interview-based, v. small number of people but they said some things you’ll want to read: Several years ago I was attending Mass at a downtown church. That day, if memory serves, the last weekday Mass was not crowded, so it stood out when a middle-aged man went up to receive Communion, then hurried out through the front doors of the church. When I left Mass myself I found him at the foot of the church steps, asking the better-off churchgoers… Read more

By coincidence I read Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood for the first time right before reading Marilynne Robinson’s Home for the second. It was impossible to miss the common elements in these two intensely different novels: two men who reject Christ, for whom American racism is one of the most compelling arguments against Christianity, who have ferociously self-destructive urges toward pain as penance, and who have a disastrous sexual relationship with a young teenage girl. (Sabbath Lily Hawks is fifteen; Annie… Read more

For reasons I should maybe sort out with my confessor, I spent a good chunk of the weekend listening to Billy Joel & Bruce Springsteen aka the soundtrack of my childhood home. Gotta say that I found myself more compelled–to my surprise and dismay–by the Swan of Lawn Guyland than by The Boss. Billy Joel has some well-wrought tunes, you guys. Some notes: # Sort of amazing how many different moods Billy Joel can infuse with kitsch. And how little… Read more

I’m just quoting one paragraph but there’s so much to consider and be thankful for here: This connection to health care is central to the Tents’ mission. The speaker continues, “The chief purpose of this organization is to care for the sick, comfort those who are distressed, bury the dead, and provide home for the aged.” These are universal concerns, as pressing today as they would have been during the organization’s founding in the 1860s. But when you realize the… Read more

Halloween season means spooky movie revivals! AFI showed a whole mess of films by the great Val Lewton, of which I revisited Cat People, The Seventh Victim, and Curse of the Cat People. And the Regal at Gallery Place showed the director’s cut of Little Shop of Horrors–the cut with the unhappy ending. I was in hog heaven. Some notes: Cat People: AFI showed Cat People as a standalone, and then did a double feature of The Seventh Victim and… Read more

So I commemorated the Fifth of November by attending a reading of Equivocation, Jesuit priest Bill Cain’s tragicall comedy about an alternate history in which James I commissioned Shakespeare (here “Shag,” whatever, we all know who this is) to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot. It’s not a perfect play; it does get preachy, and you can see contemporary Catholic obsessions and tics peeking out from amid the Jacobean trappings. E.g. the idea that destruction of community bonds are… Read more

for Commonweal: “Your new neighbors”: Few phrases evoke such a mix of hope and dread. They’ll provide barbecues and babysitters, or else they’ll be the occasion for 911 calls and “Clean It or Lien It” signs. Karen Zacarias’s play Native Gardens, which recently ran at Washington DC’s Arena Stage, uses the new neighbors as a microcosm of social and demographic change. Zacarias wants to offer hope of reconciliation in an increasingly divided country. But reconciliation turns out to be much… Read more

A couple notes of Halloweenery for you. First, I did a piece for a Scottish Catholic paper on the Church in horror films, and I think it turned out pretty well. I even truffled up a religiously-tinted horror flick set in a Glasgow housing project: No matter how much deserved criticism or casual contempt other kinds of films offer Catholics, in horror our Faith is often the haven of last resort. When nothing else can explain your situation and nobody… Read more

for Modern Age: Alan Moore lives in the past, and who can blame him? The rent is cheaper there. Jerusalem is not the first novel from Moore, though the Hugo-winning author is better known for writing bleak and gory comic books: the antisuperhero masterpiece Watchmen, the dystopian V for Vendetta, the Jack the Ripper tale From Hell. Moore frequently delves into the weird. His Swamp Thing series explores that age-old tale of “sentient plant meets girl.” But in Jerusalem he… Read more

YES here I am with MORE about that noir procedural/Reagan tribute fanvid, that glorious neon wheel of cheese, Miami Vice. Season two ahoy! # The back end of this season slows down considerably, and you even get the occasional bad episode (“French Twist,” “Free Verse”). On the other hand, you get a lot of fun episodes and one genuinely magnificent one (“Bushido,” see below). For the season finale they give Tubbs a family, which obviously goes horribly for everyone involved,… Read more

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