Friday, December 31, 2010

Heard on Jake Johannsen's Showtime Standup Special

Everybody's getting older all the time. Even babies. Especially babies. I feel sorry for them because it especially shows on them.

"Make Way for Tomorrow"

Someone on FB recently recommended this 1937 film by Leo McCarey (the man who paired Laurel and Hardy and directed Duck Soup, Going My Way, Bells of St. Mary's, The Awful Truth, An Affair to Remember), and it is indeed a neglected classic about an elderly couple who lose their house to the bank and become pawns in their children's manipulations to not assume responsibility for them.

It's honest and observant, never simplistic, beautifully acted (Beulah Bondi is especially memorable), and, in the end, deeply touching. Slate has a fine piece about it here. Read Roger Ebert's thoughts on Tomorrow here.

The History of Videogames in a Song

Mental Health Break - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan


The Laverys will be speaking of 2010 as long as we live. My report on 2009 was momentous indeed, but nothing will ever surpass its sequel.

In 2010:

*Adelyn Belle Porterfield, our wonderful first grandchild, was born.

*Sarah Caitlin Lavery and Jason Porterfield were married.
*Rachel Alden Lavery and Neel Dhingra were married.

*Joyce finished another wonderfully successful year as head of Safe Haven, Nashville's family homeless shelter.
*Rachel continues to work for Gibson Dunn in New York.
*Sarah did some wonderful work for Read to Succeed throughout the past year in addition to showing herself be the best mother since . . . her own mother.
*I gave a keynote address--“The Imagination Will Be Televised: Showrunning and the Re-animation of Authorship in 21st Century American Television”--in Stuttgart, Germany.
*Three of my PhD students completed their dissertations and earned their doctorates: James Francis, Cynthia Burkhead, Schuy Weishaar.
*Two books were published: (1) David Lavery and Michele Byers, eds. On the Verge of Tears: Why the Movies, Television, Music, and Literature Make Us Cry. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010. (2) David Scott Diffrient, with David Lavery, ed. Screwball Television: Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls. The Television Series. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse U P, 2010. (Three more next year.)
*I began writing a regular column, "Telegenic," for Critical Studies in Television.

*The Whedon Studies Association was born.
*The passing away of our adorable brown poodle Charley.
*I had end-of-the-year major prostate surgery.

2010. What an overwhelming experience.

NY's Resolutions

Posts Per Annum

I posted 1390 times on the Laverytory last year.

This here post is #1323 of 2010.

Roger Ebert Suggests

I'm surprised the Coens made this film [True Grit], so unlike their other work, except in quality. Instead of saying that now I hope they get back to making “Coen Brothers films,” I'm inclined to speculate on what other genres they might approach in this spirit. What about the musical? “Oklahoma!” is ready to be remade.

I would like to see Joel and Ethan do SF.

Time-Travel Chatting

G-chatting with my daughter's BFF Meagan Crowl in Sydney, Australia.

Me in 2010; Meagan already a resident of 2011.

Blessed Gunpowder!

In "Secrets of the Heart" (The Tudors, 4.9) the Protestant heretic Anne Askew is executed (after being tortured on the rack)--burned at the stake.

Prior to being committed to the flames however, a friend (Anne Seymour Stanhope/Lady Hertford) slips the executioner a little somethin'--a bag of gunpowder to put around Askew's neck. Thus, when the flames reach the powder, a violent small explosion takes the condemned's head off, sparing her from the execution's intended full horror.

Blessed gunpowder!

Quote of the Day (12/31/10) (Karl Kraus Week)

War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.
--Karl Kraus

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Question Of The Week: "Koyaanisqatsi" - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Question Of The Week: "Koyaanisqatsi" - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

"Tudors" Marvell

In a remarkable episode ("Problems in the Reformation") of The Tudors dealing with the aftermath of the death of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII spends much of the hour in colloquy with his fool Will (his only appearance), played by David Bradley (Harry Potter's Argus Filch).

At one point, the very prescient fool speaks of "a green thought in a green shade." The gorgeous phrasing, of course, is from "The Garden" by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) [pictured]:

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness:
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

So Will, speaking in 1537 (the year of Seymour's passing) is anachronizing by over a century.

"The Tudors" Talking

Perhaps I am watching way too much of The Tudors (I got the complete series for Christmas), but I am thinking of divorcing Joyce for not providing a male heir.

Perhaps, if necessary, founding my own state religion.

Judith Miller: From the Times to the Nuts

Whatever became of the poster-child for bad journalism?

Judith Miller: From the Times to the nuts.

Quote of the Day (12/30/10) (Karl Kraus Week)

Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world.
--Karl Kraus

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quote of the Day (12/29/10) (Karl Kraus Week)

An aphorism can never be the whole truth; it is either a half-truth or a truth-and-a-half.
--Karl Kraus

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Wee, Wee!"

The Daily Beast named this Geico ad one of the most annoying commercials of the year.

I entirely disagree and thought it was brilliant.

"Who" 6 Trailer Dissected

i09 offers a blow-by-blow on the Who 6 trailer that accompanied this week's treacly but ingenious Christmas special.

'Being Human" USA

A first report on the American version of the great, great British show.

Supernatural's Jeremy Carver is one of the showrunners.

"Community" Avengers

This should help Joss think through his characters.

From The Hollywood Reporter.

The NE Snow Storm (post-Christmas, 2010) in Time-Lapse

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Ambien vs. "LoTR"

For three straight nights (after coming home from the hospital) Ambien has had little or no effect on me.

And then I re-read the instructions and was surprised to find there the warning:

Do not use in conjunction with a Lord of the Rings marathon on TNT.

Stump the White Whale

Wish I could be there.

Tip of the hat to the inestimable Bob Wallace.

Quote of the Day (12/27/10) (Karl Kraus Week)

What is the Ninth Symphony compared to a Tin Pan Alley hit played on a hurdy-gurdy and a memory?
--Karl Kraus

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mobile "Moby"

On this Christmas for which I got the gift (from Joyce--thanks!) of a Moby-Dick t-shirt, I present as well Melville's great creation selling phones.

"True Grit"

Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin): What is your intention?
Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges): I aim to kill you in one minute.

Andy Richter Investigates

Team Coco's sidekick's hard-boiled take on Manger Scene Chop Shops.

O Lucky Man!

I am such a lucky man. It was wonderful to be home for Christmas. Wonderful that Rachel could make it home from NY. Wonderful that Jason, Sarah, and Addy could be here for opening presents, breakfast, and dinner. Most wonderful of all was the amazing, ultra-generous Joyce who nursed me through a tough first day out of the hospital and proved herself once again to be the master-of-all-things Christmas.

Addy's First Christmas

First, and White!

Ad and Dad

Rachel and Her Neice

Grandmother Porterfield and Granddaughter Addy Belle

"DVDS," "30 Rock"

On Wait, Wait, Peter Sagal observed to "Not My Job" guest Dick Van Dyke that the original Dick Van Dyke Show, a behind the scenes look at a comedy/variety show (The Allen Brady Show), was the original 30 Rock.

Quote of the Day (12/26/10) (Karl Kraus Week)

There are women who are not beautiful but only look that way.
--Karl Kraus

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Quote of the Day (12/25/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

Two babies were born on the same day at the same hospital. They lay there and looked at each other. Their families came and took them away. Eighty years
 later, by a bizarre coincidence, they lay in the same hospital, on their deathbeds, next to each other. One of them looked at the other and said, "So. What did you think?"
—Steven Wright

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Taking Blood, Christian Kane

In the middle of the night at Murfreesboro Medical Center, I was visited by Jennifer, who had come by to draw blood for a test after my surgery. I took note that this seemed a bit vampirish and was told she had a disorder that made it nearly impossible for her to go out in sunlight, so this job was perfect for her.

I was delighted to learn, too, that she was a vampire fan--in particular of Buffy, and that she had gone bar hopping in Nashville with none other than Wolfram and Hart's Christian Kane (Lindsay McDonald).

You can't make this stuff up.

Quote of the Day (12/22/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
—Steven Wright

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Superheroes in Outline

Origin here.

The answers--in order: Batman | Robin | Batgirl | Superman | Supergirl | Barbarella | Mighty Mouse | Ironman | Captain America | Thor | The Hulk | Cyclops | The Incredibles | Kick Ass | Radioactive Man | Fall-Out Boy (milkhouse version) | Wonder Woman | The Flash | Captain Atom | Aeon Flux | El Santo | Wolverine | Invisible Woman | Human Torch | Professor X | Chapulin Colorado | The Darkness | The Tick | Ben (FF) | Hellboy | He-Man | Freakazoid | Silver Surfer | Witchblade | Metamorpho | Spiderman | Mandrake | Mighty Man | Green Lantern | Falcon | Atom Ant | Hancock | The Phantom | Storm (Xmen) | Birdman | Aquaman | Iceman | Captain Marvel | Spawn | Space Ghost | Blade | Blue Falcon | Dynomutt | Flash Gordon | Bartman | The Vision (Avengers) | TMNT Raphael | TMNT Leonardo | TMNT Donatello | TMNT Michelangelo | Plastic Man | Duffman | Scarlet Witch | The Punisher | Dare Devil | Hawkman | Black Vulcan | Zorro | Hawk and Dove | Sandman | Hulk Hogan | Gambit | Wonder Twins | Marshal Bravestarr | Electra | Spidergirl

"Out of England II"

Poor sick me enjoyed watching Ricky Gervais' new HBO concert last night. Very edgy stuff.

This clip is from the first OoE.

Quote of the Day (12/19/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

I have a paper cut from writing my suicide note. It's a start . . .
—Steven Wright

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chernobyl as a Tourist Attraction

I hear the reviews are glowing.
--Adam Felber on Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!, commenting on the news that the site in the Ukraine of the world's worst nuclear disaster was now open to tourists

Addy and Santa

Keeping the myth alive for another generation.

Colbert Responds to O'Reilly on Christianity

It's time to take baby Jesus out of the manger. Replace him with something that's easier to swallow. How about a honey-baked ham? Because if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition... and then admit that we just don't want to do it.
--Stephen Colbert

Tip of the Hat to Jeff Frame

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The End of DADT

Yet another thing Obama won't get proper credit for.

Pre-Chew Charlie's

A gross SNL classic:

Saturady Night Live - Pre-Chew Charlie's - Murray & Chase
Uploaded by ClassicPL. - See more comedy videos.

Quote of the Day (12/18/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

I need one of those baby-monitors for my subconscious to my consciousness so I can know what the hell I'm really thinking about.
—Steven Wright

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Calvin and Hobbes" and Academe

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan


The Propaganda Channel - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Propaganda Channel - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Inventiveness of "Community"

If there is a more inventive show on the air right now than Community, I don't know what it is. The screen capture above is from this season's stop-motion animated Christmas episode, the both brilliant and heart-warming "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas."

"Farscape" on "Community"

Jes Battis bait!

Man in Bar: What is wrong with you that you can sit here all this time and not pick up on the fact that a man is hitting on you.
Abed: Actually I did pick up on it after awhile.
Man in Bar: And?
Abed: I really, really like talking about Farscape.

--"Mixology Certification," Community, Season Two

Quote of the Day (12/17/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
—Steven Wright

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Very Definition of Black Humor

Stephen contemplates what happened when California did not use the last of its capital punishment drug by its "Kill by Date":

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"The 15 Worst Films of 2010"

According to Onion AV Club. I have only seen one of them--Hot Tub Time Machine--and rather liked it.

M. Night beats out SATC2 for worst. Quite an achievement.

Quote of the Day (12/16/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

I was once walking through the forest alone. A tree fell right in front of me, and I didn't hear a thing.
—Steven Wright

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Hallelujah, Tennessee"

From TV Week

Praise the Hollywood Gods: Marc Cherry, Ensconced on Wisteria Lane, Next Takes on Hallelujah, Tennessee

"Desperate Housewives'" creator Marc Cherry has decided that his next project for ABC will take place in the small town of Hallelujah, Tennessee.

According to TVGuide, "The show will revolve around the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil. Its fortunes change when a stranger comes to Hallelujah, bringing justice, peace and faith."

"15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will"

From The Onion AV Club.

I cannot imagine what my mind would be like if it had not been exposed to the great Vonnegut.

Buffy Visits "The Daily Show"

My worlds collide. Bliss. At the very end of the clip.

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All the Dead Zombies, Season One of "The Walking Dead"

Hooked on "Community"

Abed: By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you “canceled.”
Jeff: Oh good. Cancel us. And while you're at it, why don’t you take your cutesy “I can’t tell life from TV” gimmick with you. That’s very season one.
Abed: I can tell life from TV Jeff. TV has structure, logic, rules. And likeable leading men. In life we have this. We have you.

About a week ago David Kociemba raved about Community on Facebook, which led me to give it a second chance.

After plowing through all of S1 in two days, I am now getting caught up with S2.

It is completely addictive. I especially love the self-referentiality--like that in the exchange between Abed and "leading man" Jeff.

Quote of the Day (12/15/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

If God dropped acid, would he see people?
—Steven Wright

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Mad Men": Dream Come True TV

Gary Edgerton's much-anticipated collection now published (in the UK at least).

The Best "Daily Show" Takedown Yet

Jon Stewart has saved a special spot in Hell for those on the right who have opposed a bill providing benefits for 9/11 responders, and with this brilliant clip he dispatches them to the damnation they richly deserve.

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"On the Shoulders of Freaks"

Convalescing, I watched a Comedy Central concert of Henry Phillips and loved his really smart grotesqueness.

Here's his masterwork.

Swiftian Colbert

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
Jonathan Swift, "A Modest Proposal" (1729)

Since I consider him one of Swift's heirs, I especially enjoyed this "Word": "Swift Payment."

Not surprisingly, "A Modest Proposal" plays a role and gives a whole new meaning to "baby back ribs."

Quote of the Day (12/14/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

Sometimes I talk to myself fluently in languages I'm unfamiliar with . . . just to screw with my subconscious.
—Steven Wright

Monday, December 13, 2010

America's Maiden Name

Last week on The Daily Show--I don't remember the story or even the context--Jon Stewart made reference to "America's maiden name": "Great Britain."

Abed Batman

Watching Community Season 1 (inspired to return by the recommendation of David Kociemba). Enjoying it more now.

I especially liked the lovely shot in the Halloween episode in which an Abedized Batman (growling just like Christian Bale's Caped Crusader) delicately applies some chap stick.

Heather Havrilesky's 2010 TV Top Ten

Of course we all knew LOST would not be on her list for Salon.

Heard on "Modern Family"

Don't take this the wrong way, but I have almost no faith in you.
--Claire to her husband Phil

Heard on "30 Rock"

Sexual performance issues? That does happen to men. I've faced it myself, with Greta Van Susteren, before her head transplant.

Quote of the Day (12/13/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
—Steven Wright

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Julian Assange's Threats on "SNL"

Bill Hader as the albino terrorist laid out his future threats.

His Leaks team will:

(1) Hack Amazon and send everone a copy of Everybody Poops.
(2) Hack Netflix: "Have you seen the 4th season of Hangin' With Mr. Cooper? You're about to."

"Deadwood" Blue

Matt Zoller Seitz (Salon) has a terrific review/essay on the Blue-Ray release of the complete Deadwood.

Quote of the Day (12/12/10) (Steven Wright Weeks)

When I first read the dictionary, I thought it was a long poem about everything.
—Steven Wright

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Facebook Posts Collage

FB is offering this cool collaging software to make an amalgam of this year's updates. Here's mine.

My Catheter and Me

Now in my fourth day accompanied by my catheter, I have found myself recalling:

(1) Sheriff Rick (pictured) removing his in the first episode of The Walking Dead (my instructions expressively warn against self-de-catheterizing, but they presume no zombie problem).

(2) The scene in the hospital in Catch-22 in which an incased-in-bandages, mummy-like patient's catheter leads out of his groin and then back into an intravenous tube in his arm!

By the way, I have now named my new companion: Willa--Willa Catheter.

Saudis Fall for Borowitz Satire

Here's the piece the Saudi press took to be true.

Quote of the Week (12/11/10) (Flannery O'Connor Week)

"I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted."
— Flannery O'Connor

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Clash" of the "Predators"

In my invalid state, I have watched both Clash of the Titans and Predators in the last couple of days.

Liked Clash much more. For what it is, it was just about perfect.

"Lost" Meets "Harry Potter"

Julie Taymor and Steven Colbert were in agreement last night that this perfectly describes Taymor's new version of Shakespeare's The Tempest--the one with Helen Mirren as Prospera.

"Supernatural," TV Guide's Fan Favorite

Finally, post Kripke, getting a little love.

Quote of the Week (12/10/10) (Flannery O'Connor Week)

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."
—Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Michael Bay's EQ

Recovering from last evening's trip to the emergency room, it seemed the perfect viewing option: Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on HBO.

Watching its sad attempts at emotion toward the end (interspersed with Megan Fox T&A--running in slow motion!), it hit me that Bay's problem isn't stupidity (as is so often charged), not IQ, but EQ--Emotional Quotient.

If Joss Whedon's EQ is 10, Bay's is somewhere around a 2 or 3.

Ungrammatical Heisman

I suppose it's too much to expect that the quarterback of a major university's football team and college football's best player might exhibit at least a basic knowledge of the English language.

I have came a long way.
--Auburn's Cam Newton, heard on ESPN

Quote of the Week (12/9/10) (Flannery O'Connor Week)

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."
—Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pissed Off

After you have been catheterized and they drain a whole lot of urine out of your body (this happened to me tonight), you are "pissed off," are you not?

Just asking.

Quote of the Week (12/8/10) (Flannery O'Connor Week)

"I don't deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it."
—Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

MTSU Goes Bowling

My university's Blue Raiders will be going to a bowl. They pretty much sucked all season, but Sports Illustrated ranked its bowl 34th out of 35. Not fair. We deserve to be last.

34. (Jan. 6): Miami of Ohio (9-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (6-6). The RedHawks deserved better for winning the MAC a year after going 1-11. They're stuck in a game that a lot of guys will be watching solely for the commercials.

Read more:

"Terriers" Goes Down

Now officially canceled.

Yet another Tim Minear show bites the dust.

Quote of the Week (12/7/10) (Flannery O'Connor Week)

"She would of been a good woman," said The Misfit, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."
— Flannery O'Connor

Monday, December 06, 2010

Awesome Dogs

"A Real Secret Life"

At last I have what every child wants, a real secret life. Not an official secret, not a q-clearance polygraph-enforced bite-the-capsule-when-they-get-you secret, nobody else's damn secret but MINE. Something THEY don't know. Screw Big Brother. A beautiful secret REAL world, with real people, fine friends, doers of great deeds & speakers of the magic word, Frodo's people if you wish, and they write to me and accept my offerings, and I'm damned if I feel like opening the door between that magic reality and the universal shitstorm known as the real (sob) world ....
--James Tiptree (qtd. in Silverberg's introduction to Warm Worlds and Otherwise xiv)

"The Magical World of the Inklings"

Good to see Gareth Knight's very good book back in print.

With "TS-19," "The Walking Dead" Becomes SF

Ordinarily, I don't consider vampire or zombie narratives to be SF.

But then along comes Blade, which makes vampirism a blood disorder (and garlic an instanteously fatal allergy).

With the season finale last night, Walking Dead also went SF. At the CDC in Atlanta, we learn that a disease very like meningitis has brought about the near extinction of the species. It shuts down the brain, and then reboots (as the screen capture shows) only its most basic, non-human, primitive brain functions. The reptile brain in the schemata below.