Monday, March 30, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/31/09) (Poetry Week)

Unless we are protected by poetry, reality in its purely theoretical aspect is sought at the cost of losing its equally real aesthetic component, and the mind of man becomes overstimulated while his spirit dies.
--F. S. C. Northrup

Two More Years for "FNL"

Excellent news from Ausiello.


When I was a senior at Oil City High School (1967), I had the "honor" of being chosen as a Rotarian (that's me, the one with the glasses--err, the one with the glasses far left in the second row).

This meant that I had to wear a suit and tie on a gym day, dress quickly, walk downtown several blocks in cold weather (I was Miss January) to the YMCA, where creepy businessmen (like the city's major funeral director) would give me advice on success and we would hear speeches that I remember sounding like this:

"next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn's early my
country 'tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?"

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

Actually, that was e. e. cummings, who must have been a Rotarian.

Each session began with a benediction, of course, and then the weirdest thing I have ever seen happened next. We pledged allegiance to the flag, a small 5 in. by 8 in. stars & stripes, starched in the breeze on the head table caused by a very small fan! I wasn't very smart at 18, hadn't read anything, didn't think unless required, but that still seemed just wrong to me. After I read Sinclair Lewis several years later I would recognize in that tiny flag the essence of boosterism.

"LoM": "All the Young Dudes/Didacts"

We resist art, John Keats noted (and as I have often quoted) that "has a palpable design upon us."

The "All the Young Dudes" episode of Life on Mars (from two weeks ago--just now getting caught up) provides a prime example. Sam Tyler's real mother asks him to have a much-dreaded heart-to-heard with his childhood self. As Sam reveals, incrementally, what he knows about their mutual absentee dad and tries to pass on his adult wisdom to his young self, little Sammy morphs--adultifies if you will--before our eyes until, truth fully disclosed, we get this, just to make sure we didn't miss any of the non-subtlety.

The design is so palpable, the handedness so heavy, that we cringe at the morph, which strikes us as hilarious when it should be moving our socks off.

The Winchesters vs All the Rest

TWoP offers a slide show comparison of the Supernatural duo and their primetime competition.

Stoned, BC

Afarensis, an anthropological science blog, reports.

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan.

"The White Man believes everything is dead"

Just found this clip on YouTube from Arthur Penn's great Little Big Man (1970): a scene, and a speech by Chief Dan George as Old Lodge Skins, that have stayed in my memory for almost forty years.

Irving R. Levine

The NBC journalist and financial reporter has died.

He was on my TV screens all the time when I was young. I was astonished to learn when doing my dissertation that he had interviewed Fellini.

Thought as a Response to Failure

Back in PhD days, under the sway of WR, I was for a time fascinated with Lancelot Law Whyte, one of his big influences. Re-reading this before my second cup of coffee I remember why:

Thought is born of failure. When action satisfies there is no residue to hold the attention; to think is to confess a lack of adjustment which we must stop to consider. Only when the human organism fails to achieve an adequate response to its situation is there material for the processes of thought, and the greater the failure the more searching they become.--L.L. Whyte, The Next Development in Man

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Breaking Bad" and the NSE

Jason Mittell coined the term: "narrative special effect" (NSE).

In its 2nd season, Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad has come up with a new variation on the NSE. Each episode to date begins with a brief snippet from some future calamity, presumably a season-ending incident/event. The season is moving toward this--whatever it is.

Painting of the Week (3/30/09)

Monet, The Japanese Bridge

Quote of the Day (3/30/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

This little blind creature, only a few days old, turning its head every which way in search of something or other, this naked skull, this initial baldness, this tiny monkey that has sojourned for months in a latrine and that soon, forgetting its origins, will spit on the galaxies.
--E. M. Cioran, Drawn and Quartered

"Wired's" Top 10 Time-Lapse Videos Show Nature at Work

As the author of "'No More Undiscovered Countries': The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse Photography," I of course found this of great interest.


[Like the monolith in 2001, Stanley Kubrick] was a force of supernatural intelligence, appearing at great intervals amid high-pitched shrieks, who gives the world a violent kick up the next rung of the evolutionary ladder.
--David Denby

Maya Deren's "Meshes of the Afternoon"

A great 1960's experimental/underground film available on Google:

The Final Scene of Lindsay Anderson's "If"

I am teaching the 1960s this week in my Film History course and was delighted to find this scene available on YouTube. My but Malcolm McDowell does look young.

Lindsay Anderson, If's director, met with my British Cinema class in London in 1992 (see photo below--that's Anderson in the middle of the front row; I'm to the left of the man in the pink shirt). A wonderful, irascible man. He was quite caustic with my students, but very generous with his time. I remember meeting him at the campus gate and expecting him to arrive in a limo. Instead he got off a London transit bus. He passed away the following year.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/29/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

Ideas come as you walk, Nietzsche said. Walking dissipates thoughts, Shankara taught.
--E.M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Not an "Onion" Parody

God knows I am a huge admirer of the late Battlestar Galactica, but this news story struck me when I first saw it as an Onionesque piece. Indeed, The Onion could have run it pretty much as is.


Adelle: Do you have any crisps?
Topher: You haven't seen my drawer of inappropriate starches?

Just watched "Echoes" on ITunes (I saw it live last night but with constant interruptions).

A rich and wonderful episode. Fain and Craft at their best. Ably directed by Whedon veteran James Contner.

This was by far the funniest episode of the year. As I mentioned before, Dollhouse does "Band Candy."

I have become much more optimistic about the future of the show.

Lovecraft and Opie

Pretty astonishing news that Ron Howard may be directing a film based on a not-yet-released comic book The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecaft.

Am I the last one to learn that Guillermo Del Toro also has a Lovecraft project in the works, an adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness?

"Dollhouse's" Future?

AICN makes an interesting point:

The Fox Network just got new boss, the guy who’s been running the Fox Searchlight movie subsidiary forever. I like Fox Searchlight projects better than most of the stuff I see on the Fox Network, so hopefully the Searchlight guy will prove smart enough to bring “Dollhouse” back for another season in a real timeslot. Or at least smart enough to talk Whedon into making another TV show, then schedule said show after “American Idol.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/28/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

Nothing is better proof of how far humanity has regressed than the impossibility of finding a single nation, a single tribe, among whom birth still provokes mourning and lamentations.
--E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Franz Kafka Airport

The Onion's creation, of course, but it was recently named the world's most alienating airport.

Prague's Franz Kafka International Named World's Most Alienating Airport

"It's a Terrible Life"

With last night's episode, Supernatural officially moves into contention as one of the great meta-series of all time.

Sam and Dean find themselves transformed into Sam Wesson and Dean Smith, office drones for Sandover Bridge & Iron, until they rediscover who they really are, Hunters, in battling with the help of the "Ghostfacers" website, a nasty ghost terrorizing their building. This is all a test the angels have concocted to prove to Dean that he is indeed fated to prevent the coming apocalypse.

Next week--an episode called "The Monster at the End of This Book"--looks like more meta, as the Winchesters discover comic books that tell their stories with pinpoint accuracy. In Seasons Two and Three episodes like "Hollywood Babylon" (2.18), "What Is and What Should Never Be" (2.20), "Bedtime Stories" (3.5), the Groundhog Dayish "Mystery Spot" (3.11), "Ghostfacers" (3.13), and this season's "Are You There, God? It's Me... Dean Winchester" (4.2), "In the Beginning" (4.3), "Monster Movie" (4.5), "Yellow Fever" (4.6), and "Wishful Thinking" (4.8), Supernatural has engagingly and sometimes brilliantly interrogated its own mythology.

The reigning champion, of course, is Buffy: "The Wish," "Band Candy," "Superstar," "Normal Again," "Tabula Rasa" were all dazzling metatextual fictions. Whedon's Angel did this kind of thing as well: think "Spin the Bottle," "Waiting in the Wings." Posted on 3/28/09] And last night's Dollhouse ("Echoes") was likewise meta-ish, with its "Band Candy"-like characters acting in an unusual manner. (More such episodes are likely to follow since the show is from the ground up about identity.)

Best Car Chases

CNN (and AOL) name the top ten movie car chases of all time. A pretty solid list.

My Latest Blurb

What the “C.S.I. shot”—the CBS drama’s signature microphotographic probe beneath the skin and into the body—did for television forensics, Michele Byers’ and Val Marie Johnson’s excellent collection does for television studies. This multi-voiced subcutaneous investigation into the world’s most popular small screen franchise discovers significant and new political, sociological, and aesthetic evidence concerning why Anthony Zuicker’s creation remains at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century anything but a corpse.

The CSI Effect: Television, Crime, and Governance, edited by Michele Byers and Val Marie Johnson, Saint Mary's University (Lexington Books, forthcoming)

Go here to read more blurbs.

Nietzsche Family Circus (II)

"LoMUSA"--The End

With this week's episode, "Everyone Knows It's Windy," the canceled American version of Life on Mars equaled, in one failed season, the entire run of the BBC's wonderfully successful original (two seasons, or series as the Brits call them, of 8 episodes each).

Next week's series finale, "Life is a Rock," will be #17, one more than LoMUK.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/27/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

In certain men, everything, absolutely everything, derives from physiology: their body is their mind, their mind is their body.
--E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Steele, Nailed

Not much of a prophet, ever, I will lay claim to an I Told You So on Michael Steele, who today claimed that all his mistakes to-date were intentional. (Keith O just compared him to Pee Wee: "I meant to do that.")

Nano Nano

The title is not a reference to Mork's famous greeting but rather to the world's cheapest car, the Indian made Tata Nano. Less than $2,000.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/26/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

Better to be an animal than a man, an insect than an animal, a plant than an insect, and so on. Salvation? Whatever diminishes the kingdom of consciousness and compromises its supremacy.
--E. M. Cioran, The Trouble With Being Born

Fallows on Obama and the Teleprompter

No thinking person can yap any longer about this ridiculous complaint after reading the Ňęberarticulate James Fallows's thoughts.

The Recaptain

I have become a major admirer of, not to mention greatly indebted to, television recap writer across the internets.

I hereby announce the intention of this blog to begin giving out an annual award, The Recaptain, to the best television recap writers on the web.

The Laverytory seeks nominations from readers from now through October 1, 2009 for any regular writer of television episode recaps (any show, any genre) from sites such Television Without Pity, The Onion TV Club, TVgasm, BuddyTV, and the like.

Send your nominations to Place type "Recaptain" in the subject line. Tell me who you are nominating, who they write for, why they deserve the award, and direct me (with a link) toward a perfect specimen of recap.

I will select a group of television scholars from around the world who will by the end of the year select Gold, Silver, and Bronze Recaptains from among the nominees.

Kudos to Onion TV Club

Since my recent discovery of Onion TV Club, I have come more and more to rely on its recaps over TWoP (though both are well written and challenging).

I want to single out for praise Steven Hyden's Reaper and Amelie Gillette's Big Love, Both brilliantly done (with brief turn-around time), the former tracking a series with more promise than it ever delivers, the latter helping us follow NotTV coming more and more to seem a television masterpiece.

In My Next Reincarnation

Next time back, next time "out of the everywhere and into the here," I have narrowed the choices of what I want to be when I grow up to (1) philosophical anthropologist; (2) ethologist.

"The Man Behind the Curtain"

I have just watched "The Man Behind the Curtain" (which will be featured in my Lost course tomorrow). Like nearly all episodes from previous seasons, it requires re-reading in light of what we know now. (Lost is a dream-come-true for demonstrating the tenets of reader-response criticism.)

Several moments stood out for me. This exchange, for example (in which Ben is fondling the doll his childhood friend Annie gave him--as we learn later):

RICHARD: What you got there?
BEN: It's a birthday present. Mine just happens to be today. You do remember birthdays, don't you Richard?

Darlton and Emerson discuss in their DVD commentary the necessity--because the performer is not privy to the writers' secrets--for the actor in a scene such as this pre-determining a given interpretation of such a line as Ben's. They admit that they sometimes shoot several takes, each with different reads, and choose the one they want in editing. Not surprisingly, I heard a new meaning, a new realization, in Ben's sarcasm on a third, mid-way through Season 5, viewing: that the ageless Alpert was once not ageless--that he too once had birthdays.

When young Ben meets his ghost mom at the sonic fence later, we are reminded that some plan--The Island's?--is in the works that involves young Mr. Linus:

BEN: Mom!
EMILY: It's not time yet, Benjamin.

This requiring immense patience plan is evoked in the later encounter between Ben and Richard Alpert. But take note, too, that Alpert is interested in where, precisely, Ben's mother died. Is the place of death relevant to the nature of The Island's ghosts? (The relevance of this question is confirmed on the DVD commentary by Darlton.)

RICHARD: Ben? So you wanna tell me what you're doing in the middle of the jungle all by yourself?
BEN: I left home, and...I'm looking for my Mom.
RICHARD: You think she's out here?
BEN: You wouldn't believe me.
RICHARD: Try me.
BEN: She's dead.
RICHARD: Did she die here, on the Island?
BEN: No. When I was a baby.
RICHARD: Did you see her, out here, Ben, in the jungle?
BEN: She talked to me.
RICHARD: What did she say?
BEN: That I couldn't come with her. She said it wasn't time yet.
RICHARD: You should go home now, your people will be looking for you.
BEN: I don't want to go back there! I hate it there! Take me with you.
RICHARD: Maybe that can happen, maybe. But if that's what you really want, Ben, if that's what you want, I want you to really think about that. And you're gonna
have to be very, very patient.

Mention of a dormant volcano on the island (in the classroom scene) also stood out in today's screening. As did Darlton's major teaser admission on the DVD commentary that the volcano would play an important role later--but NOT AS IMPORTANT AS ANNIE.

The Animated "Wonder Woman"

Watching Lauren Montgomery's quite good direct-to-DVD Wonder Woman, I could not help but think about what might have been if Whedon had managed to make his live action version.

Having Whedon collaborator Nathan Fillion voicing Steve Trevor only made the wishful thinking that much more acute. If Whedon's movie had been made, would he not have been the logical choice (along with Morgan Freeman as the Amazon Princess herself--as Whedon joked)?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/25/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

It is written in the Zohar: "When man appeared thereupon appeared the flowers." I suspect they were there long before him, and that his advent plunged them all into a stupefaction from which they have not yet recovered.
--E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Reviewing a New Book on "Seinfeld"

Finished today a review of Nicholas Mirzoeff's BFI TV Classics book on Seinfeld. It will appear in a forthcoming issue of Critical Studies in Television.

There are things to praise in the book, but it's rife with errors and, like Anne Bilson's inexcusable book on Buffy in the same series, shows no respect (or even awareness) of existing scholarship.

"Lost": "A Separate Reality"

In a preview clip from tomorrow night's Lost, "He's Our You," guess what book young Ben brings Sayid with his sandwich?

Don Draper's Guide to Picking Up Women

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/24/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

Paradise was unendurable, otherwise the first man would have adapted to it; this world is no less so, since here we regret paradise or anticipate another one. What to do? where to go? Do nothing and go nowhere, easy enough.
--E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Mayor Wilkins Does "Breaking Bad"

What a pleasant surprise to see Harry Groener on Breaking Bad as Walt's therapist.

Connie Britton

A poster (Joel Barish) on Onion TV Club had this to say about Connie Britton, Tami Taylor (on the left in the photo, with husband Eric and daughter Julee [Kyle Chandler and Aimee Teegarden]) on Friday Night Lights:

I'm totally with you on that scene between Tami and Julie. Connie Britton is the best actor that no one has heard of working today. She can make me cry in 30 seconds and if you asked 100 people on the street if they knew who she was, 100 would say no. Whenever this show ends, if it's this year or three years from now, Connie Britton better get some great roles that people actually might watch.

Allow me to second (and third and fourth and fifth . . .) that.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/23/09)--E. M. Cioran Week

Philosophers write for professors; thinkers for writers.
--E.M. Cioran, Drawn and Quartered

Painting of the Week (3/23/09)

--Paul Klee, Ancient Sound

R.I.P., "Big Love's" Roman Grant

So Roman is really dead this time? Death by pillow, killed by Joey while playing his guitar. Not the homecoming to the compound he had hoped for I guess.

Harry Dean will be missed.


I want one of these--from Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/22/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silken shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
--Wallace Stevens, "Sunday Morning"

Laura Miller on the "BSG" Finale

Excellent piece in Salon.

Her final paragraph is especially brilliant:

What made "Battlestar Galactica" great was the uncertainty of its characters' condition; were they part of a divine plan, or pinging randomly around an empty universe? Was there a reason to be good, to be selfless, or was it every man for himself? How much of our better nature should we be willing to sacrifice in order to survive? How can we tell where our loyalties lie? They didn't know. We don't know. They were racing around in a spaceship fleeing killer robots, yes, but the ambiguity of their circumstances made them so much more like us than 99 percent of the people on television. It made them seem so real. When they got their answers, they became finally and irrevocably fictional.

"Breaking Bad"

Troy Patterson nailed it in a review in Slate before Bad's first season began: it's Weeds directed by the Coen Brothers.

"Man on the Street"

I have now seen the purported "game-changing" episode of Dollhouse, written but not directed by Joss Whedon, and I would agree with Scott Tobias' excellent piece on Onion TV Club that it was superb television that certainly left us thinking differently about almost everything. I may yet have to take back what I said here.

This was the first episode in which Whedonian wit was prominently featured (my favorite: Patton Oswalt's Bill Gatesey character talking about a judge who will "throw the Kindle" at Paul for his intrusion. It would, I suspect, have been a much better episode if Whedon had directed too (David Straiton, a veteran of Eureka, My Own Worst Enemy, Life, Dresden Files, was more than adequate, but Whedon is a tremendously inventive TV director and would almost certainly have given it an added dimension.)

On Entertainment Weekly online, Ken Tucker observes:

So it turns out, Joss Whedon is operating at a different speed than most current makers and consumers of TV. At a time when everyone wants to make snap judgments of new shows, and when television content creators feel pressure to make their concepts immediately understandable/irresistible, Whedon chose to lull us into thinking Dollhouse was going to remain a series about Eliza Dushku looking as though someone had hit her over the head with a shovel every week whenever she wasn't dolled up like a boy-toy having ferocious sex with a "client."

Whedon has done this before, of course. Season Five of Buffy had many, including me, perturbed by the introduction of a little sister for the Slayer, but then, after getting her ass kicked by Glory, we learned, in "No Place Like Home" (5.5), as we were told by a monk dying in Buffy's arms, that Dawn was the Key, and we gasped.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/21/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
--Wallace Stevens, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

Live-Blogging The "Battlestar" Finale

8:00 pm CST: Previously on--lots of threads without resolution. So many questions to answer in less than two hours.

We begin back in Caprica city before the fall. Tigh--and Adama are in a strip club. Adama turns down a lap dance while still agonizing over the Gallactica gig. Ellen is there too. They drink toward retirement.

Lee and Kara have an after dinner drunken conversation. Zack comes in, reveals that at Lee's heart is a cynic. Kira admits, the booze talking, that she is starting to like this other Adama.

Laura returns from a date--with a former student, as she realizes (but she won't kick him out).

Kara and Lee put an unconscious (can't hold his liquor Zach) to bed and flirt.

A drunk-in-a gutter Adama is mesmerized by the stars.

In the present, Six instructs Baltar to trust in god.

A message from their sponsors.

8:13 pm CST: Cottle tells Laura he has only enough drugs to keep her going for another 48 hours. This is, I suspect, the show's goodbye to Doc as a character (like all of BSG's minor, memorable and unique)--delivered by The Pres.

Helo talks about mision to come.

The chief, Kira, Ellen, etc. talk about how to circumvent the Cylon defenses using Anders to tap in.

Adama turns over command to "Admiral Huskey." Talk of a rendezvous point in (was it 12 hours).

Lee turns over the Presidency to Romo Lampkin.

As the last of the non-volunteers leaves Galactica, Baltar stays behind.

At The Colony hundreds of Centurions ready themselves.

8:26 PM CST: Galactica prepares for departure.

Adama tells the ship that this will be Galactica's last battle. Assures that she won't let them down if the don't let her down. They jump.

The most amazing space battle I have ever seen--on big or small screen. Apparently the Anders effect works. Raptors launched and attack. What just happened? Did the Galactica just ram the Colony? Boarding parties invade--with the help of the Rebel Cylons' Centurions. Lee a the lead. Incredibly CGI. This puts all the Star Wars fights to shame.

Kara and others trade fire with enemy Centurions.

Boomer takes back Hera (snapping the neck of a Four).

An ad for Caprica. Looks great.

Only 2/3rds of the way through the first hour. What is to come?

8:41 pm CST: Centurions battle Centurions.

Cavil, still a huge dick, meets with the others, plan defense.

Three and Baltar meet Head Three and Head Baltar? What the . . .

Hand-to-hand fighting, human and Centurions. Boomer emerges with Hera.

As Boomer is gunned down (by Athena) we get a flashback with Adama and Tigh upbraiding Boomer as a rookie pilot promising to pay back Adama's faith one day.

Laura helps tend to the wounded. More great battle scenes in space.

Lee, Kera, and co. try to retrace their steps with Hera in tow, announcing to the CIC, to Tigh and Adama, that they "have the prize." ETA 5 minutes.

8:53 pm CST: Baltar in combat!, taking out a Centurion.

Laura has a flashback to Opera House--sees what?

Helo is down, mortally wounded? Hera, who had been in his arms, flees.

Laura's vision had been of a fleeing Hera. She manages to find her way to her and save her as we see that the Opera house flashbacks have all been of this moment, of now.

Baltar and Six make off with Hera, Cavil captures her. Baltar gives a sermon, as all the guns are trained on Cavil. Baltar: "God is not on any one's side."

Tigh: "We will give you resurrection, but the war ends here forever."

Adama doesn't trust Cavil, but he gets on uhe phone and orders withdrawal.

Cavil: I give you my word.

Commercial: 9:05 pm CST

9:08 pm CST: The Final Five prepare to pass on the resurrection secret (Adama admits it's pretty much mumbo jumbo), but the process, in which the FF place their hands in Anders' tub, reveals all the Five's past secrets to each other including Tori's murder of Cally. The Chief freaks, begins to strangle Tori (and kills her). All Hell breaks loose. Cavil announces "Frak!" and shoots himself in the head.

Adama instructs Starbuck to jump, and the code she needs is apparently her father's song (the one Hera wrote out for her): "All Along the Watchtower." "There must be some way out of here," she insists.

A flashback to Lee and Kera after that first dinner, talking about fear of death.

The Galactica appears to be coming apart at the seams. Tigh: "We broke her back. She'll never jump again." Racetrack nukes The Colony,

A blue planet is in sight after the jump.. 9:17 pm.

9:21 pm, CST: The survivors of the Galactica and the fleet are now on the blue planet, inhabited by aboriginal humans, pre-language. Lee argues for starting "anew." We see Cottle again BTW.

On the CIC of Galactica, plans for settlement proceed, and the battlestar and all the ships will be set to fly directly into the sun, piloted by Anders.

Kara says goodbye to Anders.

Less than 30 minutes left of BSG.

9:32 pm, CST: Adams flies his Raptor off Galactica for the last time. In a flashback we see him being given a lie detector test. He angrily quits and walks away.

He circles his ship for the last time. The fleet heads for the Sun.

Chief says goodbye to Sol and Ellen. He's on his way to a very cold place in the North. Flashback to Sol and Ellen the night before his retirement in the strip joint. Then back to the present. Ad break. 20 minutes left of BSG.

9:42 pm, CST: Laura and Adama watch wildlife. Adama: "Earth is a dream we've had for a long time. We've earned it." Laura can barely breathe. "Want to get a better look at them?" he asks, and carries her to the Raptor. Lee and Starbuck come and say goodbye? The raptor lifts off. Lee: "He's not coming back this time." Starbuck: "Neither am I. I've completed my journey." In a flashback, Lee and Kera are about to have sex when Zach awakes: "Something's broken." They part, shaking hands. Back in the present, Starbuck wants to know what Lee will do: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." He wants to explore, but when he turns back, she is gone.

In a flashback Lee awakens with a pigeon in his room. It flies out the door.

Flashback: Laura and her student, who have had sex. She informs him that it won't happen again. Smokes. Calls the future President to accept the offer to become part of his campaign.

Adama and Laura fly over their beautiful planet, "all the twelve colonies put together." He realizes she is dead and places a ring on her finger. They land at a point where he planned to build them a home.

An ad???? Only a minute or two left? Was that the end?

9:59 pm, CST: We're back. A trek across the fields of the remainder of the human race (and some Cylons). Bringing up the rear, Helo (alive, with a cane), Athena, and Hera. Baltar and Six (and the ones in their heads) meet, and the head jobs disappear, leaving Baltar and Six hand-in-hand. In a flashback on Caprica, Baltar tells Six what he can do for her to help get into the mainframe. "The things we do for love." In the present, Six and Baltar make plans. Baltar: "I know about farming." They kiss.

Adams has buried Laura and looks into the distance.

Hera walks about. She's the "mitochondrial Eve" we are told.

150,000 years later. Baltar and Six read about a new discovery our ancestry. (Ron Moore is in the frame.). They talk about God's plans: "All this has happened before and all this will happen again." We see robots in a store window--a whole robot montage in fact--and Times Square, and "All Along the Watchtower" plays again.

It's over 10:07 pm, CST. WTF? I am going to need to see this again.

Another Great Edlund "Supernatural" Episode

Things I loved in Ben Edlund's "The Head of a Pin":

Castiel using his heavenly powers to telepathical silence a blaring car alarm.

The crane shot of the imprint of the executed female angel's wings.

Uriel: You're needed.
Dean: We just got back from needed.

Castiel: Uriel is the funniest angel in the garrison. Just ask anyone.

Alastair's rendering, prior to torture commencing, of "Dancing Cheek to Cheek."

The revelation that Alaistair could not break The Comedian (I mean John Winchester), though he was able to convert the "Winchester girl" (aka Dean) into one of Hell's torturers, thereby setting off a chain of steps, beginning with the breaking of a "Righteous Man," that would lead to the Apocalypse.

Sammy's save of Castiel and Dean and obliteration of Alaistair. (That taste of vampire blood gave him just that extra pop he needed.) (this is all happening with nearly 25% of the show left.)

The contrasting world views of Castiel (who loves humans and the Earth) and Uriel (a mistanthropic angel who despises the planet and everything on it).

The reveal that it is Uriel who is killing the angels.

Not your usual television dialogue:

Castiel: It's our father's world.
Uriel: Our father? He stopped being that, if he ever was, when he made them, the human race.

The Castiel/Uriel showdown. Anna's--only an angel can kill an angel--save.

Castiel's confirmation of Dean's tear-producing role in the impending Big A--and his revelation, too, that it can only be stopped by the same Righteous Man (the one in the hospital bed beside the angel) who got it rolling in the first place.

Sayid Meets Ben

Like many big moments in Lost these days, we weren't as blown away as we were supposed to be by the big reveal in "Namaste's" closing seconds that the Harry Potter look-alike who had brought Sayid a sandwich was actually young Ben. Team Darlton has taught us so well how to anticipate the amazing, how to presume the flabbergasting, that the attentive saw it coming, if not a mile away, at least a couple of yards in the distance.

If we see further these days in our navigation of the extraordinary inventiveness of contemporary television's narratology, it is because, like Sir Isaac, we are "standing on the shoulders of giants," perhaps even four-toed Egyptiany ones staring out to sea, but certainly on the narrative colossus Lost , television which has challenged us every step of the way to become smart enough to truly read it.

Many have remarked in the episode's aftermath that the encounter invites us to presume Ben must have already known the Iraqi and the other castaways when Ocean 815 came down. Watching a second time, I found Little Ben (LB) possibly not innocent--wondered indeed if he might have asked to deliver the mustardless sandwich in order to gain access to Sayid so that he might communicate to him that . . . (the episode ended in the middle of the ellipsis, denying access, for the time being at least, to future intelligence). But I must say that PotterBen was much sweeter, kinder and more considerate, than his adult self: compare LB's food presentation skills to AB's creepy dinner for Kate in Season 3.

What really struck me on 2nd viewing was how astonishing the reveal seemed to be to Sayid. We constantly forget, beseiged as we are by the medium's all-consuming dramatic irony, that the characters on Lost or Damages or Dexter or Battlestar or even Big Bang Theory simply don't follow the series in which they find themselves, which explains why they exhibit so little grasp of it).

Colbert/Steele Rap Battle

Since the RNC chair cowardly refused to accept Stephen's challenge, The Colbert Report, after consulting Emily Post to see if he had not followed proper etiquette in issuing his challenge, did it without him, constructing Steele's rap out of previous soundbites. Brilliant. (Colbert did his own rap--in a pin-stripe hoodie.) Colbert even declared Steele's--which he deemed "the sickest thing to drop from a Republican since Bill Bennett ate some bad chili"--the winner.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Steele's Rap Battle Response
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/20/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

For so retentive of themselves are men
That music is intensest which proclaims
The near, the clear, and vaunts the clearest bloom,
And of all vigils musing the obscure,
That apprehends the most which sees and names,
As in your name, an image that is sure. . . .
-_Wallace Stevewns, "To the One of Fictive Music"

"Big Love" Controversy

Talk of the Nation had a somewhat interesting segment today on the controversy prompted in the Mormon community by last week's "Outer Darkness" episode of Big Love. Worth a listen.

"The Head of a Pin"

When I learned the title--a reference to the famous Scholastic koan about how many angels will fit (under divine edict) on said pin--I was prepared to like tonight's Supernatural. Now, having just seen it (amidst distractions), it looked like a classic, with torture scenes that made Jack Bauer look like a wimp. Only half way through did I realize that it was the work of Ben Edlund, whose genius I praised in an earlier post. More later--after a second viewing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/19/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker, Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.
Wallace Stevens, "The Idea of Order at Key West"

This Week in TV Land

Before this week is over:

* Lost will have returned (an episode called "Namaste") from a brief hiatus in a brilliant Season Six.

* The series finale of Battlestar Galactica will have aired. Will it be an ending for the ages?

* The third season of Big Love will have come to an end (and Bill's marriages too?).

* March 20th's Dollhouse will or won't be the gamechanger it is touted to be. TV Guide has seen it and Matt Mitovich reports: "I audibly gasped at least once while screening it, then fast hit rewind to make sure I had indeed heard what I thought I heard. It also boasts one of the best hand-to-hand fight scenes I have seen in some time, a cool reveal about the Dollhouse's business model and, as an added bonus, much shirtless Tahmoh."

Lamed Wufniks

Outside on a beautiful March day found myself thinking about these odd and wonderful beings. Here's what I once wrote about them "The 10th Symphony" (Georgia Review 35 [1981]: 583-93):

In his Book of Imaginary Beings, Borges describes, as part of his strange menagerie of creatures, an individual known to the Old testament Hebraic tradition as a "Lamed Wufnik." The Lamed Wufniks, Borges explains, were "thirty-six righteous men whose mission is to justify the world before God." "The secret pillars of the universe," without whom God "would annihilate the whole of mankind," the Lamed Wufniks cannot, or dare not, realize their true nature. If one should do so, immediate annihilation would result. Their vocation requires them to be unconscious of exactly what they are. Hannah Arendt has observed in The Human Condition that for the Western psyche "it is manifest that the moment a good work becomes known and public, it loses its specific character of goodness. . . ." So all our endeavors must face up to a most perplexing dilemma: "Goodness can exist only when it is not perceived, not even by its author; whoever sees himself performing a good work is no longer good. . . . Therefore: "Let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth."


In case any one is holding his/her breath waiting to know what I thought, I found it dark, disturbing, superbly performed and imagined. Better than The Dark Knight, if you ask me, and BTW Rorschach is more disturbing than Ledger's Joker by a mile and a half (and he's one of the heroes!).

[Nota bene: Above, I almost wrote "their breath." I am prepared, I think, to override my programing, which tells me, going back to the woman who taught me sentence diagramming in 7th grade (47 years ago!) that it would be ungrammatical to do so ("any one" being singular, "their" plural; hence a n, pn agreement error). It feels comfortable, after all; doesn't feel ungrammatical. I always bought into the "gendered language" argument that warned me away from putting the male pronoun in the default setting, but never could accept the ungrammatical barrier. Until today.]


Well, I doubt this new NBC show is going to survive (too expensive, ratings too low), but I rather enjoyed the pilot of this prime-time soap/political-biblical allegory/alternate history epic about a not-the-USA monarchy and loved--loved!--Ian McShane's larger-than-life, royal we-ing, de-profaned Al Swearengen in a not-filthy suit ruler.

Here's Jon Stewart's fun St. Patty's day interview with The King:


Writing in Onion TV Club, Steven Hyden compares the troubled Reaper to HBO's Entourage (a show, Hyden admits, "I fucking hate") and offers the following insight:

Reaper is another example of lifestyle porn; Entourage is geared toward Maxim readers, and Reaper is aimed squarely at the comic book crowd. It makes me think that Reaper might be a better show if it were a half-hour sitcom rather than an hour-long comedy/fantasy with the occasional dash of half-assed drama.

Since, as Hyden notes earlier in his piece, he initially thought Reaper was going to be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's important to note that BtVS was originally envisioned as (wait for it) a thirty minute, more sitcomish show.

Advice from Colbert

Wait a few years before starting a new Ponzi scheme. They'll forget.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/18/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

Tell X that speech is not dirty silence
Clarified. It is silence made still dirtier.
--Wallace Stevens, "The Creations of Sound"

"HIMYM" Lexicon

Carrying on a tradition begun by Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother has a vocabulary all its own, and TWoP has catalogued them.

"Lost" Crosses

"Lost Crosses" used to refer to the scores of odd connections/synchronicities of the series' many characters in the show's past tense (for example, that the man Sawyer had long sought to kill was in reality Locke's despicable father).

Thanks to BuddyTV's clever ideas for crossover episodes for a variety of Lost characters (several more than one), "Lost Crosses" now means something else as well.


With Battlestar ending this week and the inexplicably stupid beyond words decision of the Sci Fi network to rebrand itself as "Syfy" ("Spike" was taken I guess), I hereby formally declare that Channel 57 on my Comcast Cable spectrum is henceforth dead to me.

Colbert and Gaiman; Gaiman and Whedon

A funny interview between Stephen and the fantasy master.

And if this leaves you wanting still more Neil, try this dual (print) interview from Time of Gaiman and Joss Whedon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/17/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one . . .
How high the highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air.
In which being here together is enough.
--Wallace Stevens, "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour"

Forever Blowing [Dolphin] Bubbles

Mocking the Beckhead

Shep Smith makes fun of the clinically insane Glenn Beck. Chris Wallace is not amused.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/16/09)--Wallace Stevens Week

We are the mimics. Clouds are pedagogues
The air is not a mirror but bare board,
Coulisse bright-dark, tragic chiaroscuro

And comic color of the rose, in which
Abysmal instruments make sounds like pips
Of the sweeping meanings that we add to them.
--Wallace Stevens, "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction"

Painting of the Week (3/16/09)

David Lavery, A Lawn Being Sprinkled

TGIF (2)

Last week's TGIF TV was disappointing. 3/13/09 was definitely more satisfying.

Friday Night Lights: good as always. A B+.
Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles: A solid, taught episode, first of a two-parter, that promised better things to come.
Dollhouse: Though I still found the story essentially boring, it was nicely written and plotted and maybe seemed better than it really was because of next week's highly anticipated episode.
Battlestar Galactica: As I have already said, the series at its finest.

"Two Thingsism"

I really like the ad for Old Spice's Redzone body wash with the centaur in the shower protesting being asked to shill for a fellow combo thing. "That's two thingsism," he insists, offended. Quite rightly. Mythology + pseudo-political correctness being used to move product--a kind of marketing two thingsism, no?

"Daybreak," Part I

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
--T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding" (Four Quartets)

In the first hour of Battlestar Galactica's three hour finale, Ron Moore and Michael Rymer--the same pair who wrote and directed the first episode of the miniseries back in 2003--took us back to the beginning. While, in the show's present tense, we saw Galactica being scrapped for parts, Madam President's condition worsening, Starbuck trying to communicate with Anders, Baltar finagling, Helo hoping against hope for the return of his daughter, the Chief deeming himself a "fraking idiot," The Old Man deciding to rescue Hera whatever the cost, in the past, "Before the Fall," we learned much more about the lives of many prior to the Cylon attack.

We saw Adama opposing the assignment that would have him on Galactica the day of the attack. We saw Kara Thrace cooking dinner for her first meeting with Lee Adama (saw, too, her boyfriend Zack Adama). We saw a happy and young Laura Roslyn--and were witness too, to her immersing-in-a-Caprica-fountain grief after her father and sisters are killed by a drunk driver (identify so far withheld). We saw Baltar dealing with an embarrassing father (and Caprica 6 putting him in a nursing home). We saw Sam Anders giving a sports show interview.

By the end of a solid set-up episode, we were ready for the final confrontation. I will be shocked if it's not memorable.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/15/09)

Once upon a time there was a very large motor-car called the Universe. Although there was nobody who wasn't on board, nobody knew how it worked or how to work it, and in the course of time two very different problems occupied the attention of two different groups of passengers. The first group became interested in invisibles like internal combustion but the second group said the thing to do was to push and pull levers and find out by trial and error what happened. The words "internal combustion," they said were obviously meaningless, because nobody ever pushed or pulled either of these things. For a time both groups agreed that knowledge of how it worked and knowledge of how to work it were closely connected with one another, but in the end the second group began to maintain that the first kind of knowledge was an illusion based on a misunderstanding of language. Pushing, pulling, and seeing what happens, they said, are not a means to knowledge; they are knowledge. It was an odd sort of car, because, after the second group had with conspicuous success tried pushing and pulling all the big levers, they began on some of the smaller ones, and the car was so constructed that nearly all of these, whatever other effect they had, acted as accelerators. Meanwhile the first group held its breath and began to think that their kind of knowledge might perhaps come in useful after the smash.
--Owen Barfield, Poetic Diction


Surprised to read that Rob Marshall (Chicago) is remaking Fellini's masterly 8 1/2--with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead and Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and Kate Hudson. To be called 9.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Saturn Nominations

The Saturn noms are in and Lost got 11.

Quote of the Day (3/14/09)

First, the poet was conceived of as being definitely "possessed" by some foreign being, a god or angel, who gave utterance through his mouth and gave it only as and when it chose. Then the divine power was said to be "breathed in" to the poet, by beings such as the Muses, at special times and places, over which he had some measure of control, in that he could go himself to the places and "invoke" the Muse. Finally this "breathing in" or inspiration took on the more metaphorical sense which it has today definitely retaining, however, the original suggestion of a diminished self-consciousness. Inspiration! It was the only means, we used to be told, by which poetry could be written, and the poet himself hardly knew what it was a kind of divine wind, perhaps, which blew where it listed and might fill his sails at some odd moment after he had whistled for it all day in vain. So we were told not long ago; but today we are more inclined to think of inspiration as a mood, a mood that may come and go in the course of a morning's work.
--Owen Barfield, Poetic Diction

Remembering Kim Manners

Supernatural has dedicated its whole season to the fallen Kim Manners. Nice.

Names for Coulter

Keith Olbermanm has taken to calling the lovely Ann Coulter
"The Coultergeist."

But Andrew Sullivan just deemed her a "cynical drag queen posing as a fascist." OMG.

Friday 13th TV Heaven

Despite last week's disappointment, Friday has become a big TV day: Friday Night Lights, Terminator: SCC, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, Real Time with Bill Maher . . . They're not always great, and BSG has only two more episodes before the much anticipated end, but the potential in these shows makes Friday evening much anticipated.

"Nietzsche Family Circus"

I only learned about this today, but I know I will be a regular visitor. What a brilliant idea!

Would Mayor Wilkins (from Buffy) be a fan or not?

MAYOR: I, I just love the Family Circus! That P.J., he's getting to be quite a handful. (looks at swords) Well... I haven't seen anything like this in, uh... Well, a good long while. Where's the owner of these fine implements?
TRICK: The common term is 'slain'. But I've been seeing this breed around. Are we expecting any trouble?
MAYOR: Do you like Family Circus?
TRICK: I like Marmaduke.
MAYOR: Oh! Eww! He's always on the furniture. Unsanitary.
TRICK: Nobody can tell Marmaduke what to do. That's my kinda dog.
Allan: I like to read Cathy.
Mr. Trick and the Mayor both give him a look. Allan swallows nervously.

Heard on "Supernatural"

It's dialogue like this that makes me love this show.

Sammy: Look, I don't want them to die either, but there's a natural order.
Dean: You're kidding, right?
Sammy: What?
Dean: Have you looked at the irony in that? You and me, we're like the poster boys of the unnatural order. All we do is ditch death.
Sammy: But the normal rules don't really apply to us, do they?
Dean: We're no different from anybody else.
Sammy: I've been infected by demon blood! You've been to Hell! Look, I know you want to think of yourself as Joe the Plumber, but you're not Dean, and neither am I. The sooner you accept that, the better off you're going to be.
Dean: Joe the Plumber was a douche.

Later, after the Winchester boys have become incorporeal, Dean sticks his fist into Sammy's chest, and we get the following:

Sammy: Get out of me!
Dean: You're such a prude.

Is it just me or is that really, really smutty (and hilarious)?

On the Future of "FNL"

A Daily Beast piece on Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen) and the hope for two more years of Friday Night Lights (fingers crossed).

Sullivan on Stewart/Cramer

Andrew offers his acute take on last night's clash.

Celebrity Death Match

We knew before the rumble aired that it wouldn't be much of a clash: Cramer had been timid earlier in the day (with Martha Stewart) and diminishing expectations at every step. We didn't know that Jon Stewart would dissect the CNBC fakir and leave him and his brand in a hundred little pieces. Once more, Jon Stewart showed himself to be a kind of public collective conscience when he needed to be--when no one else was willing.

Watch the whole episode here.

"Death Takes a Holiday"

After weeks of hiatus and several ho-hum episodes, Supernatural came roaring back with "Death Takes a Holiday," one of the best episodes of the year. Like many series, Supernatural tends to become mired in mid-season doldrums, only to regain its footing in the final 1/3.

Barenaked Ladies' "Big Bang Theory" Theme Song

In case you were wondering. Great song.

Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!

"Since the dawn of man" is really not that long,
As every galaxy was formed in less time than it takes to sing this song.
A fraction of a second and the elements were made.
The bipeds stood up straight,
The dinosaurs all met their fate,
They tried to leap but they were late
And they all died (they froze their asses off)
The oceans and pangea
See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya
Set in motion by the same big bang!

It all started with the big BANG!

It's expanding ever outward but one day
It will cause the stars to go the other way,
Collapsing ever inward, we won't be here, it wont be hurt
Our best and brightest figure that it'll make an even bigger bang!

Australopithecus would really have been sick of us
Debating out while here they're catching deer (we're catching viruses)
Religion or astronomy, Encarta, Deuteronomy
It all started with the big bang!

Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology
It all started with the big bang!
It all started with the big BANG!

Heard on "Big Bang Theory"

We’re all going over to The Apple Store to make fun of the guys at The Genius Bar. Wanna come?--in the Summer Glau on a train episode

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/13/09)

On the occasion of the Fall . . . Lucifer induced man to begin hiding and hoarding his inner life, and to take pride in it as a "room of one's own" making it into something separate and detached alike from its own outward manifestation (nature) and the inner world of Spirit-Beings. In the inner-life: instead of the old "being filled with Spirit-Beings"—Egotism. In the outer life: instead of the old experiencing of nature as one's own manifestation—a complete falling-apart of Man and Nature. Man is now started on the long road which ends in his present normal relation to nature, wherein nature is not merely his own outward manifestation, nor that of the higher Spiritual Beings who shine through him; wherein nature is not a manifestation at all, but an object—a finished work.
--Owen Barfield, Romanticism Comes of Age

Lex Luthor Asks for a Bailout

Jon Hamm is Lex on Funny or Die. Hamm is a great comedian.

The End of the "L"

I have followed this series, on which my friends Janet and Kim did a book, almost not at all, but James Wolcott was clearly not impressed with the finale:

"L" Is for Lousy
The series finale of The L Word set lesbianism and the art of storytelling back about fifty years. It couldn't have dribbled to a more feeble, unfulfilling letdown--a murder mystery in which mystery isn't resolved (or even staged) and everything the show was building towards is piddled away in the late innings, depriving us of the elemental satisfaction of seeing Jenny Schecter falling through the missing railing after all the ill she'd done and all the preening words she strewed all these years, giving creative posers at coffee shops everywhere a really bad name.

"Rand Illusion"

Colbert takes on the Rand crazies--brilliantly as usual.

When I gushed about my sophomoric love for Rand (I had just read Atlas Shrugged) to John Reinhardt back in the 1960s, his reply was "Ayn Rand is like puberty. The sooner you get over it the better."

I once wrote an epistolary anti-Rand short story, which can be found here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/12/09)

When we look back on past periods of history, we are often confronted with inconsistencies and blind spots in human thinking, which to us are so palpable that we are almost astonished out of belief. We find it hard to credit the inescapable fact that they remained, for decades or for centuries, completely invisible not only to the generality of men but also to the choicest and wisest spirits of the age. Such are the Athenian emphasis on liberty with the system of slavery accepted as a matter of course; the notion that the truth could be ascertained and justice done with the help of trial by battle; the Calvinist doctrine of pre-election for eternal damnation; the co-existence of a Christian ethic with an economic doctrine of ruthless laissez-faire. . . .

I believe that the blind-spot which posterity will find most startling in the last hundred years or so of Western civilization is, that it had, on the one hand, a religion which differed from all others in its acceptance of time, and of a particular point in time, as a cardinal element in its faith: that it had, on the other hand, a picture in its mind of the history of the earth and man as an evolutionary process; and that it neither saw nor supposed any connection whatever between the two.
--Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances

Feud for Thought

Inspired by the current Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer war, The Daily Beast offers a handy compendium of cable television feuds.

Glad to see that Jon's earlier (2004) smackdown of Tucker Carlsen and CNN's Crossfire is featured. (As I recall, the show was yanked soon after Stewart exposed it for what it was.)

Tom Tomorrow's "G.O.P. Strategies for Success"

From Salon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quote of the Day (3/11/09)

It is in association with the symbols which we call names that we build up, from childhood on, the coherent world of distinct shapes and objects which we call 'nature.' The "merest" sense-experience we can imagine ourselves having is also a process of formulation. Whatever else it is . . . the world that actually meets our senses is not a world of "things," which we are then invited to speculate on or experiment with. Any world which pure sensation, pure sensitivity to stimuli, could experience must be a mere plethora, what William James tried to suggest with his phrase "a blooming, buzzing confusion." Yet we never do in fact consciously experience such a world. We have converted the percepts into concepts, and moreover into systems of concepts, before we even know we have been hit by them. As far as our conscious experience is concerned, the perceptual world comes over its horizon already organized. But who has done the organizing? What are you going to call this preconscious organizing of perceptual experience, which gives us the world as we actually and consciously experience it? Coleridge called it "primary imagination." My friend Barfield called it "figuration." Langer, who has dealt with it much more fully and authoritatively, calls it "formulation." Both of them, and Cassirer, and many others, agree that it is the same activity as the activity which we call, when we are aware of it, thinking.
--Owen Barfield, Worlds Apart

Ack's "Lost"

Ack's Lost updates on TVGasm are simply to die for. Beyond hilarious.

In his most recent (for "LeFleur"), I especially liked his suggested shipper name for Juliet and Sawyer: "Julawyer."

Satan as a Wise Guy

I am writing this while watching the second episode of Season Two of Reaper. Whatever the flaws of this show may be, it must be said that Ray Wise's Satan (on the right) is a complete delight.

He had shown himself capable of such a role almost two decades ago when he played the BOB-possessed, daughter murderer Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks (below), but he has never had more fun than he does as Sam's tormentor.

Angel, Wesley, Elaine ("Angel"/"Seinfeld") Dance-Off

A discussion with my wife today about bad dancing prompted me to post these two wonderful exhibition of state-of-the-non-art television dancers. Who is the worst: Angel or Wesley (both in the first video below) or Elaine (the 2nd video)? (Jerry refers to the Benes exhibition as a "dry heave set to music.")

"Cabin" Fever

AICN has news about Cabin in the Woods. Drew Goddard will direct from a script he co-wrote with Whedon. Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are the leads. Read it all here.

Heard on "The Daily Show"

"How fucked must we be when Britain is trying to cheer us up? That place gets like two days of sunshine a year. It's like a coffee-less Seattle."

Watch all of "Brown in the USA" below: