Sand in the Gears

Archive for the ‘The Artful Life’ Category

Smart over art

Friday, October 8th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | Comments Off on Smart over art

Evert Cilliers on lousy, pretentious, self-celebratory modern film and fiction: "Urban Intellectual Fodder. Neither original nor path-breaking, this art is derivative hommage; postmodern commentary around the edges of art. It is art born of attitude, not passion. It is art that postures but ...

Cormac McCarthy

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | Comments Off on Cormac McCarthy

"Hey Worm, did you see old Crumbliss in the paper this mornin? What's he done now? They found him about six oclock this mornin under a tree in a big alfalfa field. He found the only tree in the whole field and ...

The pedagogy of the fart

Monday, September 27th, 2010 Posted in The Art of Parenting, The Artful Life | 8 Comments »

Thomas Spence, president of Spence Publishing, has a must-read piece in last week's Wall Street Journal, titled "How to Raise Boys Who Read." He takes aim at the latest fad, which is to get the video-game and television-besotted little cretins ...

Cormac McCarthy

Monday, September 13th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"He said that he did indeed have a long journey. He said he did not know what the end of his journey would look like or whether he would know it when he got there and he asked her in ...

Wise Blood

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"She felt justified in getting anything at all back that she could, money or anything else, as if she had once owned the earth and been dispossessed of it. She couldn't look at anything steadily without wanting it, and what ...

On Christian sentimentality

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | Comments Off on On Christian sentimentality

"Disentangling beauty from sentimentality is unlikely to be accomplished until it is recognized that evil (as with God's saving grace) cannot be accommodated within systems that seek to 'make sense' of all things within closed cosmological and metaphysical systems... In a ...

From the unintended visual images department

Friday, March 26th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | Comments Off on From the unintended visual images department

Oscar-winning composer Johnny Mandel, on how he arranged orchestral accompaniments for Barbra Streisand: "The only thing the orchestra should do is provide a lovely cushion for her to sing against." Sounds good to me, Johnny. The NPR piece on Mandel is also worth a ...

Introversion come full circle

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | Comments Off on Introversion come full circle

"Many things that I would not care to tell any individual man I will tell the public." (Michel de Montaigne, quoted in Rob Nixon's interesting essay on the state of non-fiction)

Art and criticism vs. the world

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"Like legitimate art, legitimate criticism is a tragicomic holding action against entropy."  (John Gardner, On Moral Fiction, p. 6)

From rags to riches to the tater farm

Saturday, February 13th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry, The Artful Life | Comments Off on From rags to riches to the tater farm

My favorite sometime nemesis Caitlin Flanagan has a piece in the recent Atlantic about this trend in urban schools to orient the school day and even the curriculum around the cultivation of big gardens. On the surface it sounds brilliant, ...

The verisimilar edge

Friday, February 5th, 2010 Posted in Redbox Reviews | 3 Comments »

Listening to a local film critic's tired dismissal of the new film, Edge of Darkness, I was struck by the need, in film, literary, and art criticism just as much as in theological or architectural or epicurean criticism, for a ...

Book it

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 Posted in Redbox Reviews | 6 Comments »

I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the unofficial New Yorker film critic handbook there's a rule that goes something like this: If Christian faith is central to a film, don't be afraid to stoop to name-calling and character assassination. Thus ...

Does this cape make me look fat?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 Posted in Book Reviews, The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

My friend John Miller brings the smack on modern vampires. This may be a good way to sum it up: if your bloodsucker needs hair gel, he's really just a big thirsty sissy with bad teeth. In general, vampires ought ...

Old, old, old school

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | 1 Comment »

"There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books . . . This mistaken preference for the modern ...

Heresy, thy name is Legion

Sunday, January 24th, 2010 Posted in Redbox Reviews, Theology | 3 Comments »

Perhaps you've seen commercials for the movie Legion, which appears to be two very different movies, depending on whether you've seen it advertised in the theater or on your television. On television, the premise appears to be that a host ...

Of God and Baal

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | Comments Off on Of God and Baal

The great division within man is rooted not in ideology or religion or tribe, but in darkness and death, counterposed against light and life, which comes not from man but is placed within him. The line separating dark from light ...

Steadfast to this turn

Monday, January 4th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, The Artful Life | Comments Off on Steadfast to this turn

This in memory of Peggy Rabb, who I knew only a little and a little while, but who was all kindness to me. In our first conversation we talked about things I have written and things she has written and ...


Friday, December 18th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

I just found out I scored a mention in the 2010 Pushcart Anthology for my short story, "Name," which was published last year in Image. And the good people at Ruminate nominated my story, "The Glass Child," for a Pushcart ...

You know he’s neck-deep in work when he busts out the quotes

Monday, November 16th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern because a London cut-purse went unhung. Through Chance, we are each ...

U2 and the pharisees

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 16 Comments »

I saw U2 in Norman, Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago, so my ears are attuned to all things Bono of late. With that in mind, I figure this is a good opportunity to introduce you to something you should ...

Think bloodsucking is hot? Ever have your blood sucked?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 5 Comments »

Philosophy professor Stephen Amsa writes this in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Any careful reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula, for example, will reveal not only a highly sexualized description of blood drinking, but an erotic characterization of the count himself." What he ...

And now for something completely different

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

I’ll not forget the charming maid Who asked if I had been flambéed And, seeing I knew little French, Proceeded without pause to drench My clothes with liquids dark and strong, And purred I wouldn’t feel it long, Then closed the door and dropped the latch And ...

Traveling circles

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

So what do I have in common with Annie Dillard, Ron Hansen, Kathleen Norris, and Valerie Sayers? We're all in Image Journal's 20th-anniversary anthology, Bearing the Mystery. You should buy a copy.

The Glass Child

Monday, June 29th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 5 Comments »

If you're looking for a counterweight to my usual cheeriness, you might get yourself the latest issue of Ruminate, which has my short story, "The Glass Child." Here's the opening paragraph: This is the blood, David tells himself. He twists open ...


Friday, June 12th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 10 Comments »

Some of you may enjoy my latest Wall Street Journal essay, about modern friendships. In a nutshell: though I have more Facebook friends than my four-year old Isaac, I'm pretty sure that's a poor indication of who is more loved.

Shut it. Literally.

Monday, April 20th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 17 Comments »

Okay, here's the thing. "Literally" doesn't mean "really." It's not a word that you put in front of some other words to show that, unlike the rest of your lackluster sentence, this is the part you really totally completely, like, ...

The books we don’t read

Monday, March 9th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 15 Comments »

The most lied-about book in England? Orwell's 1984. For me it's business books. The only thing worse, I think, than reading The Black Swan would be having an enthusiast recount it to me chapter by chapter. So what books do you ...

Book People vs Screen People

Friday, January 16th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

Christine Rosen in The New Atlantis: "Despite the attention once paid to the so-called digital divide, the real gap isn’t between households with computers and households without them; it is the one developing between, on the one hand, households where parents ...

Americans read more. Sort of.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

The good news: the percentage of Americans who report reading novels, short stories, poems, or plays has increased from 46.7 percent in 2002 to 50.2 percent, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. The bad news: only a little more ...

Redbox Review: The New Stupid

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 Posted in Redbox Reviews | 5 Comments »

It's accepted American wisdom now that smart people are not to be trusted. Thus our presidential candidates sprinkle the occasional "ain't" when speaking to the little people, and strive to project the image of someone who did not spend his ...