Saturday, July 30, 2005

Now playing

I watched a short documentary today about the various radio, TV, and movie adaptations of "The War of the Worlds." Everyone knows about the 1938 Halloween radio scare perpetrated by Orson Welles, whom I honor with the name of my blog. However, I had not realized there were subsequent radio adaptations in Santiago, Chile and Quito, Ecuador in the 1940s that led to panic and (in the Quito situation) deadly rioting. I have not yet seen Mr. Spielberg's treatment, but it's on my list. Here is an excellent CSICOP article written for the 60th anniversary of the Welles broadcast that includes explanations of the South American incidents.

Right now I am eating dinner (which is actually leftover breakfast, with watermelon for desert) and watching the documentary Gunner Palace, a close-up look at American troops stationed in one of Uday Hussein's mansions. It is very very interesting, and I'll comment on it further later on. Other as-yet-unwatched Blockbuster rentals from this afternoon include The Yes Men, Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries, and In the Realms of the Unreal. Comments to follow.

A Very Special Episode of News on the March

I'd like to take a moment to raise awareness about a very important topic -- Blog Depression. If this helps just one person...

Corante on Journalist Bloggers. Posner Too!

Thanks to MaryAnn Johanson for pointing out this thought-provoking piece by Bob Cauthorn in Corante on why the MSM (that's bloggerese for "Mainstream Media") doesn't get it when it comes to the blogosphere. As with most entrenched institutions, whether business, academic, governmental, religious, or the archetypal mother-in-law, most media bigwigs are concerned with holding on to and expanding the authority they are accustomed to having. Any established institution is by its very nature a conservative institution, and regardless of its formal or informal reasons for being, it will include self-preservation at the top of its agenda. There are some good examples of that principle regarding musicians' unions and classical symphonies given in Mozart in the Jungle, which I swear I am almost done with (fewer than 10 pages to go). Comments on MITJ to follow after adequate reflection.

Some excerpts from the Corante post:

Memo to mainstream media: You don't get to blog. You have a publishing apparatus. So you don't get to blog. You have a broadcasting apparatus. So you don't get to blog. In case you missed this the point while you were reading up on youth slang, I'll repeat it for emphasis. You. Do. Not. Get. To. Blog.

The DNA of blogging is a complicated matter that touches on being outside voices and taking personal control of the media. But at minimum the DNA of blogging has to do with distributing the conversation. Contrary to that, the DNA of mainstream media – to date – is all about dominating the conversation. Bloggers are, for all intents and purposes, the pamphleteers of the 1700s all decked out in modern livery. Some are crazy. Some are geniuses. Some are vile. Some are heroic. Some boring. Some cooler than cool. In other words, they're us. Like those pamphleteers, at this point blogging tends to be more about opinions than facts. Also like those pamphleteers, bloggers are in the process of laying the groundwork for very important journalism going forth from here.

This last part about the pamphleteers and stuff ties in with Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, which I have been listening to on audiobook for the last six (?) months. (Again, almost done... It's 36 1/2 hours unabridged on 22 cassettes.) I wonder what the founders would have picked as their blognames -- probably a lot of Greek and Roman references -- Oh, wait! Those are what they picked as their blognames. (Skip to page five of the Von Drehle article for the part pertinent to this paragraph, but then go back and read the whole thing because it's real good.) (BTW, does anyone know of a chart or something that shows what Colonial Era writers used what pseudonyms and when?) Note that I don't even question that they would have been all over the Internet and would have been among its most active proponents. Can you imagine the trolling wars in the comments sections of the Adams and Jefferson homepages? What if Abigail had been able to build remembertheladies dot com from scratch? Not to mention Sally Hemmings' LiveJournal. The other day when I was looking through the TTLB ecosystem list to see who my Flippery Fish neighbors were, I noticed Thomas Jefferson's LiveJournal. It seems the noted Virginian was involved in a freak time travelling accident and wound up in the 21st Century, and is therefore able to offer his perspectives via the Web.

Back to the Corante piece, this time from the comments left by Bob Krumm:

The reverse is also true. Bloggers do not get to be journalists. That's not to say that at a certain level a blogger can't evolve (or devolve, as the case may be) into a journalist. However, to do so means that he leaves behind the freedom of the blog: the freedom to be partial, the freedom to be wrong, and the freedom to engage interactively in conjecture and analysis.

It's the interaction that makes a blog a blog. Everyone comes to the web an equal and anonymous voice. The power of position is gone. The blog reduces each individual to the power of his arguments alone. The blog's leveling effect can leave the media superstar intellectually naked as it elevates the homeless bum into a philosophical genius.

Makes you feel kind of proud of the blogosphere we inhabit, doesn't it? Now, for this important message about Britney Spears's pregnancy...

Update, 10:05 PM, 7/30/05: Richard Posner writes in the NYT (registration required) about the evolution of traditional media as it contends with the Web and blogging:

The charge by mainstream journalists that blogging lacks checks and balances is obtuse. The blogosphere has more checks and balances than the conventional media; only they are different. The model is Friedrich Hayek's classic analysis of how the economic market pools enormous quantities of information efficiently despite its decentralized character, its lack of a master coordinator or regulator, and the very limited knowledge possessed by each of its participants.

In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise - not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It's as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising.

A few years ago, I read Judge Posner's 2002 book Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline. It's very interesting, and you all ought to read it, but in some ways it's already out of date. Part of his concern (I hope I am not summarizing incorrectly) was centered around the recent tendency of professional academics to narrowly specialize, get tenure, and then think that they since they knew a lot about one thing, that their opinions on anything else should have equal validity, even if they knew not of what they spoke. The news industry is always on the lookout for someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about, and so the vicious circle began to spin. This book was written before the Blogosphere really took off, so I'd like to see him put out a revised edition that incorporates the impact of the thousands and thousands of would-be public intellectuals (like ourselves) who now have global soapboxes. I'm going to add the blog that Posner shares with economist Gary Becker (whose trading card I have in my desk drawer) to the blogroll.

Update: 8/3/05: Jack Shafer at Slate takes Posner to task.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Instalink to Michael Yon's blogpost on getting American citizenship the hard way. I continue to assert that immigration is one of the greatest strengths we have as a country. When native Floridians start making sea-going crafts out of taxis as a means to go through shark-infested waters to Cuba or Haiti, that's when we need to worry. I want that guy's ingenuity and enterprise for America.

(What movie image to use? Taxi Driver? Scarface? I just used Jaws the other day.)

Google hit #5 for darwin propensity for violence, lust for power lord of the flies. I'm gonna check back in a week and see if my rank for that phrase goes up or down based on the fact that I am discussing it now.

The diary of the filming of a zombie musical at Movie Poop Shoot.

Time for a late-night snack from Wendy's!

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Here's a good piece from 2 Blowhards about the collaborative origins of many creative works. It ties in well with an article in Slate about Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson (SSMW, take note). It suggests that without Wilson as co-writer, Anderson's movies (which he writes/co-writes and directs) don't make much sense. I'm not sure what to make of this argument, but I like the fact that the writer used the DVD commentaries on which Anderson and Wilson appeared for part of his research. Excerpt:

Ben Stiller once described Owen Wilson as having "a library in his head," and hearing his Rushmore commentary bears that out. He calls Max Fisher a "James Gatz" figure, which is the kind of Great Gatsby reference dropped by people who have actually spent time with the book. But for the most part, Wilson's references are cinematic, not literary. Unlike Anderson, whose film vocabulary is impressive but top-heavy with auteurs—Jean Renoir, Truffaut, Michael Powell—Owen Wilson draws on the rich mine of the American middlebrow. When Max, facing expulsion from Rushmore Academy, asks his headmaster: "Can you get me off the hook? You know, for old times sake?" Wilson points out that it's a Godfather reference.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a creative partnership where one partner fills in the gaps of the other. I love the movies Wes Anderson & Co. have created (not to be confused with the equally fantastic films of P.T. Anderson) -- Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and even the much-maligned Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. As to dissection of who is responsible for what, I will watch for further discussion with interest, but withhold judgment.

This related article, and this other related article, both found on the Slate page, discuss Anderson and tie in with the "demise of the hipster" article posted a few days ago. (BTW, ever since mentioning Liz Phair, I've been listening to her on the way to and from work.)

In other developments, I am thinking about developing a moderate obsession with Sudoku.

And, speaking of the Life Aquatic, I am now a Flippery Fish. Watch out Crawly Amphibians, here I come!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Small Quiz; 50 of Your Betters; Palin Travel On Line

Volokh Conspiracy has a quick ex-presidents quiz, and commenters offer research on the last question. Looks like some could use a copy of C-Span's American Presidents Timeline Poster.

If you've been wondering who will be the next Capitol Hill murderer / murder victim / manipulatively wide-eyed ingenue / sobbing, penitent, middle-aged alpha husband / scandal memoir-novel ghostwritee to hit the headlines, chances are you'll be able to find them in The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful 2005. The FBI might as well open files on all of these people right now and get their DNA, voiceprints, handwriting samples, retina scans, the whole works. On a related note, if Hugh Hefner is on his game, he'll send each of them one of his business cards. So will Oprah.

Insert caption here.

I'm sure she's a very nice girl, but insert caption anyway.

The full text of Michael Palin's excellent travel books, based on his excellent travel documentaries, can be found here. One of my favorite moments was when he was in the back of a cart in Turkey driven by one of Turkey's most eccentric cart drivers, who (after bizarre rambling) introduced himself and asked Palin his name. He said "My name is Michael. Michael Caine." Quite witty. Maybe you had to be there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

SSMW; The Kinsley Retort; Tinkerty Lists

Please stop over and say hello to a friend of mine, Short Sardonic Midwestern Woman at I Need a Life! SSMW is indeed short, sardonic, and from the Midwest, and frequently comments on the utility and desirability of getting a life, both with regards to herself and those she encounters.

Michael Kinsley, whom I generally like quite a bit, is upset that his L.A. Times Wikitorial experiment didn't work, and now he's venting his frustration at undersocialized geeks. Excerpt:

Or maybe cyberspace just has more than its share of undersocialized geeks, sitting in front of their computers and sharing their bitterness with the world.


Rachel at the newly linked-to Tinkerty looks at the Well-Educated Mind list and bolds those she has read. It'd be fun to start a meme like that, with like 90 actual classics (some well-known, some obscure) and 10 phonies, encourage bloggers or commenters to indicate which they had read, and see how many pick the fake ones. The Freakonomics boys would have a ball with that.

Tom Tancredo Is an Asshole.

I've known this for a while about Congressman Tancredo; His demagoguery on immigration is appalling to me. Now he shoots off his mouth about bombing Mecca and is trying to make it out that he has "started a national dialogue about what options we have to deter al Qaeda..."

Hugh Hewitt rationally takes Tancredo to task here and here.

Here's an interesting nugget from the first link:

Even with the trip's lighter moments, there's a serious matter Tancredo has to think about. He knows his flirtation with the presidential race can only go so far before "at a certain point, it gets ugly." He was alluding to some old news stories back in Colorado that could give national political writers fodder. That includes a published report that illegal immigrants were part of a contractor's crew that installed the home theater system in his Littleton home - something Tancredo said he had no way of knowing. And it includes the childhood depression treatments that led to Tancredo's mental health draft deferment during the Vietnam War.

Maybe he's been in a manic phase lately.

Monday, July 25, 2005

TTLB; More Search Engine Oddities; Tragically Hip

I see I am no longer a TTLB Insignificant Microbe; I am now a Crunchy Crustacean. That was quick -- practically admissable for evidence in the Scopes Trial. (You just know there's gonna be another one of 'em one of these days.)

I am currently Google hit #38 for "'Mozart in the Jungle' reaction." Hit #39 was another blog, and a cool-looking librarian's blog at that, so I just added it to the blogroll. (I only have about 60 pages of MITJ left, and it is due back at the library tomorrow.) Yahoo: Neither of us came up as hits on that same phrase. And yes, I know that Google owns Blogger. But that's OK, because...

I am Google hit #20 for E-cronyms. Interestingly enough, I am also Yahoo hit #10 and Yahoo hit #15 for the same phrase.

Last but not least, Google hits #s 5 and 6 for (no quotes) what's defined as venerated object in tennesse law. Note the missing 'e' at the end of 'Tennessee.' When the 'e' is added, I am still hits #s 5 and 6. The (correctly spelled) phrase put through Yahoo? Hit #85. Funny how all this works.

Tonight I watched The Machinist. I guess I feel OK about having watched it once, but I don't know that I would feel that I had adquately invested an hour and 40 minutes of my life watching it again. Of course, watching the DVD commentary doesn't count. Question of the day, for those who have seen it: Was the Christian Bale character a solipsist or not?

Thanks to Lindsayism for the L.A. Times article on the decline of the hipsters. Excerpt:

Unlike the beatnik '50s, when discovering some gem of cultural arcana involved real detective work, today getting hip to the latest blog or indie rock band is as easy as logging on to the Internet. "We're in a post-hip era, which means everybody's hip," says Leland. "I can't tell you how many churches I've been in where the pastor has a goatee, tattoos and earrings."So if everybody's hip, then let's be unhip, and indeed, what a very hip idea. Some people are just fed up with the whole enterprise.

Looks like hipsterism has Jumped the Shark. Wait - JTS has been around for more than a month, so it's not cool... but I think it's been around long enough that it's retro now... but are we supposed to venerate retro now that hipsterism is uncool? Or is that uncoolness now desirable? I'm so confused... Do I still get to listen to my Liz Phair albums? Here, let me just get a tangentially related movie poster or something.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lindsay on Film

I watched the movie Enduring Love today. I was like ???. It was about a regular guy who is out on a picnic in the country with his girlfriend. A hot-air balloon is having problems, and a young boy is trapped in the basket while his dad is thrown to the ground. Dad, the picnic guy, and a couple of other passersby run to try and pull the thing to the ground and extract the child, and it ends with one of the altruists falling and becoming an altruistic splatterburger. One of the others forms a gay/psycho/religious crush on the picnic guy, and spends the rest of the movie stalking him. I found some comments from Lindsayism with which I concur:

The beginning is totally riveting, and then they get into all this philosophical cliche talk about how maybe life is meaningless, and then other stuff happens, and then you get to the end and you're like "So basically what you're saying, movie, is that you're totally meaningle---oooh wait! I get it! That's the point! And it sucks!"

One time I was whitewater rafting and I was sitting next to a mother and her 12-year-old son whom I had never met before nor since. At one point on the (Class 3? 4?) rapids the kid, who was sitting opposite me, got bumped and looked like he was about to fall out of the raft. Though I ordinarily try to discern whether people want my assistance or not (particularly strangers), in that case I did not ask, but grabbed the back of his shirt collar and pulled until he was back in the center of the craft. It took about 1.5 seconds. Had picnic guy grabbed the balloon kid in a similar matter (though in the opposite direction, of course -- out, not in) when they had momentarily grounded the balloon, everything would have been fine. But, he instead stopped to ask the kid his name, immediately after which a strong breeze sent the unfortunate rescuers straight up in the air, dangling from ropes.

And even if there was nothing they could have done about the unfortunate death, picnic guy never once called the cops about any of the psycho stalking incidents. Duh.

In that same post, Lindsay also doesn't like Primer, which I saw a few weeks ago. Now I liked Primer, even though I didn't understand it either:

I know I'm basically going to a high-end printer and ordering 500 hand-lettered, gold-leaf-encrusted eggshell cards that say "You are cordially invited to call me an idiot" by saying this, but I have absolutely no idea: 1. What this movie was about or what happened in it. 2. Who the (apparently significant) character of "Rachel" is or what her relation to the plot or other characters are. 3. What the ending...was. I know it was supposed to be dramatic. I know the entire second half was supposed to be dramatic. I know this because they played dramatic music, and there was blood, and people with urgency in their voices. But I have no idea what happened in this movie.

However, one of her readers sent a detailed explanation of what went on in the movie, explaining which of the several concurrently existing versions of the two main actors were doing what.

Finished Watching Vietnam Documentary

I just finished watching Vietnam: A Television History. In light of the previously linked discussion, I found the Amazon reviewers' comments interesting. I might or might not have further comments to post now that I'm done watching it. Maybe after I read Karnow's book, which might not be for a while. See if you can get the DVD at your library or something, because it's thought-provoking. It includes interviews with several people who went on to subsequent prominence, including John Kerry and John Negroponte. Are there Vietnam/Iraq parallels? Of course there are. But (as demonstrated in Freakonomics) you can find parallels and not-parallels (perpendiculars?) to anything if you look hard enough and have a desired answer in mind.

Nostalgia Proneness Measure; Amazon reviews; Liberty chicks: Atlantic and Pacific

Interesting insights from the Opinion Journal about the Nostalgia Proneness Measure; props to Kottke for the link. This metric would likely indicate that for me, The Kids From Caper and The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan were in the right place at the right time to impact my adult self-schemata.

Freakonomics (which I read recently -- actually, listened to -- and enjoyed greatly) on why people post reviews on Amazon. (Probably the same types of reasons why I just got done listing all those damn books I've never read.) Also, if you've been wondering what Newt Gingrich has been up to lately...

Recent additions to the blogroll include Brit Lit Blogs, way down at the bottom, and the blog of Jacqueline Mackey Paisley Passey. I put her link next to that of fellow libertarian babe Rachel Mills, which bookends nicely because one is from an Atlantic state and the other from a Pacific state. I wonder if they know each other?

Nostalgic Amazon Liberty Chick

Saturday, July 23, 2005

EFF Blogathon

Check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation Blogathon:

For the past 15 years, EFF has been fighting to preserve the constitutional right to freedom of expression on the Internet. In the last few years, we've seen an explosion of expression as new web publishing tools emerged, providing countless netizens with their own personal First Amendment machines. This month is our 15th anniversary and to celebrate, we're putting these publishing tools front and center. We're holding a weeklong EFF15 Blog-a-thon where you're invited to blog about your personal experiences fighting for freedom online — a project that will celebrate new publishing tools, attract new EFF members, and mark our 15th all at once.

"But wait." you say. "What interest could I possibly have in freedom of expression on the Internet?"

On August 9, we will announce the names of the three best bloggers and publish their posts on our website. We'll put the announcement in our weekly newsletter, EFFector. And as an extra thank you, we'll send the authors a blogging "kit": an EFF bloggers' rights T-shirt, special EFF-branded blogger pajama pants, a pound of coffee, and a pair of fuzzy slippers.


List of Books

A while ago I finished Susan Wise Bauer's "The Well-Educated Mind." I said I would offer comments on the books she recommends. She has a bunch of suggestions for how, when, why, etc. to read, in addition to what. The annotated lists she gives are not supposed to be exhaustive, and there are definitely more important books that were omitted (where's Henry Adams?). I gather her intent is to offer ranges of different types of books from antiquity to the present day and demonstrate how the general types have evolved over decades and centuries. For blogging purposes, I am not as concerned with that as I am in just expressing whether not (if I read it) I liked it or (if I have not read it) if I would be likely to like it. So, here goes. (Same thing as with the admirals. If I never heard of 'em, all that means is that I never heard of 'em. No offense, Margery Kempe.)


Don Quixote / Cervantes – Read it in college because I was told to. Loved it! It's a buddy/road movie, which is what many great works boil down to. I know that it's a book, but calling it a road book sounds lame so I'm calling it a road movie. Also, check out this excellent documentary on Terry Gilliam's quixotic attempt to shoot his own version of Quixote.

The Pilgrim's Progress / Bunyan – Also a road movie. Read portions years ago.

Gulliver's Travels / Swift – I actually read this in 6th grade and did a book report on it. I remember reading the end of it and asking my parents all these questions about it in the back of the station wagon on the way back from my cousin's house. Why did I do this? Because of the punchline of a Peanuts comic strip in which Charlie Brown procrastinated and stayed up all night to read Gulliver's Travels. Yes, I included the comic strip with my book report. I have reread it subsequently.

Pride and Prejudice / Austen – Never read it, probably won't.

Oliver Twist / Dickens – I'd like to get to this sometime. I loved The Pickwick Papers.

Jane Eyre / Bronte - Nope.

The Scarlet Letter / Hawthorne – Not yet.

Moby-Dick / Melville – I read this in my mid-20s at the recommendation of Stanley Crouch. I like this book a lot, and it led me to a lot more Melville. Here again is the Moby Dick blook.

Uncle Tom's Cabin / Stowe – Nope, but I read quite a bit about the origins and effects of this book in the book I mentioned a while ago about Joshua Chamberlain.

Madame Bovary / Flaubert – Nope.

Crime and Punishment / Dostoyevsky – Not yet.

Anna Karenina / Tolstoy – Not yet. David McCullough says that Theodore Roosevelt read this book while chasing around a bunch of cattle rustlers in the Dakotas.

The Return of the Native / Hardy – Negative.

The Portrait of a Lady / James – Nope.

Huckleberry Finn / Twain – Read this many times; Twain is one of my favorites.

The Red Badge of Courage / Crane – Yes; Read it in high school, though it didn't make as big an impression on me as it did on others in my class.

Heart of Darkness / Conrad – I read this about 10 years ago due to the fact that it was the basis for Apocalypse Now.

The House of Mirth / Wharton – Nope. Probably won't get to it any time soon, either.

The Great Gatsby / Fitzgerald – Read this several times, including once on audiobook. Each time I do, I read a bit more into it. Note: As far as George Will and I are concerned, there is no question that listening to an unabridged audiobook counts.

Mrs. Dalloway / Woolf – Nope.

The Trial / Kafka – Yes. I like Kafka a lot. The guy is messed up!

Native Son / Wright – No, but I'd like to.

The Stranger / Camus – Yes. Same comment as Kafka.

1984 / Orwell – This is my main man. I've read '84 and most of the rest of Orwell's full books. There are some collections of his essays that I hope to get to soon.

Invisible Man / Ellison – No, but I'd like to.

Seize the Day / Bellow – No, but I enjoy Saul Bellow very much. I liked The Adventures of Augie March and Mr. Sammler's Planet quite a bit, again stemming from the recommendation of Stanley Crouch.

One Hundred Years of Solitude / Marquez – No, but maybe one of these days.

If On a Winter's Night a Traveler / Calvino – No, but this sounds far out!

Song of Solomon / Morrison – No, probably won't.

White Noise / Delillo – I'd like to read Underground first.

Possession / Byatt – I listened to this on audiobook a couple of years ago. Every five minutes, one of the principal characters kept using lush adjectives to describe all these they-don't-make-'em-like-that-anymore vintage household items and knick-knacks from the simpler days of yore and going on and on about what exquisite pleasure they afforded the users. I was like "Jeez, just go to Target already."

Autobiography and Memoir

The Confessions / Augustine – No, but this is one of Garry Wills's favorite books.

The Book of Margery Kempe / Kempe – Never heard of it before.

Essays / Montaigne – One of these days.

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself / Teresa – Nope.

Meditations / Descartes – One of these days.

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners / Bunyan - Maybe sometime.

The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration / Rowlandson – Maybe sometime.

Confessions / Rousseau – Tried to once, didn't get far. Might try again.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin / Franklin – Yes.

Walden / Thoreau – Read parts of it. And now it's a blog.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself / Jacobs – Never heard of it.

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass / Douglass – Yes, liked it. (Btw – It had three totally different, rewritten editions. Kind of like director's cuts.)

Up From Slavery / Washington – Yes, I think I liked it, although I may be mixing parts of it up w/Douglass, above.

Ecce Homo / Nietzsche – Nope. Maybe sometime.

Mein Kampf / Hitler – Nope.

An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth / Gandhi – Nope. But speaking of Hitler, I did read an alternate history short story by Harry Turtledove once about what if the Nazis made it all the way to India, and Hitler and Gandhi faced off.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas / Stein – Nope.

The Seven Storey Mountain / Merton – Negative.

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life / Lewis – I read parts of this in college. He's a real interesting guy.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X / Malcolm X – Read parts of this a long time ago. There is a Trivial Pursuit questions that asks who wrote this book. If Bill O'Reilly had had a talk show in 1965:

Journal of a Solitude / Sarton – Never heard of it.

The Gualg Archipelago / Solzhenitsyn – I'd like to read this sometime.

Born Again / Colson – OK, I know all this is subjective, but what on earth is this doing on this list when the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant are not?

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez / Rodriguez – I'd like to; I hear good things about Rodriguez.

The Road From Coorain / Conway – Never read it.

All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs / Wiesel – Maybe sometime. (I did read Night, though.)


The Histories / Herodotus – I'd like to.

The Peloponnesian War / Thucydides – I'd like to.

The Republic / Plato – I'd like to.

Lives / Plutarch – I'd like to.

The City of God / Augustine – I'd like to.

The Ecclesistical History of the English People / Bede – I'd like to.

The Prince / Machiavelli – I'd like to.

Utopia / More – I'd like to.

The True End of Civil Government / Locke – I'd like to.

The History of England, Vol. V / Hume – I'd like to.

The Social Contract / Rousseau – I'd like to.

Common Sense / Paine – Finally! Read this in high school and college.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire / Gibbon – I'd like to.

A Vindication of the Rights of Women / Wollstonecraft – Listened to this on audio. This was written by the mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

Democracy in America / Tocqueville – Yes. Whole thing. Unabridged. Did it to go along with the C-Span series that retraced Tocqueville's travels. Motivational speakers and other dimwits frequently misattribute this blithering nonsense to Alexis de Tocqueville.

The Communist Manifesto / Marx & Engels – I have a copy around here somewhere, never read it.

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy / Burckhardt – I'd like to.

The Souls of Black Folk / Du Bois – I'd like to.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism / Weber – I'd like to.

Queen Victoria / Strachey – I'd like to.

The Road to Wigan Pier / Orwell – Yes. See Orwell comments above.

The New England Mind / Miller – Never heard of it before.

The Great Crash 1929 / Galbraith – Never read it.

The Longest Day / Ryan – Yes. See my post of 6/6/05.

The Feminine Mystique / Friedan - Nope.

Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made / Genovese – I'd like to.

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century / Tuchman – I listened to this unabridged on audio about six or eight years ago and liked it quite well.

All the President's Men / Woodward & Bernstein – Read this in high school and again after college. I am going to read it again sometime, maybe in tandem with the new Deep Throat book.

Battle Cry of Freedom / McPherson – Read this about three or four years ago, and it is really really good.

A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 / Ulrich – Nope.

The End of History and the Last Man / Fukuyama – I'd like to.


Agamemnon / Aeschylus – Kind of.

Oedipus the King / Sophocles – Read this in college.

Medea / Euripedes – Not yet.

The Birds / Aristophanes – I love the part where suddenly all the birds are sitting on the jungle gym. How'd they all get there so quietly?

Poetics / Aristotle – Never read this or saw it.

Everyman / ? – No.

Doctor Faustus / Marlowe – No, but I'd like to.

Richard III / ShakespeareAl Pacino is a big fan. I read this after I saw the excellent film adaptation set in the 1920s/30s.

A Midsummer Night's Dream / Shakespeare – Read this and saw it performed in high school and college.

Hamlet / Shakespeare – Read this several times. Also, I like the Canadian film adaptation.

Tartuffe / Moliere – I'd like to.

The Way of the World / Congreve – Never heard of it.

She Stoops to Conquer / Goldsmith – Never heard of it.

The School for Scandal / Sheridan – Never heard of it.

A Doll's House / Ibsen – I read it in high school and didn't get it.

The Importance of Being Ernest / Wilde – Yes. Now this guy is funny!

The Cherry Orchard / Chekhov – Negative.

Saint Joan / Shaw– I'd like to.

Murder in the Cathedral / Eliot– I'd like to.

Our Town / Wilder – Sat through this in high school and again in college (I think). Since Wilde is so funny, you'd think Wilder would be funnier. Guess not.

Long Day's Journey Into Night / O'Neill - Nope.

No Exit / Sartre – I'd like to.

A Streetcar Named Desire / Williams – Not that into it. Sorry.

Death of a Salesman / Miller – Same as Streetcar.

Waiting for Godot / Beckett – Read this in high school, liked it. I'd like to read it again.

A Man for All Seasons / Bolt– I'd like to.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead / Stoppard– I'd like to.

Equus / Shaffer– I'd like to.


Except for the narrative epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, (which are all cool) I don't really get poetry, so I will pass on offering comments.

OK, so that's how I stack up Well-Educated Mindwise.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Anne Applebaum is on Washington Journal this morning talking about a column she wrote recently about how search engine filters and other technologies are adapted for the Chinese market. The goal of the Chinese government is to tap into the economic power associated with Internet use, but not allow Chinese netizens to use words like "democracy." Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cisco are among their co-conspirators. As Buckley and I opined a while ago, words exist to meet a felt need among their users. So, my prediction is that Chinese bloggers will develop a bunch of alternate words (D3m0cr@cy?) for those banned by their government, and that we will see a bunch of smaller indie search engines slip through the techno-censors. Disclaimer: I am not entirely clear on how Chinese characters are used as a means to search, but I think the felt-need principle is the same -- English can't be the only language with euphemisms. Here is a helpful article from the Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association on how Google works in Chinese.

I am optimistic that China will move away from communism in my lifetime (not anytime soon, of course), in part due to the spillage of ideas through the Internet. The Chinese government has no realistic choice but to encourage the growth of the phenomenon that IMHO will eventually aid in their downfall. (I know, I say "phenomenon" a lot. I haven't had a felt need for an alternative phrase.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Beamed Up

"I'm dead, Jim."

James "Mr. Scott" Doohan passed away yesterday at age 85, and is going to have his remains launched into space. Note: If I had been an Enterprise crewman, I probably would have been the guy in the background of the picture above. "Oh Hell - What did I do with that spare dilithium crystal? I just had it."

From the first link:

As his health began to fail in recent years, Doohan denied rumours that he had Alzheimer's disease, saying: "If I had Alzheimer's, I think I'd remember."

and something I had not realized:

(Doohan) appeared in five Star Trek films (he devised the Vulcan and Klingon languages for Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

I wonder which of those two languages will be used at his memorial service. And will speakers of Romulan be upset?

Cue Amazing Grace on bagpipes.

Update: 11:28 PM -- Good perspective from the Washington Post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Free Trade, Vietnam Documentary, Blog Lists

I am a huge supporter of free trade. Reason Magazine has a good article on how the President should promote CAFTA. (I just realized that I tend to refer to him in a more dignified manner when he is doing something I support, and less so when he is not.) Maybe one of these days I will blog about how the Boston Tea Party, despite the misguided analogies of the Seattle Protest crowd, was a blow against restrictions on free trade.

Now, how about using some of that capitalism to open up full trade relations with Cuba? If it is a good idea to engage China, and I certainly think it is, why not the smaller, closer, more tourist-friendly Cuba? Too controversial in Florida politics maybe? North Carolina tobacco and Florida sugar wouldn't like it?

In other news, (possibly prompted by coverage of the death of William Westmoreland) I decided that this would be a good night to embark on watching the classic American Experience documentary Vietnam: A Television History. I've seen bits and pieces before, but now I'm going to tackle the entire 11 hours sequentially. After that, I want to read Stanley Karnow's companion book to the TV series (or did the book come first and then the series?) So if I'm a little tired at work tomorrow...

Finally, plenty of blogs listed at Technorati's Top 100, Blog Universe, and the 2004 Weblog Awards.


Rereading the comments below about 24 and 4400, I think I may have been too harsh on a couple of points without giving appropriate props. Both shows have very clever elements. A TV series shown in real time, often showing multiple shots simultaneously, and offering multiple cliffhangers at the end of the episode is a cool idea! The problem was that they had to carry that out for 24 episodes and had way too much cliff from which to effectively hang. (The First Season episode where Bauer's wife got amnesia was the one that burst my balloon.) Plus, it's one of those shows where there is waaaaaaay too much nepotism and lack of objectivity among co-workers for my tastes. (Bauer's teenage drama-queen daughter now works for him as a full-fledged secret agent? And she's dating Bauer's play-by-his-own-rules junior partner? Yoiks.) It gets points for using a clever storytelling device. But, if you want to see that device used more effectively (albeit minus the spy stuff) take a look at Mike Figgis's Time Code.

I think that The 4400 has a interesting, X-Filesish premise. I watched Season One on DVD and I'll do the same for Season Two when it comes out. There are 4400 people abducted from various points of the post-WWII timeline, who (without having aged) emerge en masse from a giant comet that deposits them in Washington State. It's a great idea for a story, and of the two shows I prefer this one. The people, taken from seemingly random locations, walks of life, and points in time have to immediately readjust to life in 2003 (4?) with no memory of what happened to them while they were gone.

One of my favorite scenes featured a black soldier who disappeared after taking a beating from 1950s racists who had learned he was in love with a white woman. He awkwardly sits down to eat dinner in a restaurant in his old neighborhood, circa 2004. The tattoed, facially pierced punk rock kids all stop mid-conversation and give him a look of sheer disgust -- the same disgust he saw 1000 times from the good ole boys of the 40s/50s South. But wait - there are black people staring at him disgustedly too, and some of them seem to be interracially dating... Finally, one of them points to a 'no smoking' sign and he embarassedly extinguishes his cigarette. Every so often a scene comes along that works just right, and that was one of them.

But again with the nepotism and boundary-crossing... this hothead Homeland Security guy is the uncle of one of the returned abductees, and makes a big to-do out of the fact that his son was left in a coma after witnessing the nephew/cousin's abduction. Despite these out-of-the-ordinary events, this guy can't get it out of his head that the nephew gave the son/cousin some bad acid or something and it was just coincidence that he dis/reappeared with all the others. True, a good father would want to get to the bottom of what happened to his son, but that father shouldn't be one of the primary investigators of the phenomena referred to above. I'll definitely watch Season Two when it comes out on DVD and comment more fully then.

Further clarification:

The cartoons in the previous post were drawn by the great Fred Hembeck and ran in the backs of most the issues of DC Comics in the late 70s/early 80s and were/are a lot of fun; Here is a very good collection of them.

Monday, July 18, 2005

In certain circles, these are considered quite witty.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Product Placement 2005

For all you fans of Navy NCIS (That's Navy Naval Criminal Investigative Service, as opposed to Air Force Naval Criminal Investigative Service -- add it to the RAS Syndrome list), you might be interested to read (thanks to The Memory Hole) the e-mails exchanged between the show's creators and the actual NCIS people. (You'll need Adobe Acrobat.) Full disclosure: I have seen this program twice. Once for eight minutes, once for three minutes. But, the spouse of one of the stars went to the high school across town from mine.

Cooperation between federal (or local, see below) government agencies and Hollywood is certainly nothing new; after all, Jack Valenti is like 100 years old. J. Edgar Hoover personally reviewed scripts for The FBI (the old show with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). Government/network cooperation gives some great results sometimes, as when Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon spent a year shadowing the Baltimore P.D.'s Homicide Unit, which led to the couldn't-put-it-down work of non-fiction Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which led to three fantastic seasons, one OK season, and three kind of lame seasons of the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets.

However, you have to keep an eye on these things, and not only not believe everything you see on the news, but also not believe (or be carried away by the emotional impact of) everything you are entertained by. (You shouldn't believe everything you see that tells you not to believe something, either.) A few years ago there was a minor Clinton scandal in which it came out that the Office of Drug Control Policy had editorial control over certain TV scripts in return for the Feds excusing the shows' networks from certain public service announcement responsiblities. (Note: I may be an inconsistent libertarian, but I'm libertarian enough to know that it's ridiculous that the networks are burdened with PSA announcements at all, other than being required to report emergency weather or civil defense information.) The thing is, I never heard if that practice was stopped for good, or if the current administration has the option to try something similar with the War on Terror. Has anyone asked lately? Maybe that's why Armstrong Williams is going to guest in next season's "24."

One thing that troubles me slightly is that certain scenes in certain episodes of 24 and 4400 I have seen in the past year are practically cheerleading sessions for extending federal authority to disregard the established Constitutional rights of (non-criminal) individuals. The storylines are presented using such melodrama as "We have only five minutes to find the nuke hidden somewhere in downtown L.A." or "The returnees are exhibiting supernatural powers, and who knows if they're going to be violent?" and other post-9/11 MacGuffins, and such casual threats are made (to slightly weasely, but non-criminal characters) as "How would you like to never be able to fly on an airplane anywhere in the world ever again?" in such a manner that the average viewer identifies with the threatener rather than the threatee. I wonder what the thought-provoking 1998 thriller The Siege would be like if made today.

I have nothing against TV shows like this other than they are often lame and predictable and may be brainwashing us into accepting a curtailance of our liberties. Other than that, they are wholesome, violent fun.

More Search Engine Oddities

It has come to my attention that if you do a Yahoo (but not Google) search for (no quotes) etymologic form of janitor you will hit one and only one site. Don't bother, because you are already viewing the site in question.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bletchley Park, Here I Come

The various offerings over at Nerd Tests are good time-wasters. Make-a-Word is deceptively simple. I have to admit, it took me a few tries to achieve the following:

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

Bletchley Park, here I come.

Update: 7:54 PM -- I now have Grandmaster status.

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

Update: 7:48 AM, 7/17/05 -- At long last!

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

2nd Update: 9:10 AM, 7/17/05

Gonna Fly Now...

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

One Law Too Many

Tennessee venerated object #11

The redneck flag-burner described here is not what I was referring to here. This kid got drunk and destroyed someone else's property. That should be the basis for his punishment! The charges:

The teenager was released from jail Thursday on his own recognizance while he awaits his Aug. 2 trial on charges of desecrating a venerated object, underage drinking, littering, evading arrest, burning personal property and theft.

He should be punished for the latter five, particularly the latter three. Probably needed a couple of extra swats on the behind when young.

Jeffy grew up to desecrate venerated objects.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

WSJ = Conservative & Thoughtful. Fox = Populist & Childish (and DUMBASSES)

The Pinko Commie Wall Street Journal's 'Best of the Web Today' agrees with my view of Fox's Homicide/Suicide silliness. The relevant segment by James Taranto is quoted below in red, and takes up most of the remainder of this entry. Fox quotes as quoted by Taranto italicized; WSJ/Taranto quotes not. Bolding by Taranto.

Stop the Presses: It Was Homicide!
We often criticize left-wing media outlets like the BBC and Reuters over, among other things, their refusal to call terror by its name. But it's worth emphasizing that by far the worst offender in terms of abusing the language via politically correct terminology is Fox News. Here's a report from yesterday on the London bombings:

New evidence suggests four bombers blew themselves up on the London transportation system last week, killing at least 52 in what could be the first homicide attacks in Western Europe, officials said Tuesday. . . .

Two militant Islamic groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks on three subway trains and on a bus. Police had previously indicated there was no evidence of homicide bombings, suggesting instead that timers were used.

Although police stopped short of calling them homicide attacks, Clarke said "strong forensic and other evidence" suggests one of the suspects was killed in a subway bombing and property belonging to the three others was found at the location of the other blasts. . . .

Jeremy Shapiro, director of research at the center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, said Europeans had been involved in homicide attacks in the Mideast, but he knew of no successful homicide bombings in Western Europe previously.

Gosh, what about the murder of Theo Van Gogh? Wasn't that a homicide? What about the 200 or so people murdered in Madrid last year? And how could the police have said there was "no evidence of homicide bombings"? What about the scores of blown-up bodies on the trains and the bus? Did the police figure all those people dropped dead of heart attacks seconds before the non-"homicide" bomb went off?

The answer is that Fox, and only Fox, has redefinied homicide to mean "the act of killing oneself"--what the rest of the English-speaking world calls suicide. So Fox would say, for instance, "Hitler committed homicide by shooting himself in his bunker." But what about what Hitler did to his victims? The Fox brain trust will have to get to work on a name for that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Linguicide Bombers

Eugene Volokh has a post (several, actually) on how Foxing retarded it is for Faux News to use the phrase "Homicide Bombers" rather than "Suicide Bombers" when referring to suicide bombers. It is pure gimmickry, end of story, and has aggravated me for years.

Why does Mr. Ailes insist his employees use "Homicide Bombers" exclusively? Maybe it's because he thinks that "Suicide" connotes too much sympathy for the terrorists who perpetrate such deeds. (I wouldn't have picked him as an afficianado of The Bell Jar, but who knows?) Or maybe it's for the same lameass reason he used to have his minions drive around the block of the first-story, plate-glass-windowed CNN morning studio in New York in a truck with a giant "Fox News" sign on it (i.e., he is a student of the Ringling Brothers business model.)

The phenomenon of the Kamikaze did not emerge until late in WWII. There were plenty of Japanese combat pilots who risked death to kill Americans before that, but generally they did not purposely end their own lives in the course of an attack. Had Fox News been around in 1945, would they have refused to distinguish between a) the established Japanese air attack practices with which our troops had been contending since Pearl Harbor, and b) the emerging paradigm of pilots who planned on not returning at all, but taking as many Allied troops to the grave with them as they could?

The great William F. Buckley opines that words exist due to what economists call a 'felt need' among their users. In other words, if there is a small town with no pizza parlor, and enough townsfolk want pizza, then sooner or later there will be a pizza place. Similarly, if users of a language demand a certain level of specificity, then the language will evolve to meet that demand. And stuff. If the function of the language is to convey information efficiently, and you want to be a part of that conveyance, why say "homicide" for "suicide?" Tim McViegh and Ted Kaczynski were homicide bombers, but not suicide bombers. They are different types of enemies than Mohammed Atta and crew. The transfer of information is made less efficient when the adjective "suicide" is omitted. What's the last time you heard of someone attempting to kill himself and only himself with a bomb? Not only that, but since the definition of homicide is simply the killing of one person by another, regardless of justification, Fox's deliberate inspecificity has now put Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable in the same category as al Qaeda.

This is the exact same thing Big Brother was orchestrating in 1984. Words were systematically eliminated from the vocabulary, so that the masses would be left with fewer ways in which to organize their thoughts, and consequently, yada yada yada. Check out Orwell's 1946 essay Politics and the English Language for more. Also, see the new Complete Newspeak Dictionary link in the sidebar.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Chainsaw, Watermelon, and Penguins that CHANGED AMERICA!

The events of this pleasant Sunday morning included the chainsaw-facilitated removal of the final trees from the side of the house and the disposal of the ex-trees at a friend's house out in the country. The events of this equally pleasant Sunday afternoon and evening included a quick trip to the grocery store to get two watermelons (they should last me through Wednesday), and then a road trip to the eclectic playground Bookman's Alley, dinner at Wolfgang Puck's (I like to call it Wolfman Jack's) and seeing The March of the Penguins. If you liked Winged Migration, you'll like this. I liked both.

The Tribune Book Section today featured Eric Arnesen's review of Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America by Les Standiford. A couple of things about this:

First, at some point in my life I want to list people whose first and middle names were the first and last names of presidents (and yes, I know Henry Clay was never president, duhh). Examples: George Washington Carver, Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. I might or might not include Franklin Delano Romanowski. We'll just have to see.

Secondly, I loved the following excerpt from that review:

The reference in Standiford's subtitle to "the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America" promises more than the book can deliver. These days trade publishers are fond of such grandiose subtitles, whose various combinations of "America" or "the world" with "changed" or "transformed" extravagantly insist on their subjects' importance.

How true! I have read (or thought about reading, or heard somebody mention) any number of books in the past five or six years that have made such claims. For instance:

Now while I will grant that it is certainly true that baseball players, geologists, shirtwaist factory fires, alternatives for purple, and fishing can create ripple effects far beyond that which is immediately obvious, and while I will also certainly assert that there are fascinating stories associated with all sorts of off(on-?)-the-beaten-path topics, I have come to suspect that the subtitular grandiosity described above by Arnesen is more a product of Madison Avenue than the halls of academe. And really, given enough time, just about anything changes the world in one way or another. For more, see The Article That Changed the World.

Heh heh... "Subtitular."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Why didn't I think of this?

In other news, it looks like this guy is going to eat the 2005 Guinness Book of World Records.

Call Me Ishmaelpundit

In addition to the blogs of Pepys and Thoreau mentioned below, here is Dracula in blog form and Moby Dick in blook form.

A discussion on the usefulness/lack of usefulness of London's security cameras.

Carol Marin writes in the Chicago Sun-Times on the jailing of NYT reporter Judith Miller. The Sun-Times is, of course, Mr. Novak's employer. The Houston Chronicle points out that the lefties don't care for her because she was too quick to believe Chalabi, and the dittoheads just see her as another cog in the American Pravda machine. Because she is not seen as a heroine by left or right, the masses have not taken her plight to heart. My view? This could easily set unfortunate precedents. Here's what they say in the Columbia Journalism Review. The Washington Post makes this interesting point:

The jailing of Miller comes during a week when Bob Woodward, once played by Robert Redford, is publishing a book about his relationship with the Watergate source known as Deep Throat. The former FBI official, W. Mark Felt, has reached a book and movie deal in which he could wind up being portrayed by Tom Hanks.
The contrast seems to capture a changing mood toward the shadowy deal-making in which journalists extract information by promising to withhold people's names -- a practice that major news organizations now admit has been overused and abused -- and sources use their anonymity to spin, settle scores or expose what they see as wrongdoing.

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Blogging to the Faraway Towns: The Retro Version

For those who think that the phenomenon of Londoners blogging in the midst of crisis is one with no roots, allow me to humbly point to Samuel Pepys, who, through war (I knew this would come in handy sooner or later), plague, and fire, kept track of his 17th-century grocery shopping, avoidance of in-laws, hassles from his bosses, etc.

The link that ends this sentence should give you a remarkably good idea of what Pepys might have done if he had the Internet to play with.

Update: 11:16 PM, 7/7/05 -- Speaking of retro, here's the blog of Henry David Thoreau.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Blogging to the Faraway Towns

Instapundit collects info on today's terrorist attack on London, including links to first-hand accounts from London bloggers.

Update 8:55 PM 7/7/05 -- More Instalinks to articles about blogospheric reactions to this morning's events, from the WSJ and the Times of London. Also, observations on the role of the traditional newspaper and the Internet in a situation such as this one.

Also, interestingly enough, the Current Terror Alert Level at the bottom of the blogroll is now both Bert and Ernie.

Update 11:40 PM 7/7/05 - Christopher Hitchens is pissed.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Blogging About Blogging

Technology Review on the Business of Blogging. Somewhere, somehow, someone is making money off of all this.

Wonkette collects more on Congressman/custom Buck knife salesman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham.

Philosoraptor on Blogging without having anything to say. Excerpt:

But what I've been thinking about recently is this: blogging puts pressure on you to post, even when you don't have anything worth writing. If you don't post frequently, people won't read you. That's bad for those who are in it for the attention, but it's also bad for those who are in it for more admirable reasons. If you think you have the occasional good idea, and you'd like to get it out there into the public mind, then you need to get people reading your blog. To get people to read your blog, you need to post regularly. Nobody has ideas all the time. So in order to get your good ideas out there, you might need to post mediocre ideas with some regularity.

Thanks a lot Raptor... Now feel like I have to think of something worthwhile. E=MC squared. Happy? Now, about Jennifer Aniston...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Even More Misc. Items

NYT article on published authors who blog

Why Mars? Why not, say, Venus or Neptune?

Fortune: Why There's No Escaping the Blog

I recently watched this excellent documentary on Fred Rogers (that's Mr. Rogers to you) in which I heard (for the first time?) this catchy tune:

Propel, propel, propel your craft
softly down liquid solution.
Ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically,
existence is simply illusion.

(BTW - Did you know that Chef Brockett was a "Day of the Dead" extra? Not only that, but he was also one of Hannibal Lecter's neighbors. Both MRN and NOTL/DOT/DOTD were Pittsburgh institutions.)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

More Misc. Items

My Weekend-of-the-Fourth tasks include laundry, cleaning, yardwork, going through stacks of stuff, SSDW.

It looks like previously blogged-about flag sophist Randy "Duke" Cunningham got a friendly visit from the FBI the other day. At my work, I recently declined the gift of a shirt from one of our vendors due to the possible conflict of interests (or actually, the appearance thereof) that might ensue. However, Cunningham has been living part-time on the luxury yacht of one of his vendors (i.e. a defense contractor). But, I bet the yacht at least has a nice big flag on it. More on Congressman Cunningham here. (p.s. - Even if you usually skip links, click that last one.)

NYT blogoshphere-for-beginners article, Blogs 101.

I finished "The Well-Educated Mind" and started "Mozart in the Jungle" yesterday. "W-EM" comments to follow, "MITJ" reviews here and here via A&LD. Also, it looks like Ms. Tindall's fellow North Carolina highbrows didn't quite grasp the tawdry nature of her memoir.

Reason Magazine's Tim Cavanaugh with a libertarian's review of LOTD. Be sure to read the extra comments.

Comments on Joshua Chamberlain (we are at the tail end of the Gettysburg anniversary right now). Last year I read this book on the semi-parallel lives of Chamberlain and Confederate officer William Oates.

Col. Joshua Chamberlain, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment

Biker guy, Village People
Separated at Birth?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mixin' It Up

Like I said a few posts ago, I love a good cover album. I especially love it when the cover is by a musician or group known for a different genre than that of the material that is being covered. As an adjunct to this, I enjoy it when someone takes two or more distinct genres or ideas and makes something new and cool but that still has roots. This goes not just for music, but for movies, books, and all sorts of different kinds of pop culture. The current Wired Magazine, from which that link was taken, has the Remix as its theme this month, with a Neil Gaiman cover story on the Gorillaz. Gaiman is a remixer himself, throwing film noir/pulp fiction (lower-case) together with science fiction and mythology.

There is a cottage industry of cover albums of rock and pop originals, not just done by collections of recognizable bands, but also by studio musicians. They might be done as strings, electronic, lounge, punk, bluegrass, etc. In my view, these do not necessarily take away from the originals but often lend a new and additionally enjoyable aspect to the originals we have already come to enjoy.

I love Jazz. Duke Ellington is my favorite musician of all time. I like the way he took straight jazz (whatever that is) and brilliantly mixed it with big band, European/Classical, Latin American, African, and all sorts of other kinds of music to make something beyond category from the strands of what had come before. He wasn't alone by any means. For instance (to name only two of many), Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck were hugely influenced by their world travels and their exposure to foreign musicians.

In the cinema, when you copy or steal something, you call it an homage. And who has more homages per hour than the previously linked George Lucas? My main man QT, that's who. If anyone knows how to mix genres a la Reeces Peanut Butter Cups, it's him -- gangsters and vampires in FDTD; Spaghetti Westerns, Noir, Kung Fu, and Asian crime in KB V1&2; A little bit of everything in Pulp. Some people are like "Oh, that's just not original blah blah blah." Not me. Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, and Beowulf were all products of assimilation of a range of material. I think taking the little-bit-of-this-little-bit-of-that approach can pay off big.

This only scratches the surface of the homage / remix / remake phenomena... Akira Kurosawa drew from John Ford, Shakespeare, and Ed McBain and then was subsequently remade in Magnificent Seven, the Dollars movies, and Last Man Standing. Jonathan Demme recently updated Manchurian Candidate and Charade. And somewhere, I need to mention the Cadillac of Vampire / Kung Fu movies, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. But, I gotta leave fodder for future blogging.