"To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?" -- C.S. Lewis

Friday, March 25, 2005

The American Office: I rented the BBC's version of The Office once, but it was a busy week, and I only found time for the first episode. I enjoyed it, but as with many British sitcoms, the accents combined with the off-mic audio style required more listening effort than I was in the mood to muster.

And so with that minimal exposure to the original tucked away, I sat for last night's NBC debut of The Office, starring Steve Carell, formerly a master correspondent for The Daily Show. To cut to the chase, I became an immediate fan. Carell is priceless. (The scene in which he enlists a temp as his "accomplice" in a fake firing had me laughing out loud.)

Not everyone will agree with me, of course. Those loyal to the original will predictably begin digging their bunkers. And, as someone who usually maintains biases in favor of originals, I certainly won't get in their way.

With that said, I can't help but take issue with an aspect of Dana Stevens' review in Slate. In her attempt to defend the BBC's Ricky Gervais' performance against Carell's, she writes:

[S]ome characters belong to the actor that created them; stepping into such a role, any other performer is as doomed as a singer covering a Bob Dylan song.

My problem isn't with her point, but with her analogy. I'm almost certain she means to emphasize the futility of covering a Dylan song. Huh? Enter Jimi Hendrix with "All Along The Watchtower," or Manfred Mann with "Quinn the Eskimo." Follow those with The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man." This list can be extended--easily.

Now her analogy becomes absolutely perfect if she means that exact imitation would be impossible. And so, like Hendrix and The Byrds, Carell was forced to reinvent a piece of art in a new but equally delightful form. But her wording and placement of the analogy seems to perform the function of stopping short of full praise for Carell.

An anal quibble, I know. But isn't that what blogs are for?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Criminal Mind: The Smoking Gun has posted a Flash animation created by Jeff Weise, the 16-year-old Minnesota boy whose school shooting rampage is sharing headlines with the Schiavo case. Weise's MSN public profile page is also on display at TSG.

No shortage of warning signs.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

iPod Hi-Fi: There's an interesting iPod "peripheral" that's popped up on the Internet. It's a tube driven amp called an iTube SE15. In fact, the main tubes are as big as the iPod itself. Nice.

I e-mailed the vendor, and the SE15 can be yours for $900. Hmmm... maybe in those days before $3-a-gallon gas, I'd have considered it... ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More Audio: The self-described saloon singer Bobby Short passed away yesterday morning. That label, of course, does little justice to the elegance of his vocal style; nor does it hint at his delicate mastery of the piano. Yesterday NPR's Fresh Air re-broadcast an interview with Mr. Short from a few years ago.

Radio Time Capsule: As I mentioned on March 9, I'm currently preoccupied with a project that has me sifting through 40 years of radio archives searching for audio nuggets. Last week I found a fun contest promo which aired on Dallas' KLIF radio in the early 60's. It captures the spirit of the "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits" crazes rather nicely, I think. For Art Bell-listening, paranormal geeks such as myself, this old radio promo is a jewel. Take a listen!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Biden Democrats: In this New Yorker piece, a segment of the Democratic Party is referred to as "national security Democrats." This faction is led by Joe Biden. I don't think there's any question that, if Democrats are to have any hope at winning the White House in 2008, their candidate will have to come from this group:

Most national-security Democrats believe ... that the Party should be more open to the idea of military action, and even preëmption; and although they did not agree about the timing of the Iraq war and the manner in which Bush launched it, they believe that the stated rationale—Saddam’s brutality and his flouting of United Nations resolutions—was ideologically and morally sound. They say that the absence of weapons of mass destruction was more a failure of intelligence than a matter of outright deception by the Administration; and although they do not share the neoconservatives’ enthusiastic belief in the transformative power of military force, they accept the possibility that the invasion of Iraq might lead to the establishment of democratic institutions there.

The American people remember the pre-war better than Dean Democrats would like. No one--no one in the Democratic Party, and no one in the free world--questioned the existence of the WMD's Saddam had not accounted for. But Deaniacs wish everyone would forget that inconvenient fact. I don't think the American people will. And Democrats will continue to push away potential Democratic voters as long as the Deans, Kennedys and Pelosis of the party insist that Bush lied about WMD's.

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