Thursday, August 30, 2007


Buddy Rich drum solo.

Via Cynical-C.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


"Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

- Albert Einstein

Didn't we all already know that vegetarians, in addition to being super-sweet and totally awesome, are also smarter than everybody else?

But now science has proved it:

High IQ link to being vegetarian

Intelligent children are more likely to become vegetarians later in life, a study says.

A Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Know a Monkey That Needs a Tickle

Now, this might come as a surprise to those of you who know that I am studying to get a PhD in English, but I didn't read that much as a kid. Usually when the topic of favorite childhood books comes up, my friends list series after series of books that they loved. To this conversation, I can add only that I enjoyed the Matt Christopher series, and when I explain that these were sports books, everyone gives me a kind of irritated look before they return to comparing their adolescent tastes and fantasies.

Mostly I went in for picture books. And there's no beating The Little Mr. and Little Miss series. So when I mentioned them to Kendra the other day (she's Little Miss Impatient, I've determined), she did a little investigatory journalism and unearthed this startling website.

So they're making it into a show. I can't complain about that, because, after all, the only thing better than picture books is t.v. But what I don't understand is the marketing. The website suggests that the inteded age group is 4-7, but the humor seems more appropriate for, well, someone like me. Is it sad that I still laugh OUT LOUD when I hear cartoon characters say "poop"? I think that's all Mr. Bump says. And on the website, you can make seagulls shit on Mr. Grumpy's head. Hilarious! Oh, if only I had a t.v. In the meantime, enjoy the website. God that Mr. Grumpy's a bastard! Poop!

Update: I have seen two (TWO!) Little Ms. t-shirts in the last two days. I'm sensing a resurgence of the 1970s zeitgeist the birthed this series.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Weird News

The BBC is my favorite source for weird news. Generally, they love to print any strange news item if it makes Americans look bad (can't blame them for that), but today's weird news item is just bad form for humanity in general.

Woman jailed for testicle attack

A woman who ripped off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands has been sent to prison.

Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when Geoffrey Jones, 37, rejected her advances at the end of a house party, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

She pulled off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, before spitting it out. A friend handed it back to Mr Jones saying: "That's yours."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"I am a Patriot"

How I miss those hopeful days in the fall of 2000! I will not apologize for voting for Nader, even now, no matter how many times we have this conversation. And as election 2008 approaches, I am daily reminded of what the man always says about how the system works--that it's a system that promotes the "least bad" candidate rather than the best.

But rather than give you a Nader link, I thought I'd pass along this video of Eddie Vedder playing "I am a Patriot" at a Nader rally. It makes me nostalgic.

And while we're on the subject, let me go ahead and make the ridiculous suggestion that we reform voting in this country. Here's an idea: let's prohibit a company that makes political contributions from recording our votes, and let's reform election rules. Here's how.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Great Drummer Dies

Max Roach has died. For those not in the know, here's the wikipedia page for the man, as well as the New York Times' obit.

And a little youtube, while we're at it.

The first is a drum battle with Elvin Jones and Art Blakey.

And here's one of the man with just a snare. If any of this looks easy to you, allow me to disabuse you: it's not.

Like Beavis and Butthead, but better

I post this link somewhat reluctantly since I know how eager my readers are for diversion. But I also know that this movie will make you a smarter, better person.

Here it is. The entirety of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie. And for the uninitiated, here's the background.

Via PoeTV.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Karl thinks you can reach them!

John Stewart and John Oliver talk their way through the disaster of Karl Rove leaving Washington.

Nobody reads old books anymore

For some reason, I didn't get hip to the NYTimes books blog, Paper Cuts, until recently. So you'll pardon me for posting a link with no commentary.

Back in 1943, American soldiers were given copies of a plainspoken book called “Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II.” Now the University of Chicago press has released a fascimile edition, and it’s both a beautiful object and a fascinating document, one whose lessons seem more valuable than ever.
I'd really like to see a copy of this, or at least take a look at the illustrations.

Moby Dick

Ultimately, there is nothing like rowing a little boat up to a sixty-ton mammal that swims, stabbing it, and hoping that it dies a relatively well-mannered death.

Nor is there anything like skinning the whale’s penis, “longer than a Kentuckian is tall,” and wearing it as a tunic while you slice up the fat harvested from the rest of its body.

From a New Yorker article on the history of American whaling.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Giuliani and Fascism

As the summer winds down, I am less and less likely to be posting much. But since I am waist-deep in writing an article about authority and the state in Samuel Beckett's Murphy, I thought I'd pass along this article, which comes via BoingBoing, in Rudy Giuliani looks like the clown he is.

Let me quote it:

“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”

Oh boy, oh boy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Ascendence of "Doping"

I am by no stretch of the imagination of cycling fan. I am not even really a sports fan. But I can be induced to read just about anything on the internet if it means that I can distract my mind for a few minutes away from the academic issues I am ostensibly studying.

So it has been only with minor enthusiasm that I have read coverage of the Tour de France. Truthfully, I don't see what's so special about this sporting event, and I wouldn't take the time to blog about it if I didn't have a linguistic ax to grind.

I'm talking about "doping." What the hell is this word, and why does virtually every article on the Tour use it?

Why when people write about baseball, for example, do they write about "performance-enhancing drugs" and not "doping"? There's no reason for this that I can discern. And it is with this in mind that I'd like to nominate "doping" for the 2007 Word of the Year award.

Every year, the American Dialect Society names a word of the year. Usually it's something topical. Last year, for example, the winner was "to pluto," meaning "to demote or devalue someone or something," since Pluto itself was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet. (The year before, "truthiness" took home the coveted prize) Often the Word of the Year is a word that has had special prominence in the media. After the 2004 election, the Society considered both "flip-flopper" as a candidate for the award because its sudden and unexpected prominence in the media during the election as well as the infamous phrase "wardrobe malfunction."

And so it is with "doping," a word so stupid, and so ubiquitously used in certain contexts, that its use practically begs us to hope that vocabulary-enhancing drugs will soon be on the market.

It's just silly!

Via Gerry.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fascists Among Us

I am grateful to Mitch for alerting me to a truly excellent piece in the LA Times entitled "Heroism and the language of fascism." This article has a truly provocative bent to it, no doubt, but the argument--that a culture that heroizes every little servant, especially the servants of the country--toes a dangerous line. Do your self a favor and read it.

Over at the NY Times, the Opinionator* is hosting an excellent discussion of the piece.

It includes such fine lines as these: "I spent my war years in the beer houses and brothels of Germany" and “I hid like a rabbit until they rescued me." Priceless.

*The Opinionator is for NY Times Select members only, which is available for free if you have a .edu email address. Just so you know.

I don't normally care much for 'realism,' but . . .

Artist Ron Mueck, the creator of "The Mask," by the far the creepiest piece at Duke's Nasher Museum, has a new installation at the Museum of Fine Art in Fort Worth, which is equally creepy. And you can see it on Flickr.

Via BoingBoing.