Monday, November 30, 2009

The Wit and Wisdom of Don Draper

First Roger Sterling, now Don Draper.

Quote of the Day (11/30/09) (Longing Week)

In the Egelgasse my emotion reached its climax. In the pond inverted clouds were mirrored. Secret pulsation of the still snow, like breathing in one's sleep. Old trees. The impression of a controlled passion. My portrait. Motions stirs an impulse to act in me, an impulse to experience first. My yearning to wander away, into a springtime. Far out into the land. Away. Ever onward.
--Paul Klee

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stopping Steven Spielberg

Matt Sigl sends a "cease and desist" letter. Hilariously spot on.

Tip of the Hat: Andrew Sullivan

Quote of the Day (11/29/09) (Longing Week)

If I must cross every skyline to find out what is beyond, I shall never appreciate the true depth of sky between trees upon the ridge of a hill. If I must map the canyons and count the trees I shall never enter into the sound of a hidden waterfall. If I must explore and investigate every trail, that path which vanishes into the forest far up on the mountainside will be found at last to lead merely back to the suburbs. To the mind which pursues every road to its end, every road leads nowhere. To abstain is not to postpone the cold disillusionment of the true facts but to see that one arrives by staying rather than going, that to be forever looking beyond is to remain blind to what is here.
--Alan Watts, Nature, Man, and Woman

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quote of the Day (11/28/09) (Longing Week)

Behold now the hope and desire of going back to one's own country or returning to primal chaos, like that of the moth to the light, of the man who with perpetual longing always looks forward with joy to each new spring and each new summer, and to the new months and the new years, deeming that the things he longs for are too slow in coming; and who does not perceive that he is longing for his own destruction. But this longing is in its quintessence the spirit of the elements, which finding itself imprisoned within the life of the human body desires continually to return to its source.

And I would have you to know that this same longing is in its quintessence inherent in nature, and that man is a type of the world.
--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Sons of Anarchy"

After hearing good things about it (in Alan Sepinwall's blog, for example), I decided to check SOA out. What attracted me the most was the often-repeated suggestions that it is the heir to The Shield--created, after all, by Shield writer/EP Kurt Sutter.

Everything they said is true. Yet another powerfully engaging series, with the sort of complex, not-easily-identified-with characters only a long-term television narrative can offer. Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal are, in particular, compelling in the Tony and Carmela roles.

Roger That

Roger Corman has received an Oscar! About time. The Guardian (UK) calls its report "Revenge of the Schlockmeister."

Hat tip to Jonathan Lampley.

Quote of the Day (11/27/09) (Longing Week)

To end the eternal conflict between our self and the world, to restore the peace that passeth understanding, to unite ourselves with nature so as to form one endless whole that is the goal of all strivings.
--Friedrich Holderlin

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Quote of the Day (11/26/09) (Longing Week)

As soon as the primitive's astonished eye perceives the dawning world of ordered extension, and the significant emerges in great outlines from the welter of mere impressions, and the irrevocable parting of outer world from his proper, his inner, world gives form and direction to his waking life, there arises in the soul instantly conscious of its loneliness the root-feeling of longing. . . . It is this that urges "becoming" toward its goal, that motives the fulfillment and actualizing of every upward possibility, that unfolds the idea of individual being. It is the child's longing, which will presently come into the consciousness more and more clearly as a feeling of constant direction and finally stand before the mature spirit as the enigma of Time, queer, tempting, insoluble. Suddenly, the words "past" and "future" have acquired a fateful meaning.
--Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

School Dream

One of my Modern American Poetry students had a dream in which I appeared, and I asked her to record it for posterity.

And she did--appropriately in a poem. Here is "Taffeta Chime's" dream poem. You will find her website here.

School Dream

I'm sick,
barely able to make it
through Drama,
and walking across campus
in wet socks.
The thought of skipping your class
sounds blissful.
I'll draft an email—later.
In my apartment
I find my tortured classmates
crammed inside.
"A change of venue,"
you chirp
"Peck can be so dull,
and this is just
so lively!"
I moan
shuffle to my bed
and faceplant my pillow
still in wet socks.
Hours later, conscious again,
I moan
shuffle from my bed—
But you
still coursing and discoursing
pause to ponder why
I look like a zombie?
I'm sick.
everyone else feels remorse for
invading my sanctuary
But you
you query,
"Have you any herbal tea?"

Some dread dreams
of falling or
nakedness or
Not me!
Dr Lavery, wet socks, and herbal tea.

Quote of the Day (11/25/09) (Earth Week)

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"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Facts About Pot

OMG. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Time-Lapse--an Extraordinary Compendium

Time-Lapse Favs from Chad Richard on Vimeo.

Quote of the Day (11/24/09) (Earth Week)

Earth, how you must hate man, your torturing, inconsiderate exploiter! Man who thinks he is carrying out your will when he devastates and consumes you, deceptively occupied by his ulterior motive of abandoning you! Man who plunders for himself your saved-up treasures, breaks you open, exploits and poisons you, while he increases immeasurably, spreads out at the expense of everything else, until he becomes the annihilator of his own race.
--Artur Lundkvist, The Talking Tree

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dark Willow Returns (on "How I Met Your Mother")

On tonight's HIMYM ("Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap"), it was almost as if Dark Willow had returned. The surprise appearance of Lily (Alyson Hanigan's) derelict dad (Chris Elliott) had the Willow-look-alike flashing back to all of those previously "dead to her" and her red-eyed obliteration of each hated individual.

Compare Dark Willow

to Dead-to-Me Lily:

Quote of the Day (11/23/09) (Earth Week)

There is no uncannier notion than that of the abandoned earth, abandoned by human beings. People tend to think they emigrate, if for no other reason than to take along their memory of the earth. They could never be as well off as here. Far reaching instruments would have to enable them to observe the world but without recognizing what they have lost, an inexhaustible homeland, and the false religion to which they have to ascribe this loss would already have been traded in, far too late, for another. One can assume that this new religion would be the right one; had it come in time, it would have saved the earth for mankind.
--Elias Canetti, The Human Province

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Chuck" Back

More great news! Chuck's return date is now January 10, with the series settling into its normal Monday slot on January 11.

Move The Island!

Wonderful news!

Lost is moving to Tuesday evenings, 9 pm EST/8 pm CST--starting February 2 (a two part episode).

This is welcome news because I am scheduled to teach my Coen Brothers course on Wednesday and would have been watching Lost's final season on DVR.

A Text Book

Collaborating with Trisha Dunleavy (U Victoria, Wellington, NZ), Scott Diffrient (Colorado State), and Steven Peacock (U Hertfordshire, UK), I have been developing a major television text book, and we are now hopeful of being offered a contract by a major publisher. Stay tuned. We should know within a few weeks, and I will then offer more details here.

"St. Sarah of Wasilla"

This piece by David Benjamin is one of the most brilliant things yet done on Palin.

Quote of the Day (11/22/09) (Earth 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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Roger Sterling

The white-haired one's best wit and wisdom.

Quote of the Day (11/21/09) (Earth Week)

The Earth . . . which is not in motion like objective bodies, but not at rest either, since we cannot see what it could be "tacked on" to . . . is the "soil" or "stem" of our thought as it is of life. We shall certainly be able to move it or carry it back when we inhabit other planets, but the reason we shall is that then we shall have enlarged our native soil. We cannot do away with it. As the Earth is by definition one, all soil we tread upon becoming simultaneously a province of it, the living beings with whom the sons of the Earth will be able to communicate will simultaneously become meaner if you prefer, terrestrial men will become variants of a more general human community which will remain one. The Earth is the matrix of our time as it is of our space. Every constructed notion of time presupposes our proto-history as carnal being co-present to a single world. Every evocation of possible worlds refers to a way of seeing our own world. Every possibility is a variant of our reality, an effective possibility of reality. . . .
--Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Friday, November 20, 2009

LOST: The Conference

An international conference on LOST, co-convened by moi and Lynnette Porter (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University), will be held in Hawaii, January 12-15th, 2011. LOST: The Conference will take place conjointly with The Hawaiian International Conference on the Arts & Humanities. We are deeply indebted to Darren Garvey and the folks at HICAH.

A steering committee is already in place to advise in developing and organizing the conference: the co-conveners Sean O’Sullivan, Ohio State University and Project Narrative; Joyce Millman, American Television Critic; Nikki Stafford, writer and blogger, Toronto, Canada; Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham (UK) Paul Levinson, Fordham University; Angela Ndalianis, University of Melbourne (Aus) Trisha Dunleavy, University of Victoria, Wellington (NZ).

As with the series, many questions remain unanswered: Who will be the featured speakers? Don't know yet, but we certainly hope we can arrange for major people--Darlton? Matthew Fox? Terry O'Quinn? Michael Emerson?--to attend. What kinds of papers will be presented? In addition to invited keynotes from major figures in "LOST Studies" (suggestions welcome), a CFP will solicit conference presentations on every aspect of LOST. Will papers given at the conference be published? That's the plan. The Sopranos Wake, co-convened by David Lavery resulted in The Essential Sopranos Reader, forthcoming from U P Kentucky. Who will sponsor the conference? We are open to all kinds of possibilities, including multiple sponsorships.

We want to hear your thoughts. Write to us at By all means let us know if you plan to attend. The conference website is here:

LOST: The Complete Fifth Season Dharma Initiation Kit

Gotta get me one of these!

Quote of the Day (11/20/09) (Earth Week)

The earth will not stay underfoot. It infringes on me, it would invade and dominate me. I wash my feet, shine my shoes (if I am well-groomed, they are the shiniest part of all), smooth scuffed leather, bind stubbed toes, favor stone bruises. Between me and the ground is an area of damage and repair. To keep the earth in its place requires eternal vigilance. I have roofs and hats to keep the sun and rain off my topside; my bottom boundary has problems of its own. At the end of the day's journey in parched lands, the traveler washes the earth from off his feet. In this ritual he does not so much remove filth but rather acts to maintain his own integrity and sovereignty, his identity over and against the encroaching earth and its sovereignty.
--Richard M. Griffith, "Anthropodology: Portrait of Man A-Foot"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quote of the Day (11/19/09) (Earth Week)

Earth is the mightiest of the creatures. She contains beneath her furry hide the dark heart of nothingness, from which springs all that lives. She is the wariest and most complete of animals, for she lends herself to no particular form and in the end she soundlessly forsakes them all. She is the one complete island of being.
--Loren Eiseley, The Unexpected Universe

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote of the Day (11/18/09) (Painting Week)

In a forest, I have felt many times over that it was not I who looked at the forest. Some days I felt that the trees were looking at me, were speaking to me. . . . I was there, listening. . . . I think that the painter must be penetrated by the universe and not want to penetrate it. . . . I expect to be inwardly submerged, buried. Perhaps I paint to break out.
--Andre Marchand

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Psalm 109.8

I am more and more terrified at my country.

Trying KSM

Andrew Sullivan explains, brilliantly, why the New York 9/11 trial is the right decision.

Waiting for Wainright

On Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!, Rufus Wainwright tells a great story.

As a child he always nagged his mother to be in a play. She finally agreed and cast him in a domestic production of Waiting for Godot--as Godot, asking him to wait off-stage for his (never to come) entrance.

Cruel. Very cruel.

Quote of the Day (11/17/09) (Painting Week)

The art of painting is an art of thinking, whose existence underscores the importance of the role played by life, by the eyes of the human body. . . . The art of painting has, as a goal, to render perfect the functioning of the view, thanks to a pure visual perception of the exterior world, by the sole sense of sight. A painting conceived with this goal in mind is a means of replacing the spectacles of which nature, which generally provoke nothing but a mechanical functioning of the eyes, because of the habit that veils these natural spectacles, always similar, or always previewed in advance. . . ."
--Rene Magritte, "The Veritable Art of Painting"

Monday, November 16, 2009


Watching Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure, his investigation into Abu Ghraib. Powerful film.

Touched by an "Equalizer"

The Equalizer has passed away.

Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man, Breaker Morant) was 79.

My title, BTW, refers to Joss Whedon's tongue-in-cheek high concept for his Buffy spin-off, Angel--a recombinant splicing of Touched by an Angel and The Equalizer.

Thanks to Jonathan Lampley.

Hitchens on Palin

I don't always agree with the obstreperous Christopher Hitchens, but this is brilliant.

The Palin problem...might be that she cynically incites a crowd that she has no real intention of pleasing. If she were ever to get herself to the nation's capital, the teabaggers would be just as much on the outside as they are now, and would simply have been the instruments that helped get her elected. In my own not-all-that-humble opinion, duping the hicks is a degree or two worse than condescending to them. It's also much more dangerous, because it meanwhile involves giving a sort of respectability to ideas that were discredited when William Jennings Bryan was last on the stump. The Weekly Standard (itself not exactly a prairie-based publication) might want to think twice before flirting with popular delusions and resentments that are as impossible to satisfy as the demand for a silver standard or a ban on the teaching of Darwin, and are for that very reason hard to tamp down.

From Newsweek.

"The Table Read"

I have not written much here about my distaste for this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Most of the first eight episodes of Seven had me convinced that David should have stopped with Six.

But there were many delicious moments in last night's extra-long episode. The eponymous run-through of the Seinfeld reunion show made me so so nostalgic for that classic show's unrivaled humor. (George has made a fortune developing an app called "IToilet" and losing all his wealth investing with Bernie Madoff!!! and Kennny Bania was there, and Estelle Costanza, and NEWMAN!) Leon, pretending to be a Groat's Disease survivor, talking down a newly-diagnosed Michael Richards. Richards' send-up of his racist rant from a few years back. Larry and Jason Alexander's clash over an orificed borrowed pen. Funkhauser telling the filthiest joke since The Artistocrats.

It wasn't a complete success (David has gone to the tip-well at least a dozen times too often), but it was easily the highlight of this season.

"Gilmore Girls" Movie Still Possible

Ausiello has the scoop.

Quote of the Day (11/16/09) (Painting Week)

Non-representational painting adopts "styles" as "subjects." It claims to give a concrete account of the formal conditions of all painting. Paradoxically the result is that non-representational painting does not, as it thinks, create works which are as real as, if not more real than, the objects of the physical world, but rather realistic imitations of non-existent models. It is a school of academic painting in which each artist strives to represent the manner in which he would execute his pictures if by chance he were to paint any.
--Claude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turning Back

A Kafka aphorism with which I was not familiar (found as an epigraph to a Delmore Schwartz poem):

From a certain point onward, there is no turning back. That is the point that must be reached.--Franz Kafka

Remembering "Dollhouse"

Hollywood Reporter offers a slide show.

Not always accurate. This photo (from the pilot) is identified as "High Power Business Executive" when, in reality, Echo was a Hostage Negotiator.

Quote of the Day (11/15/09) (Painting Week)

The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed. Pictures must be miraculous: the instant one is completed, the intimacy between the creation and the creator is ended. He is an outsider. The picture must be for him, as for anyone experiencing it later, a revelation, an unexpected and unprecedented resolution of an eternally familiar need.
--Mark Rothko

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quote of the Day (11/14/09) (Painting Week)

Frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting.
Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word

Friday, November 13, 2009

Heard on Conan

The Catholic Church recently held a conference to determine if there is life on other planets and, if there is, how it can be made to feel guilty.

FOX's New Motto

Revealed on The Daily Show:

Mixed Messages

Replacing Lou Dobbs

Colbert has a candidate.

Heard on Colbert

As Stephen's audience cheered "Stephen! Stephen!":

I see by your chant you guessed my safe word.

"GI Joe": Raising the Bar for Crap

I had thought Michael Bay was the unchallenged ruler of the Kingdom of Mindless Action Films, but now, with GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Stephen Sommers may have usurped the crown.

What a piece of shit.

Quote of the Day (11/13/09) (Painting Week)

Painting throughout its history has served many purposes, has been flat and has used perspective, has been framed and has been left borderless, has been explicit and has been mysterious. But one act of faith has remained a constant. . . . The act of faith consisted in believing that the visible contained hidden secrets, that to study the visible was to learn something more than could be seen in a glance. . . . Jackson Pollock was driven by a despair which was partly his and partly that of the times which nourished him, to refuse this act of faith: to insist, with all his brilliance as a painter, that there was nothing behind, that there was only that which was done to the canvas on the side facing us.
--John Berger, “A Kind of Sharing"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"V" Hatred

Watching rather mindlessly the first two episodes of V, I found them rather enjoyable.

But reading David Sims' lacerating Onion TV Club recap of the second episode and the nasty posts that followed I think the future of this alien invasion may not be bright.

Jumping the Shark (according to Chuck)

The way I look at it, it's really not jumping the shark if you never come back down.
--Chuck, author of The Supernatural Gospels in "The Real Ghostbusters"


I just did an online interview with the brilliant Joana Amaral Cardoso (who writes for Publica in Lisbon) concerning vampires. Here's our exchange (her questions in bold):

1 – As we know, in the 1990s there was Anne Rice and Buffy. Now we have all of these productions, the most visible of all is Twilight. Why do you think that the vampire theme is such a magnet for TV and movie audiences?
I still think Nina Auerbach’s notion—in Our Vampires, Ourselves—has a lot of merit. We tend to see vampires as a screen for our projections. Every era reconfigures the vampire to be what it needs. Whedon’s vamps were integral to the imaginations of Whedon’s fans. Meyer’s are what her much less intelligent, much more angsty teenage audience wants. There was never anything escapist about Whedon’s “emotional realism.” Twilighters want nothing more than to lose themselves in Edward’sville.

2- And what does that mean in this first decade of the 21st century that the most successful of those narratives is not one with a feisty heroine, but about an abstinent teenage couple?
As a Buffy scholar I have again and again heard from those fans (and scholars) empowered by Buffy (like the little girl at bat or the young woman standing up against her abuser) in Chosen. We received an essay to consider for Slayage from a young doctoral student about how she and her sexually abused sister survived childhood because of the strength Buffy gave them. Twlight cannot be making anybody stronger—or more adult.

3 – In TV, True Blood and Vampire Diaries are the most successful vampire series out there. As I said above, in Portugal they are shooting two different series about vampires. That has also happened in other European countries in the last months, mainly of course because of the Twilight mania. Is there a risk of saturation, in your view, given the fact that everyone is trying to get a bite out of the vampire cake? Is that saturation point near?
Vampire Diaries is in trouble, I understand (disappointing ratings), but True Blood has been just what the doctor ordered for HBO. I think the saturation point may be near—or even behind us. But the suits seem to slow to realize this. Don’t we need a vampire sitcom? A vampire reality show? (a vampire Amazing Race?), a vampire police-procedural. CSI-Bon Temps?

Quote of the Day (11/12/09) (Painting Week)

Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.
--Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lou Takes a Hike

Lou Dobbs is out of here. Now he can volunteer full time for the Minute Men.

Nailing Hannity

The crack interns at The Daily Show and Jon Stewart catch the repugnant Sean Hannity in the act (of lying).

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Plagiarism Goes "D'Oh"

My Sopranos collaborator Bruce Plourde reports the following discussion with a suspected plagiarist:

PLOURDE: I know you got large chunks of this paper from Wikipedia.
PLAGIARIST: No, that's not where I copied it from ...

"Dollhouse" Will not Get Another Treatment

The ax has now fallen--to no one's surprise.

As with Angel, Whedon & Co. will at least get a chance to construct a finale, an "Epitaph Two."

"Dangerously Funny"

David Bianculli's much anticipated book on The Smothers Brothers now available for pre-order on Amazon.

David traveled to Vegas to present a copy to Tom and Dick last week.

Here's hoping Bianculli finally ascertains, once and for all, which of the SBs their mother liked best.


This indie film about a parking cop who participates in a drug test--for a pharmaceutical designed to limit self doubt--and becomes convinced he's acquired super powers is worth watching.

Read the Onion AV Club's review here.

Heard on Colbert

If you can't beat them, join them--and then beat them. They'll never see it coming.

Quote of the Day (11/11/09) (Imagination Week)

Man is an imagining being.
--Gaston Bachelard

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Alternate-Universe Sci-Fi Channel Show Asks What Would Happen If Germany Lost War"

The Onion is Dicking around with us again.

Conservative Science

Tom Tomorrow considers the latest right-wing theorizing.

Weiner Goes to the Movies

Mad Men's guru is going to make a movie.

Heard on Colbert

Stephen complained about Democrats in the House passing health care reform at 11:15 on a Saturday night--at the same time the new Wanda Sykes show premiered.

They know Republicans can't get enough of black comedians. That's why they hired Michael Steele.

Quote of the Day (11/10/09) (Imagination Week)

[Imagination] is eminently a weariable faculty, eminently delicate, and incapable of bearing fatigue; so that if we give it too many objects at a time to employ itself upon, or very grand ones for a long time together, it fails under the effort, becomes jaded, exactly as the limbs do by bodily fatigue, and incapable of answering any farther appeal till it has had rest.
--John Ruskin

Monday, November 09, 2009


The lyrics to the Roy Orbison song that ended "Shut the Door. Have a Seat," last night's superb Mad Men:

Where the Nile flows
And the moon glows
On the silent sand
Of an ancient land

When a dream dies
And the heart cries
Is the word they whisper low

Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
Means the future
Is much better than the past

Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
In the future
You will find a love that lasts

So when tears flow
And you don't know
What on earth to do
And your world is blue

When your dream dies
And your heart cries
Fate knows what's best for you

Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
Face the future
And forget about the past
Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba

In the future
You will find a love that lasts

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

Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything.
--Henry Miller

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"Mad Men" Reboot

Tonight's Mad Men may go down as the most dramatic television reboot since Alias destroyed SD-6, since Angel Investigations took over Wolfram & Hart.

"We're No. 57!"

A big banner near the football stadium at MTSU proclaims MTSU's Forbes college ranking--#57 among public schools.

Could, of course, be worse, but hardly worthy bragging about.

David Hockey

Great interview with David Hockney on Studio 360 today. Listen to it here.

Yes, I know I have spelled his name wrong in the title. I am evoking a scene from The Sopranos ("Denial, Anger, Acceptance," 1.3) in which Tony Russian goomah Irina says a painting of a swimming pool reminds her of "David Hockey."

Quote of the Day (11/8/09) (Imagination Week)

My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.
--Ursula K. Le Guin

Friday, November 06, 2009

"Barack Obama Names Alan Moore Official White House Biographer"

Very surprising news indeed.

Wouldn't you like to have been at The Onion story meeting to learn how they came up with this one?

The other finalists: Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, and Bob Woodward.

"Changing Channels"

"I am going to need a bigger mouth!"

The most meta show on television just got metaier. Last night's Supernatural had Dean and Sam leaping from Grey's Anatomy (Doctor Sexy), to a Japanese game show, to a sitcom version of Supernatural (Supernatural is filmed live before a studio audience!), to an ad for a genital herpes medication, to a CSIish police procedural, all seemingly due to the manipulations of their frequent nemesis, The Trickster, but actually under the control of none other than Archangel Gabriel. "Channels" seemed like a stand-alone, but there were important revelation about the Armageddon mythos as well.

The previews made me think we were in for an episode like Doctor Who's "Bad Wolf" episode, but it was unlike anything else. Another great episode from Jeremy Carver.

Jon Does Beck

Jon Stewart's amazing Glenn Beck parody last night. Brilliant. My favorite touch: notice on the blackboard the notation "POE: Purity of Essence." General Jack D. Ripper's recall code in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove--a reference to his conviction, the inspiration for launching an unauthorized nuclear war, that the Rooskies are attempting to sap out "precious bodily fluids."

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At 75, Leonard Cohen did three amazing hours at TPAC last night and Joyce and I were there.

My head is full of Cohen this morning. I cannot get "I'm Your Man," "Hallelujah," and "Tower of Song" out of my head. Nor do I want to.

Most of all, I remain haunting/inspired by a song I had never paid that much attention to before, "Anthem," and in particular these words:

The birds they sang at break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Nor dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be.

The wars they will be fought again
The holy dove be caught again
Bought and sold and bought again
Until we set them free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Quote of the Day (11/6/09) (Imagination Week)

Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.
--Joseph Conrad

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Women. They all hurt you in the end, whether male or female.
--John (Ed Begley) to Howard (Christopher Evan Welch), a gay man distraught that his lover has left him, in Woody Allen's Whatever Works

Whatever, BTW, is one of the best Allen comedies in a long time. This is a Larry David we can enjoy--unlike this season's Curb.

Dowding Limbaugh

Great last line in Maureen Dowd's recent column on the leader of the Republican Party (inspired by his insistence in an interview with Chris Wallace that Obama has “an out-of-this-world ego" and is “very narcissistic"):

It gives new meaning to pot, kettle and black.


A bit late, it seems like a good time to post Frank DeFord's excellent NPR piece on Alex Rodriguez from last week.

I am quietly celebrating this morning over the Yankees' World Series win.

Quote of the Day (11/5/09) (Imagination Week)

To me this world is all one continued vision of fancy or imagination, and I feel flattered when I am told so. What is it sets Homer, Virgil and Milton in so high a rank of art? Why is the Bible more entertaining and instructive than any other book? Is it not because they are addressed to the imagination, which is spiritual sensation, and but mediately to the understanding or reason?
--William Blake

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Levi-Strauss Passes

Claude Levi-Strauss, a monumental figure in modern thought, died today at age 100.

I honor his loss with this amazing passage from Octavio Paz's book on CL-S:

The history of Western thought has been the history of the relations between being and meaning, the subject and the object, man and nature. After Descartes, the dialogue was altered by a sort of exaggeration of the subject. This exaggeration culminated in Husserl's phenomenology and Wittgenstein's logic. The dialogue of philosophy with the world became the interminable monologue of the subject. The world was silent. . . . Levi-Strauss breaks brutally with this situation and inverts the terms. Now it is nature which speaks with itself, through man and without his being aware. It is not man but the world which cannot come out of itself.
--Octavio Paz, Claude Levi-Strauss


Grammar week at the Laverytory. First this, now this (tip of the hat to Alyson Buckman--from

"V" in Nashville

V drew a big audience last night, but not in Nashville, where it was pre-empted by the Jeff Fisher Show.

Quote of the Day (11/4/09) (Television Week 2)

There is nothing more mysterious than a TV set left on in an empty room. It is even stranger than a man talking to himself or a woman standing dreaming at her stove. It is as if another planet is communicating with you.
--Jean Baudrillard

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Heard on "Castle"

On discovering a dead body with "Your out of time" written on her face.

"Your" should be "You apostrophe r e," as in "You are." Not even a tough one like "who" and "whom." I am just saying whoever killed her also murdered the English language.--Rick Castle ("The Double Down")

Later, Castle corrects Beckett's incorrect use of "who."

Gandhi in Popular Culture

Last night's How I Met Your Mother ("The Bagpipes") gave us not one but two references to the Mahatma.

Ted: So anytime you think you might have a fight, you just get up and leave?
Barney: 100% effective. You can't fight if you're not there. That's what Gandhi taught us.

Barney: It's like Gandhi said, "Smles don't cost nothing sugar."
Ted: I'm not sure you know who Gandhi is.

Acrostic Arnold

Schwarzenegger's infamous letter. WTF?

Quote of the Day (11/3/09) (Television Week 2)

Television is an excellent system when one has nothing to lose, as is the case with a nomadic and rootless country like the United States, but in Europe the affect of television is that of a bulldozer which reduces culture to the lowest possible denominator.
--Marc Fumaroli

Monday, November 02, 2009

Heard on "Around the Horn"

The worst loss for the Trojans since The Iliad.
--In a discussion of Oregon's blowout of USC this past weekend


No, I am not swapping the King and the Rook in the back row for defensive purposes.

I am watching Season One of Castle (two episodes to go) and loving it. Great fun, well done, and the first real, mainstream proof of Nathan Fillion's star potential.

Rick Castle and Alexis (Molly Quinn)--one of the best father/daughter combinations in television.

Thanks, Cynthia, for recommending it.

"The Grown-Ups"

Last night's Kennedy assassination episode of Mad Men was directed by none other than Barbet Schroeder, the Iranian-born director of such films as Barfly, Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female.

Quote of the Day (11/2/09) (Television Week 2)

Sometimes, because of its immediacy, television produces a kind of electronic parable. Berlin, for instance, on the day the Wall was opened. Rostropovich was playing his cello by the Wall that no longer cast a shadow, and a million East Berliners were thronging to the West to shop with an allowance given them by West German banks! At that moment the whole world saw how materialism had lost its awesome historic power and become a shopping list.
--John Berger, “The Soul and the Operator”

Sunday, November 01, 2009

"I don't hate the South, I don't." (II)

DailyKos reports:

Obama's favorability-unfavorability rating in the South is 28-67, while it is 68-23 in the rest of the country.

"Did I fall asleep?"

TWoP picks the best and worst Dollhouse imprints.

What Does a Showrunner Do? (II)

From ET Online's 2000 interview with Joss Whedon:

I'm responsible for all the shows. That means that I break the stories. I often come up with the ideas and I certainly break the stories with the writers so that we all know what's going to happen. Then once the writers are done, I rewrite every script. . . . Then I oversee production and edit every show, work with the composers and sound mixers. Inevitably every single show has my name on it somewhere and it is my responsibility to make it good. . . . Every week that show is on, I'm standing in the back row, biting my nails, hoping people like it, so I feel a great responsibility. The good thing is that I'm surrounded by people who are much smarter than I am. So gradually I have been able to let certain things take care of themselves, because my crew, my writers, my post-production crew, everybody is so competent, that I don't have to run around quite as much as I used to.

Quote of the Day (11/1/09) (Television Week 2)

Television is actually closer to reality than anything in books. The madness of TV is the madness of human life.
--Camille Paglia