Monday, January 31, 2011

Addy Plays with Her Birthday Gifts

Chair was a gift from Joyce.

Melissa and Doug toys from me.

Quote of the Day (1/31/11) (Owen Barfield Week II)

Man has not only to know nature; he has to reawaken her. But this he can only do by knowing her—truly knowing her—knowing her in depth. And this re-awakening, which began only when the conscious gaze of poets and artists first rested on her sleeping form in admiration and rapture—this will continue . . . until she stirs, and opens her eyes, and arises again in strength, in the strength of the Spirit of Man, to walk hand in hand with science now, as well as with art.
--Owen Barfield, Romanticism Comes of Age 238-39

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Celebrating Rachel and Neel's Wedding

Rachel and Neel were in Murfreesboro this weekend for Addy's first birthday party and a brunch today at B. McNeel's celebrating / remembering their August marriage in Delaware for 'Boroians who could not be there.

Go here to see the Power Point we showed.

Quote of the Day (1/30/11) (Owen Barfield Week II)

Suppose—suppose a complete ignoramus, with some reasoning powers, introduced into a centrally-heated house. He looks through all the rooms one after another, fiddling idly with everything he sees but understanding nothing. At last he finds himself in the bathroom. He turns on a tap and hot water comes out of it. Hooray! Here at last is something he can understand. obviously the whole heating-system must be named and interpreted in terms of bathtap. What else could it be? The kitchen-boiler is repressed bathtap; the radiator that warms the drawing-room and the great hall and the staircase are sublimated bathtap; and the airing cupboard is so dry, because it is busy trying to pretend it has nothing to do with bathtap. As to the origin and explanation of it all. Isn't it obvious that it all grew out of a bathtap? Isn't it obvious that anyone who says otherwise, says so because he has been shut up in an airing-cupboard, where he couldn't see even the pipe, let alone the bathtaps, because of all the clothes and fine linen cluttering it up?
--Owen Barfield, Worlds Apart 122-2

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Quote of the Day (1/29/11) (Owen Barfield Week II)

So it is that, in the age of the movie, the student of words who is unfashionable enough to examine their history as well as their current use, is not perhaps so impressed as some others are by the universal practice of projection not only in movie houses and on the television screen, but also as a concealed metaphor, in the ingenious fancies of men. Is projection itself being projected?
--Owen Barfield, Rediscovery of Meaning 74

Friday, January 28, 2011

"The Challenger" Disaster

Twenty five years ago today.

To read my essay "Nemesis and NASA: The American Tragedy of The Challenger (a chapter of Late for the Sky) go here and go to p. 99.

Quote of the Day (1/28/11) (Owen Barfield Week II)

Only in thinking—in pure thinking as distinct from an abstract chain of thoughts based on remembered sense-impressions—the individual human being functions, not as a skin-confined personality, but as anthropos. That is really the heart of the matter: that the less personal a man is—the less merely and egotistically personal—the more truly individual he is. And the more individual he is, the more universal he is.
--Owen Barfield, Rediscovery of Meaning 180

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whedon Meets Spider-Man

From my forthcoming book on Joss Whedon:

Tom Whedon’s [Joss' father] time on The Electric Company resulted in another unexpected legacy to son Joss. When the show, trying to heighten its coolness for its demographic, began to air segments featuring Spider-Man (1974-1977), Tom brought home up a bunch of Marvel comic books as research, dropping them in his son’s lap. “I'm like, 'What's all this?” Joss would recall in a March 2008 piece on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition “What's all this that will now obsess me for the rest of my life?'" (Ridley).

And now iO9 has the sketches that led the soon-to-direct-The Avengers on a path to Marvel.

Quote of the Day (1/27/11) (Adagia II Week)

We live in the mind.
--Wallace Stevens, “Adagia”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Addy (Again)

I love this photo of our beloved grandbaby.

James Franco, PhD

On The Daily Show last night the 127 Hours star revealed that even after learning he had been nominated for an Oscar he still attended his graduate seminar on Byron, Keats, and Shelley. He is pursuing his PhD in English at Yale.

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This is not unprecedented. Remember that prior to becoming a major star on The X-Files, David Duchovny had also been a Yale PhD candidate who would later claim in an interview that he longed to get "back to my roots, graduate school."

Colbert's "Nazi-ometer"

Last night Stephen offered, in light of the frequent use of Nazi comparisons in today's politics, this helpful way of rank-ordering references to the Third Reich's major figures: Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Leni Reifenstahl ("the world's second most hated director after Michael Bay"), Colonel Klink. The basic unit of measure is a "Hitler." (Take note that Hitler himself only gets 9 Hitlers.)

"Firefly"/"Mad Men"

From SciFi Wire.

Quote of the Day (1/26/11) (Adagia II Week)

The poet makes silk dresses out of worms.
--Wallace Stevens, “Adagia”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"The Social Network"

Joyce and I finally saw TSN last night, and I frankly do not get what all the fuss is about.

It's a good film, mind you, with good writing by Aaron Sorkin and directing by David Fincher, but film of the decade? Come on.

At some level I just do not connect with Sorkin. I remain amazed by the high ranking (by some of my most admired friends) of West Wing.

Quote of the Day (1/23/11) (Adagia II Week)

Weather is a sense of nature. Poetry is a sense.
--Wallace Stevens, “Adagia”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"More time for the family . . ."

According to Peter Sagal (on Wait, Wait), Joe Lieberman is retiring so he can "spend more time betraying his family."

[Big] "Love" Means Saying You're Sorry

I have now watched the first episode ("Winter") of Big Love's final season (missed when I was in the hospital), and I found it a solid return to the series I loved in its first three outings.

Joyce and I disagreed strongly on S4. I thought it was an unqualified disaster and was not alone in my opinion. Even Chloë Sevigny (Nicki Hendrickson) apologized for the year's waywardness.

So I obviously found the penultimate scene, in which Don Embry (sporting a radically different hairdo) shows up at Senator Hendrickson's open house and demands an apology, revealing indeed. Bill, normally obstinancy's poster child, does apologize--eloquently, and his mea culpa is not just about how he has misused his Hendrickson's Home Plus assistant manager and fellow polygamist but concerns his wives who stand behind him listening in amazement.

It's a brilliant scene in which I, of course, detected more than a touch of the meta. I heard in it--wanted to hear in it--Olsen and Scheffer apologizing to Big Love-ers as well, announcing that the series, once one of TV's best, is back.

If only they had restored the original masterful credit sequence.

Addy at Almost One, January 2011

"Back to the" "Fringe"

As Zach Handlen (Onion TV Club) notes about last night's terrific Fringe return and its special guest star:

Christopher Lloyd was terrific, just very understated and sad. Fringe has already made a Back To The Future joke before (which is fitting, since Walter took Peter in 1985), so I guess Lloyd's presence here almost counts as a running gag.

See also here and here.

"Seinfeld" Infographic

HuffPo has it.

Silvio Berlusconi And Dan Savage - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Silvio Berlusconi And Dan Savage - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

"Buffy," Boehner

Logo aired "Touched" and "End of Days" this week, and I loved watching them so much that I just watched "Chosen" too on DVD.

As the John Boehner of Buffy watching, and an official scholar of weeping, I cried again and again: Spike's "You're a hell of a woman" speech, the girl at bat feeling for the first time her Slayer power, Buffy's cookie dough speech, Buffy telling Spike she loves him ("No you don't, but thanks for saying it"), Buffy's final, epic smile.

Quote of the Day (1/22/11) (Adagia II Week)

All poetry is experimental poetry.
--Wallace Stevens, “Adagia”

Friday, January 21, 2011


I have been watching Conan again after getting out of the hospital, and he's back. The show is as good now as it ever was.

The fake Alabama tourism ad--trying to lure Jews back to 'bama in the wake of the governor's recent Christian fundamentalist bullshit--was priceless (about 8:23 into this video). "We love our Jews. . . . Alabama: a little slice of heaven before an eternity in Hell!"

BTW, has there ever been a talk show that had titles (mock-serious as they may be) for individual episodes? Last night's title:

Damn The Torpedos, Full Greed Ahead

Pope John Paul II's Miracles

Conan has the filmed record:

Stephen Takes on Rush

Rush Limbaugh Speaks Chinese
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Now the proud owner of the DVD set of one of last season's best series. Olyphant, Walton Goggins are superb.

Can't wait for season two.

Quote of the Day (1/21/11) (Adagia II Week)

Wine and music are not good until afternoon. But poetry is like prayer in that it is most effective in solitude and in the times of solitude as, for example, in the earliest morning.
--Wallace Stevens, “Adagia”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

50 Years

Getting out of the hospital and walking with a cane (as I just did to get the mail) would have me feeling old today anyway, but then I have just reminded me that it has been fifty years since the JFK inaugural, January 20, 1961.

I remember it vividly. We watched it at an assembly at Seventh Street Elementary School. It was especially meaningful for me as a Catholic boy--seeing a Catholic become POTUS.

Memorable too was Robert Frost reading "The Gift Outright."

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia.
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak.
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become. [my italics[

Stockholm Comes to Murfreesboro

I received wonderful care at Middle Tennessee Medical Center during my sojourns last month and this--the nurses in particular were wonderful, as was Dr. Shepard.

But I can't escape the impression that, over the last week, I was close to succumbing to a medical version of Stockholm Syndrome. I was a captive who was coming more and more to identify with my captivity. If I hadn't gotten out when I did, I might have been justifiably transferred directly to the loony bin.

Bill Maher (New) Rules the Tea Party

Nic Cage

All my students know how much I hate the Cage, so of course I loved this "New Rule" from Bill Maher.

Quote of the Day (1/20/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
--Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Petty Woman"

Sarah Palin will go down as one of satire's greatest inspirations, but this will surely stand as one of the masterpieces.

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According to Andy Borowitz, John Boehner's new commitment to civility has resulted in his instruction to

House members never to call Mr. Obama a “socialist,” and instead to use the less politically polarizing term, “sociopath.”


Early on the morning of my discharge . . . savoring in anticipation a hundred things with which I will be reunited at home.

Tassimo coffee, Elmo the poodle, my DVR, Addy Belle, a non-institutional bed, food I prepare myself, freedom--where have you been?

I promise to never take you for granted again.

Quote of the Day (1/19/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
--Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sports Illustrated reports new information on Lance Armstrong - More Sports -

Sports Illustrated reports new information on Lance Armstrong - More Sports -

If this is proven, it will rob contemporary sports of its last shred of dignity.

"How to Train Your Dragon"

Perhaps watching a movie in a hospital room produces a response as accurate as viewing an in-flight movie.

But I loved--loved--How to Train Your Dragon. Funny, well-voiced, exciting, gorgeously animated.

Here's what Stephanie Zacharek writes about its wonderful dragon character Toothless (proving once again that SZ is the greatest prose stylist of all film critics):

But then there's Toothless: He may be a dragon, but with his rounded paws and panther-shaped head, there's also something of the house cat in him -- he has the same proportions of civilized dignity and wildness, as well as a tendency to express his affection in offhanded ways. (Remember that regurgitated fish?) Toothless has black Naugahyde skin that makes you want to reach out and touch it; his glowing green eyes are mischievous and appraising but not wholly unfriendly. And he doesn't speak, which means that Hiccup -- and we -- must read his expression, the tilt of his ears, the way he swishes his tail, to know what he's thinking, and even then we can't be 100 percent sure. Toothless has the one precious ingredient that's missing from so many of Hollywood's contemporary animated characters: an air of mystery. For once, instead of spelling everything out for us with constant chatter, DreamWorks has gotten the knack of leaving something unsaid.

Heard on "The Daily Show"

They're going to sit together for two hours? How many of us have to get shot for you fuckers to go to lunch?
--Jon Stewart on the Plan for Republicans and Democrats to Sit Intermingled at the State of the Union Address


After two straight nights with no bleeding, Dr. Shepard removed my catheter this morning (with no bleeding).

After a day of observation, will be out of the hospital in 24 hours!

Quote of the Day (1/18/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
--Mark Twain

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rest Cure

For all those friends (FB and otherwise) concerned about my workaholic ways, rest assured that that my hospital rest cure has slowed me down entirely.

No news today. Hematologists hard at work on the blood puzzle. Solution forthcoming perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thanks Jimmie Cain and Robert Bray (and Joyce and Sarah of course) for your visit today. Great to see you.

The Nasty Subtext of the Golden Globes

Matt Zoller Seitz has the story.

Quote of the Day (1/17/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world, I am moved to lead a different life.
--Mark Twain

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quote of the Day (1/14/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

Truth is always stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
--Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back in the Hospital

Well I am back in the hospital. It seems the bleeding which I began experiencing in the middle of the night last night was normal for three weeks after the surgery, but not quite in this (too profuse) amount. Dr. Shepard put me back in MTMC in order to better deal with it. Should be home tomorrow. I should be OK.

Quote of the Day (1/12/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.
--Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Great "Buffy" Rewatch (as seen on Nik-at-Nite)

Go here to see the Nik-at-Nite posting.

Episode|Ep #|Airdate|Writer|Director
"Teacher's Pet" |1.4 | 3/25/97 | David Greenwalt | Bruce Seth Green
"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" | 1.5 | 03/31/97 | Rob Des Hotel & Dean Batali | David Semel
"The Pack" | 1.6 | 04/07/97 | Matt Kliene & Joe Reinkemeyer | Bruce Seth Green

Can I just say one thing? HEEEELLLLP! HEEEELLLLP!
Xander to Mrs. French (the she-mantis) in “Teacher’s Pet”

When the episodes I’ve just rewatched originally aired, I was paying no attention. (You can read a brief account of my “coming-to-Buffy” in Season Four experience here.) Nor have I ever been a big fan of BtVS S1. I have even been known to discourage potential future adherents to skip the entire season and begin their Buffy immersion with S2 (in the hope such a navigation of the verse would more likely lead to love/addiction).

My critical opinion of two of my three rewatchables was, nevertheless, high: I’ve long considered “Never” and “Pack” among the strongest from Buffy’s rookie season. “Teacher’s Pet,” on the other hand, I had filed away in my memory as a BBF (Buffy Bottom Feeder), an episode every bit as lame as, say, “Inca Mummy Girl” or “Beer Bad.” (I know, I know: judging television episodes is an exercise in critical relativity, and the worst Buffy may still be pretty good television.) I am happy to report that while “Never” and “Pack” remain worthy, “Pet” has improved with age.

That Joss Whedon half-expected Buffy to be canceled after only one season is well known. The series’ signature “flexi-narrative” formula (the term is Robin Nelson’s)—one season=the struggle with and defeat of a singular Big Bad, punctuated with “Monster of the Week” episodes—was a fortunate side-effect. Like most initial seasons of long-running series, Season One BtVS shows Whedon and company uncertain about a number of other matters as well, still calibrating, if you will, its most basic assumptions. In my three episodes the calibration is almost audible.

For example, Buffy’s Summers’ IQ is still in doubt. Though her verbal kicks are as quick and accurate as her physical ones, the young woman who will later earn an SAT score good enough to gain admission to Northwestern does not always seem the sharpest tool in the shed. Consider the entrance of Owen Thurman into the library in “Never”:

Owen: I lost my Emily. Dickinson. It's dumb, but I like her around. Kind of a security blanket.
Buffy: (awkwardly) I have something like that. Well, it's an actual blanket. Uh, and I don't really carry it around anymore . . . So! Emily Dickens, huh? She's great!
Owen: Dickinson.
Buffy: She's good also.

Even allowing for her smittenness with Owen’s Owenocity in this scene, this level of dumb seems incompatible with the intelligence Buffy exhibits in her smack down of a vamp in the episode’s teaser:

We haven't been properly introduced. (pulls out a stake) I'm Buffy, and you're history!

or later in the same episode in the following exchange with her Watcher:

Giles: If your identity as the Slayer is revealed it could put you and all those around you in grave danger.
Buffy: Well, in that case I won't wear my button that says, “I'm a Slayer. Ask me how!”

Nor have Whedon and Company, or David Boreanaz for that matter (who shows little evidence of acting ability until Season Two), yet figured out Angel. Though it is abundantly clear (as Xander notes in “Pet”) that he is “a very attractive man,” radiating “salty goodness” (Cordelia in “Never”), it is by no means certain yet that he is a hero. Angel in my rewatchables reminded me—nota bene: odd comparison ahead—-of Kramer in the first two partial seasons of Seinfeld—-before Seinfeld, David, and Richards realized the character’s potential as a “hipster doofus.”

Nor is the continuity precisely calibrated yet. When Giles tells his charge (in “Never”) that he always wanted to be a fighter pilot, the confession seems a bit odd coming from the Ripper of “The Dark Age” (2.8), and his insistence that he has no instruction manual is of course contradicted by Kendra’s knowledge of one (“What’s My Line,” Parts I and II, 2.9-10). And what’s with the vampire look? All vampires at this point seem to be Master lookalikes. Later, John Vulich and company will go lighter on the latex.

On the other hand, Xander and Cordelia are already fully and completely themselves. It is revealing, is it not, that two of my three rewatchables (“Pet,” “Pack”)—-from the middle of Season One—-are Xandercentric. I suspect so much Xander so early in BtVS reflects a great deal of comfort in the writers room with both Mr. Harris and Nicholas Brendon’s portrayal of him.

I had entirely forgotten till this rewatch that “Pet” begins with a “Superstary” dream sequence in which, like Jonathan Levinson in Season Four, our beloved Zeppo takes over the narrative and becomes the Slayer’s savior, kicking a vampire’s butt, and then, in a “Restlessy” moment mounting the stage in the Bronze to perform. (When Buffy awakes him from his biology class nap with the words “You're drooling,” the omniscient among us can’t help but flash forward to Buffy’s own “minimal drool” in “Hush.”)

If Brendon excels as dream-Xander, he shines as well as the virgin about to be the recipient of Mrs. French’s eggs in the final scene of “Pet” and, even more significantly, as the Hyena-possessed bad boy of “The Pack.” (Like Boreanaz, the dark side serves for Brendon as a performance enhancer.) I find “The Pack” difficult to watch, genuinely scary.

And what are we to say about Charisma Carpenter’s role as the poster child for meanness? Consider her Principal Flutie ordered (“Heal!” “Heel!”) meeting with a grief counselor (after finding Dr. Gregory’s corpse):

I don't know what to say, it was really, I mean, one minute you're in your normal life, and then who's in the fridge? It really gets to you, a thing like that. It was . . . let's just say I haven't been able to eat a thing since yesterday. I think I lost, like, seven and a half ounces? Way swifter than that so-called diet that quack put me on. Oh, I'm not saying that we should kill a teacher every day just so I can lose weight, I'm just saying bright side. You know?

I am sure I am not alone in identifying this kind of black humor one of the things I love most about Buffy and no one brings it better than Queen C.

Giles, too, with the exception of his possibly inconsistent backstory, is recognizably Giles. Consider, for example, this wonderful exchange with Buffy in “Never”:

Giles: Alright, I-I'll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show.
Buffy: Okay, at this point you're abusing sarcasm.

Gilesish to the max.

Thanks to this rewatch I don’t think I will be recommending “go directly to Season 2” in the future. “Teacher’s Pet,” “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date,” and “The Pack” may not be my favortist Buffys, but they remain inescapable—-like puberty.

Miscellaneous Notes, Queries, and Observations.
*Buffy will give us several mean teachers over its run, but “Pet” give us perhaps its nicest, Dr. Gregory (“one of the few teachers who don’t think Buffy’s a felon”—as Willow observes) and then, in classic Whedon fashion, immediately kills him. It will come as no surprise in “The Prom” (3.20).
*Will we ever again see Xander as one of the girls (as he is in “Never”)? Take note, in a further act of emasculation, Xander (in the epilogue of “Never”) sips on a juice box in a very Andrew-like manner.
*In her attempted extrication from Owen’s interest in the life of danger at the end of “Never,” Buffy insists “It’s not you, it’s me.” Has Buffy been watching Seinfeld and fallen under the influence of George Costanza?
*In “Never,” we get the following exact duplication of lines (both, of course, describing Buffy):
Giles: She is the strangest girl!
Owen: (to Angel) She's the strangest girl!

*In case you did not know: Musetta Vander, the South African actress who plays Natalie French in “Pet,” would later play one of the Sirens in Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother Where Art Thou?
*I had forgotten that key School of Whedonite David Greenwalt (an essential Angel contributor as well) wrote “Pet.”
*When the vampire (with a giant claw) runs in terror from Natalie French, did anyone else hear?
Xander: Generally speaking, when scary things get scared: not good. (“Dead Man’s Party,” 3.2)

*In “Restless” (4.22), Xander tells Apocalypse-Now-Principal-Snyder “how glad I was you were eaten by a snake.” On the other hand, I was really, really sorry to see Flutie eaten by The Pack. Wonderful character, played by Ken Lerner, the brother of Michael Lerner, the actor (yes, another Coen Bros. reference) who gave us mogul Jack Lipnick in Barton Fink.
*Some very nice indy music at the Bronze in all three episodes—a Buffy trademark.
*Perhaps it’s just me, but I would lose the “to be continued” ending of “Pet.”
*Television directors tend to be invisible. (Whedon would not himself direct an episode until the Season One finale, “Prophecy Girl.”) Two of my three episodes were directed by Bruce Seth Green, a twenty year industry veteran, came to Buffy with an impressive resume that included assignments on the following TV series: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, American Gothic, Xena: Warrior Princess, Babylon 5, Law & Order, I'll Fly Away, Swamp Thing, Doogie Howser, M.D., Baywatch, MacGyver, T.J. Hooker, V, Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I. After Season Two (in which Green helmed “Some Assembly Required,” “Nightmares,” “Halloween,” “The Dark Age,” “Ted,” and “Phases”), he would never work for the series again.
*On the DVDs, activation of each episode is accompanied by a Buffy witticism. When you play “Pet,” Buffy announces “We’re talking full-on Exorcist twist.” With “Never” we hear “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.” Nice.

"The Flaming C"

In case you haven't seen it, Conan O'Brien superheroized (by Bruce Timm).

The Poison Of Limbaugh - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Poison Of Limbaugh - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Dead Birds and Fish in Arkansas the Result of Repeal of DADT

Quote of the Day (1/11/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
--Mark Twain

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dangerous Students

The Arizona shooter's fellow students found him menacing.

This had me thinking about a problem I had to deal with when I was Chair of the English Department at MTSU back in the mid-1990s. A distinguished, much loved senior professor had received a death threat in the mail. "You deserve to die," the letter, sent via the US mail, read. We attempted, unsuccessfully, to involve the postal authorities.

Then another faculty member, a very junior colleague, received an identical threat--again in the mail. Interestingly, the second recipient just happened to be a textual scholar who was then working on the John Donne Variorum and had become an expert on handwriting. With two samples of the threat-bringer's handwriting in hand, the Donne scholar came up with a questionnaire for his current students (one of whom we felt certain had authored both the threats) that would extract handwriting samples. With relative ease he was able to identify the culprit.

With two armed MTSU police outside my office door, and with the moral support of two trusted colleagues, I confronted the student, who turned out to be, somewhat surprisingly, a non-traditional woman in her late thirties. She confessed and was expelled from school.

Remembering Charley

This photo of our late beloved dog is a scan of a coaster we had made a few years ago and that surfaced today.

We loved him so much.

The Tea Party's Homegrown Terror Blind Spot

The Tea Party's Homegrown Terror Blind Spot

"Twilight: Eclipse"

So Saturday night Joyce and I watched/snoozed through what is supposedly the best in the Twilight saga.

Tedious and overwrought in every respect.

Fox News Warns That Without Angry Rhetoric It Will Have 24 Hours to Fill « Borowitz Report

Fox News Warns That Without Angry Rhetoric It Will Have 24 Hours to Fill « Borowitz Report

"The Cape" Borrowings

The Cape plays like someone gave a 7-year-old action figures from Dick Tracy, Batman, Now And Again, and Carnivale, then encouraged him to come up with a storyline to somehow unite them. The crazy, comical villains are all Dick Tracy (there’s literally someone named Scales who appears to be covered in same). The dark, brooding voice Vince affects as The Cape is all Batman. The idea that this man can’t tell his wife and child he’s still around is from a variety of things, but most reminded me of the much stronger treatment of the same idea in Now And Again. And the circus of criminal freaks is all Carnivale (and much more that than the final season of Heroes, thank God).
--Todd VanDerWerff, Onion TV Club

Quote of the Day (1/10/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
--Mark Twain

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Watching The Cape (somewhat promising).

I am certainly getting my fill of James Frain lately: Cromwell in The Tutors (pictured), Franklin Mott in Season Three of True Blood, now the Big Bad (Peter Fleming) of The Cape. (I believe he's in Tron, too, though I have not seen that.)

"Slayage" at 10

Rhonda Wilcox has just reminded me that our child, Slayage, will be 10 with the next issue.

We are very proud parents.

Not the only 10 year old on the web. Also 10 this year: Wikipedia.

Palinspeak And Violence - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

What would Richard Slotkin say?

Palinspeak And Violence - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

One Small Step for Addy . . .

Revoking It All (Heard on "Wait, Wait")

It was a big week in Washington. The air was thick with that New Congress Smell. The House Republicans are in charge now, and they are just chompin' at the bit to do everything, or really more like undo everything. First on their ungenda, of course, is repealing health care reform, and they have also threatened they might undo financial reform too. But we think why stop there? Why not make Obama take up smoking again? Pack up all the kids born in America? Reunite Brad Pitt with Jennifer Anniston? Force George Lucas to unmake the Star Wars sequels? Move the capital back to Philadelphia. And finally get in the Mayflower and throw it in reverse.
--Peter Grosz, Guest Host

Still Life Without Man - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Still Life Without Man - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Quote of the Day (1/9/11) (Mark Twain Week II)

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.
--Mark Twain

Friday, January 07, 2011

"True Grit" BO Mojo

So Grit is now Joel and Ethan's all-time biggest moneymaker (surpassing No Country) and the most successful Western since Wild Wild West (1999).

Hart Crane Movie

I was fascinated to read in EW that a movie (The Broken Tower) about the ultra-cinematic Hart Crane (pictured) is in production--with James Franco as the doomed poet (Franco directing as well) and the astonishing Michael Shannon among the supporting cast.

Hoping to make a cinematic comeback after being destroyed by both Godzilla and the Cloverfield monster, the Brooklyn Bridge, will, I presume, play itself.

Spoiler warning: the final scene will be Crane diving to his death off an ocean liner into the Gulf of Mexico (unless he is talked out of it by Leonardo DiCaprio).

Help us Jesus!

That the Birther who decried Obama's illegitimacy during yesterday's stunt reading of the Constitution ended her rant with

Help us Jesus!

speaks volumes.

The Daily Show's story on the reading.

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Funny Doesn't Travel Well - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Funny Doesn't Travel Well - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Quote of the Day (1/7/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

When it's cold, it comes slow.
it is warm, just watch it grow.
-all around me.
it is here. it is now.
Just a little bit of it can bring you up or down.
Like the supper it is cooking in your hometown.
it is chicken, it is eggs,
it is in between your legs.
it is walking on the moon,
leaving your cocoon.

it is the jigsa. it is purple haze.
it never stays in one place, but it's not a passing phase,
it is in the single's bar, in the distance of the face,
it is in between the cages, it is always in a space
it is here. it is now.

Any rock can be made to roll,
If you've enough of it to pay the toll.
it has no home in words or goal,
Not even in your favourite hole.
it is the hope for the dope.
When you ride the horse without a hoof.
it is shaken, not stirred;
Cocktails on the roof.

When you eat right fru it you see everything alive,
it is inside spirit, with enough grit to survive
If you think it's pretentious, you've been taken for a ride.
Look across the mirror, before you chose de cide
it is here. it is now
it is Real. it is Rael

'cos it's only knock and knowall, but I like it.
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Fraud - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Fraud - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Heard on "HIMYM"

You can’t get a girl pregnant; that’s the dream! I’d give my firstborn to not be able to have children.
--Barney confused about why Marshall is upset about his possible infertility

Quote of the Day (1/6/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

The scent grows richer, he knows he must be near,
He finds a long passageway lit by chandelier.
Each step he takes, the perfumes change
>From familiar fragrance to flavours strange.
A magnificent chamber meets his eye.

Inside, a long rose-water pool is shrouded by fine mist.
Stepping in the moist silence, with a warm breeze he's gently kissed.

Thinking he is quite alone,
He enters the room, as if it were his own,
But ripples on the sweet pink water
Reveal some company unthought of-

Rael stands astonished doubting his sight,
Struck by beauty, gripped in fright;
Three vermilion snakes of female face,
The smallest motion, filled with grace.
Muted melodies fill the echoing hall,
But there is no sign of warning in the siren's call:
'Rael welcome, we are the Lamia of the pool.
We have been waiting for our waters to bring you cool.'

Putting fear beside him, he trusts in beauty blind,
He slips into the nectar, leaving his shredded clothes behind.
'With their tongues, they test, taste and judge all that is mine.
They move in a series of caresses
That glide up and down my spine.

As they nibble the fruit of my flesh, I feel no pain,
Only a magic that a name would stain.
With the first drop of my blood in their veins
Their faces are convulsed in mortal pains.
The fairest cries, 'We all have loved you Rael'.'

Each empty snakelike body floats,
Silent sorrow in empty boats.
A sickly sourness fills the room,
The bitter harvest of a dying bloom.
Looking for motion I know I will not find,
I stroke the curls now turning pale, in which I'd lain entwined
'O Lamia, your flesh that remains I will take as my food'
It is the scent of garlic that lingers on my choclate fingers.

Looking behind me, the water turns icy blue,
The lights are dimmed and once again the stage is set for you.
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Major Malfunction

The definition of a Numnuts. F. Lee now officially on my hate list.

Quote of the Day (1/5/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

There is lambswool under my naked feet.
The wool is soft and warm,
-gives off some kind of heat.
A salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed.
Imaginary creatures are trapped in birth on celluloid.
The fleas cling to the golden fleece,
Hoping they'll find peace.
Each thought and gesture are caught in celluloid.
There's no hiding in my memory.
There's no room to void.

The crawlers cover the floor in the red ochre corridor.
For my second sight of people, they've more lifeblood than before.
They're moving. They're moving in time to a heavy wooden door,
Where the needle's eye is winking, closing in on the poor.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
'We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out.'

There's only one direction in the faces that I see;
It's upward to the ceiling, where the chambers said to be.
Like the forest fight for sunlight, that takes root in every tree.
They are pulled up by the magnet, believing that they're free.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
'We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out.'

Mild mannered supermen are held in kryptonite,
And the wise and foolish virgins giggle with their bodies glowing bright.
Through a door a harvest feast is lit by candlight;
It's the bottom of a staircase that spirals out of sight.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
'We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out.'

The porcelain manikin with shattered skin fears attack.
The eager pack lift up their pitchers- the carry all they lack.
The liquid has congealed, which has seeped out through the crack,
And the tickler takes his stickleback.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
'We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out.'
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"Supernatural" Book

A slightly different final cover, with a different, more intriguing subtitle.

I love it.

Barrett, Robbins, "Village Voice"

In the Lavery household, this is huge news.

Sarah was an intern at the Village Voice a couple of years ago and Barrett has been her invaluable mentor.

Quote of the Day (1/4/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

The chamber was in confusion-all the voices shouting loud.
I could only just hear, a voice quite near say, 'Please help me
through the crowd'
'Said if I helped her thru' she could help me too, but I could
see that she was wholly blind.
But from her pale face and her pale skin, a moonlight shined.

Lilywhite Lilith,
She gonna take you thru' the tunnel of night.
Lilywhite Lilith,
She gonna lead you right.

When I'd led her through the people, the angry noise began to grow.
She said 'Let me feel the way the breezes blow, and I'll show
you where to go.'
So I followed her into a big round cave, she said 'They're coming
for you, now don't be afraid.'
Then she sat me down on a cold stone throne, carved in jade.

Lilywhite Lilith,
She gonna take you thru' the tunnel of night.
Lilywhite Lilith,
She gonna lead you right.

Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse,
But I'm sure I hear a train.
O boy! I don't even feel no pain-
I guess I must be driving myself insane.
Damn it all! does earth plug a hole in heaven,
Or heaven plug a hole in the earth-'how wonderful to be so profound,
when everything you are is dying underground.'
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Monday, January 03, 2011

PCAS/LOST Conference, October 2011

The 2011 PCAS annual meeting will be held October 6-8, 2011 in New Orleans at the Marriott.

The LOST conference will be part of the festivities.


Woke up from a nap and turned on the TV to find Eddie Murphy in a boxing ring. Had to check the Info to learn that I was watching I Spy (Betty Thomas, 2002).

With the exception of my beloved Nicholas Cage, has any other actor made so many completely forgettable films?

Year in Review (Dave Barry)

Darkly hilarious.

The opening paragraph:

Let's put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out about 75 percent of all of the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes, we can, because they were not exposed to "Jersey Shore."

Pete Postlethwaite

One of the great character actors of our day has died.

I first became aware of him as the father in Terence Davies' Distant Voices, Still Lives, and I saw him most recently in Clash of the Titans. For me, one of his most memorable parts was in The Usual Suspects.

Quote of the Day (1/3/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

'The last great adventure left to mankind'
-Screams a drooping lady
offering her dreamdolls at less than extortionate prices,
and as the notes and coins are taken out
I'm taken in, to the factory floor.
For the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
-All ready to use
the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
-just need a fuse.

Got people stocked in every shade,
Must be doing well with trade.
Stamped, addressed, in odd fatality.
That evens out their personality.
With profit potential marked by a sign,
I can recognise some of the production line,
No bite at all in labour bondage,
Just wrinkled wrappers or human bandage.

The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
-All ready to use
It's the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
-just need a fuse.
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Sunday, January 02, 2011

R.I.P., Fess, Kevin

I managed to miss the 2010 passing of these two: Fess Parker, the Davy Crockett of my youth, and Kevin McCarthy, who ran--decrying that "They're coming!"--from the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers to its 1978 continuation.


An extraordinary video tribute to California's Redwoods.

Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

"Actual Books Written by Fictional TV Characters"

How did I miss this last year?

Indispensable for anyone interested in paratexts.

"Sterling's Gold"

As a big fan (and scholar) of the TV tie-in book, I was delighted by this Christmas gift.

My favorite Sterlingism:

When God closes a door, he opens a dress.

A brilliant post (on Andrew Sullivan's blog by Zoë Pollock--via David Kaufmann) on Walter Benjamin, Klee's Angelus Novus (pictured), and history.

Quote of the Day (1/2/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

With her mythical madonnas still walking in their shades:
Lenny Bruce, declares a truce and plays his other hand.
Marshall McLuhan, casual viewin', head buried in the sand.
Sirens on the rooftops wailing, but there's no ship sailing.
Groucho, with his movies trailing, stands alone with his punchline failing.
Klu Klux Klan serve hot soul food and the band plays 'In the Mood'
The cheerleader waves her cyanide wand, there's a smell of
peach blossom and bitter almonde.
Caryl Chessman sniffs the air and leads the parade, he know in a scent,
you can bottle all you made.
There's Howard Hughes in blue suede shoes, smiling at the majorettes
smoking Winston Cigarettes.
And as the song and dance begins, the children play at home
with needles; needles and pins.
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Rooting for TCU

The only bowl game I am watching today is Wisconsin vs. Texas Christian in The Rose Bowl.

I find myself rooting for TCU, strangely enough, but then again, in another reality, it could have been my alma mater.

I watched Buffy's "The Wish" earlier. What if Buffy the Vampire Slayer had never come to Sunnydale? What if David Lavery had never gone to Gainesville?

"Lovers Walk," "The Wish"

Low energy on this first day of 2011, but it was great fun to watch, back to back on Logo, "Lovers Walk" and "The Wish."

BtVS, S3 does not have the highs of S2 ("Innocence," "Becoming," I and II) or S4 ("Hush," "Restless") but is there really any question anymore that it is the strongest full season? (Discuss quietly among yourselves.)

15 Years

Not sure if I will make it to 25 (I would be 71). 20 seems certain.

Quote of the Day (1/1/11) ("The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Week)

There's something solid forming in the air,
The wall of death is lowered in Times Square.
No-one seems to care,
They carry on as if nothing was there.
The wind is blowing harder now,
Blowing dust into my eyes.
The dust settles on my skin,
Making a crust I cannot move in
And I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway.
--The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway