“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...]

From Josip Novakovich, “April Fool’s Day”

"If he'd kept drinking slivovitz, he'd still be all right, I am sure. The trouble with vodka is that it doesn't feel like anything, so you can drink a whole bottle without vomiting or your throat burning. Slivovitz won't let you do that--when you drink it, you know you are drinking.""You are right about that. After two glasses, your stomach is on fire, and after three, you are vomiting. That's a good safety check built right into the drink. God's wisdom is in the plums--that's how He takes … [Read more...]

King of Cups: Rereading Tim Powers’s “Last Call”

Fantasist (and mackerel-snapper, if we're counting) Tim Powers does high-concept tales in which hard-bitten characters struggle to learn to love one another and escape complex, unforgiving systems of magical dark forces. Last Call is probably my second-favorite of his fantasies of salvage--the greatest is Declare aka "the one where demons fight the Cold War"--and as I reread it I loved it even more than I did the first time around. The high concept this time is "war for succession among the gods … [Read more...]

Colonialism Isn’t Just a River in Egypt, You Know: “A Fan’s Notes”

on white supremacy as a form of "I like thinking about it" addictive denial. All the racial stuff in this book is really fascinating. IMO this specific passage gains power from the cartoonishness of the black characters--they're fantasy figures dancing through the sickened imaginations of the (also cartoony) white man--although at least one of the black characters in AFN is only as cartoonish as the whites. Anyway there's so much in this passage about the nature of white racial fantasy, … [Read more...]

“Passover Cocktails for Each of the Ten Plagues”

I am just a fountain of good taste: Plague 1: Blood Cocktail: Red NileThe original eye-opener. Great way to start the plagues, perfect for weekend brunch of fresh fruit, coffee, matzoh brie, and Sephardic dried-fruit-and-cumin haroseth.Ingredients: 2 oz potato vodka 4 oz tomato juice 1/2 oz lemon juice 1 oz Arak 1 tsp white horseradish 6 drops Texas Pete 3 drops Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Cocktail Bitters (no corn syrup) Dash salt Dash pepper Carrot stick for … [Read more...]

Today’s Themes: Gallows Humor and Vodka

A round-up of what I've been reading."Missouri Considers Lifting Lifetime Food Stamp Ban for Former Drug Felons." Missouri is one of 10 states that currently has a lifetime ban on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for anyone convicted of a drug-related felony, but they could soon be amending their policy.The harsh ban was part of the welfare reform effort of 1996, but most states have since modified or completely removed the lifetime ban. However, the Missouri Senate … [Read more...]

What Keeps Mankind Alive: 1995 Theological Vampire Flick “The Addiction”

"All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation."--possibly Auden? Attributed to Auden, anyway. For a while now I've been trying to hunt down Abel Ferrara's ultra-artsy, not-on-DVD vampire movie, The Addiction. It's on YouTube again now--see it before it vanishes!--at a link you can find here, along with Kindertrauma's reflections on the film. I watched it last night and suspect I need to watch it at least once more before I have any firm … [Read more...]


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