Saturday, March 31, 2012

'Alcatraz' season finale recap: Biting the 'Bullitt'

Entertainment Weekly's Alcatraz recapper (Joseph Brannigan Lynchg) noticed the same thing I did: the homage to Bullitt's famous car chase.

"Jaime Lannister vs. Cthulhu"???

Not a matchup I ever would have thought of, but George R. R. Martin did.

"Community Confronts Corporate Personhood"

Bill Wyman on this week's Community.

Can't wait to see how the Blanket Fort vs. Pillow Fort battle plays out in next week's conclusion.

Tyron Lannister

Another of Slate's character studies--this one on Games of Throne's biggest personality.

Walter Bishop

As Noel Murray notes (in his "Stray Observations") about last night's Fringe ("Nothing as It Seems"):

  • Walter has been buying birthday presents for Peter every year since his “death.” Past presents include a skateboard, a Gyro Wheel, a bottle of beer, and a copy of Hump.
  • Walter’s examples of a palindrome: “madam” and “boob.”
  • Sight-gag of the night: Walter emerging from the bathroom with Hump tucked under his arm.
What an extraordinary invention Walter is!

Artist of the Week, 3/31/12: Brueghel Week

Brueghel, Cavalry

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Most Interesting Man in the World

In the latest ad we learn the following:

He has inside jokes with complete strangers.
Cuba imports cigars from him.
Mosquitoes refuse to bite him purely out of respect.

Artist of the Week, 3/24/2012: Jan Vermeer Week

Vermeer, A Street in Delft

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring in Our Front Yard

Sarah Gives Her First Academic Conference Paper

"Peek inside Stanley Kubrick's annotated copy of the Shining novel"

Blastr has the story.

Heard on "Conan"

Conan was on a roll last night. Here are a couple of the jokes.

Mitt and Ann Romney have been married for 43 years. Asked what kept their marriage fresh, Ann replied, "Lucky for me Mitt is always changing positions."
Rick Santorum is rejecting calls to pull out of the race, which is odd because pulling out is one of the things he does believe in.

Buffy, Percy Jackson

The second Percy Jackson film will feature Nathan Fillion AND Tony Head.

The Doctor's New Companion

Artist of the Week, 3/22/2012: Jan Vermeer Week

Vermeer, The Music Lesson

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Michael Bay Fucks Up . . .

Remember this Onion account of Bay's commitment to fucking up his next project?

Michael Bay Signs $50M Deal To Fuck Up 'ThunderCats'

Now his commitment to epic fail is not from "Our Most Trusted News Source":

Michael Bay says 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' are aliens, reinvents origin story

"Neuroscientist Marc Lewis on His First Acid Trip"

A must read for me. On The Daily Beast.

A Dilemma for Haters


Just watched (with 25% attention--all that it required) John Singleton's Abduction, starring vacuous Twilight hearthrob Taylor Lautner.

How does a director who began with such promise two decades ago with Boyz in the Hood (1991) end up turning out such drek? A sad commentary on the American film industry.

Itchy and Scratchy

All of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons (from The Simpsons) compiled.


Peyton Manning said no to our Titans--even though he was offered a lifetime supply of Moon Pies.

Go figure.

Artist of the Week, 3/20/2012: Jan Vermeer Week

Vermeer, The Milkmaid

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ignorance, Knowledge

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not nearly as bad as a whole lot of ignorance.
--Terry Pratchett

Heard on "Walking Dead"

Christ promised us the resurrection of the dead, but I thought he had something else in mind.
--Herschel in "Beside the Dying Fire"

Artist of the Week, 3/18/12: Odilon Redon Week

Redon, Closed Eyes

Monday, March 12, 2012

The "Parenthood" Theme Song, Sung by the Writer

When we were young

We were small but we didn’t know it

When you were hurt

You would smile so you didn’t show it

And I can’t believe you’re mine

Can’t believe you’re mine

When we were young

We were brave, we were wild warriors

And you liked to race

So we’d run to the distant shores

And I can’t believe you’re mine

Can’t believe you’re mine

When the night came we would both say goodbye and go

But now that I’m older I’m sleepless outside your door

So let me in

I can’t believe you’re mine

Now we are tall

We are wise

We are tired or growing

All of this time

You and I

How did we not know it

And I can’t believe you’re mine

Can’t believe you’re mine

Can’t believe you’re mine

"Doonesbury's" Controversial Abortion Strip

"Whedon Strikes Back"

A good piece in

Tip of the hat to Tanya Cochran.

"Variety" Sings the Praises of "Cabin in the Woods"

Pretty high praise from the industry bible.

Tip of the hat to Cynthia Burkhead.


As of today, 4833 posts to the Laverytory.

Limbaugh's New Sponsors

According to SNL, the fine folk at

  • Depends for Racists
  • The Syria Tourism Board
  • Barney’s Butt Crack Balm
  • Mosquito Breeders of America
  • Lee’s Pencil Dullers
  • Misaki Dolphin Poppers
  • Shroder’s Fake Rape Whistles

The Right's Metaphors

I have been saying for a long time that the right cannot handle anything beyond the literal.Their ineptitude at humor has long been apparent (remember the Half Hour News Hour?), and they mangle metaphors like no one else. Consider Netanyahu's "duck" mess at the United Nations last week.

And now this:

The situation in this country is like a dog with worms. You bring the dog to the vet to be dewormed, but the vet is Dr. Obama, and he says you can't get the dog dewormed because the worms have a vote. And that's the problem, folks: the worms have a vote. - Neal Boortz.

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan.

Artist of the Week, 3/12/2012: Georges Seurat Week

Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette

The Office's version.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Imaginative Thinker: A Commonplace Book

Second Spring Break 2012 Kindle book.

Preface to the Kindle Edition

The Kindle book you hold in your hands is essentially a commonplace book I kept in four Chinese diaries I brought home from Shanghai in the early 1980s. Appropriately, I have made a scan of one of the diary covers the cover of this book.

In 1945 the Boston lawyer Charles P. Curtis, Jr. and Ferris Greenslet, the literary editor for Houghton-Mifflin, collaborated on a book they called The Practical Cogitator: The Thinker’s Anthology. The book had its inception during the war, in Curtis’ dream of developing a pocket anthology on the “great themes of life” that (in the words of a later Houghton-Mifflin editor) “even a long war might not exhaust.” Early on in their collaboration, Curtis and Greenslet set down rules for the selection of the quotations they would include in The Practical Cogitator:

it would include nothing familiar or readily accessible;
it would exclude the inspirational, the sentimental, and the cynical;
only passages worthy of multiple re-readings would be given space;
the editors would emphasize modern over ancient authors
the editors would not limit themselves to particular forms: “Treatise, textbook, letter, novel, speech, verse, anything is given equal welcome.” No verse would be included for its own sake.

The editors also decided to make no attempt at “complete exposition”: “The extracts provide pegs, stout and well driven in, on which you can hang your own further thoughts.” The Practical Cogitator, they explain in the “Preface to the First Edition,” would be a “dry wall”; “the only cement is a few comments.” It was their intent to provide what they call “a cerebral Coast Pilot”: "a compilation of what those who have been down this way before report to those who might otherwise have to pick their course through these channels and into these harbors with nothing but the lead lines." The completed “thinker’s anthology” went on to sell 100,000 copies in 1945 and 1950 editions and was reissued in the 1980s by Houghton-Mifflin.

The “Publishers’ Note” in the latter informs us that Curtis and Greenslet were asked to update the contents of their book—making it conform more to the spirit of post-war thought—for the 1950 edition. No such updating was made for the most recent edition. It remains top-heavily dependent on admirable passages from the writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., John Dewey, William James—a collection which would, in fact, make a perfect mate for Adler’s How to Read a Book.

The Imaginative Thinker is an anthology of a very different sort. I have not sought to provide “pegs, stout and well driven in. . . .” I have tried to open doors, to instill wonder: to cultivate imagination. No “cerebral Coast Pilot”—Curtis and Greensleet patterned their title after Bowditch’s Practical Navigator; I, of course, return their complement by patterning my title in opposition to theirs—the anthology you hold in your hands aspires to take the reader into the deep, the open sea. Anything but pragmatic in orientation and purpose, it aspires to be no less than a book of wonders, a selection of thought probes and mind-boggling ideas.

Faith in the Distance: The Wisdom of Loren Eiseley

Way back when I wrote a book on Loren Eiseley. I used my Spring break to make it into a Kindle book, which is now available for sale on Amazon.

Here's the preface: 

"The Kindle book you hold in your hand (the expression takes on a whole new meaning in the era of the E-book) had its inception in the age of the typewriter.
I began writing it pre-word processing soon after I earned my Ph.D. in English at the University of Florida. I had been reading Eiseley for years and turned to this as my first post-doctoral project. Like To Discover That There Is Nothing to Discover: Imagination, the Open, and the Movies of Federico Fellini, Faith in the Distance is a work of Geneva School criticism (see the introduction for more on the Geneva School). I do not think I could write it now, though I am more than a little in awe of the young, intellectually passionate scholar that did.
During its writing, sometime in 1982 in Huntsville, Alabama, I remember sitting down with a former student while she typed the manuscript into something called a “word processor.” I was unable to wrap my head around what she was doing. “So once you have typed it, it never has to be typed again?” I asked, dumbfounded. I “finished” it sometime around 1983, and I took the 5” x 8” [actually] floppy disks with me when we left for the Cincinnati area and a tenure-track job at Northern Kentucky University. A number of factors led me to set it aside, and my early 1990s metamorphosis into a television scholar would push Faith to the back burner and then off the range entirely.
Though consideration of Eiseley’s achievement has continued over the last three decades (most notably Gale Christianson’s controversial biography in 1990), the present study remains pretty much as I wrote it way back when.
I am delighted to finally see it “in print.” That a “book” that began at the dawn of the digital era is now a Kindle e-book—I find that very satisfying."

Artist of the Week, 3/11/2012: Georges Seurat Week

Seurat, Alfalfa Fields, Saint-Denis

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Cabin in the Woods" Premiere

Hollywood Reporter has the news.

Overheard in Wal-Mart

Searching for the Diet-Rite cherry cola this morning, I overheard a sixtyish African American male, giving off a street-person vibe, telling the Wal-mart shelf stocker about his friend Robert Oppenheimer and his involvement in the Manhattan Project.

The people of Wal-mart . . .

Men, Apologizing

Apologize. Apologizing is what men do. I say two “I’m sorries” when I get out of bed in the morning.

Adam Braverman (Peter Krausse) giving
advice to his younger brother in  Parenthood

Artist of the Week, 3/10/2012: George Seurat Week

Seurat, Une Baignade, Asnieres

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Mr. Burns or Mr. Romney?

From Mad Magazine: decide whether or not the Mittster or The Simpsons' creepy Mr. Burns said these crazy things.

Like Father, Like Daughter

At the Ballet Ball last weekend, one of our tablemates turned out to be the son of the now retired Dr. Warren McPherson [on the left], the ace surgeon who operated on my back in the Nineties and cured my bulging disc. (The surgery was on a Friday and I was back in class the following Tuesday.)

Joyce and I were greatly surprised to learn as well that he is brother of our wonderful vet, Dr. Kathryn McPherson, VMD, who not only saved the life of our beloved poodle Charlie but fixed the back problem of our last dog standing Elmo.

How's that for synchronicity? Father cures my back. Daughter cures our dog's?

Seurat Meets "The Office"

The Office does Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte.

Follow the link in the title above for a compendium of pop culture Last Suppers.

"Terra Nova" Novas

Who did not see this coming? Terra Nova has been cancelled.

Artist of the Week, 3/6/12: Georges Seurat Week

Seurat, Lighthouse at Honfleur

Monday, March 05, 2012


I liked this segment on Preston Sturges' great film on  Studio 360. Well worth a listen.

"Ides of March" | "The Devil's Double"

In the last few days I have seen both these films, the first George Clooney's film about dirty politics, the second a movie about Uday Hussein's body double, directed by New Zealander Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors, The Sopranos).

A month from now, I will remember nothing about the dull and forgettable Ides, but moment, scenes, the overall look of Double (deemed by Ain't It Cool News "Scarface of Arabia") will stay with me for sometime. Tamahori is an underrrated filmmaker.

"Somehow I Manage"

The unintentionally great title of Michael Scott, the idiot boss of The Office's Dunder-Mifflin paper coming not yet finished how-to book on business manage.