October 12, 2020

Previous years here and here. This year has a bit less variety than the two previous but I think it’s still a fun one. “Did somebody call break?…Break’s over.” Tonio K, “How Come I Can’t See You in My Mirror?” A great addition from reader Don McClane. Oingo Boingo, “Dead Man’s Party” “Theme from ‘Graveyard Shift'” Jonathan Coulton, “Re: Your Brains” Voltaire, “Graveyard Picnic” Martin Tielli, “I’ll Never Tear You Apart” The Smiths, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” Lalo… Read more

October 12, 2020

with an essay which can also serve as a “trailer” for the forthcoming sequel to Gay & Catholic: Sexual integrity… cannot be defined simply as the absence of obvious sexual sin. What looks like chastity from the outside may be a brittle, traumatized despair, or an attempt to earn God’s love. (And unchastity may be part of a long journey of unlearning the backward catechism [of self-hatred]. Where that journey leads may depend, in part, on how confessors, parents, and… Read more

October 5, 2020

I wrote about Liane de Pougy’s diaries, for America’s books issue: …For Lianon (as she called herself), life was a banquet, and she took seconds of every dish. Men poured jewels in her lap and women threw themselves at her feet—de Pougy’s 1901 novel, Idylle Saphique, is a roman à clef about her affair with Natalie Barney, then the empress of lesbian Paris. At last she was swept away from the glittering world in the only manner that could have… Read more

September 23, 2020

Recently finished Susan Crawford Sullivan’s 2011 Living Faith: Everyday Religion and Mothers in Poverty, a qualitative study (ooh fancy) of moms recruited from the waiting rooms of various Boston welfare and social-service offices. Sullivan asks the right questions and, as a practicing Catholic, understands the true weight of the answers. She never instrumentalizes her subjects’ faith; even when she talks about the *~*practical benefits*~* of religious belief, she always notes that the purpose of these women’s prayers and faith are… Read more

September 7, 2020

subscribers-only, I’m afraid, but I’m out there telling you that you don’t have to become straight to please God, therapists and ministers who pressure you to “fix” your orientation are more likely to do harm than good, and there are havens for your love and longing which are in harmony with the Church’s teachings: In spite of the closure of ex-gay organisations, the defection of ex-gay leaders and studies showing that conversion therapy is rarely “successful” and often harmful, Catholics… Read more

August 13, 2020

(…sort of.) I’m at First Things: Last year, Oscar-winner Parasite and box-office smash Knives Out gave audiences class warfare in a delicious genre coating. Before we could find out if any new horror flicks or mysteries would offer comparable political pleasures, COVID-19 shuttered theaters and left film fans scouring the streaming services. That’s how I found Hard Labor, a 2011 Brazilian horror film from writers/directors Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas, which you can watch for free if your local library… Read more

August 12, 2020

or film impressions, or what have you. Saving the best for last. Tragedy Girls: High-school BFFs seek social media fame by tracking a local serial killer–but they’re really doing all the kills themselves, for the likes. This blank-hearted film has two charismatic leads (Brianna Hildebrand and especially Alexandra Shipp), and there’s a great late-breaking subplot about democracy as social media, but otherwise this did nothing for me. It’s neon-pretty but so are lots of horror movies. If you want hilariously-dressed… Read more

July 19, 2020

So last night I had my first experience of coronatheater: a reading, performed in five different bedrooms over Zoom, of Will Arbery’s Pulitzer-nominated play Heroes of the Fourth Turning. This is a play about four youth of today whose conservative Catholic educations have left them shipwrecked and jagged; over the course of a truly terrible party the rotten foundations of that education are exposed, and we even begin to suspect that the “demons” troubling these characters are extremely literal. I’m… Read more

July 17, 2020

Some have the sublimity of Bottom’s dream… some are rudely mechanical. 10 Things I Hate About You: This is “The Taming of the Shrew” adapted for a modern high-school setting, which should be impossible and instead is somehow brilliant. Harold Bloom used to say that Katharina and Petruchio end the play as joint conspirators, united against the world which threw them against one another; it’s not as easy to wring that interpretation from the text as I’d like, but boy,… Read more

July 14, 2020

I’m at We Are the Mutants, bowing and curtsying: Assign teenagers to different socioeconomic classes and require the lower classes to perform humiliating rituals of obeisance to the upper. Give other students the power to enforce class boundaries and punish those who get ideas above their station. Make sure the artificial hierarchy affects the students’ friendships and grades. What could go wrong? This is the setup for Gloria D. Miklowitz’s 1985 young adult novel, The War Between the Classes. But… Read more

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