Obscenely red skies over the Middle West this evening. The real heroes of this blessed land are the short-order cooks at Chinese takeout joints who manipulate fire, oil, and steel like gods. It’s the first of October, and I give praise for the arrival of proper autumn at last. Deeper nights. Sharper weather. There’s room in the air to think.

Saw Barbarian at the multiplex, and it’s a brilliantly effective horror movie. At one point, I shrieked like a child. More importantly, it was fun, succeeding because we’ve become so blunted by the deadening rhythm of thrillers that its refusal to play along keeps us edgy. Barbarian understands what kind of movie it is, preferring the absurd over the ponderous or, god forbid, exploring themes. And it delivers a brilliant approach to haunted real estate.

Currently reading The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, which recasts the Middle Ages as a knotty, polyglot time with all kinds of gods—and points towards better possible futures.