Lancelot Links postsSaturday November 06, 2010
- Tim Egan has become a must-read. Here he is writing about... well, the headline says it all: “How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms.”
- In a similr vein: WTF has Obama done so far? Plenty.
- Whenever someone argues that FOX-News isn't biased, or is only as biased as MSNBC or NPR, trot out some of these figures. Then there's that slogan. If the most untrustworthy man is the man who says “Trust me,” what do you make of a news network that keeps reminding us they're “Fair and balanced”?
- Rush Limbaugh keeps getting it wrong and keeps on trucking. This time he complains about the graduated income tax. Where did that come from? he asks. People who read stuff answer: Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.
- After all that, not to mention Nov. 2, here's a little cheerer-upper: Ricky Gervais singing a celebrity lullabye to Elmo on “Sesame Street.”
- I also love this early 1970s visit to “Sesame Street” from Paul Simon singing “Me and Julio” and getting upstaged (almost) by a little girl who just loves to sing. This may be the second time I've linked to it.
- A documentary about Jews and baseball has opened in New York. I'm over here in Seattle. Am I holding my breath? Probably. Ah well. DVD. Streaming. Something. Eventually.
- There's a new term in baseball, “super utility player,” but it's not a new phenomenon. Rob Neyer does the Dr. Livingstone thing and tracks it to its source, or at least a source: Cesar Tovar, one of my favorite players when I was a kid.
- Skip the first eight paragraphs of Jeff Sullivan's MLB piece, “Season of the Improbable,” and just get to his list of all of the improbables that happened during the 2010 season. Fun! Yes, and not, Mariners fans. If there's any of you left.
- The New York Times is screwing over David Waldstein! Or their search engine is. In Monday's edition, or Tuesday's west-coast edition, Waldstein published a piece titled “Renteria Is Positioned for Another Last Swing at a Title.” All about how the Giants shortstop had the final at-bat in the '97 Series (winning it for the Marlins) and the '04 Series (on the losing end of the Red Sox first title since 1918), and, who knows, maybe it'll happen again. It didn't, but Renteria did, in a sense, swing for the title: his three-run homer decided Game 5 and the Series for the Giants—their first since 1954. But online the Times appear to have written over that prescient piece. Search for it, then click on what appears to be the article (“Giants' Renteria Seeking Another Last Swing at Title”) and it takes you to a piece entitled, “Decisive At-Bat is Again Renteria's,” which is after-the-fact analysis. What the hell? To find the original opening you have to scroll a third of the way down Kenneth Plutnicki's live-blogging of the game. Not sure why the Times would destroy an online record of a helluva call.
- I've been trying to write a Josh Wilkeresque piece but couldn't get past the definitive way he describes the joy of opening a pack of baseball cards What could one add? Then I came across this piece from Jim Caple, which is from last February:
You hold the pack in your hand as if it were a lottery ticket. What players might be inside? You rip open the foil and are greeted by a familiar face. It is not a star — the first card is never, ever a star — but it is a reliable veteran, or a middle reliever, or maybe a September call-up who looked promising. You shuffle through the cards as hopeful as when you're dealt a hand in poker. Let's see, you got Eddie Guardado, and Nick Punto, and Ryan Garko, and — good grief, another Willie Bloomquist? — and James Parr, and then, boom! There's an Ichiro! When you turn over the card to glance at Ichiro's stats — nine consecutive .300-average and 200-hit seasons — summer and your childhood both seem a little bit closer.
- My friend Nathalie, who watches “Dances with the Stars,” was complaining about this very thing the day before Andrew Sullivan posted it on his site.
- My friend Andy visits Hue, Vietnam, and sees ghosts.
- Seriously, isn't the autocorrect on text messages one of the most annoying things about iPhones? It's bad enough that their suggestions are almost never correct; they also make the suggestions the default. You have to take action to prevent the auto-correct from writing over your words. The assumption is that they are smarter than you. That's getting into Microsoft territory.
- Finally, happy belated birthday to Famke Janssen (above), who is two years younger and four inches taller than me. But where has she been lately? She never calls anymore. Back in 2005 I placed her second on my list of the 10 sexiest actresses (oh, the crap we'll write when editors call), and since then I've seen her in exactly one thing: playing the thankless role of the ex-wife in Liam Neeson's “Taken.” It doesn't help that she's on “Nip/Tuck,” which I don't watch, and starring in movies like “100 Feet,” which I'd only see if they paid me. Apparently in that film she's under house arrest for killing her abusive husband, then discovers that the house is haunted...by the ghost of her abusive husband! On the poster she's frightened and crying. Because we don't see enough frightened and crying women on movie posters. You're a beautiful 46, Famke. Come back soon.
- A Nirvana retrospective at EMP on the 20th anniversary of “Nevermind”? I'm there. Next spring.
- It's always good to have a little Bob Dylan in the middle of the day. Or the beginning of it. Or at 2 a.m. when you can't sleep. “Yes, and how many ears must one man have/Before he can hear people cry?” That song doesn't get old, does it?
- What makes Will Ferrell laugh? Now you know.
- Peter Knegt over at IndieWire on 10 underdog acting noms this year. I'm including him here because he includes two I've touted: Pierce Brosnan in “The Ghost Writer” and John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone.” We'll see what the rest of the year brings, but those two are at the top of my list, followed by Tom Hardy in “Inception,” and, if you want to go broad or get into comedy (and why wouldn't you?), Mickey Rourke in “Iron Man 2” and Michael Keaton in “The Other Guys.”
- Over at flick philosopher, Maryann Johanson attempts to define “the female gaze” by what it isn't, “the male gaze,” then lists off lame (“Marmaduke”) or disgusting (an unnamed gossip site) versions of the latter. She only gets back to the female gaze at the end (“Bright Star,” “The Runaways”) but not in a revelatory way. I still don't know what she means. Are there no variations in the male gaze or female gaze? Why dismiss the homosexual male gaze, for example, as she seems to do? (Off the top of my head: Gore Vidal, Tennesee Williams, Merchant-Ivory.) Since most gossip sites attract women, to what extent is that unnamed gossip site a female gaze? Her post is a good second draft, though.
- Somebody, in this case “The Independent,” likes “Restrepo,” the Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington documentary about a platoon in Afghanistan in 2007-08, as much as I did. Hell, they go further. They ask: Is it the greatest war movie ever made?
- The M's have a new manager! Former Indians manager Eric Wedge! I know. Can he hit? Jerry Brewer calls the announcement cheerleading at a wake.
- The Coolest Asshole of the Week is Bobby Knight, who takes on the God-in-sports question deep in the heart of Texas.
- Speaking of Texas: Here's Joe Posnanski's beautiful column on Cliff Lee's beautiful pitching performance in Game 3 of the ALCS: striking out 13 New York Yankees.
- Speaking of New York: those fans in the Bronx can't keep their sticky fingers off the playing field, can they? This time, at least, it didn't affect the outcome of the game.
- Finally, one of my first posts, way back in February 2008, was about that tension between saving and letting go. My friend Kristin says it better here.
- You know what I like about Tim Gunn's “17 Films That Shaped Tim Gunn”? It's a truly personal list. I can't imagine anyone else in the world—in the world, mind you—who would include on their list “Waterloo Bridge” and “Valley of the Dolls” and “Keeper of the Flame.” Hell, I can't imagine anyone who would choose both “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Pee Wee's Big Adventure.”
- Speaking of Tim Gunn: He also made one of those great “It Gets Better” videos for GLBT kids. Powerful in its honesty and directness.
- Have you seen the recently released footage of “Back to the Future” with Eric Stoltz, the original Marty McFly, doing the bits that Michael J. Fox made famous? Heavy. Director Robert Zemeckis and proudcer Steven Spielberg decided to replace Stoltz five weeks into the shoot because the laughs weren't coming. Judging from the clips, they were right.
- Really? We're doing this, women? You're complaining about the portrayal of women in “The Social Network”? You somehow think the women in “The Social Network,” the ones seen as prizes, and who see themselves as prizes, are representative of all women? Are you arguing that this doesn't happen? Are you arguing that all the women in the movie are like this? Are you arguing that the men in the movie—dweebs and assholes and rich bastards—are representative of all men? I'm so tired of this conversation. I really am. I've been having it for decades and it just gets dumber. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin responds more diplomatically than I do.
- Now Pat Goldstein weighs in on the misogyny controversy. Goldy is apparently and legitimately shocked that some men treat women as sex objects, and some women acquiesce, or thrive, at being treated as sex objects by men whom they have objectified in terms of wealth and status. We're all as naive as we want to be, I guess. Or is this hypocrisy? Goldy seems concerned about the “disturbing misogyny” depicted in the movie but ignores, or can't be bothered with, the difference between his own headline and URL. The former (the stolid face the L.A. Times presents to the world): “Aaron Sorkin on 'The Social Network's' problematic depiction of women.” The URL (the way the L.A. Times drums up business): “aaron-sorkin-on-why-women-are-such-slutty-sex-objects-in-the-social-network.html.”
- This is a simple, helpful site about what's coming out this week in film, books, music, DVDs, video games.
- Hilarious! A History Channel 3000 look, a thousand years back, at the Beatles: John, Paul, Greg and Scottie. As always with YouTube, please don't read user comments. You'll only get depressed.
- Nathaniel over at FilmExperience apologizes his way through this look at the youngest best actor nominees, but he didn't need to. I love this stuff. And I agree: Eisenberg should get a nom.
- I missed “The Simpsons” episode Sunday night, because I never watch it anymore, but thanks to, you know, this Internetty thing, I got to see it here. First, though, I read Joe Posnanski's take. Why was Posnanski blogging about it? Because it was about baseball. More than baseball, it was about Sabrmetrics, and included special guest voice Bill James (“I made baseball as much fun as doing your taxes!”), and Posnanski was actually at Bill James' house for the episode. Read on, read on, teenage queen.
- Via my friend Vinny: Hyberpole and a Half's look at CAKE. The protagonist in this hilarious story reminded me of no one so much as my cat Jellybean.
- I like the tone in this short, personal story from Jerry Grillo.
- Did you know Hanoi, Vietnam just turned 1,000? My friend Andy blogs about the event from a three-foot hole in the sidewalk.
Jellybean would like some cake, too, please. Also cookies, crackers, corn on the cob, broccoli, edamame, chicken, tuna...really whatever you're having.
- I'm usually a fan of Joe Posnanski but he takes a long time to come around to the obvious on this Ichiro post.
- But that was in the regular season. In this post on Roy Halladay's no-hitter against the Reds, and Tim Lincecum's 14-K gem against the Braves, Posnanski is back in post-season form.
- Did you know that George Steinbrenner has been immortalized in Monument Park at New Yankee Stadium? Did you know that his plaque is bigger than any other? Bigger than Ruth or Gehrig or DiMaggio or Mantle? This is the funniest thing I read on the subject.
- Bad news for Billy Crystal: All nine innings of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the Bill Maseroski game, the game that caused Crystal to say in the Ken Burns doc, "I still hurt," has been found. In Bing Crosby's basement. I'll be shown this winter on the MLB network. Fire up the popcorn.
- I like the lead in this Guardian.UK piece, tying the documentary "Waiting for Superman" with the fact that Superman fans have been waiting for Warner Bros. to figure out what to do with Superman since 1993, but it's still a shallow piece that doesn't get to the heart of the Superman dilemma.
- A week later, of course, Warner Bros. finally made a move and tapped Zack Snyder ("300"; "Watchmen") to resurrect the Man of Steel. Not my first choice. Or second. Or 50th. The bigger question is who will be tapped to play Supes. I'm hoping unknown, that's the way to go. To be honest, Brandon Routh has grown into his face a bit and would make a better Superman at 31 than he did at 26, but I doubt a studio will take the chance.
- Speaking of not taking chances: Nextmovie.com lists off 50 remakes being planned by Hollywood. 50! Some seem like perennials ("The Three Musketeers"), some seem like no-brainers ("Footloose," "Meatballs"), some are merely U.S. remakes of foreign properties ("Battle Royale," "El Orfanato"). But a few seem insulting. "All Quiet on the Western Front"? "My Fair Lady"? Why not "Singin' in the Rain" and "Citizen Kane" and "Seven Samurai." Oh, forgot. The last has been remade, lamely, with guns.
- This is a great, humorous story from Roger Ebert, via Walter Matthau, about Tony Curtis and Yvonne de Carlo (above).
- Andrew Sullivan calls out Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly, as far as I've heard, hasn't taken up the challenge. Of course not. Like all bullies, he's a coward at heart.
- Bill Gates, Sr. argues for the next generation, and against his own wallet, in this ad in favor of Washington state's Initiative 1098. My kinda rich guy.
- Have you heard about Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" series, aimed at gay/lesbian teenagers who are being picked on in school? They can be aimed at almost everyone in high school, since high school is a nightmare for almost everyone. My favorites: Dan and Terry; Dave Holmes; and a cop and Marine. Each one is a lesson and a joy.
- Great Op-Ed a few weeks ago by Ron Chernow on the Tea Party and the Founding Fathers. Upshot: You can't say you're following what the Founding Fathers wanted since they didn't even agree with each other. Not even close.
- Finally, and most importantly, a story on my own father and his second career: tour guide at Target Field. If you're in Minneapolis, and want to see the park, make sure you ask for him by name. Bob, by the way, not Jerry.
- My President! This is from a week ago but worth repeating. Pres. Obama on Muslim-Americans: “We do not differentiate between them and us. It's just us.” Awful that this most basic American principle needs repeating.
- OK, Dems this is the way you fight back. And media, this is the way you report. Rep. Michele Bachman, Mn., 6th district, and notorious nutjob, aired campaign ads about a supporter of hers, “Jim, the Election Guy”—a step below even Joe the Plumber in idiotic hooks to hang your campaign on—but no one knew who “Jim, the Election Guy” actually was. So Bachman's opponent, Tarryl Clark, began airing ads starring “Jim, the Actual Voter.” Meanwhile, Derek Wallbank of MinnPost, a great news site created by former Star-Tribune reporters, uncovered Jim, the Election Guy.“ First, his name isn't Jim. It's Beau Peregino. Second, he's isn't from the 6th district. Third, he doesn't even live in Minnesota. He lives in Hollywood by way of Maryland. Full story here.
- Meanwhile, we need more Sherry Devlins in the world.
- Nice piece by Charles Pierce over at Esquire on the Tea Party victory of Christine O'Donnell in the Delaware primary: ”She is what politics produces when you divorce politics from government. She is what you get when you sell to the country that nothing government can do will help, and that the government is an alien thing, and that politics is nothing more than the active public display of impotent grievance.“
- Andrew Sullivan sees this piece by David Weigel as a long overdue takedown of Dinesh D'Souza—he who gave us ”The End of Racism“ in '95, and now gives us ”The Roots of Obama's Rage,“ which D'Souza ties to anticolonialism in Africa (as opposed to, say, anticolonialism in the U.S or anywhere.). And it is a takedown of D'Souza. Mostly. It's also a takedown of liberals. Weigel makes the tired argument that D'Souza is only able to get published because he pisses off liberals. If liberals didn't fight back, he implies, he wouldn't be able to get his crap published. Basically Weigel is counseling the John Kerry route when Kerry was swift-boated in '04. Sssshh. If we be quiet, it'll go away. That worked out well, didn't it? As a liberal, or at least as a Democrat, I feel the problem, generally, isn't that Dems respond; it's the way they respond. For example, I would respond to the title of D'Souza's title with peals of laughter. Rage? Obama? He's the calmest man in the room. The rage is all on the other side.
- He's not the best stage actor, his line-readings are sometimes off, but Lawrence Wright's ”My Trip to Al Qaeda,“ directed by Alex Gibney and available on HBO, is worth the time. His perspective on the U.S. is mine and hardly news (we are channeling the worst in us to take on the worst in them), but his perspective on the different societies of the Middle East, borne of decades of reporting, is always fascinating, not the least this tidbit: the Koran specifically cousels against suicide: ”O you who believe! ... do not kill your people; surely Allah is Merciful to you.“ Wright begins by talking about how the attacks of 9/11 seemed like a movie. He then reveals that he wrote that movie, ”The Siege,“ from 1998, which deals with a terror attack in New York City. Yet I wrote the exact opposite in 2005. In ”The Siege,“ the terrorists think small (buses, etc.) and the U.S. reaction is loud and public (rounding up people in stadiums), instead of what actually happened: the terrorists thinking big (WTC) and the U.S. reacting secretively (Guantanamo; Abu Ghraib). 9/11 reminded us of a movie, yes, but it was other, stupider movies. Our reaction then flowed from that—right down to the ”Get off my plane!“ U.S. President.
- Wright also has a good piece in The New Yorker on Park51, those Danish cartoons, and the need of radicals (here and there) to inflate their own importance. ”Those stirring the pot in this debate are casting a spell that is far more dangerous than they may imagine,“ he writes. He means Geller, Gingrich, Ingraham, and the usual suspects over at FOX-News. What they are doing is dangerous and unpatriotic, and they are doing it to inflate their own importance.
- Have you read The New Yorker piece on the Koch brothers, billioniares both, and their war on Obama? Why not?
- Have your read Michael Lewis on the source of Greece's $1.2 trillion debt—or a quarter of a million dollars for every working adult? Wow.
- I wrote for the alternative program, The Grand Salami, for years, from about 1997 to 2002, and I still pick it up when I go to an M's game. There was a nice Ichiro cover in August (right, from the guy who tends to this site), and a smart decision, given the current state of the M's, to go with a ”Future Stars“ cover (Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda) for September. But owner Jon Wells needs to get off the schnied and get online—or more online than this. Jon's never been shy about his opinions and for the last two months he's been smartly proselytizing (fomenting?) against M's President and COO Chuck Armstrong and M's Chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln, the men for whom winning isn't everything, it's the only thing they can't do. They're more about ”family friendly“ atmosphere and hydro races. Ideally, Jon would like to see them gone. Pragmatically, since they seem more entrenched than Castro, he wants M's fans to let them know that winning matters. In this regard, in his last ”Sounding Off“ column, he includes their postal address so you can let them know how you feel. Here it is: Seattle Mariners, P.O. Box 4100, Seattle, WA 98194-0100.
- But it's his previous column, in August, in which Jon compares and contrasts Armstrong to recently deceased Yankees' boss George Steinbrenner and found him wanting, that's the real kicker. Apparently Armstrong didn't like Randy Johnson much. Apparently that's part of the reason RJ was gone midway through the '98 season. Then Jon includes a sidenote about the aftermath of one of the most depressing M's games ever—the final game of the 2001 season, when the M's, after winning 116 of 162, were unceremoniously shown the door by the Yankees in five games in the ALCS. I've written about it before. Here's what Jon has to say: ”After the M's lost Game 5, I saw Armstrong, with a wide-eyed smile unbefitting a team executive whose team had just seen their dream season end in bitter disappointment, chatting up a security guard in the bowels of Yankee Stadium. I waited until their conversation ended and then asked the guard what Armstrong had been so happy about. He replied, “He said to make sure and beat Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks in the World Series.” Holy crap. I can't even imagine. The Yankees are the M's were fierce rivals at the time. From '95 to '97 we kind of owned them, but from '98 on it was all them. They'd beaten us in the 2000 ALCS (in six games) and now in the 2001 ALCS (in five excruciating games). And this idiot, who actually runs our team, wished them well? Make sure you send your letters. “Dear Beanhead” is always a good beginning.
- Bill James finally comes out on the steroids scandal. With a great deal of common sense, and taking into account the great American personality, he says: Babe Ruth would've done it, too. The Babe brokes the rules. That's who he was. You can prosecute Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens all you want but... is it really worth it? My favorite lines in the piece: “It is a very American thing, that we don't believe too much in obeying the rules. We are not a nation of Hall Monitors; we are a nation that tortures Hall Monitors.”
- This is one of the lamest defenses of lameness I’ve ever read. Fred Fox, Jr., the writer of that “Happy Days” episode where Fonzie jumps the shark, claims the show didn’t “jump the shark” on his watch because…wait for it… it went on for six more seasons! And it was in the top 25 for five of them. So it didn't jump the shark because popular = good. Dude's been in the sun too long. Or L.A. Or both.
- R.I.P., Kevin McCarthy. You'll always be Dr. Miles J. Bennell to me. (Or Victor Eugene Scrimshaw.)
- R.I.P., Harold Gould. You'll always be Kid Twist to me. (Or Rhoda's debonair dad.)
- R.E.P., Claude Chabrol. I need to see more of your movies. Or—yikes—one of them? Bad movie critic, bad movie critic.
- R.I.P. Don Quixote? Eight years ago I reviewed the documentary, “Lost in La Mancha,” about Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to make a Don Quixote story, and about why his attempt to make a Don Quixote story failed—when directors such as Coppola and Herzog, beset by their own on-set disasters, succeeded. Well, apparently Gilliam's at it again. Not at making the movie; at failing to make the movie. Warning: not the best writing. The Independent should be better than that, shouldn't it?
- Finally, what's wrong with the ad below—which I first saw on Rotten Tomatoes—besides the call-out to an “On-Set Cat Fight!” starring apparently Betty White? Yeah, names and faces. The faces have a kind of symmetry—mothers flanking daughters, with grandma caught in the middle—but since billing is set in stone (or contracts), I'd order the faces to match the billing. Because this just looks weird.