November 21, 2023

NB: This post is cross-posted at my substack, where most of my less-official and more-experimental or more-fun writing is nowadays. You might subscribe! Creatures, a few weeks ago I watched Killers of the Flower Moon, a Scorsese flick about the 1920s wave of murderous violence unleashed by white men greedy for the oil wealth of the Osage Indians. If that sounds like an unexpected subject for a Scorsese flick, that’s one of the movie’s strengths: the moment when you realize... Read more

October 27, 2023

Previous years at the Halloween tag, but a lot of those YouTube links are deader than Dracula by now. This list is a bit pingpongy, you get ’80s glam and you get moody indie BS and not much else… and you don’t get the song that gave this post its title, either, because it’s not as good as our previous two Oingo Boingo offerings. ANYWAYS spin these tunes at your next Undead Disco, because there is no vaccine… for DISCO... Read more

October 23, 2023

and I promise that title is not the trippiest thing about this essay: There are fungi that hunt their prey. Fungi can communicate, trade, and defend. They reproduce sexually, fusing the little threads called “hyphae” with compatible threads from another fungus and mixing their genetic material. (“How the sexual attraction between truffle fungi plays out remains unknown.”) Fungi can eat dirty diapers, cigarette butts, neurotoxins, and radiation. If we want our planet to become a little less of, in Pope... Read more

September 26, 2023

I mean… of course I do. Of course I loved it! I’m going to tell you a little about this movie about teenage lesbian dirtbag jackasses, partly because it’s a really fun movie if you yourself are a lesbian jackass, but there’s also a plot twist that may intrigue my less ridiculous Christian readers. So okay, “Bottoms” is about PJ (surly-lookin’ Rachel Sennott) and Josie (soulful shlimazl Ayo Edebiri), high schoolers and outcasts–not because they’re gay, but because they’re “gay... Read more

September 22, 2023

for The Bulwark: …On the first page of Yale history professor Carlos Eire’s puckish new study of levitating and bilocating saints, frauds, and witches in the early modern era, which has the perfectly provocative title They Flew, he writes that it’s “absolutely impossible” for people to fly without the aid of technology, “and everyone can agree on this, for certain. Or at least everyone nowadays who doesn’t want to be taken for a fool or an unhinged eccentric.” Reading this... Read more

September 14, 2023

Horror and the 1970s (but I repeat myself! badum-tish). A Dark Song: Grueling, unexpected Irish horror flick about a grieving woman who hires a Satanist to teach her a demon-summoning ritual, for sad reasons which might be sadder lies. The ritual requires them to spend months in a creepy house together, so there’s a strong “you and I against the world” vibe, like The Night Porter without either history or (much) sexuality. Two trapped and angry people resorting to one... Read more

September 7, 2023

reading European social-media novels: A DOORWAY OR A RIVER, a bad relationship or an act of violence you can’t look away from, a pet that’s also a stalker: The new subgenre of “social media novels” has found all kinds of metaphors for the experience of online communication. Some of these metaphors reassure as much as they unsettle. They suggest that life online is fundamentally similar to IRL, as intelligible as analog life—yes, okay, the more we check Twitter, the more... Read more

August 10, 2023

In chronological order of when they were released. The Scarlet Empress Josef von Sternberg directs Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great, and yet none of that is the thing you’ll remember about this movie! Dietrich spends most of the film as a cartoonishly wide-eyed ingenue trapped in a castle with stunning, ridiculous, purgatorial production design. Doors so big it takes an army of court ladies to open them! Candelabra in the shape of full-sized tortured human figures! The banisters are... Read more

August 7, 2023

telling you to be disorderly at the mall: The father of the mall was a socialist. This tidbit always gets dropped in discussions of mall history, and it’s usually deployed for cheap irony: let’s all laugh at Victor Gruen, the left-winger who created the architectural signature of global capitalism—as if he did it by accident! It’s a joke that is funniest if you believe neither in socialism nor in malls. Alexandra Lange’s Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History... Read more

August 4, 2023

For your pleasure. I Like Bats (1987) Polish vampire film, streaming via Shudder, about a woman who tries inpatient treatment to cure her vampirism and falls for her therapist. Some comedy, often courtesy of her aunt, an extremely auntly vampire; some batty pleasures, including a fantastic bat-winged teacup, for my money the best thing in this film; some graphic sex, because the Poles are the Swedes of the Church. The story is played for romance with a touch of horror-comedy.... Read more

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