Continuing our series of semi-regular roundups of whatever may have caught my passing fancy elsewhere:

  • Nothing sets the heart a-flutter quite like an unsolicited testimonial, so you may imagine me beaming sheepishly over this site's status as Weblog of the Week at Evan Schaeffer's Notes from the (Legal) Underground.  If you are not reading Evan's weblog regularly you are denying yourself pleasures galore, as it is (as he kindly says of this Fool) "proof that lawyers are not the one-dimensional money-making automatons that some would have you believe."  Mr. Schaeffer is a trial lawyer and a gentlemen, demonstrating that there need be no contradiction between the two.  Thank you, sir.
  • Things I'm Looking Forward To Dept., Part One:
  • From the collective known as the Dead Parrot Society comes word of a June 10 opening date for the U.S. release of Howl's Moving Castle, the latest from master animator Hayao Miyazaki (whose work I previously praised here).  The film is currently the most successful in history in Japan, as were each of Miyazaki's two previous films.  (The original Japanese release of Miyazaki's Spirited Away knocked Titanic from the top spot, after Titanic had knocked off Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke.)  The Parrots also link to a New Yorker interview about [but not with] Miyazaki, containing this pithy assessment:

Like a lot of the great British fantasy writers—C. S. Lewis or J. K. Rowling or Philip Pullman—he's very dedicated to realism in the service of fantasy, meaning that he makes little details (the way Chihiro kicks her toe into her shoes, or the way Haku the dragon falls when he's wounded) internally coherent and naturalistic.

I'm regularly moved by Miyazaki's way with nature: wind on grass, for instance, or clouds, and his frequent wholesale appropriation of Manet's palette. 

The link to the Parrots came by way of Byzantium's Shores, which I first looked into because it resides just above this weblog among the "personality kids" in the left column of and to which I have been returning with sufficient frequency that it has been added to the links list to your right. 

  • Incidental personal notes to as-yet-non-weblogging Portland, Oregon gal/pal Bridget:  Surely this will be sufficient incentive for you finally to obtain a DVD player!  And congratulations on taking the opportunity to air your Burt Reynolds fixation as one of the Blowhards' poster posters.
  • Things I'm Looking Forward To Dept., Part Two:
  • Speaking of good things out of Portland, Oregon, the NYC-based music weblog Coolfer reports the splendid news that after a near eight-year hiatus we can look forward to a new album from Eric Matthews.  Matthews tills the fields of intelligent, often symphonic pop: he's a classically trained trumpeter and skilled arranger whose music carries all manner of tasteful influences from the likes of Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach.  Since his last album, 1997's The Lateness of the Hour (officially out of print, just to increase the injustice in the world), he has turned up as a player or arranger with other performers such as French psychedelic popsters Tahiti 80, Andy Chase's Brookville project and, perhaps most surprisingly, fellow Portlanders the Dandy Warhols.  His presence on other people's records is a reliable mark of quality.  (Note that in the photo accompanying the Coolfer post, Matthews strongly resembles Matthew Broderick, whereas in the shot accompanying this Billboard piece, he takes after Willem Dafoe.  Which is the more truthful representation?  Is there some sort of Jekyll/Hyde transformation at work here?)  Matthews has launched a personal site full of information on his prior work.  The new album, Six Kinds of Passion Looking for an Exit is variously reported to be scheduled for release either in late February or on March 1, and can be ordered/preordered (as I have done) here.
  • Last Minute, Honored Guest Dept.: My grousing post below on the success of the film Sideways and its potential impact on the fine wines of Santa Barbara County has drawn a gracious and reassuring comment from Frank Ostini, principal in the Hitching Post restaurant and winery

TW3 [That Was The Week That Was]

First in a series of weekly or near-weekly catch-all posts linking this and that what has come to my attention over the preceding seven-ish days.  I have also inaugurated a more law-oriented version of the same idea [under the heading "Other Voices, Other Rooms"] at Decs & Excs.

  • Via that ostentatious liberal ("[N]o rational person could read my weblog on anything remotely like a regular basis and . . . . believe that my benders involve anything other than 20-year old Tawny Port and Dunhill Peravia."), Professor Bainbridge, a link to a wide-ranging Guardian interview with The Who's Roger Daltrey -- revealing among other things that while Daltrey once said (at the time of "My Generation") that he expected to kill himself rather than grow older than 30, the bloke's marriage, to his credit, has lasted longer than that.
  • Favorite quote: Daltrey on Ken Russell's Lisztomania,* the very apotheosis of self-indulgently vulgar Russell Composer Biopics: "I made all my mistakes in terrifying Technicolor.

* A film of stupendous so-bad-it's-good-ness -- Swordplay!  Bodice ripping!  Wagner as a  vampire!  Giant phalluses!  Wagner as Frankenstein!  Ringo Starr as the Pope!  Heaven help us all! -- for which I nonetheless maintain a certain affection, no doubt helped along by not having actually watched the dreadful thing in over 20 years.   Not available on DVD, it can be yours in glorious pan-and-scan VHS for under 4 bucks at the Amazon link above.

  • Hedgehogs and Seagulls and Planes, . . . oh my!
  • The Telegraph's report on this same story includes an insight into French labor relations:

"An earlier hearing was told that the government-employed worker responsible for clearing dead animals off the runway had slept in."

  • Note: The "flock of seagulls" involved in the story is not this one, which is in some ways difficult to distinguish from a hedgehog.
  • Additional note: I actually had a link up to this item for about 2 minutes a few days back, until I discovered that Martin Grace had taken grossly unfair advantage of being three time zones east of here in order to beat me to it.