Jul 1, 2017

Weekend Reads: Edgar Wright, the Electric Guitar’s Demise, H. P. Lovecraft’s Poetry, The Smiths’ Greatest Songs & more

Also: Rethinking “Shaun of the Dead,” the church pew’s sordid history, America the idol, and the modern Republican dilemma.

Edgar Wright
Edgar Wright

If you’ve seen any of Edgar Wright’s movies, than you know one thing: the man knows how to craft a soundtrack. And so he recently gave The Quietus a list of his 13 favorite albums, listed in chronological order.

Speaking of Edgar Wright, Jeffrey Overstreet’s still a fan, but he just can’t watch Shaun of the Dead anymore. “Even if all of this violence is clearly conceived as satire, I wonder: How much more harm than good will a movie like this do if its catharsis speaks to our desire to write off, ‘block,’ or otherwise eliminate those factions of people who trouble us? In this climate of violent partisanship, how likely are zombie movies to appeal to our desires to judge and condemn our neighbors on the other side of the fence?”

Stratocaster
Behold the mighty axe

The electric guitar is an indelible part of rock n’ roll and yet its influence and popularity are fading these days. “In the past decade, electric guitar sales have plummeted, from about 1.5 million sold annually to just over 1 million. The two biggest companies, Gibson and Fender, are in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars.”

H. P. Lovecraft was not a religious man, but a recently released collection of Lovecraft’s poetry reveals some surprisingly religious sentiments. “[T]he Christian can surely appreciate his almost mystic juxtaposition of the cosmic and the regional. This juxtaposition can be found frequently in his Cthulhu tales. But the best sonnets in Fungi from Yuggoth distill this dynamic more beautifully than almost any of his other writings. They are gestures toward ‘the union… between finitude and infinity.’”

The Smiths
The Smiths

Slicing Up Eyeballs has ranked all 70 songs by The Smiths. “With a total 70,192 votes cast, the full results are presented below, a list that ranks The Smiths’ complete original output from 1983 to 1987. As you’ll see, the No. 1 song, with a 234-vote margin, was a more definitive winner than in our Cure poll, where Nos. 1 and 2 were separated by a single vote. And, for the first time in any poll we’ve conducted, there were no ties anywhere on the list.” The top song should really come as no surprise.

The humble church pew actually has a somewhat embarrassing history. “When pews first began to gain in popularity, however, they weren’t anything you probably would have recognized as pews — they were more like those luxury skyboxes they have at sports stadiums. So-called ‘box pews,’ which were particularly popular in England and America, were anything but the austere benches you’re used to, and featured four walls… along with doors, windows, curtains, kneelers, tables, and sometimes even fireplaces.”

The Cross and the Flag
Man cannot serve two masters

Unfortunately, too many Christians have begun conflating patriotism and Christianity. Basically, they’ve turned America into an idol. “The last time I checked, the waving of the American flag was a sign of support or loyalty to the nation. Jeffress had no problem allowing such an act to take place in a church sanctuary — the place where Christians worship God as a form of expressing their ultimate loyalty. Patriotism is fine. Flag-waving is fine. But I wonder if any of the congregation felt uncomfortable that all of this took place in the church sanctuary on a Sunday morning.”

There was a time when “Republican” and “conservative” were synonymous and I considered myself both. Nowadays, however, “Republican” basically means “against anything that Obama ever did.” I still consider myself conservative but I want nothing to do with the modern Republican party. “Because Republicans have no national vision, they seem largely uninterested in the actual effects their legislation would have on the country at large.

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