Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poe Poe Poe

Just sent this e-mail to Andrew Sullivan's The Dish.

"Romney's Relief Theater"

From Andrew Sullivan:

McKay Coppins pulls back the curtain of yesterday's non-campaign campaign event in Kettering, Ohio:
[T]he last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it "did donate supplies to the relief effort," but would not specify how much it spent.)
And then there's this:
As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan T-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, "You need a donation to get in line!" Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, "What if we dropped off our donations up front?" The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. "Just grab something," he said. Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their "donations" to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest "Thank you."

Green vs. Green

Where's Kermit? (Tip of the hat to Gary Gravely.)

Wesley and Willow (Denisof and Hannigan) Take Their Daughter Trick or Treating

Hitchcock on Blondes

This is the epigraph to the really creepy HBO movie The Girl about the great director's obsession with Tippi Hedren:

Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.--Alfred Hitchcock

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/31/12)

[The camera is] a caricature of imagination, although it is a true emblem of perspective. Imagination is living, perspective only "lifelike." It used to be said that the camera cannot lie. But in fact it always does lie. Just because it looks only in that immediate way, the camera looks always at and never into what it sees. I suspect that Medusa did very much the same.—Owen Barfield (Rediscovery of Meaning 73)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TV Fangdom: A Conference on Television Vampires

On Facebook, Stacey Abbott announced: "Ages ago I mentioned that Lorna Jowett, Mike Starr and I were organising a conference on TV vampires. Well the dates are set and the CFP is just starting to circulate. It will take place at the University of Northampton from the 7-8 June and you can access the CFP at the following website - It would be lovey to see a few of you there."


My piece is now available on CST Online.

"Remaking Horror: Hollywood's New Reliance on Scares of Old"

Dr, James Francis' doctoral dissertation (Ph.D., 2010), which I had the privilege of directing, will soon be published by McFarland.

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/30/12)

You may go on gabbling . . . words like supernaturalism, dualism, psychosomatic (and I have no quarrel with that word, properly used), input, feedback, output and the rest of it, till you are black in the face. You may, for all I know, succeed in detecting a physical or electrical charge in the brain for the airiest fragment of a frolic of a half-thought that ever hovered for an instant in the fancy of Mercutio. But you can never, without talking nonsense, obliterate the ultimate cleavage between (a) consciousness itself and (b) that of which it is conscious. —Owen Barfield (Worlds Apart 38-39; Hunter is speaking)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Television, the American Presidential Election, and the Zomney Apocalypse

This post will soon be published as a Telegenic on CST Online.

Spam has its own key.
--Joss Whedon

Image from
I am watching Walking Dead on the small flat screen television that sits beside my computer. It’s the third episode of Season Three (“Walk with Me”) of AMC’s fabulously successful zombie apocalypse series, the one in which we meet The Governor and visit Woodbury for the first time. Dead is my third most favorite show on basic cable’s surprising powerhouse (after Mad Men and Breaking Bad), but tonight, only about a week from the US Presidential election, it seems newly relevant.

Thanks to Joss Whedon, the cult television creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse (which gave us a neurological zombie apocalypse brought on by an evil corporation) and, more recently, movies like The Cabin in the Woods (which features a backwoods zombie family) and Marvel’s The Avengers (now the third highest grossing film of all time—try to keep up), we now understand that a Republican victory could result in much worse than war with Iran, eradication of the Affordable Care Act, and extermination of women’s reproductive freedom.

The grocery from Shaun of the Dead. Image from

Image from Google Images.

Surprisingly, in a time of Twihards and True Blooders, decidedly not-sexy Zombies have for some time been gaining popular culture prominence. First they had their night and their day. They took over the mall and the land. They have gone meta. They menaced Jane Austen. Shaun battled them in Crouch End, and they overran England (in only 28 days). They have given AMC its biggest hit.

And, of course, they have not only spawned a slew of critical and theoretical discussion seeking to explain their political and popular culture significance (see the bibliography) but begun to stalk (slowly, haltingly) our language: now we have zombie candidateszombie bankszombie feministszombie bees.

Screen capture of CDC Website.

The zombie threat has become so real that in the US both the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security issued instructions for preparing for a zombie apocalypse. 

Screen Capture from The Huffington Post.

Which brings us to Whedon’s video.

The recent, not-Zombie-related, official Obama campaign video by Lena Dunham, the provocative creator of HBO’s Girls, comparing voting with a first sexual experience, provoked a firestorm on the right, even though conservative icon Ronald Reagan had used the same metaphor (in a much more disgusting manner) in 1980. (Here is the Reagan version:
“I know what it’s like to pull the Republican lever for the first time, because I used to be a Democrat myself, and I can tell you it only hurts for a minute and then it feels just great.”)

Foaming-at-the-mouth conservative Erick Erickson, for example, would proclaim: “If you need any further proof we live in a fallen world destined for hell fire, consider the number of people who have no problem with the President of the United States, via a campaign ad, ridiculing virgins and comparing sex to voting.”

Joss Whedon’s anti-Romney video is not likely to provoke the same kind of “end of days” pronouncements from the right as Dunham’s cunning, tongue-in-cheek feminist message (though both are sure to be taken as further evidence that “Hollywood” is in the pocket of the Democrats). It is, after all, itself an end-of-days pronouncement.

For, unlike the delightfully impish Dunham, Whedon is entirely, fantastically serious. Trust him. The man knows apocalypses.

Works Cited
Bishop, Kyle William. American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2010.
Caldwell, Alicia A. “Zombie Apocalypse: 'The Zombies Are Coming,' Homeland Security Warns.” Huffington Post 6 September 2012: <>.
Erickson, Erick. “Cheap Tricks and One Night Stands.” Red State 25 October 2012: .
Flint, David Zombie Holocaust: How the Living Dead Devoured Pop Culture. London: Plexus, 2008.
Kleefeld, Eric. “Ronald Reagan Made A ‘First Time’ Voting Joke 32 Years Before Lena Dunham Did.” Talking Points Memo 26 October 2012: <>.
Marcotte, Amanda. “Lena Dunham Ad Brings Out the Crazies.” Slate 26 October 2012: .
Moraru, Christian. “Zombie Pedagogy: Rigor Mortis and the U. S. Body Politic.” Studies in Popular Culture 34.2 (Spring 2012): 105-27
Sloth, T. E. and David Wong. “5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen.” 29 October 2007 <>.
Waller, Gregory A. Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.
Williams, Mary Elizabeth. “Conservatives Flip-Out over Lena Dunham Obama Ad.” 26 October 2012: .

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/29/12)

In so far as you insist on talking about the brain instead of the mind . . . the series of brains, observing and observed, is rather like the procession of oozlem birds. Each bird consumes the one behind it. But how do you deal with the last bird in the procession, or how does it deal with itself? . . . if you start from the brain and say it "constructs" the world it is aware of, you seem to leave out of account the fact that the brain as an object of observation is itself part of a world which you yourself have constructed. Surely you have got to start with the art of construction and not with the brain! (—Owen Barfield, Worlds Apart 49)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Joss Whedon on Romney

My hero, taking on the Evil Mittster in his own ingenious idiom.

"Talking" Whale Could Imitate Human Voice

"Talking" Whale Could Imitate Human Voice

The "Frankenstorm"

I like Gawker's illustration of Hurricane Sandy.

Heard on "Doctor Who"

Rose: If you are an alien, how come you sound like someone from the North?
The Doctor [Christopher Eccleston incarnation]: Lots of planets have a North.
--"Rose" (1.1)

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/28/12)

[Man] has his brain, for his waking life, swelled out into a bubble in his head, but radiating in the form of nerves through the whole organism. In all this, but especially in his head, he can be psychically active, because he is physically passive. He has, at the other pole, his motor organism—limbs and metabolism—which also reaches up into the head, in the form and function of mouth and lower jaw. And between the two poles his heart and chest, his breathing and his blood circulation—which also permeate the whole body, but are focused in his heart and lungs. We say that, when he is asleep—and also, even during the day, in his unconscious, from which his impulses of will spring so unaccountably—his relation to the spirit is still that of the first period [of the evolution of consciousness, or original participation]. In his dreaming, and, in the half-conscious goings-on of his emotional life, he is still really living in the second period [that of the intellectual soul]. It is only when he is wide-awake, and actually thinking and perceiving that he is wholly up to date. —Owen Barfield (Worlds Apart 151-52)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Paglia on Lucas

CP explains why George Lucas is the greatest artist of our time.

George Lucas? Really?

Melissa Harris-Perry's Brilliant and Moving Open Letter on Rape

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/27/12)

You have the pole of the visceral man so to speak, at the opposite extreme to the head or nerves-and-senses man; and if you remember, the correlation is between the head, nerves, and senses on the one hand with thinking, and on the other hand the visceral as related to willing. In thinking it is more than related. . . . the body, considering it now as the visceral body, really is unconscious will and the task, the function of attaining final participation would be the transformation of unconscious will into conscious will; which would also involve spiritualization of the material body itself. You would have something like a body consisting of will instead of gristle! —Owen Barfield (Unancestral Voice 26)

Friday, October 26, 2012

"President Obama Says Ayn Rand Is For Teens Who Are 'Feeling Misunderstood'

Nailed it!

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/26/12)

There is a philosophic (and inasmuch as it is actualized by an effort of freedom, an artificial) consciousness which lies beneath or (as it were) behind the spontaneous consciousness natural to all reflecting beings. As the elder Romans distinguished their Northern provinces into Cis-Alpine and Trans-Alpine, so may we divide all the objects of human knowledge into those on this side, and those on the other side of the spontaneous consciousness; citra et trans conscientiam communem. The latter is exclusively the domain of pure philosophy, which is therefore properly entitled transcendental, in order to discriminate it at once, both from mere reflection and representation, on the one hand, and on the other from those flights of lawless speculation which, abandoned by all distinct consciousness, because transgressing the bounds and purposes of our intellectual faculties, are justly condemned as transcendent. —Owen Barfield (What Coleridge Thought 15-16)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Colbert Counters Trump

Colbert makes an (obscene) counter-offer to Trump.

"Tea-bags" are involved.

The Next Bond?

Idris Alba? The story on HuffPo.

Coffee Table Books That Didn't Sell

Conan reviewed them the other night. Here are two.

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/25/12)

Greek consciousness had not yet succeeded in distinguishing either of the two opposed concepts of "being" and "becoming" from a third concept of mere logical "predication," as we do. The struggle to achieve this can actually be overheard, at an acute stage, in the dialogue called the Sophist. And if we go a little further back we come to a period when the Greek mind had not even succeeded in distinguishing "being" from "becoming." For up to this point Greek consciousness had actually lived in this experience of "becoming." And because of this the Greek mind could not at first be conscious of it as such. Thus, although the Greek philosophers were indeed occupied with a problem which we are now able to name as that of "coming into being," or "becoming," they themselves could have no such name for it. —Owen Barfield (Romanticism Comes of Age 56)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Difficult without your space helmet"

Preparing to teach 2001 in my Kubrick course next week and just made this slide for the Power Point. It's been many years since I saw this unforgettable piece of graffiti.

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/24/12)

Art-the practice of visual representation-has a history, a history moreover which is on record for study and reflection. . . . literature also has a history . . . [and] the study of it may indeed give us the history of ideas about perception. What it cannot give us is the history of perception itself. Whereas, if it be true that human perception in general is somehow inextricable from human practice in visual representation, then, since representation undoubtedly has a recorded history that can be studied, it must also be true that perception itself has a history; that it has by no means always been the same as it normally is today. (—Owen Barfield, Rediscovery of Meaning 103)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

American Icons: "The Wizard of Oz"

Studio 360 had a new segment in its brilliant "American Icons" series on The Wizard of Oz. 

One of Kurt Andersen's guests was Joss Whedon's mentor Jeanine Basinger.

Ann Straps It On: OMG

"What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Bitter"

Chuck Lorre (Two and Half Men, Dharma and Greg, Big Bang Theory) was on Conan last night talking about this all-profits-to-charity book, his collected vanity cards.

Must have . . . but so expensive ($100 list, $63 on Amazon)!

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/23/12)

We had come at last to the point of realizing that art can no longer be content with imitating the collective representations, now these are themselves turning into idols. But instead of setting out to smash the idols, we have tamely concluded that nothing can now be art which in any way reminds us of nature—and that practically anything may be art, which does not. We have learned that art can represent nothing but Man himself, and we have interpreted this as meaning that art exists for the purpose of enabling Mr. Smith to "express his personality." And all because we have not learnt—though our very physics shouts it at us—that nature herself is the representation of man. (—Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances 131)

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Compendium of "Sports Center" Videos

I find these quite clever.


"NBC decides it's time to put down 'Animal Practice'"

This headline (Onion AV Club) caught my attention, not because it was news (I already knew Animal Practice had been cancelled) or because of its particular appropriateness (for a sitcom about a veterinarian), but because of the suggestion of "putting a show out of its misery."

Some shows do require mercy killing.

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (10/22/12)

[T]he imitation of an idol is a purely technical process; which (as was quickly discovered) is better done by photography. Today an artist cannot rely on the life inherent in the object he imitates, any more than a poet can rely on the life inherent in the words he uses. He has to draw the life forth from within himself. —Owen Barfield (Saving the Appearances 129)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"The Vanishing Groves"

A great essay in Aeon by Ross Andersen on Bristlecone Pines, the oldest living things on Earth.

Photo by Nick Paloukos.

Why Vote for Romney?

Excellent question. Shocking that Salt Lake City's major paper endorsed Obama.

"Masters of the Grotesque"

Schuy Weishaar's book is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Here's my blurb for this work, which was originally a doctoral dissertation I directed:

"I must begin by confessing that Masters of the Grotesque is a book I wish I had written. It is, however, a better book than I ever could have done...more theoretically sophisticated, more incisive, more far-reaching. Weishaar is a gifted writer, able to wrestle big ideas down to earth, drag them out of that very-20th-century Plato’s cave we know as a movie theatre and into the light, putting them to critical use and then plunging back into the cave once again, more than ready to persuade the still-imprisoned of his new understanding."--David Lavery, Middle Tennessee State University.