Sunday, May 31, 2009

Something I Wrote (June)

“’No More Undiscovered Countries’: The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse Photography” (essay from Film Studies)

Quote of the Day (6/1/09) (James Hillman Week)

The act of turning to imagination is not an act of introspection: it is a negative capability, a willful suspension of disbelief in the [daimones] and of belief in oneself as their author. The relativization of the author—who is making up whom, who is writing whom—goes along with the fictional mode; in the course of active imagination one waivers between losing control and putting words in their mouths. But introspection will not solve even this problem, only the act of fictioning further. Introspection simply returns one to the literalism of subjectivity. We have taken the notion of subjectivity so literally that we now believe in an imaginary subject at the beginning of each sentence who does the work, a subject pre-fixing each verb. But the work is done by the verbs themselves; they are fictioning, actively imagining, not I. The action is in the plot, inaccessible to introspection, and only the characters know what's going on. As Philemon taught Jung: you are not the author of the play of the psyche.
--James Hillman, Healing Fiction

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/31/09) (James Hillman Week)

I have been writing recently about "animal faith" an idea taken from George Santayana which is that faith in the world, that it is there, that it won't give way underfoot when you take the next step that you just know which way to turn and how to proceed. It's the faith that your hands have and your feet have. . . . the cat jumps on the tree and starts climbing. The tree is not an object of faith to which the cat gives assent. It is a tree in an ecological field belonging to the cat's climbing. The cat has an animal faith in the tree and it loves the tree, loves itself, loves jumping and climbing no self examination there, no introspecting about belief. Or it would stay home, or see a priest. . . .
--James Hillman, Inter Views

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/30/09) (James Hillman Week)

The Greeks didn't have to believe in their Gods. They didn't say, "I believe in. . . ." That came in with Christianity. They didn't have a theology they had myths. And we need to read our psychic life not theologically but mythically. They didn't even have a word for religion. When something appears a voice, an image, a dream you respond to it. . . . A Christian has to ask, Is this from God or the Devil? Is it real or did I make it up? . . . This disturbs the natural relationship with phenomena. The very act of believing, the declaration of "I believe," is a subjectivism. It cuts one off from what's there. It cuts one off from imagination, from one's animal faith.
--James Hillman, Inter Views

New Evidence of the Spread of the Whedonverses

1. A non-traditional student in Vanderbilt's Master of Liberal Studies program came by this week to talk Buffy, and I learned from him that Amy-Jill Levine, the distinguished E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies in VU's divinity school, is a bit of a Buffy-phile, happy to engage, he reported, in a discussion of Spike's redemption.

2. On ESPN's Around the Horn, the host reported that "Not even Dr. Horrible's freeze ray could have stopped [Cleveland Cavaliers' star] LeBron James last night."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/29/09) (James Hillman Week)

What we have come to call "Western" consciousness is in truth northern consciousness. And we falsify the psychological situation by imagining the basic opposition to be between East and West. Because this pairing is horizontal it tends to project its oppositions outward into the literal geography of external space, catching us in fantasies of uniting our souls by a meeting of East and West. The other pairing in our souls is that of North and South, light and shadow, conscious and unconscious, a vertical dimension between what is above and what is below, a reflection in imaginal geography of our cultural history.
--James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology

Reverse Racism

Matthew Yglesias (Think Progress) explains why this Republican phrasing makes no sense:

Rush Limbaugh thinks Sonia Sotomayor is a “hack” and worse, “Here you have a racist — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist.”

This seems very confused. Being a “reverse racist” can’t be similar to being a “racist,” it needs to be the reverse of being a racist. Limbaugh clearly just thinks Sotomayor is a racist. She hates white people. For a Latina to hate white people isn’t “reverse” racism, it’s racism. Reverse racism would be if you had a white person who hates white people. It would be like racism, where you hate people of other races, but in reverse.

Francis Bacon

An excellent slide show on the painter Francis Bacon (that's his self-portrait) on Slate (inspired by an exhibition at the Met in New York).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/28/09) (James Hillman Week)

As the dream is guardian of sleep, so our dream-work, yours and mine, is protective of those depths from which dreams rise, the ancestral, the mythical, the imaginal, and all the hiding invisibilities that govern our lives. Dreams are sleep's watchful brother, of death's fraternity, heralds, watchmen of that coming night, and our attitude toward them may be modeled upon Hades, receiving, hospitable, yet relentlessly deepening, attuned to the nocturne, dusky, and with a fearful cold intelligence that gives permanent shelter in his house to the incurable conditions of human being.
--James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld


I just finished watching Twilight and . . . well I am, as a Buffy person, morally obligated (I think) to dislike this, and I have not read a word of the books or put it high in my mail order DVD queue, but I rather enjoyed it. Was disappointed a bit when it was over; wanted more. Liked Edward, Bella, and the Pacific NW setting.

I thought the vampire baseball game was, however, one of the most ludicrous things ever put on film. Sheesh.

Lithgow on "Dexter"

Ausiello breaks the news.

"Reaper," Consistent to the End

"The Devil vs. Sam Oliver," the final episode of Reaper, was of a piece with the series as a whole. Week-in-and-weak-out, Reaper has promised much and delivered little. I loved the pilot two seasons ago--the one Kevin Smith directed. But it never fulfilled its promise, and last night's finale was no exception. Sam does not get out from under his enslavement to Satan? Andi, too, loses her soul? Is this any way to end a series when it has been cancelled? [see below] A complete disappointment alas.

Zack Handlen's observation in Onion TV Club is dead on:

It's a fitfully amusing show with likeable [sic] characters and one killer bit of casting, and that's about it. Sometimes it threatens greatness, but mostly, it's just content to hang-out, maybe drink the last beer in the fridge, and kill time until something better comes along.

On the Series' Fate. Newark Star-Ledger's superb TV critic Alan Sepinwall explains the series's non-future:
Yes, the rumor of the CW affiliates picking up the show to help fill their now-vacant Sunday lineup is still out there, but A) I know nothing about it that you don't, and B) It seems like such a Hail Mary, between the logistics of ordering it and the departures of Tyler Labine and "Reaper" creators Fazekas and Butters, that I'm going to assume, until there are confirmed reports of production beginning on new episodes, that it'll turn out like "Arrested Development" on Showtime or the "Deadwood" TV-movies.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

R and D

This is from 1984-85 in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. The piggy-backer, Rachel Alden Lavery, is now a lawyer in New York.

BTW, I still own the sweater.

Pissed-Off at the Movies

NPR (NPR!) ran a story on "All Things Considered" yesterday about a website, chronicling the best moments in a movie--the down times, the missable--to make a break for the bathroom.

Now this is practical film criticism.

Quote of the Day (5/27/09) (James Hillman Week)

There is a Bible in every wanderer's bedroom, where there might better be the Odyssey.
--James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology

"Buffy" Reborn?

I think this is a very bad idea.

"The Most Interesting Man in the World" (ctd.)

I wrote about these ads here. Slate's Seth Stevenson has his say here.

Thanks to Mark Barrett.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/26/09) (Franz Kafka Week)

By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

"Shite Gifts for Academics" (from Facebook)

To the best of my knowledge, this application (developed by Mike Uebel) is available only on Facebook. Here's a screen capture of the wonderfully accurate choices. (Click to see a larger version.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/24/09 (Franz Kafka Week)

I think I understand the fall of man better than anyone else.
--Franz Kafka

Day 7 "24" Finale

Finally saw this today (on my DVR--it aired a week ago). Although I was dreading the reappearance of Kim Bauer, it turned out to be an excellent end of D7: gripping, moving, fast-paced. If Jack lives (do you think?), it could be a good D8. I especially liked the scene where Jack head butted a women's wear designer! Oh, that's right: that was IRL.

All-in-all, D7 was a big improvement over D6. Howard Gordon deserves the praise. Good riddance Joel Surnow.

Superhero Weaknesses

The Onion identifies the most prominent?

Onion AV Club Interviews with Emerson and Garcia

Two interesting Lost interviews with Michael Emerson (Ben) and Jorge Garcia (Hurley).


After hitting the game-winning shot in last night's NBA Eastern Conference Final playoff game, LeBron James said:

I just took my time. A second is a long time for me. For others, it is very short.

I remember reading in George Leonard's Ultimate Athlete about the almost mystical ability of great athletes to make time stand still. A perfect example.

"Lost's" Mysteries

In an interview on BuddyTV, Damon Lindelof suggests that some Lost mysteries will never be answered. I am not sure it's ever a good idea to cite Star Wars as precedent--did we ever really understand what "The Force" is? Lindelof asks--his insistence that some of the series' mysteries should remain mysteries is an important reminder.

"Loss of LOST Leads to Long Lackluster Life"

imfromthepast contemplates a life without Lost, now only a year away.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/23/09 (Franz Kafka Week)

He is a free and secure citizen of this earth, for he is attached to a chain that is long enough to make all areas of the earth accessible to him, and yet only so long that nothing can pull him over the edges of the earth. At the same time, however, he is also a free and secure citizen of heaven, for he is also attached to a similarly calculated heavenly chain. Thus, if he wants to get down to earth, he is choked by the heavenly collar and chain; if he wants to get into heaven, he is choked by the earthly one. And in spite of this he has all the possibilities, and feels that it is so; indeed, he even refuses to attribute the whole thing to a mistake in the original chaining.
--Franz Kafka

"Atlantic" Contemplates the End of Television

It certainly should not surprise us that a short essay which begins:

As everybody knows, or is supposed to say in public company: Television is stupid.

and that italicizes a title like "Moby Dick" [sic--it's hyphenated] while offering nary a recognition that "Lost" [sic] or "24" [sic] deserve title recognition, demonstrates not a trace of admiration for television's narrative genius.

It's a wrong-headed piece, in which Derek Thompson laments that TV viewers must stoop to serial watching of long-term narratives in 19th century style, when many of the people now making TV willingly acknowledge themselves as heirs to Dickens, and the serial watching is half the fun. Thompson does have some interesting speculations to offer about the causes and effects of multi-platform storytelling in our future, but the taint of (TV)Antipathy is clear throughout.

Gaylord Brewer on "Writer's Almanac"

I have been getting reacquainted with Garrison Keillor's delightful Writer's Almanac and was happy to find a poem by my colleague Gaylord Brewer:

Upon My Offering Her an Easter Chocolate, My Wife Screams that She Won't Let Me Make Her Fat

The Terminator Timeline

Sci-Fi Wire tries to make sense of a confused and confusing time-travel narrative.

Defending "Terminator: Salvation"

Returning from seeing the McG reboot of the Terminator franchise, I went online to read a half dozen reviews (by, among others, my favorite critics: Stephanie Zacharek, Roger Ebert).

Everybody, it seems, is going out of their way to trash T:S because it is 1) soulless; 2) ugly; 3) made by an idiot of a director. These are patently unfair and predictable. T:S is "robotic" (how clever!). The reviews are mostly boilerplate; they could have been written without bothering to see the movie. It is as if they were generated by a machine (touché!).

Ugly? Ugly?? It's a post-apocalyptic world. Is it suppose to be pretty? McG is an idiot? The critics are taking prefab potshots at him because he made the Charlie's Angels movies. Is there no statute of limitations on bad directorial efforts? Has not McG made valuable contributions to such first-rate television as Supernatural and Chuck in his recent history?

I liked T:S very much. I would give it an "A-."Give me more.

Cthulhu on the Bumper

I hsd seen this before--on an unknown fellow faculty member's bumper:

Today Cthulhu's Rav4 was parked beside my own "Republicans for Voldemorted" car. We should get to know one another. Who is this person?

John Yoo's First Editorials

After describing torture-justifying Bush lawyer John Yoo as someone who could "justify selling dolphin burgers at a PETA convention," Stephen Colbert unveiled three pieces he might do in his new gig for the Philadelphia Inquirer.


"I am not deep but I am very wide."
--Honore de Balzac, author of over 100 novels (quoted on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/22/09 (Franz Kafka Week)

Of course [the cinema is] a marvelous toy. But I cannot bear it, because perhaps I am too "optical" by nature. I am an Eye-man. But the cinema disturbs one's vision. The speed of the movements and the rapid change of images forces men to look continually from one to another. Sight does not flood one's consciousness. The cinema involves putting the eye into uniform, where before it was naked. . . . Real life is only a reflection of the dreams of poets. The strings of the lines of modern poets are endless strips of celluloid.
--Franz Kafka, Conversations with Kafka

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Chuck," Product Placement

In an interview with Chuck executive producer Josh Schwartz, Ausiello wants to know about the implications of Subway becoming a major sponsor:

AUSIELLO: Will Sarah be working at a Subway next season?
SCHWARTZ: [Laughs] You know, I don't know the full details of the Subway integration yet. I know it will be significant. Chuck is a show that happens to be well positioned for effortless product integration, especially because Chuck works at an electronics shop in a strip mall. If Sarah or someone worked at a Subway it would hopefully be no more intrusive or unrealistic than Liz Lemon [Tina Fey's character on 30 Rockworking at NBC.

Quote of the Day (5/21/09 (Franz Kafka Week)

The books we need are of the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation; a book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.
--Franz Kafka

"V" Trailer

I will definitely be watching this. Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell, Firefly's Morena Baccarin . . . How could I not?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ryan Murphy

I have only seen one episode of Nip/Tuck, but I found Terry Gross's Fresh Air interiew with Ryan Murphy very interesting. His new show, Glee, debuts tonight.


Here are three great screen captures from last night's Colbert--inspired by the revelation this week about Rumsfeld's Bible quote memos to Bush.

The revamping of The Pentagon Bush and Rumsfeld were contemplating:

Rumsfeld's competitor for Bush's ear:

A sample of the very different kind of memo that Jesus himself was offering:

Quote of the Day (5/20/09 (Franz Kafka Week)

You know the story of the crazy man who was fishing in a bathtub. A doctor with ideas as to psychiatric treatment asked him "if they were biting," to which he received the harsh reply: "Of course not, you fool, since this is a bathtub." That story belongs to the baroque type. But in it can be grasped quite clearly to what a degree the absurd effect is linked to an excess of logic. Kafka’s world is in truth an indescribable universe in which man allows himself the tormenting luxury of fishing in a bathtub, knowing that nothing will come of it.
--Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Cliff Huxtable/Barack Obama

The Daily Show makes a very convincing case.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Is Cliff Huxtable
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

Commenting on Japanese introduction of robot teachers (on "The Threat Down"):

C'mon Japan. We all know that classrooms are not run by mindless automatons. They are supposed to produce them.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/19/09) (Mark Twain Week)

Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
--Mark Twain

Sunday, May 17, 2009


NBC has renewed Chuck, according to Ausiello. Good news indeed.

Painting of the Week (5/18/09)

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Quote of the Day (5/18/09) (Mark Twain Week)

OCTOBER 12, THE DISCOVERY. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.
--Mark Twain

This is Why You're Fat

A disgustingly fun website.

A daily visit here should help keep food intake down while inducing the regular losing of one's cookies.

LOST Conference--in 1977

I really like the idea, now proposed by several, of a Lost conference in Hawaii--in 1977.

Room and board will no doubt be less costly, but I am concerned that transportation will be prohibitively expensive. How much does it cost to book a time machine these days? And will universities reimburse time-travel? Imagine filling out the travel authorization?

Plus, contemporary attendance could be quite low, since no one in 1977 will have heard of LOST.

Perhaps a conference on Hawaii Five-0 instead?

The Truth about "Lost's" Jughead

Arms control expert Joe Cirincione reports on the real Jughead in The Huffington Post.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/17/09) (Mark Twain Week)

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
--Mark Twain

Back to the "Dollhouse"

A surprise, I must say. Dollhouse gets 13 more episodes.

"Lost" Conference

I have just posted this on my website. I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/16/09) (Mark Twain Week)

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
--Mark Twain

Trees with a Sense of Irony

My former student Sandy Bishop sent me this photo of the aftermath of bad storms in Carbondale, IL. Take note of the bumper sticker.

Television Conversations

It's now official. I am the editor for this new series at the University Press of Mississippi.

Season Finales: "Smallville" and "Supernatural"

The finale of Smallville last night was especially awful. Television Without Pity heaps scorn here. My favorite snark:

Clark wants no part of this crazy human race. He tells Chloe that "Clark Kent" is dead. Couldn't he have died about three seasons ago and saved us a lot of pain?

It's official now: Smallville replaces The X-Files as the poster child for "Television Series That Went on Way, Way Too Long."

Supernatural, on the other hand, ended a great season with an "A" episode, written and directed by the great Kripke, and a complete shock of an ending: killing Lillith (which Sammy accomplishes) IS the breaking of the final seal, and that would be Lucifer ascending through the floor in the final shot in order to become the Big Bad of this kick-ass series' final season. (I wonder if Ray Wise will play him? With Reaper likely to be canceled [corrected 5/16/09] he might be available.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

Hey, blessings in disguise . . . what are you hiding?

Quote of the Day (5/15/09) (Mark Twain Week)

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
--Mark Twain

"Lost" Loomings

I have read many a commentary about Jacob's weaving in the opening scene of "The Incident," citing all kinds of cultural and mythical weaving.

But I have not seen anyone make reference to Moby-Dick. Melville's masterpiece is built all-around a loom/weaving metaphor. The book's first chapter is "Loomings." When Pip, the cabin boy, is pulled to the bottom of the ocean when his foot becomes entangled in a harpoon line, he goes mad after seeing God's foot upon the loom. And, most importantly, in "A Bower in the Arsicades," Ishmael has his mind blown by "a great Sperm Whale, which, after an unusually long raging gale, had been found dead and stranded, with his head against a cocoa-nut tree, whose plumage-like, tufted droopings seemed his verdant jet. When the vast body had at last been stripped of its fathom-deep enfoldings, and the bones become dust dry in the sun, then the skeleton was carefully transported up the Pupella glen, where a grand temple of lordly palms now sheltered it."

Deep inland, like a certain slave ship, on a South Pacific island, the whale is a thing of mystery:

The ribs were hung with trophies; the vertebrae were carved with Arsacidean annals, in strange hieroglyphics; in the skull, the priests kept up an unextinguished aromatic flame, so that the mystic head again sent forth its vapory spout; while, suspended from a bough, the terrific lower jaw vibrated over all the devotees, like the hair-hung sword that so affrighted Damocles.

And in the ever curious Ishmael it inspires a new understanding of the weave of existence (the italics in this 10x x 2 passage are mine):

It was a wondrous sight. the wood was green as mosses of the icy Glen; the trees stood high and haughty, feeling their living sap; the industrious earth beneath was as a weaver's loom, with a gorgeous carpet on it, whereof the ground-vine tendrils formed the warp and woof, and the living flowers the figures. All the trees, with all their laden branches; all the shrubs, and ferns, and grasses; the message-carrying air; all these unceasingly were active. Through the lacings of the leaves, the great sun seemed a flying shuttle weaving the unwearied verdure. Oh, busy weaver! unseen weaver! - pause! - one word! - whither flows the fabric? what palace may it deck? wherefore all these ceaseless toilings? Speak, weaver! - stay thy hand! - but one single word with thee! Nay - the shuttle flies - the figures float from forth the loom; the freshet- rushing carpet for ever slides away. The weaver-god, he weaves; and by that weaving is he deafened, that he hears no mortal voice; and by that humming, we, too, who look on the loom are deafened; and only when we escape it shall we hear the thousand voices that speak through it. For even so it is in all material factories. The spoken words that are inaudible among the flying spindles; those same words are plainly heard without the walls, bursting from the opened casements. Thereby have villanies been detected. Ah, mortal! then, be heedful; for so, in all this din of the great world's loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be overheard afar.

Now, amid the green, life-restless loom of that Arsacidean wood, the great, white, worshipped skeleton lay lounging - a gigantic idler! Yet, as the ever-woven verdant warp and woof intermixed and hummed around him, the mighty idler seemed the cunning weaver; himself all woven over with the vines; every month assuming greener, fresher verdure; but himself a skeleton. Life folded Death; Death trellised Life; the grim god wived with youthful Life, and begat him curly-headed glories.

"Lost" and "Everything That Rises Must Converge"

I was just about to post something about Jacob's reading material in "The Incident"--in the scene in which he brings the fallen Locke back to life--when I discovered that Jeff Jensen had beaten me to it:

As it happens, Flannery O’Connor’s aforementioned book takes its title — Everything That Rises Must Converge — from a phrase coined by an egghead and fellow Catholic provocateur named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin [pictured], who concocted a theory of evolution called [the] “Omega Point.” Basically, it’s the idea that there is some kind of transcendent entity or consciousness that is guiding everyone and everything toward greater complexity and enlightenment, until everyone and everything becomes transcendent, too. I think. More simply, it’s Jacob’s view: There is a single end; everything before then is progress. Chardin believed his Omega entity was basically Jesus Christ himself. His phrase, “everything that rises must converge,” is a poetical expression of a key Christian idea known in the Greek apokatastasis. It’s like the opposite of apocalypse, or rather, what comes after apocalypse. I’m not trying to get all religious on you, but it is what it is: apokatastasis is the idea that in the end, Satan will be defeated and that all of creation will be redeemed and unified under Christ. “Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” (John 12:31-32) Or, again, to use a line from the show: “He who will save us all.” That, my friends, is the answer, translated from Richard Alpert’s Latin, to Ilana’s riddle: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/14/09) (Mark Twain Week)

I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious--except he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force.
--Mark Twain

Beyond "The Fringe"

OK. After a full season of largely disappointing stories, Fringe has now gotten seriously interesting.

"There's More Than One of Everything" seemed like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials brought to TV. Loved the ending: an alternate reality NY where the WTC still stands, the White House is destroyed and William Bell/Leonard Nimoy is hiding. Now I can't wait until next year, or is as Dick would have it, "Now wait for last year."

Kim? Kim?? Kim???

Day 7 of 24 has been a substantial improvement over the stinker that was Day 6, at least until now.

Are Howard Gordon and Company insane? Did they really think anybody on the planet wanted to see Kim return? One of the most ridiculed characters in the history of television playing a pivotal role? Come on! This cannot end well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/13/09) (Mark Twain Week)

Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake; he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.
--Mark Twain

"Lie to The Shield"

According to Michael Ausiello, FOX has agreed to bring Lie to Me back, but only with Shawn Ryan (pictured), mastermind of The Shield, as showrunner.

I might have to start watching now.

Tiptree Film

Just learned from Julie Phillips, author of a fabulous bio of James Tiptree, Jr/Dr. Alice Sheldon, that a film about her amazing life, and based on Julie's book [update 5/16/09], is in the works--with Brad Pitt's production company.

I had long fantasized about being part of such a film. Oh well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/12/9) (Goethe Week)

In your nature observation
One and all want equal station.
Nothing's inside, nothing's outside.
For the inside is the outside.
Grasp without procrastination
Patent-occult revelation.


I have done it. I now own a 42 inch LG LCD television.

A true test of its excellence: will it make next season of Heroes indurable?

Having Now Seen "Star Trek" . . .

I liked--liked but didn't love--it. It was, as everybody's been reporting, great fun. (JJ got the tone pretty much right.) I especially loved Simon Pegg's Scotty. Quinto's Spock was first rate. But . . .

The plot was, well, a contrivance intended to set up a template for just this sort of relaunch, including Nimoy, and to push all the obligatory buttons.

The effects--the finale of TV's Battlestar Galactica, for all its problems, gave us much, much better battle scenes on a small screen.

And I know I risk becoming obsessive about this, but could film and television take an abstinence pledge: no more danger-of-falling-from-tall-structures scenes? How many times does Kirk find himself hanging improbably from a ledge? Such scenes were tired and boring back in the days of Harold Lloyd and the Perils of Pauline. Enough already.

I pretty much concur with Roger Ebert's 2.5 stars take on Trek.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Painting of the Week (5/11/09)

Grant Wood, Stone City Iowa

Quote of the Day (5/11/9) (Goethe Week)

Caught up in this earth, man yet feels himself deeply and clearly a denizen of that spiritual realm in which we can neither refuse nor cease to believe. This affinity holds the secret of our everlasting aspiration toward an unknown goal.

"Star Trek" vs "Wolverine"

The numbers are in for this weekend's face-off:

J.J. Abrams' relaunch of the Trek franchise took in $72.5 million. Meanwhile Wolverine decline by 68% to "only" $27 million.

Wanda Sykes Cuts Rush a New One

At the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, this is what Wanda Sykes had to say about Limbaugh's wish that Obama fail:

That's treason. That's not saying anything different from what Osama bin Laden is saying... .I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight. Hope Obama fails. I hope his kidneys fail.

Here's Part 1:

And Part 2:

"The Most Interesting Man in the World"

OK. It's only a beer ad. But there's something intriguing about this campaign.

My favorite line:

He lives vicariously--through himself.

Whedon on "This American Life"

Joss Whedon sings, live, one of the commentary tracks from Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog live on Ira Glass's This American Life.

Go here to download it.

If David Lynch Had Directed "Dirty Dancing"

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/10/9) (Goethe Week)

The world advances only because of those who oppose it.

After "Omega"

I confess that last night I was disappointed. This morning, after a second viewing, I liked it considerably more.

Still too much Natural Born Killers crossed with Frankenstein and too little Whedonesque for my taste. I especially disliked the big climax involves a horribly clichéd climbing to the top of a high structure and Alpha tossing the Wedge holding Caroline's original identity over the railing (after threatening to shoot it).

I don't think this was Tim Minear at his writer/director best. Still, there was quite a bit I found engrossing:

--Alpha's flipping between personalities
--The reveal that Dr. Sanders is a doll--programmed, inadvertently, to hate Topher (not certain yet what explains my own distaste for the character)
--Ballard's deal to release Mellie/November in exchange for him working for the Dollhouse (tracking down the escaped Alpha)
--Some hilarious lines:
One of my personalities happens to be a multiple personality.--Alpha

I don’t know why Alpha would imprint her as a background singer unless he was starting an evil band.--Topher

You’re in a lair! An evil lair!--New Caroline

Was I not my best? I was making art.--Alpha after his slasharama

I found Dushku's performance the weakest of the season. Both Amy Acker and Olivia Williams are much, much stronger actresses. Boyd (Harry J. Lenix) continues to be my favorite character.

I never thought I would say this about a Whedon show, but I won't be gravely disappointed if the series is canceled. It's not the right kind of vehicle to showcase his talents.

"Omega": The Reviews are In

Ken Tucker in EW.

Noel Murray (Onion TV Club).

Television without Pity (Couch Baron).

Friday, May 08, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/9/9) (Goethe Week)

The highest that man can attain in these matters . . . is wonder; if the primary phenomenon causes this, let him be satisfied; more it cannot bring; and he should forbear to seek for anything further behind it; here is the limit. But the sight of a prime phenomenon is generally not enough for people. They think they must go still further, and are thus like children, who, after peeping into a mirror, turn round directly to see what is on the other side.


I will watch tonight's Dollhouse season finale (now 20 minutes away) as if it were a series finale.

Whedon learned with Season One of BtVS, whose renewal was by no means certain, to always assume such an equation.

And we have been lead to believe that Dollhouse will be no different. Expect "Omega," as the name would suggest, to satisfy as an ending (even if the series is renewed).

Sherlock, Junior

A fine piece by Scott Brown in Wired (the issue on mysteries edited by J. J. Abrams) on Sherlock Holmes "proto-nerds" and the origin of obsessed fandoms.

Long before Lostpedia and in-character Mad Men tweets; long before Kirk made out with Spock in a turbolift, courtesy of some devotee's overheated imagination; long before the words slash and drabble came to signify genres of, ahem, literature, there was Sherlock Holmes. Scarcely had Arthur Conan Doyle begun publishing his tales of the deductive detective when an avid fan base sprang up, the first of a new breed of followers. These early Sherlockians weren't content simply to read the books. They wanted to enter the world Conan Doyle had created, puppeteer his characters, and design their own mysteries for Holmes to solve. In short, they wanted to play, and, with Xbox still a few years off, they ended up doing the next best thing: They wrote stories. Lots of them.

How did this come about? IN large part because Conan Doyle (1) prematurely abandoned Holmes (killed him off in fact) and (2) left major crack in the Holmesverse encouraging fanfic spackling:

For Sir Arthur, God bless him, didn't write with an eye to what today's nerd would call "continuity." Crafting Holmes stories bored him, and he frequently lost track of details like the exact location of Watson's Afghan war wound (was it the shoulder or the leg?) and the precise status of Mrs. Watson. But Sir Arthur's table scraps, his inconsistencies and random allusions, made for a fan feast. From a throwaway line—a hilariously oblique reference such as "the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared"—scores of amateur yarns have been spun.

Brown quotes Christopher Morley, founder of The Baker Street Irregulars--"The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is a triumphant illustration of art's supremacy over life"--but add his own correction: "He might as well have written 'the story's supremacy over the author.'"

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/8/9) (Goethe Week)

He has religion
Who has art and science;
Who has not art nor science,
Needs have religion.

Heard on Colbert

If the eyes are the windows of the soul, why does it hurt to spray them with Windex?

Time, It is a Changin'

Noel Murray (Onion TV Club) offers some fascinating thoughts on Lost's time conundrums:

I’ve been thinking a lot about Daniel’s big “The variable is made out of people!” speech from last week, and I even wrote a little something extra about it in the comment section last weekend. My understanding of his new theory isn’t that it’s some lovey-dovey “people can do anything” hoo-hah, so much as a growing awareness that since the time-travelers are experiencing the past as the present, and since they’re human beings with free will, they are under no obligation to try to avoid changing the past. They should just do what they do and let the chips fall. I’ll add that in the most recent podcast, Darlton said that the original script contained a longer explanation from Daniel about how much they can alther the past. To wit: If they do little things, they’ll change nothing, much like a tiny stone makes a little ripple but has no lasting effect on the stream it’s tossed into; but if they do something huge, they can make a big enough splash to redirect the flow.

-On that same subject, Eloise’s “course-correction” theory and all the chatter about how “the island’s not done with you yet” makes a lot more sense if you take time-travel into account. “The island’s not done with you” could just mean that Eloise (and others) have first-hand experience of those people appearing on the island again. And “course-correction” may not be some cosmic effect so much as Eloise and her band of “whatever happened, happened” zealots hustling their buns off to make sure that the course remains fundamentally the same. If I’m right about this, her “Eh, close enough” Ajira 316 plan doesn’t seem quite so slipshod after all. For years, she’s been putting the pieces in place the best she can, and improvising where necessary. It's like synchronized swimming. Above the water, it looks pretty graceful, but under the water, they’re paddling as fast as they can.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/7/9) (Goethe Week)

If it's the greatest, the highest you seek, the plant can direct you.
Strive to become through your will what, without will, it is.

"Follow the Leader"

A not terribly satisfying episode, nor did I expect it to be (serving as pipe layer for the season finale next week).

Still, full of surprises:

--Eloise Hawking's ready willingness to help Jack complete Faraday's plan to set off the H-Bomb
--Richard Alpert's hand in almost everything, past and present
--Alpert's hobby: constructing ships in bottles [screen cap from DocArzt and Friends]: is this a hint that, as I have long suggested, the ageless one originally came to The Island on The Black Rock?
--Alpert's insistence to Sun that he had seen Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, et al die
--The sudden reappearance of Sayid (and another notch on his gun)
--The burial site of the bomb--beneath New Otherton
--Locke's final disclosure to Ben of his real motive in taking all the Others to Jacob: to kill Jacob.

Bill O'Reilly/Jack Bauer (Heard on "Countdown"

To O'Reilly's recent insistence that he's "a lot like Jack Bauer," Keith Olbermann responds:

Yes, you're both one-dimensional fictional characters.

"Her Smoke Rose Up Forever"

Is my face red? I have lamented for years that James Tiptree's short fiction was out of print only to discover this week that Her Smoke has been in print since 2004 (from Tachyon Publications).

Any collection that has "The Last Flight of Doctor. Ain," "The Screwfly Solution," "A Momentary Taste of Being," and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (along with many others) is worthy of praise.


I have finally seen the Caprica pilot, and I found it impressive indeed. Beautiful, thematically rich, dark, ominous (we are, it seems, about to follow a very human story that leads to the invention of and war with the Cylons--Daniel Graystone's radical monotheistic daughter's consciousness is implanted in the first Centurion), with good performances (I especially liked Essai Morales as Bill Adama's lawyer dad).

Now we have to wait until 2010 for more.

Stephen Celebates Cinco de Mayo in the Time of Swine Flu

Stephen has a piñata in a Hasmet Suit, stuffed with Tamiflu.

Monday, May 04, 2009

SC Meets JJ

I especially liked the interview with the Romulan Stephen Colbert (spelled with a "KH" and twelve apostrophes), who tells JJ that he was a big fan of Felicity--until she cut her hair.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
J.J. Abrams
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFirst 100 Days

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

I don't trust the movies. Why are they trying to lure me into a dark room full of strangers?

Quote of the Day (5/5/09) (Hannah Arendt Week)

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. . . . it brings about consent and reconciliation with things as they are, and . . . we may even trust it to contain eventually by implication that last word which we expect from the day of judgment.
--Hannah Arendt

"Life," "Fringe," "Chuck"

No more Life (shit). More Fringe (not that I care). And Chuck's fate still in doubt (though NBC made it clear at the Upfront it will be separated from the increasingly unwatchable Heroes if it does return--what a shame!)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"The Wrestler"

Finally saw this much-talked-about film last night. Strong beginning and end (yet another Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thelma and Louise, The Sopranos-style ending: fate of character unknown-frozen-in-myth final shot) but a muddled, clichéd middle.

For the record, the Mick was robbed. This was a much stronger performance than Penn in Milk.

Painting of the Week (5/4/09)

Auguste Macke, Man Reading in the Park

Quote of the Day (5/4/09) (Hannah Arendt Week)

[Modern science] has indeed forced the ground of appearances into the open so that man, a creature fitted for and dependent on appearances, can catch hold of it. But the results have been rather perplexing. No man, it has turned out, can live among "causes" or give full account in normal language of a Being whose truth can be scientifically demonstrated in the laboratory and tested practically in the real world through technology. It does look as though Being, once made manifest, overruled appearances except that nobody so far has succeeded in living in a world that does not manifest itself of its own accord.
--Hannah Arendt, Thinking

"Dollhouse" So Far

Fishbiscuit is Not Happy

A posted recap of "The Variable" at DocArzt presents a disconcerting take on the episode.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Quote of the Day (5/3/09) (Hannah Arendt Week)

Such feelings have been commonplace for some time now. They show that men everywhere are by no means slow to catch up and adjust to scientific discoveries and technical development, but that, on the contrary, they have outsped them by decades. Here, as in other respects, science has realized and affirmed what men anticipated in dreams that were neither wild nor idle. What is new is only that one of this country's most respectable newspapers finally brought to its front page what up to then had been buried in the highly nonrespectable literature of science-fiction. . . . The banality of the statement should not make us overlook how extraordinary in fact it was; for although Christians have spoken of the earth as a prison of mind or soul, nobody in the history of mankind has ever conceived of the earth as a prison of men's bodies or shown such eagerness to go literally from here to the moon. Should the emancipation and secularization of the modern age, which began with a turning-away, not necessarily from God, but from a god who was the father of men in heaven, end with an even more fateful repudiation of an earth who was the mother of all living creatures under the sky?

The earth is the very quintessence of the human condition, and earthly nature, for all we know, may be unique in the universe in providing human beings with a habitat in which they move and breathe without effort and without artifice. The human artifice of the world separates human existence from all mere animal environment, but life itself is outside this artificial world, and through life remains related to all other living organisms. For some time now, a great many scientific endeavors have been directed toward making life also "artificial," toward cutting the last tie through which man belongs among the children of nature. . . . There is no reason to doubt our abilities to accomplish such an exchange, just as there is no reason to doubt our present ability to destroy all organic life on earth. . . .
--Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

10x (2)

I explained the meaning to me of 10x passages here.

Here is another, from the ecologist David Ehrenfeld (written in response to Chernobyl and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger:

The overwhelming reality of space is that it is, for us, for the foreseeable future and perhaps forever, utterly lifeless, bleak, and empty. Nor do we have the ability to make it otherwise, except on paper or on the television screen. We live in the world where we arose, completely suited by God, evolution, or both, to its conditions. Unless we abuse it terribly, it keeps us alive even if we forget about it or ignore it. When our created systems malfunction, as they always do sooner or later, the earth is still there to hold us and keep us while we tinker with our broken creations. In space, when the rockets misfire, when the O rings and backup O rings fail, when the captain loses his mind, or when the waste-purifying algae develop a disease, as they all must sooner or later, then the story is over. If we could create a truly complete life support system to sustain us in space, then we would have created the earth.
--David Ehrenfeld, "The Lesson of the Tower"

"Full of Secrets"

I just received a copy of my first television book, Full of Secrets, in the mail from Wayne State U P.

It has gone into its 7th printing.


Ken Tucker has a very good brief piece on Bones in the new EW. Best observation:

By now, however, anyone coming to Bones (new viewer or old faithful) might be struck by how little the cases, the plots, actually matter. Half the time the episode's murder seems to be an excuse to make light jokes, banter, and maneuver Bones and Booth ever closer to more-than-smoochy intimacy. I mean this as a compliment: A thousand other shows are all about the crime solving—Bones stands out as TV's most dependable romantic screwball comedy.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Burying the Lead

TWoP has an intriguing list of 10 lead television characters they want to get rid of. Needless to say, it's intended to be provocative. Getting rid of Betty (Ugly Betty), Meredith (Grey's Anatomy), or Ted (How I Met Your Mother) would certainly be controversial, if not suicidal, to say the least.

Here's one I certainly agree with:

8. Damages' Ellen Parsons
We gave her the benefit of the doubt the first season, but Season 2 made it pretty clear that Rose Byrne is out of her acting league on this show. And even if she weren't, we're sick of the character. The Frobisher case is beyond over, Patty's admitted she tried to have her killed -- every compelling loose end in Ellen's storyline has been tied up. We'd love to see a third season centered solely around Patty and Tom Shayes paying off judges and blackmailing hookers for testimony instead of Ellen's David hallucinations and Patty hatred. But that's just us.

Quote of the Day (5/2/09) (Hannah Arendt Week)

The common and the ordinary must remain our primary concern, the daily food of our thought if only because it is from them that the uncommon and the extraordinary emerge, and not from matters that are difficult and sophisticated.
--Hannah Arendt


OMG! Alpha is Alan Tudyk!

Stacey Abbott's "Angel"

I read Stacey Abbott's monograph on Angel in draft when I was writing my book on Joss Whedon but only acquired an actual copy today.

What a brilliant book it is, from one of the best television and film scholars now writing. Must reading for anybody interested in Whedon. Go to Slayage's Whedonverses Bookstore to order it from Amazon.