November 11, 2022

I’m speaking tomorrow morning on this topic, at Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture fall conference. This year’s theme is order and creation, so I decided to adapt the relevant chapter from Tenderness. I am bone-lazy and did not make a powerpoint, and then in the very first talk I went to at the conference, I realized how great powerpoints are for audiences when you have a lot of material and references to convey quickly. So I’m... Read more

November 9, 2022

Lydia Tár is a force of nature–or so she wants us to think. Tár, played by Cate Blanchett in full goddess-of-war mode, is a conductor of classical music; a crusty curmudgeon when it comes to identity politics, though also of course of course a defender of her own particular identity group, championing women conductors; the glamor half of a lesbian power couple; a self-assured, sexually-predatory genius who has been keeping some sordid little secrets, which are about to destroy her... Read more

October 28, 2022

Previous years here, here, here, here! Lol so many of these links are broken. MEMENTO MORI. Shonen Knife, “Devil House” English version tbh David Bowie, “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” The Fugees, “The Mask” not for kids but like… I love this song Chubby Checker, “Doin’ the Zombie” via Randy’s Rodeo Johnny Cash, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” he’s so great but I cannot hear this without flashing back to like NPR in the ’80s and “Condos for saaaaale! Condos... Read more

October 17, 2022

A cornucopia! Benediction: Terence Davies’s experimental, time-shifting Siegfried Sassoon biopic. The elderly Sassoon’s conversion to Catholicism happens early in the film, and then we flash back to his experience as a soldier protesting the prosecution of World War I, which leads his superiors to order him into a mental hospital. Various gay but not happy things follow, and he gets married and has a kid and that’s not great either. It’s an odd film which felt unbalanced to me. Davies... Read more

September 9, 2022

owooooooo!: The wolves behind the fence at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, were lithe and rangy. They weren’t big. They didn’t slaver. They trotted up and down as our human guide told us charming tales of wolf-­ambassadors, wild creatures who trusted their handlers enough to come out into the world of people. We heard about a wolf who padded through Manhattan on a leash, then visited a television studio and, like unruly stars before him, peed... Read more

August 31, 2022

here: For about twenty years, I’ve volunteered at a pro-life pregnancy center. (The views expressed here are mine alone.) I don’t know how much my experience can contribute to the broader national politics of abortion. Everything I’m about to say is drawn from what my clients have told me, and while I do everything in my power to build trust, I am not in their shoes and can speak only as an observer. Moreover, my pregnancy center is in the... Read more

August 26, 2022

for Plough: Alcoholism often reveals itself first in broken promises. If you are lucky, these are promises to yourself. I really need to cut back. Jesus, I’m never gonna do THAT again. I’m just going to have one last time – the Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – and then I’m going to stop. Some of these promises are unspoken: the I would nevers. But one of the most common experiences of addiction is learning that you’re capable of much more... Read more

August 9, 2022

In the order in which I saw them! Good Madam: Post-apartheid South African horror, streaming on Shudder. A woman going through family troubles (Chumisa Cosa) and her daughter move back in with her mother (Nosipho Mtebe), to the house where the mom has worked as a maid for most of her life. Disturbing hints and events pile up: Is the house haunted? Who really holds the power here, and what do they want? I loved the setup for this, and... Read more

July 27, 2022

for Commonweal: …None of these stories were intended for the audience of a contemporary American writing workshop: the place where students in MFA programs learn what it means to write well. Matthew Salesses’s recent book, Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping, argues that most writing workshops would label work modeled on these examples as “bad writing.” Salesses’s foremost concern is the way that the behavioral and artistic norms of writing workshops suppress or distort the voices... Read more

July 25, 2022

I had to watch this thing, even though I didn’t know what interesting thing there might be to say about the legend of Elvis Presley, because Baz Luhrmann is a man who directs like Yma Sumac sings. His camera is a tiger on a tilt-a-whirl, he whacks anachronistic scraps of music together like a kid with construction paper and paste, his whole mind just seems cartoony. His Romeo and Juliet was neon Jesus as far as the eye could see.... Read more

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