Cheer Up with the Smiths! I’m at the American Spectator

reporting live from 1984! What everybody forgets about the Smiths is how much fun they were.And not just fun: The band careened through the '80s putting out four studio albums which were joyful, sexy, funny, self-deprecating, silly, and even sometimes compulsively danceable. The myth of Morrissey and his mopey muse has some truth to it—and he made the jokes first, in song titles like “Miserable Lie,” “Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now,” “Pretty Girls Make Graves” and the rest—but the band mocke … [Read more...]

Too Much Harmony: “Water by the Spoonful,” A Play About Friendship, Dissonance, and Humiliating Identity

Last night I saw Quiara Alegria Hudes's Pulitzer-winning Water by the Spoonful at Studio Theatre. It uses dissonant jazz as a metaphor for the disjunctions and collisions in our own lives, asking whether these discordant notes will ever resolve into harmony. The show tells two parallel stories: A young vet with PTSD fights with his cousin about how to mourn his dying adoptive mother, and members of an online support group for "crackheads" (their term, which is important, see below) strive to … [Read more...]

Lenten Linkfest: Includes One Actual Lent Link.

Mudblood Catholic a) echoes the novel I'm working on and b) frightens me, via CS Lewis: Of course, we're all insufferable sometimes and to someone. I think it was C. S. Lewis who speculated that one of the disciplinary aspects of Purgatory might well be perceiving ourselves as others perceived us while on earth. Trying to see ourselves from the perspective of someone who dislikes us intensely -- and perhaps not altogether unfairly -- can be a salutary experience. Though it is admittedly an … [Read more...]

“Coming Out Catholic: The Movie”: Me at AmCon

on a truly excellent film: At the Level Ground film festival the other weekend, I got to see “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” a truly moving and well-made documentary—and an example of the movement I described in my “Coming Out Christian” piece.“Desire” lets three gay or same-sex attracted Catholics tell their stories. It’s not confrontational or argumentative; the overall tone is tender and reflective. I saw it twice, and it evoked both laughter and sniffles from the audience.And the … [Read more...]

Today’s Saint: John of God

Patron of the sick. Here's a painting by Murillo:and here's the obvious Shane McGowan contribution: … [Read more...]

Dinosaurs and Cherry Blossoms: The Art of Patrick Haemmerlein

The Level Ground film festival (of which much more soon!) also put together low-key art shows, by choosing the art which decorated the various spaces where we did our book readings and movie panels. The standout for me was Patrick Haemmerlein, especially his collage series: inky, high-contrast trees with scarlet blossoms, in a patchwork canvas with yellowing newspaper and other scrapbook clippings. Sometimes these severe yet cheerful trees would be accompanied by birds, or even a T-Rex, although … [Read more...]

“Art Breakers”: I’m in The American Interest

reviewing: The first chamber sets up the thesis of “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950,” at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington through May 26. As visitors enter, a 1950s filmstrip plays, showing nuclear blasts recorded for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. To one side, so you only see it once you’re already in the room, there’s a smashed baby grand piano with an axe still sticking out of its body: the remains of a 2013 performance art piece in which Raphael Montañez Ortiz hacked the … [Read more...]


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