Doing my best to fill in for DZ, who is currently gearing up for next week’s conference.

1) A great article from the Times this week, discussing the recent tendency of creaturely films (“Rango” etc) to capture the creature in all of us:

THERE is a special kind of appeal to stories that lead us to the far boundary of the human and allow us a glance at what is on the other side, where the wild things are. What often comes into view out there is a projection of something buried deep within. That wolf in the bed, in grandma’s clothes, embodies some threatening animal emanation of the self, sexual or otherwise, lurking in disguise in our cozy domestic enclosures. Those invaders from outer space, preying on our cities, represent our own predatory, destructive urges in monstrous, alien form. And we can’t forget the vampires, whose cold glamour places them at the busy intersection of love and death, where our longings chase their morbid shadows.

The lizards, rodents and other creepy-crawlies that populate its desert landscape are far more grotesque to behold than traditional Disney fauna, but their ugliness only adds an extra frisson to the film’s charming anthropomorphism. We might recoil and squint at first, but by the time “Rango” is over, the reptiles are as cuddly as bunnies or the fish in “Finding Nemo” or the ants in “A Bug’s Life.”…And also as human.

2) This piece entitled “Men May Be Jerks…But Women Are Insane”, explores the laws and demands of gender identity in today’s “manchild culture,” from a woman’s perspective. For a laugh, The Onion, too, has something to say (ht JS).

3) Though I’ve never watched the show myself, the A.V. Club’s review of Big Love’s finale has got me lured! Small spoiler here, but a great quote about main character Bill’s human confliction:

And then we cut BACK to his ACTUAL followers, not to the glorious tradition and the past but to the world as it is, to the place we actually live in. Big Love has always posited this conflict between reality and the world the faithful wish they lived in, between Paradise and Utah, and it’s never been more explicit than it is here. Bill may dream himself to be a prophet, a man who can lead the people forward to the promised land, but he’s still just a man, and he’s still got to, y’know, LEAD, when the people he’s leading are a dull and dingy lot, not possessed of the power and fortitude his forebears had (or that which he imagines they had). And he’s still a prophet who can’t see that his neighbor is clearly troubled, who goes outside and gets shot without apparently realizing it’s coming at all, a man who has a revelation and promptly dies for it. And from here, the episode moves into its genuinely moving denouement, which saves the episode from its prior excess.

4) Two interesting articles in the church-judgment-vein, both hearkening the Church’s inability to distinguish their message from their view of themselves. One from the Times on Single, Evangelical Seminarians in the throes of joblessness, the other the loss of faith in the midst of vocational ministry.

5) For those of you as entranced within the poolings of March Madness, this article on the psychological underpinnings of college basketball’s philosophy of ballhogging is a doozy. Also, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Slate’s coverage of 8-seed Butler’s utter surprise at their own controversially unmerited victory this past weekend.

6) The Atlantic wrote on the American economic pursuit of happiness, findings that may inconveniently surprise many of its readers.

7) Finally, for the music lovers out there, check out Fleet Foxes’ new single, “Battery Kinzie” on One Thirty BPM. On top of that, NPR debuted a haunting tune from Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore called “Benediction“. Here’s what they had to say about it:

“As its title suggests, the song addresses the way lovers plea for security and constancy from each other; for a connection that can never succumb to betrayal or loss. “Benediction” unfolds like a prayer, but when Moore sings, “I know better than to let her go,” he knows he can only speak for what he can control.”