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October 01, 2004


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Alice suspects that universities are dying.

* Yahmdallah -- a Christian and a rocker -- watches "The Passion."

* Thanks to Alex, who linked to this page of photos of a Berkeley parade. I think it's safe to assume that Berkeley won't prove to be a Bush stronghold.

* Steve Sailer thinks Richard Dawkins may be a wimp.

* Christopher Rhoads reports that, while cellphone carriers are doing their best to topload new phones with features galore, what most consumers really want is something basic and simple, and that works well.

* Selma Blair found it difficult to dance go-go-style while wearing big breasts.

* Have you ever put "straighten out my to-do lists" as an item on your latest to-do list? Jared Sandberg's article might be for you.

* Europe's starting to feel alarmed about being overwhelmed by Muslims.

* As far as Lynn's concerned, pro journalists who mock bloggers are only making themselves look ridiculous.

* Jane Galt links to this John Tierney defence of automobile culture, and blasts away at Smart Growth. John Massengale brings out the big guns in response; James Kunstler rolls out the nukes.

* James Morss alerted me to the good Asia Times columnist who writes under the name Spengler. Here's a page that links to all of Spengler's pieces.

* Quote of the week comes from the refreshing Christopher Walken, who's asked about his acting method and techniques. Here's his answer: "Well, acting is pretending. I don't know how these things work. I study the script and I try to make it sound like I mean it."

* You can watch Elvis Costello's new song and video online. He seems to be having a little fun with imagery from "This Year's Model."

* Comcast is bracing itself for some major changes in the way we interact with TV. Meanwhile, Tivo and Netflix are teaming up to deliver movies to your hard drive.

* Brad, a Democrat, has come out in favor of privatizing Social Security. Tyler expresses reservations. The world has indeed turned upside-down, and Economic Fanboy here couldn't feel more bewildered.

* It seems that burlesque hasn't died, it's just gone online.

* DesignObserver's Jessica Helfand wonders why you don't see more women bloggers, or even blogcommenters.

* Linus wonders what becomes of John Cage's notorious "4'33" when it's performed on the Web. Like: which audio format better suits a performance -- MP3, or WMV? (Punchline, sort of: the piece is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.)

* Pierre thinks Eric Burdon, of The Animals, has grown tired of his classics. The Fleshtones still seem to have the magic, though.

* This hilarious video clip has been linked to many times already, but in case someone missed it ... It seems to be a few minutes from a British children's TV show, and it features priceless double entendres galore. Is it a legit clip? Heck, if it's a straight-faced forgery, it's doubly impressive.

* John Ray doesn't think much of happiness research. Niether does Arnold Kling. Meanwhile, Bhutan has established a scale to measure what they're calling Gross Domestic Happiness.

* David Sucher wonders why anyone would give Daniel Libeskind 64 acres to develop.

* Searchblog hasn't been able to read a novel in a while, and wants her mind back. Nate, on the other hand, sometimes feels annoyed that he loves fiction so damn much. WhiskeyPrajer manages to discuss Paul Fussell, Anne Lamott, and Brian Eno in the same enjoyable and coherent posting.

* Gamers should enjoy this interview with the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto. Question: who's more likely to be remembered as the greater artist of our era -- Salman Rushdie or Shigeru Miyamoto? I'm not voting for the novelist.

* Deirdre McCloskey thinks economists should read some literature, and lit people should learn something about economics. Mark Blaug thinks that economists often fall in love with their theories and fail completely to take note of how markets actually work.

* Poynter Online's Steve Yelvington gets his hands on one of Sony's new e-book devices.

* Here's an informative, if hyper-libertarian, history of the U.S. income tax. Jaw-dropping fact: "Adjusting for inflation, in the 81 years between the enactment of the income tax in 1913 to 1994, government spending increased 13,592%."

* James Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month is a school building from hell. Once upon a pre-modernist time, school buildings were often things of long-lasting comfort and beauty.



posted by Michael at October 1, 2004


John Tierney approvingly quotes libertarians and conservatives in an article about growth and the environment? I had to double-check the URL to verify that it is was, in fact, published in the NYT.

Posted by: C. S. Froning on October 1, 2004 12:35 PM

Tierney raises a few good points but he seems to specialize in tarring straw-men.

Posted by: David Sucher on October 1, 2004 5:25 PM

Christopher Walken fascinates me.

He's got this lean skull-like face, perfect for playing a sadistic killer; and then he opens his mouth and out comes this regular-guy New York accent.

Posted by: ricpic on October 2, 2004 10:19 AM

Re: Tierney -- He seems to be one of the Times' house righties. I don't know how he has gotten away with it myself, but would love to know. Does he play the media game well? Do they think they need a few righties around in order to seem balanced? He's awfully smart and an awfully good writer -- but does the Times even know that? I often found his columns, when he was covering NYC, helpful and good, if only for being provocative. You don't get much brainy righty talk about how to deal with NYC when you're actually in NYC, so his columns were at least refreshing. But the national stuff he's been writing for the last few years hasn't interested me nearly as much. But I wonder if that's me -- I'm just not all that interested in big-picture politics most of the time.

re: Walken -- Isn't he a weird one? So freakish-seeming in some ways, so down to earth in others. Did you ever see his "Inside the Actors Studio" interview? Worth keeping an eye out for. He's one of the good ones, who talks about acting and performing pretty sensibly, even as he's aware of what a bizarre life he's had and is leading. He apparently got pushed onto the stage at a very young age, so the theater and movie life is all he really knows, and he knows that -- which somehow seems to give him a little perspective on things. At least he knows it's weird and special. I know an actor who worked with Walken on a theater project. He said Walken was great, if super-erratic and variable. Walken apparently loves to keep it alive by changing a lot from night to night. And some nights it'd work and he'd be brilliant and the production would shine, and other nights it'd misfire and the evening would be a dud. I saw the production on a 50/50 night -- he roared out of the starting gate, and the first act was a real high. But he didn't seem to have any emotional stuff left for the second act, which came across as energized but hollow. He certainly can be amazing. One of my fave perforamnces of his was in "The Dead Zone." Though lots of fans love his weirder perforamcnes better ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 2, 2004 11:00 AM

I, too, am a major Walken fan, but strangely enough, my favorite Walken performance is his song-and-dance routine in "Pennies From Heaven."

Astonishing. It was so difficult to reconcile his "Deer Hunter" mien with this film's dancing "Tom" character.

Christopher Walken: Fred Astaire for the severely disturbed.

Posted by: Maureen on October 2, 2004 11:39 AM

Actually, my favorite Walken role was his turn as Duane in "Annie Hall."

Excerpted from

"Somebody at a press conference came up to me and said, 'I know why you get these strange parts. It's because you did that Woody Allen movie.' I thought, Could that be? Everybody saw that movie, in which I played Duane, who wanted to drive into oncoming cars. It could be I got the part in The Deer Hunter because of that."
Walken to Lawrence Grobel in “Playboy Interview: Christopher Walken,” Playboy magazine, 1997.

In this classic cameo from Woody Allen's Oscar-winning picture, Walken is Annie's brother Duane … The film takes a strange detour away from the fussy insanity of Alvy and Annie's relationship when Duane calls Alvy into his room for an unusual confession. This WASP brother, squeaky-clean in his red plaid shirt, envisions an aesthetic obsession he hopes someone would understand. Will Alvy understand?

In an eerily private drone, Duane slurs the fantasy of driving himself into a car crash. Like an all-American boy in front of the stunned silent Alvy, Duane responds to his own erotic tale with the cool reserve of inaudible moans and sensual writhes just out of the eye's corner.

Every utterance from Duane is surprisingly detailed and disturbed, yet the subtlety and sincerity of his delivery heightens his desperation. Every pore, every crevice on his Mayflower body is aching to be carried off in a vroom, wham, and doused in fiery flame.

And Alvy, always kvetching, throws up his hands in defeat. "Right...I have to go now Duane, because I'm due back on the planet Earth."

heh. Classic Walken.

Posted by: Maureen on October 2, 2004 11:58 AM

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