Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Impertinence of Beaning Ernest
John Banzhaf douses Ernest van den Haag on CBS Nightwatch with Charlie Rose, as recapped by Bill Kurtis on the CBS Morning News

On May 20, 2009, in an email titled "I'll show *you* who's all wet", without benefit of a link to online video, I described from the memory of my old VHS cassette the celebrated "debate" on smoking on CBS Nightwatch in which the crusading anti-tobacco attorney John Banzhaf doused Ernest van den Haag, among the most famous of postwar conservative intellectuals, after the latter had at the podium lit a cigar of the sort which no stock photo of him from days gone by*
*Google Images, strangely, is entirely van den Haag-free, thus affording me the perfect pretext for cueing this clip from an episode of Firing Line taped on December 13, 1976 to the very second of cigarian intromission.
was without; I also well recall, from the issue of Playboy from October 1977 sent me as part of my high-school freshman-year subscription**,

**I was, as always, in search of, e.g., the latest Mailer, Roth, Updike and Vidal, and interviews with Milton Friedman ONLY, and was as shocked as I know you were to find that the diabolical Mr. Hefner was in every issue pulling the old 'bate-and-switch on his hapless and hairy-handed subscribers well before they had cut their fleet-flipping fingers upon the staples

the magazine's putting the professor on "The Playboy Enemies List",***

***He had, though, back in​ the magazine's issue for September 1973 appeared as a panelist in a roundtable on ​"New​ Sexual Life Styles" alongside Betty Dodson, Al Goldstein, Linda Lovelace, John Money, Wardell Pomeroy, Robert H. Rimmer, and William Simon; in 2003, the Dublin artist Gerard Byrne adapted the article into a widely-reviewed three-channel video installation.

an essay in Milhous inversion ("Nixon had one and so do we. The difference? Ours makes sense.") composed largely of leading social conservatives of the day;**** van den Haag's​ landing therein the result of his much-discussed polemical scholarship in defense of punishing criminals the oldest among old-fashioned ways.​

​**​**e.g., New Hampshire governor Meldrim "Ax the tax" Thomson, Jr.:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Campfire of the Cavetties; Paris After Jeanne d'Arc; Year So Fain

Bliss Was It in That Dusk to Be a-Taped

Images via "An Interview with Dick Cavett", Kliph Nesteroff of Classic Television Showbiz
Among my favorite combinations of nightly guests, below, some of them truly inspired*, from the old pre-PBS Dick Cavett show (1969-1974), which ABC used to run for 90 minutes at 11:30 pm Eastern, opposite The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

*e.g., Bob Hope opposite Simon Wiesenthal; I like to imagine Cavett's bookers spinning a giant one-armed bandit after the fashion, say, of a contestant on one of those old SNL game-show parodies: CLICKCLICKCLICK......Norman Mailer...Valerie Harper..........Midge Decter (aka Mrs. Norman Podhoretz)......CLICKCLICKCLICK.....Ethel Merman...The Harlem Globetrotters..........Agnes Moorhead.

Cavett afforded his Who's Who of storm-toss'd artists, entertainers and politicos ninety minutes on dry land: for, say, Jacques Cousteau, it was a chance to come out of the ocean; for the band America (or, on one show, assorted musicians just hours from the mud at Woodstock), to come out of the rain ...

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Brief Story of His Timelessness

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything  
From "The Leaky Science of Hollywood: Stephen Hawking's Movie Life Story Is Not Very Scientific" by Dennis Overbye:

Millions of people and science fans who have read Dr. Hawking's books, flocked to his lectures and watched him on "The Simpsons," "Star Trek" and "The Big Bang Theory" have never known him except as a wheelchaired figure speaking in a robotic voice; for all they know he was always that way and floated down to Earth on a comet, like Venus drifting in on a half-shell.

London Crawling to the Fallaway Towns

Can I get Ebola from listening to "Africa" by Toto?

"The week's stories cobbled together in a scrapbook sketch show. Uninformed, up to the minute, down to the dregs" - Newsjack is on the case of the deadly Ebola Panic. 

Meanwhile at ClickHole ("Because all content deserves to go viral"; Wikipedia: "Despite the website's satirical intentions, ClickHole wants audience members to interpret its content for tongue and cheek"):

British National Parrot Tea

Also on BBC 4 Extra this week, via The 4 O'Clock Show, a segment [13:00 - 24:32, through November 24, 2014] on what it is like to live with one or another among Britain's over 1 million parrots, from having a duet partner while you sing in the shower to being a veterinarian asked "Why are you doing this to me?" during a stethoscope exam (with an end-of-session "Is that it then?" and an unbidden shaking-off of the tiny gown-like towel) to top-of-lung demands for a "WEE.CUPPA.TEA???" after a vigorous workout swinging by one leg off of a favorite doorknob.

How you get a Strood and a Reckless?


Mark John Reckless (born 6 December 1970) is a British politician who was elected as the Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood at the 2010 general election. He was elected as the candidate of the Conservative Party; on 27 September 2014 he announced that he had joined the UK Independence Party and would resign his seat to seek re-election.
While a Conservative MP, Reckless was noted for his rebelliousness; he cast 56 votes against the whip between 2010 and 2014, making him the 13th most rebellious Conservative in the period...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meerkat Man BBC, Meerkat Man Do
From "First Steps", Episode 1 of Life Story (watch online through November 24, 2014), a BBC-TV documentary series which premiered October 23, 2014.

Life Story with David Attenborough: Trailer - BBC One

Yay, it's me 

BBC nature and David Attenborough - the only reason I pay the tv licence.


Seriously the best ever trailer for a tv programme. Love David Attenborough and can't wait to watch this next week!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Whiskey Man's Man

I'm writing a song that I hope nobody's done yet, about a bartender named Whiskey at a gay tavern on the Interstate  -

And he works, laying brandy down, &c.

The tear-jerking plot involves a truck driver who, in the minutes after the advent of same-sex marriage in his state, tells Whiskey what a good husband he would be, but for the fact that

My life, my top and my bottom

Is the road ...

[Truck-horn choral mimicry](dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

I'm hoping to sign for its recording a group of androgynous session players under the nom de tune "Google Glass" ...

The Mary McCarthy Hearings, Hitch-84, &c.

Lillian Hellman holding a cigarette

What a drag it is getting old with more than a little helper from Mother's shopping carton. 

​Bring Out the Hellman and Bring Out the Bitch​

​She looks like W.H. Auden in drag -- on a good day. - Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman, as dramatized in Hellman v. McCarthy (2014) by Brian Richard Mori, in which Dick Cavett played Dick Cavett.

Charles Isherwood, NY Times:
Unlike Mr. Cavett, who looks spry and much as he did back when he was a familiar television personality, Hellman and McCarthy are, of course, dead, and are capably portrayed here by Roberta Maxwell and Marcia Rodd. The play opens on the evening the interview is telecast, as Hellman abandons a glum game of Scrabble with her nurse, Ryan (the perky Rowan Michael Meyer), to find something palatable on the tube.

Scorning such worthy alternatives as "The Waltons," "Benson" and the "People's Choice Awards" (would literary history have taken a different turn if she wasn't quite so high-minded in her tastes?), Hellman orders Ryan to tune in to McCarthy on Cavett. "Let's hear what the bitch has to say for herself," she says. "She's probably plugging her new book, which got terrible reviews, thank God."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mal à droite

From the uncorrected version of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" by W. James Antle III:

It is easy to forget in the daily back-and-forth of partisan politics, but some issues are bigger than the (often ephemeral) success or failure of any particular administration. A movement that cannot see beyond the immediate political prospects of its most prominent officeholders will lose the credulity it needs to accomplish its longer-term goals.

Scott Lahti says:

"A movement that cannot see beyond the immediate political prospects of its most prominent officeholders will lose the credulity it needs to accomplish its longer-term goals."

The discernment of any loss whatever of, of all things, *credulity* among the vast sea of cognitive blanks calling itself movement conservatism is left as an exercise for that reader whose nightstand stack admits, on fugitive occasion, of imprints other than Regnery, Crown Forum and Threshold Editions.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Intercoursal Waterway

First: The Microbrachius dicki were copulating 385 million years ago

So the lady announcer on our local oldies station says that a new study reports that "sex is 385 million years old."

"They had to have a study to tell us that?" she says.

So I look up "385 million" the better to grab the five-star final from the tweed-capped newsboys of The Google News.

The penile Prometheus, the Edison of eros turns out to have been a bony Scottish fish.

Called ... Microbrachius dicki.

The Economist calls the name "perhaps unfortunate in context."

Via the august scientific tribune the Daily Mirror:

Lead scientist Professor John Long, from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, said: "Microbrachius means little arms but scientists have been baffled for centuries by what these bony paired arms were actually there for.

"We've solved this great mystery because they were there for mating, so that the male could position his claspers into the female genital area."

Although heralding the finding, researchers said the act of intercourse would look very different – as the fish "did it" sideways, like a square dance.

Prof Long said: "With their arms interlocked, these fish looked more like they are square dancing the do-se-do rather than mating."

In Search of Lost Time Signals

Wikipedia on the Interval signal,
or tuning signal ... a characteristic sound or musical phrase used in international broadcasting and by some domestic broadcasters. Played before commencement or during breaks in transmission, or (most commonly) between programmes in different languages it serves several purposes:
It assists a listener to tune his or her radio to the correct frequency for the station.
It informs other stations that the frequency is in use.
It serves as a station identifier even if the language used in the subsequent broadcast is not one the listener understands.
The practice began in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s and was carried over into shortwave broadcasts. The use of interval signals has declined with the advent of digital tuning systems, but has not vanished.