I Used to Live Here: Old Interview w/John Darnielle About “The Life of the World to Come”

w/various things about his religion, but this was the part which struck me the most: Pitchfork: "Genesis 3:23" is about breaking into a house where you used to live. Is that something you've ever done?JD: Sort of. Not breaking in. I don't do B&Es anymore. I actually never did B&Es, I just did Bs. [laughs] But the inspiration for this is twofold, and is going to be a bit of a long story. I have that feeling that this is something that other survivors of abuse do. When I go back to … [Read more...]

From “Going to the Dogs”

"That happens to many women. We young men have cares of our own, and they leave us sufficient time for pleasure, but not enough for love. The family is disintegrating. After all, there are only two possible ways in which we can shoulder responsibility. Either a man accepts the responsibility for a woman's future, and then, if he loses his job the week after, he realizes how irresponsibly he has acted. Or his sense of responsibility forbids him to make a mess of a woman's future, and if, for this … [Read more...]

Sister and Stranger: “Ida,” A Jewish Nun in a Haunted Poland

Ida, a contemporary black-and-white movie now playing at the E St Cinema & Bethesda Row Cinema, begins as the title character (Agata Trzebuchowska) is about to meet her only known relative. Ida doesn't want to meet Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), about whom she knows nothing except that Wanda refused to take her in when she was orphaned, so she was raised in a convent. She's about to take her own vows, though, and so she musters up all her obedience and submits to spending some indefinite time … [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...]

“Every Day Is Like Sunday: Rediscovering Wilfrid Sheed’s ‘The Hack’”

Me at AmCon: Don’t call Wilfrid Sheed’s 1963 The Hack a forgotten Catholic classic. I don’t want it to be dismissed so easily.Sheed was the scion of Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward, the Catholic publishers and apologists; he knew that pre-Vatican II world of professional religion from the inside. The Hack is a satirical tragedy about Bert Flax, a man who supports his wife and five children by writing pabulum for the lower levels of the Catholic press: angels with cotton-candy wings, Irish … [Read more...]

“How to Stop Time”: I review “Only Lovers Left Alive”

for AmCon: There’s a lot to love about this swoony, drifty vampire flick, a sensual opium dream which unfurls in a lushly-colored musical haze. Tilda Swinton was born to play a vampire, with her giant sepulcher-face full of bones. She’s magnetic, as are the cityscapes, a bleached-white Tangiers and half-abandoned Detroit.The blood=drug equation isn’t subtle, but there’s a subtler, haunting motif of music and nostalgia as ecstatic drugs in which we lose ourselves. The vampires are drunk on th … [Read more...]

From “Master of Reality”

I got this calendar free with dinner at New China up on Foothill. They were giving them away if you ate there in January. One thing about me is that I always get maximum use out of free things. When the managers from around the country all went to San Diego for the region-wide management training summit, I kept all the soaps and shampoos from the hotel room they'd put me in. I also kept the toothpaste. And I didn't keep them in a closet as a souvenir of the management training summit, either: I … [Read more...]


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