Country Darkness: I read “‘Salem’s Lot”

After I finished Alan Moore's hulking tome Jerusalem (of which more presently) I picked up a pulp classic which turned out to have more in common with Moore's jawbreaker than just the Holy Land reference in the title. I'd actually never read 'Salem's Lot, despite loving Stephen King in general and pre-'9os King specifically. It's a great read, a luscious tribute to vampire tales of yore, with all of King's trademark sadness and determination. Some notes:# King returns to many of the images … [Read more...]

“‘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...]