And All at Once I Had to Face the Big Light: Some movie reviews

Rachel Getting Married: The story of a woman coming out of rehab just in time for her sister's wedding. I think even people who don't share my particular issues would find this a gripping, intensely painful story, showing our attempts at self-justification (and how even our attempts to do the right thing, be good, and/or make amends become self-centered and self-justifying) and how hard it is for well-meaning people to love one another. The set-piece scenes, like the toasting, are uniformly … [Read more...]

Before #yesallwomen, There Was “The Gift of Fear”: Me at AmCon

w/criticism, but you should read the book: I had the vertiginous experience of reading Gavin de Becker’s 1997 bestseller The Gift of Fear in the midst of the reporting and reaction to the killings at UC-Santa Barbara. I read Gift for the same reason as hundreds of other women: A close friend told me to. And there’s a reason the book gets passed along. It’s pushy, it’s overstated, it’s flawed—but it’s a powerful guide to recognizing potential violence and listening to your intuitions.It’s als … [Read more...]

“Music of the Trilobites”: Me in AmSpec

not really a book review!I read John Darnielle’s 2011 novel Master of Reality under the unfamiliar constellations of Australia—which was fitting, since the slender book is about being both physically and spiritually far from home. Master of Reality is an entry in Continuum’s “33 1/3” series of books about pop or rock albums. (The other books in the series tend to be straightforward critical studies.) I’ve never listened to Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, but Darnielle’s diary of a 1980s te … [Read more...]

“Five Details They Cut from My Season of ‘The Biggest Loser’”: Cracked

well worth reading even if you have no especial interest in weight loss or shows about ditto: ...Every week on the show, you watched us exercising and working out. That's part of the process, of course -- making people healthier. But they don't show the additional mandatory six hours or so of us furiously flailing the pounds away. They much preferred filming us right at the end of a workout, when we looked like lazy quitters for stopping so early. Even the giant scale they had us all weigh in … [Read more...]

From John Darnielle, “Master of Reality”

Now I feel like a freak. Kids at State used to call each other "freak," it was like the meanest thing you could call a guy until he'd been there long enough to really stop caring. At that point though it stopped being an insult and became more like a job tile or army rank. … [Read more...]

Transported in Time: Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney

So I'm in Sydney, and it's amazing. Beautiful weather (and what I'm gonna call sublime weather, the day we went out to Botany Bay and watched the swells breaking on the sandstone in front of a stormy sky), lovely people, majestic cockatoos which sound like fishwives, magpies, aggressive little mynahs harassing giant ravens, ibises rooting around everywhere the way we have Canada geese at home, shaggy gum trees, palm trees, hibiscus.And also, there's the Hyde Park Barracks, which was designed … [Read more...]

“Hideous Strength”: I review “Degenerate Art” at the Neue Galerie

for AmCon: Leave it to the Nazis to make charity posters into advertisements for power-worship.In the late 1930s the Nazi regime created a traveling exhibition which contrasted Fuhrer-approved artworks with “degenerate” works produced by modernists, New Objectivists, and other riffraff. The exhibition was a bizarre contrast to the book-burning and art-destroying we might expect from a totalitarian regime. Instead of preventing people from seeing the art at all, the Nazis encouraged them to v … [Read more...]


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