Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

John L. Murphy
Image: John L. Murphy

Born in Los Angeles but should have been born in my parental Ireland. Find me at:“Blogtrotter”.


Features

Monday, March 18 2013

"Just Walk Into That Cloud": Finding Bhutan in Books and Film

"Happy peasants in bountiful fields. A King who's too good to be true.... I'm making photos, shooting video and collecting stories. Everybody in Bhutan's got a story -- some of them might even be true."


Wednesday, April 6 2011

Wandering Through: An Interview with Elf Power

Starring in surrealist films? Stumbling upon comic-book cover art? These are just some of the questions answered by Elf Power as they continue to celebrate the release of their 10th album.


Columns

Thursday, March 27 2014

'The Age of Atheists' Considers That Beyond Reason or Religion, Our Quest for Meaning Endures

Who will choose this enriching and rewarding removal from reality TV and manufactured distraction? Who will walk the course mapped in these heady pages, along a sobering path of self-awareness of our fragile presence surrounded by darkness and mystery?


Monday, February 10 2014

What Would Thomas Pynchon Do?

Like his protagonists, Thomas Pynchon appears to remind us, in his absence from advising us, that we must rely on our own smarts, arrayed against mystery and cynicism and corruption.


Monday, February 3 2014

"The Goodness of Privacy in a Warm Room with Books"

We all search for escape, and while music, drugs, radicalism, or fame may ease the monotony, the protagonists of so many of these tales find themselves at the end of their narratives still constrained.


Sunday, November 24 2013

In 'Imperial' Vollmann Struggles to Understand the Salton Sea as He Would a Mark Rothko Painting

Here as in all his works, William T. Vollman sides with the poor and the marginalized, but he tries to remain fair to all he meets, even as he confesses his prejudice, or tolerance.


Monday, August 12 2013

Thrift, Schemes & Restlessness Characterize Both Katherine & J.F. Powers' Writing

"I am not by nature cut out for this life, as it's defined in these parts by the chamber of commerce and our bishop, who is devoted to Christian family living, as everyone knows." This deadpan tone suits J.F. Powers and his conflicted, capitalist, Midwestern, mid-century priests well.


Reviews

Wednesday, October 1 2014

Flann O'Brien and His Various Personae Had an Innate Faculty for Finding Things Funny

Ireland's clerical and lay authorities, humbugs and scolds, and the dull "plain people" were not safe from Flann O'Brien's many sharp pens.


Tuesday, September 30 2014

Various Artists: Temporary: Selections from Dunedin's Pop Underground 2011-2014

Much of this New Zealand compilation recalls a promo sampler from 25 or 30 years ago, when "college rock" was a niche and variety encouraged on a more daring or more cocky label's eclectic roster.


Tuesday, September 16 2014

David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights: End Times Undone

Similar to albums by Kilgour's band the Clean, End Times Undone feels longer than it is, in a good way.


Tuesday, September 16 2014

"I've Seen the Future and It's Hungry"

The Bone Clocks merges set-scenes of imaginative showdowns with intellectual reflection, which will reward the keen and alert reader.


Sunday, September 14 2014

'Flirting with French' Reminds One of That Unrequited Love We've All Experienced

William Alexander's cardiologist asks about any new stress in his life. "Well, I am studying French," he answers.


Disappears: Era [3.Sep.13]
Weekend: Jinx [31.Jul.13]
The Fall: Re-Mit [22.May.13]
White Hills: Hp-1 [21.Jun.11]

Blogs

Monday, August 30 2010

A Punk Collage in the Spirit of Walter Benjamin

Why did punk implode so rapidly? Why did its bands flare up and fade out? And how did this movement resist yet revamp the hippies they rushed to replace?


Friday, April 30 2010

J.C. Hallman's The Hospital for Bad Poets

Twilit zones: suburban malcontents and post-modern autodidacts roam, ponder, fret, and mull.


Friday, April 23 2010

'Elegy for April': Benjamin Black's New Dublin Noir

John Banville's alter ego resurrects Quirke in another 1950s Dublin noir adventure.


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