Sunday, November 29, 2015

St. Crispin's Day

St. Crispin's Day is already a month gone, but it's worth bringing up again, if just to share this video. Dangit if it doesn't make me get all patriotic and choked up and think that this kid is more manly any modern man I know.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why Cave Drawings Prove You're Special

If you want to be sure you're not special, take a college biology class. All allusions of grandeur will be crushed by the power of Science. You evolved just like everyone else, buster. Don't get all high and mighty just because you've got opposable thumbs.

Belief can be explained away as the result of an ancient impersonal process. Our bodies are made up of tiny building blocks, each bearing a label of letters or numbers. Sex is laid out and explained as a mechanical process. It is neither holy nor mysterious (though still rather embarrassing.) Love comes down to chemicals. In the class, our purpose is - as Keats put it - to "Conquer all mysteries by rule and line/ Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine..." to "Unweave a rainbow..."

But even in the rarefied air of college classrooms, common sense cannot be suppressed. Some blustery day last winter my biology teacher displayed a row of pictures on the Powerpoint paralleling  animal fetuses, outlined, glowing pink in the womb. She pointed to the pharyngeal arches (gill slits) and tail on the human fetus, using the similarities to demonstrate a larger truth about common ancestry. The physical similarities between humans and animals were, indeed, marked. Nothing on the glowing screen showed a magical difference between man and beast.

I must have drifted off for a while, because the next thing I knew, she had moved on to cave-men. One mysterious question, she explained, was how European cave drawings featured creatures like rhinoceroses and other non-European animals. Obviously, they could not have seen these things themselves, as travel was just not practical. "My own theory," she said, "is that their ancestors saw these things and passed down the story from generation to generation. They remembered. That's how they knew about it."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans' Day

And said "No chain shall sully thee / Thou soul of love and bravery / Thy songs were writ for the pure and free / they shall never sound in slavery."


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Inspector Lewis - What Lies Tangled - Episode Review

My review of last week's episode.

The final episode of Inspector Lewis begins with long, loving shots of Oxford landmarks (perhaps a bit longer and more loving than usual?), as a woman reads a philosophical passage of The Brothers Karamazov. Drops of quicksilver plink one by one into a petri dish, as slowly, inexorably, time ticks on. Businessman Adam Capstone looks out a window and sips his coffee just It's a shocking and elegant moment as the shrapnel floats away in slow-motion. The slow-mo does two things: draw our attention to the passage of time, and grant the murder just a bit more weight than usual.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Inspector Lewis - Magnum Opus - Review

My review of the previous episode: One For Sorrow

It's not often I'm erudite enough to recognize the names or references that flit through your average Lewis episode, but the instant a character in the opening to Magnum Opus referred to Charles Williams, I jumped out of my seat. In fact, Williams’s name had already sprung to mind when the soon-to-be-dead college don Phil Beskin referred to the Bible's injunction to "bear ye one another's burdens."

Phil Beskin, murdered and laid out in a sinister ritual, loved Williams, fashioning an ideology around the late theologian’s ideas. Williams was a treasure trove when it came to occult belief, and the murder itself seems to have something to do with alchemy (the episode alleges there was no connection between the two, but commenter Grevel Lindop assures me otherwise). Lured into the woods by a text message from a student, Gina Doran, Beskin is killed and covered in leaves and maggots in a wooden hut. As Lewis and Hathaway further investigate the case, it appears that Beskin is the first of four killings, each planned to fulfill the steps of an alchemical process known as the magnum opus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Inspector Lewis - One for Sorrow - Episode Review

 My review of the last season.


The first episode of Inspector Lewis's ninth series, appropriately, begins at an archaeological dig. They're looking for a body in a well, and a body they find, rather newer than expected. This shouldn't really be surprising. After all, this is Oxford! There's a body under every bush.

Lewis, Maddox, and Hobson are quick to the scene, where they banter and wonder where Hathaway's gone on his holidays. Another pilgrimage-not-really-a-pilgrimage? Sort of, but with a goal not religious but familial. He's visiting his father, Philip Hathaway (Nicholas Jones), who lives in a home, struggling with dementia. James, never great with his feelings at the best of times, is completely lost here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

British Detective News - Autumn/Winter 2015/16

Coming soon (Inspector Lewis, Luther, Sherlock, Endeavour, Father Brown):

The start of the year saw the finale of two major series: Foyle’s War and Agatha Christie’s Poirot (and effectively confirmed that Broadchurch might as well be over.)

Inspector Lewis has been lumbering along his merry way for eight series, and many are beginning to suspect the end is nigh. The first episode airs in the U.K. on October 6th, at 9:00 PM, with the subsequent five (there are three episodes, split into two parts) airing each Tuesday thereafter, presumably. No trailer yet, but in my opinion, this is far more fun:

What a privilege and treat to work with each and everyone of the fantastic Lewis crew. With HUGE apologies to John Denver. Thankyou for supporting us. See you on the other side. X
Posted by Laurence Fox on Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My reviews: Season 8 -     
Episode 1 - Entry Wounds     
Episode 2 - Lions of Nemea
Episode 3 - Beyond Good and Evil

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recapping the Debate With an 81-year-old Political Junkie

Yesterday evening, I had a chance to interview an 81-year-old on one of her favorite topics: politics. A mild-mannered, middle-class white Republican widow, she lives quietly in a small town, but loves to observe the excess and drama of political theater. She chose to remain anonymous ("oh, honey, they'll come and lock me up"), but said she wanted to go by the pseudonym Jane Eyre ("no kin to" the other one), and quote her thoughts on each of the candidates who participated in the latest debate. As she was a bit sleepy and distracted, some of the answers may appear a bit more focused than others, but I found the whole thing very entertaining. She has...a unique perspective.