Monday, December 31, 2007

No, the victim does not subscribe to the wish-fulfillment theory, and I advise you not to, neat and fashionable and delightfully punitive as it may be.Reality is grander than that. Reality has more style. There. For those of you who cannot live without one, a moral to this tale. "Reality has style," concludes the embittered profesor who became a female breast. Go, you sleek, self-satisfied Houyhnhnms, and moralize on that!
--The Breast

Sunday, December 30, 2007

...Marlowe's problem is that he tries to wield women's inscrutability for
dramatic effect. His men do unexpected things because they're tormented, or
heroic, or power-mad, and unpacking his men's little mysteries will yield
interesting conclusions about torment, heroism, and lust for power. Isabella and
Zenocrate are mysterious, but reflecting on their little mysteries will just
leave you thinking, "Oh, women." ...Trying to make your tragic women
clear the larger-than-life bar by using their feminine mystique (ooh,
enigmatic!) is weird and disconcerting.
"It would appear," I tell Dr. Klinger, "that my analysis has 'taken'; a tribute to you, sir." He chuckles. "You were always stronger than you thought." "I would as soon never have had to find out. And besides, it's not so. I can't live like this any longer." "Yet you have, you do."
--Philip Roth, The Breast

Saturday, December 29, 2007

HOW TO BE BAD: I review the Shakespeare Theatre's productions of Tamburlaine and Edward II. Also, I learn that you shouldn't do best-of lists before the New Year; I think this is better than the Book of Jane review, and should've been the fifth entry in my best-of-published-Eve list.

Friday, December 28, 2007

AFRESH, AFRESH, AFRESH: Best of 2007. I'm going to New Jersey tomorrow, and it's unlikely that I'll do more than maybe a kitchen-adventures post between now and the champagne. So I'm doing my best-ofs list now. (2006, 2005, 2004)

Best books read (nonfiction): Rene Girard, The Scapegoat
Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII
Richard Klein, Cigarettes Are Sublime
Philip Roth, Reading Myself and Others
Ye gods, slim pickin's here. I'm going to cheat and name St. Aelred's Spiritual Friendship as the fifth-best, since I don't think I understood it the first time around.

Best books read (real books): Albert Camus, The Plague
Edmund White, Nocturnes for the King of Naples
Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Tim Powers, Last Call
Philip Roth, Everyman

Best movies watched for the first time (thus Withnail & I doesn't count--but I need to tell you that if you buy the DVD, you get an awesome poster!):
The Battle of Algiers and Nobody Knows (tie, because they're in the same post, so I feel like I can get away with it)
The Queen
The Chimes at Midnight
The Importance of Being Earnest
Sullivan's Travels

honorable mentions: A Night to Remember--an exceptionally well-paced Titanic movie; I was shocked at how strongly it affected me--and Ratatouille, an intensely sweet, conscientious kids' flick.

Best blog posts: This was a strange year for me and the blog. I wrote a lot less, partly because I was focusing on finishing the novel and partly because I was practicing the better part of valor for once. (I say it so you don't have to!) So this list isn't quite up to previous standards, hence the category below. Still, here it is, six of the best (and yes, as the phrase suggests, this is a punishment):
That's what you get for having fun (random notes about New Haven and theology and humiliation and... hamburgers)
Age of Apocalypse: medieval manuscripts as comics
The Man-Mary (This post, I think, should be treated as a thought experiment rather than a position statement. When I think about it as A Defense Of The Male Priesthood I think it's tinfoil; when I think about it as a way of using gender roles to illuminate modes of Christian life, I think it's kind of awesome. And also, I know you haven't heard back from me yet, if you emailed me about this post--I totally read your email and thought it was terrific [everyone who emailed me about this post said something amazingly helpful] and I will try to respond soon...ish.)
All alone at the '64 World's Fair: The Politics of Dancing takes on "Ana Ng" (and more)
You're gonna need someone on your side (a prayer to St. Simon of Cyrene)
Voice-casting the New Testament

Best things I wrote (nonfiction, non-blog):
"O tell me the truth about love" (homosexuality and the Catholic Church--a reply to Luke Timothy Johnson)
"Grace Is the Hardest Pillow" (I review Kathy Shaidle's poetry collection Lobotomy Magnificat)
"The Sacred Cardoon" (I review a show of Spanish art, "El Greco to Picasso")
"Naked but not Exposed" (I review an Edward Hopper retrospective)
"Job Wears Prada" (I bite the shins of a chick-lit rewriting of Job)

Best new candidate for political office who isn't Ron Paul: Shamed! Shamed! Shamed! I swear I'll give you money next month!

Best new blog I haven't told you about yet: The Cigarette Smoking Blog. I'm biased, but I think this blog about "Conservatism, Catholicism, Yale, film and music, one cigarette at a time" is always fun and intermittently brilliant (which is more than I can say for my own, that's for daggone sure). Film noir, cheatin' songs, and counterpleasures, with Wilde on her side. I don't think undergraduates should blog. But if they must blog, they should blog like this.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tonight the blogwatch let me down...

Dark October 316: "the unspeakable abyss of God's love"

Disputations: Advent Medea and more....

First Things: Basic Christmas homily from Fr. Neuhaus, but some elements of this struck me--the helplessness of the unborn and infant Christ; & the connection between the need for bodily resurrection and the Real Presence in the Eucharist. The latter reminded me of some stuff from A Grief Observed, about the way even grief replaces the true beloved with the lover's unwittingly Stepfordized image of her....

And tentacle chandeliers!!!!! Via The Corner.
Later in life, a man would expect to find in his wife the one thing that he could not expect to find among his peers--honesty. Parrhesia, unflinching frankness with one's fellows and superiors, was an infinitely rare and precious commodity. It could be had only from the only two authoritative figures who stood to one side of political life--from a philosopher and from one's wife.
--Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

But what to me is all this quintessence of dust?
--Withnail and I

Monday, December 17, 2007

PROFESSIONALISM. Apparently I totally didn't notice when my review of The Book of Jane was published on Nat'l Review Online.
Some say there’s a fine line between genius and madness. The Book of Jane is a chick-lit rewriting of the Book of Job.
This movie proves you don't need to have a good plot.
--DVD commentary on Withnail & I

Saturday, December 15, 2007

She had thought one
thousand years
the limit of her time,
but is confounded
she even harbored such fancies.
Now her long
absent lover has harrowed
and driven her soul
to the grave: "Never,"
she swears, "will I mention
his name again," but no
sooner said and her
heart kindles like tinder.
--from "Distant Dove," Judah Halevi, tr. Gabriel Levin

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Show me the way to the next blogwatch bar....

Abhay Khosla on the City of Glass comic; me, less ecstatically but still noting its awesomeness, on ditto. eta: HA, I just read to the end of this post, and it's distilled Abhay spectacularo. Seriously, he grabs one of the reasons "we still like comics," and this post as a whole is one of the reasons I'll always like Abhay's stuff. Click on the link for the bubblegum wrapper, too.

Dappled Things is going off the air. Awww!! You'll be missed.... While looking for the City of Glass review, I found this post from him, which is really powerful and something I very much needed right now, about living in imperfect communion:
...The acts of piety and witness of prayerfulness and Christian sacrifice that have impressed me most have not been those of the walking saints (because, in a way, I expect it of them), but rather of the obviously flawed people whose relationship with God and the Church is visibly messed up. When I learn that one of them is in the perpetual adoration chapel everyday, or that they have practiced heroic acts of charity toward a neighbor, or they faithfully say the rosary even though it's been years since they could go to Communion: this fills me with great hope -- for them, for me, and for all sorts of people who might be tempted to think that God and the Church have written them off.

more--you should really read the whole thing

Mark Shea: Heretic saints. (The post is actually about something else.) More on this from me in a bit.

And a call for submissions to a book about how the theology of the body has changed lives. Via Shea.
"Hurry now to your friend's house and his wine,
as drinks go round like the sun
to his right. The wineglass purifies
the wine's ruddiness--even rubies
are put to shame by its coral glow.
It beholds and keeps secret the splendor of its vintage
until it can no longer conceal it."
But wine imbibed banishes all my troubles;

this is the sign of the covenant
drawn up between us--while a colorful band
of singers and musicians press round me,
each more striking than the other.
--Judah Halevi, "Wine Songs #2," in Poems from the Diwan tr. Gabriel Levin

Monday, December 10, 2007

"When American life is most American it is apt to be most theatrical."
--Ralph Ellison, via Ratty

Saturday, December 08, 2007

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING, glory to the squid-born king!
Oh yeah, I had sexual intercourse with her. But not in the Biblical sense.
--A Bit of Fry and Laurie

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"NAKED BUT NOT EXPOSED": I review the National Gallery of Art's Edward Hopper exhibit for Commonweal.
The money gets divided--
the blogwatch gets excited--

Disputed Mutability: Have I mentioned that I end up quoting every other post from this hemi, demi, quasi ex-gay lady? Here, she visits a "Love Won Out" conference, and manages to nail a lot of what I found most awful. She finds the words for the things I struggled to express. RARGH, I can't figure out how to quote stuff, so just: If you want to hear about the irrelevance of "origin stories," the creepy fungibility of LWO's concept of "love," and the fact that compassion requires listening, cliquez-vous ici. She's so honest and awesome and smart.

Watchmen movie site: Analyses and general Mooreness. I'm on the second page sounding dumb.
The Jews of The Magic Barrel and the Jews of The Assistant are not the Jews of New York City or Chicago. They are Malamud's inventions, a metaphor of sorts to stand for certain possibilities and promises, and I am further inclined to believe that when I read the statement attributed to Malamud which goes, "All men are Jews." In fact, we know this is not so; even the men who are Jews aren't sure they're Jews.
--Philip Roth, "Writing American Fiction," in Reading Myself and Others

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Reductio ad absurdum, which Euclid loved so much, is one of a mathematician's finest weapons. It is a far finer gambit than any chess gambit: a chess player may offer the sacrifice of a pawn or even a piece, but a mathematician offers the game. --G.H. Hardy, something I don't know what