Lancelot Links postsTuesday May 24, 2016
Lancelot Links Gets Bun Cha in Hanoi
- My president. Obama wins hearts and minds in Hanoi with bun cha—at a restaurant we maybe visited, or certainly passed by, during our visit in 2010. Next up? Cha ca la vong. Or human rights.
- Is the mainstream media helping Donald Trump? Feeding him questions that lead toward more reasonable ground? The Washington Post ponders this. The Scarborough example is particularly damning.
- Related: George Packer's “Talk of the Town” piece is the best thing I've read on the Trump nomination.
- Related: Adam Gopnik lets loose with a terse, angry piece: The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump. “One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board.”
- Related: Stephen Colbert on the 2000 dangers of Ralph Nader.
- Related: John Oliver takes down the various idiocies of our primary process. Washington, my state, doesn't come off well. I wondered why I filled out that ballot two months after the caucus.
- Related: The Daily Kos on the 11 reasons Bernie lost fair and square. It's 11 reasons his supporters will howl to the heavens about. Often with CAPS.
- Missed this the first time around: Samantha Bee on the five Seattle City Councilwoman who voted against another publicly funded stadium in downtown Seattle (for a basketball team this time), and who had the usual online misogynistic abuse heaped upon them as a result. Bee makes comedy (edged with anger) out of it. The intros/nicknames are my favorite.
- Why were the Astros called “Houston” on so many 1960s-era baseball cards? Why did the '68 and '69 cards often use the same photo? What does any of this have to do with the hiring of Marvin Miller to head up the then-toothless Major League Baseball Players Association? It's all right here.
- Team #GiveElsaAGirlfriend or Team #CharmingPrinceForElsa? I think the latter's been done before.
- David Schoenfield's “Five things we learned Sunday” about MLB. Loved #4. Could do without #1.
- ESPN's 30-for-30, a great source of sports documentaries, takes on the hapless Cleveland team—er, teams. No championships there in any major sport since '64. Joe Posnanski, himself from Cleveland, laments.
- Someone took Bartolo Colon's homerun, the first and only in the 20-year career by the suddenly beloved, rotund pitcher, and turned it into the final homerun in “The Natural.” Something about his homerun trot, in slow-mo, reminds me of that old Steven Wright joke: “Put some Minute Rice in the microwave; went back in time.”
- James O'Keefe stings himself, via Jane Mayer. Couldn't happen to a nastier guy.
- I always loved Morley Safer, an even-tempered true journalist with a twinkle in his eye. Rest in peace.
Lancelot Links Looks for the Ladder
I had the vertical version of this poster on my wall for about a year in the mid-1980s.
I was on vacation last Thursday when my fellow Minneapolitan, and fellow graduate of Bryant Junior High School, Prince Rogers Nelson, died at the age of 57. Here are a few articles worth checking out. I'll keep adding to them as I come across them.
- Via Romenesko, the headlines from around the world.
- The New York Times' obit by Jon Parales.
- “He was ours”: My friend Jim Walsh was with Prince 12 weeks before his death.
- This one really hit home for me: Steve Fennessy in Atlanta Magazine on “Prince and My Evolution,” about middle class white kids confronting all the contradictions of his Purple Badness in 1984.
- A must-read: a great oral history of Prince via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- Even the sportswriters had to say something. Joe Posnanski on why Prince's was the only Super Bowl halftime show that mattered.
- But mostly we've been hearing from the musicians: Members of Pearl Jam said Prince was the greatest guitarist they'd ever seen.
- Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top spent two hours talking guitar-playing with Prince and walked away mesmerized.
- Paul Westerberg has some of my favorite quotes. Among them: “He may have been a little more normal than he would've liked people to know. That's the treasure that we got, to be able to sit in the big atrium where you're taking a break and Prince shuffles by in his slippers and makes some popcorn in the microwave.”
- City Pages posted one of the last photos of Prince: biking to work at Paisley Park.
- And all the world turned purple.
- And sang.
- And sang.
- Jim Walsh finds a long-lost note from Prince in his basement.
- The Minnesota Daily finds its long-lost article about Prince from 1978.
- Suzanne Vega finds the letter Prince wrote her after the release of “Luka.”
- YouTube: Questlove sets up a ping-pong match between Jimmy Fallon and his Purple Badness.
- An insane Prince discography: chronologically.
Lancelot Links with a Walkoff Win
- Who knew “Mark Trail” was still a thing? Who knew anyone liked it? Who knew Jeff Moravec and Kevin Cannon could create such a lovely, straightforward tribute?
- Can we believe in the Mariners again? by Art Thiel. Great title, great story, great writer. My answer? Talk to me in July.
- Related: Geof Baker of The Seattle Times with a piece on a NY company that measures fan loyalty. In last place for MLB this year? You got it. The Times headline needs work: “When it comes to loyalty, Mariners fans sorely lacking.” How about: “After 15 years of futility, M's fans last place in loyalty.”
- Even more related: David Schoenfield shows statistically that Felix Hernandez is the unluckiest pitcher alive. I.e., in his career he's had 45 starts where he gave up zero or 1 run and didn't get a win out of it.
- *I* got lucky, though: My first game of the season was a 4-2 walkoff win over Texas in 10: Touch 'em all, Dae-Ho Lee.
- It's even better in Korean.
- This is from last fall but I just saw it and fell in love: Hamilton's Angelica, Renée Elise Goldsberry, lip-syncing the Schuyler Sisters rap with, as the Schuyler sisters, the three King George IIIs: Bryan d'Arcy James (Eliza), Jonathan Groff (Angelica) and Andrew Rannels (“and Peggy”). Fun! This is how you lip-sync, Hollywood.
- These come and go quickly from YouTube, but some nice half or quarter scenes from “Hamilton” here.
- Sigh. Someone had to do it eventually and the winner is the New York Times: Just how accurate is 'Hamilton'? You can start with none of the founding fathers being black. But overall, the argument sounds like any argument in any history dept.
- The trailer is out for “David Brent: Life on the Road.” So perfectly painful.
- How cool is Ant Man's reaction to Captain America? Psst, DC: This is how you do it.
- Sarah Larson of The New Yorker follows around Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy as the two former SCTV stars promote their award-winning Canadian TV series “Schitt's Creek.” BTW: “Schitt's” is on Amazon Prime. P and I have watched the first three episodes. Much recommended.
- My friend Motoko Rich has a piece in The New York Times on how Hollywood portrays teachers. Basically it's two extremes: buffoons (for upper-middle-class white kids) or saviors (for poverty-stricken minority kids). The latter is how we want teachers to be, the former how we remember it or experience it.
- Vox uses metacritic to attempt to quantify good and bad acting. A fun exercise if not exactly shocking. Daniel Day-Lewis and Michael Fassbender are good, Adam Sandler and Ashton Kutcher are not. But there are a few surprises: John C. Reilly, for example. It's also less “bad acting” than “actors in bad movies.”
- Ross Barkan, political reporter for the New York Observer, has quit his job over his paper's cozy relationship with Donald Trump. Meaning: 1) the paper is one of two to actually endorse Trump, and that's chiefly because, 2) the owner is Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Yay for democracy.
- Meanwhile, most Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump as if he's an aberration. Not so fast, says Jonathan Chait.
Lancelot Links Makes America Great Again
- Author Gabriel Sherman, who is used to loud voices, takes us inside the Trump campaign, which is small, inexperienced, douchey and massively successful. That Wall of Shame in his headquarters? There should be a lot more people on it.
- The call for “Open Carry” at the GOP Convention? That actually originated from gun-control advocates—pushing the Republican policy to its logical (read: illogical) conclusion. Adam Gopnik applauds and cries “Encore!”
- A quick history of the Panama Papers, the 11.5-million-file leak from Mossack Fonseca, the fourth-biggest biggest offshore law firm, via The Guardian, that exposes the private financial activities of the rich and powerful. A lot of the trails are covered up, but many lead to specific people like Vladimir Putin. Not to mention Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. More, please. MF (nice acronym) is only fourth-biggest, after all.
- Paul Krugman points out that Obama's approval ratings are rising, and he feels it's because 1) the GOP is showing us what shitty leaders look like, and 2) his policies have been successful.
- Benedict Cumberbatch was filming “Dr. Strange” in New York, so what did he do? Stopped by a comic book store for research. Oh, and he also looks perfect in the role.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man who turned a biography of one of the founding fathers into the biggest Broadway musical of the century, is asked by The New York Times what he reads. Turns out he reads a lot. He's reading like he's running out of time.
- If you've been paying attention, you can't help but notice that Netflix has fewer and fewer movies in its catalogue. Apparently this is a feature not a bug. It's also why I'm watching more on Amazon Prime—not to mention returning to Scarecrow Video to get the movies that nobody has.
- Indiewire has a new critic. Here's Jeff Wells' slow, backhanded clap. Agree with Wells on every one of these points.
- Omer Mozzafer picks his favorite Roger Ebert review: “Milk Money” from 1994. I didn't even know this thing existed. Anyway, it's a good review.
- Vox gives us 19 Nonsensical, Idiotic Things in the “Batman v Superman” movie. What's interesting is how many of them boil down to: This character has no motivation for what they're doing, and that's why we're bored.
- In the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza really breaks down the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders divide better than almost anyone.
Lancelot Links: Opening Day Edition
- The Kansas City Royals are champions of the world, and Joe Posnanski wonders what lessons can be gleaned from their surprising rise to the top. They're good lessons, by the way, and not limited to baseball.
- The New York Times has taken a photo of Mets fans in utter misery as the Royals' Eric Hosmer slides in with the tying run in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series, and interviewed the heartbroken. So, so worth it.
- The Royals had an insane postseason but let's not forget the 53-minute 7th inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers.
- Nor the epic article by Posnanski and Michael Schur about the 53-minute 7th inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers.
- This spring, Posnanski continues to talk about the bat flip for the ages, as well as Bryce Harper's recent comments about how baseball should be more fun, and more demonstrative (but presumably with less neck-choking). A lot of the old guard, like Goose Gossage and Mike Schmidt, disagree with Harper but Posnanski doesn't. And he finds an old guarder who agrees with him: “Our time was our time; it's their time now.”
- Tyler Kepner has a Times piece on the “Endangered Species of Baseball,” which I thought might be: 1) young fans, or 2) African-American centerfielders, but is actually single-season stats players don't touch anymore. Recent ones: 75 stolen bases, 250 IP, 100 relief innings, 20 sac bunts. But what's 40/40 doing here? That was always an outlier—and most likely a PED outlier. Plus Cubs championship? If you're doing recent phenomena, why not a Yankees championship? Just one title since 2000. In Yankees history, that's a drought.
- How about some spring training action? Here, the Twins' Byron Buxton flashes some midseason form in center.
- Speaking of: Via Classic Twins blog, I came across this 22-minute doc on the 1970 Minnesota Twins, which is really the team that introduced me to baseball. It's my team: Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, Tovar, Cardenas; Blyleven, Perry, Tiant. I feel such a nostalgic pull seeing this. It's also, admittedly, pretty dull, in the PR spirit of the times, with an odd mid-60s soundtrack (think “Austin Powers”). Sponsored by Midwest Federal!
- A short oral history of how Dan Okrent and Lee Eisenberg discovered Bill James. Let me know when the longer version comes out.
- These days, it seems, Bill James has too much time on his hands. It's portrait of a stats guy doodling.
- Pinstripe Alley, a Yankees blog via Sports Nation, wonders why Hal Steinbrenner is pushing a revisionist history of his father that any fan worth his $15 beer knows is BS.
- More good news from Yankeeland: Hal is also pushing to reduce payroll for the Yanks.
- Who's going to win it all this year? Posnanski is one of many suggesting the 108-year dry spell of the Chicago Cubs is about to end.
- Finally, Josh Wilker, writer, father, “Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” apologist, has a sliver of time on his hands between his day job and parenting, so he writes about an old Ray Fosse baseball card and the possiblilty of boundless skies. And what could be more Opening Day than boundless skies?