Edward Willett

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Willett of the Day: Dr. Willett, H.P. Lovecraft character

Some Willetts--though not myself--are entirely fictitious.Such is the case of Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett, the family physician of Charles Dexter Ward, and ultimately the hero of H.P. Lovecraft's novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. (The image at right is of the late actor Frank Maxwell, who portrayed Dr. Willett in Roger Corman's 1963 movie version of the story, The Haunted Palace (he took the title from an Edgar Allan Poe story, but the main inspiration for the film was definitely Lovecraft).Wikipedia has more about the novella here, including this note on the good Dr. Willett:...

Posted by Edward Willett at 19:08, July 29th, 2008 under Blog | Comment now »

This is your brain on Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock, James Vermiere wrote in the Boston Herald on the occasion of the centenary of Hitchcock’s birth in 1999, “delighted in terrifying audiences by manipulating them...More than any other filmmaker, he was a master at messing with our minds.”“Wait a minute!” I hear you cry (if I happen to be sitting behind you as you read this, creeping up on you, breathing down your neck, about to...Ha! Made you look!). “What does all this stuff about Hitchcock, and your rather lame attempt to capture some of the Hitchcockian spirit in the first half of this paragraph, have to do with science? Have I stumbled upon a new film criticism column by mistake?”Nay, dear reader. I ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 4:52, June 10th, 2008 under Blog, Science Columns | Comment now »

007’s gadgets no longer just fiction

A few years ago, I decided my cinematic education had been sadly lacking and I decided to watch all of the James Bond movies in sequence. (I was single then.)Somewhere in the Roger Moore era I petered out, partly because I was finally running into films I had seen in theatres, partly because...well, some of those films don’t hold up all that well.Take all that crazy spy technology. Who could believe in that stuff? It was obviously impossible.Except, as New Scientist magazine’s Technology blog pointed out May 28 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator, nowadays it isn’t. (Follow that link for more links to details ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 22:12, June 2nd, 2008 under Blog, Science Columns | Comment now »

Popcorn

Download the audio version.Get my science column weekly as a podcast.***There’s been a lot of attention paid to the movies this past week due to the various awards handed out between old clips of previous awards being handed out that aired on TV Sunday night.Which got me thinking about the food that has become synonymous with the movies: popcorn.Native Americans enjoyed popcorn for millennia before movies came along: bits of popcorn found in a New Mexico cave have been carbon dated to about 4,000 years ago. (Of course, somebody could have been performing a shadow play on the wall of the cave via firelight while people munched, but there’s ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 21:52, February 25th, 2008 under Blog, Science Columns | Comment now »

Analyzing Oscar

As I write this, the announcement of nominations for the 80th Academy Awards still lies in the future.Nevertheless, I can make a make a few bold predictions: the actors nominated most likely appeared in dramas from major film distributors, and have either been nominated in the past or appeared in a film starring or directed by previous nominees.Yes, for those of you who think that scientific research is too often focused on the needlessly esoteric, I give you “I’d Like to Thank the Academy, Complementary Productivity, and Social Networks,” a working paper by Nicole Esparza and Gabriel Rossman of the California Center for Population Research at UCLA.As the abstract states, “This paper explores ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 18:22, January 21st, 2008 under Blog, Science Columns | Comment now »

The first sentence I wrote…

...well, yesterday, actually, since I'm writing this after midnight (just got back a little while ago from seeing Enchanted; can't wait to take my daughter to see it. I loved it, and judging by all the laughter in the theatre, so did everyone else. It had particular resonance since I'm currently in the middle of a Disney musical myself. The quote of the theme song from Beauty and the Beast playing as background music to a TV soap opera in which a woman was telling a man she couldn't love someone who didn't love himself particularly leaped out at me, for obvious reasons.)Anyway, here's the sentence:Andy King sat in the command chair on the bridge and ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 6:48, December 1st, 2007 under Blog | 1 Comment »

It’s the feel-good movie of Christmas 2007…

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.Try the priest.

Posted by Edward Willett at 20:52, October 5th, 2007 under Blog | Comment now »

Why I can’t really be called a Star Wars fan:

I don't hate Star Wars enough.

Posted by Edward Willett at 17:07, June 26th, 2007 under Blog | Comment now »

Laurey is now Aunt Eller

This caught my eye, since I just played Jud in Regina Lyric Light Opera's production of Oklahoma!:Oscar-winner Shirley Jones will be featured in the Pittsburgh CLO's upcoming staging of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Oklahoma!, according to the theatre's website. Oklahoma! runs through July 1st.Jones, who famously played Laurey in the 1955 film version of Oklahoma!, will now play sensible Aunt Eller.Of course, the first I knew of Shirley Jones was as Ma Partridge on The Partridge Family.Laurey becomes Aunt Eller. I'm tempted to write something mystical about the mysterious workings of time, or maybe burst into a chorus of "The Circle of Life," but really, all I'm ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 4:42, June 21st, 2007 under Blog | Comment now »

Coming soon to Broadway…

Shrek: The Musical.

Posted by Edward Willett at 20:41, June 2nd, 2007 under Blog | Comment now »