The Soul Searchers: Four Moral Histories of Washington, DC

In preparation for this exhibit at the Anacostia Museum I've been reading about my hometown's long, hot summer--the years from 1968 through the late '90s--and its aftermath. These are really just notes.Ruben Castaneda, S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, And Redemption in DC: Four stories, mostly deftly woven together. First is our narrator, a reporter in LA who gets hooked on crack before moving to DC to be the night-shift crime reporter for the Washington Post. Our man straight-up interviews … [Read more...]

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“Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Mercy”: Image Journal

listin': These films show us visions of a world so often lacking in mercy, as well as worlds in which one merciful act alters the landscape of human experience forever. Produced by the Arts & Faith online community, this list spans 93 years of cinema, from 1921’s The Kid and The Phantom Carriage to 2014’s Love & Mercy. Charles Laughton as Javert?! YES MORE PLEASE … [Read more...]

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Laughing for No Reason: Some short movie notes

Under the Shadow: Iranian horror set during the Iran-Iraq War. The movie opens with Shideh (Narges Rashidi) being told, by a man sitting under a portrait of the Ayatollah Khomeini, that she won't be able to continue her medical studies because of her political activities. She goes home to an apartment building where the windows are crisscrossed with masking tape in case bombing raids shatter the glass. She fights with her husband about whether she's unsupportive, taking the disappointment too … [Read more...]

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Sad Bible Songs: I review Harrison Lemke’s “Fertile Crescent Blues”

at First Things: "Christian pop is unrelentingly cheerful.” That was Leah Libresco's conclusion when she analyzed the frequency of positive and negative terms (“grace” vs. “sin,” for example, or “love” vs. “fear”) in Billboard's Christian pop top-50. Grace and love and life and light are all great things. But if your soul needs a smoke break from the endless Christian pep rally, a lay-me-down instead of yet another pick-me-up, Harrison Lemke's beautiful new album Fertile Crescent Blues is what y … [Read more...]

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The Three Theological Virtues And How They Will Help You Cope With Turning Into a Lobster

more riffing on The Lobster from me: Last week I saw The Lobster, an extremely sad and violent romantic comedy about a world in which, if you don’t find a romantic partner within 45 days, you’ll be turned into an animal. It’s sort of “Why Our Culture Desperately Needs Spiritual Friendship: The Movie.” I hesitate to recommend it to you guys, because it was really hard to watch, partly because it’s so bleak and partly because it’s bleak specifically about loneliness and feeling like there’s no pla … [Read more...]

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“The Lady, Or the Lobster?”: I review a brutal new romcom/satire

seriously, this is tough to watch, but ferocious (also I sort of spoil the very end, because this otherwise-excellent movie has the one ending I hate most): I hesitate to recommend that you see The Lobster, since this romantic comedy about a man facing transformation into an arthropod is just too painfully realistic.The Lobster, written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, is brutal and hilarious, with satire so sharp it could cut your wrists. The movie is set in a world where anyone who … [Read more...]

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“How a Mysterious Ghost Ship Brought Cosmic Disco to Cabo Verde”: The Guardian

and how can you not click?? In a calm morning in March 1968, a shipment carrying the latest Korgs, Moogs and Hammond organs set off from Baltimore harbour, heading for an exhibition in Rio de Janeiro. The sea was steady, the containers safely attached. And yet later that same day, the ship would inexplicably vanish. more (you can listen to one song at that link and it is super-excellent) … [Read more...]

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