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, November 19 2014

The Chills: BBC Sessions

These songs from New Zealand skim and dip, within waves of oceanic imagery, full of Pacific calm or pending storm.


Sunday, November 16 2014

Buzzcocks: The Way

This leans towards hard rock rather than punk, back to the type of music prevalent when punk burst out, and which after all most punks grew up hearing.


Thursday, November 6 2014

'Maeve's Times' Collects Five Decades of Observation by an Astute Irish Writer

Maeve Binchy's good-natured voice challenges Irish prejudice or piety on behalf of those who have been shut out or held down.


Thursday, October 23 2014

The Aislers Set: Terrible Things Happen and The Last Match

Many of the Aislers Set's moods prefer melancholy. They mass classic pop and post-punk behind a yearning woman's small, echoed voice that demands attention.


Tuesday, October 21 2014

A Parable of Faith on a Desert Planet

As in Faber's previous fiction, the situation the protagonist meets in The Book of Strange New Things appears to be more complex than what this idealistic but flawed Everyman can fully comprehend.


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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