And what have we found? That over the years of domesticating cows and selective breeding, we’ve ended up with a mentally retarded version of the species former selves. GREAT FOR BUSINESS!
Both types of cattle show evidence of natural selection in genes that appear to be involved in making the animals — large, horned and potentially dangerous — docile. In some breeds, specific variants of behavior-related genes are “fixed,” or seen in essentially every animal. Curiously, some of those genes are in regions that in the human genome seem to be involved in autism, brain development and mental retardation.
Great for any fans of the Wire. BONUS: Also great for fans of inner city crime and bureaucratic mess. BONUS BONUS: A fan caught Simon before his appearance with Moyers and took him out to lunch. I like this David Simon character. If you haven’t started the Wire yet, start now. And you can’t stop until you at least finish a season; they start off decidedly slow.
Stephen Anderson makes a great case that good looks in design go more than skin deep:
The more we learn about people, and how our brains process information, the more we learn the truth of that phrase: form and function aren’t separate items. If we believe that style somehow exists independent of functionality, that we can treat aesthetics and function as two separate pieces, then we ignore the evidence that beauty is much more than decoration. Our brains can’t help but agree.
An in-depth look into Wes Anderson’s style and choices through the first few minutes of The Royal Tenenbaums. Some of the analysis is a little manufactured, but most of it is pretty interesting. Make sure to pause often. If you’re an Anderson fan, be sure to check out parts one, two, three, and four.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
I grabbed this because I was particularly interested in Dane Cook’s parallels to Steve’s stand-up career (not really). And I’m a sucker for any tidbits I can find on the Jerk.
A Practical Guide To Racism by C. H. Dalton
The perfect book to keep by your side when you need to inflame the racial hatred that you’ve worked so hard to hide away.
The Way I See It by Raphael Saadiq
Not as innovative as his first release, but still is probably tied for the best album out of the recent Motown revival along with…
JIM by Jamie Lidell
The first guy I know about to do the whole modern Motown sound came out with a close to perfect album. Every track is solid.
Metropolis: The Case Suite by Janelle Monáe
I have a strong feeling after hearing this album that she’s going to be huge, with crossover appeal to a number of audiences. She’s supposed to release another EP in Q1 of ’09.
Bigger Stronger Faster by the Chris Bell
I went into watching this movie against steroids in competition to now not knowing what to think. Might not be as superbly told as Man On Wire for a documentary, but it had more of an impact on me.
Let The Right One In by Tomas Alfredson
I thought about this movie for a couple days after watching it. The two 12-year-olds in this do just as good of a job as most of this years nominees.
The Dark Knight by Christopher Nowlan
A little bit of an obvious choice, but that doesn’t stop it from being hella good.
I recently finished “Born Standing Up“, Steve Martin’s memoir about the beginning of his career. Martin’s “The Jerk” has been my favorite comedy since I was in high-school; but there is a relative a dearth of information about this classic film. So I decided to see what I could dig up. Below is a few random interesting things I could find about “The Jerk”. If you have any more additional interesting information on this film, please post it in the comments and I’ll continue to update this post. I’m dying to find more out about the “nine weeks and five days” scene…
The mansion shown in the film was actually two Beverly Hills mansions. The outside shots were taken at the same mansion (map) that was used in the Godfather and the Bodyguard, and was once owned by William Randolph Hearst. It is currently for sale for “what may be the most expensive residential property listing in the US.” 
The interior shots were filmed just a year after the owner at the time, Sheik Al-Fassi, took over the mansion (map). After moving in, Al-Fassi proceeded to redecorate the mansion in the tasteful ways depicted in the film. He even painted flesh tones and pubic hair on all the Greek statues within the property. In the course of this 3 years owning the property, he adopted over 100 stray cats. The year after the Jerk was filmed, the property was torched by an arsonist, while onlookers reportedly yelled “Burn, burn, burn”. Al-Fassi was rumored to be secretly detained in Riyadh by the Saudi government for years following the Gulf War for airing radio messages in Bagdad in support of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. He passed at the age of 50 in 2003.
The song was performed in the Jerk by Lyle Ritz. Ritz was a studio jazz bassist during the 60′s and 70′s. In ’58 and ’59, he recorded two jazz ukulele albums and then didn’t touch it professionally until the Jerk in ’79. Since then, he didn’t put it down and was recently introduced into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in June of ’07.
Steve purposely wrote the part for [Bernadette Peters] in The Jerk. David Picker, who was a Paramount executive and the co-producer for The Jerk, said, “The fact that they knew and loved each other made the scenes in the movie work even better.”
It was a joy to work on the movie and the script. Our goal in writing was a laugh on every page. But my favorite line in the movie was an ad lib, one that is mildly obscured by traffic noise in the finished film. My character, Navin Johnson, is hitchiking in Missouri, headed for the big city. A car pulls over, and the dirver asks, “St. Louis?” “No,” I answer, “Navin Johnson.”
I was injecting stage material into the screenplay, including a bit that was taken directly from the end of my act, first developed at the Boarding House. On stage, I would exit through the audience, saying, “I’m quitting, I’m leaving and never coming back, and I don’t need anything, nothing at all, well, I need this ashtray.” I would collect doodads from the tabletops until I finally disappeared out the door. The bit appears in the final film as I forlornly leave Bernadette Peters and my movie mansion.
Martin’s line from the opening scene was taken from his act as performed on his first album “Let’s Get Small” (1977):
I started off at the bottom. I was born a poor black child. And all day long around the house, they’d sing the blues. Then I heard my first Mantovani record, and I knew that this is where it’s at for me. The kind of music I enjoy. These are my people. So I decided to become white. I had my cock shortened. Then I got a job as a television weather man.
Martin’s co-writer (Carl Gottlieb) has a cameo role as Iron Balls McGinty. He also had a hand in writing the first 3 Jaws movies and wrote the character development for “The Jerk, Too”
In discussing the way people actually “did it,” Steve suggested that a man would put his “thing” in the woman and move it in and out. I objected to this theory, and expressed my belief that one should just insert “it” and leave “it.” Well, Steve was right (except in rare cases); nevertheless, his only description of “it” was simply “it.”
Since he apparently had one hand up on me in this in-depth biological debate (no pun indented), I then had to explain to him that the real terminology for this “thing” we were discussing was given to me by my mother when I was but a mere child. “It’s called your special purpose,” I told him proudly. His face widened with a wild and crazy grin, which from that point on was instantly plastered upon his countenance whenever anyone would say “special purpose” –whether it was a teacher or an innocent bystander at Disneyland (we would break up and nobody knew why).
Which brings me to “The Jerk.” Steve Martin is a friend. As a matter of fact, I was in the movie but cut out of it. That doesn’t influence my opinion. The movie is a dog. There’s something missing. I don’t– Who it is, I can’t say.
Stanley Kubrick was impressed with Martin and was interested in having him play the lead in his adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler‘s “Traumnovelle“. Kubrick intended on making his take on the novel as a dark sex comedy. Kubrick approached several writers to take a shot at it, but the project never got off the ground until Kubrick recast the role in 1999 with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in what became “Eyes Wide Shut“.
THE JERK, TOO
The Jerk grossed over $100m on a $4m budget, and this convinced the world of television in 1984 to get a piece of the pie. A “made-for-TV” movie was made as a pilot for for a potential series staring Mark Blankfield of Fridays as Navin R. Johnson. It seems to take place in an alternate universe where Martin’s “Jerk” never happened. And there aren’t jokes in the movie as much as lucky occurrences that happen to Navin.
I found a copy of this and posted a torrent: The Jerk, Too (95min., 703MB, MP4)
I’m a sucker for “Best of” lists, particularly if they come from my friends (hint, hint). Here’s mine:
Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan
Big time comic releases seem to be more sporadic these days in comparison to a couple of years ago, but this one fits the bill. Israelis with identity issues makes for good reading.
I Am America by Steven Colbert
Obvious one for me. I’m a sucker for anything that he does, as evidenced by viewing all 337 episodes of the Colbert Report (as of this writing).
Into Hot Air by Chris Elliott
It’s not as good as his last, but it’s still quite good. A cast of Chris Elliott, Kristen Dunst, Michael Moore, Martin Sheen, Tony Danza, and more set out to climb Everest.
I’ve been a fan of the PBS series “Frontline” since I saw their report, The Merchants of Cool about three years ago. It was the clearest explanation of how people (you know, like you and me) are convinced of what they like and how nobody is exempt. Not only did they have a great report, but I noticed that Frontline specifically makes a website specifically for each report.But sometime recently, they’ve posted 36 of their 60 minute reports entirely online and comercial-free. I just finished The Way The Music Died, which is about how business took the music out of the music business. I’m looking forward to seeing The Jesus Factor, a look into how religion has affected the world through the Bush Administration.Don’t miss Merchants of Cool, dudes…