Another Week Ends

1. Earlier this winter, many of us went bonkers for the recent video-game documentary King […]

David Zahl / 4.3.09

1. Earlier this winter, many of us went bonkers for the recent video-game documentary King Of Kong. I don’t know how we missed it but a writer for Harpers spent 5 years with the infamous Billy Mitchell (he-of-perfect-pacman-and-mullet-fame) and published a fascinating and rather touching write-up this past summer. A few choice quotes:

“‘[Playing the perfect game of Pac-Man] is like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon,’ [Billy] told reporters afterward. ‘No matter how many people accomplish the feat, it will always be Armstrong who will be remembered for doing it first. And, best of all, it was an American.'”

“‘Pac-Man set the tone for my business, my family, my relationships, everything,’ [Billy] says. ‘Since I perfected Pac-Man, I’ve become obsessed with perfecting everything else.'”

What’s that thing that starts with an “L” and rhymes with “saw” again?! To read the whole thing, click here. And for the record, I would really love to give Walter Day a hug.

2. Some great news for the Whit Stillman fans out there: his long out-of-print third film The Last Days Of Disco is now available to watch for free on hulu! It’s my second favorite of his “trilogy” – I’ve posted on it not once but twice – and proves once and for all that Stillman makes America’s finest foreign films. Sample dialogue:

DES: “‘Do you know the Shakespearean admonition ‘To thine own self be true’?’ [Jimmy nods.] ‘It’s premised on the idea that ‘thine own self’ is something pretty good, ‘being true’ to which is ‘commendable.’ What if ‘thine own self’ is not so good? What if it’s ‘pretty bad’? Wouldn’t it be better not to be true to thine own self in that case? You see, that’s my situation.'”

3. I have long been a fan of Noel Murray over at The A/V Club. His First Quarter Report echoes my feelings about recent pop-culture so exactly that I almost feel violated. In short: LOST feels like a different show this season (in a good way), Friday Night Lights is enjoying something close to perfection right now, the Battlestar finale paid off (for a BSG laugh, click here), Top Chef petered out toward the end, Dollhouse is heating up, Breaking Bad keeps getting better, Coraline and Duplicity are the only memorable movies of the past three months, Neko Case rocks, Springsteen’s latest flounders and “Unknown Caller” is the true musical standout of No Line On The Horizon [note: he’s a little unfair to U2]. I guess HBO was off-limits, otherwise he would’ve mentioned how phenomenal the recent season of Big Love was.

4. Some interesting and potentially sympathetic stuff being said over at

4a. Fascinating review in The New Yorker of a new book about the family dynamics that shaped Ludwig Wittgenstein. Enormously gifted and enormously neurotic/troubled – who would’ve thought?! Quick quote: “When they believed that an important principle was at stake—which, for them, was often—the Wittgensteins were not inclined to be nice.” I was also unaware that Wittgenstein had been so influenced by Tolstoy’s “The Gospel In Brief.”

4b. A great round-up of Christian allegory in recent sci-fi, over at City Journal of all places.

4c. A new EP from High Street Hymns – Love’s Redeeming Work Is Done! For those of you that were digging “By Thy Mercy” at the conference, the credit belongs solely to them (and Alex Mejias). Order your copy today. It’s also available on itunes.