Antisocial Housing: I review “High-Rise”

at AmCon: The xkcd cartoon “Logic Boat” shows the familiar problem of the man who has to carry a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage across a river. The problem: “The boat only holds two, and you can’t leave the goat with the cabbage or the wolf with the goat.”There’s a logic-puzzle solution here. There’s also the xkcd solution: “Leave the wolf. Why do you have a wolf?”High-Rise is a dystopian science-fiction flick about an experimental skyscraper in an alternate-history ’70s Britain. Eccentric … [Read more...]

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“The Convict-Bourgeois”: My Hans Fallada Rediscovery Piece, Which I Want You All to Read

The two biggest things I left out here (mostly due to space constraints): Fallada always gives you a laugh. He has the satirist's eye for absurdity. His humor is pretty much always also horror (you can make a case that Expressionism influenced him, & horror fans will find a lot of scenes that use genre techniques like "the things that should not be") and so it turns up even in his Nazi prison diary. The whole vignette he opens the diary with, about the night of the Reichstag fire, is a … [Read more...]

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Masochism, Macbeth, Mayors, Marvel and More: My May Movie… Notes.

Missives? Anyway.The Duke of Burgundy: Lush flick about two butterfly researchers and their dominance/submission relationship. Some early scenes made me wonder if this would be about attention as submission--the submissive gaze, the gaze of service, as the gaze which most truly knows its object--and I'd super still want to watch that movie, but that definitely is not what this is. Then later when the twist is revealed I was like, "Ugh, I hope this isn't just going to be a movie-length … [Read more...]

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“Famous Monsters of Filmland”: I review Tim Powers’s new novel

for AmCon: The novels of dark fantasist Tim Powers often flow out of weird, grim moments in real history: the strange encounter of a fox and an English spy; the long lit matches burning in a bloodthirsty pirate’s beard. Powers’s latest book, Medusa’s Web, got its start when Powers encountered one of these disturbing little bits of trivia: Rudolph Valentino received Last Rites twice. Why? To answer that question, Powers spins a tale of family secrets and Hollywood ghosts–and an otherworldly, addi … [Read more...]

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“The Reactionary Mind”: Ross Douthat Gives Me an Excuse

to push you toward the late virago Florence King (I'd start here) and also to suggest Charles Johnson as someone whose weird little parables expressed a lot of reactionary insights from a black American perspective. Also, follow Don Colacho on Twitter....Our intelligentsia obviously does have a conservative wing, mostly clustered in think tanks rather than on campuses. But little of this conservatism really deserves the name reaction. What liberals attack as “reactionary” on the American rig … [Read more...]

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“Some Possibilities for Narratives of Friendship”: I’m at Spiritual Friendship

readin' books: I loved Wes’s post on writing about friendship, and figured I’d throw some specific examples out there to see what actual novels and movies suggest about the nature of friendship. These are very much first-draft thoughts, as I hope you guys will riff on them.“The Body” & Stand By Me–friendship as childhood. This heartbreaking Stephen King novella, which was turned into probably the best adaptation of his work for the screen, tells the story of a group of boys who go on a j … [Read more...]

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Prison Visits Under Threat, “Hamilton” Behind Bars, Art & the NYPD: Three Links from a Criminal Justice System

"Prison visits helped prepare me for life after release. Why are they under threat?": Leaving prison was one of the hardest times in my life. Re-entry is like falling out of a plane: it’s hard to land on your feet. Before I even left, six-plus years at York Correctional Institution developed in me an inability to function in a non-carceral environment. But I owe it to prison visiting rooms – which allowed some contact with the outside world – that my re-entry wasn’t as bad as it could have been. … [Read more...]

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