One music fan grapples with the method and madness of the masses

I have a memory of playing Dungeons & Dragons at a friend’s house with the coolest music in the world playing in the background. It was the nineties, but the band was a horror-punk outfit out of the seventies called The Misfits. Band leader Glenn Danzig, also known for Samhain and Danzig, is still going, and he kicked up the usual discord on social media last week when he complained to Rolling Stone about wokeness. I haven’t written about this kind of thing in a while, so here goes. What do I think?

“People don’t understand, because everything’s so cancel-culture…


Amor Towles’s instant classic encourages civility above all

Can a gentleman be a gentleman in Moscow anytime after October 1917? Is there any room for gentlemen anywhere in the world today? A Gentleman in Moscow (Viking Books, 2016), the third novel from American author Amor Towles, examines these questions and in the process brushes against class, class consciousness and class warfare.

The Book

A Gentleman in Moscow is about Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat whom the Bolsheviks place under house arrest in the Hotel Metropol Moscow in 1922. There, the count will be unable to harm anyone with his aristocratic values. …


Where do little Hansels and Gretels go?

WARNING: The following work of fiction based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm contains references to graphic violence that some readers may find upsetting, disturbing or otherwise objectionable. Reader discretion is advised.

Brummer dragged the children to the cutting house. He placed a tin bucket on the floor at the head of the worktable and looked around for his tools. As he found each one, he hung it from a nail protruding from the underside of the table. When he had assembled them all, he put his hands on his waist and took a deep breath.

Everything was…


After battle come unsettling visitors.

The battle between the United States Army and Modoc Tribe raged across the lava beds, leaving behind the flotsam and jetsam of war. Moaning horses lay in troughs of churned earth. Dead hands gripped fallen standards. Bodies lay in a litter of spilled cartridges, bayonet shards, fragments of clothing, and bits of photographs and letters from home. And onto this field stepped three gunmen in black.

Bo “Bronco” Riley hit the dirt. The hell’d they come from? he thought as he wriggled behind the body of a dead horse and peeked around for another look.

All three of the figures…


To one unholy victor go the spoils.

From his cover in the darkness, Bishop Diclux watched the witches cavort in the light of their bone-fire. Breasts shook and trembled. Sweat flew from tossed hair. Mouths ejected grunts and spewed wild ululations. Within the flames, a massive form hunkered, turning its shaggy, horned head from side to side in slow, baleful arcs. Diclux, Christian priest in public and diabolical warlock in secret, wrapped a hand around the hilt of his sword.

This was going to be a hunt to remember.

Diclux’s companions this night were his Hammer, eight warriors chosen from his enclave for their loyalty, cunning and…


As a matter of personal taste . . .

Whenever I don’t like music everyone is raving about, I assume I must be wrong. So I give it an unending series of reappraisals in the hope that at some point it’ll click. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. Here are five albums that never have. At best they do nothing for me, and at worst I can’t stand them.

Only Built for Cuban Linx… by Raekwon (Loud / RCA, 1995)

Two years after the Wu-Tang Clan released its first album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in1993, group affiliate Raekwon dropped his first solo album, Only Built for Cuban Linx…. Reviewers praised the rapper’s lyrics and RZA’s production, fans consider…


But what do the Academy Awards know anyway?

Originally published at http://gleamingsword.blogspot.com on August 6, 2012.

I would recommend anyone to see Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Director Alejandro Iñárritu is at the top of his craft and pushing Hollywood’s boundaries in ways that few directors today even attempt. It’s engrossing and unforgettable, but it also bugs me.

Forget for a moment the gripping drama about a man wrestling with his demons. Forget about the moving personal relationships. Forget about the cluttered labyrinthine and claustrophobic sets. Forget about all that loud, jazzy drumming that is the score. Forget about Michael Keaton’s bold comeback to the…


Rock is dead. Long live rock!

The Pretty Reckless is a band I believe in. The band’s music overshadows all other angles from which one might examine it, such as celebrity or sex appeal. And that’s as it should be. On its fourth album, Death by Rock and Roll, the band delivers its best so far. Music is for listening, but for those who also like words about music, here’s a track-by-track walkthrough of the album.

“Death by Rock and Roll”

There’s a lot of death on this album, which is no surprise since vocalist and songwriter Taylor Momsen has said in an interview with SPIN that she was so depressed…


The limiting of the libido in post-Production Code Hollywood makes black-and-white sexier.

Originally published at http://gleamingsword.blogspot.com on August 6, 2012.

About a year ago, just after I started this blog, I posted a note on Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s book In Defense of Lost Causes. Soon after, I put the book aside unfinished and embarked on a series of books in philosophy and revolutionary history to help give me the background I needed to understand Žižek’s book. Now I’ve returned to it and been inspired to post another note.

One characteristic of Žižek’s thought is how quickly he turns to analysis of movies to illustrate his points. In the section titled “Stalinism…


An old post is as good as a new post because nothing changes

The following post originally appeared at http://gleamingsword.blogspot.com on July 25, 2012 after another mass shooting in Colorado. No doubt the Internet is filling up with a fresh wave of similar posts after yesterday’s shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, in which ten people died.

In the wake of the movie-theater shooting in Colorado, many pundits were quick to declare that it was too soon to use the tragedy for political gain in our country’s ongoing debate about gun control. The same pundits usually then went on to fiercely debate gun issues, but personally, I never agreed with the original injunction…

J.P. Williams

I write about the intersection of arts and ideas, my small contribution to the #ThinGraphiteLine between civilization and its collapse.

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