99 Dreams I Have Had, Every One a Red Heifer: I read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”

So I finally read Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and in spite of its serious flaws, I was still left with that wonderful feeling, Where have you been all my life? Why didn't I read this thing sooner?The novel's delights lie in its setting, its genre, and its prose. The setting is an alternate history in which the state of Israel was never founded, but the United States agreed to resettle Holocaust survivors and other European Jews in the Alaskan territory. So now … [Read more...]

Post-Demon Stress Syndrome: Some horror-flick reviews

Stake Land: A teenage boy and his grizzled mentor travel north through a vampire-ridden, devastated America, picking up vulnerable people, encountering security cordons and emptied towns, and seeking a haven they've heard all about on the radio. They forge a found family by killin' the dead. Also there's quite lush cinematography and big sweeping shots. If this is starting to sound familiar, you are correct, this is basically 28 States Later. Even the "vampires" are actually zombies with big … [Read more...]

As They Liked It: Playing Shakespeare in the Early ’80s

The BBC has this great series, "Playing Shakespeare," in which John Barton leads members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in a series of supposedly-somewhat-spontaneous classes about playing Shakespeare's verse. Herein a few notes to whet your appetite, and then a rant.John Barton is hilarious, first of all. He is perpetually swathed in a baggy sweater, all slumping shoulders and bushy eyebrows, his hair piling frowsily on his head like he forgot it there. And then this glorious rich voice … [Read more...]

I Think of You and Let It Go: Best Books I Read in 2016

Realized everybody's doing best-of-books in time for Christmas buying. I'll do a complete best-of post at the end of the year, but I'll be spending the rest of December gnawing through Alan Moore's vast, fascinating Jerusalem (review forthcoming), so I can be pretty sure this is my best-books list for the year. Fiction and lesser kinds of book mix here freely. Counting down, basically in order of how much they affected me personally:10. Charles Williams, Descent into Hell.9. Jessica … [Read more...]

“Cocktail Theology”: William Dailey

at First Things: That brings us to the most important spiritual aspect of cocktail culture: hospitality. Those people coming in off the streets, coming into churches and taverns, what do they seek? Home. What truly excellent pastors can help to provide for the wayfarer is a taste of the home that is promised us with our Maker, though of course we will never feel quite at home this side of the kingdom. But the work of helping people to feel a bit less estranged, a bit more comfortable in their … [Read more...]

Assisted Suffering

So, I voted.Remember how I said my ballot would be a fractal of civic helplessness? That's especially true because of the current DC political issue that isn't being put to referendum: Assisted suicide will almost certainly become law here early next year, due to support in the city council and likely from the mayor. Only two councilmembers (Yvette Alexander and Brianne Nadeau, both Democrats) voted against legalizing assisted suicide here.The arguments on our side that I've heard here … [Read more...]

Return to Osmia, Or The Resurrection of the Nose

Concussion Diary, Week Four I Think. (Previously, on "Concussion Diary"...)First of all, it's weird looking back on the first day after my concussion and remembering how I assumed I'd be completely back to normal in a couple days. Ha ha. I can work normally now--I was able to read and concentrate without pain after about two weeks iirc--but my head still hurts and I still can't sleep on my back because I have a knot on the back of my skull. Also another thing I'll talk about in a moment. … [Read more...]