Saturday, June 22, 2013


I revisited the 1983 James Bond film "Never Say Never Again" this weekend only because I just learned that its theme song is sung by Lani Hall. She was in Brasil '66, which was of course the greatest thing ever.

Man of the people

Speaking of Dick Cavett, let me tell you about the most awesome thing I ever heard anyone say in Wisconsin. I was waiting in line for Cavett's appearance at Ten Chimneys, and a woman near me wore an annoyed expression as she looked around and said, "I thought this was for Yale alumni only."

The walkover

Questlove and Ben Greenman write about musical cues on the Jimmy Fallon show:
The walkover, or walk-on, for those who don’t speak backstage, is the song that the band plays as a guest comes out from behind the curtain and walks over to the host’s desk. Once upon a time, maybe, it was straightforward, a little musical cue or song associated with the artist. But then came Paul Shaffer’s work on “Letterman,” and the walkover became its own little art form — an obscure musical reference that the audience (and sometimes even the guest) had to decode.
FYI, before Shaffer and Letterman in the 1980s, Bobby Rosengarden was doing this sort of thing as Dick Cavett's bandleader in the 1960s and 1970s:
On the Cavett show, he would accompany a seemingly endless of entertainers and banter with Mr. Cavett, and he became known for signaling “walk on” themes for each guest. When a guest who was a sex therapist was introduced, the band played “I Can’t Get Started”; the artist Salvador Dali was greeted with “Hello, Dolly.”
"The Dick Cavett Show" never gets enough credit.

Safety first

Per the promotional materials: When you're watching Amazon streaming video on your Wii, it's important that the Wiimote be strapped to your wrist at all times. Because the sight of Jeff Bridges in "True Grit" may make you wave your arms.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Just signed a lease on a house in South Knoxville! And so we are moving to South Knoxville. From West Knoxville.

Way back when

I finally watched the first episode of "Mad Men," and I'm wondering what all the fuss is about. Other period TV shows, excellent ones (e.g. "M*A*S*H"), don't condescend to their subject matter.

The issues we face

If I were an author or actor, I would spend most of my time worrying about whether I should have my left hand on my face in my head shot, or my right hand, or both hands.

True story

Ants got in the peanut butter and it was animated Jif.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Robots and rights

Interesting piece on Slate about robots and souls and the Star Wars universe:
George Lucas doesn’t care about metal people. No other explanation makes sense. In a kid-targeted sci-fi setting that’s notably inclusive, with as many friendly alien characters as villainous ones, the human rights situation for robots is horrifying. They’re imbued with distinctly human traits—including fear—only to be tortured and killed for our amusement. They scream while being branded, and cower before heroes during executions.
The grand authority on robots and ethics is of course Isaac Asimov, who is mentioned in the article, but only in passing. Most apropos is "The Robots of Dawn," Asimov's somewhat boring 1983 novel about the murder of a robot. I just read it. Gotta say, his musings on robot sex are more interesting than the stuff about roboticide.

Then there is "The Measure of the Man," probably the best episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." It's about exactly the issue raised in the Slate article. Do robots have rights? Great stuff.

We'll have to face this one day. Meanwhile, be good to your Roomba.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Today's top story

Phone That Rings Just Like Old Phone Is Actual Old Phone

First things first

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wave theory

Today the Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay discusses waving rituals of runners and cyclists.
On the Internet you can find many message boards devoted to the wave question, an evergreen topic that never really goes away. There are worries that the ritual is eroding; that cycling and running have become polluted with rude wave deniers; that society in general isn't as nice and we're all on a slow road to a hell…in which, presumably, nobody ever waves.
When I'm running, I wave at other runners I encounter unless they do something to irritate me -- say, run to the left of the sidewalk instead of the right. Then I punish them by not waving at them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

At your fingertips

Our trip to Atlanta this weekend marked the first time I extensively used a smartphone for travel tips in an unfamiliar city. Forgive me if I state the obvious, but this technology is miraculous.

We have 90 minutes. What should we do? Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. Want to look at mummies in the Michael C. Carlos Museum on Emory campus? It's five minutes away. Let's go.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not here

Greetings from Atlanta, where Jake Tapper is bigger than all of us.