Lancelot Links postsSunday September 12, 2010
- Are the Democrats serious? Listen, this is why I back Pres. Obama and this is why the Dems piss me off. If you cannot sell taxing the richest 1% to the other 99%, then you cannot sell anything and better get out of the game.
- After Jonathan Franzen landed on the cover of Time magazine a few weeks back, Craig Ferman did the hard work and figured out, decade by decade, how many other authors have been on Time's cover. The answer?
- 1920s: 14, including Conrad, Shaw, Kipling, Sinclair Lewis and...Michael Arlen?
- 1930s: 23, including Cather, Stein, Joyce, Mann, Dos Passos, Woolf, Hemingway, Malraux, Joyce again, Faulkner and...John Buchan?
- 1940s: 7 (a war was on, kids), including Sinclair Lewis (again), and...Kenneth Roberts?
- 1950s: 11, including T.S. Eliot, Frost, Thurber, Hemingway (again), Malraux (again), and...James Gould Cozzens?
- 1960s: 10, including Salinger, Baldwin, Lowell, Updike, Solzhenitsyn, Nabakov and...Phyllis McGinley?
- 1970s: 8, including Gunter Grass, Mailer, Vidal, Alex Haley, Solzhenitsyn (again), and... Richard Bach?
- 1980s: 4: John Irving, Updike (again), Keillor and Stephen King.
- 1990s: 4: Turow, Chrichton, Morrison and Thomas Wolfe.
- 2000s: 1: King
- 2010s: 1: Franzen
- As we expected, more or less. Authors were initially central to our culture and then not. But who's missing? No F. Scott Fitzgerald? No John Steinbeck? No Capote, Doctorow, DeLillo, Kundera, Orwell, Roth, Vonnegut? BTW: Is this a new direction for Time? The magazine, which is now also peripheral to our culture, is putting on its cover other things that are periperhal to our culture. Since, it could be argued, the only things central to our culture these days aren't particularly substantial.
- The second-richest man in America in 1986 is now dead. I mention it only because he founded Metromedia, and I used to watch one of those stations, Channel 11, in Minneapolis in the 1970s and '80s. In fact I still have its slogan in my head: A voice intoning: “Metro-Media-Television...” and then dreamily. “11...11...11...” It would be interesting to hear it... Wait a minute. Ah, YouTube. You rarely fail me.
- A great Onion piece: God Angrily Clarifies “Don't Kill” Rule. Money quote from the Lord: “Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand.”
- I had a discussion earlier this week on the birth/death/resurrection cycle with some FB friends, and while we were talking politics and the middle class, you could use that same cycle for “At the Movies,” the show that Siskel and Ebert gave birth to, Disney helped kill, and Roger and Chaz Ebert have now resurrected. The announcement on Roger's blog feels more press release than Roger but the clip of the show feels fun and familiar. The main hosts will be the AP's Christy Lemire and NPR's Elvis Mitchell, with MSN's Kim Morgan adding occasional noir/old-film commentary, and Omar Moore, whom I don't know, and whose delivery is a bit stilted compared to the others (but whose thoughts on Alomodvar's “Broken Embraces” post-theatrical success are great), chatting about online film commentary. Will it work? Is it a format whose time has come and gone? Not sure. But who doesn't love a resurrection story?
- Larry Stone, baseball columnist for The Seattle Times, apparently needed a fan at Safeco Field to tell him that the M's were last in almost every offensive category in the Majors. Reason no. 30 why Larry Stone shouldn't be a baseball columnist for The Seattle Times.
- Friday morning I read a piece by Rob Neyer on why no one will break Pete Rose's record of 4,256 career hits. He thinks it's one of the unbreakable career records of baseball—the 7th least likely to be broken, in fact. (Incidentally, his no. 1 is my no. 1: Cy Young's complete games. No one's touching this.) As for why Rose's record is unbreakable? Neyer says you need a guy who 1) gets a ton of hits, 2) doesn't walk much, 3) doesn't get hurt, 4) leads off. Those guys don't come around much. He mentions Derek Jeter and no one else. I'm thinking: “Dude, Ichiro. He's exactly that guy. He just happened to play the first part of his career in Japan.” Thankfully, that evening, Neyer amended his post with this one, in which he basically smacks his head and offers a mea culpa, or the Japanese version, and says, “Yes, of course: Ichiro, Ichiro, Ichiro.”
- Neyer, by the way, references this Rick Reilly piece on Rose, in which the disgraced Hit King makes some disgraceful comments about the Mariners' Hit King, arguing against infield hits and the legitimacy of Japanese baseball. I never liked Rose. He was a great player but a bully. Plus he had the worst haircut in baseball in the 1970s and that's saying a lot. Plus, you know, he bet on baseball. Interestingly, if Ichiro leads the league in hits this year, and he is at the moment, Ichiro will have led the league in hits the same number of times (7) in his 10 years in the Majors that Rose did in his 24 years in the Majors. How do you like them apples, Pete? But the worst line in the piece isn't from Rose but from Reilly, who, commenting upon the autographed “I bet on baseball” baseballs that Rose sells, asks, “Who else but Pete could turn shame into shekels?” Um... everyone, Rick. Go to any newsstand. It's practically the American way.
- Finally, are you asking yourself, as I'm asking myself, what Marion Cotillard is up to this week? Why, talking to Pip Clements of This is London, that lucky bastard. Takeaway: If she could enter anyone's dreams, she'd choose a lion's; she grew up in Orleans, near Paris, to parents involved in the theater; her teenaged years were “troubled” but acting helped; she had trouble letting go of Edith Piaf after filming “La Vie en Rose”; she likes Chaplin and the Marx Bros.; she's working with Woody Allen and Matt Damon, and her latest French film, “Les Petit Mouchoirs,” directed by boyfriend Guillaume Canet, comes out in France in October; and she's shy when photographed. Evidence:
- Is Ron Charles at The Washington Post showing us the future of book reviews? At the least, his is laugh-out loud funny.
- The Onion on the pride of the uninformed right. Would be funny if it weren't true.
- A doc about the making of Bruce Springsteen's “Darkness on the Edge of Town”? I'm there. If it ever gets here.
- Everyone's second-favorite French gangster, Vincent Cassel, charms MovieLine with boner metaphors.
- Nathaniel over at Film Experience feared he was underperforming, but he actually did some great live-blogging of last week's Emmy Awards, including these lines about why none of us give a crap about the Emmy Awards: “Lead actor... And the winner is Bryan Cranston for the third time. Poor everyone else. This is actually why I've never been into the Emmys. It's like making your bed in the morning. There's always deja vu.”
- Do we regard the terrorist as a symbol (of his race/religion) or as an individual? Stanley Fish on the opportunistic language of the right. Money graf:
The formula is simple and foolproof (although those who deploy it so facilely seem to think we are all fools): If the bad act is committed by a member of a group you wish to demonize, attribute it to a community or a religion and not to the individual. But if the bad act is committed by someone whose profile, interests and agendas are uncomfortably close to your own, detach the malefactor from everything that is going on or is in the air (he came from nowhere) and characterize him as a one-off, non-generalizable, sui generis phenomenon.
- Neil Genzlinger's interesting look at TCM's interesting look at “The March of Time” docs of the 1930s and '40s. Includes a great opening paragraph.
- Christopher Hitchens on the Tea Baggers, in a Slate piece entitled “Glenn Beck's rally was large, vague, moist and undirected—the Waterworld of white self-pity.” Money quote:
In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one. What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated? Who wakes up believing that there is no appreciation for our veterans and our armed forces and that without a noisy speech from Sarah Palin, their sacrifice would be scorned? It's not unfair to say that such grievances are purely and simply imaginary, which in turn leads one to ask what the real ones can be. The clue, surely, is furnished by the remainder of the speeches, which deny racial feeling so monotonously and vehemently as to draw attention.
- Finally, how bad are the Mariners, Seahawks, et al.? Bad enough that Forbes magazine has named Seattle “the most miserable sports city” in America for the second year in a row. Knute Berger writes about it. He doesn't get mad enough.
“No, Kenjiro. I refuse to go to Seattle until the Mariners get a decent no. 3 hitter.”
- Must-read of the week: Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece on the billionaire, libertarian Koch brothers, Charles and David, out of Wichita, Kan., who are helping fund the anti-Obama and Tea Party movements. Listen to this rhetoric: Socialists will “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Socialist, unknown to the rest of us.” Except that's not their rhetoric. Replace “Socialist” with “Communist” and it's from a speech their father gave in 1963, a year in which he also warned of the colored man's use in this plot. Fred Koch was one of the original members of the John Birch Society, or Birchers, and now his kids are helping fund those who question Pres. Obama's birth certificate, or Birthers. That's the progress the extreme right has made in this country in the last 50 years: one letter.
- You know what's really awful about the Koch brothers' rhetoric? It's working.
- “America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure.” Bob Herbert takes the gloves off.
- Tim Egan takes off the gloves, too, on the Know Nothings of the Right.
- Dan Savage makes the best point I've ever heard when arguing same-sex marriage with fundamentalists. “It's almost as if they don't trust God to persecute us after we die. Have a little faith, people!” Whole thing here.
- Must-view of the week: FOX-News wonders where the money for the so-called Ground-Zero Mosque is coming from. Jon Stewart answers: It's coming from FOX-News. Then he asks his own questions: So did the folks at FOX legitimately not know this...or did they not mention the name of the contributor because it didn't fit into their preconceived storyline? Are they evil or stupid?
- Is the Web dead? Robb Mitchell on FB alerted me to this Wired article, which he poo-pooed for going for the iconic look of TIME magazine's 1966 “Is God Dead?” cover (see: “Rosemary's Baby,” doctor's waiting room), and which I initially poo-pooed because it seemed absurd. The Web not only doesn't seem dead, it seems as omnipresent as God. But Wired, of course, is talking web-Web, browsers and all, not Internet. The article is all about apps circumventing browsers. It's an interesting thought. Hey, one day, maybe writers will get paid again!
- The profits of the have-nots in Major League Baseball, like the Pirates and the Marlins, are revealed. Turns out they have.
- Best last line of a movie review this year (thus far) goes to A.O. Scott's review of “Piranha 3D.”
- Nathaniel over at Film Experience rightly accuses the Academy of playing “Logan's Run” by hiding the old folks (your Francis Coppolas) in favor of baby-faced nothings like Miley Cyrus, but his greater point comes later: Why has it been 20 years since a woman presented Best Picture all by her lonesome? He then provides a list of those who haven't done this, including Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, and Julia Roberts. The Academy should blush if the Academy could blush.
- Finally, there's that rumor that Marion Cotillard, late of “Inception,” is being considered, or has been offered, or has turned down, the role of Catwoman in the next “Batman” movie. Why do I care about a mere rumor? I don't, really. I just wanted to post another picture of Marion Cotillard. You're welcome.
- How did the building of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero go from "More power to ya" (on FOX-News in December) to "AAUUGGHHHHHHH!"? Two words: Pamela Geller. Salon has the full history here.
- Nicholas Kristof, meanwhile, says those who object to the mosque are basically taking the Osama bin Laden position. Money quote: "It is mind-boggling that so many Republicans are prepared to bolster the Al Qaeda narrative, and undermine the brave forces within Islam pushing for moderation."
- So how dangerous is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf? FOX-News plays the guilt-by-association game and says "dangerous." Jon Stewart plays that same game and answers: less dangerous than Rupert Murdoch, owner of FOX-News.
- Finally (on this subject), Noah Millman says what I've been saying all along: "Any debate should be about who we are, not about who they are or what we want them to think of us." Exactly. Which path brings us closer to the American ideal? To First Amendment rights? Then you move on to more important matters. As I thought we did last December.
- Here's a more important matter: Who counts as rich? James Surowiecki asks the question everyone, particularly everyone on Capitol Hill, should be asking. If the top tax rate is for the richest one percent, and the richest one percent include anyone making more than $250,000 a year, then it's time to parse this one percent. Tax those making $1 million at a higher rate, and tax those making $10 million at a higher rate, and those making $100 million at a higher rate. And on and on, world without end. Then let Republicans claim that upping the tax rate on the top .1% is hurting "small business owners."
- Speaking of. How insane has the right become? The black helicopters for Colorado's Republican gubenatorial candidate aren't black helicopters. They're bicycles.
- This is fun. Illustrator Christopher Nieman in the New York Times on taking a red-eye from New York to Berlin.
- And this is laugh-out-loud funny: Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) makes a recuitment video for the NYPD.
- I can't believe I haven't linked to this yet. Masato Akamatsu of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp makes one of the great catches of the year, maybe of the decade, maybe further. I love the way he tries to nonchalant it but his emotions get the better of him and he breaks into a smile as he throws the ball in. I love the emotions of the announcers. I love the way Akamatsu seems to go "Wow" at the end. They call it a "Spider-Man" catch but that's Griffey territory to me. This is almost a parkour catch.
- Finally, R.I.P, Bobby Thomson. The opening of Don DeLillo's novel, "Underworld," was originally published as a novella in, I believe, Harper's, and it's all about Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World on October 3rd, 1951 that gave the New York Giants the pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers. DeLillo called it "Pafko at the Wall," which is a great title. Russ Hodges, the Giants' announcer, never used that phrased. He used others. Touch 'em all, Bobby.
October 3, 1951
- Stan James on why Facebook is the new TV. Basically it's the disconnect between the pristine lives on display and the unspoken torment within. But it's mostly about envy...of those pristine lives on display. It's Winesburg, Ohio, 2010. “I used to be on Facebook a lot,” a friend of James tells him, “but found that it left me feeling bad about my life.” Amen. I experienced that this morning—less about the lives, I guess, than the careers of people I don't really know. On the other hand, is this bad? It's me telling myself to get out there again instead of staying in here.
- Last month British actor Andrew Garfield, 27, was picked as the new teenaged Spider-Man. Do we care? Not yet. Nothing against Garfield but I thought Tobey Maguire was perfect casting for Steve Ditko's Peter Parker. Plus the first “Spider-Man” was released only eight years ago, while the most recent “Spider-Man” (3) only three years ago. We're in the age of the perpetual reboot now, which devalues everything. Don't know where to go with your story? Start over. Apparently even Marvel, which invented the idea of continuity for costumed superheroes, and which is attempting same in the movie realm with their “Avengers” project, is getting rid of the most recent Bruce Banner, Ed Norton, who is the second Bruce Banner of the decade, for a third Bruce Banner as yet unnamed. Mark Ruffalo? John Cusack? Hey, how about Andrew Garfield?
- Argentina joins the 21st century. The U.S.? Stuck in 1968.
- Andrew Sullivan keeps doing it. This post is exactly my feeling on what is right about Pres. Obama and the Obama administration and what is wrong with the do-nothing, bitch-about-everything opposition. Money quote:
The public may be frustrated by the lack of progress in the economy, and who can blame them? But they are still looking for solutions more than someone to blame. And most are fair enough to understand that Obama has no magic wand, that these problems are bone-deep, and that he has passed actual, substantive legislation that fulfilled clear campaign pledges in an election he won handily.
- Since I don't watch cable news I missed most of the Shirley Sherrod debaccle: how she gave a speech in which she brought up a negative (hers) in order to accentuate a positive (ours, hopefully); how Andrew Breitbart used only the negative portion of that speech to condemn her, the NAACP and the Obama administration, and to drum up fears of a black planet; how FOX-News kept beating that drum (“What racism looks like” they said); how she was fired as a result from her position at the Dept. of Agriculture; and how, finally, everyone went “Oops” and went looking for scapegoats. But it wasn't until I read Frank Rich on the debaccle that I realized she was married to civil rights veteran, and legend, Charles Sherrod. That fact doesn't make the whole experience worse, necessarily. It just makes it more...poignant.
- Finally, two years ago, just before the 2008 election, we did a cover story on David Boies for New York Super Lawyers magazine, called “Boies v. Bush v. Gore.” Written by Tim Harper. It's a good piece, check it out. Then check out Boies recounting his cross-examination of witnesses during the Prop. 8 trial in California. He actually got an anti-gay-marriage advocate to admit, on the stand, that allowing same sex marriage is more in line with the American ideal than not. Wish we could profile him again.