Lancelot Links postsWednesday January 23, 2013
- My friend Sean Axmaker interviews writer-director David Ayer about what I consider the most underrated movie of the year.
- My friend Adam Wahlberg has a new digital book venture, Think Piece Publishing, which presents “singular voices on social issues.” MinnPost did a nice write-up here.
- This new venture made me think of the demise of Minnesota Law & Politics three years ago. Please read the comments section for an indication of how much Steve, Bill and Adam meant to the community.
- Hailing frequencies open! Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson talks with Nichelle Nichols. Nice work if you can get it.
- Le meilleur hôtel de France? TripAdvisor recommends three: one in Paris, one in Strasbourg, and one in Colroy-la-Roche.
- On YouTube, British film critic Mark Kermode runs down the 10 worst movies of 2012. Yeah, he's got “John Carter” on the list and shouldn't. It's also a list bookended by Brit films that have never and will never make it across the pond. Comedians worse than Adam Sandler in “That's My Boy” and “Jack and Jill”? Intriguing, actually.
- Why Bill Kristol sucks.
- Finally, I wrote about Earl Weaver a few days ago but here's the real deal: Roger Angell on everyone's favorite short, pugnacious, naked manager.
Hailing freakin' a.
- Here's a travelogue to Minneapolis in the 1930s. The downtown skyline is completely different but Lake of the Isles looks exactly the same.
- Douglas McCollam writes in the Columbia Journalism Review about how Truman Capote got access to Marlon Brando in Japan in 1957 and turned it into the greatest celebrity profile ever written.
- Two modern media giants who don't get paid enough, David Carr and Andrew Sullivan, sit down and talk about Sullivan's decision to go it alone.
- And, hey, I told Sully two years ago he wasn't right for the Beast.
- The greatest tweets ever? Chris Hadfield, currently living in the International Space Station, which is to say outer space, sends tweets back to Earth. William Shatner replied to one and Hadfield replied back, “Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface.” And that was just the beginning. Maybe there's a reason for Twitter after all.
- Sweden made a movie about Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki? Why did I not know about this? Apparently, and unfortunately, they made two versions: Norweigian and English. If you see the movie, make sure you see the former.
- R.I.P., Richard Ben Cramer. “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” opened my eyes. I'll have to read “ I'll have to read ”What It Takes“ now.
- Joe Posnanski crunches the numbers on, of all things, the Topps baseball card numbering system and comes up with the most revered player in Topps baseball card history.
- A history of Seattle moviegoing at the Museum of History and Industry? I am so there. Seattle Times piece written by my friend Michael Upchurch.
- Joel Lovell's New York Times piece on George Saunders, whom he calls the greatest writer of our time. I'm embarrassed I've never heard of him. Either him.
- Tom the Dancing Bug imagines a world in which the NRA is to the first amendment as this one is the second. It's still not pretty.
- Joe Posnanski crunches the numbers on, of all things, how well great pitchers have fared against pitchers. Who has benefitted the most from facing the weakest batters? Who the least? It's one of those stats where you think, ”Yeah, how come no one has done this before?"
Minneapolis in the 1930s was called the city of the future. It was for me anyway.
Lancelot Links (Merry Christmas Edition!)
We're home for the holidays this year, with presents still under the tree, stockings still stuffed, a roast beast waiting in the fridge. In the meantime, some links. Have a great day, everyone:
- Danny Gallagher's “10 Things You Probably Didn't Know about ”A Charlie Brown Christmas.“ And I didn't. I particularly love 3, 5, 6 and 7. I don't know if they were doing market research back then, but it's another example of this. If you want to make something that lasts, listen to the artists, not the business people. The business people will only try to replicate what's been done and will give you nothing that will stick; the artists will try to create something new and original.
- Speaking of: I love the ”Peanuts“ strip for the day, which a FB friend alerted me to. It has great resonance for today. But I miss the history of it. When was this strip created? What year? Moneymen want to remove chronology so the thing can be used again and again as if it were new. Historians know there's a this, then, this, then this. They want to know how the story goes.
- Ghosts of Christmas Past I: What's a good update for ”humbug“?
- Kim Morgan loves herself some Nat 'King' Cole, and while ”Christmas Song“ is good for the time of year, her favorite is Nat's version of the Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish classic ”Stardust.“
- Ghosts of Christmas Past II: Kids say the darndest things, circa 2008.
- Empire magazine lists its 30 Greatest Christmas Movies, but no need to look. They're striving for contrarianism: ”Die Hard“ is No. 1, ”Elf“ No. 2, ”It's a Wonderful Life“ No. 3. ”Scrooged,“ the awful Bill Murray comedy, is at No. 5. As for ”A Christmas Story“? No. 11. Whatev, as the kids say.
- I did time on those lists, too: In 2004, for MSN, the top 10 Christmas scenes. No need to look at that, either. It's slow-to-load, for one. It looks awful, for another. Plus the original accompanying videos are gone. But it went:
- 10) Bing singing ”White Christmas“ in ”Holiday Inn“
- 9) Emma Thompson realizing her husband is cheating on her in ”Love, Actually“
- 8) the intro of Santa's sister in ”Bad Santa“
- 7) Kevin's church scene in ”Home Alone“
- 6) Judy Garland singing ”Have Yourself a Merry Little Chrismtas“ in ”Meet Me in St. Louis.“ Saddest Christmas song ever.
- 5) Alistar Sim as the early Scrooge telling us that man is an island, entire of itself—a message that sadly never goes out of style
- 4) Buddy the Elf confronting a Santa faker who smells of beef and cheese
- 3) Edmund Gwenn's Santa in ”Miracle of 34th Street“ talking Dutch to the poor little orphan girl and making Natalie Wood wonder
- 2) Harry Bailey, 1911-1919
- 1) Santa saying ”You'll shoot yer eye out, kid. Ho ho ho.“
- Ghosts of Christmas Past III: Nook-smart but Saul-Bellow-stupid at Barnes & Noble.
- I'd recommend my favorite Christmas song, ”O Holy Night,“ but YouTube ain't helping in this regard. I like the Irish Tenors' version but it's not to be found. Instead, we get a host of singers who make it more about them than the song. Reminds me of writers who make it more about them than the subject. Bad form. But the Irish Tenors' version is available on iTunes. I'm listening to it right now. Merry Christmas.
”All it needs is a little love, Charlie Brown." — Linus Van Pelt, philosopher
- One of my favorite actors, Benedict Cumberbatch, is in line to play the lead in a story about everyone's favorite band, the Beatles. So who will he be? John? Paul? George? Surely, not Ringo! Nope. Manager Brian Epstein. I'm there.
- First it was Megan Fox, who, with admittedly little historical perspective, compared director Michael Bay to Napoleon and Hitler. Then it was star Shia Lebeouf, who compared the director unfavorably to better directors such as Terrence Malick. (No shit, Sherlock.) Now it's Hugo Weaving (voice of Megatron) who is making off-hand cracks about the hugely successful “Transformers” movies. So if the people within it don't like it, why the fuck do you keep going?
- Via Roger Ebert's recommendation, a very nice piece by Stephen Galloway on Denzel Washington. A lesson in how you write about someone who won't open up. Be straightforward. Tell the truth.
- Rob Neyer isn't much of a believer in the notion of momentum in sports, but after the 2012 World Series, which the Giants won in four straight games over the Tigers, he did his due dilgience to see if momentum mattered in October. Apparently it does. In the 33 best-of-seven series that have started with one team winning the first three games, that team has won the fourth game 27 times. They're 27-6. The results in the World Series are even more lopsided, 21-3, with no team taking it to Game 6. Neyer wonders why. I think the answer lies in familiarity. In the World Series, the other team is more of an unknown. And you're more likely to be mesmerized, and give undue credit to, the unknown. But a team you've played 15-20 times that year? They're just fuckers. And you're thinking, “These fuckers aren't going to sweep us.” Or you're thinking, as per Kevin Millar in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, “Don't let the Sox win this game!”
- Andrew Beaujon of Pointer on why political-insider journalists are attacking Nate Silver. It's the difference between politics as entertainment and politics as math.
- I suppose I should also link to Nate Silver's 538 blog on the New York Times site. Only fair. I've been checking it every day for the past month.
- Jonathan Chait and I may not agree on Hollywood but we agree this: “The Case for Obama: Why He is a Great President. Yes, Great.”
- Andrew Sullivan reacts to Chait.
- Longtime reader Andrew Reed on why he's voting for Obama ... and what's wrong with the other side.
- Two of the Argo Six live in Anacortes, Wash. Erik Lacitis reports for The Seattle Times.
- My friend Kristin is mentioned in this Minneapolis Star-Tribune column on the right-wing attempt to add an amendment to the Minnesota constitution banning same-sex marriage. Even though it's not legal in the state yet. Kristin has a VOTE NO sign in her front yard and received a nice note from a same-sex couple in the neighborhood.
- Winner of the NOT AN ONION HEADLINE award: Former FEMA Director “Heckuva Job” Brownie Criticizes Obama for Acting Too Swiftly on Sandy.
- Mitt Romney's response to Sandy? You don't want to know.
- Finally, a nice photo of New York City after Hurricane Sandy. “And God gave Noah the rainbow sign...”
A different kind of rainbow sign, in Minneapolis this fall. GOTV.
- Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has a kick-ass piece on the VEEP debates, “Joe Biden was Right to Laugh.” Money quote:
Mitt Romney is running for president – for president! – promising an across-the-board 20 percent tax cut without offering any details about how that's going to be paid for. Forget being battered by the press, he and his little sidekick Ryan should both be tossed off the playing field for even trying something like that. This race for the White House, this isn't some frat prank. This is serious. This is for grownups, for God's sake. If you're going to offer an across-the-board 20 percent tax cut without explaining how it's getting paid for, hell, why stop there? Why not just offer everyone over 18 a 1965 Mustang?
- Taibbi also zeroes in on one of Paul Ryan's worst debate lies, one which caused me to yell at my TV screen from about two inches away: the notion that Pres. Obama isn't bipartisan and that he, and Mitt Romney, are. The GOP does this all the time. It accuses its enemies of its own crimes. Salon.com's take here.
- Why can't movie audiences be bothered with a fun, smart film like Ben Affleck's “Argo”? Because, Jeff Wells, says, “young American audiences are, for the most part, obstinate, under-educated, slow-to-catch-on infants who want their pacifier.” Ha! I love it when Wells goes off like this. And couldn't agree more.
- After A-Rod's benching in the ALDS, ESPN.com's David Schoenfield asks “Is Alex Rodriguez a playoff choker?” and comes to the conclusion: No. He even compares his postseason numbers favorably to Derek Jeter's postseason numbers. I'm surprised someone hasn't done that before. Oh, right, I did. Two years ago.
- Joe Posnanski has a smart piece on what the Yanks should do with A-Rod. Bench him? Nah. He may not be A-Rod anymore, says, Joe P., but he's at least Scott Brosius. So bat him down in the order.
- Before the Nats were knocked out the other day in brutal, one-strike-away fashion, Joe P. posted a masterfully nonchalant profile of the masterfully nonchalant Nats' manager Davey Johnson. Posnanski keeps doing this. There's no one better at it.
- My friend Tim, webmaster and comic-strip master, has had a good week on “Cloud Five” with Benny, his comic Yankees fan, and Benny's various complaints. My favorite of the bunch.
- Finally, I came of age with Soul Asylum, the Minneapolis band that couldn't (break through before Nirvana), so the news that Dan Murphy is leaving the band is slightly sad but old news before it happened. I'll let the boys take you out with “Sometime to Return” from 1988. Three years later, everyone would call this grunge: