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« Gimme Stills, and Gimme Video | Main | Not-Boomer Boomers »

July 09, 2004


Dear Vanessa --

* Heartworn Highways (buyable here and rentable here) is a terrific, lowkey documentary about the alt-country scene. Townes, Guy, Rodney, Steve -- a hard-to-beat collection of talent, and visited with fairly early on, too.

* There's a new book out by a 2Blowhards intellectual hero, the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran. (We wrote about V.S. here, here and here.) It's called A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, and it's buyable here. I've got my copy already.

* I can recommend an hour-long episode of the History Channel's Modern Marvels series called The History of Bathroom Technology. Honest to God, it's really interesting. (As well as full of reasons to be grateful you live in the modern world.) It's showing from 10-11 pm EST on Wednesday, 7-14.

* Timothy Taylor's wonderful Teaching Company lecture series Legacies of the Great Economists is on sale here for the amazing price of $15.95. It's a ten-part introduction to the history of economic thought, and is a great way for math-o-phobes to edge into the subject. Stories, personalities, ideas -- all explained in plain English. Taylor's a clear and enthusiastic lecturer.

* I'm gonna blog one of these days about another firstrate Teaching Company production, Darren Zarefsky's Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning. This is one eye-opening series, an introduction to the work of the philosopher Stephen Toulmin, who makes an enormously useful distinction between formal logic and informal reasoning -- and then goes on to investigate this "informal reasoning" thing. Not: how ought we to think? But: how to we actually think? What's involved in fumbling our way by? How do we manage? Toulmin might well be to thinking-about-thinking what Christopher Alexander is to thinking-about-architecture. The series is on sale right now (for $34.95!) here.

* Bravo rebroadcasts an entertaining and touching episode of Inside the Actor's Studio with Bette Midler from 3-4 pm EST on Friday, July 16.

* Though I could never get interested in Saturday Night Live, whose tone of big-city Boomer triumphalism struck me as off-puttingly smug, I always adored SCTV. What a brilliant show, and what an unmatchable collection of brilliant performers: Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dave Thomas, and especially that nutty genius Andrea Martin. I notice that a DVD set of the show's first season can now be bought here.

* IFC will be showing Rene Clement's psychological suspense classic Purple Noon a couple of times next Monday: from noon-2 pm EST on Monday, 7-12, and from 6-8 pm that same day. I blogged here about the joys of psychological suspense. Along with philosophical art-porn, psych-suspense is my favorite narrative genre.



posted by Michael at July 9, 2004


And I am sitting here, with the shrink-wrapped DVD set of SCTV sitting in my bag. I'm thinking about saving it all for tomorrow and having a big beery Canuckfest. But I'm impatient, so I think I will start it just as soon as I hit POST.

30 minutes never hurt nobody, did it?

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on July 10, 2004 1:28 AM

While you're perusing the Teaching Company stuff, check out Brian Fagan's Human prehistory course. I'm in the middle right now. It covers the origins of tools, religion, kinship, farming, civilization, the state, etc. Fagan has one of those great English accents that doesn't pronounce the letter R; he either replace them with a W or rolls them in dramatic instances.

Posted by: Brian on July 10, 2004 3:55 AM

Andrea Martin. Love that gal. The wicked glint in her eye. Why are the great ones always under-utilized?

Posted by: ricpic on July 10, 2004 10:36 AM

Scott -- Sounds irresisitable. Would you let me know how it is, though? There are some bewilderingly unenthusiastic viewer-reviews at Amazon that indicate the discs don't represent SCTV's best stuff.

Brian -- Thanks for the rec, and please keep in touch about courses that you've enjoyed. Although I've generally had very good luck with Teaching Company products, I've run into some duds. Most of which I can't remember just now, darn it. Funny thing about "learning" in middle-age -- it's great, it's pleasing, you can make sense of things in ways you couldn't as a kid. But you can't retain much of anything anymore. Life's damn ironies.

Ricpic -- Ain't she great? The Wife and I saw her do a one-gal show at the Public some years back. And while the material had its ups and downs, her energy and gleam were really dazzling. She did one routine we still giggle over: a camp counselor singing a song to her girl charges. It becomes clear quickly that she's a lesbian, and the song's all about evil things that happen in the world, and the fun sing-along refrain was, pause, "And do you know why this happened, girls? That's right! [singing again] Because it was a man ..." Amazingly enough the ultra-gay, ultra-PC Village audience thought the routine was a riot...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 10, 2004 11:47 AM

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