiliar topics with a clear, conversational voice. I’ve conducted interviews with experts in their field, drawing compelling narratives from comedians, musicians, writers, designers, developers, and engineers.

I contributed a broad variety of stories to the L.A. Times while also acting as the paper’s jazz critic for over 10 years. In 2016, I shifted to covering TV with profiles, commentary, and reviews. I also wrote the long-running weekly pop culture column Overrated/Underrated, which was syndicated in newspapers around the country.

Here are a few samples, in addition to these rounded up by that paper where I work.

(Note: With regard to the above image, I’m pretty sure that 97.6% of the time my critical personality runs far closer to Bugs than Daffy.)

  • Commentary and cultural perspective

Overrated/Underrated (2009-2019)
A weekly, sometimes syndicated column where I mouthed off about pop culture. The whole mess ended with a farewell edition here in June of 2019
2019201820172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013, pt 1, pt. 2 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

Recap and analysis: ‘Game of Thrones’, the final season
Ep. 1 | Ep. 2| Ep. 3 preview | Ep. 3 | Ep. 4 | Ep. 5 preview | Ep. 5 | Futile hopes for the finale | No one’s very happy

I also looked at how charged the Oscars felt in 2017 and how they do/don’t matter. 
Overrated/Underrated: Oscars 2017 have never mattered less yet continue to stand for more (Feb. 25, 2017)

…and before that, I thought about a bit of an existential crisis on the impact of social media on the very idea of over- and underrating things. 
After a year of hot takes and backlashes, what are we doing here? (Dec. 15, 2016)

This column first stretched out and walked around as a full-length essay about the artists that have reached a plane beyond criticism. 
Pop culture’s sacred cows: Just dare to dis them (May 16, 2014)

  • Sports and Pop Culture

How do the Rams fit into L.A.’s pop cultural fabric? It’s complicated

How does the NFL keep ratings up despite issues? Speed is the thing

Jemele Hill remains a socially conscious voice for sports in the Showtime documentary ‘Shut Up and Dribble’

The World Cup lives up to its billing with far-reaching appeal — even for neutrals

To watch or not to watch: Notes from an ambivalent Patriots fan as the Super Bowl approaches

  • TV and Comedy Reviews

2019

‘Game of Thrones’ finale: No One’s Happy

‘Deadwood: The Movie’ closes out a beloved series on a bittersweet note

Hulu’s ‘Shrill’ offers rare pleasures on the strength of Aidy Bryant

2018

Three names that broke ground in comedy: Hannah Gadsby, Drew Michael, and Donald Trump

Few surprises in Nathan Fillion’s ‘The Rookie’

Flight of the Conchords in joyful live special that reflects a sillier, more innocent time

Jon Stewart defends Samantha Bee, challenges his audience in return to stand-up in San Francisco

The Trump era may have raised the stakes, but comedy (and Clusterfest) goes on

Roseanne Barr leaves her Trump-tweeting behind (somewhat) in a stand-up stop in Vegas

White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the ‘Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump’

Do you believe in magic? Then ‘Deception’ might be the illusionist cop show you crave

Mindy Kaling’s ‘Champions’ feels like a victory 

Lord knows, by-the-book sitcom ‘Living Biblically’ could use more laughs

Amazon’s ‘Absentia’ puts Stana Katic back in action

Judd Apatow turns his attention to the Avett Brothers for ‘Make It Last’ (Jan. 29, 2018)

In the dark world of ‘Black Mirror,’ the brightest moments stand out (Dec. 27, 2017)

Talking unicorns and Chris Meloni make ‘Happy’ a weirdly dark ride (Dec. 6, 2017)

Hulu’s ‘Too Funny to Fail’ looks at the legacy of the doomed ‘Dana Carvey Show’ (Oct. 20, 2017)

‘Spielberg’ dives deep into the filmmaker’s venerated career (Oct. 7, 2017)

The troubling surveillance state of Jeremy Piven’s tech visionary in ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ (Sept. 30, 2017)

Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Star Trek’ homage ‘The Orville’ has a mixed-up mission (Sept. 10, 2017)

  • TV and Comedy Features

2019

By design, ‘Lodge 49’ is the ‘least aspirational show on TV’

‘BoJack Horseman’ co-creator Lisa Hanawalt flies high with the surreal ‘Tuca & Bertie’ 

‘Game of Thrones’ is blockbuster TV. Why it may be the last of its kind

The odds for 7 shows vying to become heirs to ‘Game of Thrones’

‘Abby’s’ heads outside to shake-up the typical sitcom

The creators of ‘High Maintenance’ traffic in human connection

‘Bodega Boys’ Desus and Mero make the leap to Showtime in new late-night shows

An absurdist yet pointed look at ’80s Wall Street in Showtime’s ‘Black Monday’ 

2018

The Woolsey Fire hits close to home in making the upcoming TruTV comedy, ‘Tacoma FD’

The midterms are the message for podcast-turned-HBO-series ‘Pod Save America’ 

Inside the Laugh Factory’s Comedy Camp, where comics help kids spin darkness into laughter

In ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ a revolution is reflected at different points

Taylor Sheridan and Kevin Costner examine another dark side of the West in ‘Yellowstone’

‘Sex and the City’ at 20: How the HBO series revolutionized TV

With a lineup led by Jon Stewart, Clusterfest proves comedy is more relevant than rock

Wyatt Cenac returns to TV political comedy with the unconventional ‘Problem Areas’

The second season of the otherworldly ‘Legion’ finds an unlikely home in Los Angeles

The stars of ‘Westworld’ on how a futuristic series grew more timely in the era of ‘#metoo’

Bill Hader breaks out of the ‘SNL’ mold with the surprisingly, satisfyingly dark ‘Barry’

2017

Sarah Silverman on leaving her bubble for ‘I Love You, America’

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s new action-comedy ‘Future Man’ happily draws from the past

Video: Stephen Colbert on his love for ‘Stranger Things’ and his promise of nudity at Sunday’s Emmys

Trump coverage goes dark as news networks and the nation gather around the eclipse

With Sean Spicer’s possible retreat from on-camera briefings, will comedy be the same?

What ‘SNL’s’ coast-to-coast live experiment says about our streaming habits, second screens and the Trump factor

Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes get real about comedy in HBO series ‘Crashing’

‘Planet Earth II’ is sci-fi, drama and thriller wrapped in a nature show

From refugee camp to Hollywood: Brothers who write for CBS comedy ‘The Great Indoors’ on their journey and the immigration ban

2016

Morley Safer dies at 84: A reluctant voice on camera, he helped change television news

More interviews: Melissa McCarthy, Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph in ‘Forever’, HBO’s unpredictable ‘Animals,’ Bobcat Goldthwait, ‘Doctor Who’ enters a new era, On set with Showtime’s ‘I’m Dying Up Here’ , The ‘American Horror Story’ cast at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Sebastian Maniscalco and the Comedy Store, Catastrophe’s’ Rob Delaney‘Me, Myself, and I’Questions from the ‘Game of Thrones’ finale, Recap: ‘Game of Thrones’, At Comic-Con with California Treasurer John Chiang, Emmy nominations: ‘SNL’ and late-night comedy nodsViceland’s ‘What Would Diplo Do?’, Obituary: Gwen Ifill, ‘Roseanne’ cancellation, ‘Big Little Lies’Super Bowl LI, ‘Lemony Snicket’, The OlympicsBill Simmons ‘Any Given Wednesday‘, Documentary Now!’, ‘Idol’ vs. ‘Voice’, Showtracker: ‘The Wire’

  • Music Reviews

2017

Commentary: Hugh Hefner left a problematic legacy, but his Playboy Jazz Festival endures

In tense times, Godspeed You! Black Emperor sounds hopeful on ‘Luciferian Towers’

Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington cross the generational divide at the Hollywood Bowl

Transcending genre labels, Vijay Iyer leads the Ojai Music Festival toward bold new territory

Appreciation: Vocalist Al Jarreau ventured further than his smooth reputation

2016

Live review: Radiohead reflects on a timeless body of work at the Shrine

2015

‘Blurred Lines’ verdict: In jazz, the vibe is everything

2014

Appreciation: Jazz musician Charlie Haden spoke for beauty

2013

Jazz review: Charlie Haden speaks volumes at REDCAT 

Review: ‘Holding It Down’ awakens us to veterans’ dreams

Critic’s Notebook: San Francisco’s SFJAZZ turns the sound up on jazz
This little thing landed on A-1, as in the front page

2012

Critic’s Notebook: Vince Guaraldi’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ score is a gift

Notebook: The groove where jazz and dance music meet 

2011

Critic’s Notebook: Cutting edge jazz is missing at the Bowl

  • Music Interviews

Sharon Van Etten changes up the psychology of her songwriting on ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’

With ‘Sleep Well Beast,’ the National brings new layers to gloom and heartache

Ojai Music Festival expands its eclectic vision under the eye of Vijay Iyer

Kamasi Washington expands jazz’s boundaries with ‘The Epic’

‘Mistaken for Strangers’: Matt, Tom Berninger on the not-National doc

Wayne Shorter marks his 80th, but is far from ‘finished’

SFJAZZ Center plays another bold riff

Jazz echoes through the ribs of L.A.’s Blue Whale

Finding jazz at a cool price: Alternative jazz venues in L.A.

Why Is the Playboy Jazz Festival such a smooth operation?

Other interviews: Norah Jones, El VyNels Cline, Robert Glasper, Nicholas Payton, Charles Lloyd, Dave Holland, The Bad Plus, Ambrose Akinmusire, Vijay Iyer, Norah JonesMedeski Martin and Wood, Christian Scott, Robert Glasper, Esperanza SpaldingCharlie Hunter, Skerik, Bill Cosby, Anthony Wilson, Gerald Wilson, Calexico, Sparklehorse

More reviews and features: Spiritualized, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Wayne Shorter, David Bowie can’t be captured, The Grammys: New voices in jazz , Jazz Bakery finalizes deal for new home in Culver City, Appreciation: Dave Brubeck,  Atoms for Peace, Medeski Martin and Wood, Keith Jarrett, ‘Joni’s Jazz’, Allman Brothers, Robert GlasperObituary: Chico Hamilton,  Herbie Hancock, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Playboy Jazz Festival, Angel City Jazz Festival, Ornette Coleman, Esperanza Spalding, Sonny Rollins, Ambrose Akinmusire

Album reviewsRadiohead, Pearl Jam, Fela Kuti, Dawn of Midi, Solo piano albums 2013, Best jazz of 2012, Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1969, Fred Hersch and live albums of 2012,

  • Movies

You know Hollywood is serious about stopping Trump when they call in the Avengers (Oct. 5, 2016)
‘Will & Grace,’ Joss Whedon and Shonda Rhimes take election year stands.

Don Cheadle makes his Miles Davis film ‘feel like Miles’ and not just be about Miles (Dec. 29, 2016)

Playing Chet Baker in ‘Born to be Blue’ was an unexpected second chance for Ethan Hawke (Dec. 29, 2016)

  • Arts

For some time I was the daily blogger for the Times’ arts and culture blog Culture Monster, which has sadly been lost to the dustbin of Internet history after various site redesigns. There’s a small collection of posts to be found here

A complicated canopy for Siqueros ‘America Tropical’ set to rise (April 24, 2012)

Bone flutes found in Germany point to roots of creativity (May 19, 2012)

  • Local entertainment

Amusing asides (Jan. 25, 2007)
A Calendar Weekend cover story on the alternative comedy scene in L.A., written long, long ago

Beyond last call (Nov 9, 2006)
Another cover story on places for after hours dining in Los Angeles. Service!

  • Travel

Get out of town: Reno, Nevada (Feb. 21, 2008)
I like Reno.

But wait, there’s more — Just ask Google. Or that paper where I work.

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