Rectifying 2017

maxresdefault.jpg Rectify on Google Images (for a review post)During its four seasons from 2013 to 2016, Rectify was no stranger to critical praise. Nearly a year after the series finale, I think it’s time to mention Ray McKinnon’s series alongside the usual exemplars of television’s “golden age”—shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Wire.

As I watched the series in recent weeks, it occurred to me that Rectify completed its run at just the right moment: In 2017, when it’s so easy for our time to be lost to fear and loathing, no other television show may be so worth our while.

As a teenager, Daniel Holden was convicted and placed on death row in Georgia for the rape and murder of his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Hanna. New DNA evidence nineteen years later leads to an appeals court decision to vacate the judgment. Rectify begins with Daniel’s controversial release from prison.

The drama of Daniel’s return to his hometown in Paulie, Georgia is set when his first step outside of the prison is met with a horde of reporters. Daniel is dazed enough by the sun, let alone the news cycle’s demands and the renewed interest in whether or not he’s innocent. [Read more…]

Poetry Friday: “Afternoon Swim”

green and blue water in some kind of reservoir, surrounded by dark sides. the water is lit up by the reflection of trees. The play of grammar has always lured me. I’ve wondered: why do English sentences take the shape they do? So when I reached line 4 of Lance Larsen’s “Afternoon Swim”—with its bold announcement that he was switching from second person to first—I was hooked. Play with grammar is this poem’s medium. I laughed out loud at the course of Larsen’s sentence about another sentence: “a sentence in a Victorian novel fallen against the belly // of a pregnant somebody dozing on shore, turning now / to devour a delicious direct object.” Yet soon—surprise!—the direct object being devoured is the loaves that Christ multiplied, and the poem’s play turns theological as well as grammatical. And metaphysical, too, by the poem’s end, as it moves into pondering why words have the meanings they do—and how our very self is constructed.

—Peggy Rosenthal [Read more…]

Where’s the Guilt?

15698224630_85fddfa509_zI’ve had the experience of dealing with renters from time to time, though more in the capacity of property manager than as landlord. It has been one of the ugliest, most unpleasant things a person can go through in business.

You might say, “Well, everybody knows that—people don’t really respect what they don’t own.” True, I suppose, to a degree. But then, I’ve rented property for most of my life, in one way or the other, and it would be a slander to myself not to qualify such an adage. I’ve kept up the places and paid my rent. I’ve given them back to their owners in as good a shape as they gave them to me, “normal wear and tear accepted.” So I think there’s something else behind what I’ve gone through. Let me relate my woes:

Let it be said that this property is in a prime location, is practically brand new, and is marketed at a price that would chase away the kind of folks who aren’t paying much, so don’t care much. A professional set is the target audience and a professional set, by and large, has been interested in leasing it.

But you’d be surprised at what even professionals are capable of doing. The first group of people came well recommended and had good references; they had the money and were anxious to move right in. They were in transition (which now I know is always a dangerous state—volatile and unpredictable). [Read more…]

God, Guilt, and Aronofsky’s Noah, Part 1

As it has become too expensive for our family of five to go to the theater together often, we usually wait to see movies until they reach the dollar theater here in town. This means that we usually do not see a movie until the flurry of reviews has passed. Not many people were still writing about Darren Aronofsky’s Noah when we saw it a couple of weeks ago. I come late to the conversation, but I still want to share some thoughts on the film.

I do not want to weigh in on the controversy surrounding it. Having grown up in a church in which every new artistic or pop-culture offering was a cause for protest—Jesus Christ Superstar, Smurfs, He Man, The Lion King, Teletubbies—I had little trouble ignoring those rants. I did join one discussion with a boycotter who countered my suggestion that he take Aronofsky at his word when he says he wanted the movie to be a midrash with a remark about “adult diaper rash.” I was reminded why I try to stay out of discussions with certain of my Facebook friends.

Since there was no worry about spoilers, I read the reviews. A concise observation by Matt Zoller Seitz gave support to what I suspected: “This is…an immense, weird, ungainly, often laughably overwrought and silly movie, an amalgamation of elements from various literary and cinematic forebears.” After seeing the movie, I disagree. Overwrought maybe. Laughable and silly? No. [Read more…]

Wild-Eyed Youth Pastor

I recently found an unexpected e-mail in my in-box. It was from Joe, my youth pastor from over twenty-five years ago. I haven’t spoken to him in as many years. He was reaching out to apologize for any spiritual harm he had done me all those years ago. The e-mail got me reminiscing.

Joe was one of those youth pastors who seemed to have a sure calling, the kind of guy people called on fire for the Lord. He preached fearlessly, with the zeal of a prophet; unlike others I’d encountered who believed they had the gift of prophecy, Joe did not see it as an excuse to be a loud and judgmental ass. He was open and honest, transparent about his struggles. It drew kids to him. He and his wife opened their home to us, were endlessly patient with the teenage noise, hormones, strife. [Read more…]