Lancelot Links postsSaturday December 03, 2011
- Earlier this week I gave a talk on how to do a good Q&A. My advice mostly involved listening, being curious, having a conversation, then editing, editing, editing. Nice that Errol Morris, master interviewer, basically says the same. As I said during my talk: It's not rocket science.
- It's always interesting to get outsider views of the U.S., as in this Der Spiegel commentary on the GOP nominees, “A Club of Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses.” Turns out the outsider view of my country is my view. Money quote about the Republicans who would be president:
They lie. They cheat. They exaggerate. They bluster. They say one idiotic, ignorant, outrageous thing after another. They've shown such stark lack of knowledge — political, economic, geographic, historical — that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein and even cause their fellow Republicans to cringe.
- Stephen King wrote a book on the Kennedy assassination called “11/22/63.” Ross Douhat wrote a semi-critical New York Times column on the book called “The Enduring Cult of Kennedy.” Now King calls out Douhat in a letter to the editor. Fun!
- More fun: Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker lists off departing congressman Barney Frank's greatest insults. My favorite is more waggish than insulting: “We don’t get ourselves dry-cleaned.”
- Last Sunday, Dudley Clendinen had a nice NY Times Op-Ed on a timely (for cinema) subject: “How J. Edgar Hoover Outed My Godfather.” Sad, nasty stuff. Makes me wish Clint Eastwood's movie had been more hard hitting.
- Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated on “Brian's Song,” 40 years later. It was as he said. I still remember the grade-school oneupsmanship on manliness. Someone would claim that he never cried, and someone else would bring up “Brian's Song,” and then we'd all admit, “Well, yeah, 'Brian's Song.' Everybody cried at 'Brian's Song.'” Hell, I still tear up hearing the theme music. “Superman had Kryptonite,” Rushin writes. “The rest of us have Brian's Song, the first — and still most surefire — Male Tearjerker.”
- The general rule of modern political journalism is to treat stupid statements from stupid, prominent people as if they were reasonable statements from reasonable people. Salon's Alex Pareene don't play that.
- I don't know if this is going to be a new category/meme on Andrew Sullivan's site but the first example made me laugh out loud.
- My college roommate Dean Jolliffe, who went on to Princeton and then the Dept. of Agriculture and the World Bank, was quoted in this Freakonomics piece on poverty and obesity. Dean's original article was in Economics and Human Biology, which the Freakonomics guys tell us is “more far-reaching” research than what others have put forth. Go Dean! Money quote from Deano:
Contrary to conventional wisdom, NHANES data indicate that the poor have never had a statistically significant higher prevalence of overweight status at any time in the last 35 years.
- Finally, from my sis, an editor at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a nice piece on not letting winter--and we're talking Minneosta winter here--push you indoors. She tried it last February at a weekend winter camp, but ran into some ironic trouble: nice weather. Excerpt:
The air-gun class was held inside. We got a lecture on safety rules and learned how to load the guns. I learned that I'm left-eye dominant even though I'm right-handed. “That's why I've been a lousy shot all my life,” I thought to myself. So I set myself up to shoot left-handed. My first shot hit the inner circle on the target, 15 feet away. So did the second. Virtually my whole round was clustered in the center ring. My kids, who have learned to ignore my anti-gun rants — even about the plastic Nerf guns taking over the block — were in awe.
It's usually about 40 degrees colder, with snow about five feet deeper, during Feburary in Minnesota.
- Via Roger Ebert: OhNoTheyDidnt, a livejournal, celebrity gossip site, has broken down the 13 movies posters we get: from Sexy Back (lone, violent, often western hero), to Back to Back (oh, those crazy couples), Legs Spread Wide (could be a raunchy comedy, could be Bond). My favorite of the bunch is the first, “Tiny People on the Beach, Giant Heads in the Clouds,” films that tend toward the sappy, such as “Charlie St. Cloud,” “City of Angels,” “Forever Young.” Are most of the posters we see French posters? Would be interesting to break down international films by country. How poster art differs from country to country.
- Oscar Oscar Oscar: Brett Ratner's gone as producer after his “fags” comments, etc., so Brian Grazer steps in. Eddie Murphy follows of his own accord as Oscar host. Leaving? Jeff Wells suggests Vince Vaughn. Not a bad idea, actually. Or if you're going to co-host it ... Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Or Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Any of them frat packers.
- Nope. Looks like it'll be Billy Crystal. Like Grazer, the safe choice.
- New Yorker editor David Remnick has a nice piece on former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, who died this week, and who never forgave Muhammad Ali his insults.
- Meanwhile, Smokin' Joe Posnanski weighs in: “Frazier was heavyweight champion of the world when that meant something.” Indeed. And don't forget he was in the first “Rocky.” Yes, in that awful green suit.
- Andrew Sullivan has smart readers. From “Who Caused the Financial Crisis?” series.
- Speaking of: Michael Lewis, who has spent books determining who caused the financial crisis, goes beyond “Moneyball” in this Vanity Fair article. Wait: way beyond “Moneyball.”
- This is the best thing I've read in weeks: Malcolm Gladwell on Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs. Gladwell calls Jobs not an inventor or innovator but a tweaker. He would take something and improve upon it and then close it off so it couldn't be improved upon by others. Thus the closed-off (but well-designed) design of Apple products. Most amusing to me, though, is the anecdote about how the iPad came to be. The Jobs family had a friend who was married to a top executive at Microsoft, and who was invited to Jobs' 50th birthday party. As Jobs tells Isaacson:
This guy badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software and eliminate all notebook computers, and Apple ought to license his Microsoft software. But he was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead. This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, “Fuck this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.”
- Matty Alou, one of the three Alou brothers (with Jesus and Felipe), a lifetime .307 hitter, and the tying run stranded at third when Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson to end the 1962 World Series, died in the Dominican Republic at the age of 72. His career stats here. The death of ballplayers, particularly ones I grew up with, tends to sadden me more than any other celebrity group.
- I mean I spent more time with Andy Rooney than Matty Alou and yet ... Of course, Andy was older, too. Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells gives Andy a nice sendoff.
- Who knew that a dinner party with Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot could be dull and awkward?
- The creator of my favorite TV show these days, Jonathan Ames of HBO's “Bored to Death,” lets the Atlantic magazine in on his reading habits. Quote: “My parents kindly gave me a subscription to The New Yorker but I don't seem to read it any more. They just pile up. I'm so far behind — there's an article from 2010 on the brain I've been meaning to read for almost two years — that I've just given up on the magazine altogether.” P.S. Someday I'll have to write a post about “Bored to Death” and how much I identify with the fictional Jonathan Ames played by Jason Schwartzman.
- You heard what New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said about Congress being responsible for the Global Financial Meltdown? Here's the genteel repsonse from Mike Konczal of Rortybomb: “Both the subprime mortgage boom and the subsequent crash are very much concentrated in the private market, especially the private label securitization channel (PLS) market. The GSEs were not behind them. That whole fly-by-night lending boom, slicing and dicing mortgage bonds, derivatives and CDOs, and all the other shadiness of the 2000s mortgage market was a Wall Street creation...”
- Here's the less-than-genteel response from Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine: “Well, you know what, Mike Bloomberg? FUCK YOU. People are not protesting for their own entertainment, you asshole. They’re protesting because millions of people were robbed, by your best friends incidentally, and they want their money back.”
- Did you read how Hassan Elahi dealt with being a suspected terrorist? Smart.
- Did you read how Ann Jones dealt with being a suspected terrorist? Scary.
- Voted the other day. Mostly a straight Stranger ticket. If a Stranger ticket can be straight.
- The artwork of high school friend Marcellus Hall, a sometime New Yorker cover illustrator, is featured in this post about art for children's books. I marvel at the talent.
- How the U.S. is losing engineering and math students at the college level. Even at the elite college level. I feel part of the problem. Where went that elementary school love of math?
- And bad news on the global warming front: “The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.” At least we've stopped debating that this is happening. Oh right.
The Alou brothers, Jesus, Matty and Felipe, with the San Francisco Giants in the early 1960s. They were the first brothers to play in the same outfield in the same game.
- Here's why Brendan Ryan is one of my new favorite Mariners. That and the fact that his batting average is generally above .250.
- I saw this catch before I even knew Trayvon Robinson was on the M's. Welcome, kid.
- Want to run like Ryan and catch like Robinson? Don't eat movie popcorn—at least at the chains—unless you want 1,200 calories, 980 milligrams of sodium and 60 grams of saturated fat. Eesh.
- Hey, here's another reason to like Brendan Ryan: He's one of the Seattle athletes participating in this “It Gets Better” video. But where's Ichiro? Hell, where's Dan Savage? He started the thing, he lives in Seattle. Let's get together, people.
- Over at IFC, Matt Singer praises the Mighty Marvel Manner of making comic-book movies: with a shared universe and the same kind of continuity with which they've created comic books.
- Peter Bogdonavich is still stumping for “The Searchers.” Jeff Wells isn't buying it. Wells' take is pretty similar to my own more than 10 years ago.
- Talk about devolution: “The 30 Harshest Filmmaker-on-Filmmaker Insults”, which is a fun read, begins with Truffaut on Antonioni (and I agree) and ends with Uwe Boll on Michael Bay (and I could care less what Boll says about anything). The early stuff here is particularly good. Jean-Luc Godard, never one of my faves, takes a few shots. Orson Welles is right on him. The rest is too much piling on Quentin Tarantino and too much lip from Kevin Smith.
- SIFF is reopening the Uptown Theater! Yes! I am so there ... the night after opening night. I'll leave opening night to the corporate crowd. (My RIP for the Uptown, from last November, can be read here.)
- Congratulations to Josh Wilker and his wife on the birth of their son. Josh is able to cull meaning from a 40-year-old baseball card so imagine what he can do with this.
- “Corporations are people, my friend.” Bye-bye, Mitt. Door, ass, out.
- “Rick Perry may be a neo-Confederate sympathizer with a recurring tendency to bring up secession, but he doesn't look as weird in a photograph as Bachmann does.” Salon's Alex Pareene takes down the sudden Republican front-runner with ease, humor and disgust.
- Paul Krugman was particularly good last Monday on S&P and their ways.
- How do you engage an atheist who appears on FOX-News? For Christianists, it's with a 12-gauge apparently. Dozens on Facebook suggested killing the guy. Several suggested nailing him to a cross. Which, of course, would put them, the Christianists, in the “Lord, they know not what they do” category. These people defeat themselves.
- Remember Misha Pemble-Belkin from Tim Hetherington and Sebastien Junger's documentary “Restrepo”? The dude with a calm, bemused manner? Who seems less soldier than punk rocker? Martin Kuz, a friend of a friend, writing for “Stars and Stripes,” caught up with him back in Afghanistan.
- Remember where “Restrepo” was set? Kuz writes how we're back in the Pech Valley again. Some soldiers question the redeployment on the record: “If we wanted to be in this valley, we probably should have stayed.“ Some question it off the record: ”Is there an insurgency if we’re not here? It’s a valid question.“ Meanwhile, the rationale for our return echoes our rationale in 2003: “We’re coming here to set the conditions for a transition that will support the Afghan army and Afghan police in providing security,” Lt. Col. Colin Tuley, commander of the 2-35th, said.
The International Fountain at the Seattle Center last Saturday night, before taking in the Seattle Opera's production of ”Porgy & Bess."
I haven't done a Lancelot Links in a while. Maybe the news is too depressing to link to. (“The devil take this world/And shove it up his ass” is a line from a Tropicals song I keep thinking these days.) But not everything's depressing....
- Here's the trailer for the new ensemble romantic comedy “New Year's Eve,” directed by Garry Marshall. I'm not recommending the trailer or the movie or the director. I'm recommending Jeffrey Wells' one-word synopsis.
- Bachmann Pawlenty Overdrive. Probably the only time in the history of the Internet that a YouTube commenter was dead-on. WTF indeed, Minnesota.
- Well, at least Minnesota elected Al Franken, who, here, takes apart an anti-gay-rights leader. Here's hoping for a real Al Franken Decade.
- Could this be the chart of the decade? New policy changes under Bush: $5.07 trillion . And under Obama (projected to 2017): $1.44 trillion. Grab your favorite tea-partier and shove their face in this.
- The New York Times gives us a necessary Q&A on raising the debt limit. Money quote: “Q: Do you mean that Congress can pass a budget that requires borrowing, and then argue later about whether to approve that borrowing? A: That’s right. The system goes back to World War I...”
- The Onion cuts to the heart of the debt-ceiling debate.
- Funnier? Or dieier? Dan Savage threatens to change the definition of “Rick” if Rick Santorum doesn't behave himself.
- Here's a great takedown of Thomas Friedman by Salon's Steve Kornacki: “Does Thomas Friedman even follow the news?”
- I know it won't garner much sympathy from the rest of the country melting under incredible heat, but this kind of thing wears on you after a bit.
- Meanwhile, in hot and sultry (and sexy, I'm told) south Minneapolis, Jim Walsh goes nightswimming.
- Someone save the left from left-wing activists.
- Someone save the right from folks like Sarah Palin and Andrew Breitbart.
- Related: How's that Undefeated thing working for ya? Brandon Gray at boxofficemojo.com parses the numbers on Palin's documentary and declares: “Even before The Undefeated bottomed out in its second weekend, the movie was a bust in its first weekend, but its boosters latched onto two stats: per-theater average and ranking among political documentaries. The classic tactics of movie spin include bragging about per-theater average and declaring a high ranking in a niche category. The funny thing is that Undefeated's opening didn't rate highly on either front, making the spin extra egregious.”
- In the wake of Anders Breivik's attack on a children's camp in Norway, many are saying that Norway and other Scandinavian countries paid too much attention to extreme Muslims and not enough to homegrown extrimism. Joan Acocella reminds us that Stieg Larsson was paying attention.
- Superman from scratch? I have some ideas. Unfortunately it's just another gimmick. It's creating another universe after DC went to so much trouble to consolidate them.
- Not sure if “Supergods” by Grant Morrison is worth buying (some excerpts were pretty purple), but this article by Tim Martin, on what superheroes mean, where they've been, and where they're going, is definitely worth reading.
- Great appearance by Spider-Man at Comic-Con.
- Supercool slideshow on Slate.com of dancers—and I mean dancers—doing amazing things in public.
- Now go outside and play.
View from Granite Mountain last Sunday.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard