Dave Bazan, Curse Your Branches. Bazan’s confessional songwriting is dark and intense, but his impeccable craft makes it a pleasure. Bazan has put out album after album (many as Pedro the Lion) of precisely described internal turmoil set to spare rock and roll—with delectable pop hooks, here more confident and lilting than ever.
Spike Jonze’s film of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, substitutes pop psychology for Sendak’s exuberant, anarchic vision of childhood. Sendak’s hero is a boy named Max who’s sent to bed when his high spirits turn the corner into aggressiveness. He finds his room transformed into a jungle inhabited by savage creatures who make him their king.
Just after we’ve communally stuffed and thanked, the first sleet comes down in shanks of dirty lambs’ wool, rude messy sheets, slathering the cars we hunch in, hurrying again, against some febrile deadline, dodging the poor squiggling squirrel trying to shoot across the heavy-metal trafficked road that intersects his world.
He seems to have made it, tail on. We may, too, make it home, untripped this time by our own haste, knowing in some dark artery that the meal we need, the company against the cold, like the animals in the Ark, are all waiting, like Advent, inside the small rooms of the remaining calendar, we pass through, one by one.
Skip the American movie version of this story and view the series made by BBC for television. Focused on the press and shady doings in the upper echelons of government, this investigation of a murder unfolds over six hours. The depth of characterization gets viewers invested in the story and makes the suspense all the more (pleasantly) unbearable.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.
Between 1990 and 2010, Iowa lost over 500 churches. The numbers reflect migration from rural to urban areas and the fewer number of people who identify with a faith community. The decline in churches is having a direct effect on the social fabric of the state. According to research at Iowa State University, nine out of ten rural people said they rely less on their neighbors than they once did. Surviving churches have gone back to older pat