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Lance: I've been holding my hand away from the keyboard like Dr. Strangelove since Sunday, but the Whovian in me can no longer resist: Would Gandalf trust Radagast more if he knew it was Sylvester McCoy, not Barry Humphries? Happy new year!
As for the reverse question -- what to call the cabbie: Some twenty years ago I was at a professional convention in Chicago. It was raining, and I caught a cab from the Shedd Aquarium back to the convention hotel. After a couple of blocks, it was clear that this cabbie had his own cosmology: There was that certain number of cubic feet inside the cab occupied by him and his passenger, and there was the rest of the universe, which could get bent if it got between his passenger and the destination. He wasn't crazy; I never once feared for my safety; I just feared for the rest of creation if it got on his bad side in the next fifteen blocks. By the time he dropped me off, I thought that being a Chicago cabbie was the greatest job in the world. If I'd called him anything, I'd've called him "O Captain, My Captain."
Toggle Commented May 8, 2013 on Don’t call me Sir, pal! at Lance Mannion
I'm afraid I haven't been very fair to 'Elementary.' From the beginning -- from before the beginning -- it had the unmistakable whiff to me of American TV hastily grinding out an inferior version of something that caught on like gangbusters in the UK a year or two before. [I'll let you nominate your own members of *that* list. Hint: Since Norman Lear got out of the business, they often last only about a season over here, so look sharp.] Your post has clarified why I got that feeling. I can easily imagine a US studio exec with a drawer full of stockpiled scripts from the failed pilots of the nth new version of Psych, Monk, etc., flipping on BBC America overnight and thinking "Eureka!"
I stand proudly as one of those who has benefited by your good works. I started, on your advice, with Interesting Times, which just swept me up in the giggles, and then The Last Hero, which I probably would have enjoyed even more if I'd read it first, rather than having the bar set high by IT. But, lover of choice opening sentences that I am, this is the one that hooked me, reeled me in, and boated me: "Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it." What's not to love?
Have to say, I'm looking forward to seeing this bit of The Summer of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. [Nice of him to share.] May get there tomorrow, in fact. Thanks for the nudge!
I can't help noticing that Mike's *talking about* handing it over, like the keys to the car, but he hasn't *done it* yet. Still, I agree that it's happening, and as you say, it has to, by several different kinds of logic. There'll probably even be an arc, some years down the road, one hopes, when [like Mike with his mom, who was spry in the 1970s] Alex will have to deal with Mike's dotage and . . . I can't make myself say it. But, really, I'm good with that. Meanwhile, I'm going to go read "Blondie" to see what Dagwood's up to.
Toggle Commented Jul 31, 2012 on Doonesbury reboots at Lance Mannion
Haven't been yet, but it's on my must-see list. I've even admitted this to a few people. I'm particularly rooting for Will Sasso, whose work I've always liked. Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!
I would never hold that against Brad DeLong.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2012 on 21 Jump Street at Lance Mannion
It gets worse. The sequel has already been green-lighted [green-lit?]: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/blogs/popcornbiz/21-Jump-Street-Sequel-Already-in-the-Works-143311896.html I heard this the day *before* the movie was released, but today's the first day I've seen it in print, suggesting last week's news was simply the studio's official pump-priming rumor. Quote that says it all: "The biggest question mark will likely be directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who are currently working on the Lego movie, and will no doubt be flooded by offers as "Jump Street" continues to rake in cash." The Lego movie. Really? bn
Toggle Commented Mar 19, 2012 on 21 Jump Street at Lance Mannion
Lance: Darndest thing. I'm going to have to bumble through a few words at the memorial service for an old and dear friend next weekend, and I feel woefully not up to the job. All I can think about is the Tralfamadorians. I expect to be in a large room full of people who won't really expect to hear he's just fine in all those other moments, although that's how it feels for me. Cross your fingers for all of us. [Here's how it will look if it goes dreadfully wrong: http://goo.gl/BYcF2 ] bn
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2012 on So it goes at Lance Mannion
I scored 11. I could have tied Lance's 12 but, after wrestling with the question for a bit, I decided that wearing full academic regalia three times a year at commencement when I was a department chair did not count as "having a job where I had to wear a uniform." But I was so close!
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2012 on Bubble at Lance Mannion
Hi, Lance -- I'm still trying to get a second viewing of TTSS before I write my response, but I did want to give you a thumbs-up on this: “what little real romance there was seemed always to come at the expense of someone outside the affair, when betrayal itself was romantic.” This is a long-standing Le Carre maxim: Love is whatever you haven't betrayed -- yet. It first starts appearing pretty explicitly in the Karla trilogy [although you could argue it's there implicitly in Call from the Dead and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (another story that would stand up to a good re-make); I suspect I'll have to do some reading to document it], and it continues Russia House, the last of his cold-war novels. That bleak premise is always on the mind of the Smiley of the novel and the BBC series. Same, arguably, with Gerald the Mole. But, as you say, that motive is cleanly stripped away from Oldman's Smiley. [And from the mole.] bn p.s. Thanks for the first plausible-sounding explanation for the eyeglasses scene too, which so far I've considered fascinating but inexplicable.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2012 on Tinker…tailor…soldier… at Lance Mannion
I think they should have renamed the club from "Lost Dimension" to "Significant Glance." Kudos to the costumers for this ep; not everyone knows that Buffalo Springfield had a contractual clause that required waiters to wear starched white shirt and black bowtie.
LM readers who'd like to have a crack at the original version of "The Final Problem" can download it for free in HTML, Kindle format, and a long list of other formats [it's the last story in the collection], via Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/834 I'm a huge Jeremy Brett fan, but there is something to be said for reading the genuine article.
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2011 on The Final Problem at Lance Mannion
Never mind the flash mob; where are Luthor, Otis, and Miss Tessmacher? Sigh. Have a good junket.
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2011 on Where’s the flash mob? at Lance Mannion
Marshall Grant, the Tennessee Two[/Three]'s bass player -- with Cash from circa 1954 through 1980 -- passed away last weekend at age 83. That's him on the left in the video thumbnail.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2011 on “Love is a burning thing…” at Lance Mannion
>[...]the GOP-Ryan plan to balance the >budget by breaking the back of the >middle class doesn’t touch Medicare >for ten years and then the changes only >affect the newest cohort of sixty-five >year olds! >If you’re on Medicare now, if you’re >going to need it within the next nine >years, you’re fine. Hm. Lance, how big a percentage of voters [likely or unlikely] would you figure are sufficiently high-information to get this distinction? I'm not convinced this is primarily a bid for the ten-years-or-less cohort; in fact, I'd be slightly relieved to think that voters recognized and pursued their economic interests this directly, however short-sightedly. If it snags some GOP votes from that direction, I'm sure they'll think that's fine; but mainly I think it's a tacit recognition that many -- most? -- voters don't vote their wallets anymore, just the state of their glands. Al Swearengen called them the hoople. I'm in a cranky mood today.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2011 on The meanest angels of our nature at Lance Mannion
I'm definitely looking forward to this. Interesting casting choice [against type?] for Smiley. It's almost impossible to think of Smiley now without thinking of Guinness, but as a physical type, I thought Denholm Elliot [BBC - A Murder of Quality] was a better fit: LeCarre [and Smiley's wife, Lady Ann] described Smiley as looking like a toad. Frequent mention was made of his expensive, ill-fitting suits, which made him look like a bookie. By the end of the Smiley novels, though, I think even LeCarre couldn't picture anyone but Guinness [for whom I gather he had great fondness, plus much to be grateful], and the metaphorical descriptions of Smiley changed from toad-like to owlish -- although the word "tubby" tends to appear from first to last. [And, just to be a fussbudget, there's also the Rupert Davies version of Smiley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWXRPlZ0iJM&feature=related] In some ways, though, I could even shake off Guinness as Smiley faster than I can shake off the regal Sian Phillips as Ann.
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2011 on Tinker, Tailor… at Lance Mannion
First, OMG I miss Genny Cream Ale. That stuff's wonderful. Second, I also find myself wondering sometimes how my particular grocery selections might strike a check-out clerk who's watched too many TV shows about criminal profilers. Once I had parrot chow, milk, green onions, and potatoes. I nodded at the items and said to the clerk, "New casserole recipe." The stony look I got made wish I'd kept quiet.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2011 on Simple pleasures at Lance Mannion
Sometimes, as the evening wears on, a friend and I bemoan the current crop of box office quasi-stellar objects, and more than once we've gotten to the moment when we grouse that, if 'The Great Escape' were made today, the average age of the actors would likely be about 26. Aston Kutcher would be brought in for the Attenborough part to give the film its gravitas. [In fairness, McCallum was pretty young when he was in TGE. And note that James Garner was in it, too.] On the other hand, this list from Lance's post gave the first glimmer of hope I've had on the topic: >George Clooney, Liam Neeson, >Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, >Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, >Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and >Nicolas Cage Yeah, I'd go see that remake.
Toggle Commented May 17, 2011 on Bogie Men at Lance Mannion
I'm not sure weakness is really the best description of what's Spade's showing when he tells Brigid he's handing her to the cops. There's some revulsion there [in the novel, and Bogart catches it], but it's not self-loathing. [Okay, maybe it is: "I'll have some rough nights, but they'll pass," is pretty self-deprecating, but the first half of the "you're taking the fall" is full of very dark, ironic one-liners. I don't think it reads like genuine self-loathing, though.] I keep coming back to Hammett's description of Spade: "Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not — or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague — want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client." I think Spade's final speech really is about the importance of the "getting the best of anybody he comes in contact with" motive. Spade knows exactly what he's doing, and he knows it always comes with a trade-off: Sometimes it scares him so much his hand shakes, sometimes it means almost getting hauled in when he goads a cop into slugging him [and it kills him when he can't even that score, even though he knows it would be stupid]. It even means that Cairo can't search his office while holding him at gunpoint until he says it's okay. Perverse, but always with a clear way to tell when he's winning. When the final speech moves to the "on one side of the ledger" part, that's Spade keeping score. In the end, he figures he's "won," by the only scoring system he's willing to follow. Usually, though, winning is more fun than this. The last line of the novel captures the same thing: Archer's widow returns to the office, probably to hound him about marriage again. He tells Effie [who's barely speaking to him, but he knows he can smooth it over later, as he did a few chapters earlier], "Send her in." But he shudders as he says the words. I love that shudder. He'll get the best of Archer's widow -- again -- but it doesn't mean it'll be pleasant.
Toggle Commented May 17, 2011 on Bogie Men at Lance Mannion
"We are biologically hardwired to believe, Shermer says. Not in anything particular, in anything." Reminds me of a Douglas Adams bit from one of the Dirk Gently stories: A civilization that invented videorecorders to watch all the things they didn't have time to watch, and answering machines to listen to all the phone calls they didn't have time to take, finally invented the Electric Monk, whose function was to believe all the [increasingly ridiculous] things they were expected to believe.
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Feb 8, 2010