Lancelot Links postsTuesday December 25, 2012
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:
- My friend Craig Wright has a play on Broadway, “Grace,” starring Michael Shannon, Paul Rudd and Ed Asner. I think it originally debuted in 2006 in Chicago but it's playing now in New York. Are you near there? Go. Craig writes about what matters.
- Chris Orr at The Atlantic on what makes “The Avengers” good. Short, sharp piece.
- Really, baseball fans? Derek Jeter leads jersey sales for the third straight year? Have you no imaginations? Have you no sense of decency? At long last? Unmentioned is the fact that Ichiro's Yankees jersey placed third in less than half a season.
- Meanwhile, David Schoenfield (which I believe is a ballpark in New York upstate) imagines the 10 least popular jerseys. No. 1 on the hate parade? Playing for the Seattle Mariners, number 9...
- I don't know if I'll write about the first presidential debate or not. I missed it (as did, apparently, Pres. Obama), but from what I've read I agree with everything Paul Krugman says here. Mitt Romney is the car salesman who promises everything at no extra cost and no money down. Then you drive it out of the lot and the wheels come off. And the bill arrives.
- In the wake of positive unemployment numbers, Krugman also tells the GOP they can't handle the truth.
- My friend Ben almost gets into it with an anti-Obamaite at Costco. Fun!
- How Louis CK is turning TV into a Raymond Carver short story directed by (and starring) David Lynch.
- Why save PBS? These reasons, asshole.
- Finally, a little Sam Cooke to send you out. According to iTunes, I've listened to this song 158 times. It's No. 8 on my iTunes Hit Parade:
- From The Telegraph, 50 Years of James Bond posters! Cool. Until I realized it wasn't really 50 years. It's 10 posters: seven from the 1960s, one from the 1970s (“For Your Eyes Only”), one from the '90s (“Tomorrow Never Dies”), and one from the 2000s (“Quantum of Solace”). That's skipping a lot of Bond. On the other hand the objectification of the Bond girls from the early 1960s (“From Russian with Love” and “Thunderball” in particular) is rather startling. I would've thought that would've been more of a '70s thing.
- I'll have a review of Daniel Anker's “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust” (2004) up soon. But this is his next doc: “Sidney Lumet: A Moral Vision.” I'm there.
- Nathaniel Stein of The New Yorker talks up Bill Clinton's conversation with the teleprompter: How he remade his much-talked-about speech at the DNC on the spot.
- Also from the DNC: Andrew Sullivan on Obama's acceptance speech: “Obama knows how to build a speech: 'Yes, our path is harder but it leads to a better place.' The Christianity of the man shines through at moments like this. He isn't promising heaven and earth (and he didn't last time, either); he's promising persistence in defending the middle class in a globalizing world economy and increasing social and economic inequality.”
- Philip Roth tried to get Wikipedia to change its entry on his novel “The Human Stain” but he was told he wasn't a credible source on Philip Roth. The younger Roth would've lobbed a hilarious bon mot at the site or written an article-length parody. The elder Roth just goes on and on.
- Rightwing nutjobs on the wrong side of history in Minnesota are trying to constitutionally restrict marriage to unions between one man and one woman. But some older folks are on the right side of history.
- Do you shut down 24-year-old phenom Stephen Strasburg when his team, the Nationals, has a chance to bring a pennant to our nation's capitol for the first time since 1933? Joe Posnanski weighs in.
- The Angels' Mike Trout began Saturday's game with a homerun and ended it robbing Prince Fielder of a homerun. Trouth giveth, taketh.
- Why we need more government jobs. Per Krugman.
- Finally, another Marion Cotillard moment. Her latest, “Rust & Bone” (ou “De rouille et d'os”), is getting raves but with warnings. Not for the faint of heart, etc. Bonus: It's directed by Jacques Audiard, whose most recent film, “Un Prophete,” was my favorite film of 2010. Here's the trailer: