HIeronymus Bosch: Hear Music Straight from the Devil’s Hindquarters

Or the hindquarters of somebody being tormented by a devil, anyway: Another mark in the “why the Internet rules” column: an Oklahoma college student named Amelia has transcribed the music written on the ass of a figure from the “Hell” panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, and posted a recording of it to her Tumblr.Listen to it here.It’s not the most mind-blowing music you’ll hear in your life, I know, but it’s still wonderful that this was d … [Read more...]

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From Saul Bellow, “Ravelstein”

Obviously, my purpose in mentioning the Crillon's valet service was to comfort Abe for spilling the Flore's strongest coffee on his brand-new jacket. But Abe didn't want me to console him for being what he was. He would have thought better of me for laughing at his sputtering reckless slobbering, his gauche eager tremors. He liked broad comedy, old vaudeville routines, wounding remarks, brashness, and raw fun. So he didn't think well of my weak, liberal, let's-make-it-all-better motive--my … [Read more...]

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“City of Good Intentions”: I review a local history show

at the Anacostia Museum: Sometimes it seems like the nation’s capital is really two cities: dateline Washington and hometown DC. The current show at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, “Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963 – 1975,” is an attempt to bridge the gap–or at least to give official Washington’s view of unofficial DC.The show is one of those “social history” grab-bags: a display about public colleges here, a selection of dashikis there. We get morsels of a l … [Read more...]

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I Don’t Believe in Modern Love (But I Do Love “Modern Manners”)

Recently revisited Modern Manners: An Etiquette Guide for Rude People, my favorite PJ O'Rourke. I think what makes it work is the mix of elements. It's mostly corny humor, like the extended segment on food fights ("Use a raw oyster to show someone what a French kiss would be like if she'd married a reptile"). There's also a lot of witticism: a lot of peppy, preppy cynicism. But mixed into all that there is just enough genuine insight (the bit about how modern people have replaced love with … [Read more...]

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“Inside Japan’s Booming Rent-a-Friend Industry”: The Week

isn't the "ohh those kooky Japanese!" story I feared. All the many reasons you might hire a friend: There's a word in Japanese, gaman, that translates roughly as "stoic forbearance in the face of the unbearable." It's a deep-seated Japanese value, this idea that you suck it up no matter what. A lot has been happening lately. Anxiety and depression spiked after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The country itself is shrinking, its population plummeting and aging rapidly. And there's the apparently … [Read more...]

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Who Is Doing Good Ministry to Corrections Officers?

Last Saturday was the feast of Sts Processus and Martinian, patrons of wardens, guards, and prison police. Legend says that they were the jailers of St Peter and St Paul, who were converted when the apostles were miraculously freed (Acts 16).This got me wondering. In certain Christian circles we hear a lot about prison ministry. Visiting prisoners is one the basic Catholic corporal works of mercy. Pope Francis has been phenomenal when it comes to loving the prisoners in his flock--it's not … [Read more...]

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From “Modern Manners”

A brief predivorce period is favored because it's best for final separation to take place before the romance is gone from a marriage. Otherwise the couple are likely to have no regrets. (Having no regrets is a common, even popular, modern condition. It is nevertheless to be avoided. Having no regrets is what robs modern alcoholism of its poignancy. It has also ruined modern verse.) … [Read more...]

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