Lancelot Links postsSaturday October 04, 2014
- Why is the former head of A.I.G., Hank Greenberg, suing the Feds for bailing out A.I.G.? And why is the rest of the press treating it as a legitimate lawsuit? And why does he have my man David Boies on his side? Is it really about the Fifth Amendment or is it to get Tim Geithner on the stand? John Cassidy reports.
- That report might make you angry enough to flip tables. If so, feel free to watch this compendium of cinematic table flips: from “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Moonstruck” to “Die Hard” to “Pulp Fiction.” It makes you realize what an odd thing it is. I mean, who does that? In real life? Besides Jesus, of course.
- Jelani Cobb on the recent Secret Service scandals and Barack Obama's safety. What he doesn't mention, where he doesn't point fingers, is at the Hate Machine that's been pumping out vile since January 20, 2009. If something happens, how culpable would these people be? Can you shout “fire!” in a crowded theater? Can you shout “Kenyan Fascist Socialist Traitor!” at the Oval Office?
- An editorial cartoon about the White House intruder backfires.
- Why am I adding Ben Affleck to my list of heroes? Not because he's playing Batman, and certainly not because he played Daredevil. No, it's because he refused to wear a Yankees cap for a scene in “Gone Girl.”
- Are you watching the MLB playoffs? Particularly the American League playoffs? If not, you're missing greatness. But you can catch up on it by reading the greatness that is Joe Posnanski. Here he is on one of the craziest games I ever saw: that one-game Wild Card playoff between the Royals and A's. And here he is on Game 1 of the ALDS between the Angels and KC.
- Another school board with new conservative members (in Jefferson County, Col.), another fight. The board want kids to study “the postive aspects” of U.S. history while the protesters are accusing the board of censoring that history. Here's a debate I wouldn't mind having: What are the positive aspects of U.S. history? Because I get the feeling my positive aspects wouldn't jibe with the new board members'. Also this: Are there important aspects of American history that fall outside the board member's view of what's positive? If so, what's their rationale for not studying that? Broader: Do we learn from our mistakes? Or: What do you call a person who feels like they've never done anything wrong?
- So who are these conservative school board members? Pam Mazanec is one. She believes in American exceptionalism. As an example, she writes, “Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice ...” Extra credit: Debate the use of the term “voluntarily.”
- At least it's all led to a great, saracastic Twitter hastag. Plus a Funny or Die post on the new, more patriotic, American history test. But we should be past this. People like Pam Mazanec are just wasting our time.
- How did “The Shawshank Redemption” become one of the most beloved movies of all time? Margaret Heidenry gives us a fun, well-written account of the film from soup (Darabont's dollar) to nuts (Ted Turner).
- Here's a nice story: a 31-year-old minor-league journeyman with the Texas organization was called up from Double A recently and got his first Major League hit. Applause, standing o, tears from his parents in the crowd. David Shoenfield reports. Beats all the over-the-top Derek Jeter econimums, doesn't it? Speaking of ...
- Keith Olbermann goes off on the Derek Jeter industry. He says a lot of what I say. But is he a little too insisent? Yeah, he is. He always is.
- This one's better: Author Dan Epstein in Rolling Stone: Derek Jeter: The Longest Goodbye. What other titles might we use for this topic? “Goodbye to All That”? “Goodbye, Farewell, Amen”? “Hello, You Must Be Going”? Work with me here, people. It's his last day in the Majors, after all.
- You ever go to the Majestic Bay Theater in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle and see the “Trip to the Movies” trailer beforehand? Basically dos and don'ts with two 1950sish kids named Russ and Ellen. Well, it's getting a 1970s-style update. Actors wanted.
- This week, Dinesh D'Souza avoided prison time but was sentenced to five years probation, eight months of community confinement, one day a week of community service, and a $30,000 fine. No, not for his writing or his documentaries. For being stupid enough to violate our wide-open campaign finance laws.
- Apparently a Chinese rom-com riffing on (or ripping off) “Sleepless in Seattle” has inspired a real estate boom here. Even though, of course, the film was actually shot in Vanouver, B.C.
- What was fake on the Internet this week. I was fooled by #1 and (via NPR) #3. I heard about the three-boobs thing but knew the background. Most of the others I didn't even hear about. I need to surf more often. Or maybe less.
- Finally, on the last day of the regular season, a New York Times photo essay by Ray Whitehouse of every Major League ballpark. Favorites? I like the shots of Wrigley Field, Comerica, Miller, Busch, Progressive/Jacobs, Nationals, AT&T, and PetCo (SD). My friend Erika was least impressed with the Safeco shot and I kind of agree. I've taken similar ones while waiting for friends at the Glove. Hey, why not the Glove? The Russ Davis Glove, as we called it back in the day. The glove with a hole in it. No matter. It's Game 162 and the M's are still alive—barely—and I'm going to the game with P and the Sheas and with Felix on the mound.
Here's my shot of the left-field Safeco Field entrance. It's B.C.: Before Cano.
- Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), one of the great, fearless men of my lifetime, a civil rights legend and speaker at the March on Washington in August 1963, denounces voter-suppression efforts in Georgia.
- Two of my faves: Jill LePore on Wonder Woman. I actually prefer the former. The latter did nothing for me in comic book form. Only in Lynda Carter form.
- They've announced the longlist for the National Book Award for non-fiction. None of my guys. No Rick Perlstein, no Michael Lewis. On the other hand, a slew of books I wouldn't mind reading if I didn't have a day job.
- What do Toni Morrison's “Song of Solomon” and Jeannette Walls' “The Glass Castle: A Memor” have in common? They've both been banned by the school system in Highland Park, Tex.
- Hendrik Hertzberg on the death of “Stephen Colbert.” All very spot-on, and highlighting my point that no one's mentioning: to replace David Letterman, they've hired an unknown.
- Nursery rhyme: Little John Boehner has lost his lawyer (in the lawsuit against Pres. Obama) but quickly got another.
- An ump tossing a fan for repetitive, profane language? I like it! (Better watch yourself, Tim!)
- You don't see enough of this kind of thing: Box Office Mojo's Ray Suber grades himself on his summer box office predictions. What did we think would take off and didn't? (“How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”) What didn't we and did? (“Guardians,” “Maleficent.”) The comments about July box office were particularly interesting. The studios' fault for putting the wrong movies there? I mean, “Hercules”?
- Here are the awards from the 2014 Port Townsend Film Festival, which P and I attended with friends this weekend. The big winners seem to be the doc “Return of the River” (local) and the feature “Amira and Sam,” which played SIFF and which has been picked up for distribution. We saw our friend's doc “The Only Real Game” (about baseball in Manipur, India: Recommended!) and a showing of “Breaking Away” with a local author presenting. It wasn't a good print; the author didn't have much to say about the movie. So it goes.
- A couple of items from the Sept. 14 issue of The New Yorker, which I finally got around to reading while in Port Townsend for its film festival. First, Kalefa Sanneh's profile of Bill Cosby: “The Eternal Paternal.” It's not bad, and I always like reading about Cosby since he reminds me of my childhood (“Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” comedy LPs) and young adulthood (“The Cosby Show”); but the piece seems tied to Mark Whitaker's biography of Cosby without really being tied to it. It's mentioned and then ... poof! Does The New Yorker do what most media outlets do? Only write about pop cultural figures if it's tied to something being sold?
- Then John Lahr, Bert's son, gives us a portrait of Al Pacino, which is pretty fascinating. I didn't know much about Pacino's life, inner or otherwise, so most of this was news to me. But how Lahr could write as much as he does, and mention as many of Pacino's roles as he does, without touching on “The Insider,” is a mystery.
- Finally, and most importantly, William Finnegan on unionizing fast-food workers and the struggle for a decent wage for a decent day's work. It's both personal (the story of Arisleyda Tapia, who works at a McDonald's in Washington Heights in New York) and panoramic (the fact, for example, that “52 percent of fast-food workers are on some form of public assistance,” or that McDonald's workers over 18 in Denmark “earn more than twenty dollars an hour ... and the price of a Big Mac is only thirty-five cents more than it is in the United States”).
The Lynda Carter incarnation. Good casting. More thoughts on Wonder Woman here.
I didn't even know about this.
Apparently there are 28 pages that the Bush administration redacted from the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, citing national security reasons. Congressmen who have seen these pages say the redaction has less to do with national security and more to do with protecting Saudi Arabia. Both North Carolina Republicans and Massachusetts Democrats says this. They want it to go public.
You know who also wants it to go public? Saudio Arabia. “Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide,” the former Saudi ambassador says. “We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”
Lawrence Wright reports what he knows: about the first two hijackers, the Saudi community in San Diego circa 2000, and who helped who. And why? The why is still iffy. Thomas Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, and chairman of the 9/11 Commission, thinks the ”ton of stuff“ that's still classified, let alone the 28 pages, should go public. So do many officials. Wright quotes Timothy Roemer, saying, ”The more the American people know about what happened thirteen years ago, the more we can have a credible, open debate.”
That's if the American people want to know. I have increasing doubts about this.
- Via The Independent and Karen Tischler: “Abbey Road zebra crossing live feed lets you watch Beatles fans piss off motorists 24/7.” Two things: Infamous cover, Independent? And, yes, sorry Brits, but I would totally be doing this if I were there. Barefoot. With Dave and Doug in front and Pete behind.
- Via Ken Levine: a 2010 LA Times piece by the writer of the “Happy Days” episode where Fonzie jumped the shark. Sadly, the dude doesn't quite get it. He insists the episode wasn't the moment when “Happy Days” began to decline since the show went on for six more popular and profitable years. But we're not talking popularity; we're talking about when real fans knew it was over; when the show bought into its own ridiculousness. That's why “jump the shark” is perfect. Sure, we'll buy that Fonzie can start jukeboxes with his fist and get girls with the snap of a finger. We'll buy him jumping 14 trash cans on his motorcycle. But jumping a shark? On water skis? In southern California? Wearing a leather jacket? Now you're just being silly.
- Via my friend Vinny: Three Reasons to watch (or buy) Criterion Collection movies. I have issues with Criterion. They tend to focus on the style-over-substance movies that I can barely watch, let alone rewatch (see: most of Jean-Luc Godard). But I did just buy three CCs recently—“Nashville,” “All That Jazz,” and “Anatomy of a Murder”—to add to the usual suspects: “On the Waterfront,” “Seven Samurai,” “Children of Paradise,” “Yi Yi,” “Summer Hours.” Plus these “Three Reasons” videos, which Vinny equates to popcorn, have already made me want to watch Steven Soderbergh's doc, “And Everything is Going Fine,” about Spalding Gray.
- Actor Idris Elba on playing Stringer Bell, the lack of diversity at the BBC, and what's so funny about his crotch.
- Bill Gates wants to change history by changing the way it is taught.
- What radical, left-wing site has the headline, “Obama Outperforms Reagan on Jobs, Growth and Investing”? Forbes magazine. So add that to the list of media outlets the wingnuts dismiss. Is The Wall Street Journal next?
Nothing silly about this.