Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spider-Pope

After Benedict's encounter with a spider last week, Stephen contemplates what might have happened if his popeness had been bitten--and if the arachnid had been radioactive.

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Quote of the Day (9/30/09) (Movie Week)

A strange thing has happened—while all the other arts were born naked, this, the youngest, has been born fully-clothed. It can say everything before it has anything to say. It is as if the savage tribe, instead of finding two bars of iron to play with, had found scattering the seashore fiddles, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, grand pianos by Erhard and Bechstein, and had begun with incredible energy, but without knowing a note of music, to hammer and thump upon them all at the same time.
--Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conan's Concussion

I hit my head so hard that for five seconds, I understood the plot of Lost.
--Conan O'Brien, reporting his accident on The Tonight Show, 9/28/09

A "Curb" Masterpiece

Watched this week's new Curb Your Enthusiasm on DVR last night, and "Vehicular Fellatio" was one of the show's all-time greats. Amelie Gillette nailed its brilliance well on the Onion TV Club:

The best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm are a complete full circle, meaning that they'll start at the top with a joke (Larry's primal scream of frustration at trying to open the vacuum-sealed packaging), a seemingly unrelated goal (Larry wants to break up with Loretta "Do you know what it's like to have cancer?" Black), and another seemingly unrelated idea (vehicular fellatio, as introduced by Richard Lewis and his new girlfriend), but by the end of the episode we've gone all the way around in such a way that all three have somehow merged and we've ended up exactly where we started—in this case with Larry's primal scream of frustration at trying to free the exacto knife from its vacuum-sealed packaging. Few lines are wasted. Even the throwaway jokes are hilarious. Episodes like these are a thing to behold—worthy of a vacuum-sealed package to preserve the comedy freshness, but of course those packages are a bitch to open.


Next week, we're on to the Seinfeld reunion.

Quote of the Day (9/29/09) (Movie Week)

You will see that this little clicking contraption with the revolving handle will make a revolution in our life in the life of writers. It is a direct attack on the old methods of literary art. We shall have to adapt ourselves to the shadowy screen and to the cold machine. A new form of writing will be necessary. I have thought of that and I can feel what is coming. But I rather like it. The swift change of scene, this blending of emotion and experience it is much better than the heavy, long-drawn-out kind of writing to which we are accustomed. It is closer to life. In life, too, change and transitions flash by before our eyes, and emotions of the soul are like a hurricane. The cinema has divined the mystery of motion. And that is greatness.
--Leo Tolstoi

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quote of the Day (9/28/09) (Movie 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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quote of the Day (9/27/09) (Movie Week)

Film is more than the twentieth-century art. It’s another part of the twentieth-century mind. It’s the world seen from inside. We’ve come to a certain point in the history of film. If a thing can be filmed, the film is implied in the thing itself. This is where we are. The twentieth century is on film. . . . You have to ask yourself if there’s anything about us more important than the fact that we’re constantly on film, constantly watching ourselves.
--Don DeLillo

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quote of the Day (9/26/09) (Movie Week)

How do movies reproduce the world magically? Not by literally presenting us with the world, but by permitting us to view it unseen. This is not a wish for power over creation (as Pygmalion's was), but a wish not to need power, not to have to bear its burdens. It is, in this sense, the reverse of the myth of Faust. And the wish for invisibility is old enough. Gods have profited from it, and Plato tells it at the end of the Republic as the Myth of the Ring of Gyges. In viewing films, the sense of invisibility is an expression of modern privacy or anonymity. It as though the world's projection explains our forms of unknownness and our inability to know. The explanation is not so much that the world is passing us by, as that we are displaced from our natural habitation within it, placed at a distance from it. The screen overcomes our fixed distance; it makes displacement appear as our natural condition.
--Stanley Cavell

Friday, September 25, 2009

Racism and the Charge of "Communist:"

This photo from the Civil Rights Era, posted by Andrew Sullivan, speaks volumes about the debate over whether the charges that Obama is a Commie are racist.

Quote of the Day (9/25/09) (Movie Week)

And then we have the camera eye, its lenses ground to achieve 19th-century Western compositional perspective . . . in bending the light and limiting the frame of the image just so, its standard camera and projector speed for recording movement geared to the feeling of the ideal slow Viennese waltz, and even its tripod head, being the neck it swings on, balled with bearings to permit it that Les Sylphides motion (ideal to the contemplative romantic and restricted to horizontal and vertical movements (pillars and horizon lines) a diagonal requiring a major adjustment, its lenses coated or provided with filters, its light meters balanced, and its color film manufactured to produce that picture post card effect (salon painting) exemplified by those of so blue skies and peachy skins.
--Stan Brakhage

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mankind v. Earth

Aasif Mandvi investigates our war with the planet:

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"Free to Be You and Me"


Tonight's Supernatural rocked. Dean, certain Castiel will die (again) in their coming encounter with the Archangel Raphael, taking him to a whorehouse to get him laid (not wanting the former/quasi-Angel to die a virgin), was probably the highlight.

But we learned from Raphael that God has been gone for the entire 20th Century (off on some kind of vision quest or just deus absconditas). How else to explain the century's horrors, the archangel wants to know.

And at episode's end, Lucifer makes his first appearance--to Sam, informing him that the younger Winchester boy is his real vessel on Earth. Why the one he's in now, the Mark Pelligrino model, is in danger of spontaneously combusting: he needs the Padalecki meat suit.

This season is going to be a helluva ride.

Glenn Beck's Origins

Phoenix, 1986 . . .

Quote of the Day (9/24/09) (Movie Week)

[The neo-realists] are concerned to make cinema the asymptote of reality but in order that it should ultimately be life itself that becomes spectacle, in order that life might in this perfect mirror be visible poetry, be the self into which film finally changes it.
--Andre Bazin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Lost" 6.1-6.4

The titles of the first four hours of the final season are now known.

6.1-2 (Episodes 103-104): LA X

6.3 (Episode 105): What Kate Does

6.4 (Episode 106): The Substitute

Going Postal

"Man admits lifting 3012 Netflix DVDs from Massachusetts mail facility"--The Smoking Gun has the story.

When I worked at the PO as a college student (1968) in Oil City, PA, a guy on the night shift stole himself a Playboy every month.

The Return of "Dexter"

Quote of the Day (9/23/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

Descartes' skepticism had driven a wedge between spiritual and material substance, dissociating intellect from nature and giving the former priority over the latter. The consequent tyranny over life by the mind, and it amounted to nothing less than that, produced, over the course of several centuries, the commonly observed disproportionate progress between scientific and technological achievements and moral development. It also produced what is probably history's greatest irony--man, who had come to feel himself a stranger in the world, outdid nature, creating with his intelligence and supposedly in his own image, an even more strange and estranging environment. Given hegemony, the mind legislated a universe and created a social world compatible with itself--abstract, logical, and mechanical--but uncongenial to emotion, passion, and spirit. With man's interior life so alienated from the external world, the mind so abstracted from organic process, the head and the heart became bitter foes, with the head, the favored and the aggressor, refusing to sanction the heart's aspirations or provide it with a confirming environment. Impotent and passive, deeply imprisoned in a cold world, an inert body, and dull senses, the spirit . . . was forced to regard itself either contemptuously, as without nobility or meaning, or with melancholy, and then preciously nurse its sorrowful longing to return to its home in a remote heaven. Unable to get moral support from the mind and so be valued, there was nothing in this world for the spirit to live by or for; and with nothing to hope for but release and Christianity receding, so no place to be released to, it was impotent. Descartes' dualism, stopping up the springs of spiritual life with matter and mechanism, destroyed the spirit's freedom, and the mind, unwilling to believe in the spirit, even went so far as to demand its death.
--W. R. Robinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poetry of the Act

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Agent Harris


Was that the lovely Agent Harris (Matt Servitto) I just saw in a Healthy Request Soup ad? The FBI gig didn't work out for him?

"Are Web Series the Future of TV?"

Carl Franzen considers the question.

Quote of the Day (9/22/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

Reality is a restless, aspiring energy, pressing relentlessly forward. Such a reality, needless to say, is a haven for the poet and poetry; everything that poetry is, everything that it can do, is not simply tolerated but encouraged and valued because reality is itself an artist, having a persistent urge to create greater and higher forms of order, realization, and significance.
--W. R. Robinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poetry of the Act

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dr. Horrible Crashes the Emmy Awards

This will probably be pulled down soon.

Quote of the Day (9/21/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

The desire to escape from heaviness is so fundamental and universal a passion that it pervades everything man does and may even be the major moving force behind his culture and history. Certainly, he has cultivated the various intellectual disciplines in order to transcend his necessity, in the hope that he could 'choose himself.' Religion has always been devoted to making man free through liberating the soul from spiritual ignorance or guilt. while science has been employed to equip man from with a powerful knowledge capable of freeing him from nature. The arts in general, the movies included, are a part of man's intellectual armament in this war to liberate himself form heaviness, but they serve in a distinctive capacity. Like religion and science, art frees man's consciousness from the pragmatic pressures of living for a moment's respite to meditate upon isolated qualities before he plunges again into the stream of life. But whereas religious dogma focuses upon the conceptual truths of the spirit and science upon those of nature, art, a conjunction of spirit and nature, takes moral truth as its province. In effect, its discovers or creates values; by incarnating the Good, a spiritual entity, in a concrete form, art frees it to be.
--W. R. Robinson, "The Movie, Too, Will Make You Free"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Liane Hansen Interviews Joss

From NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday."

"I'm Such a Shitty Senator"

Baucus finally owns up to it in an editorial in The Onion.

Quote of the Day (9/20/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

Western man . . . has been dedicated to narrating the truth about his world and himself for 500 years. Thus narrative has been his presiding interest, instrument, and discipline in the development of his culture and the individual's growth over the course of this period of time. In effect, Western man in his modern phase is a narrator caught up in the adventure of getting the story of motion right so that he can act out his life to its proper completeness.
--W. R. Robinson, "The Movies as a Revolutionary Moral Force"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quote of the Day (9/19/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

It is now commonly recognized that art is a closer analogue to reality than logic, the imagination's method a closer imitation of nature than reason's. And among the arts, obviously the movies, an art of light, emanate from greater depths within the living center than any other art in a universe of light. The essence of words, the mass of sculpture, the harmonies of tones--these modes, for example, are aesthetic epigones in such a universe. The advantage of the movies places them on the frontier of moral history, and so to them we must go if we are to know ourselves and exist in our time.
--W. R. Robinson, "Making Sense of the Movies"

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Concentrated Stupidity" at the DC Tea Party

The very notion of a democracy is predicated on a universally educated electorate. Here they are. (This is like an apocalyptic version of Leno's "Jay Walking.")

"Lost"/"Supernatural" Crossovers


Last week we met the man who will become Satan's "meat suit" for the coming Armageddon on Season Five of Supernatural, played by Lost's Jacob, Mark Pallegrino.

Last night's "Good God, Y'All" introduced us to one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, War (aka Roger), played by, wait for it, none other than Jacob's nemesis/the man in black, Titus Welliver.

The Truth Behind "You Lie"

Courtesy of NBC's SNL's "Weekend Update."

Quote of the Day (9/18/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

Some time ago, John Crowe Ransom observed that image possess 'a primordial freshness, which idea can never claim. An idea is derivative and tame . . . the image with its character beaten out of it . . . The image, on the other hand, which is not remarkable in any property, is marvelous in its assemblage of many properties, a manifold of properties, like a mine or field . . . in its original state of freedom, in their panoply of circumstances and with their morning freshness upon them,' images are 'a plenum of qualities,' 'sharp of edges,' 'given and nonnegotiable,' 'pure exhibit,' 'so whole and clean that resist the catalyses of thought'. Never anything but an image, and so always a direct extension of the properties of images, Juliet exemplifies these qualities singled out by Ransom. But in her willing espousal of these qualities, she further allows what Ransom could not because of his verbal bias as a poet--that the image is alive, active, plastic, and one, that the image, in sum, passes the creation, including its creative potency, through it intact. It is with this realization that she steps across the threshold of the new human possibility into the new world and the spiritual adventure of our time. . . . Necessarily a creation herself and creatively intact to operate in that capacity, in performing as a vehicle of creative energy she is free, pure potential in a universe of possibility.
--W. R. Robinson, "If You Don't See You're Dead: The Immediate Encounter with the Image in Hiroshima Mon Amour and Juliet of the Spirits"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Endless Impossibilities"

I had posted already about the Fringe Season 2 poster, but only now caught the clever, enticing tagline: "Endless Impossibilities." Cool. Hope they aren't just teasing us.

Alan Ball Talks "True Blood" (Major Spoilers)



Ausiello has the interview about the S2 finale and things to come.

Quote of the Day (9/17/09) (W. R. Robinson Week)

In a world of light and a light world--unanalyzable, uninterpretable, without substance or essence, meaning or direction--being and non-being magically breed existence. Out of the darkness and chaos of the theater beams a light; out of nothingness is generated brilliant form, existence suspended somewhere between the extremes of total darkness and total light. Performing its rhythmic dance to energy's tune, the movie of the imagination proves, should there be any doubt, that cinema, an art of light, contributes more than any other art today to fleshing out the possibilities for good within an imaginative universe.
--W. R. Robinson, "The Movies, Too, Will Make You Free"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Free at Last! Joss Speaks to Sci-Fi Wire

Sci-Fi Wire interviews Joss. Biggest news item: FOX is going to leave Dollhouse in the hands of the master with little or no interference. Welcome news indeed.

Thanks to Alyson Buckman.

Dr. H Wins!

Not sure how I missed this earlier. Nor how something that has never been on TV can win an Emmy.

Breaking News Regarding Godzilla

The Onion has the story.

"BBT" S2

I am watching all of Season Two of Big Bang Theory in one fell swoop in preparation for S3 next week.

Might be the wittiest show ever, and Jim Parsons should (must) get the Emmy.

Here's an hilarious moment from the Christmas 2008 episode ("The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis") that captures the show's comic DNA pefectly in one moment of intertextuality hilarity.

Quote of the Day (9/16/09) (America Week)

America is striving to win power over the sum total of things, complete and absolute mastery of nature in all its aspects. . . . To occupy God's place, to repeat his deeds, to recreate and organize a man-made cosmos according to man-made laws of reason, foresight and efficiency: that is America's ultimate objective. . . . It destroys whatever is primitive, whatever grows in disordered profusion or evolved through patient mutation.
--Robert Jungk, Tomorrow is Already Here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wise Choice for "Dollhouse"

Leland Palmer on "Dollhouse"! Ray Wise (aka the Swamp Thing, aka Satan) is going to be on a Joss Whedon show!

Ausiello has the news.

Whedon is an admirer of Twin Peaks, so this is not surprising at all.

The Iranian "Lost"

So Lost will air in Tehran? With some censorship.

The Guardian has the story.

I Want One!

Got to get me one of these.

Dog Umwelts


Interesting post from dog-lover Andrew Sullivan this morning.

I need to read this book: Alexandra Horowitz’s Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. I find it fascinating that she uses "umwelt," Jacob von Uexkull's term for the perceptual world of an animal. For more on umwelts, see my "Everything Is Trying to Hide Us: Rilke's Poetics of Mimicry."

Quote of the Day (9/15/09) (America Week)

A character in Evelyn Waugh's Put Out More Flags said that the difference between prewar and postwar life was that, prewar, if one thing went wrong the day was ruined; postwar, if one thing went right the day would be made. America is a prewar country, psychologically unprepared for one thing to go wrong.
--Anthony Burgess, "Is America Falling Apart?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

"King Lear" Comes to Obama's America

I am teaching King Lear on the morrow, and found this speech of Albany's strangely relevant in understanding the contemporary political scene:

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
Filths savour but themselves. . . .
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.

Dangerous Cookies

The Wait, Wait folk could not contain themselves yeterday ("Pepperidge Perils") laughing at this report from the UK on the hazards of eating biscuits (British for cookies).

Spotted Richard?


So a council in Wales has formally changed the name of the infamous British pudding?

"You Lie!" (Or Your Photo Does)


The Tea Party was not as big as a widely circulated photo (of another event, at another time, on DC's National Mall--sans the National Museum of the American Indian). Read the article on PolitiFact.

Quote of the Day (9/14/09) (America Week)

Someone once wrote a definition of the difference between English and American humor. . . . He said that the English treat the commonplace as if it were remarkable and the Americans treat the remarkable as if it were commonplace.
--James Thurber

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Judging "In & Out"


On Studio 360 the gay screenwriter and film critic (as Libby Gelman-Waxner) Paul Rudnick relates a story from his new memoir about a test screening of the film In & Out, which he wrote. (The film is, of course, about a popular high school theatre teacher who is outed on national television by a former student.)


One questionaire, which he still treasures, had glowing things to say: the respondent said she laughed, cried, and loved the film. But to the question whether she would recommend it to others, she answered emphatically "No." Asked why, she replied that the movie was against god's law.

15,762


The number of episodes in the entire run of Guiding Light when it ends this week.

Heard on "Wait, Wait" (from Peter Sagal)

At Obama's speech to both houses of Congress:

The entire Alabama delegation whipped off their shirts to reveal the word 'Muslim' written across their chests.--Peter Sagal


On the new Beatles Rock Band game:

There are already pirated versions of Beatles Rock Band with similar music but not nearly as good. It's called 'Wings Rock Band.'

Quote of the Day (9/13/09) (America Week)

I think that in no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States. . . . in most of the operations of mind, each American appeals only to the individual effort of his own understanding.

America is therefore one of the countries where the precepts of Descartes are least studied, and are best applied. Nor is this surprising. The Americans do not read the work of Descartes, because their social conditions deter them from speculative studies; but they follow his maxims, because this same social condition naturally disposes their minds to adopt them. In the midst of the continual movement which agitates a democratic community, the tie which unites one generation to another is relaxed or broken; every man there readily loses all trace of the ideas of his forefathers, or takes no care about them. . . . Americans are constantly brought back to their own reason as the obvious and proximate source of truth. It is not only confidence in his fellow man which is destroyed, but the disposition for trusting the authority of any man whatsoever. Every one shuts himself up in his own breast, and affects from that point to judge the world.
--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Heard on Conan ("In the Future")

Brett Favre last second Super Bowl winning touchdown will be disallowed when replays show that he retired before reaching the goal line.

Longing for Joe's 2nd Coming


A photo (via Andrew Sullivan) from today's march on Washington.

As someone whose (possibly) earliest memory is my Republican Uncle Don calling my labor union Democrat dad a communist during the first McCarthy error, this photo fills me with terror.

Does this A-hole know that virtually every word that came out of McCarthy's mouth was made-up? Perfect example of Marx's first time as history, second time as farce. (Did I just quote a communist?)

The Right Has Not Changed

Glenn Greenwald (in Salon) makes a compelling (and depressing) case that the insanity of the right has been with us for longer than we want to remember.

Quote of the Day (9/12/09) (America Week)

Americans continually find themselves in the position of having killed someone to avoid sharing a meal which turns out to be too large to eat alone.
--Philip Slater, Earthwalk

Friday, September 11, 2009

Castiel is Alive ("Supernatural" Spoiler Warning)

Rewatching Supernatural 5.1, I have figured something out: Castiel was killed and is now alive. How?

Kripke has revealed that we will meet God this season and that he is now in the world. I suspect it is God who has brought Castiel back as his right-hand-man.

Is Season Five going to have a deus ex machina as Sam, Dean, Bobby and humankind do battle with Lucifer and his minions?

Heard on "Supernatural"


Bobby: That's Michael, the toughest son-of-a-bitch they have.
Dean (looking at Guido Reni's rendering--on the left--of the archangel in a book): He looks like Cate Blanchett.

"You Lie!"

Andy Borowitz has the report.

South Carolina Pride



Tip of the Hat to Rachel Lavery

Quote of the Day (9/11/09) (America Week)

American life is a powerful solvent.
--George Santayana

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lindsey Graham is an Indecisive Dick

God TV (Spoiler Warning)

In TV Guide's Fall "returning shows" preview, Eric Kripke reveals that God will be a character in this year's Supernatural. I assume he will be played by Morgan Freeman or George Burns.

Heard on Conan

Obama spoke to schoolchildren encouraging them to study hard and work hard. Tomorrow former President Bush will give the rebuttal.
--Conan O'Brien, The Tonight Show (close paraphrase, 9/9/09)

Quote of the Day (9/10/09) (America Week)

The commonly accepted notion that Americans are materialists is pure bunk. A materialist is one who loves material, a person devoted to the enjoyment of the physical and immediate present. By this definition, most Americans are abstractionists. They hate material, and convert it as swiftly as possible into mountains of junk and clouds of poisonous gas. As a people, our ideal is to have a future, and so long as this is true we shall never have a present.
--Alan Watts, Does It Matter?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Quote of the Day (9/9/09) (Music Week)

But that music is a language by whose means messages are elaborated, that such messages can be understood by the many, but sent out only by the few, and that it alone among all the languages unites the contradictory character of being at once intelligible and untranslatable, these facts make the creator of music a being like the gods and make music itself the supreme mystery of human knowledge. All other branches of knowledge stumble into it, it holds the key to their progress.
--Claude Levi-Strauss

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

IKEA's Change of Font

The furor over IKEA's font change--from Futura to Verdana--hits close to home. For years, Verdana has been my default font. I was interested to learn from the Guardian article that Verdana was designed for clear visibility on computer screens.

Quote of the Day (9/7/09) (Music Week)

The sound of music is not, like the sound of words, opposed, but rather parallel to silence.

It is as though the sounds of music were being driven over the surface of silence.

Music is silence, which in dreaming begins to sound.

Silence is never more audible than when the last sound of music has died away.
--Max Picard, The World of Silence

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Pope is an Idiot

This is why I'm a lapsed Catholic.

The Coen Brothers' First Movie?


On one of the special features of Burn After Reading, I learned from the movies' greatest practitioners of "cine-mendacity" that Burn was not their first Washington, DC-based film.

As pre-teens they had produced their own version of Advise and Consent.

For more on the Coens' inspired lying, see

“’Secret Shit’: The Uncertainty Principle, Lying, Deviance, and the Movie Creativity of the Coen Brothers.” Post Script 27.2 2008): 141-153.

Quote of the Day (9/6/09) (Music Week)

The thoughts expressed by music are not too vague for words, but too precise.
--Felix Mendelssohn

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Quote of the Day (9/5/09) (Music Week)

In conventional history/progress thinking, the complexity and quality of music have steadily grown in the course of cultural evolution from something repetitive and simple like the Kalahari bushman's plucking his bowstring to the symphonies of the nineteenth century. But a very different view is possible. Suzanne Langer observes that "the great office of music is to . . . give us insight into . . . the subjective unity of experience" by using the principle of physical biology: rhythm. Its physiological effect is to reduce inner tensions by first making them symbolically manifest, then resolving and unifying them. . . . One interpretation is that the more complex the music, the more fundamental the problem; or, one might say, the more elaborate the music, the more fragmented the vision of the world. Composer and musician Paul Winter has said that we are now habituated to an overstructured format, especially in so-called classical music, from which we need to escape into a more informal extemporaneous performance and audition. But if, indeed, music is a kind of final refuge serving to hold things together, this might be impossible in modern life.
--Paul Shepard, Nature and Madness

Friday, September 04, 2009

On the Cover of the "Rolling Stone"

Rachel in Costa Rica

My daughter and Neel Dhingra, on vacation.



I want to go to Costa Rica!

Sharing the Road

So I am sitting at a red light this afternoon in Murfreesboro behind a jacked-up red pick-up with 1) a Confederate Flag and 2) an Obama as The Joker/Heath Ledger) decorating its rear end.

My fellow American.

Quote of the Day (9/4/09) (Music Week)

I am electrical by nature. Music is the electric soil in which the spirit lives, thinks, and invents.
--Ludwig von Beethoven

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Health Care Reform Now

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this everywhere.

Quote of the Day (9/3/09) (Music Week)

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
--Elvis Costello

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Kennedy Curse

Leave it to The Onion to blaspheme.

Remember Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas? The Onion, day in and day out, refuses to accept any accepted ideas, any sacrosanct notion.

Teaching the Coens


It's official: I will be offering a course on the Coen Brothers in the Spring:

ENGL 4860: "The Coen Brothers," W 6:00-9:00 (Peck Hall 308)

The beginning of a syllabus can be found here.

Kripke Hedges

Ausiello has the details.

The Palin Pregnancy

Well well. Not surprisingly Andrew Sullivan pounced on Levi's surprising revelation in Vanity Fair.

Quote of the Day (9/2/09) (Music Week)

Music is the best solace if for no other reason than because it doesn’t make new words. Even when it is set to words, its own magic prevails and snuffs out the danger of the words. It is purest, however, when playing for itself. One believes it absolutely, for its assurance is one of the feelings. Its course is freer than anything else that seems humanly possible, and this freedom contains its redemption. The more densely populated the world and the more machine-like the formation of life, the more indispensable music has to become. There will come a time when music alone will provide a way of slipping through the tight meshes of functions; leaving music as a powerful and uninfluenced reservoir of freedom must be accounted the most important task of intellectual life in the future. Music is the truly living history of humanity, of which otherwise we would only have dead parts. . . .
--Elias Canetti, The Human Province

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

"Zone" Two

About 70% of the way through the second season of Twilight Zone, and I am finding it substantially weaker than Season One: less subtle, less imaginative, more offbeat than mind-blowing.

There are, of course, some episodes to praise: "Back There" (can Lincoln's assassination be prevented by a time-traveler?), "The Invaders" (a giant Agnes Moorehead takes a hatchet to an American flying saucer), "The Odyssey of Flight 33" (a jetliner accelerates uncontrollably and finds itself ready to land in prehistoric New York).

But the decline in overall quality is apparent.

"Think Progress" on Reading "M-D"

Matthew Yglesias makes the case.

Quote of the Day (9/1/09) (Words Week)

The mobile and the immobile flickering
In the area between is and was are leaves,
Leaves burnished in the autumnal burnished trees

And leaves in whirlings in the gutters, whirlings
Around and away, resembling the presence of thought,
Resembling the presences of thoughts, as if,

In the end, in the whole psychology, the self,
The town, the weather, in a casual litter,
Together, said words of the world are the life of the world.
--Wallace Stevens, "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven"