Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Inception" Infographic

SciFi Wire supplied this, while cautioning that it may not even be a spoiler, given the film's complexity.

Raising Arizona

No doubt heading for H.I. and Ed's place.


Ken Tucker recaps the penultimate Season Four Friday Night Lights.

"Mad Men"--For and Against

One of the best young television scholars out there, Jason Mittell, explains why he does not like Mad Men.

And in the new Rolling Stone (no link available yet), Rob Sheffield counts the ways it is better than ever.

"Fans trek to Kentucky to celebrate Joss Whedon"

I am mentioned in this USA Today piece.

Quote of the Day (7/31/10) (Ars Poetica Week)

ars poetica: a poem which takes as its subject poetry itself

Introduction to Poetry
Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Death is Your Gift"

I love BtVS, but this might be going a bit far.

Tip of the hat to Rich Dixon.

Breaking News

I hadn't checked Sci-Fi Wire since Comic-Con and did not know any of the following.

That Mark Ruffalo will play Bruce Banner/The Hulk in Joss Whedon's Avengers.

That Del Toro (directing) and Cameron (producing) will team up to do Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.

That SyFy is developing an online webisodic miniseries about the Cylon War.

That Damon Lindelof is in line to write Ridley Scott's Alien prequel.

These are all terrific developments.

Oh, and they are remaking Total Recall. Eh.

Special Topics in Popular Culture, Spring 2011

I posted the question of what I should teach here.

I have now decided. The course will be on Cult Television. Under construction syllabus here.

Quote of the Day (7/30/10) (Ars Poetica Week)

ars poetica: a poem which takes as its subject poetry itself

From "Essay on Criticism"
Alexander Pope

But most by Numbers judge a Poet's song;
And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong:
In the bright Muse tho' thousand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire;
While expletives their feeble aid do join;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
While they ring round the same unvary'd chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes;
Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line it "whispers through the trees"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep"
The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with "sleep":
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Andrew Sullivan and His Readers Debate "Doctor Who"

I can't imagine anyone being more wrong than the first critic. Read the entry here.

"The Essential Sopranos Reader"

We now have the cover of the ESR.

The third book in my Sopranos trilogy. (Co-edited with Doug Howard and Paul Levinson.)

Gay Nazis

The Daily Show is never better than when they are dismantling homophobic insanity like this.

Quote of the Day (7/29/10) (Ars Poetica Week)

ars poetica: a poem which takes as its subject poetry itself

William Stafford
When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Ausiello talks with our favorite Angel's meat suit.

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

Poor Hillary. She just can't win.

Chelsea Clinton is getting married, and despite Hillary's early lead, Barack Obama has been elected Mother of the Bride.

Quote of the Day (7/28/10) (Ars Poetica Week)

ars poetica: a poem which takes as its subject poetry itself

Howard Nemerov
Walking the Dog

Two universes mosey down the street
Connected by love and a leash and nothing else.
Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves
While he mooches along with tail up and snout down,
Getting a secret knowledge through the nose
Almost entirely hidden from my sight.

We stand while he's enraptured by a bush
Till I can't stand our standing any more
And haul him off; for our relationship
Is patience balancing to this side tug
And that side drag; a pair of symbionts
Contented not to think each other's thoughts.

What else we have in common's what he taught,
Our interest in shit. We know its every state
From steaming fresh through stink to nature's way
Of sluicing it downstreet dissolved in rain
Or drying it to dust that blows away.
We move along the street inspecting shit.

His sense of it is keener far than mine,
And only when he finds the place precise
He signifies by sniffing urgently
And circles thrice about, and squats, and shits,
Whereon we both with dignity walk home
And just to show who's master I write the poem.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quote of the Day (7/27/10) (Ars Poetica Week)

ars poetica: a poem which takes as its subject poetry itself

Emily Dickinson

This was a Poet — It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings —
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door —
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it — before —

Of Pictures, the Discloser —
The Poet — it is He —
Entitles Us — by Contrast —
To ceaseless Poverty —

Of portion — so unconscious —
The Robbing — could not harm —
Himself — to Him — a Fortune —
Exterior — to Time —

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Mad Men" in the News

Terry Gross spoke with Matthew Weiner today on Fresh Air.

And on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, Tony Kornheiser ended "The Big Finish" with "Sally Draper, go to your room."

Ugly Animals

A blog devoted to ugly animals.

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan.

The Beat Goes On

Mad Men is back.

"Public Relations" had me thinking: has there ever been a television series that delivered, beat after dramatic beat, such a consistent hour of television?

Keith Phipps' excellent recap here.

Quote of the Day (7/26/10) (Ars Poetica Week)

ars poetica: a poem which takes as its subject poetry itself

Ars Poetica
by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ron Moore Explains Who/What Starbuck Was

This exchange happened at Comic-Con.

The Meta Significance of "The Big Bang"

Keith Phipps makes this brilliant comment in his Onion TV Club recap of the Season Five finale of Doctor Who:

The Doctor’s return to existence at Amy’s wedding risks sentimentality but it worked for me anyway. It also felt like the moment the season—really the last five seasons—have been building to all along. This year has been about Amy reuniting with a magic-seeming man who filled her childhood with wonder and mystery, a man nobody else remembered. Isn’t that really the story of the Russell T. Davies and now Stephen Moffat versions of the Doctor? Sure, Doctor Who never lost its cult entirely, but the show’s following diminished greatly over the years. It took those who remembered it, and believed in it, to bring it back. And here we all are.

Overall, though, he found the episode a bit disappointing, as did I. Here's his take:

“Okay kid, this is where it gets complicated.” No kidding. The season finale to Steven Moffat’s first season running Doctor Who is nothing if not complicated. Even the second time through, I’m not sure I sorted out all the various intersecting timelines or the way it slipped out of various paradoxes. But the other thing about “The Big Bang”: It’s only complicated up to a point. After the universe gets saved—again—it turns valedictory, celebrating The Doctor’s continued existence and, by extent, the show’s. I don’t think “The Big Bang” is wholly successful in either segment. The climactic action is a bit too rushed and the epilogue too relaxed. It also feels like a letdown after last week’s superb “Pandorica Opens.” But as the capper to an overall quite fine season of Doctor Who, it’s still beyond-satisfactory and filled with great moments.

Quote of the Day (7/25/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

One Art
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Whedon at Comic-Con

All four parts of Whedon-Solo at Comic-Con





Quote of the Day (7/24/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

--And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians' speeches:
two hours of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

"Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one's room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?"
Elizbath Bishop, “Questions of Travel”

Friday, July 23, 2010

How to Argue with Andrew Breitbart

Prepare the Shark

TVBizwire reports (via LA Times):

'CSI' to Open 11th Season With Guest Spot by Teen Singing Idol

"CSI" will return to CBS for its 11th season with a guest star idolized by millions of young girls: the teen singing idol Justin Bieber, reports the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker blog.

In the Sept. 23 show, which will mark Bieber's acting debut, the singer will play a "troubled teen who confronts a decision regarding his only brother and therefore has to confront the CSIs. Sounds scary. Hopefully, these confrontations won't do anything to his hair flip," the article says.

Fatal Error

This is from's contest for "30 Error Messages You Never Want To See."

Tip of the hat to Landon Doane.

Can I Cecede from Tennessee?

So if the Zachster (Zach Wamp--the prettiest name in all of politics) becomes my guvnor and follows through with his promise, can I cecede from the Volunteer State?


A classmate on Facebook (Nancy Heckathorn Tillman) has posted some photos of my hometown, Oil City, PA. Here, for example, is the location of Oil City High School (home of "The Oilers"!), long ago torn down.

Given that my OCHS years (1964-1967) were pretty much a black hole, I appreciate very much that the location of the hole is now a void.

Joss Whedon's "Avengers"--Now Official

Whedon and Abrams together again (for the first time). The announcement is made. Entertainment Weekly has the news--and the video.

So Joss has lost most of the rest of his hair?


I just saw this futuristic actioner/Gerard Butler vehicle because Netflix had nothing better to send me. I sort of enjoyed its SF human beings get to control actual people in their "video" games.

For me, however, the most memorably thing about Gamer was the central roles played by Dexter (Michael C. Hall)--as an evil Bill Gates mastermind--and The Closer herself (Kyra Sedgwick)--as a celebrity jouurnalist.

No one but their IMDB filmographies seemed to know that these two major television stars had even been in this forgettable movie. On the small screen, they are huge; here they are tiny.

Quote of the Day (7/23/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

The Fish
I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled and barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
--the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly--
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
--It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
--if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels--until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Elizabeth Bishop

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Addy Recruited by the Phillies

Interview with Stacey Abbott

Just found an online interview with Stacey Abbott about The Cult TV Book.

Quote of the Day (7/22/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

--Suddenly the bus driver
stops with a jolt,
turns off his lights.

A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus's hot hood.

Towering, antlerless,
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us
"Perfectly harmless. . . ."

Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
childishly, softly,
"Sure are big creatures."
"It's awful plain."
"Look! It's a she!"

Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
grand, otherworldly.
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?

"Curious creatures,"
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r's.
"Look at that, would you."
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,

by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there's a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline.

Elizabeth Bishop, from “The Moose

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quote of the Day (7/21/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

I said to myself: three days
and you'll be seven years old.
I was saying it to stop
the sensation of falling off
the round, turning world.
into cold, blue-black space.
But I felt: you are an I,
you are an Elizabeth,
you are one of them.
Why should you be one, too?
I scarcely dared to look
to see what it was I was.
I gave a sidelong glance
--I couldn't look any higher--
at shadowy gray knees,
trousers and skirts and boots
and different pairs of hands
lying under the lamps.
I knew that nothing stranger
had ever happened, that nothing
stranger could ever happen.
--Elizabeth Bishop, “In the Waiting Room”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Which Should I Teach?

In Spring 2011 I will be teaching ENGL 6650/7650, Special Topics in Popular Culture.

Here are the three finalists (the link will take you to a rough syllabus).

Mad Men

Cult Television

Joss Whedon

Vote by commenting on this blog entry. Which should I teach?

Quote of the Day (7/20/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

If after I read a poem the world looks like that poem for 24 hours or so I'm sure it's a good one—and the same goes for paintings.
—Elizabeth Bishop

Monday, July 19, 2010


First DirectTV saved Friday Night Lights via a joint deal with NBC, which allowed the satellite provider to air the series prior to NBC broadcasting it.

Now they have done the same with FX's Damages--but with this rather large difference: the next two seasons of Patty Hewes and company will air only on DTV, and the rest of us will, I suppose, have to wait for the DVDs.

"Mad Men": Dream Come True TV

My first look at the cover of Gary Edgerton's forthcoming Mad Men collection for Tauris.

"23 shows that missed cue to exit"

This EW slide show is bound to engender a great deal of debate, but it's definitely worth a look.


In my popular culture course today we will be talking about and screening Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1983). This led me to thinking about Wenders later film (1985) about Japan, and watching this clip from YouTube I was struck by its surprising similarity to Reggio's film.


What a lovely new word darling Sarah has given us! "Refute" spliced with "repudiate"! I think we may have misunderestimated her.

Quote of the Day (7/19/2010) (Elizabeth Bishop Week)

Ladies and gents, Ladies and gents
Flushing away your excrements
I sit and hear beyond the wall
The sad continuous waterfall
That sanitary pipes can give
To still our actions primitive.
--Elizabeth Bishop

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Last to Know (Mrs. Michael Emerson)

I am so bad at faces, I am probably the last to realize that Arlene Fowler on True Blood is Mrs. Michael Emerson (Ben Linus on Lost).

She played Ben's mother on Lost, where she had only two scenes, in one of which she gave birth to her husband. (On the DVD commentary Darlton and Emerson discuss the Freudian implication of the moment.)

Furtado daedalus

Furtado daedalus. WTF? (latest security check).

Best Screen Dreams

Salon has a slide show.

Quote of the Day (7/18/10) (Gary Snyder Week)

all you can know about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
the names of stars and the movements of planets
and the moon.

your own six senses, with a watchful elegant mind.

at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;

the illusory demons and the illusory shining gods.

kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels
and maidens perfum’d and golden--

& then love the human: wives husbands and friends

children’s games, comic books, bubble-gum,
the weirdness of television and advertising.

work long, dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and lived with and finally lovd. exhaustion,
hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, extasy
silent solitary illumination, entasy

real danger. gambles and the edge of death.
--Gary Snyder, “What You Should Know to be a Poet”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Deadwood" at the British Open

I am impressed that ESPN was able to get Al Swearengen to do voice-over panegyrics to St. Andrews and golf's history without a single "fuck" or "cocksucker."


How could you not want to see this?

Quote of the Day (7/17/10) (Gary Snyder Week)

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light
--Gary Snyder, “How Poetry Comes to Me”

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Read about the origin of these (pre-wedding photos) here.

Joss in Oz (the Country, not the "BtVS" Werewolf)

Joss Whedon will be speaking at the Melbourne Writers Festival, and fellow Whedonphile Sue Turnbull (LaTrobe University) gets to be his interlocutor. (So, so jealous!)

Biblical Precedents?

This is going the rounds on Facebook. It's completely brilliant. (author credited at the end>)

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

(It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian :)

A New Kind of Feral Child

Girl Raised From Birth By Wolf Blitzer Taken Into Protective Custody

"Heroes," Thoreau

So ECW is about to remainder our Heroes book in the wake of the series' total fail. The authors are allowed to buy copies for 14 cents each.

Thoreau once bought 1,000 copies of his own A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and then bragged he had a library of 1,200 volumes, 1,000 of which he wrote himself.

I only bought twenty.

Going Green

EW's new cover reveals a first look at Green Lantern.

Quote of the Day (7/16/10) (Gary Snyder Week)

Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars--and goes yet beyond that--
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us--
Grandfather Space.
The Mind is his Wife.

so be it.
--Gary Snyder, From “Prayer for the Great Family”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quote of the Day (7/15/10) (Gary Snyder Week)

I went into the Maverick Ba
In Farmington, New Mexico.
And drank double shots of bourbon
backed with beer.
My long hair was tucked up under a cap
I'd left the earring in the car.

Two cowboys did horseplay
by the pool tables,
A waitress asked us
where are you from?
a country-and-western band began to play
"We don't smoke Marijuana in Muskokie"
And with the next song,
a couple began to dance.

They held each other like in High School dances
in the fifties:
I recalled when I worked in the woods
and the bars of Madras, Oregon
That short-haired joy and roughness--
America--your stupidity
I could almost love you again.

We left-onto the freeway shoulders
under the tough old stars--
In the shadow of bluffs
I came back to myself,
To the real work, to
"What is to be done."
--Gary Snyder, “I Went Into the Maverick Bar”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poodle Balance



WPLN Nashville's eye-in-the-sky insisted that the traffic on Briley Parkway had "congealed" this evening.

It was hot today, but congealed?

Quote of the Day (7/12/10) (Gary Snyder Week)

Eating the living germs of grasses
Eating the ova of large birds

the fleshy sweetness packed
around the sperm of swaying trees

The muscles of the flanks and thighs of
soft-voiced cows
the bounce in the lamb’s leap
the swish in the ox’s tail

Eating roots grown swoll
inside the soil

Drawing on life of living
clustered points of light spun
out of space
hidden in the grape.
Eating each other’s seed
ah, each other.

Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread:
lip to lip.
--Gary Snyder, “Song of the Taste”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Mark Twain Essay

How cool is this? Twain's "Concerning the Interview" is available here.

Quote of the Day (7/11/10) (Gary Snyder Week)

Once every year, the Deer catch human beings. They do various things which irresistibly draw men near them: each one selects a certain man. The deer shoots the man, who is then compelled to skin it and carry its meat home and eat it. Then the Deer is inside the man. He waits and hides in there. But the man doesn't know it. When enough Deer have occupied enough men, they will strike all at once. The men who don't have Deer in them will also be taken by surprise, and everything will change some. This is called "takeover from inside.”
--Gary Snyder, from ”Long Hair”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Quote of the Day (7/10/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Bendis: We're gonna die.
Mal: We are not gonna die. You know why? Because we are so... very... pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die. Huh? Look at that chiseled jaw!
--“Serenity” (Firefly)

Friday, July 09, 2010

The 'boro on "The Daily Show"

In case you missed it, Murfreesboro was mentioned on The Daily Show--for widespread local opposition to the building of a mosque. [About 3:20 in.]

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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I have just agreed to do a regular column for Critical Studies in Television Online.

Here's the concept:

In the early years of the movies, "photogenic" was a significant buzz word among French film theorists, for whom it signified much more than having a visual rapport with the motion picture camera, naming, rather, the special power, the enticement, the ability to enthrall, of the movies. In a similar vein, I intend "telegenic" to mean much more than "looking good" on the small screen.

Appearing in Critical Studies in Television Online on a regular basis, "Telegenic" will take as its primary focus television creativity as manifested in American series TV. Whether I am writing about particular series, narratological issues, TV auteurs, or the future of the medium, my subject will be my genetic fascination with the particular incarnation of imagination we call television.
--David Lavery, CST Co-Founding Editor

Heard on "The Colbert Report"

The Supreme Court says handguns are a god-given right. I'll tell you what, if Jesus had had one, it would have been an entirely different Easter.

Quote of the Day (7/9/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Zoe: Planet's coming up a mite fast.
Wash: That's just 'cause— I'm going down too quick. Likely crash and kill us all.
[As the ship begins to shake, Mal calmly leaves.]
Mal: Well, that happens, let me know.
--“Shindig” (Firefly)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Addy in Ballerina Swimsuit

"Glee" Goes Psychotic

Collected Works

My first published essay was in 1980. Now, thirty years later, I have decided to make available all (or nearly all) the essays, book chapters, and reviews I have done over the last three decades. The PDFs provided here are also illustrated.

This is a work in progress. I hope to have it completed by the end of the summer.

Go here to find it.

Quote of the Day (7/8/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Badger: You think you're better than other people!
Mal: Just the ones I'm better than.
--“Shindig” (Firefly)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Mad Men" Pick-Up Lines

"Thinking Inside the Box" (ctd.)

You can now read it here.

A Sign of My Academic Status?

I am accustomed to receiving phishing schemes from Africa, but this is something new.

The African Journal of Agricultural Research has asked me to review a manuscript entitled

Additive Main Effects and Multiplicative Interaction Analysis and Clustering of Environments and Genotypes in Malting Barley

Should I put this on my CV?

"The Daily Show" and Women

Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory takes on the controversy spawned by the Jezebel piece.

Quote of the Day (7/7/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Zoe: You sanguine about the kind of reception we're apt to receive on an Alliance ship, Cap'n?
Mal: Absolutely. [pauses] What's "sanguine" mean?
Zoe: "Sanguine". Hopeful. Plus, point of interest: it also means "bloody".
Mal: Well, that pretty much covers all the options, don't it?
--“Safe” (Firefly)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Majoring in Death

On Fresh Air today Billy Collins, talking about Emily Dickinson, said the following:

Well, she's fascinated with I mean, death is the subject matter of poetry. I tell college students, if they're majoring in English, they're basically majoring in death. That's what you're getting for your tuition.

"What Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman would have looked like"

Sci-Fi Wire has the story.

Quote of the Day (7/6/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Mal: Girl knows things. Things she shouldn't. Things she couldn't.
Jayne: What, are you— are you sayin' she's a witch?
Wash: [sarcastically] Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.
Jayne: She's in Congress?
Wash: How did your brain even learn human speech? I'm just so curious.
--“Objects in Space” (Firefly)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Quote of the Day (7/5/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoe: We live in a spaceship, dear.
Wash: So?
--“Objects in Space” (Firefly)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Thinking Inside the Box: Heisenberg’s Indeterminancy Principle, the Paradox of Schrödinger’s Cat, and Television

Just finished this essay, which could be published very soon. Now available

A perfect topic for me, don't you think?

The photographer Edward Weston (according to Sontag in On Photography) used to ride around the American landscape, his wife at the wheel with instructions to wake him up when she "saw one of his photographs" (like the one above).

My imagination wakes up when I come upon a quintessential Lavery topic. Like this one.

The Hydrangeas

Quite possibly the greatest line of all time.

They couldn't have been. Look what she did with the hydrangeas!
--A neighbor of one of the deep-cover, suburban New Jersey Russian spies

Quote of the Day (7/4/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Simon: You're outta your mind.
Early: That's between me and my mind.
--“Objects in Space” (Firefly)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Socialist? Literary?

One of America's wingnuts (Marc Thiessen, a major torture advocate) this week deemed soccer "socialist."

I just heard the Paraguay/Spain announcer describe the Paraguay defense as "miserly and obdurate." Is having a substantial vocabulary socialist?

"BtVS": The Chosen Collection

Now I own both The Sopranos and Buffy collections.

Beautiful. I especially liked Joss' wonderful welcome. (Click on to see a larger version.)

Quote of the Day (7/3/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Kaylee: It has been a year since I’ve had anything twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mike the Cleaner

Having just finished watching Season Three of Breaking Bad, I just want to say that Mike the Cleaner (Jonathan Banks) is one of the great television characters.

The End of Night

Chris Orr doesn't think he has any further to fall. His review of The Last Airbender is here.

Quote of the Day (7/2/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Mal: She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort.
The Operative: It's worse than you know.
Mal: It usually is.
The Operative: That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.
Mal: The way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it.
[He turns to Inara.]
Mal: Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Raising Taxes

Can we stipulate, once and for all, that this contention of Andrew Sullivan's is absolutely, irrefutably true? (Read the post here.)

If you want to cut the debt, you will have to raise taxes. Letting all the Bush tax cuts expire is a start. Ending an unsustainable tax cut is not a tax hike. It is simply financing the government through taxation rather than borrowing from the Chinese.

"Catalog Living"

What a strange website. How interesting!

There's a strange Mysteries of Harris Burdick vibe about it.

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan.

Closing Television Logos

For R&D (Battlestar Galactica

For Mutant Enemy (( Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Tara steps outside the diegesis:

Bad Robot (Lost, Fringe)

"No Mas"/Seasons

I have spent many pleasurable hours this week rewatching Breaking Bad again from the beginning. It just keeps getting better. Just finished "No Mas" (3.1).

I have never seen a cold opening to a season to match the first scene, with the shark-suited, menacing Cousins joining a mass of human beings slithering (elbow crawling) toward the shrine of some Mexican death deity.

When they arrive, they place a pencil drawing of Heisenberg (Walt, shades, Fedora) in a prominent place in order to ask divine assistance with their whacking, and S3 of Bad has begun--has been "seasoned."

What a fascinating narrative structure a "season" is! How much more interesting, how narratively ripe, is the American name than the British. The tenor of Seasons, like their vehicle, carries the possibility of a change in weather, a new beginning, starting over. Series--a term devoid of poetry.

Quote of the Day (7/1/10) ("Firefly" Week)

Mal: We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.
--“Serenity” (Firefly)