Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Discoveries in Long-Running Television Series


Exterior of castle. Riley and Giles walk up.
RILEY: I've lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. Know what I've never noticed before?
GILES: Uh, a castle?
RILEY: A big honking castle.
--"Buffy vs. Dracula," Buffy the Vampire Slayer (5.1)

Lost Writers: Look! A lighthouse!
Audience: LOL episode title.
Jack: How have we never seen this before?
Audience: Ummm well, how did you not know there was an entire TOWN on the island, or a giant foot, or like 8 hatches, or a whole extra island, or I don't know, a giant honkin' temple, or...
Jack: Alright, alright I get it.
--Imagined Dialogue from "Lighthouse," LOST, 6.4 on TVGasm's Episode Recap

TVGasm's "Lighthouse" Recap

The hilarity continues.

"LOST" at Paley Center

Spoiler Warning. Ausiello Files has some juicey tidbits.

Lasered Babies

How adorable. Follow the link to make your own.

Quote of the Day (2/28/10) (The Fall Week)

Marx was wrong; jealousy and pride, emotional forces, are just as responsible as hunger and necessity for our actions; they explain the whole of History, and the initial fall of man.
--Eugene Ionesco

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quote of the Day (2/27/10) (The Fall Week)

It seems to me that the paradise--imago--or myth, or story--is in a way the symbol par excellence. I imagine this is why it is so universal and why it has so many ramifying significances. It is the symbol of symbols; because it symbolizes, not so much any single, non-physical archetype, but non-physical existence in general--non-physical existence as such. You will never understand symbols until you have grasped that pre-historic man in his unconscious goes back, not to the animal kingdom, as the nineteenth century fondly imagined, but to a paradisal state when there was no death, because there was no matter.--Owen Barfield, Worlds Apart

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Who" Humor

I loved this headline (Sci-Fi Wire):

Fan pays $31,100 for a Doctor Who Dalek, is exterminated

Gaius Baltar "FlashForward"s

Gaius (BSG) and Charlie (LOST)? See SciFi Wire.

OMG Don't cross the streams!


SciFi Wire Reports:

Three artists. 4,000 pieces of steel. 1,200 pounds of parts recycled from Yamaha motorcycles. One scary-as-hell 8-foot-tall "Alien Queen." $6,000.

Gotta love those numbers. (Well, all except that last one.) But still—we want one!

Winter Olympics as "Drunken Dares"

John Hodgman explains it all on The Daily Show.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
You're Welcome - Winter Olympics
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorVancouverage 2010

The Sneeze Film: Fred Ott to Adelyn

My daughter posted a lovely video on Nine Months to Life yesterday of her girl Adelyn sneezing. Watch it here.

The "Sneeze Film" has a history of course.

Addy--way cuter than Mr. Ott.

Quote of the Day (2/26/10) (The Fall Week)

There was once a Garden. It contained many hundreds of species. . . . there were two anthropoids who were more intelligent than the other animals. . . . On one of the trees there was a fruit very high up. . . . so they began to think purposively. . . . The he ape, Adam, went and got an empty box and put it under the tree. Adam and Even became almost drunk with excitement. This was the way to do things. Make a plan, ABC and you get D. They then began to specialize in doing things the planned way. In effect they cast out of the Garden the concept of their own total systemic nature and of its total systemic nature. . . . Pretty soon the topsoil disappeared. After that, several species of plants became "weeds" and some animals became "pests," and Adam found gardening much harder work . . . he said, "It's a vengeful God, I should never have eaten the apple. . . ." [Eve] heard a voice say, "In pain shalt thou bring forth. . . ."
--Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"LOST," "Supernatural" Upcoming

Ausiello reports:


Question: Can you tell me if any of the following Losties will get a centric episode by season’s end: Miles, Ilana, Lapidus, or Claire? —Stephen
Ausiello: No, no, no, and no. At least as of 6.15. And my guess is the final hours won’t center on anyone. The good news: You’ll see a lot of those four in other people’s sideways arcs.


Question: I’ll send you some birthday cake if you give me some Supernatural scoop about the 100th episode. —Annie
Ausiello: In the milestone episode, airing April 15, “a very important character will sacrifice themselves in a suicide mission,” reveals exec producer Sera Gamble. “We definitely kept in mind that this was [an important] episode. We wanted to deliver something with real scope; it’s about the Archangel Michael. Crises will come to a head for Dean and Castiel. And you’ll see characters you never thought you’d see again.”

"Latest Sarah Palin Speech Opens Sixth Seal"

The Onion reports.

Dunk Already

Chait describes Obama at the Health Care Summit:

[M]ost the time, [watching Obama at the summit] is like watching Lebron James play basketball with a bunch of kids who got cut from the 7th grade basketball team. He's treating them really nice, letting his teammates take shots and allowing the other team to try to score. Nice try on that layup, Timmy, you almost got it on. But after a couple minutes I want him to just grab the ball and dunk on these clowns already.

Rhyming "LOST"

'Twas ep. 108 when we first found the lighthouse. Not a creature got answers, 'cause Darlton's a louse. Hurley and Jack set out old school, with care, in hopes that old Jacob soon would be there. But 'twas in L.A. that my poor heart did shatter. They waxed Foxy's chest! Can aught else matter?
--Cindy McLennan on TWoP


Apparently the big Lost showdown--the Locke-ness Monster assaults The Temple--will be Tuesday night. Not-Locke gives the denizens of The Island's safe place until sundown to get out or die.

Of the original main characters, only Sayid remains inside (though Kate and Sun are on their way). Of the other major players Miles is Templeized, and Ben, Alana, and Lapidus are heading there.

Surely it's no coincidence that "Sundown" is a Sayid-centric episode. Could it be that our favorite Iraqi torturer and Benjamin Linus minion now has special powers after his rebirth in the spring? Powers given to him by Jacob to wield in the coming assault on The Temple?

Quote of the Day (2/25/10) (The Fall Week)

If it is not true that a divine being fell, then one can only say that one of the animals went completely off its head.
--G. K. Chesteron

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ricky Gervais Movies

I just watched The Invention of Lying and last month caught Ghost Town on Netflix.

These are both very good comedies. Funny and bold in their way. And Gervais is really, really good in each of them.

Organ Inferiority

I can't recall who first introduced me to Alfred Adler's (pictured) idea of organ inferiority (was it Bob Kugelmann?), but I am a prime candidate.

Born cross-eyed, amblyopic (I have virtually no acuity with my "lazy" right eye), I have nevertheless been obsessed for most of my intellectual life with . . . vision.

My first published essays back in the 1980s were often about vision and the visionary:

--“Detached Retinas: ‘Camera Man’ and the Private Eye Movie.” To-Wards 3.1 (Fall 1987): 26-31.
--“The Eye of Longing.” Re-Vision 6.1 (1983): 22-33.
--“The Eye as Inspiration in Modern Poetry.” New Orleans Review 8 (1981): 10-13.
--“Noticer: The Visionary Art of Annie Dillard.” Massachusetts Review 21 (1980): 255-70.

And they have been a theme found throughout my work.

Jeff Jensen on Jack

From his EW meditation on "Lighthouse":

In the aftermath, Jack took a seat on the cliff to stew in his confusion and anger. Meanwhile, Hurley and Jacob debriefed. Jacob seemed to suggest that contrary to Hurley's panic (and armful of inky instructions), everything had gone according to plan. Jack was supposed to look in the magic mirrors. Jack was supposed to see what he saw. And maybe most importantly, Jack was supposed to have the response that he had, even at the expense of his magical mirror, mirrors on the Lighthouse walls. The purpose, I think, was to correct Jack of one misconception: He was not stupid to believe that the Island holds redemptive purpose for him. It does. Jack just needs to keep his eyes open and look for it. He also needs to do one thing more, and I think it's the thing that Lighthouse mirrors were designed to show him. Hurley and Jack got it wrong. The Lighthouse doesn't cast light outward. It casts light inward, and reveals the state of your heart. For Jack Shephard, his heart is still locked up in his childhood home, his father's house, his past, and he won't be free and realized until he leaves all of it behind. Besides, I'm pretty sure it's a prerequisite for the job Jacob wants Jack to take: replacing him as Island protector. Yep: I'm thinking Jack is right at the top of Jacob's list of candidates. So hurry up and fix thyself, Number 23 — because you're going to be the new Number 1.

"Lighthouse" Easter Eggs

To the "Lighthouse"

On our trip (apologies to Virginia Woolf) "To the 'Lighthouse,'" we learn the following (in no particular order):

--Sideways World: Jack has a son, who, like Daniel Faraday, is a piano prodigy. (Who the mother is we don't learn in this episode.)
--On the Island: Hurley records a set of instructions from Jacob on his arm.
--On the Island: Claire is bad-shit crazy (loved the skull baby!) and buddy-buddy with the Locke-ness Monster.

--On the Island: The numbers of the Candidates are linked to positions on the lighthouse's mirror apparatus, settings that allow the user (allow Jacob) to see through space-and-time. (Jack glimpses his childhood home, the pagoda where Jin and Sun were married, the church where Sawyer's parents were buried). Visible (at least in freeze-frame) names includes familiar names--Austen, Jarrah, Shephard, Friendly, Linus (Ben? Roger?), Rousseau (Danielle? Alex), Lewis, Michael (Dawson), Ford (Sawyer), Burke (Juliet), Chang (Pierre, Lara), Straume, Faraday, Littleton (Claire? Aaron?), Fernandez (Nikki), Henderson (Rose's maiden name), Goodspeed (numerous possibles), Mars, Rutherford (Shannon)--and less familiar minor players (815 survivors, Others, Dharmaites, US military, members of Rousseau's expedition)--Lacombe, Mattingly, Pryce, Troup (author of Bad Twin), Jenkins, Cunningham, Pickett (Danny, Coleen).

--On the Island: Life-sized tic-tac-toe is a good way to pass the time in The Temple
--Sideways World: Dogen is in LA, and his son is at the same piano auditions as Jack's David.
--On the Island: Anything is an option (Dogen).
--On the Island: Jack has an all-important mission ahead that dead Jacob continues to prepare him for.
--On the Island: Someone is coming to The Island and I bet it's Desmond. (“Someone’s coming to The Island; I need you to help him find it.” Let the speculation begin about whom Jacob means to call. Who’s 108? My money’s on Hume."--Noel Murray)
--Sideways World: Jack doesn't remember the origin of his appendectomy scar.
--On the Island: Hurley loves temples and "Indiana Jones stuff."
--Sideways World: Claire is remembered in Jack's father's will.
--Sideways World: "New Jack" (Murray's designation) has different musical tastes.
--On the Island: Bad Shit Claire and Kate are heading for a showdown.

The Method in "LOST's" Madness

I think one of the under-recognized strengths of Lost is how the structure of the storytelling reflects what the show is about. Long before the characters started traveling through time, we were traveling through time, via flashbacks and flash-forwards. And now it seems that this season—in which the story is split between two realities—is going to be devoted to alternate realities within the two realities. Choosing a side in the coming island conflict isn’t just a matter of allying with friends against enemies. It’s also about subscribing to a worldview. It’s about picking a reality to live in.
--Noel Murray, Onion TV Club

Quote of the Day (2/24/10) (The Fall Week)

It is very unhappy, but too late to be helped, the discovery we have made that we exist. That discovery is called the Fall of Man. Ever afterwards we suspect our instruments. . . .
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"In Bed" with Lionsgate

This is how Jenji Kohan characterized her new deal with Lionsgate (producer already of her Weeds):

Having gotten to second base with Lionsgate in my former ‘under the shirt but over the bra’ deal, it’s a thrill to now be in bed with them and going all the way. Let us hope our creative offspring make us both proud and happy for years to come. And when I say "come," don’t read into it. It’s a business deal. Get your minds out of the gutter.

Tip of the Hat: The Live Feed

"The kind of doctor who can't help anybody"

Entering campus this morning I found myself behind a car with a personalized MTSU license plate that read "Dr. R."

We don't have a medical school, so I am assuming this belonged to a vain fellow PhD.

Early in my career a colleague once observed that we PhDs never want to publicize ourselves as doctors--in the phone book, for example--unless we want to field middle-of-the-night misdirected phone calls seeking emergency medical advice.

One of my professors--a history faculty member--once told the following story:

On the first day of school, his son's third grade teacher went around the room asking each student to tell what his or her father did for a living. Plumber, mailman, banker--the answers came. When one child announced her father was a doctor, the teacher inquired further: "What kind?" "A pediatrician" was the reply.

When my professor's son's turn came, he too replied "a doctor," and the teacher inquired again "What kind?" "He's the kind of doctor who can't help anybody."

Which is not true--at least not in regard to Dr. Lavery. I can fix a comma splice, mend a dangling participle, unsplit an infinitive.

"Cognitus Interruptus"

From The Urban Dictionary:

Quote of the Day (2/23/10) (The Fall Week)

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

TVGasm's "The Substitute" Recap

Don't tell me what I can't rue.

You will LOL at this line when you have read TVGasm's latest Lost recap. Brilliant. Beyond brilliant.

Heard on Keith Olbermann

Ultimately maybe Texas will not have to secede from the Union. Perhaps it will just drop off like a vestigial tail.
--Keith Olbermann (in a discussion of disbelief in evolution)

Dr. GM

I recently bought a book by someone I used to know in another lifetime. GM has now published several New Agey books and become a figure in the (wait for it) men's movement. Not Robert Bly famous, but significant evidently. (I found the book for 50 cents from an Amazon reseller.)

GM was a philosophy professor with whom I team-taught a course on Wallace Stevens and Merleau-Ponty last century. Joyce and I were good friends with his wife. And then he had an affair with an undergraduate student in the WS/MMP course--while it was still in progress. Her husband was in the class as well. The result was a personal and professional mess. (Two divorces would follow.) I refused to appear in the classroom at the same time with Professor Unfaithful. We spent many evenings consoling his wife over his caddish behavior. He always did think he was "beyond good and evil" and had acted accordingly.

Later we learned that he had asked his department chair for permission to have the affair. One drunken evening, his wife, Joyce, and I had fun creating the proper university form to seek said permission. I wish I had kept it.

Shocked that his "friends" had refused to support him, GM fled town at year's end--into the welcoming arms of the men's movement.


Our granddaughter Adelyn at our house today.

No Accounting for Taste

This is from a movie review on Amazon:

My cousin Mary Jo has pretty good taste in movies ... she likes good stuff like Waterworld, Battlefield Earth, The Seed of Chucky, etc.. so when I asked her for movie recommendations she told me to check out Dr. Strangelove. I was shocked that she wanted me to see this, because both of us know that movies made before 1990 are horrible. I was hesitant to watch this because it's so old but I decided to give it a shot. What a mistake!! People who pass this off as a "comedy" are ridiculous, as this movie was VERY unfunny. It wasn't even in colour, the characters were boring and there was way too much dialogue.

For a REAL black comedy watch "Soul Plane" or "White Chicks"!

Hat Tip to Chris Driver.

Lisa Rosen

I have been e-mailing today with Lisa Rosen, a SoCal based writer who has done several exceptional pieces on/about Whedon and the Whedonverses.

Her excellent R.I.P on Buffy can be found here.

Also worth looking at:

--“Family Tradition: With Hollywood Writers, the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree.” Written By. May 2007: 33-39.

--“New Media Guru: Meet Joss Whedon the Web Slayer.” Written By. January 2009: 26-33.

A substantial portion of the latter will be included in Joss Whedon: Conversations.

Her work was an important source for my forthcoming Joss: A Creative Portrait of the Maker of the Whedonverses.

From now on this blog will be available at as well as here.

Quote of the Day (2/22/10) (Perception Week)

In reality, there is no one rhythm of duration; it is possible to imagine many different rhythms which, slower or faster, measure the degree of tension or relaxation of different kinds of consciousness, and thereby fix their places in the scale of being. . . . Do we not sometimes perceive in ourselves, in sleep, two contemporaneous and distinct persons of whom one sleeps a few minutes, while the other dream fills days and weeks? And would not the whole of history be contained in a very short time for a consciousness at a higher degree of tension than our own, which should watch the development of humanity while contracting it, so to speak, into the great phases of its evolution? In short, then, to perceive consists in condensing enormous periods of an infinitely diluted existence into a few more differentiated moments of an intensive life, and in the summing up of a very long history. To perceive means to immobilize.
--Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Big Love" Family Tree

From Wikipedia. Helpful. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Response to Whedonesque Posts Re. "Joss Whedon: Conversations"

A series of interesting posts have appeared on Whedonesque since I put up news about the forthcoming Joss Whedon: Conversations collection I am editing with Cynthia Burkhead.

We want to make our book the best that it can be (perhaps we need a treatment?). So we welcome your feedback.

There seems to be some concern about the price (which has not been set yet), but I can confirm that it will be available in both hardcover (primarily for libraries) and paperback (low $20s). Neither of us is receiving any money in advance for the book. Our goal, in keeping with the tradition of published interviews at the University Press of Mississippi, was simply to put together in a single volume a strong collection of conversations with a major figure. (UPM offers books covering writers, filmmakers, comic book artists--they have collections of interviews with Chuck Jones and Art Spiegelman!)

The complained-about Rolling Stone piece was certainly not our first choice, but we wanted to have something that dealt with Whedon, the internet, and his dream of being the web's Roger Corman. Can anyone direct us to Whedon's criticism about the Kushner piece? (We liked the Wharton School of Business interview with Whedon, but it was prohibitively expensive.)

As to the highly praised IGN interview: we agree that it was one of the very best, but we have yet to find a way to seek permission to include it. The interviewer's e-mail address is no longer valid. Anybody have any idea of how to get in touch with IGN?

Write to David here with further comments or suggestions:

Billboard Bulge

Could this billboard for the HBO series possibly appear in the US? (It's from New Zealand.)

Quote of the Day (2/21/10) (Perception Week)

One day, once and for all, something was set in motion which, even during sleep, can no longer cease to see or not to see, to feel or not to feel, to suffer or be happy, to think or rest from thinking, in a word to "have it out" with the world. There then arose, not a new set of sensations or state of consciousness, not even a new monad or a new perspective, since I am not tied to any one perspective, my point of view, being under compulsion only in that I must always have only one at once let us say, therefore, that there arose a fresh possibility of situations. The event of my birth has not passed completely away, it has not fallen into nothingness in the way that an event of the objective world does, for it committed a whole future, not as a cause determines its effect, but as a situation, once created, inevitably leads on to some outcome. . . . In the home into which a child is born, all objects change their significance; they begin to await some as yet indeterminate treatment at his hands; another and different person is there, a new personal history, short or long, has just been initiated, another account has been opened. My first perception, along with the horizons which surrounded it, is an ever-present event, an unforgettable tradition; even as a thinking subject, I still am that first perception, the continuation of that same life inaugurated by it.
--Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Joss Whedon: Conversations"

Here is the close-to-final table of contents for the collection of Whedon interviews Cynthia Burkhead and I are doing for the TV Conversations series at University Press of Mississippi.

Bad Titles

An interesting piece on bad book titles.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Joss Whedon on "BSG"

Working on the final edit of Joss Whedon: Conversations (which I am co-editing with Cynthia Burkhead)--the inaugural volume in the Television Conversations series I edit, this exchange (with Joy Press in Salon) caught my attention.

PRESS: Along with Buffy expat Eliza Dushku, you have Battlestar Galactica star Tahmoh Penikett in Dollhouse. Are you a Galactica obsessive?
WHEDON: Um, I think obsessive is too light a word. I absolutely adore it. It's my favorite show ever. Come on, it's The West Wing with space battles. It covers all of my needs. I watch their storytelling and go, "Oh, so that's how it's done. Fuck."

Quote of the Day (2/20/10) (Perception Week)

Perhaps there is a degree of perception at which what is real and what is imagined are one: a state of clairvoyant observation, accessible or possibly accessible to the poet or, say, the acutest poet.
--Wallace Stevens, "Adagia"

Friday, February 19, 2010

To "Tarantino"

Rachel Maddow has been running a contest to come up with a cooler, less sleep-inducing name for "filibuster."

And the winner is "Tarantino," "to Tarantino." Why? Because the process (wait for it) "kills bills."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What Conan's Been Doing on His Vacation

"We still have weather?!"

Here's what I said about this cartoon in Late for the Sky.

In a "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip published on the eve of 1990, a very demanding young boy harangues his stuffed tiger with thoughts on the last ten years of the century and his great disappointment with technological escalation and the progress of the oblivion of Being.

"A new decade is coming up," Hobbes notes. "Yeah," Calvin replies in disgust, "big deal! Hmph." Reality, it seems, does not come close to matching his science fiction inspired anticipation."Where are the flying cars? [Calvin asks] Where are the moon colonies? Where are the personal robots and the zero gravity boots, huh? You call this a new decade?! You call this the future?? Ha! Where are the rocket packs? Where are the disintegration rays? Where are the floating cities?" As usual, Hobbes offers wise counsel to balance Calvin's pique. "Frankly, I'm not sure people have the brains to manage the technology they've got." And as usual, Calvin fails to listen. He continues to rave: "I mean look at this! We still have weather!! Give me a break!"

While Susan Sontag's atavistic, nostalgic sensibility seeks to "say goodbye" to things as old, dear friends, Calvin's 1990s' impatience cannot be rid of them fast enough. As the use of the slang expression "Give me a break" captures perfectly, weather is for him simply a nuisance--like an annoying parent demanding that he clean up his room or eat his vegetables.

It is true, however, as Calvin laments, that the fin de siecle outward appearance of things is not very futuristic. We do, after all, still have weather. But such impatience is quite childish. Simulation on a planetary scale takes time. The Space Age, after all, is still quite young. The sky will not always be blue.

Thanks to Neel and Lauren for helping me find it.

Quote of the Day (2/19/10) (Perception Week)

You can only see things that happen within a range of speeds. This is because four million years of human evolution developed our eyes to process only that data which were concretely useful. Until this generation, there was no need to see anything that moved at electronic speed. Everything that we humans can actually do anything about moves slowly enough for us to see.
--Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Films that Scare Marty

Martin Scorsese, whose horror film Shutter Island debuts this month, picks his 11 most frightening.

"The Battle of Algiers"

Just finished watching Gillo Pontecorvo's 1965 b/w cinema-verite style film about Algeria's battle for independence from the French.

Powerful. An occupying power. Suicide bombing. Insurgency. Waterboarding. Unmistakeable post 9/11 relevance.

Who Is the Boy in "The Substitute"?

Nikki Stafford consisders the possibilities.

Quote of the Day (2/18/10) (Perception Week)

"What you look hard at," Hopkins says truly, "seems to look hard at you." . . . In the most intense instress relationships, we share our form and our life with the perceived objects: we become, in our creative act, all the objects we behold, and, more importantly, the order of those objects.
--James Olney

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Spider Strategem?

Was the spider that crawled away from Locke's corpse in "The Substitute" the same kind that put Nikki and Paolo in a coma? Is it possible Locke is not dead?

Buddy TV's Easter Eggs (mostly not) for the episode are up.

"Mad Men"/"30 Rock" Crossover Fan-Fic

I really don't know what to think about this.

"Supernatural" S6

It's now official.

But Kripke will not be showrunner.

"The Substitute"

Rose (still with cancer) as supervisor of Hurley's temp agency. Ben as a history teacher (and confessing that he killed Locke--at his burial). Richard's refusual to accept not-Locke's offer. Alana's gathering of Jacob's ashes. A mysterious boy in the jungle chastises not-Locke for killing "him" (not-Locke's uttering of Locke's signature "Don't tell me what I can't do!") Not-Locke's "inside joke" jettisoning of the white stone from the scales in the mysterious cave--all the names (and numbers) Jacob recorded there. Wonderful stuff in a great episode.

Strangest thing of all: Locke about to get married to Gemma Teller Morrow (Katy Sagal) from Sons of Anarchy!

Quote of the Day (2/17/10) (Perception Week)

Just as the soul is independent of the material physical body, as to intellective capacity for the act of receiving the intelligibles, the soul is also independent as to its imaginative capacity and its imaginative activity. Moreover, when it is separated from this world it can continue to avail itself of active imagination. By means of its own essence and this faculty, the soul is therefore capable of perceiving concrete things whose existence, as actualized in knowledge (cognition) and in imagination, constitutes eo ipso the very concrete existential form of these things. In other words, consciousness and its object are ontologically inseparable here. After this separation all the soul's powers are assembled and concentrated in the sole faculty of active imagination. Because at that time imaginative perception ceases to be scattered across the various thresholds of the physical body's five senses, and because it is no longer required for the care of the physical body, which is exposed to the vicissitudes of the external world, imaginative perception can finally display its true superiority over sense perception.
(Sadra Shirazi writes) All the faculties of the soul then become as if they were one single faculty, which is the capacity to configurate and typify . . . . The imagination of the soul becomes just like a sensible perception of the super-sensible. The imaginative insight of the soul is like its sensible insight. Thus, its hearing, its sense of smell, its taste and touch [all these imaginative senses] are just like the corresponding sensible faculties, but these imaginative senses are attributed to the super-sensible. Whereas in the outer world there are five sensible faculties, each with its specific organ in the body, in the inner world they are synthesized into one.

Henry Corbin, "Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginary and the Imaginal"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nuclear Energy

Back in the 1970s and 80s I was a vocal opponent of nuclear energy.

With Obama now fully in support of it, and the building of new reactors for the first time since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl likely, it is time to remember the wise words of Geesaman and Abrahamson (quoted by Amory Lovins):

Man has lived until now by the chemical sublimation of the energies of sunlight. His ancient evolution has been a biochemical process. Life is mediated by collective stabilities in a space dominated by chemical energies. Persistence stems from a biochemical wisdom that is far more pervasive than conscious thought.

Nuclear energy on Earth is a result of human intelligence. Human intelligence is a meaning in itself, a violent life effort to transcend the old evolution and squeeze history into a scrap of time. Man's efforts at science and politics are a tentative and insecure facet of that evolution. "Brighter than ten thousand suns" was a prophetic description of the Trinity event, for the Sun's primeval fire had burned briefly on the surface of the Earth, and the former stabilities of life, sorted out by the ages in a chemical world, suddenly seemed inadequate.

We have lived consciously with nuclear energy for a generation. In that time, we have pondered it cautiously as if it were a sleeping giant. In our wars, we have been careful to leave it undisturbed. Now when our society is fragmented and alienated, when it is threatened by a diminished stability and fading sense of self-duplication, is it the proper time to try our hand at nuclear energy? In this enterprise, the old reserves of nuclear stability may be useless; and we must persist "as on a darkling plain" by the workings of infallible intelligence alone.

"Big Lebowski" Night at Watkins

I have been invited to be part of a Big Lebowski night at Watkins, April 9nd at 7 pm.

Bathrobes, I am told, are required.

The date has been changed.

Quote of the Day (2/16/10) (Perception Week)

The poet, the artist, the sleuth--whoever sharpens our perception tends to be anti-social; rarely "well-adjusted," he cannot go along with currents and trends. A strange bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are.
--Marshall McLuhan

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jacob, Man in Black Action Figures

If I understand correctly, these are rough drafts, but soon to be available.

"Supernatural" 6?

Can we really believe this? Much as I love the series, I don't want it to happen.

Especially if Kripke exits. Supernatural S6 would be like Gilmore Girls S7. Probably good, but not quite the same.

"Mildred Pierce"

HBO will do it--as a miniseries. Kate Winslet as MP. Todd Haynes will direct. Can't wait.

"Under One Roof"

Why are you being such a douchebag?
--Marilyn to Bill Hendrickson on Big Love

The voice of the audience as well.

What a memorable episode.

Quote of the Day (2/15/10) (Montaigne Week)

It is one of the chief obligations I have to my fortune that my bodily state has run its course with each thing in due season. I have seen the grass, the flower, and the fruit; now I see the dryness happily, since it is naturally.
--Michel de Montaigne

Saturday, February 13, 2010

100 Best "LOST" Lines

TVGasm has the list (with screen captures). Wonderful.

Also, TVGasm's inimitable recap of "LA X" is finally up--and worth waiting for.

Bad Subtitles

A former student, a Vietnam vet, watching Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock in Tokyo while on R and R, was surprised to find Sly and the Family Stone's "Gonna Take You Higher" translated as

Gonna get me a Honda.

Huffington Post has a slide show of similar odd translations. My favorite below.

Quote of the Day (2/13/10) (Montaigne Week)

If I had been able to see Erasmus in other days, it would have been hard for me not to take for adages and apothegms everything he said to his valet and his hostess. We imagine much more appropriately an artisan on the toilet seat or on his wife than a great president, venerable by his demeanor and his ability. It seems to us that they do not stoop from their lofty thrones even to live.
--Michel de Montaigne

Friday, February 12, 2010

From "A Serious Man's" Credit Sequence

No Jews were harmed in the making of this picture.

Schrödinger's, Lamed Wufnik, the Coens

Watching, loving, Joel and Ethan's latest.

How could I not be hooked by a film which evokes (following up on Freddy Riedenschneider's Heisenberg exposition in Man Who Wasn't There) the paradox of Schrödinger's cat and lamed wufniks ["lamed vovniks"*]?

*Defined, On "Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys" on the DVD, as
The thirty-six just men on whom the existence of the world depends, according to Jewish lore.

Too Close to Home

A fatal shooting spree on the campus of a school where I once taught (the University of Alabama in Huntsville).

According to reports the shooter was a female biology professor unhappy about a tenure decision.

Olympic Death

I am not the squeamish sort, but I had to look away at the film NBC just aired of the Luger wiping out fatally. Do we really need to see this.

The nightly news is not Faces of Death.

Renew/Not Renew

The Hollywood Reporter's "Live Feed" has its predictions about whether or not a variety of "bubble" TV shows will return next year.

Glad to see they think Fringe and Chuck will make it.

Quote of the Day (2/12/10) (Montaigne 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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The Substitute"

This is a photo from next week's Locke-centric episode of LOST. Shocking deviation from the original LOST narrative. Locke and his heinous father appear to be buddy-buddy--worthy of a photo in John's box company cubicle. (As monumental a change as Hurley's newfound good luck.)

Does this mean Locke's father did not push him out that window, putting him in a wheelchair?

Heard on "Supernatural"

Castiel: Cupid is a lower order of angel, a cherub.
Dean: You mean the little guy in the diaper?
Castiel: Cupid is not incontinent.
--"My Blood Valentine" (written by Ben Edlund)

A terrific episode, which I thought was going to be a by-the-numbers holiday episode, but turned out to be dark and disturbed.

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

My guest tonight is Claire Danes, who stars in an HBO movie about Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who designs slaughterhouses. Is it just me or does Hollywood make the same movie over and over again?

The Rug in the Foot Room (on "LOST")

DocArzt's blog reposts a really brilliant analysis of the meaning of the red rug pictured on the right (click to enlarge).
Go here.

Line 1:
νῦν τοι ἐελδέσθω πόλεμος κακός (Iliad bk. 16, line 494)

“Now you must embrace this evil war”

Line 2:
ῥέε δ᾽ αἵματι γαῖα (Iliad bk. 4, line 451)

“the ground ran with blood”

Line 3:
θανάτου δὲ μέλαν νέφος ἀμφεκάλυψεν (Iliad bk. 16, line 350)

“then death’s black cloud enveloped”

The most important televisual use of Classical Greek since . . .

("Restless," Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 4.22) (click to enlarge)

Quote of the Day (2/11/10) (Montaigne Week)

Presumption is our natural and original infirmity. The frailest and most vulnerable of all creatures is man, and at the same time the most arrogant. He sees and feels himself lodged here in the mud and filth of the world, nailed and riveted to the worst, the deadest and most stagnant part of the universe, at the lowest story of the house and the most remote from the vault of heaven, with the animals in the worst condition of the three; and he goes and sits himself in imagination above the circle of the moon, and brings heaven under his feet.
--Michel de Montaigne, "Apology for Raymond Sebond"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FNL News

Ausiello has it.

"What Kate Does" Easter Eggs

Courtesy of Buffy TV (including the Killer Whale recurrence).

Quote of the Day (2/10/10) (Montaigne Week)

In all affairs, when they are past, however they have turned out, I have little regret. For this idea takes away the pain: that they were bound to happen thus, and now they are in the great stream of the universe and in the chain of Stoical causes. Your fancy, by wish or imagination, cannot change a single point without overturning the whole order of things, and the past and the future.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"What Kate Does"

WTF? In the LA Alternative Reality, Ethan Goodspeed (aka rom)/William Mapother is a kind and gentle baby doctor?

And back on The Island, Jack's sister Claire is a gun-toting mamma, "claimed" just like Sayid is now being claimed? (according to Dogen)

What We Know About LOST S6

Collating what I could find on IMDB and TV Guide Online, here are the titles of the first nine episodes (and a couple of directors):

Consecutive # | Season # | Air Date | Title | Writer(s) | Director
103-104 | 6.1-2 | 2/2/10 | "LA X" | Lindelof & Cuse | Bender
105 | 6.3 | 2/9/10 | "What Kate Does" | Kitsis & Horowitz | Edwards
106 | 6.4 | 2/16/10 | "The Substitute" | TBA | Gates
107 | 6.5 | 2/23/10 | "Lighthouse" | TBA | TBA
108 | 6.6 | 3/2/10 | "Sundown" | TBA | Bender
109 | 6.7 | 3/9/10 | "Dr. Linus" | TBA | TBA
110 | 6.8 | 3/16/10 | "Recon" | TBA | TBA
111 | 6.9 | 3/23/10 | "Ab Aeterno" | TBA | TBA
112 | 6.10 | 3/30/10 | "The Package" | TBA | TBA
113 | 6.11 | 4/6/10 | "Happily Ever After" | TBA | TBA
114 | 6.12 | 4/13/10 | "Everybody Loves Hugo" | TBA | TBA
115 | 6.13 | 4/20/10 | "The Last Recruit" | TBA | TBA
116 | 6.14 | 4/27/10 | "The Candidate" | TBA | TBA

"Dr. Linus"????
Ab Aeterno: From the beginning of time

Update: BuddyTV now lists additional episode titles (the dates are my own and hypothetical) for 6.10-6.14, which I have added above.

Colbert and the Conversatives

Remember that study some time ago that showed conservatives think Colbert is on their side?

Well one of those responding to Josh Marshall's entry on and video of Colbert calling Palin "fucking retarded" left this comment on Talking Points:

He [Colbert] means well, but sometimes his points come out like he is making fun of the good conservatives he supports. Maybe he is trying to be funny and he just doesn't know how. Hopefully, Sarah will go on his show and explain things to him.

Palin on The Colbert Report? Oh please Lord, make it happen.

Colbert Goes There

Yes, he calls Palin herself a "retard."

Quote of the Day (2/9/10) (Montaigne Week)

Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face.
--Michel de Montaigne

Monday, February 08, 2010

Black Toyota Humor (from Andy Borowitz)

Whedon to FX?

Is Joss Whedon talking to FX about a new project. Sci-Fi Wire thinks he might be.

Palin's True Face (AP Photo from the Nashville Tea Party Convention)

God's Plan

In post-game interviews, Drew Brees proclaimed that the Saints' Super Bowl 44 victory was "God's plan."

The idiocy of assuming a divine being follows--and dictates the outcome of--sporting events is beyond my comprehension.

The suggestion that said divine being initially sent Katrina as some kind of Pat Robertsonian punishment and then provided a Super Bowl victory as compensation/redemption--priceless!

Quote of the Day (2/8/10) (Animal Week)

There is a profound, inescapable need for animals that is in all people everywhere, an urgent requirement for which no substitute exists. It is no vague, romantic, or intangible yearning, no simple sop to our loneliness for Paradise. It is as hard and unavoidable as the compounds of our inner chemistry. It is universal but poorly recognized. It is the peculiar way that animals are used in the growth and development of the human person, in those most priceless qualities which we lump together as "mind" . . . Animals are among the first inhabitants of the mind's eye. They are basic to the development of speech and thought. Because of their part in the growth of consciousness, they are inseparable from a series of events in each human life, indispensable to our becoming human in the fullest sense.
--Paul Shepard, Thinking Animals

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Peyton Ad

So on the Super Bowl wrap show on ESPN, we see Peyton Manning practicing to win (an ad for Wheaties I think).

I remember Ford ready to debut a campaign for the Aerostar mini-van tied to the Space Shuttle the morning after The Challenger exploded (1986). (For more on this, read "Nemesis and NASA: The American Tragedy of The Challenger.")

Wheaties too gambled on something (someone) who went up in flames.

Good Earners

The top 40 in Hollywood, according to Vanity Fair. Two of the top three are complete hacks. The Potter kids are profiting nicely from the franchise. Owen Wilson is still able to earn $29 mil????

1. Michael Bay, producer-director ($125 million)
2. Steven Spielberg, producer-director ($85 million)
3. Roland Emmerich, producer-director ($70 million)
4. James Cameron, producer-director ($50 million)
5. Todd Phillips, director ($44 million)
6. Daniel Radcliffe, actor ($41 million)
7. Ben Stiller, actor ($40 million)
8. Tom Hanks, actor ($36 million)
9. J. J. Abrams, producer-director ($36 million)
10. Jerry Bruckheimer, producer ($35.5 million)
11. Tyler Perry, actor-director-producer ($32.5 million)
12. Adam Sandler, actor-producer ($31.5 million)
13. Denzel Washington, actor ($31 million)
14. Emma Watson, actor ($30 million)
15. Rupert Grint, actor ($30 million)
16. Owen Wilson, actor ($29 million)
17. Nicolas Cage, actor ($28 million)
18. Russell Crowe, actor ($28 million)
19. Cameron Diaz, actor ($27 million)
20. Brian Grazer, producer, and Ron Howard, director-producer ($25.5 million)
21. Johnny Depp, actor ($25 million)
22. Steve Carell, actor ($25 million)
23. Robert De Niro, actor ($24.5 million)
24. Sarah Jessica Parker, actor ($24 million)
25. Katherine Heigl, actor ($24 million)
26. Shawn Levy, director-producer ($23 million)
27. Oren Peli and Jason Blum, writer-director-producers ($22.5 million)
28. Robert Downey Jr., actor ($22 million)
29. George Clooney, actor ($22 million)
30. Matt Damon, actor ($22 million)
31. Reese Witherspoon, actor ($21 million)
32. Angelina Jolie, actor ($21 million)
33. Jennifer Aniston, actor ($20 million)
34. Sandra Bullock, actor ($20 million)
35. Robert Pattinson, actor ($18 million)
36. Clint Eastwood, actor-director-producer ($17 million)
37. Kristen Stewart, actor ($16 million)
38. Mark Wahlberg, actor ($16 million)
39. Shia LaBeouf, actor ($15 million)
40. Brad Pitt, actor ($13.5 million)

"Triumph of a Time Lord"

Delighted to have received a copy of Matt Hills' much anticipated new book. Thanks Matt!

"In the Loop"

I have never seen a more brilliant (or profanely funny) political film than In the Loop.

"Temple Grandin"

Joyce and I watched this new HBO movie last night while babysitting Adey.

By all means see this wonderful, moving, unsentimental, illuminating film. Clare Dane should just receive her Emmy now.

Movies I Have Seen (Since October)

Because you are dying to know.

(500) Days of Summer
Angels & Demons
Away We Go
Belle de Jour
Big Fan
Film Noir Collection: Detour
Film Noir: Bringing Darkness Into Light
Food, Inc.
Force of Evil
Friday Night
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Ghost Town
Halloween II
In the Loop
Julie & Julia
Land of the Lost
Let the Right One In
Lonesome Dove
M. Hulot's Holiday
Night at the Museum 2
On Dangerous Ground
Paper Heart
Pootie Tang
Standard Operating Procedure
State of Play
Synecdoche, New York
Taking Woodstock
The American Friend
The Asphalt Jungle
The Awful Truth
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
The House on Telegraph Hill
The Ladykillers
The Lives of Others
Tropical Malady
Yi Yi

The Triune Brain

Speaking allegorically, . . . we might imagine that when a psychiatrist bids the patient to lie down on the couch, he is asking him to stretch out next to a horse and a crocodile.
--Paul MacLean

My quote of the day today is David Bottoms' "Crawling Out at Parties." I cannot prove that Bottoms had been reading about MacLean's theory of the triune brain, but it is impossible to imagine a better poetic exposition of it.

According to MacLean (whose work I learned about in Charles Hampden-Turner's Maps of the Mind, one of the most influential books in my own intellectual development), the mammalian "limbic system," which humans share in essence with all other mammals, evolved on top of the ancient, virtually unchanging, reptilian brain.

"My old reptile loves the scotch,/the way it drugs the cells that keep him caged/in the ancient swamps of the brain," Bottoms tells us, and so it does, for the scotch gives the base reptilian brain free reign, returning it to its ancient rule.

Quote of the Day (2/7/10) (Animal Week)

My old reptile loves the scotch,
the way it drugs the cells that keep him caged
in the ancient swamps of the brain.
He likes crawling out at parties
among tight-skirted girls. He takes
the gold glitter of earrings
for small yellow birds wading in shallow water
the swish of nyloned legs for muskrats in the reeds
But he moves awkwardly in the hardwood forests
of early American furniture, stumbles on grassy
throw rugs, and the yellow birds
flutter toward the foggy horizons of the room.
Out of date, he just can't swing
so slides back always to his antique home,
the stagnant, sobering water.
--David Bottoms, "Crawling Out at Parties"

Saturday, February 06, 2010

If LOST Had Been a '60s Pulp Movie

Tip of the hat to Doug Howard.

Jokes: The Thirteen Husbands

Tip of the hat to Giada Da Ros.

A lawyer got married to a woman who had previously been married 12 times. On their wedding night, they settled into the bridal suite at their hotel and the bride said to her new groom, "Please, promise to be gentle. I am still a virgin."

This puzzled the groom, since after 12 marriages, he thought that at least one of her husbands would have been able to perform. He asked his new bride to explain the phenomenon. She responded:

My first husband was a Sales Representative who spent our entire marriage telling me, in grandiose terms, 'It's gonna be great!'

My second husband was from Software Services; he was never quite sure how it was supposed to function, but he said he would send me documentation.

My third husband was from Field Services and constantly said that everything was diagnostically OK, but he just couldn't get the system up.

My fourth husband was from Educational Services, and he simply said, 'Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.'

My fifth husband was from the Telemarketing Department and said that he had the orders, but he wasn't quite sure when he was going to be able to deliver.

My sixth husband was an Engineer. He told me that he understood the basic process but needed three years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method.

My seventh husband was from Finance and Administration. His comments were that he knew how, but he just wasn't sure whether it was his job.

My eighth husband was from Standards and Regulations and told me that he was up to the standards but that regulations said nothing about how to do it.

My ninth husband was a Marketing Manager. He said, 'I know I have the product. I'm just not sure how to position it.'

My tenth husband was a psychiatrist, and all he ever wanted to do was talk about it.

My eleventh husband was a gynecologist, and all he ever wanted to do was look at it.

My twelfth husband was a stamp collector, and all he ever wanted to do was--God I miss him!

So now I have married a lawyer, so I know I'm going to get screwed.

More "Love"

HBO has renewed Big Love--ordering a fifth season of the series.

Quote of the Day (2/6/10) (Animal Week)

In our species, knowledge of who we are is linked to origins and beginnings, and it is communicated as a mythology. The first obligation to society by young men and women who are being initiated into adult status is acknowledgment and affirmation of the past, and of its living presence in them as the symbolic embodiment of their ancestors. Being inescapably human, we have not lost the capacity for that affirmation, but we have denied its central content. Because of the imminent extinction of the large primates, opportunity to renew that affirmation is vanishing. Let us protect our cousins from further human persecution, and go on from there to the whole of animate life, and so redeem our heritage. It is not our responsibility to do so because of some higher authority because we would be angels but a responsibility, first to ourselves, and second to the island earth and our fellow inhabitants in a vast and lonely cosmic sea. The anguish of our human tragedy is due more to a delusional system that insists on the exaltation of our species and failed myths of progress and history than to reality.
--Paul Shepard, The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game

Friday, February 05, 2010

Jokes: The Talking Dog

Back in December 2006, I recorded three of my all time favorite long form jokes here, here, and here.

Here is one more: The Talking Dog.

A man walks into the office of a talent agent and announces that he has a talking dog.

"Geez," the agent responds. "You've got to be kidding me."

"No. I really do. What do you call the part of the house over your head?" the man asks the dog. "Roof. Roof," the dog replies.

"Come on," the agent says. "This is ridiculous."

"Wait," the dog trainer replies. "There's more. What do you call the part of a golf course where the grass is really thick and overgrown?" "Ruff! Ruff!" the dog answers.

"You are trying my patience," the increasingly angry agent warns.

"One more," the man insists. "Who was the greatest baseball player of all time?" "Ruth! Ruth!" the dog responds confidently.

"Get the hell out of my office!" the agent screams.

Deeply disappointed the man and his dog find themselves back on the street, their rejection mirrored by their slumped postures as they walk away. Abruptly, the dog stops and, making eye contact with his master, suggests "DiMaggio?"


I was predisposed to like last night's Fringe "Winter Finale" by the title alone (my wife is from there; I used to live and teach there), but I was not prepared for the power of the episode. Ken Tucker has a good synopsis here.

No doubt about it, Fringe has found its stride and is now an excellent series, especially in the mythology episodes. Here's hoping it gets renewed.

"The Blogs Must Be Crazy"

Jon Stewart "eviscerates" the blogosphere.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Blogs Must Be Crazy
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Heather Shouldn't Watch "LOST"

Salon's Heather Havrilesky is one of the best TV critics around. I have read and quoted her work for years.

But she doesn't know a thing about LOST and should stop writing about it. She only embarrasses herself when she does.

Quote of the Day (2/5/10) (Animal Week)

They do not live in the world,
Are not in time and space.
From birth to death hurled
No word do they have, not one
To plant a foot upon,
Were never in any place.
For with names the world was called
Out of the empty air,
With names was built and walled,
Line and circle and square,
Dust and emerald,
Snatched from deceiving death
By the articulate breath.
But these have never trod
Twice the familiar track,
Never turned back
Into the memoried day.
All is new and near
In the unchanging Here
Of the fifth great day of God,
That shall remain the same,
Never shall pass away.
On the sixth day we came.
--Edwin Muir, "The Animals"

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How Many Timelines (on "LOST")

I found this post on DocArzt's Blog most interesting. Let's see if Crafty Bison is right:

crafty bison says:
February 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Why does it have to be two timelines? My take is it’s all in ‘Reality X’ – “It worked”.

Why are Jack, Juliet, Sawyer etc. “still” on the island? Because they’ve jumped forward in time to 2007. We know this because Jacob tells Hurley he died an hour ago.

The plane flight we saw is in 2004. They’re on the island in 2007. That gives them three years to get from that plane flight, back to the island. That’s what’s going to pan out over the remainder of the series, and gradually we will be shown that the “two” realities are just one reality at different times, just like the old flashback/flashforward arrangement we’re used to.

"LA X" Easter Eggs

Courtesy of BuddyTV.

The C. S. I. Effect

My friend and collaborator Michele Byers co-edited this important new book (the blurb is mine).

Quote of the Day (2/4/10) (Animal Week)

To grasp the sources of aesthetic experience it is, therefore, necessary to have recourse to animal life below the human scale. The activities of the fox, the dog, and the thrush may at least stand as reminders and symbols of that unity of experience which we so fractionize when work is labor, and thought withdraws us from the world. The live animal is fully present, all there, in all of its action: in its wary glances, its sharp sniffings, its abrupt cocking of ears. All senses are equally on the qui vive. As you watch, you see motion merging into sense and sense into motion constituting that animal grace so hard for man to rival. What the live creature retains from the past and what it expects from the future operate as directions in the present. The dog is never pedantic or academic; for these things arise only when the past is severed in consciousness from the present and is set up as a model to copy or a storehouse upon which to draw. The past absorbed into the present carries on; it presses forward.
--John Dewey, Art as Experience

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

LOST End Date

Darlton announce the end date for LOST on Jimmy Kimmel. May 23rd also happens to be the day our daughter Sarah is getting married!

"LA X"

OMG. Darlton have now invented the "flash sideways." Astonishing.

Must reading this morning:

--An interview with Darlton on EW.

--Noel Murray's Onion TV Club recap.

Quote of the Day (2/3/10) (Animal Week)

There is an impressive quietness in animals. There they are, set four-square within their species, content, unseeking, unconcerned; each living according to its nature as it found it at birth, and asking no questions. All this conforms with the horizontal posture. The animal is at rest, in a state of permanent equilibrium. Not so man. His erect posture sets going in him an urge upwards that is doomed to remain forever unassuaged. Ambition, perfectionism, heroism, holiness, knowledge, mastery, rebellion this urge upwards will take on many a color, name, shape, or trend; it will always act as a force stretching the self to its utmost and seeking the All-Highest.
--Salvatore de Madariaga, Portrait of a Man Standing

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Peter Beinart details how the Repubs completely misremember Reagan's Presidency.

Bald Eagle Tired Of Everyone Just Assuming It Supports War

The Onion has the scoop.

Hollywood Eager to Finally Fuck Up ‘Catcher in the Rye’

Andy Borowitz has the news.

Holden Crosses the Street

Salinger's passing last week reminded me of this, my favorite passage from Catcher in the Rye:

I kept walking and walking up Fifth Avenue, without any tie on or anything. Then all of a sudden, something very spooky started happening. Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again. Boy did it scare me. You can't imagine. I started sweating like a bastard--my whole shirt and underwear and everything. Then I started doing something else. Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, "Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Please, Allie." And then when I'd reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I'd thank him. Then it would start all over again as soon as I got to the next corner.

Quote of the Day (2/2/10) (Animal Week)

In [the] labyrinth [of the self], where it seems one must trust to blind instinct, there is, von Franz points out, one only one, consistent rule or "ethic": Anyone who earns the gratitude of animals, or whom they help for any reason, invariably wins out. This is the only unfailing rule that I have been able to find.

Our instinct, in other words, is not blind. The animal does not reason, but it sees. And it acts with certainty; it acts "rightly," appropriately. That is why all animals are beautiful. It is the animal who knows the way, the way home. It is the animal within us, the primitive, the dark brother, the shadow soul, who is the guide.
--Ursula K. LeGuin, The Language of the Night

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Birth of Adelyn ("Nine Months to Life")

Sarah Lavery's two part account of the birth of Adelyn a week ago today is now complete on her blog.

Part One is here and Part Two here.

Two Observations on the Coen Brothers' Uniqueness

It has always been one of the special pleasures of movies that they dream worlds and map them at the same time.
--Richard T. Jameson, "Chasing the Hat"

The Coen brothers’ films have an identifiable DNA. You could scan a single frame from any of their films and the computer would scream COEN.
--Joy Tomme,

Quote of the Day (2/1/10) (Animal Week)

We may see well enough, in most of their works, how much the animals surpass us, and how much we fall short in the art of imitating them. And yet, in our ruder performances, we are sensible of what faculties we employ, and we know that our mind applies to them its utmost powers; why do we not conclude the same of the animals? Why do we ascribe to I know not what slavish instinct of nature those works that excel anything we can do by nature or art? Herein we unconsciously give them great advantage over ourselves, in making Nature, with a maternal kindness, to accompany and lead them as it were by the hand, to all the activities and conveniences of their life; whilst us she abandons to chance and fortune, and forces us to seek by art the things necessary for our preservation, at the same time denying us the means of attaining, by any education or mental effort, to the natural skill of the animals. So that their brutish stupidity surpasses in all their contrivances everything we are able to do with our divine intelligence.
--Michel de Montaigne, "Apology for Raymond Sebond"