Sherlock / Smaug reads Kubla Khan

So, the official title of this is “Benedict Cumberbatch reads Kubla Khan,” but if you’re like me, you’re all, “Who the hell is Benedict Cumberbatch? That sounds like either a good way to ruin poached eggs, or some sort of sexually transmitted fungal infection.”

To save you from embarrassment, I’ll just tell you. He’s this dude:

image from Wikipedia

That’s the actor who plays Sherlock Holmes in the most recent incarnation from the BBC, Sherlock.

He’s also going to be playing the dragon Smaug in the upcoming Hobbit movies (via motion capture), and providing the voice for the Necromancer (aka Sauron). In those same movies, Bilbo Baggins will be played by Martin Freeman. Freeman also plays Watson opposite Cumberbatch’s Holmes.

Somehow the whole situation seems Oedipal to me, although I can’t quite articulate why.

Anyway, here is Cumberbatch reading Kubla Khan, one of my favorites. It is embedded here as a YouTube video, but is just audio.

If you’re watching it with the sound off, but want to know what the experience would be like if you could actually hear it, here are a few comments from YouTube:

     “I want to be these words. His voice practically caresses them.”

     “I would gladly go to that pleasure dome if he was in it.”

     “me gusta”

     “OVARIES GO BOOM!!!!!!”

1971 Bukowski letter on poetry reading

So, I’m not a huge fan of Charles Bukowski’s poetry, but the dude wrote some awesome letters. This one was posted yesterday at Boing Boing. It is his response to a request to perform a poetry reading.

Just check out that last paragraph:

I’m working on my 2nd. novel now, THE POET, but I’m taking my time. They say it’s 101 [degrees] today. Fine then, I’m drinking coffee and rolling cigarettes and looking out at the hot baked street and a lady just walked by wiggling it in tight white pants, and we are not dead yet.

You read that in a letter and it is smoking-hot prose that makes you want to go get drunk with the guy. That’s a paragraph that could only be written by the coolest person you know. But somehow, his poetry all sounds exactly like that. And, for me at least, in the context of a “poem,” I would probably feel that it was trying to hard. Or, rather, trying too hard in some ways and not hard enough in others. Maybe it is the extra expectation that is placed on words when you call them a poem, or maybe the sense of deliberateness that it implies. I’m not sure.

I think when I read that paragraph as a spontaneous statement, it crackles, but if I assume that it is deliberately crafted art, the crackle goes away. It makes me wonder if it would seem as compelling if it were written in 2001, rather than 1971, using a word processor rather than a typewriter. Maybe even the typo in “degrees” is key in conveying the authenticity / spontaneity of the statement.

Anyway, Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing got the letter from the tumblr this isn’t happiness, which is full of cool stuff. If you don’t already follow it, you should. Here are just a few of many, many gems to be found there (arranged roughly from FTW to WTF):

Twitter Revolutions, Reformation Style

So, a couple of weeks ago, the Economist ran an interesting article on Martin Luther and the Reformation, arguing that the social media of the day (inexpensive mass production of pamphlets) played a crucial role in fueling the spread of Luther’s ideas. It’s a fun read, full of interesting history, with parallels drawn to the Arab Spring revolutions throughout. It is also interesting how the tone of much of the discussion has not changed so much:

Sylvester Mazzolini defended the pope against Luther in his “Dialogue Against the Presumptuous Theses of Martin Luther”. He called Luther “a leper with a brain of brass and a nose of iron” and dismissed his arguments on the basis of papal infallibility. Luther, who refused to let any challenge go unanswered, took a mere two days to produce his own pamphlet in response, giving as good as he got. “I am sorry now that I despised Tetzel,” he wrote. “Ridiculous as he was, he was more acute than you. You cite no scripture. You give no reasons.”


Also circulated at the time was this political cartoon on the origin of monks, created and circulated by the pro-Lutherans. Spoiler alert: they were crapped out by demons.

Over at The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie has an interesting follow-up post on the topic. He points out that the role of cheap mass production of pamphlets in driving the Reformation is academically well established. He also makes interesting points about the role of the new printing technology in spreading the astronomical ideas of Copernicus and Kepler, as these sort-of hitchhiked on astrological pamphlets.

Also, he calls me a sick warped bastard, but in a good way.

My recommendation: go read both!

Your "Santorum Surge" is finally here

So, if you’re a Republican presidential candidate and former US Senator from Pennsylvania, you may have been feeling a bit plugged up in the polls.  You have been hovering irregularly in the low single digits, seemingly obstructed by a gang of competitors.

But, finally, those low polling numbers have been evacuated.

The most recent CNN/Time/ORC poll in Iowa found that Santorum has surged to 16%.

A Santorum Surge straight from God!

Congratulations, Rick!

Unrelated photo:

BTW, I didn’t even know that orcs did polls.

Pandering to Mongolia

So, I’ve just posted the most recent Darwin Eats Cake strip: Where in the World is Darwin Eats Cake? Mongolia Edition.

Where in the World is Darwin Eats Cake is the regular feature where we look at Google Analytics to see where people have been visiting the comic from. We then put together some humor designed to appeal to those countries that have not ever visited. Previously, we have done Papua New Guinea and Bolivia.

There was an unfortunate episode during the period when the Darwin Eats Cake cast was camping out at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. In an effort to keep up production, I was forced to hire replacement characters, who put together an installment on Finland, despite the fact that we actually get a fair amount of traffic from there.

It was terrible. Just terrible.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

Anyway, here’s the latest one.  Much easier to read on the original.

Best URL for sharing:
Permanent image URL for hotlinking or embedding:

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot two things.

First, as of right now, Darwin Eats Cake has received visits from 126 different countries, but still a total of zero visits from Mongolia, Bolivia, and Papua New Guinea, combined.

Second, thanks go to Manduhai Buyandelger for consultation. However, she should be held in no way accountable for the offensive, stupid, or just unfunny bits here. Shit, maybe that’s the whole thing. Well, still thanks and apologies to Manduhai!

Mongolian Joke Video Ricchi e Poveri ft Classic Gem and Zaya

So, in the process of researching the upcoming Darwin Eats Cake, which is going to be featuring Mongolian humor – or, rather, Mongolian-inspired “humor” – I came across this. I’m not entirely sure what the joke is, but I think it relates to splicing in some presumably Italian dude into the video?

The comment left by the poster on YouTube was:

“Italian pop mongolian pop new super best”

I think Classic Gem is the woman, and Zaya (apparently pronounced “Z-A-Y-A”) is the guy, but I’m not really sure.

Anyway, I was sort of grooving on it, and I thought I would share. You are welcome!