Sunday, September 25, 2005

Misc. Items of Interest

Truman biographer Alonzo Hamby comments on Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s NYT piece on Reinhold Niehbur. Excerpt:

Utilizing the theological concept of original sin, Niebuhr saw human nature as a problematic mixture of good and evil. He suggested that utopian projects for the perfection of humankind all too easily adopted a means-justifies-the-means ethic that resulted in horrible dystopias. Schlesinger admired him enormously. So did C. Vann Woodward.

And, as Brian Lamb has ascertained, it's pronounced SHLAY-ZING-ER.

Foxy Librarian reflects on the days when she worked (from the context, I am guessing in a civilian capacity, but maybe not) for the local Sheriff here and here. If you easily get squeamish, don't click. (Oh, btw, if you're squeamish you probably shouldn't click on any of the "Dawn of the Dead" or other zombie links that I have posted in the past. Sorry.) Excerpt:

One Sunday I was driving somewhere and heard some breaking news about a grisly murder on the radio. My heart skipped a beat, and I realized that I couldn’t wait to go to work on Monday to see the pictures. It horrified me because it dawned on me right then that had become a depraved ghoul. It was time to find another line of work. The strong stomach and sense of black humor that I developed at the job, however, has served me well in the library.

Speaking of police procedurals, Kottke points to this post by Patrick Pittman which argues in favor of "Homicide: Life on the Streets" as the Best. Show. Evar. (Sorry, couldn't stop myself.) Excerpt:

In Homicide, Braugher is Pembleton, a fiery Jesuit consumed by passions and fears we could never know. In this episode from season 3, Braugher is toe to toe in the interview room with a suspected cop killer, played by Steve Buscemi. As they dance around the idea of the shootings, the two of them trade rhetoric on the nature of civil society, the nature of hate, and in extended form, the central theses of Plato’s Republic. The dialogue is electric and the atmosphere moreso. I’ve never seen a scene like it — the way Braugher’s face ripples a strange sense of satisfaction as he pulls the rage hiding within his victim, and slowly, but surely, his weaknesses. Every time Buscemi’s white supremacist calls him nigger, he grows in strength. By the end, he’s practically dancing. These five minutes may even be the best thing Buscemi’s done.

I'd have to think about whether or not those five minutes were Buscemi's best, but it certainly was a great scene in a great episode in a great four-parter. As for best show ever, I would have to draw the distinction between the first three seasons and the last three (and the M-f-TV movie wrap-up). Yes, I know there were seven seasons; I'm just on the fence about whether season four belongs with seasons one through three (often derived verbatim from David Simon's excellent reportage) or with five through seven ("The other detectives don't take me seriously just because I won a beauty pageant."). If we're just talking about seasons one through three (and maybe four), then I absolutely agree that there's nothing else like it out there.


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