“‘Roe’s’ Missing Stories”: I’m at First Things

playwatching: Roe, the new play from Lisa Loomer about the woman at the heart of the 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, is much like its main subject: easily distracted, unbalanced, but undeniably compelling. Roe (at Arena Stage in Washington, DC through February 18) at first suggests that it will be a story of two women. The play opens with Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey (Sara Bruner) and lawyer Sarah Weddington (Sarah Jane Agnew) speaking in unison. We're encouraged to think that their l … [Read more...]

In Italy, They Call It “Battle Royale with Cheese”: I watch “The Tenth Victim”

Did you know that there's a '60s sunlit dystopia flick about a game show/social control mechanism where you hunt folk? Did you know it's also a romcom starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress? The Tenth Victim is wigged-out, askew, sexy in a PG-13 adolescent kind of way, and the most Roman movie I've ever seen. (I've seen The Great Beauty.)I loved this thing. I loved the interview with the "hunter": "Do you believe in God?" "Of course." "Do you believe in the family?" "A little … [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...]

“To Paradise, By Way of Kensal Green”: I review “The English Way”

for the University Bookman. Papist polemics, monks with painted eyelids, "apostolic viragoes" and more! You might expect a book called The English Way: Studies in English Sanctity from Bede to Newman, compiled under the reign of King George V, to rustle through the fingers like a necklace of finely-wrought gold. You might expect serenity, monumentality, harmony: a peaceable parade of right little, tight little saints.You might expect that, anyway, if you don’t remember much about English h … [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...]

DC/MD Catholics: Be a Church Companion for a Pregnancy Center!

Hey y'all. The pregnancy center where I volunteer has this excellent newish program of church referrals. Basically, we see a lot of women who were raised Christian or have some definite interest in finding a church, but who have a ton of worries and responsibilities to juggle so it's easy for the church hunt to get endlessly postponed. So we ask them a few questions about what they're looking for, and try to connect them with someone who can accompany them to a church--ideally, even picking them … [Read more...]

“Spirits, What Have You to Say?”: I watch “Ouija: Origin of Evil”

If you're interested in present-day portrayals of Vatican II-era Catholicism, it's pretty fascinating. If you're interested in haunted Ouija boards, not so much: I watched Ouija: Origin of Evil last night, and it was a pretty good flick. But I’m still a little confused about the Ouija board’s motivation.I watched the movie because of this article about Blumhouse, a horror-centered production company making “nuanced dramas about families, class, and morality — but instead of divorce or dysfun … [Read more...]