Wednesday, August 31, 2011

School Pictures

Grade school photos from the 1950s and 60s are classic. Gary Larson (see above) had fun with them in The Pre-history of The Far Side. (I assume that is Gary, looking like a Far Sidean, middle row on the far right.)

The one below (click on it to see a larger version) is of my wife's first grade class (in Jacksonville, FL, early in The Sixties). She's fourth from left on the near side of the top table (her head replacing the teacher's right hand). She was an adorable child. I have often said that if I had known her then (when I was probably 12) I would have fallen in love on the spot.

Quote of the Day (8/31/11) Rodney Dangerfield Week

I tell ya, my family were always big drinkers. When I was a kid, I was missing. They put my picture on a bottle of Scotch.
--Rodney Dangerfield

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Heard on MSNBC

There's an old saying in Washington that a friend is somebody who stabs you in the chest.
--Bill Press talking about Dick Cheney's new book

Quote of the Day (8/30/11) Rodney Dangerfield Week

My high school football team was so tough that after they sacked the quarterback they went after his family.
--Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quote of the Day (8/29/11) (William Blake Weeks)

I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's;
I will not Reason and Compare: my business is to Create.
--William Blake, The Words of Los, plate 10

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Watched all of S1 of Louie this weekend. Crude and ingenious.

Quote of the Day (8/28/11) (William Blake Weeks)

God appears and god is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day
--William Blake, “Songs of Innocence”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"End of the Road"

If only it were true. There's still more Torchwood to come. Two more episodes of the terrible Miracle Day.

One step forward (last week's "Immortal Sins"); two, maybe three, steps back with last night's episode.

Hard to believe that Jane Espenson had a hand in this mess.

Happy Birthday from River Tam

‎"Day" is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles. It's not applicable... I didn't get you anything.-River Tam

Birthday greetings from Lisa Anderson on Facebook

British TV Scholars in Australia

--Steve Lacey and Jason Jacobs, Melbourne, Australia (Television and the National Conference, November 2008)

Quote of the Day (8/27/11) (William Blake Weeks)

He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt
They'd immediately go out.
--William Blake, “Songs of Innocence”

Friday, August 26, 2011


Salon's Matt Zoller Seitz recaps last Sunday's Breaking Bad. Very discerning.

New Words

HuffPo reports Merriam-Webster has added (among others) these new words:

_ Americana (1841): genre of American music with roots in early folk and country music.

_ boomerang child (1988): young adult who returns to live at her family home, especially for financial reasons.

_ bromance (2004): a close nonsexual friendship between men.

_ continuous positive airway pressure (1975): abbreviated CPAP; a technique for relieving breathing problems (as those associated with sleep apnea or congestive heart failure) by pumping a steady flow of air through the nose to prevent the narrowing or collapse of air passages or to help the lungs to expand.

_ cougar (1774): slang term for a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man.

_ crowdsourcing (2006): the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially from the online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.

Quote of the Day (8/26/11) (William Blake Weeks)

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
--William Blake, “Songs of Innocence”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Peyton Manning Says He Will Play In Colts Opener After Performing Neck Surgery On Self"

Tired at the end of a busy day, I clicked on a link while not quite awake and read the headline that is my title.

I had forgotten it was The Onion I had clicked on, and for a moment found the news quite, quite shocking.

Gaddafi Hearts Condi; Condi Hearts . . .

Today's news about the discovery of Gaddafi's Condi Rice photo album was stunning.

It reminded me, of course, of that much circulated story that the unmarried former Sec. State (then National Security Director) supposedly began a sentence at a DC dinner party with the words "As my husband said," only to correct herself: "As the President said to me."


I have long admired this wonderful passage from Michael Leiris' L'age d'home:

I owe my first precise contact with the notion of infinity to a box of cocoa of Dutch manufacture, raw material for my breakfasts. One side of this box was decorated with an image representing a peasant girl with a lace headdress who held in her left hand an identical box decorated with the same image and, pink and fresh, offered it with a smile. I remained seized with a sort of vertigo in imagining that infinite series of an identical image reproducing a limitless number of times the same young Dutch girl, who, theoretically getting smaller and smaller without ever disappearing, looked at me with a mocking air and showed me her effigy painted on a cocoa box identical to the one on which she herself was painted.

This Batman cover [tip of the hat to The Dish] is another version of the oatmeal box.

China, Porn, Sex Ed

An interesting Dish post on "Looking at Porn in China."

These words in particular caught my attention:

Many students say pornography is their only sex education . . .

When I taught in Shanghai in the early 1980s, my male students asked me to come to the dorms to teach sex education. Now, thirty years later, they at least have porn.


Is there no end to his hypocrisy? Good grief.

Quote of the Day (8/25/11) (William Blake Weeks)

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.
--William Blake, London, st. 2

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quote of the Day (8/24/11) (William Blake Weeks)

The ancient poets animated all objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could perceive. And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity; Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of, & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began priesthood; Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things. Thus men forgot that all deities reside in the human breast
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our White Trash Front Yard

Our white trash front yard.

And the cause--a bathroom remodel in progress.

Quote of the Day (8/22/11) (William Blake Weeks)

Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion.
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quote of the Day (8/21/11) (William Blake Weeks)

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Night of the Living Dead" Remembered

Watching Romero's original classic on Retroplex.

So many memories. While a student at Venango Campus I spent the weekend with a friend (David McElhaney was his name I believe), whose family farm served as one of the wooded sets for zombie rambling.

And the local newsman in the film was Chilly Bill Cardile, the host of, "Chiller Theatre," a much-beloved KDKA Pittsburgh horror-fest on Saturday nights.

"Immortal Sins" (TORCHWOOD)

I Tweeted last night:

Tonight's "Torchwood"--the first really engaging episode of "Miracle Day."

Here's what Zack Handlen (Onion TV Club) had to say (I think he's dead on--especially about the music. Emphasis mine):

This episode doesn't redeem Torchwood's sins. In fact, it seems to highlight the sloppiness of much of the rest of this season, since so little of what's gone before has anything to do with the revelations here. The writing is more acceptable than brilliant, and man, some of the music cues (at least on the screener) are just flat out horrid, tinny and over-emphasizing the already obvious. But "Sins" tells a complete story, and it does so in a way that makes me interested in what happens next, which is becoming something of a rarity for "Miracle Day." I'm nowhere near as enthusiastic about the show as I was at the start of this, but I'm not dreading it. Here's hoping the trend continues.

Quote of the Day (8/20/11) (William Blake Weeks)

The vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision's greatest enemy.
--William Blake, “The Everlasting Gospel”

Quote of the Day (8/20/11) (William Blake Weeks)

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spiders on Drugs

Cleaning out a closet I came upon a book I had not looked it in years, a Time-Life volume on Animal Behavior, written by the great ethologist Niko Tinbergen, first published in (and this is very important) 1965.

I immediately checked out a couple of pages from the book I remembered very well: a report (with photos) of an experiment by a pharmacologist (Peter Witt) who gave spiders a variety of drugs in order to test their webslinging under the influence.

Here's a normal web, efficient but flawed.

Here's the work of a spider on a Benzedrinish stimulant. The result: "the sider [is] too impatient to circle the center . . . [and] spins only in one small area.

A chloral hydrated spider (chloral hydrate is the classic "Mickey Finn") just falls asleep and leaves its work, as you can see below, undone.

On the other hand. a fully caffeinated "arachnid . . . [spins] a haphazard tangle of threads." A bit jumpy, don't you think?

Now consider this last, largest photo. What drug is this eight-legged on? The answer is below the photo.

The spider that spun this "perfect web, greatly improving on nature" was tripping his head off. LSD "induce[d] acute concentration" in the webmaster.

In the Sixties even the spider were doing acid!

Perry the Educator

It's only remarkable that a well-educated prominent political figure believes in a nearly century-old scientific consensus because many other members of the political elite don't. Huntsman's tweet was prompted by Rick Perry telling a child that he has his doubts about evolution.

"I hear your mom was asking about evolution," Perry said today. "That's a theory that is out there -- and it's got some gaps in it."

Perry then told the boy: "In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution. I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."

Yep, that's how schools work. You tell kids some things that are true and some things that are made up and you trust that the children will be "smart enough" to figure it out. "America's first three presidents were George Washington, John Adams and the Green Lantern. Good luck on your AP History test."
Alex Pareene in Salon

Quote of the Day (8/19/11) (William Blake Weeks)

The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom no clock can measure.
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rick Perry Hits on America

As evidence that Rick Perry needs to dial back his Texasness (already at the Yosemite Sam level on the chart below)

Jon Stewart offers an hilarious, obscene parody of the Texas guv's lust for his country: "I will fuck the shit out of America. . . . America, you got a pretty mouth."

Begins at the 2:20 point.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - Michele Bachmann Fever & Rick Perry's America
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Quote of the Day (8/17/11) (William Blake Weeks)

He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vegan S'mores

On Breaking Bad's "Bullet Points" (a wonderfully clever title BTW), we learn that the dear-departed chemist Gale's notebook contains a recipe for vegan s'mores.

If we ever have a BB viewing party, we should make this. It could catch on like cherry pies and Twin Peaks.

Larry David and Me

I have always felt a certain affinity with the Larry David character in Curb and have defended him in print.

His crusade in last week's "Vow of Silence" episode against "pig parkers"--people who park outside the lines, thus requiring a chain reaction of bad parking from everyone else--perfectly understandable (if you ask me).

On the other hand, I would never, never eat my dog's frozen yogurt last meal and then lie about it.

Quote of the Day (8/14/11) (William Blake Weeks)

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
--William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Not me. Finally, my Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? chapter for Barton Palmer & Robert Bray's Cambridge U P book on film adaptations of American plays is done.

I was supposed to have finished this back when I had surgery.

Underappreciated Actors

All of Matt Zoller Seitz's choices are good ones.

Quote of the Day (8/13/11) (William Blake Weeks)

The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it.
--William Blake, Note to The Voice of the Devil

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quote of the Day (8/12/11) (William Blake Weeks)

Opposition is true Friendship.
--William Blake, A Memorable Fancy (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Time Wounds All Heels"

This famous reformulation by the great psychologist Abraham Maslow came to mind again today when I watched (and very much enjoyed), for the first time since its original release, Milos Foreman's The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

At its end, I was reminded that the Charles Keating who prosecuted Flynt back in Cincinnati and supported Jerry Falwell when Flynt beat the fat pastor before the Supreme Court was the same scumbag at the heart of the Savings and Loan meltdown (which cost the American people $2 billion).

Time wounds all heels.

Spoiler alert: We like spoilers!

Spoiler alert: We like spoilers!

Quote of the Day (8/11/11) (William Blake Weeks)

Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.
--William Blake, The Argument to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kill All the Atheists

This Andrew Sullivan post highlights why I keep being an atheist to myself, Twitter, my blog, classes.

Quote of the Day (8/10/11) (William Blake Weeks)

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity, a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
--William Blake, The Divine Image, st. 3

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Doctor Returns

New poster promoting Part II of Doctor Who Season 6 (which returns on my birthday).

Voice Recognition

Joyce is often shocked at my (admitted) inability to recognize/remember faces, but I am wired with very good voice recognition. Watching ads, I often surprise her by identifying the voice of Jon Hamm (Mercedes-Benz) or Jeff Bridges (Duracell) or Michael C. Hall (Dodge).

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a Studio 360 "American Icons" on Monticello, and I knew right off that actor David Strathern was the voice of Thomas Jefferson. The end credits confirmed I was right.

My EGSO Conference Keynote

‘Verses: The Creation and Destruction of Television’s Imaginary Worlds

MTSU English Graduate Student Organization (EGSO) Conference, September 24th, 2011: "Fairy Tales, Myths, and Legends."

What If ? . . . "Falling Skies"

The Noah Wylie character--Tom Mason, IRL a history professor--rallies the troops in the Falling Skies S1 finale with a speech about the Revolutionary War.

What if the writers had made him, say, a freshman composition instructor? Different show?

Quote of the Day (8/9/11) (William Blake Weeks)

To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit — General Knowledges are those Knowledges that Idiots possess.
--William Blake, Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses, pp. xvii–xcviii (c. 1798–1809)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Gold, Aliens

This quote from an All Things Considered story on the "gold rush" today:

If we're ever invaded by aliens, I don't know if they would take gold. But almost everyone else will. . . . (Harvard's Ken Rogoff)

caught my attention, having just seen Cowboys and Aliens. The nasty monsters defeated by a coalition of willing cowboys, Native Americans, and men in black hats are gold prospectors (and world destroyers). They would take gold, Professor Rogoff, and the planet, too, thank you.

Bachmann and the South

This is from Benjy Sarlin's "Michele Bachmann’s Radical Reading List" (Talking Points Memo):

Earlier in her political career, Bachmann recommended a biography of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins on her State Senate campaign site under "Michele's Must Read List."

In it Wilkins describes the Civil War as a holy conflict between the godly South and heathen North and writes that "most southerners strove to treat their slaves with respect and provide them with a sufficiency of goods for a comfortable, though--by modern standards--spare existence" and that the institution bred "mutual esteem" between races as slaves adopted Christianity. Bachmann recently came under fire for signing onto a social conservative pledge that suggested African Americans families were better off under slavery (she and the group subsequently disavowed the language.)

"Newsweek"'s Bachmann Cover

Click on the image to see a larger version, in which her craziness becomes more apparent.

Quote of the Day (8/8/11) (William Blake Weeks)

Reason, or the ratio of all we have already known, is not the same that it shall be when we know more.
--William Blake, There Is No Natural Religion(1788)

Sunday, August 07, 2011


This evening I have Tweeted for the first time since 2009.

Yossarian's Complaint Against God in "Catch-22"

Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did he ever create pain? ... Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! [to warn us of danger] Why couldn't He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person's forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn't He? ... What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. ...

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan for posting this.

"Telegenic" at One

I missed a birthday. Telegenic, the column on TV I write for CST Online, is now over a year old.

The first one was finished July 4, 2010, and I have now done sixteen in all (counting the next) and 25,201 words in all (not counting the next one).

I can't thank Kim Akass, the CST Online webmistress, enough for her excellent work in putting these on the website.

Here's the whole list:

“The State of the American Sitcom (1): Modern Family” (coming in August 2011).

“The State of the American Sitcom (1): 30 Rock” (July 2011)

“The State of the American Sitcom (1): The Big Bang Theory” (June 2011)

“The State of the American Sitcom (1): How I Met Your Mother” (June 2011)

“The State of the American Sitcom (1): Community” (May 2011)

Big Fish” (May 2011)

The ‘Television is Better Than the Movies” Meme” (April 2011)

Infinite Impossibilities?” (March 2011)

What’s My Motivation?: The Method Goes Fantastic in Television Acting" (March 2011)

The Naughty, the Blasphemous, and American Television” (March 2011)

Series/Season/Show” (February 2011)

Sarah Palin Meets Seinfeld: Politics and American Television” (November 2010)

"The Ephebe of Television” (October 2010)

Bad Quality: Breaking Bad as Basic Cable Quality TV” (September 2010)

God, Death, and Pizza: Supernatural and the Death of God” (August 2010)

Thinking Inside the Box: Heisenberg’s Indeterminancy Principle, the Paradox of Schrödinger’s Cat, and Television” (July 2010)

Quote of the Day (8/7/11) (Karl Kraus Week II)

When the end of the world comes I want to be living in retirement.
--Karl Kraus

Friday, August 05, 2011

Colbert on Marriage

Colbert acknowledged last night his "staunch opposition to human/elf marriage. It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Arwen."

Quote of the Day (8/5/11) (Karl Kraus Week II)

A man gets so little recognition he could turn into a megalomaniac
--Karl Kraus

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Quote of the Day (8/4/11) (Karl Kraus Week II)

Imagination has the right to rest in the shade of the tree it turns into a forest.
--Karl Kraus

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

"Moby-Dick" on Encore

Just finished watching the William Hurt/Ethan Hawke Moby-Dick and may have more to say later. Go here to read my essay on previous film adaptations.

It has long been a question as to how Ishmael, a mere sailor on a crew and a limited first person narrator, knew what Captain Ahab was thinking alone in his cabin below decks. Thanks to the Encore Moby, we now know. Ishmael and Ahab are buddies, friends, sympaticos. Nigel Williams' take on Moby turns Ishmael into the Captain's fiscelle.

A silent era version of Melville's masterpiece had Ahab defeating the white whale, and I once throught there could be no more unfaithful adaptation of the novel. But this--this is worse. This changes everything.

This version looked great, and I was sometimes captivated by Hurt's Ahab.

But at the end of this new buddy film version of the greatest book ever written Ahab pushes Ishmael out of his boat as they pursue Moby. "AND I ONLY AM ESCAPED ALONE TO TELL THEE."--the line from The Book of Job Ishmael chooses as the epigraph to his story's epilogue. Now we know that it was Ahab who saved him. Good grief.

"Twin Peaks in the Rearview Mirror"

At work developing the long dormant second Twin Peaks book project for publication via Kindle.

Lindelof, Terminator Franchise

Damon Lindelof suggests how to reboot, comically, the Terminator franchise.

Quote of the Day (8/2/11) (Karl Kraus Week II)

The real truths are those that can be invented.
--Karl Kraus

Monday, August 01, 2011

Quote of the Day (8/1/11) (Karl Kraus Week II)

I have drawn from the well of language many a thought which I do not have and which I could not put into words.
--Karl Kraus