Lancelot Links postsTuesday January 29, 2013
- Interesting juxtapositon of baseball articles in the Sunday New York Times the other day. On page 8, there was a short memoir piece by Joseph Burgess on finding, and then losing, the Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. It's all about a love of Junior.
- On page 7, meanwhile, an investigative piece by Michael S. Schmidt and David Waldstein suggests Junior's old teammate, Alex Rodriguez, who passed Junior in career homeruns last year for fifth place, is seeing a doctor in Florida who may be associated with administering human growth hormone. Are the Yankees trying to cut A-Rod loose? Is A-Rod just clumsy? Is the article a misunderstanding? He's had injuries, sure. But wouldn't steroid use and HGH make A-Rod less likely to be injured, rather than more? Either way, we've come a long way since A-Rod and Junior, both so young, hit 2nd and 3rd in the M's lineup. A-Rod's tarnished and still suspect; Junior, beloved, is a baseball card.
- In that same day's New York Times Book Review, a great Q&A with author Alain de Botton. Quote: “It’s a mistaken prejudice of our times to think that the only way to cheer someone up is to tell them something cheerful. Exaggerated tragic pronouncements work far better.”
- Here are the 2013 Cesar nominees. Let's go “De Rouille et d'os”! 19 fevrier a Paris.
- Here's a fun memoir piece from Ken Levine on laughing too hard as a newbie writer on “The Tony Randall Show,” the one where he played a Philadelphia judge. I think that was my heyday of TV watching. Double lesson: fear is a great motivation; and never laugh when you find something really funny.
- Wow, that was quick. Two days after the Times story, David Schoenfield suggests A-Rod's career is over.
His last at-bat?
- OK, this is fun: Paul Giamatti reenacts romantic scenes from “Magic Mike, ”Twilight,“ and ”You've Got Mail“ with Julie Klausner. I would've liked to have seen the entire scene from Channing, Robert and Tom, just to compare, but it's still great fun. Oddly, P.G. may be best at ”Magic Mike,“ when he's at least PG-13.
- Joe Reid gives the Razzies a Razzie in ”13 Really Good Movies Nominated for a Razzie.“ And save him the aisle seat.
- Then there's Joe Posnanski on Stan ”the Man“ Musial: on how he got called ”the Man“; on how he was signed in the middle of the Depression; on how he hurt his shoulder and became a hitter instead of a pitcher; on the stats, the lovely stats; and on what lovely man he was.
- From last month: a profile of Adam Posen, only the second American economist to serve on the Monetary Policy Committee, the custodian of the British pound. He's spent several years encouraging stimulus rather than austerity. To no avail. Do Keynesians need to focus on the reaction rather than the action? ”Creating economic demand“ through stimulus feels smart and grounded. ”Inspiring confidence“ through austerity sounds like so much voodoo. It's the kind of feel-good narrative the right usually mocks.
- This made a quote of the day but it bears repeating. Musician Mike Doughty on how he knows Beyonce was actually singing ”The Star-Spangled Banner“ live during the inauguration. He explains it so well even a music doofus like me can understand.
- BTW, make sure you check out Doughty's music, particulary ”American Car.“ I have more Doughty in my collection than Beyonce: 24-2.
- Apparently they've made a documentary on Tim Hetherington, co-creator of ”Restrepo,“ the best American movie of 2010, who died in Libya in April 2011. Called ”Which Way is the Front From Here.“ I'm already there. ”There“ being Sundance, which I'm not. So I guess ”there“ will have to be HBO on April 18, when the doc will premiere for the rest of us.
- Damn, this is sad. Peter Robbins, 56, the first voice-actor to play Charlie Brown in memorable TV specials such as ”A Boy Named Charlie Brown,“ ”A Charlie Brown Christmas, and “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” has been arrested on 12 felony counts, including stalking and making criminal threats. Apparently no little red-haired girl was involved. I know, I know. Too sad to joke about. Rats.
- This is sadder. Beek's Pizza on 53rd and Lyndale in South Minneapolis, one of my favorite spots as a kid, was ravaged by fire late Thursday. I mentioned the joint in this piece, “A Walk Through the Old Neighborhood in South Minneapolis.” It's the last line: Beek's lives.
- Have you seen Philippe Dubost's resume? Maybe “Fight Club” was wrong. Maybe clever works sometime. One hopes anyway.
- Finally, Bill Maher recently suggested that birther Donald Trump is close cousin to the orangutans, since, he says, their hair color only naturally appears on either of them. This led to a column by Frank Cerebino of The Palm Beach Post, which begins, beautifully, “Somebody needs to speak up for the orangutans.” And this has led to Trump wishing the newspaper dead, which, in this age of dying newspapers, is like wishing death at an assisted living facility. Now if we can only get Paul Giamatti to reenact it all.
“We all disappointed someone from time to time,” the Hall of Famer Robin Roberts said when we talked about kids and autographs. “Well, all of us but one.” “Who was that?” I asked. “Musial,” he said in a voice that indicated I should have already known. — Joe Posnanski
- 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