From PJ O’Rourke, “Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People”

Heroin and the other "downs," natural and synthetic, are not polite. These drugs effectively eliminate the painful aspect of existence, which, nowadays, is almost all of it. Pain, such as a pain in the ass, is the thing that commonly alerts us to the presence of other people. Interaction with others is what manners are all about. Don't take "downs." Try to be "down on life" instead. … [Read more...]

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Nun on the Run: Check out Zach Clark’s great new indie charmer, “Little Sister”

I wrote it up for AmCon: The summary for Zach Clark’s new indie flick Little Sister walks a razor’s edge of “could be great, could be awful.” Addison Timlin stars as ex-goth, now aspiring nun C0lleen, who receives an urgent email from her estranged mother (Ally Sheedy). Her brother (Keith Poulson), disfiguringly wounded in Iraq, has come out of the hospital, but he won’t talk to anyone. Will Colleen come home, reconcile with her family, help her brother reenter normal life, and figure out if she … [Read more...]

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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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