Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Closing Time

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It’s time to close the doors.  They’ve been shut for a while now, but I want to turn the lock and make it official.  This is the final post.  I may reopen the shop somewhere else in the future, but for now, I have quit blogging and Quadrivium is closed forever.

Rather than just disappear, I wanted to at least post an explanation before I fade out completely.  Over the last eighteen months, things have shifted to the point where blogging became more of an inconvenience than a pleasure.  I work two jobs to pay the bills, which leaves little time for family and other professional endeavors.  When I write, I have to prioritize.  Every time I make a promise to post more material, I end up having to break it, and while it’s likely there’s no one left around these parts to care, it’s still something that lingers over my head.

There’s that, and there’s the fact that I am not the same person I was when I started blogging six years ago.  I used to thrive on media consumption, and most of what I used to consume has turned sour in my mouth.  There are several things I’ve written in the archives (both here and the other places I’ve set up shop) that I no longer believe, and few things I wish I had never written at all.

I would like to return to blogging some time in the future, with better words and a greater sense of purpose.  For the time being, other things have to come first.

Thanks for reading.  It has been fun.

Written by taj

January 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

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Review: William F. Buckley by Jeremy Lott

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When he died in 2008, somewhere amid all the coverage of his vast career, William F. Buckley’s name slipped into my head and waited for me to learn more.  Given the sheer breadth of his work, I wasn’t sure where to begin.  This release through Thomas Nelson’s Christian Encounters series offers a perfect point of entry.

At 144 pages, the book is more of a primer.  Jeremy Lott lovingly captures the heart and character of a man deeply committed to his convictions.  The book covers Buckley’s life more or less in chronological order, beginning with his childhood, walking us through a life shaped by faith, as well as the world evolving around him.

Lott writes with readable lightness, humor and intent.  He patiently asserts Buckley’s role as a forth-telling prophet and intellectual warrior.  As Eliot Ness was to prohibition, you might say Buckley was to the Cold War era, and Communism was his Capone.

Among other highlights, Lott touches on the creation of National Review, Buckley’s odd run for Mayor of New York, the creation of Firing Line, and his passionate hatred for Ayn Rand’s “objectivism.”

In a closing appendix, Lott includes a guide for those who would want to read more, and maps out a place to start among Buckley’s numerous books, columns, and segments of “Firing Line” archived on YouTube.

The book paints a deliberate portrait of Buckley, addressing his successes, as well as his foibles, with honesty.  For an unfamiliar reader, it’s an easy and welcoming place to start learning about a unique and profound individual whose ideas helped shape modern conservatism.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Written by taj

August 24, 2010 at 11:44 am

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Coming Soon

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— a review of the film Valentine’s Day

— a review of William F. Buckley by Jeremy Lott

Posts will be sporadic for a while, but I promise, more content is on the way.

Written by taj

August 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm

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What’s wrong with the modern novel?

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Two bloggers at the Telegraph decide to take on that question (H/T: Breakpoint). 

You can read a lot of novels nowadays that are perfectly good – there’s nothing particularly wrong with them. But there’s also nothing particularly right with them, either.


I’d still probably slog through 500 pages of hype-inflated, prize-laden pretentiousness about a lesbian commune in 1930s Cork than the stuff that really sells today: Brown and Meyer. Have you any idea why they do so well? I’m not against bestsellers by any means: Stephen King can write, or so I thought when I last read him, i.e. at about the age of 15. But, dear Lord, surely even during the wrong-headed fug of adolescence I wouldn’t have fallen for The Da Vinci Code or Twilight.

Fair enough.  I won’t argue at all about the merits of Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer.  If you look at the quality of writing between, say, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, and The Firm by John Grisham, there’s a measureable difference. 

Still, certain bestselling authors, like Orson Scott Card or J. K. Rowling, have managed to move me at least as much the sophisticated literary work of, say, Cormac McCarthy.   Even some of Stephen King’s prose manages to rise above the junk food metaphors critics typically wield to strike him down. 

There’s something Anton Ego says at the end of Ratatouille.  “The bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”  So I had to smile when one of the Telegraph bloggers manages a refreshing moment of honesty:

I suppose in the end though it’s the height of idleness to complain about the standard of modern novels – after all, if I dislike them so much, there’s nothing to stop me writing one of my own. The trouble with doing that, of course, is that I would soon discover that novelists have a far harder job than I’ve given them credit for in this discussion, and so I’d have to relinquish my sniping prejudices and admit that the current lot – Christ, perhaps even Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer – aren’t so bad after all. And there’s nothing that horrifies a blogger more than the thought of having to relinquish his sniping prejudices. Hell, they’re all we’ve got.

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August 11, 2010 at 11:13 am

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New Posts Coming Soon

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After a long hiatus, posts will resume, hopefully by the weekend.

Written by taj

August 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

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So there were no posts in April…

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…but this makes the first one for May. Others may follow. Life has taken some hairy turns lately, and priorities have shifted. I would say blogging was moved to the backseat, but the truth is I dumped it off on the side of the road.

Work on the novel, in case you’re curious, proceeds. I am moving slowly through the second draft, as much of the first and final thirds of the story required significant change.

That’s all for now. Further updates will follow as time and inspiration allows.

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May 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm

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What…no posts in March?

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Well, almost.

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March 30, 2010 at 9:00 pm

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Super Bowl XLIV edges Final Episode of M*A*S*H as most watched ever

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File this under No Freakin Way. 

I figured someone would come along one day with a movie that took Titanic off the number one spot, but this is a record I had hoped would keep for a while.

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February 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

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In keeping with the habit of only writing on Mondays…

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…here are a few random thoughts that have percolated over the last week:

–Been listening to the original cast recording of Les Miserables.  If Hollywood can produce big screen versions of Rent, Chicago and Nine, it’s time somebody brought Les Mis to the screen.  So long as they cast Timothy Spall as Thinardier. 

–ABC really ought to release The Path to 9/11 on DVD. 

Amerika could use a decent DVD package as well.  I’ve never seen it, and I’d like a chance to.

–I really wanted to do a write-up on Avatar (the more I think about it, the more I think conservative film critics have missed something), however, some paying writing gigs have come up, and paying the bills comes first.  For the time being, read this

Lost‘s final season begins tomorrow. 

The Killer Angles is one helluva novel.

Written by taj

February 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Success…in 109,360 words.

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I have written a novel. 

About six months ago, a friend of the family and I were talking, and he asked me what I would do with my life if money and time were not a problem.  I’d be writing novels, I said. 

This friend of the family has a couple of connections–not the kind that guarantee a book contract some day, but the kind that can look at my work, and give me the kind of help I need to attract one. 

After we had this conversation, I decided I finally needed to take this thing seriously.  I had a bunch of ideas floating around in my head, three of which I thought would make pretty good stories.  One of them was a holy-cow-never-gonna-write-it-till-I-got-a-few-under-me idea. 

I ran the ideas I had past some people; all of them said to go for the one I didn’t want to touch.  Who can argue with that, right?  Besides, I’ve been writing freelance regularly for a couple of years now; my discipline was better, but I had doubts about my stamina. 

So I looked into some books about how others authors wrote their novels.  Most of them mentioned outlining, a practice I had felt discouraged about because, as any serious writer knows, you’re supposed to let the plot and characters unfold and develop naturally.  You put your characters together in a setting, hit puree, and see what happens. 

I’ve tried that approach before.  Nothing ever happened. 

So I started an outline last October.  By the end of the month, I had laid out the bones of the story.  Since then, I’ve worked nearly every day to give it flesh and clothes.  I set my pace at 1,000 words a day, and just kept at it till it was done. 

First draft clocks in at 378 pages, double spaced.  I finished it last Friday. 

Now it will go in a drawer for a month.  I need some distance because, as it sits, this draft is pretty crappy.  Good writing is rewriting.  I need some distance so I can come back at it, kill about 10,000 words, and hope there’s a story there that’s really worth telling.

Written by taj

January 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm

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