the Lives of Hamilton Fish

It’s no secret to people who have watched movies with me that while I’m open to most genres, I have a clear soft spot for romantic comedies and action flicks.

Also, I’m a crier.

There’s something about movies that often make me feel something. No matter how cheesy. Or how over-the-top some of these movies might be. I’m either shedding tears or am ready to take on the world.

But here I am, a few days after watching the Lives of Hamilton Fish, and I’m still not exactly sure what to think or what to feel.

The story line is intriguing. Two men. With the same name. With radically different lives.

One of the Hamilton Fishes was a statesman. One of the Hamilton Fishes was a serial killer. The latter, we were advised, we best not Google, lest we actively care to opt-in to inviting nightmares when we close our eyes next.

Yet, this film takes their stories and makes a parallel story of their seemingly less than parallel lives.

And I saw this film live, performed by writer, director, producer, Rachel Mason.

Part of me still finds the whole thing a bit creepy. Yet part of me is so taken by Rachel’s passion for the project. The time it has taken for this project to get to where it is today. The keen attention to historical details and the desire to tell a story of humanity over horror. The way she performed all the songs and words of the score. And even at points how she weaved her way through the audience – up and down the aisles and in between the chairs. It was a sight, a spectacle of the best kind.

So, here I am, a few days after watching, still not exactly sure what I think about all of the content. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe we’re not always meant to understand everything immediately.

That said, what I am sure that I took away, was an incredible art form that I felt like I experienced for the first time. The acting on-screen was accentuated by an incredible in-person performance that created a dynamic in the venue – both on and off screen – that would have me go back for Rachel’s next masterpiece, no matter what the subject, to experience this beautiful art form again.


Here is what others have to say in the press about the Lives of Hamilton Fish.

Also worth-mentioning / remembering was the historical relevance and thoughtfulness incorporated into this movie. You can catch a glimpse into that here.

Make-Believe is Make Believe

I recognize Kurt Vonnegut as the name of a great writer. Unfortunately I have yet to read one of his works.

Today I took a step away from hearsay, and one step closer to Kurt’s work, when I was introduced to this letter written in response to the students from Xavier High School who invited him for a visit.

I particularly liked this following suggestion, “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

As a bonus, I also found a gem in the comments sections from Jay Raskin (aka Jay Philosopher), who summed up a memorable moral-of-the-story from “Mother Night”: “Be careful who you pretend to be, because you are who you pretend to be.”

Who are you pretending to be? What are you currently practicing? And what does your practice and pretending say about who you are becoming?


When I go to thinking about make-believe and make believe, I looked around to see the ways others described them. The following, written by Joy Bullen, “Moving on From Make-Believe,” caught my eye in the search results. It was moving and worth a read.