Thursday, December 31, 2009

RIP, David Levine

So sad to hear that David Levine has passed away at 83.

An earlier blog entry about him.

Scans of two of my favorite Levines (D.H. Lawrence and Shakespeare) below.

Heard on "Oz"

Where have you been? You know I hate playing solitaire alone.
--Agamemnon Busmalis to Bob Rebedow ("Sonata Da Oz," 6.3)

Quote of the Day (12/31/09) (Benjamin Lee Whorf Week)

In more subtle matters we all, unknowingly, project the linguistic relationships of a particular language upon the universe, and see them there. . . . We say ‘see that wave’—the same pattern as ‘see that house.’ But without the projection of language no one ever saw a single wave. We see a surface in ever-changing undulating motion. Some languages cannot say ‘a wave’; they are closer to reality in this respect. Hopi say walalata, ‘plural waving occurs,’ and can call attention to one place in the waving just as we can. But, since actually a wave cannot exist by itself, the form that corresponds to our singular, wala, is not the equivalent of English ‘a wave,’ but means ‘a slosh occurs,’ as when a vessel of liquid is suddenly jarred.
--Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Worst Logo Ever"

A reposting of this 1973 image for the Catholic Church's Archdiocesan Youth Commission was the most visited this year on Andrew Sullivan's popular blog.

Dowd on the Underpants Bomber

If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?--Maureen Dowd.


My last post (about teaching) reminded me of the best compliment I ever received from a student:

I would take a course on carrots if Dr. Lavery taught it.

I used to be a very good, or at least a very inspiring, teacher.

Courses Never Taught

The impossibly polymathic Polish science fiction mastermind Stanislaw Lem authored A Perfect Vacuum (1971), a collection of "perfect reviews of non-existent books"--books, Lem implies, he had always meant to write but had not gotten around to.

I could, in turn, offer a sampling of syllabi for courses I have never taught. My wish list:

* Studies in the Novel: Moby-Dick
* Special Topics in Language and Literature: The Aphorism
* Special Topics in Language and Literature: The Epigraph
* Special Topics in Language and Literature: Jorge Luis Borges
* Special Topics in Popular Culture: Superheroes
* Special Topics in Language and Literature: Time Travel
* Major American Writers: Mark Twain
* Special Topics in Film Studies: Federico Fellini
* Special Topics in Popular Culture: Mad Men
* Honors Seminar: Creativity

For the record, here are the courses I have taught, 1971-2010 (at Northern Kentucky University, one student, David Hensley, took at least ten courses from me alone, double-majoring in English and Lavery):

1. Advanced Writing
2. American, British, and World Literature surveys
3. American Quality Television
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
5. Chinese Literature
6. The Coen Brothers
7. Contemporary British Film (a course offered in London Summer 1992)
8. Contemporary Cinema (graduate course)
9. Cult Television (graduate module)
10. The Creative Process (Honors Seminar)
11. Deadwood and The Sopranos (graduate seminar)
12. The Edge of History (honors seminar)
13. The Evolutionary Imagination (honors seminar)
14. Film and Television Genres (graduate course)
15. Film History
16. Film History Online
17. Film Studies (Graduate Course)
18. Film Theory and Criticism (honors section)
19. The Films of Stanley Kubrick
20. Freshman Composition
21. The Gangster Film (graduate/undergraduate course)
22. The Grotesque (graduate course)
23. Intellectual Backgrounds of Modern Literature
24. Intercultural Communication (graduate course)
25. Introduction to English Studies
26. Introduction to Film
27. Introduction to Literature
28. Ireland and Scotland at the Movies (taught on location in the UK)
29. Joss Whedon: Television Auteur (graduate course)
30. Literary Criticism
31. Literature and Film
32. Literature and Psychology
33. Lost
34. Major British Writers: C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield (graduate seminar)
35. Major Themes in American Literature Online
36. Mass Communication and Society (graduate course)
37. Media and Reality (honors seminar)
38. Media Theory and Criticism (graduate course)
39. Modern Critical Theory (graduate course)
40. Modern Poetry
41. Native American Literature
42. Non-Western Literature
43. Oral Communication
44. Popular Culture Studies (graduate course)
45. Popular Literature of the 20th Century: Science Fiction (graduate course)
46. Popular Literature of the 20th Century: The Movies (graduate course)
47. Public Speaking
48. Science Fiction
49. Science Fiction Online
50. Science Fiction Film (graduate course)
51. The Space Age (honors seminar)
52. The Sopranos (graduate course)
53. Survey of Popular Culture
54. Television and Culture
55. Wallace Stevens (graduate seminar)
56. Wallace Stevens and Merleau-Ponty (team-taught undergraduate seminar)


Quote of the Day (12/30/09) (Benjamin Lee Whorf Week)

We shall no longer be able to see a few recent dialects of the Indo-European family, and the rationalizing techniques elaborated from their patterns, as the apex of the evolution of the human mind, nor their present wide spread as due to any survival from fitness or to anything but a few events of history—events that could be call fortunate only from the parochial point of view of the favored parties. They, and our own thought processes with them, can no longer be envisioned as spanning the gamut of reason and knowledge but only as one constellation in a galactic expanse. A fair realization of the incredible degree of diversity of linguistic systems that ranges over the globe leaves one with the inescapable feeling that the human spirit is inconceivably old; that the few thousand years of history covered by our written records are no more than the thickness of a pencil mark on the scale that measures our past experience on this planet; that the vents of these recent millenniums spell nothing in any evolutionary wise, that the race has taken no sudden spurt, achieved no commanding synthesis during recent millenniums, but has only played with a few of the linguistic formulations and views of nature bequeathed from an inexpressibly long past. Yet neither this feeling nor the sense of precarious dependence of all we know upon linguistic tools which themselves are largely unknown need be discouraging to science but should, rather, foster that humility which accompanies the true human spirit, and thus forbid that arrogance of the mind which hinders real scientific curiosity and detachment.
--Benjamin Lee WhorfLanguage, Thought, and Reality

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Top 10 Biggest TV Biz Blunders of the Decade "

According to The Hollywood Reporter.

Laughing at Al Qaeda

The Mark Twain approach to terror.

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
--Mark Twain


Mick Lasalle of Hearst Newspapers has this to say about the director of the new Sherlock Holmes reboot:

Guy Ritchie is the worst screenwriter in the world, but, to be fair, he is not the worst director. He is only the worst director of the people who actually get to make movies. As we speak, there are human beings walking the Earth - perhaps as many as a half dozen of them - with less directorial talent, but they've been safely diverted into other activities.

I suspect Ritchie's ex, Madonna, might just be willing to buy Lasalle a drink. (Recall that he said making love to pop goddess was like having sex with a piece of gristle.)

"China's Zhang Yimou back with Coen brothers remake"

China's greatest director to remake Blood Simple? This should be fascinating.

Stephanie Zacherek's Top 25 of the 00's

Lately, I have been finding myself often in disagreement with Salon's film critic, long a personal favorite, but here are her top 25 of the century so far.

"Mulholland Drive" (2001) — A mystery, an anatomy of a nightmare, a saga built on archetypal Hollywood dreams and heartbreak: David Lynch's dawn-of-the-21st-century masterpiece is, for me, the most haunting picture of the decade, rich, disturbing and erotic.

"Kings and Queen" (2004) — Arnaud Desplechin explores Tolstoy's "Happy families are all alike" maxim, reaffirming, as Tolstoy did, that it's the stories of the unhappy ones that stick with us.

"Pan's Labyrinth" (2006) — With his glorious and harrowing adult fairy tale, Guillermo del Toro pulled off the difficult feat of using pure sensation to make us think.

"Children of Men" (2006) — Alfonso Cuarón's solemn, haunting picture — set in a world in which humans have stopped giving birth — is made with a bravado that's nothing short of exhilarating.

"Casino Royale" (2006) — Martin Campbell and Daniel Craig reinvent, and rejuvenate, Bond.

"Yi Yi" (2000) Taiwanese filmmaker Edward Yang — who died in 2007 — explores the glorious, quiet mysteries of family life.

"25th Hour" (2003) — Spike Lee writes a lasting and unsentimental love letter to New York post-9/11.

"Donnie Darko" (2001) — Richard Kelly's bracingly optimistic picture about the possible end of the world died in theaters but found life on DVD, rewriting the meaning of the word "flop."

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007) — Julian Schnabel's deeply sensual picture about a man who's capable of moving one eyelid and no more is keyed in to the indescribable something that makes life life.

"Ratatouille" (2007) and "The Incredibles" (2004) — Because I couldn't decide between the two Pixar movies from Brad Bird, I've cheated and included both under the same umbrella. Technical perfection, with a soul.

"Best in Show" (2000) — Christopher Guest and company give their satire about the world of dog lovers just enough bite, without sacrificing human kindness.

"Hamlet" (2000) — Michael Almereyda welcomes Shakespeare to the 21st century.

"Ghost Town" (2008) — David Koepp channels the ghost of Preston Sturges.

"Pootie Tang" (2001) — Brilliant or merely cracked? Either way, Louis C.K.'s comedy, starring Lance Crouther, is one of the decade's underappreciated gems. Sa-da-tay!

"Head On" (2004) — A romance thinly disguised as a meditation on cultural identity — or is it the other way around? — from the gifted filmmaker Fatih Akin, born in Germany of Turkish parents.

"I'm Not There" (2008) — Todd Haynes explains why one of the most vital figures of 20th-century pop culture can never be explained.

"Femme Fatale" (2002) — The bad girl — the schemer, the vixen, the deadly Hitchcock blonde — reinvents herself via Brian De Palma.

"Tropical Malady" (2004) — So strange; so beautiful. In this love story between a soldier and a country boy, from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a young man is really a tiger — and that's the explicable part.

""Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (2004) — The second part of Quentin Tarantino's adventure epic has more depth, more drama and more heart than "Vol. 1." Around this time in Tarantino's career, I accused him of being a scrapbook filmmaker who never met an obscure film reference he didn't like. Now, when so many mainstream filmmakers' memories reach back about two years, I'm realizing we didn't know how good we had it.

"Pride & Prejudice" (2005) — Joe Wright's vision delighted some Austen fans and infuriated others. For me, it's a spiritually faithful and unpretentious adaptation that takes the book-into-film challenge seriously.

"Lost in Translation" (2003) — Sofia Coppola makes a movie where nothing and yet everything happens between two people, building toward a moment between them that's so intimate, we're not even allowed inside it. Delicate and magnificent.

"American Splendor" (2003) — Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini and Paul Giamatti illuminate the life and work of comic-book writer, jazz fan and genuine crank Harvey Pekar, and in the process cut to the heart of American optimism — with dashes of Greek tragedy, French existentialism, Italian neo-realism and Russian poetry tossed in.

"The Best of Youth" (2003) — Marco Tullio Giordana's six-hour-long drama, originally made for Italian television, covers more than 30 years in the life of an Italian family, in the process touching upon significant events in Italy's recent past. Like a great, long novel, it's both compact and languorous, and its characters become part of our lives during the hours we spend watching it.

"Oldboy" (2003) — Exhilarating, brutal and desperately alive, Park Chan-wook's modern revenge fantasy is a picture whose beauty springs directly from its anguish. It's like a flower watered with blood.

"Friday Night" (2002) — Claire Denis' tender, one-night-stand reverie might not be as great a movie as her nutso 2005 "Intruder," but it's magical in an earthbound way — the anti-"Amélie."

Ten Top Directors of the '00s

Matt Zoller Seitz has the list on Salon.

The subject of next semester's course, Joel and Ethan Coen, come in at #3.

My Obituary

Morbid? Perhaps. But I am 60 and much closer to the end than the beginning.

When I first started teaching, I used to give my freshman comp students the assignment to write their own obituaries. It proved quite successful. Now, I have taken on the task myself.
Dr. David Lavery (1949-2025) prolific literature, film, and television scholar, has passed away at the age of 75. A native of Oil City, Pennsylvania, he graduated from high school there, attended Venango Campus of Clarion State College, and went on to earn a B.S. in English at Clarion’s main campus in 1971.

He abandoned his original plans to teach high school after a terrible experience as a student teacher in a Rocky Grove, PA 7th grade and went on to pursue an M.A. (1973) at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. From the coldest state in the nation, he then headed south, where he would earn a Ph.D. at the University of Florida, writing his Phi Beta Kappa nominated dissertation on the films of Federico Fellini. In 1979, he married Joyce Kling of Jacksonville, Florida.

With the doctorate in hand and the job market collapsing, he would serve in a succession of one year positions (at the University of North Florida, Seattle University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville) for the next five years. In 1980, he and Joyce became the parents of Rachel Alden Lavery, now a lawyer in New York, and in 1981 would live for a time in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, where he served as a foreign expert in English at East China Normal University.

In 1983 he finally secured a tenure-track position at Northern Kentucky University outside Cincinnati, where he would remain until 1988. In 1986, their second child, Sarah Caitlin Lavery, now an award-winning journalist and world-famous author, was born in Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital.

Tempted by the opportunity to teach graduate school and offer courses in media studies, he joined the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Communication at Memphis State University. At MSU, Joyce Lavery would earn her M.A. in urban anthropology, and his interest in television studies would burgeon. In 1993, he became Professor of English and Chair (1993-1997) of the department at Middle Tennessee State University, where he would teach for the remainder of his career. From 2006 to 2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.

From 1980 until the time of his death, he would author over two hundred essays in periodicals and chapters in books and author/edit/co-author/co-edit no less than thirty books: Late for the Sky: The Mentality of the Space Age (Southern Illinois U P, 1992); Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks (Wayne State U P, 1994); ‘Deny All Knowledge’: Reading The X-Files (Syracuse U P, 1996); Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002); Teleparody: Predicting/Preventing the TV Discourse of Tomorrow (Wallflower, Columbia U P, 2002); This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos (Wallflower, Columbia U P, 2002); Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom (Continuum, 2006); Unlocking the Meaning of Lost: The Unauthorized Guide (Sourcebooks, 2006, 2007); Reading Deadwood: A Western to Swear By (Reading Contemporary Television Series, I. B. Tauris, 2006); Reading The Sopranos: Hit TV from HBO (Reading Contemporary Television Series, I. B. Tauris, 2006); Dear Angela: Remembering My So-Called Life (Lexington Books, 2007); Lost's Buried Treasures (Sourcebooks, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010); Saving the World: A Guide to Heroes (ECW Press, 2007); Finding Battlestar Galactica (Sourcebooks, 2008); The Essential Cult Television Reader (UP of Kentucky, 2010); The Essential Sopranos Reader (UP of Kentucky, 2010); Joss Whedon: Conversations (UP of Mississippi, 2010); On the Verge of Tears: Why the Movies, Television, Music, Art, and Literature Make Us Cry (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010); Screwball Television: Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls (Syracuse UP, 2010); Joss: A Creative Portrait of the Maker of the Whedonverses (I. B. Tauris/St. Martin's, 2010); Owen Barfield (Western Esoteric Masters Series, North Atlantic Books, 2010); Television Auteurs (a book and web resource, UP of Mississippi, 2011); Supernatural: TV Goes to Hell (Scarecrow, 2011); TV Finales: Considering the Ends of Television Series (Syracuse UP, 2011), the textbook Television Art (Blackwell Publishing, 2012); Faith in the Distance: Loren Eiseley and the Evolutionary Imagination (U Nebraska P, 2012); Lost: An Oral History (U California P, 2012); the novel Evil Genius: An Experiment in Fantastic Philosophy (Godine, 2013); How to Gut a Book and Other Essays on Poetry, Film, Television, and the Evolution of Consciousness (IUniverse, 2013); The Creative Work of Poets (Harvard UP, 2013); Mimicry: Towards a Biological Poetics (Harvard UP, 2015).

His long-time interest in the Anthroposopher and Inkling Owen Barfield (1898-1997), lead to not only his book on the British thinker but an award-winning film, Owen Barfield: Man Meaning (1994), which he co-authored and co-produced.

During his years at MTSU (1993-2016), he organized international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sopranos, and Lost, was a founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Journal of the Joss Whedon Society (2001-2011) and Critical Studies in Television and he lectured around the world—Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Japan—on the subject of television and served as a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), The Toronto Star, Publica (Portugal) . . . . His long-running blog, the Laverytory, is archived at

He is succeeded by his wife Joyce, his daughters Rachel and Sarah, and four grandchildren.

Quote of the Day (12/29/09) (Benjamin Lee Whorf Week)

We tend to believe that our bodies can stop up this energy, prevent it from affecting other things until we will our bodies to overt action. But this may be so only because we have our own linguistic basis for a theory that formless items like 'matter' are things in themselves, malleable only by similar things, by more matter, and hence insulated from the powers of life and thought. It is no more unnatural to think that thought contracts everything and pervades the universe than to think, as we all do, that light kindled outdoors does this. And it is not unnatural to suppose that thought, like any other force, leaves everywhere traces of effect. Now, when we think of a certain actual rosebush, we do not suppose that our thought goes to that actual bush, and engages with it, like a searchlight turned upon it. What then do we suppose our consciousness is dealing with when we are thinking of that rosebush? Probably we think it is dealing with a ‘mental image’" which is not the rosebush but a mental surrogate of it. But why should it be natural to think that our thought deals with a surrogate and not with the real rosebush? Quite possibly because we are dimly aware that we carry about with us a whole imaginary space, full of mental surrogates. To us, mental surrogates are old familiar fare. Along with the images of imaginary space, which we perhaps secretly know to be only imaginary, we tuck the thought-of actually existing rosebush, which may be quite another story, perhaps just because we have that very convenient "place" for it. The Hopi thought-world has no imaginary space. The corollary to this is that it may not locate thought dealing with real space anywhere but in real space, nor insulate real space from the effects of thought. A Hopi would naturally suppose that his thought (or he himself) traffics with the actual rosebush—or more likely, corn plant—that he is thinking about. The thought then should leave some trace of itself with the plant in the field. If it is a good thought, one about health and growth, it is good for the plant; if a bad thought, the reverse.
--Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality

Monday, December 28, 2009

Annoying TV Narrators (ctd.)

I wrote about this before.

But I want to add another to the list: August Hill (Harold Perrineau) on Oz. Though he is clever (or at least Tom Fontana is) and raises interesting Chris Stevensish philosophical questions from his wheelchair while in bizarre outfits and in front of odd backdrops, his monologues become, even when brilliant and discerning, increasingly cloying, a bit too much, too didatic, too . . . too simple for a series which offers us such complex characters and poses such tough dilemmas.

Later (January 29th). I have come to the last season of Oz and learned, after Hill's death, that his narration has been a book in progress. Was this intended from the get-go?

Hill and a variety of the many dead from Oz's first five seasons narrate the 6th, thus joining the likes of Joe Gillis (Sunset Blvd.), Mary Alice Young (Desperate Housewives), and Lester Burnham (American Beauty) in the not-as-exclusive-as-you'd-think club of deceased narrators.

"Television and the Legal System"

The English translation an important study by my friend Barbara Villez (Université Paris 8) is now available in English from Routledge.

Order it from Amazon here (warning: it's a bit pricey--paperback forthcoming).

"Avatar's" Weekend

$212 million in ten days.

$612 million in global ticket sales.

Read all about it.

Quote of the Day (12/28/09) (Benjamin Lee Whorf Week)

Every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which the personality not only communicates, but also analyzes nature, notices or neglects types of relationship and phenomena, channels his reasoning, and builds the house of his consciousness.
--Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Journey to "Oz"

Before this week, I had seen only one or two episodes of HBO's Oz (1998-2003). My motivation for buying all six seasons on DVD: that Oz's creator Tom Fontana (pictured) and I are both featured speakers in Stuttgart next month.

I have just begun Season Four, the first to run more than eight episodes, and will have more to say later, but I have been struck by how many Ozers--

* Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie);
* Adawale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Harold Perrineau (Lost);
* Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU);
* Lauren Vélez, Erik King, and David Zayas (Dexter);
* Zeljko Ivanek (24, Damages, Heroes, Big Love);
* J. K. Simmons (Law & Order, The Closer);
* J. D. Williams, Reg E. Cathey, and Seth Gilliam (The Wire);
* John Doman (The Wire, Damages)
* Ken Leung (The Sopranos, Lost);
* Lance Reddick (The Wire, Lost, Fringe)

--have played inportant roles in subsequent American television of the 00s.

If "actor residue" (Terri Carney's term, from an essay in the forthcoming Essential Sopranos Reader) is as powerful a factor as I think it might be in a viewer's construction of a television narrative, then it is impossible to overestimate Oz's influence.

Two Films I Saw This Week

Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009) (seen in the theatre on Christmas Eve).

Mr. Hulot's Holiday (Jacques Tati, 1953) (seen on DVD).

Of the three of us who saw Up in the Air, I was the only one who really liked it. Joyce was surprised at how "small" a film it was, and it was understated, quiet, and rather slow, but it's a mistake to think of it as a screwball comedy (as some commentators have deemed it). In fact, it's a very sad film, terribly sad. Clooney's best performance by far. Owen Gleiberman's EW review is close to my own take on the film.

Hulot was a subtle delight that rewards careful, very careful viewing. Roger Ebert has this to say (in his observant "Great Movies" piece) about my favorite scene:

The movie is constructed with the meticulous attention to detail of a Keaton or Chaplin. Sight gags are set up with such patience that they seem to expose hidden functions in the clockwork of the universe. Consider the scene where Hulot is painting his kayak, and the tide carries the paint can out to sea and then floats it in again, perfectly timed, when his brush is ready for it again. How was this scene done? Is it a trick, or did Tati actually experiment with tides and cans until he got it right? Is it ``funny''? No, it is miraculous. The sea is indifferent to painters, but nevertheless provides the can when it is needed, and life goes on, and the boat gets painted.

It's a shame that Tati made so few films.

What I Got for Christmas

Quote of the Day (12/27/09) (Benjamin Lee Whorf Week)

I find it gratuitous to assume that a Hopi who knows only the Hopi language and the cultural ideas of his own society has the same notions, often supposed to be intuitions, of time and space that we have, and that are generally assumed to be universal. In particular, he has no general notion or intuition of time as a smooth flowing continuum in which everything in the universe proceeds at an equal rate, out of a future, through a present, into a past; or, in which, to reverse the picture, the observer is being carried in the stream of duration continuously away from a past and into a future.
--Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quote of the Day (12/26/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

As a child, what captivated me was reading the poems myself and realizing that there was a world without material substance which was nevertheless as alive as any other.
--Mary Oliver

Friday, December 25, 2009

Quote of the Day (12/25/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
--Mary Oliver

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quote of the Day (12/24/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
--Mary Oliver, "When Death Comes"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Lost," S6 Trailer

Getting us psyched up (nothing new, but nice packaging).

Intelligent Design/Creationism Bait

A trilobite confirms the truth of evolution (in The Onion).

"Lost," Season Six

The Tail Section has some news--and some speculation--about the last season of Lost.

Along with the premiere date [2/2/10], today also brings the official cast list, meaning we now can confirm which cast members are official series regulars for the final year.

The season 6 cast is:
Naveen Andrews, Nestor Carbonell, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Emerson, Jeff Fahey, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Ken Leong, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O’Quinn and Ziuleikha Robinson

In case you forgot, that last woman plays Ilana from Ajira 316.

In other words, the final season has 14 series regulars, just like season 1. However, only 9 of them were around back then.

It also marks the first time Carbonell and Fahey (Richard and Frank) are series regulars, they were always listed as guest stars before.

What do I take away from this? Mostly that, with Carboell, O’Quinn, Fahey, Emerson, Robinson and Yunjin Kim all listed, we will probably still see them on the Island in 2007.

However, the return of de Ravin and the lack of Mitchell and many DHARMA folks suggests to me that all those theories about the bomb working and changing the future so Oceanic 815 lands safely are true.

But then how the heck are Locke and Sun still on the Island? I can’t explain it, except that we may be dealing with weird parallel universes.

Quote of the Day (12/23/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

Said Mrs.Blake of the poet

I miss my husband’s company—
he is so often
in paradise.
Of course! The path to heaven

doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
It’s in the imagination
with which you perceive
this world,

and the gestures
with which you honor it.
--Mary Oliver, "The Swan"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sir Picard

Patrick Stewart to be knighted.

Quote of the Day (12/22/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

My father, for example,
who was young once
and blue-eyed,
on the darkest of nights
to the porch and knocks
wildly at the door,
and if I answer
I must be prepared
for his waxy face,
for his lower lip
swollen with bitterness.
And so, for a long time, 
I did not answer,
but slept fitfully
between his hours of rapping.
But finally there came the night
when I rose out of my sheets
and stumbled down the hall.
The door fell open

and I knew I was saved
and could bear him,
pathetic and hollow,
with even the least of his dreams
frozen inside him,
and the meanness gone.

And I greeted him and asked him
into the house,  and lit the lamp,
and looked into his blank eyes in which at last
I saw what a child must love,
I saw what love might have done
had we loved in time.
--Mary Oliver, "The Visitor"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Puting Obama in Perspective

As usual Andrew Sullivan talks sense (about health care reform):

I keep waiting for this obvious fact to sink in. What Obama has done is force the existing system to insure 30 million more people at a modest cost, and to include a swathe of (still-insufficient) varieties and strategies of cost-control. This is huge - the biggest first year achievement of any president since Reagan. If you consider that he did this while also managing the steepest down-turn in decades, revamping America's image in the world, preventing a banking implosion, and prosecuting two unresolved wars in the face of almost deranged opposition, it's pretty damn impressive.

Echo and the Tree

A Bodhi tree of a kind, Bill Lund suggests. Thanks Bill.

A screen capture from "The Attic" (Dollhouse).

Quote of the Day (12/21/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
--Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the Cover of the "Rolling . . . Illustrated"

Has anyone else ever made the cover of both Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone?

Quote of the Day (12/20/09) (Mary Oliver Week)

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
--Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rick Castle's Police Vest

The Return of the Hyperion on "Dollhouse"

On last night's "Stop Loss," Victor, released after his five years of dollitude, checks into the Hyperion Hotel in LA.

The Hyperion, once visited by Angel back in the 1950s, would later become the headquarters of Angel Investigations, Angel, Seasons 2-4.

Heard on "Dollhouse"

My nightmare, my loop, has been to run atatistical probability scenarios for where the technology might lead. All but 3% of them include the end of civilization.--Clyde

Clyde: What year is it?
Echo: 2010? I don't know how long we've been off the air.

Rigor mortis . . . it's the new Viagra."--A living corpse in "The Attic.

"Lost" Fan Art

From a Los Angeles museum.

Cursing FOX

A poster on the Onion TV Club, with last night's amazing episode of FOX's terminated Dollhouse ("The Attic") in mind, offered this brilliant execration:


Quote of the Day (12/19/09) (Thinking Week)

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Television Auteur Project

At its final meeting of 2009, the University Press of Mississippi approved publication of a book, a collection, on Television Auteurs. A contract will be issued early in 2010, but there is much still to work out.

The book, this much is certain, will be a compendium of concise, discerning essays on individual major figures in the creation of contemporary British and American television--the sort of individuals captured in this PowerPoint.

Leila Salsbury, who commissioned the Essential Cult TV Reader at U P Kentucky before she became the director at UPM, is very interested in internet ventures for her press, and so we have talked at length about Television Auteurs being accompanied by, perhaps, an online data base, available to libraries and other subscribers, that would extend its coverage (with no space limitations and in real time) of the people creating television. This possibility, too, was approved by the UPM board, but it remains to be seen exactly how/when it will be realized.

Quite a week, with this and Television Art both approved for publication.

Jack Does Santa

Jack Bauer tortures Old Saint Nick.

Quote of the Day (12/18/09) (Thinking Week)

The organs of thought are the world's reproduction system, the sexual parts of nature as a whole.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"The Incident"

Gisella from Brazil had one more question about Lost:

What do you think happened after Juliet exploded the bomb (and did she?). Would you guess that it avoided the incident or caused it?

Here's what I said:

I am betting that the bomb did not go off and that what happened in the final moment of Season Five was merely The Incident as it happened in the original 1977. Juliet will have been killed, as will have been Jack, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Kate, Miles, but this will not have killed them for the future. The Hatch will be built at the site of The Incident. The future selves of Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Kate will still crash with Oceanic 815. Juliet will still come to the Island as a fertility doctor. Miles will still come with the Freighter Folk. Radinzsky will survive to become the Hatch Number Pusher who commits suicide (replaced by Desmond). Pierre Chang (minus an arm) will continue with DHARMA (and be killed in the purge).

Heard on Conan

I'm gay-friendly, or as they called me in high school gay. . . . For the football players and such it was like "If complete sentences come out of his mouth, dudes must be going in."

My wife and I have an open relationship. It's called divorce.

Fifty per cent of marriages end in divorce. That's one out of every two people. So it's either going to be you or your wife.

--Mike Kaplan

The Compromise Healthcare Plan

Once more, only reductio ad absurdum thinking (this time from Andy Borowitz) is up to the challenge of capturing contemporary (un)reality.

Quote of the Day (12/17/09) (Thinking Week)

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


In case you didn't see Roger Sterling/John Slattery's faux-gold ad on The Colbert Report.

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A New Name for Lieberman

Last night Stephen Colbert designated the fucking obstructionist as an "Hermaphrepublican."

With his flip-flop on the Medicaire buy-in in mind, he also noted that the Connecticut Senator has gone from "Joe-mentum" to "Joe-mentia."

Quote of the Day (12/16/09) (Thinking Week)

It is not unnatural to suppose that thought, like any other force, leaves everywhere traces of effect. Now, when we think of a certain rosebush, we do not suppose that our thought goes to that actual bush and engages with it, like a searchlight turned upon it. What then do we suppose our consciousness is dealing with when we are thinking of that rosebush? Probably we think it is dealing with a "mental image" which is not the rosebush but a mental surrogate of it. But why should it be natural to think that our thought deals with a surrogate and not with the real rosebush? Quite possibly because we are dimly aware that we carry about with us a whole imaginary space, full of mental surrogates. To us, mental surrogates are familiar fare. Along with the images of imaginary space, which we perhaps secretly know to be only imaginary, we tuck the thought-of actually existing rosebush, which may be quite another story, perhaps just because we have that very convenient "place" for it. The Hopi thought-world has no imaginary space. The corollary to this is that it may not locate thought dealing with real space anywhere but in real space, nor insulate real space from the effects of thought. A Hopi would naturally suppose that his thought (or he himself) traffics with the actual rosebush—or more likely, corn plant—that he is thinking about. The thought then should leave some trace of itself with the plant in the field. If it is a good thought, one about health and growth, it is good for the plant; if a bad thought, the reverse.
--Benjamin Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Lost" in Brazil

I spoke this week with Brazilian journalist Gisella Blanco about Lost.

She shared two fun links to Lost features on the website of her magazine: Superinteressante (see below for a description).

A Game:

A Map:

Superinteressante is Brazil's major - and most traditional - scientific magazine. Our in-depth reports are also focused on technology, history and modern social trends. We are a mix of "Wired" and "Time" (without much of the politics, however). Superinteressante, or "Super", as most readers know it, was recently considered the most "trustable and reliable" magazine in Brazil. It has a circulation of nearly 500.000 copies, which puts it as the second largest monthly magazine in the country, and reaches estimated 3 million readers.

"Television Art"

Just received word that the Television Art text book I am writing (with Steven Peacock, Trisha Dunleavy, and Scott Diffrient) was unanimously approved for publication by Blackwell's publishing board this morning.

Quote of the Day (12/15/09) (Thinking Week)

When we think about the word Thinking today, we ordinarily mean by it something which is confined within our skins or, if you like, in a corner of our brains. But I am asking you to imagine it coming to mean something very different. Just as we look back to a time before Kepler and Newton, when Gravity had such a cramped and parochial meaning quite other than the spacious one we now attach to it so, I am persuaded that our descendants will look back, perhaps with amusement, to a time when Thinking and Thought had the strangely cramped and parochial meaning it has today. Because, for them Thinking will be something as to which one simply takes it for granted that it permeates the whole world of nature and indeed the whole universe.
--Owen Barfield, Romanticism Comes of Age

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Photo to Haunt Your Dreams

The Adventures of a Jewish Dog in Montana

I first heard about this on Wait, Wait: the story of a police dog trained in Israel that couldn't function in Montana because no one spoke to it in Hebrew.

The original--from the NY Times--can be found here.

"The Getaway"

Todd VanDerWerff offers an insightful recap of last night's S4 Dexter finale.

No Rita hater here, I was sorry to see her go (Julie Benz' best televisual death since she staked herself in an alley--in Angel--and gave birth to Connor), but I would agree with VanDerWerff that her demise is a potential narratological gold mine. Should we consider it another reboot, not as obvious as Mad Men's perhaps, but potentially as generative?

Quote of the Day (12/14/09) (Thinking Week)

"This queer thing, thought"—but it does not strike us as queer when we are thinking. Thought does not strike us as mysterious while we are thinking, but only when we say, as it were retrospectively: "How was that possible? How was it possible for thought to deal with the very object itself?" We feel as if by means of it we had caught reality in our net.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Forthcoming Essays

Now, and over the next few months, the following essays/chapters will see the light of day:

“Introduction: The Crying Game” (forthcoming in The Verge of Tears).

"’The Catastrophe of My Personality’: Frank O’Hara, Don Draper, and the Poetics of Mad Men" (forthcoming in Reading Mad Men, ed. Gary Edgerton, Reading Contemporary Television Series, I. B. Tauris, 2010).

“Impossible Girl: Amy Sherman-Palladino and Television Creativity” (forthcoming in Screwball Television).

“From Made Men to Mad Men: What Matt Weiner Learned from David Chase” (forthcoming in The Essential Sopranos Reader, ed. David Lavery, Douglas Howard, and Paul Levinson, University Press of Kentucky, 2010).

“Rob Thomas and Television Creativity” (in Investigating Veronica Mars, ed. Rhonda V. Wilcox and Sue Turnbull, forthcoming from McFarland and Company, 2010).

“The Emigration of Life on Mars: Sam and Gene Do America” (in Life on Mars to Ashes to Ashes, ed. Steve Lacey and Ruth McElroy, forthcoming from the University of Wales Press).

“How Cult Television Became Mainstream.” The Essential Cult Television Reader 1-6.

Ian Maull and David Lavery, “Battlestar Galactica.” The Essential Cult Television Reader 44-50.

“Serial’ Killer: Dexter’s Narrative Strategies.” Dexter: Investigaing Cutting Edge Television. Ed. Douglas Howard. Investigating Cult Television. London: I. B. Tauris, 2009: 43-48.

Quote of the Day (12/13/09) (Thinking Week)

I should not in the least be surprised to learn one day, that some kinds of involuntary thought are simply the swiftest modes of human reasoning through processes of connection evident in the slower modes. I suspect that they are, and their very swiftness helps them from going astray, as deliberate thought so readily can do, by weighing alternative courses.
--Stanley Burnshaw, The Seamless Web

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Roughing It"

In 1972 I was a graduate student at St. Cloud State College in Minnesota, where I had gone to pursue my M.A. in English.

For the standard Research and Bibliography course, I had the feared Dr. John Melton, an erudite-beyond-belief Johns Hopkins Ph.D., who took a learn-by-doing approach to often extremely dry subject matter.

We were to read Mark Twain's Roughing It, a travel book about Samuel Langhorne Clemens' journeys in the American West in the 1860s. Each of us received a list of twenty some questions about minute particulars in the 1872 volume, collaborating, in effect, on a full-scale annotation.

My most memorable task involved the unabridged dictionary which Twain tried to take unboard a westward board stagecoach, but had to ditch because of its excessive weight. I was to find out, of course, how much it did weigh.

I looked everywhere--in old reference books, library catalogs, shipping information. After weeks of futile searching, I came to see Dr. Melton, my tail between my legs--just as he wanted. "Help!" I pleaded. "Perhaps," Melton suggested, "you should weigh it." And how," I stupidly inquired, "would I do that?" I was directed to the rare books room of the SCSC library. The target: 1859's "Revised and Enlarged" edition of Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, the likely culprit.

Packing a borrowed recipe scale, I took the volume's measure, with all eyes in the room upon the grad student oddly weighing a dictionary.

I returned to Melton's office in Riverview (pictured) the next day to report: 14 pounds, 15 ounces. "Close enough," I was told. "15 pounds, 1 ounce."

Quote of the Day (12/12/09) (Thinking Week)

Then only are we really thinking when the subject on which we are thinking cannot be thought out.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I am holding the first copy of The Essential Cult TV Reader in my hands. Happy happy joy joy, as Stimpy might say.

"The Lovely Bones"

This is the first full review I have seen--from Salon's Stephanie Zacharek.

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

The tragic grandeur of modern man is bound up with the fact that he was the first to take on the work of Time in relation to Nature. . . . man in modern society has finally assumed the garb of Time not only in his relations with Nature but also in respect to himself. On the philosophical plane he has recognized himself to be essentially, and sometimes even uniquely, a temporal being, taking his existence from time and bound by actuality. And the modern world, to the extent to which it asserts its own greatness and fully accepts its dramatic role, feels one with Time in the way that nineteenth-century science and industry urged it to be. For they proclaimed that man can achieve things better and faster than Nature if he, by means of his intelligence, succeeds in penetrating to her secrets and supplementing by his own operations, the multiple temporal durations (the geological, botanical, animal rhythms) required by Nature in order to bring her work to fruition. The temptation was too great to resist. Through innumerable millennia man had dreamed of improving upon Nature. It was inconceivable that he should hesitate when confronted by the fabulous perspectives opened out to him by his own discoveries. But the price had to be paid. Man could not stand in the place of Time without condemning himself implicitly to be identified with it, to do its work even when he would no longer wish to.
--Mircea Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quote of the Day (12/10/09) (Time Week)

Time as duration is the identity of things, the consistency of their color and dimension. To this we must add . . . that the duration of things tempts us to assume that they do not change but remain the same. The world then becomes dry and nameless; ultimately even nothing but a formula. The tempo of things can induce us to believe in a "lawless," arbitrary, even enchanted world. Both these extremes must be rejected. Things not only have duration but also tempo.

In the period 1740-1900 duration was overestimated. That wouldn't have been possible if things hadn't presented themselves as having much duration and little tempo. Things with more duration than tempo impress us as dead or dying. It is no coincidence that in the period 1740-1900 the idea arose that through the irreversible process of cooling, the world as a whole faces death by cooling, or, in official terms, heat death. Between 1740 and 1900 things were already more or less dead. At any rate, they lost their luster, which is seen in the fact that the era was characterized by its inclination to strip things of anything that would inspire wonder. One who denies the wondrous aspect of things—that is, their changeability—loses respect for them. Once this respect has suffered, one can handle things casually. One handles them in this way when one passes over them quickly. He who moves with speed through a landscape proves that he has little respect for the things in it. Thus, the increasing velocity of locomotion in the period 1740-1900 can be seen as the expression of the overestimation for the duration of things that prevailed at that time.
--J.H. van den Berg, Things: Four Metabletic Reflections

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"EW" Names the Oughts' 10 Best TV Shows

Entertainment Weekly has a slide show of the best TV shows from the 21st first decade.

They are:

10. The Comeback (an unusual choice)
9. Gilmore Girls
8. The Shield
7. The Office (British & American)
6. The Wire
5. Arrested Development
4. American Idol (really? really?)
3. The Daily Show
2. Lost
1. The Sopranos

"Terror in Mumbai"

Watched this HBO documentary this morning on On Demand.

Disconcerting to say the least. Fareed Zakarkia narrates.

"Starlings in Winter"

Talk about synchronicity. Yesterday, the final class meeting of my Modern American Poetry class, was devoted to Mary Oliver (pictured). Just before class, my student Ryan Brosche had recommended a poem on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. When I went to the website to find it, I discovered that the featured poet for December 8 was, of course, Mary Oliver--her poem "Starlings in Winter." This brought to mind a recent post by Andrew Sullivan, calling attention to a video, from Denmark, of a formation of starlings in flight.

The video is here.

You can listen to Keillor read the poem here. (The poem begins 2:29 in.)

And here is the poem.

Starlings in Winter
Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

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

We determine our own reality by mirroring our perceptions of a fleeting time in our body's function. Having convinced ourselves through the aid of clocks, watches, beeps, ticks, and a myriad of other cultural props that linear time is escaping, we generate maladies in our bodies that assure us of the same thing, for the ensuing heart disease, ulcers, and high blood pressure reinforce the message of the clock: we are running down, eventually to be swept away in the linear current of the river of time. For us, our perceptions have become our reality.
--Larry Dossey, Space, Time, and Medicine

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Quote of the Day (12/8/09) (Time Week)

Aesop, that great man, saw his master pissing as he walked. "What's next?" he said. "Shall we have to shit as we run?" Let us manage our time; we shall still have a lot left idle and ill spent. Our mind likes to think it has not enough leisure hours to do its own business unless it dissociates itself from the body for the little time that the body really needs it.
--Michel de Montaigne

Monday, December 07, 2009

Heard on "Dollhouse"

Adelle DeWitt: They [the Rossum Corporation] will be unstoppable.
Boyd Langston: So what can we do?
Adelle DeWitt: Stop them.

Classic Whedonian line (even though he didn't write the episode).

Last week's double episodes were outstanding. The rest of the run is going to be terrific--and make us grieve its loss even more. Read Maureen Ryan's interview with Whedon about the demise of Dollhouse here.

Quote of the Day (12/7/09) (Time Week)

In time, only those things last
which have not been in time.
--Jorge Luis Borges, "Quince Monedas"

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Quote of the Day (12/6/09) (Time Week)

A cross-cultural view of the category of time is highly instructive. Beginners in the study of classical Greek are often troubled by the fact the word opiso sometimes means "behind," sometimes "in the future." Speakers of English find this baffling because they are accustomed to think of themselves as moving through time. The Greeks, however, conceive of themselves as stationary, of time coming up behind them, overtaking them, and then, still moving on, becoming the past that lay before the eyes.
--Clyde Kluckhohn, "The Gift of Tongues"

Saturday, December 05, 2009

"Star Trek"

Just watched J. J.'s relaunched Star Trek on DVD.

I had seen it in the theatre and liked it well enough, but this time it struck me as 90% wonderful. The whole rescue on Nero's ship (Spock and Kirk save Pike) is a mess, a ridiculously clichéd action sequence.

And OMG did it look great on my 42" LG.

Quote of the Day (12/5/09) (Time Week)

The scientific age, whose chief interest was in material spatial phenomena and process, saw the problem of time wholly in the light—or rather in the darkness—of the problem of space. The concept was subordinated to the space concept. For Descartes, who gave this view of the universe its classical formulations which prevailed for centuries, space is the paramount reality of the physical world; time is merely the consequence of our inability to experience the all-embracing simultaneity of things in space except as a succession. Here, too, time characterizes the imperfect. In our own day the picture has changed. . . . We even hear of a discovery of time, and this is held to be the essential mark of modern thought. . . . Time is [now] recognized as the foundation of all existence; even inanimate matter is shown to be, in its core, vibration, a temporal phenomenon. The concept of time has everywhere taken precedence over the concept of space. Subordinated to no higher concept, time itself, indeed, assumed absolute primacy. To renounce temporality is not to renounce imperfection but rather to renounce true being.
--Victor Zuckenkandl, Sound and Symbol: Music and the External World

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Pride of Tennessee

Once, more a fellow Tennessean to be proud of--not.

Fake AP Stylebook

Someone has done one--via Twitter.

It's a great idea, not all that well executed. Still, worth a look.

Quote of the Day (12/4/09) (Time Week)

Time, unfortunately, though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality, has no such simple effect upon the mind of man. The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time. An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second. This extraordinary discrepancy between time on the clock and time in the mind is less known than it should be and deserves fuller investigation.
--Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Scrubs" Finale?

Colbert is appalled at Scrubs's lack of an "exit strategy." (It's at the beginning of this clip.)

Of great interest to something (moi) putting together a book on TV Finales.

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Quote of the Day (12/3/09) (Time Week)

Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once.
--Anne Herbert, The Next Whole Earth Catalog

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Remediate Website

The website for the Stuttgart television conference is now up.

Janet McCabe, Kim Akass, me. Should be stimulating.

Better Know a Made-Up District

Colbert profiles the imaginary congressional district that received stimulus money.

One of its residents is Smokezilla from Lost.

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Heard on "The Colbert Report"

Only 24 more shopping days to accept Christ as your lord and savior.

Quote of the Day (12/2/09) (Longing Week)

The dancers had looked straight ahead, to the exclusion of everything. . . . And they had not smiled. They were grave, so unspeakably grave. They were not merely sad or formal or devout; it was nothing like that. It was simply that they were grave, distant, intent upon something that she could not see. Their eyes were held upon some vision out of range, something away in the end of distance, some reality that she did not know, or even suspect. What was it that they saw? Probably they saw nothing after all, nothing at all. But then that was the trick wasn't it? To see nothing at all, nothing in the absolute. To see beyond the landscape, beyond every shape and shadow and color, that was to see nothing. That was to be free and finished, complete, spiritual. To see nothing slowly and by degrees, at last, to see first the pure, bright color of near things, then all pollutions of color, all things blended and vague and dim in the distance, to see finally beyond the clouds and the pale wash of the sky the none and nothing beyond that. To say "beyond the mountain," and mean it, to mean, simply, beyond everything for which the mountain stands, of which it signifies the being. Somewhere, if only she could see it, there was neither nothing nor anything. And there, just there, that was the last reality.
--N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bianculli Talks Smothers

Terry Gross interviews David about his new book.

"2001" Goes to Jared's

I am not the first to have noticed this.

In a Jared's Jewelry ad, a female GPS system inquires what her master has just purchased at Jared's. Freaked (as who wouldn't be), he asks: "Could you just give me the directions," and she replies, channeling HAL in 2001:A Space Odyssey, "I'm afraid I can't do that Dave."

Quote of the Day (12/1/09) (Longing Week)

Happiness is the longing for repetition.
--Milan Kundera