Downton Abbey

Yes, I’m a Downton Abbey fan.  Of course I am.  I also liked Upstairs Downstairs, which pioneered the British period piece about early 20th century aristocrats and their servants.  This season’s finale of Downton is this week.  (Why do British series have such short seasons?  Another of my favorites, Sherlock, had just three episodes!) [Read more...]

Ugliness and Civilization

Have you noticed how ugly most of our communities are, all the strip malls, concrete boxes, offices, and even churches, void of aesthetic touches?  There is certainly “art,” but it tends to be walled away in museums, rather than being part of a living community (as many of the pieces in museums once were).  Have you noticed that this is a relatively new phenomenon?  In the cover story for the latest National Review, Michael Knox Beran writes about why that is and what the decline of beauty and the rise of ugliness tell us about our civilization. [Read more...]

The good wine

I was struck by something in the Epiphany scripture reading a few Sundays ago, about Christ’s first miracle, turning the water into wine.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroomand said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:9-10).

So there is “poor wine” and “good wine,” a difference in quality.  (Also we see that those to imbibe “freely” become less able to tell the difference.)  [Read more...]

An actor’s death by heroin

On Monday, a complete stranger came up to me and said, “Hey, you know who you look like?”

“No,” I said.

“That actor who just died.  What was his name?”

“Philip Seymour Hoffman.”

It never occurred to me that we looked like each other, but maybe we did.  I have been lamenting his death–not because now he can’t play me in the movie of my life, but because I have long been so impressed with his work and it’s such a waste that he died because of his taste for heroin. [Read more...]

The real Osage County

I grew up in northern Oklahoma, so I’ve been noting with bemusement how Osage County all of a sudden has a presence in popular culture.  First there was Ree Drummond, a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, whose show on the Food Network has introduced foodies to the cuisine I grew up with and whose blog about her life on the vast Drummond Ranch has introduced a wide audience to Oklahoma culture.  Then native Oklahoman Tracy Letts won a Pulitzer Prize for his play August:  Osage County, which was then turned into a movie featuring a whole army of A-list actors, such as Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, and (of course, since he’s seemingly been in every other movie this year) Benedict Cumberbatch. The film was shot on location, so all of these Hollywood superstars lived for two months in a condo complex in Bartlesville and shot the movie in a house in Boulanger, with scenes in Pawhuska and Barnsdall.  So I had to see this movie. [Read more...]

Lawsuit over the Statue of Liberty

You know the  “forever” stamp with a closeup of the face of the Statue of Liberty?  A few years ago, there was a bit of controversy when it was discovered that the image on the stamp is not of the Lady Liberty who presides over the harbor at New York City.  Rather, it is a copy of the cheesy fake statue at the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas!

That’s bad enough.  But now the sculptor is suing the US Postal Service for copyright infringement and may be entitled to royalties for every stamp sold (which comes to 4 billion).  In his lawsuit, the artist, Robert S. Davidson, claims that he “brought a new face to the iconic statue — a face which audiences found appeared more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and ‘even sexier’ than the original.”  Maybe Mr. Davidson should pay a royalty for plagiarizing–if not vandalizing–the national monument!  Read about the case and compare the images after the jump. [Read more...]


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