Around and about

August 26, 2010

Here are a few things that have caught my attention of late, but which I haven’t time to write about at any great length:

  • Did you know that the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki produced an illustrated version of Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill?
  • Speaking of Chesterton, Ignatius Press has just issued the third (and final?) volume of his poetry in their monumental and indispensable Collected Works. This would make a nice Christmas gift for yours truly.
  • Sufjan Stevens, whose album Illinoise took top spot in my retrospective Best of the 2000s a while back, released a new EP, All Delighted People, earlier this week. So far I’ve heard about half, and it is terrific. Though it is being called an EP, it clocks in at just under an hour.
  • Canadian pro-lifers are often perplexed by the public’s complacency about abortion, but a recent poll casts that complacency in a new light: two-thirds of Canadians do not know that Canadian law places no restrictions on abortion. When the current legal vacuum is explained to them, only 27% think it should stay that way. Evidently the first step in changing the status quo has to be education.
  • Josef Pieper has been dead for over ten years, but his books are still making their first appearances in English translations.  A case in point: next week St. Augustine’s Press will issue The Platonic Myths.  In my experience, anything Pieper wrote is worth reading carefully, and I’ve already placed my order.
  • Based on data from the Hawaiian Keck Observatory and the Chilean Very Large Telescope, a group of astrophysicists are claiming evidence that the fine structure constant, which is one of the fundamental constants of physics (related to the strength of the electromagnetic force), varies spatially. Variable “constants” is one of those peculiar possibilities that many speculative theories predict, but which hasn’t had any experimental support to date. This might go away too once more people take a hard look at the data, but it’s an interesting claim in the meantime.
  • Looking for the Office of Mayhem Evaluation? It’s somewhere in Asia. (Hat-tip: Light on Dark Water)
  • The National Post has run a pair of features on the “most overrated” and “most underrated” Canadian writers. Predictably, I haven’t heard of any of the allegedly underrated ones, but the article on overrated writers hits most of the big names and is hilariously over-the-top. As good as our Canadian novelists are (and there are some fine ones), our literati do tend to heap accolades on a certain kind of poetic pretentiousness, and it is funny to see that pretentiousness skewered, even if a tad too exuberantly. Poor Michael Ondaatje.
  • Since watching all five seasons of The Wire a few years ago, I’ve been convinced that nothing is likely to surpass the quality of that show.  Now I hear a few claims that a programme called Breaking Bad bears favourable comparison with The Wire.  Can it be true?  Anybody seen it?
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6 Responses to “Around and about”

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  2. Janet Cupo Says:

    I just listened to Seven Swans. I’ve never heard anything by Stevens before. I thought it was pretty amazing.

    AMDG

  3. cburrell Says:

    ‘Seven Swans’ is probably his folkiest record. Some of the earlier ones are more experimental, and the later ones bring in horns, flutes, drums, and strings to provide some rhythmic punch. You can hear the title track from the new EP here.

  4. Mike Says:

    I just discovered Breaking Bad a couple weeks ago on a friend’s recommendation. It really is a fantastic show, well acted and well written. It’s not for the faint of stomach, though. (And personally I don’t think there’s enough chemistry in it)

  5. cburrell Says:

    Well, The Wire is not for the faint of heart either. Have you seen it? I am wondering how they compare.

    From what I gather, the main character in Breaking Bad is something of a chemist-MacGyver? Richard Dean Anderson with a beaker. Very cool.


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