Friday, February 26, 2010

Impossible To Resist

I found this here. It's one of the many, many pages on Wikipedia dedicated to explicating all the various ins and outs of Cthulu, the deranged mythic reality created by HP Lovecraft.

Pretty much every entry on this page is similarly awesome.


The planet Uranus. It is inhabited by metallic, cube-shaped beings with multiple legs. These creatures worship a minor deity known as L'rog'g (possibly another aspect of Nyarlathotep), whose rituals require a yearly sacrifice in the form of the excising of the legs from a native.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"As For The Fruit, It Had No Taste At All"

I've had this poem (especially the line above) in my head for the last few days. Donald Justice wrote it as a graduate student at Iowa. His teacher, John Berryman, was blown away.

The Wall

The wall surrounding them they never saw;
The angels, often. Angels were as common
As birds or butterflies, but looked more human.
As long as the wings were furled, they felt no awe.
Beasts, too, were friendly. They could find no flaw
In all of Eden: this was the first omen.
The second was the dream which woke the woman.
She dreamed she saw the lion sharpen his claw.
As for the fruit, it had no taste at all.
They had been warned of what was bound to happen.
They had been told of something called the world.
They had been told and told about the wall.
They saw it now; the gate was standing open.

-Donald Justice

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Something I Have To Share

So I'm driving home from work yesterday and I end up listening to a radio interview with Douglas Brinkley about a new book he's written about Teddy Roosevelt and his contributions to the American environmental movement. The book (Wilderness Warrior) sounded reasonably interesting, and I'm sort of mildly paying attention when Brinkley lets fly with what I think may be the single greatest bit of presidential trivia ever: Theodore Roosevelt owned a pet badger named...

...wait for it...



After further research I learned Josiah was "tossed on to the Presidential train as it traveled through Kansas in 1903 by a little girl, who shouted the animal's name to the President. Josiah was bottle-fed until he cut his teeth, at which point he started to nip at any legs available."

My estimation of Theodore Roosevelt--already fairly high--just went through the roof.

After searching the web, I've not been able to find any actual photos of Josiah, so instead I'll just put up a picture of a non-presidential badger. (By the way, "Presidential Badger"--fantastic band name).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wombats and Ends

Little has happened round here of late. That's a big change from the norm; usually very little happens.

Last night we saw Fences at the South Coast Rep. Prior to this, I'd read only one of August Wilson's plays (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) which did a lot more for me than I thought it would. I expected a doctrinaire, agenda-driven piece of rhetoric, but I got a lot more.

Fences did not live up to Ma Rainey. Acting was excellent but both the directing and the writing let us down. The first act did everything a good first act should, but the second act let it all fall apart.

The moral is: don't ever leave your house.

* * *

There's a new TV show on BBC America that all you need to watch. It's called the In-Betweeners. It's about a group of semi-misfit high school boys and their attempts to find...all the things that high school boys attempt to find. It's crude, and funny, and vulnerable and strangely sweet. Well-written, well-acted--excellent all around. It's on Wednesdays, I believe.

* * *

The wife leaves tomorrow for a medical conference. A week of loneliness is on the horizon. I'll watch Yes, Minister, and finish rereading Vanity Fair and maybe subject myself to Last Year at Marienbad. (Why am I such a Europhile where art is concerned?) The long-awaited movie list is on hold until I cross about ten more names off the list of "Films I Need to See." Marienbad is one (barely). Last week I watched Sans Soleil, which makes a lot of critics' top ten lists for the best ever. Tarkovsky-esque, surreal, poetic and mindbending though it was, I doubt it makes my Top Fifty. (There's not much room on there to be honest--all of the Police Academy Movies take up most of the space).

* * *

The big trip for the year has been planned. In May we're going to Kauai (Hawaiian for "Island." No, not really). Apparently near where we'll be staying served as the Bali Hai in the film version of South Pacific. I am determined to take a surfing lesson while there. Because if there is one single group of people in THIS WORLD with whom I identify, it's surfers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"I'd Better Go and Have A Bath I Suppose"

I was pleasantly surprised to find this clip on YouTube. It is, I think, one of Python's highest achievements, but it's one most people don't know. It appeared in their fourth season, after John Cleese left--when they were only Monty Python (no Flying Circus).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shows I Watch

Undoubtedly I watch too much TV. And yet, with the advent of DVR, I have come to feel confident that, at least now, the TV I watch is the TV I want to watch--not just what's on. DVR has also allowed the wife and I to try out shows that are on at odd times, on stations we would never watch otherwise. As a result, I believe I'm something of a connoisseur (sadly) of TV. Here are some shows we watch.


30 Rock, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, The Office
The best episodic comedies on TV. 30 Rock is not as good as it once was. Modern Family is the best new show of the season. The Office gets less funny and more depressing every season. Parks and Rec is hit or miss (but more the former than the latter).


Project Runway, Top Chef, Millionaire Matchmaker, Launch My Line
Project Runway's last season (in LA) was terrible, but now that they're back in New York it's gotten back its old mojo. Top Chef continues to be great. (This season's winner, Michael Voltaggio, has a restaurant in LA that the wife and I are trying to go to. It's booked up for months in advance, of course). Millionaire Matchmaker is vulgar and depressing. A great way to remind yourself how lucky you are to be married and no longer going on blind dates. (By the way, I've concluded that blind dates are much harder on women than men. At least, they are on this show). Launch My Line is just horrible, but it's a competition show on Bravo, so by law I have to watch it.


On the Food Network. Four contestants have to cook a three-course meal. They are given random ingredients for each course and a set time. Example: for the appetizer, they MUST use scallops, goji berries, and pimentos. For the entree: bacon, kiwi, cornish hen, and ramps. Etc etc. After each course they're judged and one of the contestants is kicked off. Surprisingly great TV, especially because at least one of the ingredients in each course is way outside the comfort zone of just about everyone competing. ("I have to make a dessert using kale? What the @#)$*!")

Next Iron Chef
Not on very often, but an entertaining competition in which the winner is added to the Iron Chef cooking pantheon. Far better than the actual Iron Chef (at least the American version).

The Worst Cooks In America
Almost over, but incredibly entertaining. Twelve would-be cooks are chosen for their complete lack of cooking talent. (The first episode, in which each chef has a 'signature dish' evaluated by professional cooks is absolutely hilarious. A woman makes Mac and Cheese using cottage cheese, etc.) Then, the chefs are trained in rudimentary and not-so-rudimentary skills, with the best moving on each week. At the end (coming up next week) the two best chefs compete in a cook-off in front of professional food critics.

BBQ Pitmasters
A new fave, (I believe it's on TLC?) BBQ Pitmasters follows a crew of competitive BarBQue cooking teams as they travel the country facing off against each other in high-intensity BarBQue Cookoffs. The prize money is niggling, but the competitors don't care. Intense people, intense judges--intense food. The unwitting star is a good old boy from Georgia named Myron Mixon, a man constitutionally incapable of uttering a single sentence that doesn't incorporate at least five swear words and one reference to his own status as best BarBQue pitmaster ever. (A claim he can generally back up). Good stuff.

Home and Decor

Before buying a house and getting married, I never imagined I would actually choose to watch shows about buying houses or decorating them, but I have and I do. Most of these are on HGTV and they follow one of three formats:
1) A person tries to buy a house
2) A person tries to sell a house
3) A person tries to redecorate a house

The best of these shows is called House Hunters International, which documents the efforts of people living abroad to buy or rent homes in foreign countries. A couple buying a home in Amsterdam first has to deal with the squatters who have taken up residence there (legal in Holland). A man in Tokyo hopes to find a bathtub large enough to actually lie down in. A couple in Malta debates the hassle of a commute from (some random town I haven't heard of) to (another random town I haven't heard of). Apartments in Berlin do NOT have appliances provided in the kitchen. It's all the little details that suck you in. It's also as close as I'll probably ever get to owning a villa in the South of France (three recent shows have been set there). Or, for that matter, in Uruguay. Strangely compelling.