“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...]

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...]

“City of God”: Love and Rocket

I watched the 2003 favela gangster film City of God last night, and I have little to add to Victor Morton's insightful review: ...[T]he hyper-caffeinated style in CITY OF GOD is just breathtaking and entertaining as all get-go — the orange-clay look of the 50s segment, a bravura one-shot dissolve through the history of a single room in the favela over decades, the repeated freeze-frames, a 360-degree stop-motion shot, the great sequence of Benny’s “leaving the life” party. And it’s not all that … [Read more...]

Dostoyevsky Pitches “Crime and Punishment”

don't miss the endnote: TO M.N. Katkov[First half of September], 1865, WiesbadenK[ind] S[ir] M[ikhail] N[ikiforovich]May I hope to have my story published in your magazine, R[ussian] M[essenger]?I have been working on it for 2 months now here in Wiesbaden, and it is nearing completion. It will contain between five and six printer’s sheets. I still have a couple of weeks’ work left on it, or perhaps a bit more. In any case, I can promise definitely that in a month at the very lat … [Read more...]


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