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...]

“Never Quite Free”: My series on portrayals of penitence concludes

with a look at the Mountain Goats, We Shall All Be Healed. This piece has a couple lines I really like: One way to mistell stories of penitence is to envision penance as a linear process of restoration. You do a bad thing, you feel bad, you make amends (often in a way which involves saying ritual words like “I’m sorry,” or doing something which offers an obvious symbolic parallel to your wrongdoing), status quo ante. There can be truly sublime portrayals of this kind of almost mathematical penit … [Read more...]

“You think you hold the high hand; I’ve got my doubts”

This works best as an Easter song at the end of its album, but here you go anyway--I love this. Probably listened to it for the first time sober ever on Holy Thursday. Had to clean 14-month-old spilled drinks off the CD but it spun just fine.(I just tried looking up this album at The Fix because I was sure they'd put it in one of their "best albums about addiction/recovery" lists, but the search engine said, MOUNTAIN GOATS--Do you mean MAINTAIN GOALS?) … [Read more...]

“Wait a while, eternity!”

Mountain Goats cover "Christmas in Prison." … [Read more...]

“The Death-Haunted Art of Friendship, Part IV”

Me on friendship and addiction, at Catholic Lane. … [Read more...]

The Mountain Goats: Disco Purgatorio

I listen to an album, at AmCon. … [Read more...]

From today’s readings

Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go then!" They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.-USCCB daily readings; and one of my actual favorite songs … [Read more...]


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