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November 30, 2004

Yeah, right.


I'm home alone today. I have a sore throat and my head is stuffed up. I have a drainage tube from last week's surgery still sticking out of me. I am waiting for word on whether I have cancer or not.

But somehow, the chortles I got from this picture made it all worthwhile.

I am reminded of the words of Dr. Johnny Fever: "Hey! I went through Harvard... Ok, it was in a car. Actually, a police car."

Posted by Dan at 03:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 29, 2004

Uncharacteristic political post

I would like to hear other opinions about this, as I wait for test results (the doctor removed a lump in surgery last week and pathology couldn't identify it - they sent it to Cleveland Clinic, fearing it is a sarcoma).

The word is "mandate" and I'm sick of it. I try these days to stay away from political blogging, but this seems kind of silly.

Bush won the popular election by over 3 million votes, nearly 4, yet the Left says he doesn't have a mandate at 51 percent or whatever. This same Left said Clinton had a clear mandate the year he won with only 42 percent of the popular vote. I got nothing against Clinton, but doesn't this feel double-standardy to you?

I suspect I'm missing something.


Be nice.

Posted by Dan at 10:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

Eye Candy - Photography


Eugene Atget

Atget, Eugene
French, 1857-1927

Jean Eugene Auguste Atget, among the first of photography's social documenters, has come to be regarded as one of the medium's major figures. His images of Paris are perhaps the most vivid record of a city ever made.

Atget was born in Libourne, near Bordeaux, France, and was raised by an uncle from an early age after the deaths of his parents. He became a cabin boy and sailor and traveled widely until 1879 when he entered the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris. He studied there for two years and became an actor with minor roles in repertory and touring companies, but although he was talented, he was never successful. During this period a relationship developed between Atget and the actress Valentine Delafosse, with whom he lived for the rest of his life (she eventually became his photographic assistant). Together they were able to make a poor living for a number of years, but it became clear that Atget had no future as an actor. In 1897 he tried his hand as a painter and was again unsuccessful. He started to photograph the next year at the age of 40.

Atget took no portraits per se, but he did photograph street characters: peddlers, garbage collectors, road workers, and so on. His friend Andre Calmette wrote that Atget set out to photograph "everything in Paris and its environs that was artistic and picturesque."

In recording the daily appearance of a rapidly changing Paris, Atget made methodical surveys of the old quarters of the city. He was to make over 10,000 photographs of this immense subject in the next 30 years using obsolete equipment: an 18 X 24 cm bellows camera, rectilinear lenses, a wooden tripod, and a few plate holders.

Atget operated a small commercial photography business called "Documents pour artistes" and sold his carefully cataloged images to stage designers, art craftsmen, interior decorators, and painters (Braque, Derain, and Utrillo, among others), and to official bodies such as the Bibliothéque Nationale, the Bibliothéque de la ville de Paris, the Musèe des Arts Decoratifs, and the Musèe Carnavalet. However, few of his clients appreciated his artistry.

The quiet, even understated, appreciation of a subject's beauty in Atget's work has led many to consider him naive, a primitive. In truth, his work is marked by a purity of vision, a refusal of painterly rhetoric, and a deceptive simplicity.

One of Atget's earliest admirers was the young Ansel Adams, who wrote in 1931: "The charm of Atget lies not in the mastery of the plates and papers of his time, nor in the quaintness of costume, architecture and humanity as revealed in his pictures, but in his equitable and intimate point of view. . . . His work is a simple revelation of the simplest aspects of his environment. There is no superimposed symbolic motive, no tortured application of design, no intellectual ax to grind. The Atget prints are direct and emotionally clean records of a rare and subtle perception, and represent perhaps the earliest expression of true photographic art."

In 1920 Atget sold 2500 negatives relating to the history of Paris, a large portion of the work he had been accumulating for two decades, to the Caisse National des Monuments Historiques. He described these photographs as "artistic documents of fine sixteenth- to nineteenth-century architecture in all the ancient streets of old Paris. . . historical and curious houses, fine facades and doors, panellings, door-knockers, old fountains, period stairs (wood and wrought iron), and interiors of all the churches in Paris (overall views and details)." With the help of the considerable sum he received for this body of work, Atget was able to devote more of his time to photographing with increased dedication and historical awareness those subjects to which he felt closest. Many of his most beautiful images were made during his last years.

In 1926 Atget's neighbor Man Ray published (without credit) a few of Atget's photographs in the magazine La revolution surrealíste. This marked the beginning of the important surrealist appreciation of his work. Berenice Abbott, a student of Man Ray's, was impressed by Atget's photographs in 1925, and has been responsible for rescuing his work from obscurity and preserving his prints and negatives, which she acquired upon his death in 1927. She has written: "He will be remembered as an urbanist historian, a genuine romanticist, a lover of Paris, a Balzac of the camera, from whose work we can weave a large tapestry of French civilization."

Atget's work was included in the important modernist exhibition "Film und Foto" in Stuttgart in 1929. The first book of his images was published in 1931. The Abbott Collection is now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Atget was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum in 1969 and of a series of retrospectives there in the early 1980s.

from The Encyclopedia of Photography.

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November 27, 2004

For mature readers ONLY! Not cultural at all! Cautionary tale approaching!


This guy has decided to celebrate the holidays by drinking only Pepsi Spice and blogging the results.

Lots of nastiness so far, and I'd suggest you start reading soon, because I suspect the experiment is about to end much sooner than he intended.


Double ouch.

Posted by Dan at 10:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Please kill me.

Random House and Barnes & Noble predict the flood of political books isn't going to end with the election.


Posted by Dan at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2004

Ever wonder what would come up if you Googled "flaming hot cheetos"?

Wonder no longer.

Posted by Dan at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Ethics of Plagiarism

Sure, we can see how copying a research paper off the Interweb is a no-no, and signing another's book with your name is right out, as well.

But where DO we get ideas from? At least some of it is prior experience and previously-heard ideas.

In early Hellenistic culture, it was nearly a crime to build on other's ideas in your own work and still sign your name. Pseudonymity (signing someone else's name to your own creative work, especially if it built on ideas from the past) was the only honorable way to produce any writings.

Now look at us: a turn of phrase that sounds a little too much like someone else's can be a literary death sentence.

Should a charge of plagiarism, especially surrounding one sentence or snippet of conversation, ruin your life? When did we decide that any use of anyone else's ideas ever was a moral wrong? Where are the lines now, and where should they be?

That is the thrust of this fascinating New Yorker article.

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November 23, 2004

I bet I can freak you out.

Now, for this disturbing image:


Wow! She's hot! What can be disturbing about HER???

Ready to guess who it is?

Why it's little Keisha Knight Pulliam, AKA Rudy Huxtable from The Cosby Show. All growned up!

Kinda like looking at sexy pictures of your sister, isn't it?

Posted by Dan at 10:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Surgical pause

Light blogging for the next few days. I have minor surgery to undergo Wednesday morning and will be laid up a day or two, I expect.

Think of something cultural and post it here. I'll be back to ridicule it soon!

Posted by Dan at 10:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

Stop! Grammar Time!


This photo in honor of our friend Folkbum, who has recently launched a war against poor grammar. Seriously, screenprinting is expensive. We're sure the heir to the Hilton billions just couldn't pony up the cash for an apostrophe.

Posted by Dan at 11:19 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Best Christmas movie of the last decade?

Has to be Elf.

Feel free to disagree if you have a desire to be wrong.

Posted by Dan at 11:05 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 21, 2004

Christmasy culture poll

Here's a question posed by Mrs. Popping Culture:

What band or solo musical artist would you most like to see release a Christmas album?

The only condition is that they must not have put out an album of Christmas music in the past. We came up with Beck and Chris Isaak.


Posted by Dan at 01:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Fru Fru meets F-you

I feel somehow guilty for admitting it, but I found this interview extremely interesting, all four pages.

It's a discussion with rapper Eminem hosted by, of all things, Vanity Fair magazine. If you can get through the first few paragraphs of seeming hero-worship, it's a very well done interview.

Go. Read.

Posted by Dan at 08:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How could they have seen THIS coming?

James Levine (the new conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, duh) is making waves by claiming he will use the time at orchestra rehearsals for, get this, rehearsing.

Can you imagine the nerve? Story, and impotent outrage, here.

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November 20, 2004

Southern Culture gaffe corrected

Alton Brown, my personal hero and host of the best show ever to grace the Food Network, makes up for a slight grit omission here.

Posted by Dan at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eye Candy


by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder (1525-1569)

Pieter Bruegel (BROY gul) was born in Belgium. (Sometimes his name is spelled Brueghel.) In 1551 he became an apprentice of an artist, Aelst. He traveled to Italy about that time and painted many pictures, mostly landscapes. He was about 26 years old at the time. He married the daughter of his master.

His paintings were very popular in his time, and are still popular today, over 400 years later.

In the painting "Children's Games", he shows children playing all sorts of games. Children today still play versions of some of the games shown.

He liked to paint a lot of small figures in a large space.

He was called Pieter the Elder. He had two sons who became famous painters. One of them was named Pieter, and he was called Pieter the Younger. His grandsons also became artists.

Posted by Dan at 09:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 19, 2004

What time is it? It's Culture Time!!

And we have three words for you:

Interactive Urinal Communicator

Posted by Dan at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We knew Russell Crowe looked shifty, but...

...if I'm looking at this headline correctly, the actor helped a snake bite some poor kid.

Posted by Dan at 09:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

This just might be the most important question you'll ever have to answer...

Are you ready for a Zombie Attack?

If you answered "a what?" or "I don't know" or "I don't believe in Zombies," then you are an idiot. You are as good as dead already and Popping Culture can't slow down for the likes of you, Zombie Chow.

For everyone else, there is this Zombie Attack Survival Guide.

Posted by Dan at 07:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Attention Muppet Fans! (and shame on you if you're not one)

The alert level just went from Yellow to Dark Orange!


Posted by Dan at 09:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

From Popping Culture's "I love it when" desk...

I love it when writers try to do serious, reasoned reviews on movies like "Seed of Chucky."

Here's one of several.

The review itself is hilarious when you consider the film being discussed. Example:

“Illogical” is not strong enough a word to describe Mancini’s script and direction, which simply indulges whatever urges it has whenever it feels like it.

Hint to movie reviewers: if you're looking for logical scripts and direction from a movie with the name "Seed of Chucky," you're taking yourself WAY too seriously.

Posted by Dan at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who could have known? We thought it was a trend after Janet Jackson.

A stunned ABC admits that, for some reason, their brainstorm idea of putting a naked Nicollette Sheridan in the Eagles locker room to seduce Terrell Owens at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (come watch, kids!) may not have been the most appropriate Monday Night Football pre-game segment they could come up with.

Nothing like a naked Desperate Housewife to get you in game shape, it seems: Owens had three touchdowns that night.

You can view the controversial opening to MNF here.


Posted by Dan at 07:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

More evidence of godly living from the rap music world.

You may know that rapper ODB died over the weekend, presumably from heart complications following the inhalation of a semi-truck load of cocaine in the last few years.

What you don't know is that it's gonna take at least a dozen lawyers to represent all the illegitimate kids who suddenly want a piece of the ODB pie. It's up to the DNA testing kits now, Little Dirty Bastards.

Wu Tang forever.

PS Just for a goof, look at the link at the end of the story titled "ODB primed for a comeback" and try not to laugh.

Posted by Dan at 07:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Add this to your music collection. Now.


With folks re-discovering Ray Charles' music thanks to the Jamie Foxx movie, the first thought is to run out and buy a "best of" album.

Not so fast, says this critic, who suggests entry into the world of Ray via his classic album, Genius Loves Company.

Aside from just dripping with Ray's talent, the album includes duets with James Taylor (a Popping Culture favorite) and B.B. King.

Go. Purchase.

Posted by Dan at 07:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Smithsonian facelift gets a boost.

This time, to the tune of 25 million bucks. The donation, which is the fourth largest ever, will be used to renovate the historic Patent Office Building.

Posted by Dan at 07:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

From Popping Culture's "Medical Science" desk.

We know what to get mom for Christmas now.

Posted by Dan at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

From Popping Culture's "Funny and True!" desk.


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November 14, 2004

Eye Candy Unleashed!


by Paul Cezanne
painting c. 1899
Oil on canvas
29 1/8 x 36 5/8 in (74 X 93 cm)
Musee du Louvre, Galerie du Jeu de Paume, Paris

Paul Cezanne (say ZAN) was born in France. His father was a wealthy banker and he wanted his son to become a banker. He did not approve of Cezanne's plan to become an artist, but he went on to Paris anyway. After a while, his father sent him a small allowance on which to live.

When he got to Paris, his paintings were so rough that none of the official art schools would admit him as a student. At first his paintings were done in dark colors, but Pissarro, another painter, encouraged him to paint out in the sunlight, and his paintings came alive with bright colors.

He did not like to be with other people and isolated himself, even from his friends. When he was 47 years old, his father died and he inherited his father's wealth.

He complained that he could not paint pictures of people properly, and in fact his still lifes (pictures of objects in settings) became his best works.

He was not very successful until in 1895 when Vollard, an art dealer in Paris, exhibited his works and he began to enjoy the success he had longed for.

Cezanne considered shapes to be the basic forms; the sphere, cone, and cylinder. Look at the painting, Apples and Oranges and find these shapes in the fruit, the pitcher, and the bowl.

Text from "Cezanne, The Late Work" exhibition catalog:

"This still life is painted on a white canvas whose priming is visible in the tablecloth at lower left. Compared with such a serene composition as pl. 148, set against a large, unadorned wall, this picture presents a cluttered and almost agitated arrangement of opposing elements, colors, and patterns. There are two different draperies in the back- ground: at the left--seemingly hanging from the wall--the rug with rust-brown purplish squares and a red and dark green design that was still in Cezanne's Lauves studio until World War II; next to it is a brown-beige curtain with a pattern of light green leaves and some traces of red that cascades down, met by the multifolded large white tablecloth on which crockery, apples, and oranges are assembled. At left, behind the tilted dish and half-hidden by the tablecloth, appears a small green fruit, echoing the color of the green upholstery. The dark brown background in the upper right seems related to the Vollard portrait. (This would imply that this picture may have been painted in Cezanne's Paris studio on the rue Hegesippe Moreau in 1898-99, although the milkpot is presumed to have been among the artist's paraphernalia in Aix.)

"The surface on which the elements of this still life are assembled appears somewhat ambiguous, concealed as it is by the white cloth; only one table leg can be seen at the right, whereas at the left the tabletop may be resting on the sofa whose wooden frame and green upholstery can be perceived below the round dish. The white pitcher with floral design barely detaches itself from the busy surface of the curtain at right, while the stark orange fruit form a sharp contrast to the white of the cloth and the bowl. The draperies on the top and the tablecloth at the bottom practically fill the entire space not occupied by the still-life objects proper.

"Though unusually crowded, this composition obviously corresponds to a specific mood of the artist, for, as David Sylvester has said: "An apple or an orange was perhaps the best possible subject he could have: first, because while working from nature, he could still dispose it as he wished; secondly, because it carried no strong emotional overtones to distract him from realizing his sensations; thirdly, because such objects presented, far more readily than landscape, the possibility of finding those clear and regular forms, like orders of architecture, which are needed for the creation of a monumental art."

This painting originally belonged to Gustave Geffroy.

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I'm just saying.


Admit it.

Affleck hasn't had a hit in a long, long time. Since the J-Lo mess, he's been relegated to poker showdowns, shilling for losing candidates and work as eye candy for his more popular girlfriend, Ms. Garner.

He's just a step away from "celebrity events" involving Todd Bridges, Danny Bonaduce and Tonya Harding anyway, so why not take the plunge into made-for-TV cinema in "The Scott Peterson Story"?

Posted by Dan at 08:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2004

Blogging as cutting-edge communication: has the shark been jumped?

I'm starting to feel that the cutting edge of blogging is as over as the terms "jumped the shark" and "blogosphere."

Really, blogs erupted as the elections came closer. We all had something we cared about to discuss, and even the cultural blogs, like this one, were merely diversions from our favorite biased political web logs.

So now the election is over and "DailyKos" is no longer a place to rally the troops no matter what the cost, it's a place to hang around for three and a half years until the next election and just post anything negative about Bush that we can think of.

Same on both sides of the aisle. What, really, is there to do at a political blog that anyone really ultimately cares about? Sure, blogs retain their "public diary" quality, but you can find that in the real world, too, just by meeting real live people.

I took a tour of the political blogs I used to frequent in the months leading up to the election this morning. BOORRRIIINNNGGG!!!

The general theme is "Hey, we found this thing that indicates Bush and company did something we can spin into a good/bad political tool for our side."

I just don't care about political blogs anymore. Period. Now that the elections are over, I can more meaningfully participate in the system on a local level. I can work for real change in the real world, not just gain minor "victories" in the tide of public opinion among the same closed-minded blogger community.

Yes, blogs forced the press to deal with certain rumors and items that turned out to be true, but really, that's over now. There is a President in place, like it or not, who pretty much has free reign. We can continue to support or attack him, but I just don't have the emotional strength or even the interest to keep it up for three years.

I didn't even make it three weeks.

What use is blogging then, other than as self-expression? What relevance can a blog, even a huge one, that has dedicated itself to the election (conciously or not) have any more?

On some level, I think bloggers are drawn to the anonymity. I can call people all manner of names that I would never do in real life, face to face. I can demonize anyone who disagrees with me. I can pretend my side is all good and the other side is all evil. I can have a voice that is equal to everyone else's in this little blogsphere world just by typing. Blogging puffs up egos and gives a sense of importance, even if it is imagined importance and only relevant in the "blogosphere."

As I said, the tour of political blogs these days is only meaningful to those already consumed and obsessed. Try to find anything real or relevant to your life anymore. Political blogging is the new video game - fun in its own little world, but ultimately a time-waster.

And so I turn to Popping Culture, which served excellently as a diversion from the hate wars leading up to the election. But frankly, I need more than that now that the election is over.

Sure in another year of blogging I might educate a few more about impressionist paintings or the poetry of Lord Byron. You might hear about a new movie a month or so earlier because Popping Culture is here. You might hear a funny Britney Spears joke or two.

Ultimately, though, the real world is a stronger call right now. There is a stack of books I haven't read, in part because of the hours I've invested here.

So now we discuss:

-Is blogging, for the most part, losing its meaning and energy? Can blogging sustain itself at the current huge level with no election to discuss?
-Why do YOU blog these days, aside from promoting a political agenda years in advance of the next real elections? (Don't tell me it's to get folks on board and ready for when the elections get here: you can do more on a grassroots level in the real world than you can here)
-Why, importantly, am I here?

Posted by Dan at 08:52 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

This would seem to indicate that Bush will somehow win again in 2008

From the world of film!

Moore of the same.

It is being billed as a sequel. In this episode, presumably, one of the Saudis reveals that he is Condi's father.

Posted by Dan at 08:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hugh Grant says he's headed for retirement


Hugh is retiring. Or is semi-retiring. Of course, the announcement of the fact that he's no longer acting coincides nicely by way of publicity for his new Bridget Jones movie.

Turns out acting is "boring." Then again, the fact that he plays the same role in every movie he stars in might have something to do with it.

And for the necessary goofy picture I offer you this:

grant me this.jpg

I actually am rather a fan of his. I loved Four Weddings and a Funeral as well as Love, Actually.

Posted by Dan at 08:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blast from the past, commentary on our culture

From Deitrich Bonhoeffer:

Politics are not the task of the Christian.

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.

It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them. The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves.

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.

A god who let us prove his existence would be an idol.

Any responses from the blogosphere? Of course, Bonhoeffer was killed by the Nazis for his beliefs.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich
Date of Birth:
Year of Birth:
Year of Death:

Posted by Dan at 08:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

CSI: Timberlake

Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz have been charged after "gathering evidence" while being jumped in a dark alley by men intent on, um, taking pictures.

In our world, "gathering evidence" would be called "stealing a camera."

Posted by Dan at 03:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yes, yes, I know...

The latest Star Wars films have been a disappointment. But I defy you to watch this teaser-trailer and NOT start jumping on the chairs and making lightsaber noises.

And yes, that is Anakin fighting Ben, presumably not to the death.


Key Quotes:
"Lord Vader..."
"Yes, master?" (James Earl Jones getting in on the action for ep. 3)

I'm all excited.

Posted by Dan at 03:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Repeating of, and discourse concerning, Popping Culture's favorite poem.

Elizabeth Bishop, 1948

The Fish
by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung like strips
like ancient wall-paper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wall-paper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
- the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly -
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
- It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
- if you could call it a lip -
grim, wet and weapon-like,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels - until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.


[By the midpoint of the poem] [t]he poet does not simply relinquish her desire for imaginative contact with the fish. But her attention shifts from spatial to historical imagining. History is no longer distant and figurative but "still attached" in the form of "five old pieces of fish-line, / or four and a wire leader / … with all five big hooks / grown firmly in his mouth." Five wounds on a fish make him a Christ figure, but the epiphany he brings the poet has nothing otherwordly about it. The domestic images at the beginning of the poem, followed by the battered body of the fish, evoke the poet’s unconscious life, the uncanny return of the repressed which can "cut so badly." But Bishop can entertain such self-reflection now within the larger context of the life of nature and the beholder’s tentative grasp of it. She no longer has to define a discrete interior space through dream or symbolic abstraction in order to explore her subjectivity; she has brought the self out of nocturnal seclusion and explored its relation to everything under the sun.

There is also a pervasive but ambiguous sexual quality to the fish. An untamable, corporeal energy violates the domestic world of wallpaper and roses. The fish, a he, hangs like a giant phallus, yet as the beholder imagines his interior, its "pink swim-bladder / like a big peony,? He takes on a female aspect. Indeed, the hooks in his mouth suggest that phallic aggression is the fisherman’s (woman this time) part. This hermaphroditic fish challenges the conventional hierarchical antithesis of female nature and male culture. Here there is no struggle, and the victory is not exclusive.

For Bishop, nature mastered as static knowledge is a fish out of water. Its beauty and venerability belong to time. Yet it can be entertained, with a certain humility and lightness (such as simile registers), for its figurative possibilities. The poet "stared and stared" even though the fish did not return her stare. Her imagination transforms a "pool of bilge / where oil had spread a rainbow" into an ecstatic (and perhaps deliberately excessive) "rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!" Such an epiphany, set as iut is in the highly ephemeral space of the rented boat with its rusted engine, must be of mortality. The grotesque is the style of mortality not because it makes us turn away in horror but because it challenges the rigid frames of thought and perception through which we attempt to master life. All the conceptual and emotional contradictions that emerge within the description of the fish point to the letting go.

-from Bonnie Costello, "Attractive Mortality," Chapter 2 in Elizabeth Bishop: Questions of Mastery (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 63-64.


Throughout her work, she subverts the conventional Romantic trope of world-as-woman by insisting upon the indeterminate nature of nature--now female, now male, now ungendered other. And, as we might expect, Bishop is most subversive at her most Wordsworthian moments. In "The Fish," for example--strikingly Wordsworthian in its evocation of almost religious awe and joy in the presence of embodied nature--Bishop refigures the usual Romantic figure, making us see nature as a "He," a sort of finny five-star general:

But even as she develops her own alternative figure, Bishop holds it up to question. She introduces this fiercely independent, masculine version of the fish with a contrasting version--domestic, and (as a result of the poet's sly adaptation of the timeworn girls-as-flowers trope) suggestive of the feminine:

Determinedly "unpoetic" in her prosy rhythms, her patient agglomeration of seemingly random details and associations, Bishop here avoids poetic presumption, subjective sway. She acknowledges the tenuous relation of figurative language to reality with the tentativeness of simile ("Like medals"; "shapes like full-blown roses"; "like a big peony"). Humorously, she undercuts her own anthropomorphism ("--if you could call it a lip—"). And with a pile-up of arresting particulars, she tips the scale toward quizzical observation rather than controlling allegory.

Nevertheless, Bishop's frequently anthologized "The Fish" gradually accrues more allegorical point than most of her poems (one reason why it is a teachers' favorite). It slowly builds, as I have already suggested, toward a more Wordsworthian--more emotionally rounded, end-rhymed, and almost visionary--conclusion:

Bishop avoids Wordsworth's egocentric, centripetal action by externalizing, focusing outward, as the title of her poem tells us, on "The Fish." Whereas Wordsworth internalizes and subsumes a naturalized human being (the almost moss-covered leech-gatherer), Bishop attends to a separate, natural creature: first by "catching" the fish both literally and figuratively (by hooking it and simultaneously "capturing" it with self-conscious anthropomorphic comparisons), and then by letting the fish--together with any suggestion of co-optive figuration--go. Her perceptions lead not merely to imaginative conquest or introspection, but to a sense of mutual "victory" and a specific action. She saves the creature's life. The undeniably serious conclusion with its Noah's Ark-like rainbow still has about it her very quiet, and very un-Wordsworthian, touch of humor (in what is, after all, a kind of elaborate "fish story").

-From An Enabling Humility: Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and the Uses of Tradition. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1990. Copyright © 1990 by Jeredith Merrin.


Readers of Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish" commonly pose objections which concern opposite ends of the critical spectrum. One objection is to the integrity of Bishop's fish: it does not seem realistic; it is too ugly; what kind of fish is it supposed to be anyway? Another objection is to the conceptual limitations of the poem: the imagery is admirable, but that is not enough (certainly not enough to be worth spending extensive time on); after close examination of ugly old fish, fisherman releases it - so what?

The first objection, which Richard Moore touches upon en passant in an essay published twenty-five years ago, is the easiest to deal with. Noticing the lack of fight in the huge fish, Moore flirts with the notion that must occur to many sophisticated readers of poetry upon encountering this poem: "perhaps the fish seems so realistic and factual because it is not a 'real' fish at all. Moore adds, parenthetically, that "indeed, the reader never learns what species of fish it is." Of course some will immediately argue that the species of fish, whether identifiable or not, is irrelevant to the meaning of the poem; but it seems to me that considering Elizabeth Bishop's close associations with the sea (she had moved to Key West in 1938 after a childhood spent in a fishing village in Nova Scotia and in Boston), the fish might be supposed to be representative of an actual species.

At any rate, as a quondam Florida fisherman I have always supposed that Bishop's fish emerged from the salt waters of actual experience (the poem first appeared in Partisan Review in 1940, while she was living in Key West, and Bishop did enjoy fishing) and that it must be some sort of grouper. The Fisherman's Field Guide describes grouper as "broad-headed, thick-bodied, bottom- or reef-dwelling, predatory sea basses with very large mouths, protruding lower jaws, caniniform teeth, and scales that typically extend onto the bases of some or all fins." The fact that the grouper is a bottom feeder would likely account for the "rags of green weed" which cling to Bishop's fish (I. 21), and the hook-pierced "lower lip" (I. 48) is appropriately prominent. More specifically, the fish's coloration suggests that it is a large red grouper (Epinephelus morio), a type common to Florida and Caribbean waters. Weighing up to forty pounds, the red grouper is described as having a "squarish tail and a brownish-red or rusty head and body, darkly barred and marbled. Often, it has scattered white spots." Did Elizabeth Bishop mistake these spots for "tiny white sea-lice"(I. 19)? At that point, I think, the literal description of the fish interferes with the fish as the poet re-creates it. She wants the sea-lice in order to emphasize the ambiguous image created by the fish, which is simultaneously ugly and beautiful, a point to which we will return herafter.

Rube Allyn's Dictionary of Fishes, an angler's guide, adds some information about the grouper which is pertinent to the fifth and sixth lines of the poem, about which most commentators have something to say (more, perhaps, than is necessary). "In the traditional battle between man and fish," Nancy L. McNally writes, "the old and decrepit fish ... has simply refused to participate." Moore insists that the lines reinforce the size of the fish "by explaining how so huge a thing could be caught" and that they also "make the fish more interesting and mysterious." In his anglers' dictionary Allyn observes of the red grouper that they offer little resistance when hooked and are not considered a 'gamey' fish." Of its big brother (the largest on record weighs 735 pounds), commonly called the "jewfish," a modification of "jaw" similar to that in "jew's-harp," Allyn writes, "They immediately sulk when hooked and use all their energy in pulling straight down."

One other observation about the grouper is worthy of note: "They have bladders that are adjusted to depths they inhabit and when hauled in these bladders often expand and burst." Did Bishop know of this when she drew attention to "the pink swim-bladder/like a big peony"(II. 32-33)? If so, those lines, and indeed the whole poem, acquire a special significance - the marriage of beauty and death. This, like the blending of the beautiful with the ugly, is implicit at various times in the poem. Death is at the edges of Bishop's poem if only because the speaker has the power of life and death over the fish. Her portrait of the entrails, after all, is probably based upon actual fish-cleaning experience. (I am assuming a female persona in the poem, though nothing in the poem demands it. As a rule I think the speaker's sex should be identified with that of the poet, unless there are grounds to think otherwise.) As Wallace Stevens wrote in a quite different context, "Death is the mother of beauty." I take it that Stevens's provocative phrase means that beauty is definable at least partly in terms of its evanescence. Such beauty as Bishop's fish possesses is certainly waning.

-From "Some Observations on Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘The Fish’" by Ronald E. McFarland. Arizona Quarterly 38:4 (Winter 1982)


"The Fish" [NS], Bishop's most frequently anthologized poem, relies upon a Wordsworthian spiritual exercise to justify a rowboat transformation from plunderer to benefactor. The collapse of distinctions between land and sea, the air and earth of the speaker, obscures the borders between life and art. Bishop perceives the fish in land-language of "feathers" and "peonies" and "tinfoil" and "isinglass." Even as she works those changes, however, the fish works reciprocal wonders of its own. Passive resistance deprives the fishing poet of her triumph: "He didn't fight. / He hadn't fought at all." She soon understands that her knowledge of the fish is inaccurate.

Evidence of past encounters—"two heavier lines, / and a fine black thread / still crimped from the strain and snap / when it broke and he got away"—tells of a different fish. Earlier seen as "battered and venerable / and homely" (the line-break softening the accuracy of description), the fish now assumes the mock-role of tribal elder and hero:

Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.

Deprived of the fight, the poet must contemplate her position as the harbinger of death. The "little rented boat" marks a closed world wherein the speaker represents the moral force of her species. Taken by the incongruity and insignificance of the colloquy, the reader is swept from the sensuous into the psychological, then moved beyond earthly particulars to a spiritual whole:

[lines 65-76]

As in the Christian parable, the oil upon the waters brings peace. It also engenders communication with the otherworldly. Through a rare Wordsworthian "spot of time," a genuine epiphany, the poet admits, somewhat reluctantly, a momentary conventional wisdom. This leap from perception to wisdom signals the arbitrariness so characteristic of the epiphany.

Though "The Fish" is certainly central to her canon, Bishop's boredom and dissatisfaction with the poem suggests a fear that the poem settles into sentiment instead of expanding into true wisdom.

-from Elizabeth Bishop: The Restraints of Language by C. K. Doreski. Copyright © 1993 by Oxford UP


Perhaps nowhere else in Bishop's poetry is the eye's journey so celebrated as in her much anthologized poem "The Fish," The journey begins with the external, in the realm of the unseeing self, with the prosaic opening lines:

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.

The first word, "I," a pun on the self and the self that sees, preludes the opening--and flowering--of our eyes and our language. The direct and graphic description of a situation remains a moment when we look but are not yet actively and imaginatively engaged. We are external and separate since we have no connection with the other.

While Bishop examines the fish, she also begins to enter the body of figurative language:

his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.

The simile creates depth: we enter the house of language, where things stand behind things and each is dependent on the others--for they are linked by the trope's marker "like." By repeating the wallpaper simile, the apparent domesticity of the narrator is revealed and there is a convergence of two distinctly different worlds. Implicit in this convergence is a revelation of decay and mutability through the lucidity of her observation of the fish's patterned and peeling skin.

After continuing the examination of the exterior of the fish with an increasing degree of metaphor and precision--barnacles are "fine rosettes of lime," the fish is clothed with "rags"--the poet is rhetorically self-defined and imaginatively penetrates the fish:

I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers, [. . .]
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.

The power of observation and looking resides in and rises with the power of imagining. We move closer to the certainty we believe lies in the tactility of physical presence--be it fish or rhetoric. At each of these liminal moments transformation takes place, since we cross the abyss between the two halves of a metaphor or simile.

The movement into the fish also initiates self-interrogation. Through the use of self-reflexive tropes, the narrator crosses the threshold of exteriority--where objects remain either marginalized or idealized discretes--into a realm where objects are interrelated not only among themselves but with us. The narrator stares into the fish's eyes, only to have the fish "not / ... return my stare" and deny any anthropomorphic pathos and sympathy. Self-reflexivity at this moment becomes transparent: the narrator acknowledges her own regard, seeing herself in relation with the other as two beings, rather than a subject distanced from (and desiring appropriation of) an object. The aside that qualifies the event--"It was more like the tipping / of an object toward the light"--qualifies the perception and makes presence more provisional. The fish mediates between the narrator and a language with which she can picture herself. The description of the wallpaper, the flower imagery, and the metaphors of ornament and clothing comprise a taxonomy that composes the speaker and creates the mystery of the speaker's presence. She is both present in these details and absent, in that the details are metaphors whose other term is left unstated. Figurative language becomes the common and defining ground that both the fish and the speaker, in their mutual mysteriousness, share.

The narrator implicitly acknowledges the limitations of language through the use of such asides as "if you could call it a lip." In using language, we impose it upon the world either to bring the world and ourselves into renewed relation or to subject the world to discipline, thus imprisoning the world and refiguring language as disciplinary. Yet figurative language also subverts the subjective and repressive qualities of language. To realize this double bind becomes a form of transcendence, though not the hierarchical transcendence of unicity. Transcendence here is the process of the dialectical movement of figurative language. The sharpening of observation, exemplified by the correction of "five old pieces of fish-line" to "or four and a wire leader / with the swivel still attached," reflects the process of reifying the self, the other, and language. Speculation is transformative and interminable, as exemplified when the fishing equipment becomes medals of valor "with their ribbons / frayed and wavering," before they are transformed again into "a five-haired beard of wisdom / trailing from his aching jaw." The fish can never be defined or gazed upon as a totality--any definition of any particular is exchanged for another. The generation of metaphors, one displacing another, grants language its continuation and life; thus, the narrator is caught in an interminable process of focusing her vision--but at some point the vision can no longer be sustained; instead it must be relinquished.

Bishop's imperative in "The Monument" ("Watch it closely") echoes "The Fish" ("I stared and stared") and describes this potentially interminable movement of perception, which is tantamount to the poem. During the process of increasing attentiveness, the speaker glimpses a provisional fullness:

I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
[. . . ] until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

The fish fills with language until it can hold no more. It is at this moment that the generation of language can go no farther. The fish must be discarded and replaced. The self has also reached its own limits of creation and definition. Artifice, if it is to remain coherent, finds itself limited. Still unanswered is whether nature is equally limited, or if it is that which remains limiting and unapprehendable. The rainbow of oil leaking onto the water's surface replaces the fish and allows discursive connections to continue. This dispensation, however, is ironic: it takes place in a grubby rented boat, where the language wears out, indicated by the repetition of "rusted" in two successive lines. The "victory" is the rainbow of a thin film of oil spreading across the bilge waters, overrunning the "pool of bilge," to spread over everything. Similarly, the rainbow draws together the multitude of colors found throughout the poem, which parallels a rainbow's concordance of the undistorted visible colors of the spectrum. The rainbow spreads over the boat and over language "until everything / was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!" Though it is tempting to read the final lines as an ecstatic moment that marks the narrator's full recognition of the fish and interconnectedness, such a reading remains naive, for the poem has come to describe the generative and metonymical functions of language. Jerome Mazzaro considers these final lines a parody of "God's restoration of dominion to Noah" in which Bishop's wry evolutionist stance suggests that humans' dominion is only by accident and technology. Although the rainbow reflects a new dispensation, it is one that inscribes, as Mazzaro argues, departure and uncertainty. The simple rhyme of "rainbow" and "go" underscores the provisionality of any interconnection, since it recalls the passage and loss of childhood. We must let go any notion of totality or synthesis, either rhetorical or existential. Instead, the materiality of language and time comes to be emphasized; the poem lets go of the symbolic, and reinvents the relational. The poem moves toward transcendent closure with "rainbow, rainbow, rainbow," but opens up and initiates a new, though unfigured, process that subverts closure and death: "And I let the fish go."

-From The Still Performance: Writing, Self, and Interconnection in Five Postmodern American Poets by James McCorkle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Copyright © 1989 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.

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November 10, 2004

Since the title Bounce was already taken...

They'll probably just call it Baywatch: The Movie.

(Registration required)

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November 09, 2004

Let's make it hot: a political entry at Popping Culture

It is becoming clear to me that the winner of an election isn't necessarily the one who has the best policies, cares more about the country or even has the love of the majority. My own political leanings aside, the race for the White House has become more than JUST a popularity contest - it's a battle over who owns the important images.

Campaigns these days are slicker. Political commercials are set up as a series of images designed to portray those discussed in certain lights. You can watch political commercials without the sound and still come away with a visceral, emotional reaction. The debates were not about intelligent discussion of issues, but about towing the company line, presenting an attractive face to the party and twisting the questions to fit pre-memorized talking points.

This article from religion online touches on just that: who owns the images?

The obvious truth is that the Right used religious imagery in powerful and subtle (as well as not-so-subtle ways) to great effect in this election, casting angels versus demons, when really both sides contain multitudes who love America. However, the writer, who is director of graduate studies and professor of art history at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, makes important claims on both sides, and to the TV culture as a whole.

Key teaser quote: From soap operas to news to sports, commercial telecasting performs a fundamentally sacramental function: it mediates and legitimates a belief in the American way of life.

Read this article and discuss.

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Now, I'M the one in a Huff!


Huff, new from Showtime, premiered on Sunday night. The trailer teasers leading up to the premiere were just outstanding, and the show looks edgy, funny and interesting.

The show itself seems to focus on a mental health professional (Hank Azaria as Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt) whose life takes a turn when a patient commits suicide during a session. He comes to realize how he has been "mailing in" his own life and that even though he sees himself as an "eternal caretaker," he can't save everyone. The strength of the show, like Seinfeld, seems to be in the ensemble cast, replete with an alcoholic best friend (the wonderful Oliver Platt) and a catty, possessive mother (Blythe Danner - always a winner) to annoy the wife (Paget Brewster).

There is also a "Homeless Hungarian" character described this way on the show's official site:

The Homeless Hungarian (JACK LAUFER) is a homeless man who Huff encounters. He always asks Huff for help, but not necessarily with a handout. He appears and disappears quickly, and Huff is not really sure if this guy exists in the real world.

Another strength will be the string of celebs making appearances. This week has Lara Flynn Boyle as a patient.

I haven't seen it yet (I'm out of town), but it's on tape, so no spoilage, please. Still, it looks like it might be worth the effort.

Hank Azaria always does a fine job and I'm glad to see him move out of the shadows of the Flaming Moe.

Did anyone see the premiere? Any immediate reactions?

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November 08, 2004

This just in from Popping Culture's "Trials and Tribulations of Multi-millionaires" desk

When Movie Stars Attack!

Key quote: Belushi says the actions of the actress who played Catwoman in the 1960s television series "Batman" caused emotional distress and harmed his reputation and career.

Nope. Nothing funny about this.

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Glad that's over.

Ara's site is back on the list. Seems everyone, including your loving host, is still a bit jumpy after the frustrating, divisive election process. The next one looks to be worse and should last four years. Something to look forward to.

Give Ara a hug and keep an eye on him! I really would like to see an in-depth analysis of the "slave-owning states" comparison he made, presented in a non-partisan manner.

I wish myself luck.

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November 07, 2004

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer movie officially in production! Set for release next year with the ENTIRE cast!

Nah, not really. Just thought I'd mess with Joel's head.

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Eye Candy, photography


by Arthur Fellig Weegee
Their First Murder

Weegee (Arthur Fellig), American (Born Poland), 1899-1968

Weegee, who was born in Poland in 1899, immigrated to New York City in 1909, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. At the age of fourteen, he left school to support his family by working at a number of odd jobs. As a young boy he became interested in photography and worked as a street photographer for several years, later joining Acme Newspaper as a darkroom technician. This job developing film is what led Weegee to becoming a news photographer. In the 1930's he obtained his first Speed Graphic, a 4 x 5 black and white, hand-held camera with a number five flashbulb, which he used for the rest of his career. As a freelance photographer, he set up a post at the Manhattan Police Headquarters and used an officially authorized police radio in his car to arrive at news-making scenes or catastrophes before his competitors. Weegee contributed to several newspapers and magazines, including P.M., Vogue, Holiday, Life, Look, and Fortune. He also created three short films and was the subject of two; Lou Stoumen's "The Naked Eye", named after one of Weegee's books, made the photographer a celebrity..

Weegee was the epitome of a brash, cigar-chewing, wisecracking news photographer. With his stark, graphic style, he specialized in documenting, the dark side of New York City life: the violence, crime, murder,robbery, and fires that occurred in the city each day. However, Weegee also photographed more benign scenes of children playing, celebrities and their fans, and everyday life of New York City inhabitants. His spontaneous, witty, and meaningful work went beyond that of a news photographer. He once said that he wished to show that ten and a half million people lived together in a state of total loneliness.

Biographical info from here.

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But.. but.. with the election over, what will become of P. Diddy?

Don't worry, kids. Diddy's still kicking it electoral style.

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One Last Link

E Pluribus Unum, run until recently by a civil Ara Rubyan, has suddenly come to resemble the Civil War instead.

I have removed Ara's web log from my list of links following this post, which equates me and others like me with slaveowners. It is horribly offensive and I merely provide this post to explain his deletion from the list in the right sidebar.

We now return you to breaking news from the world of Britney Spears' marriage, or whatever.

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November 06, 2004

The music on my new CD sounds corny.

What? You have a better pun?

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Brain Candy, expanded

A Faery Song
by William Butler Yeats

(Sung by the people of Faery over Diarmuid and Grania, in their bridal sleep under a Cromlech.)

WE who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love;
And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then:
Us who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told.

William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin on June 13, 1865. He was educated in London and Dublin. After completing high school he decided he wanted to be an artist and poet and began attending art school. He left not too long after because he decided to concentrate on his poetry.

Yeats was interested in many kinds of folklore and mythology, and in his early works he often wrote on pagan and Irish themes. On a visit in Ireland, he met Maud Gonne, and actress and Irish nationalist for whom he suffered an unrequited love. However, she inspired much of his early works and because of her he became interested in the Irish movement for independence. In 1922 he became a Senator of the Irish Free State.

It is generally considered that as Yeats grew older his poetry become more refined and perfected, and his later works are acknowledged to be his best. In 1923, Yeats won the Nobel Prize. He died in France in 1939 and was buried in Ireland.

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November 05, 2004

Not so much eye candy.


Want one of your own?

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I dare you not to laugh at this.

I defy you.

I double.. nay, triple dog dare you to sit through this video of a new blender that seemingly responds to voice activation and NOT laugh.

Also, if, say, Catherine Zeta Jones played the housewife, it would simultaneously be hilarious and uncomfortably erotic.


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November 04, 2004

If you can count on the Brits for just one thing...

...it's fair and balanced journalism.


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I've read some bad reviews in my life...

...but usually not this harsh.

And usually not about a newly published editor's guide. Fun!

Key Quotes:

Now I’ve a few dear friends who are fairly straight-laced. I’m certain they would be disgusted by this book, finding it not just vulgar, but lewd.

Most astonishing of all are the Bias Persons’ rules governing references to madness.

The Bias Persons’ attitude toward the disabled is nearly as patronizing as their regard for Native Americans.

There may be a need for an intelligent guide through the sex / race / ethnicity / disability / etc. minefields of current English usage. Unfortunately, it’s not Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing

Ouch. Read it and weep.

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Art News!

You were just a little late on this bit of discount art.

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November 03, 2004

Eye Candy


The Love Letter by Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
Date: 1667-68
Medium: Oil on canvas, 44 x 38.5 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Signature: Signed on the wall, to the left of the servant.
Provenance: The identification with no. 7 of the Amsterdam sale, 1696, can apply to this painting as well as to the Lady with a Maidservant Holding a Letter (Frick Collection, New York). Collection Pieter van Lennep, and his wife, Margaretha Cornelis Kops, then their daughter Margaretha Catharina van Lennep, and her husband, Jan Messchert van Vollenhoven. His sale, Amsterdam, 1892. In the museum since 1893.

In this painting, the use of the inverted Galilean telescope is apparent without doubt. We look at the principal scene through a doorway. The foreground is enhanced, dark, and lacks precision in the map on the left wall.

The identical map recurs distinctly rendered in the Officer with a Laughing Girl (Frick Collection, New York). The other objects nearest the viewer are also muted and almost blurred. On the other hand, the mistress and her maid, as well as the room in which they are placed, are well defined in spite of their recession into space.

The composition is attractive and treated in a decorative manner, although the two figures are devoid of individualization and resemble puppets rather than persons. Part of this shallowness may be due to damage from the theft and subsequent holding for ransom of the painting, which occurred at an exhibition in Brussels in 1971. The picture suffered much more than was later admitted, and no restorer, however skilful, can equal Vermeer.

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Democrat or Republican, I think we can ALL agree...

The best thing to come out of this election?

Maybe now Ben Affleck will have to produce a partially decent film in order to stay popular.

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While we wait for them to finish counting my vote here in Ohio...

...why not review how well my fantasy football team, Two Minute Warning, is doing at the halfway point of the season?

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November 02, 2004

Nyah, nyah

It's Election Day and my vote is more important than yours, because I live in Ohio.

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November 01, 2004

Pop Culture Update

1 - Television stations across America brace for their most recent election night fiascos. Anyone who sneezes anything that sounds like "Bush takes Hawaii" will spark a multi-network rush-to-be-first binge of state declarations. My understanding is that Dan Rather has already called Pennsylvania for Kerry.

2 - You call him "Senior Citizen Jones," Lady! The Raiders of the Lost Ark trilogy will soon have, um, a fourth movie, making it the longest trilogy in history! A writer for the new flick has been tapped by the big names at the top.

3 - A winner has been named in the multi-month Culture Mavens contest and a new contest has begun! See entry below!

4 - Been dying to write that Great American Novel, but never found motivation? Well, what more could you want: it's National Novel Writing Month. So get off your butt and fire up the processor! Anyone who publishes a new novel from a major publishing house gets, like, 12 points or something.

5 - Finally, to kick off the first eye candy of the new contest period, we have the classic Mona Lisa, along with this link to a fantastic article from the Guardian detailing the airline baggage claim-like lines to see Mona, along with why we put ourselves through all the grief for the 15-second glimpse of the gal this article calls "one of the ugliest women in the world." It really is cultural and insightful and worth a few minutes of your time.


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Contest Results and an Overall Winner!!

Well, clearly Nathan wins the Halloween Contest with The Evil Dead Trilogy. High camp, that. 100 points to Nathan, who has the honor of being the last to score points in the first Popping Culture contest ever.

Now then, to the overall finale.

You will notice the points list in the sidebar has been reset! We are embarking on a new, culture-filled contest with no end in sight!

Here are your final standings for nearly half-a-year of competitive jokesterism and liturature commentary:

Popping Culture's Culture Mavens Contest The First
Final Results

Folkbum - 1048.50 points
Joel Caris - 938.50 points
Mr. E. Poet - 635 points
Ralph - 485 points
Stacie - 285 points
Alex D. - 170 points
Jheka - 155 points
Dean Esmay - 150 points
Nathan - 125 points
The Chairman - 100 points
Rosemary's Baby - 85 points
Carolyn - 60 points
Thief - 50 points
Sputnik - 40 points
Chris in NH - 30 points
Weepboy - 30 points

All Hail Folkbum! It was a long, hardly-fought battle but somehow Folkbum came out on top! Probably cheated!

Still, everyone give him congratulations and remind him to send me an address in email for his Barnes and Noble gift certificate!

New contest is likely to start ANY TIME, but again, there is no end currently in sight.

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