Lancelot Links postsSaturday April 16, 2011
- James Rocchi is one of the better movie critics out there, by which I mean he's one of the better writers out there who happens to be writing about movies. This diatribe against Comments fields is indicative. The ending cuts to the heart of the matter: “I'm a grownup. I put my name on what I say. And if you can’t do that, or can’t get why that matters in an age of willful stupidity and inhuman rudeness, then, really, who cares what you bellow from your rotten, wounded idiot heart?”
- Andrew Sullivan liveblogs Pres. Obama's budget speech. He was impressed. As was anyone who had a heart and a sense of history.
- Hendrik Hertzberg has a nice piece on the same speech. Basically: About effin' time. Meanwhile, “The Daily Show” missed the boat and went for the obvious.
- Then there's audio of Pres. Obama being less politic about the Republicans. More, more! This is a case that needs to be made and made now: tax the rich, regulate Wall Street, provide a social safety net for our most vulnerable, which may include us.
- And if you want to really scare yourself, read Jeffrey Toobin's “Talk of the Town” piece on the U.S. Supreme Court's continued 5-4 majority belief that corporations are human beings and money is speech, and what this means for 2012.
- I didn't know “Soul Surfer” was supposed to be a Christian movie until I read Andrew O'Hehir's piece on why modern Christian movies are so lousy: “Does the Lord really want to be glorified by way of something that looks like an especially tame episode of 'Baywatch'?”
- Nice “Big Picture” post about Sidney Lumet fighting the blacklist.
- Even nicer: David Thomson on the regretful eyes of Marion Cotillard.
- My friend Andy blogs about dong, which is to say Vietnamese currency, and the quick route to becoming a Vietnamese millionaire. Just add $250 U.S. He also forced me to look up “numismatic.”
- My friend Kristin has spent the year taking a photo a day. I like the week of yellow.
- Let's go out with some music, shall we? The Damnwells have a new album and this is the first single from it (if we still do singles): “The Great Unknown.” Nice video. Nice message. Ballsy opening line.
L'opposite de Piaf: je regrette tout.
- This week someone alerted me to Austin Kleon's pep talk/slide show/life advice “How to Steal Like an Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me),” and some part of me is cheesed that I still need this advice, at my advanced age, but mostly I'm just grateful that it's there. Immediate reactions to the 10? 1) I've always stupidly fought against; 2) I've always known, have even had arguments about, but I've never put it that way before; 3) I need to repeat every day; 4) will be increasingly difficult; 5) YES! Or, paraphrasing John Lennon, Art is what happens when you're busy making other plans; 6) is more profound than it sounds; 7) is, well, not as worthy as the others (poor 7); 8) please, 9) got that covered, and 10) yes, “Kill your little darlings.” Much thanks to Austin. I'll keep returning.
- On BBC Radio, Jennifer Egan talks about the pauses in rock songs--inspired by Jake Slichter's discussion of same, as it related to the song “Closing Time,” in his excellent memoir of the Semisonic years, “So You Wanna Be a Rock 'n Roll Star?”
- Via Jim Walsh: Great video of Bruce Springsteen, opening for Dave van Ronk in Kansas City in 1972, singing “Growing Up,” and seeming very much one of the next Bob Dylans that Loudon Wainwright III once sang about. Two immediate thoughts: 1) damn, he was handsome; 2) this was from a period when intellectualism, being smart, was still coveted by the general culture. You wanted to write lyrics as smart as Dylan's. Before the great dumbing down in the Reagan '80s.
- Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere highlights a great, early '60s-style, Saul Bass-y title sequence to the upcoming film, “X-Men: First Class,” which is set during the early 1960s. Joe DiLeonardo of Trenton, NJ is the man with the plan. Check out his site. Love his Shepherd Faireyesque “Woody Allen has a posse” poster.
- You see Billy Crystal on “The Daily Show” the other night? He came on and I thought “I miss him. Wonder what he's up to?” Turns out--and was this a first?--he was on “The Daily Show” to plug a Funny-or-Die clip. Maybe he was also on because people missed him.
- Mickey or Bugs? To me it's not even a debate. But over at Andrew Sullivan's site (his new site on the Daily Beast), they've been refining the reasons why corporate icon Mickey Mouse is inexplicably more popular than trickster rabbit Bugs Bunny. Naaah, WTF, doc?
- I'm with Jane Mayer on this. I wanted an open, civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. Instead we gave in to fear and politics, and he's getting the Gitmo treatment.
- Dahlia Lithwick at Slate weighs in, too. Hard. She writes: “In reversing one of its last principled positions—that American courts are sufficiently nimble, fair, and transparent to try Mohammed and his confederates—the administration surrendered to the bullying, fear-mongering, and demagoguery of those seeking to create two separate kinds of American law.” Then she gets tough.
- But if you really want to get into it, you should read Terry McDermott's excellent profile of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in last September's New Yorker. You'll discover the haphazard way tragedy strikes and history, tragic history, is made. You'll also find a man, not a beast. The wacko right would read into that last sentence an excuse, an excusing, but it's the opposite. Being human means being responsible, and thus potentially culpable. A monster just is. It's like blaming a shark for eating.
- Then back to Dahlia again. After routing the Obama administrtion for abandoning rule of law, she takes on the conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, for undermining the culpability of prosecutors who withhold evidence, and undermining the landmark decision Brady v. Maryland.
- You probably don't know Cathie Black, the schools chancellor for NYC, you probably don't care about Cathie Black, unless you have children in NYC, but you should check out Amy Davidson's New Yorker post on why Black wound up with a 17% approval rating and is no longer schools chancellor for NYC. Holy crap. Her first answer is bad enough. The second essentially makes Nazis of us all.
- Dave Schoenfiled, who took Rob Neyer's place as the Sweet Spot guy, counts down the 50 greatest Yankees of all time. Here it's numbers 15 (Don Mattingly) though 1 (George Hermie Something). What do you think? Jeter before DiMaggio? Mantle before Gehrig? Posada before Rivera? Might see that middle one. The other two leave me shaking my head.
- It's official: Manny's been Manny.
- This is the funniest, most poignant paragraph I've read all week: Cardboard Gods' Josh Wilker on choking up (on the bat), Gene Richards (of the Padres), and the Padres' 2011 chances.
- Finally, footage of Tony Oliva's statue being unveiled outside Gate 6 at Target Field yesterday. Long deserved. Go to my bio page and you'll see me and Tony Oliva 41 years ago. Same on the baseball page (eventually). Only player in baseball history to lead the league in hitting his first two years in the Majors (1964, '65). Only did it once more ('71). Then the knee. Lead the league in hits five times, double four times, runs once, slugging once. Prettiest swing. Prettier than the statue. Ask Roger Angell.
Classic Minnesota moment: a statue is unveiled but ... no need for too much pomp and circumstance. It's just us here.
- Favorite gay-themed movies? Awards Daily has the top 15 here. Not surprisingly, most are from the past 10 years. Elsewhere, in Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeff Wells objects to the exclusion of “Boys in the Band.”
- Steve Allen used to mock crappy rock 'n roll lyrics (or any rock 'n roll lyrics) by reading them aloud as if they were poetry. Maybe this is the updated version of that. That is, if you can mock anything in our “only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” culture.
- The New York Times' David Laskin spends “36 Hours in Seattle” and spends Friday night at some of my hangouts: Elliott Bay, Oddfellows, Sitka & Spruce. But no Molly Moon's? No Cafe Presse? And while he writes, vis a vis the Arboretum, “You don’t have to leave the city limits to immerse yourself in the region’s stunning natural beauty,” I'd still recommend it. If can choose when to come to Seattle, come in July and August and get out in the Cascades and Olympics.
- The New York Times editorial page takes down Gov. Paul LePage of Maine for the whole “mural in the Labor Dept. building” non-controversy. Takes him down, I should add, not gently.
- Not every governor is nuts. There's Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who, this week, became the first MN governor in decades to meet with citizens of North Minneapolis, and who stunned the crowd with a simple promise.
- From Vanity Fair, a pretty cool account, part of an upcoming bio on Robert Redford by Michael Feeney Callan, on the making of “All the President's Men.”
- Linton Weeks at NPR echoes my complaint: that we are not only a fragmented society but a fragment society; that we spend our cultural lives nibbling and sampling, not gorging. Options are too many, world is too confusing, attention spans are shot. And, yes, I didn't read the whole thing.
- ESPN's Jim Caple remembers Dave Niehaus.
- The guy whose house we were at to divvy up the M's tickets? Stephen Manes? He's quoted in today's New York Times about the new Paul Allen book, “Idea Man.” Why is he quoted? Because he wrote his own book, years ago, called “Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry--and Made Himself the Richest Man in America”, so he knows a thing or two about the subject. His reaction to the revelation that Bill Gates tried to cheat Allen in the early days of Microsoft? Basically: “It's in my book.”
- The New Yorker's Ben McGrath has a nice piece on the Barry Bonds trial that calls into question: 1) its necessity; 2) the banning of PEDs from sports. I'm not buying it but it's definitely worth reading. Of course you have to buy The New Yorker (or borrow my copy) to do so. Only an abstract is available online. But as Rob Neyer wrote the other day, “It's the freaking New Yorker. If you enjoy the beauty of our language, you should be subscribing already.”
- Speaking of Neyer, he has a nice post, “Embracing the Beauty of the Unlikely,” on three of the Royals' Opening Day relief pitchers.
- I didn't know The Oatmeal dude lived in Seattle. But he does and he nails our less-than-fair city.
- The Woody Allen movie, “Midnight in Paris,” opening the Cannes Film Festival looks ... fun, actually. It begins like a continuation of some part of “Annie Hall”—she wants to hang, meet new people, etc., and he doesn't—but then something magic and funny seems to happen. At least one hopes. I haven't liked a Woodman film in more than a decade, so ... fingers crossed.
- Finally, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Colin Covert has a nice interview with the writer-director of the new comedy “Win Win,” the writer-director of indie hits “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” the co-screenwriter of the Pixar comedy, “Up,” and the actor who played scumbag preppy journalist Scott Templeton in the fifth season of HBO's “The Wire.” And it's all the same guy: Tom McCarthy.
When journalists were the heroes.
- Over at The Art of the Title Sequence, they have a cool “Brief History of Title Design” by Ian Albinson: “Intolerance” to “King King” to “Modern Times” to “My Man Godfrey” to film noir and Saul Bass, to Bond and Pink Panther, to Scorsese sandwiched between blockbusters. Short shrift to older films? What's missing? I say this as someone who tends to miss title design.
- And yet, for some reason, 11 years ago, The Seattle Times sent me to review this.
- Alex Eylar has created a mashup called “Supercut - Spoiler Alert,” in which he gives away the spoilers, more or less (they're not obvious, being out of context), from more than 70 films. We watch a surprising number of movie stars (Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Jean Reno) getting shot in the head. My favorite section, though, is the one related to our deep-seeded fear of falling: everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Alan Rickman to Ian McKellan to King Kong to those frogs in “Magnolia.”
- Of course, in the way of the Web, that led to this: the “Get out of There” mashup. Question: Are these kinds of mashups, where we get the same line, the same scene, over and over and over again, ultimately a greater critique of Hollywood than anything Pauline Kael ever wrote?'
- Jeff Wells gets naked with Angie Dickinson.
- Josh Wilker is predicting each team's 2011 baseball season by reading into a random card from that team. It's one of the small joys of spring for me. (In a spring in which I need joys, small or otherwise.) The close-up of Lou Piniella on his '76 Yankees card? “The big fat face of the Yankees will be all up in your grill.” That '81 Pops Stargell card? “The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates will once again cause their fans to ponder seemingly unbridgeable distances, but I also see a little yellow spark of hope.” Wilker is also quite poignant on Larry Hisle (Twins), Bill Freehan (Tigers), and Barry Foote (Phillies). And probably wrong about the meaning of Barry Foote.
- BTW, his book, “Cardboard Gods,” a must-read, and reviewed by me here, with comment from his brother Ian here, is now out in paperback. Buy it already. Read it. You'll thank me.
- Here's some bad new about Barry Bonds. The second government witness against him is childhood friend and former business manager Steve Hoskins, who, in 2003, recorded trainer Greg Anderson talking about giving Bonds shots, how it was undetectable, how it was the same stuff Marion Jones used.
- Here's some good news about Harmon Killebrew.
- First Avenue South in front of Safeco Field in downtown Seattle has a new honorary name: Dave Niehaus Way. I think we need more than honorary, Seattle.
- The first reason to like Buck Showalter is his lack of faith in rookie pitcher Mariano Rivera in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS. Here's the second reason.
- You're kidding me. New footage of the Bambino, the Georgia Peach, and the Big Train? How cool is that? I think I'm most blown away by Walter Johnson's pitching motion.
- You're kidding me. New footage of the Bambino and the Iron Horse barnstorming in '27? Have they found any new footage of Cool Papa Bell yet? Cy Young? Abner Doubleday? William Shakespeare?
- Christy DeSmith admits she can be taken in by pomp and circumstance but has questions for Tim Pawlenty and his slickly produced videos.
- Love the Bobcats over at oatmeal.com. Makes me wonder: What bad behavior would our cat, Jellybean, be demonstrating at work? Stealing people's chairs? Watching them eat? Yakking away and complaining when they're trying to work? “Power naps”?
- Oatmeal.com also has a good strip on Pres. Obama meeting the technology gurus.
- Wisconsin Republicans keep getting crazier and crazier.
- Zack Snyder says he's going to show us a Superman we haven't met before. Another way of saying “reboot.” He also wants to create a more “realistic” setting for the Man of Steel. As with Snyder's “300,” “Watchmen” and now “Sucker Punch”? To quote Han Solo: “I've got a bad feeling about this.”
The absurd, insulting realism of Zack Snyder. Yes, Abbie Cornish, you should be hooded and hiding in the background.
- In Rob Neyer's old ESPN.com slot, Jon Weisman wonders “Where Have All the Game 7s Gone?”—which I wrote about two and a half years ago, in an open letter to Bud Selig, but whatever. It's still worthy of discussion. More than ever, I guess, since it's been three more years since we've had that Game 7. Unfortunately, Jon's penultimate sentence is unworthy: “This year marks the 10th anniversary of Arizona’s bottom-of-the-ninth walk-off title, and quite arguably, we haven’t had a more memorable World Series game since.” Quite arguably? Not even arguably but quite arguably? Lord. Just say it, Jon. Game 7, bottom of the 9th, the hometeam goes from defeat to victory against the best closer the game has ever seen. I don't think there's anything arguably about it.
- Speaking of: What's the gap between Mariano Rivera and the active pitcher with the second-most saves? What was the no. 1 song in the nation when Mariano was born? How many saves does Mariano have since Rob Nenn, who's the same age, retired? Joel Sherman at the NY Post has your answers.
- Fun piece by Craig Calcaterra on the greatest living player for each franchise. He's got my teams, the Twins and Mariners, right, but I wouldn't give it to Nolan Ryan in Texas (Pudge instead) nor Joe Morgan in Cincinnati (Bench). Would probably go Berra over Jeter, too. Hey, that's three catchers, isn't it? I'm consistent anyway. Not enough to choose George Mitterwald or anything, of course...
- TNR's James Downie on “What Caused Glenn Beck's Decline?” I love the use of the past tense in the title but unfortunately the present continuous is probably more apt.
- Great quote of the day from Paul Carr. Must reading for writers and editors (and readers) everywhere.
- Apparently I'm on shaky ground. Literally.
- Fun bit from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost doing z-grade C3PO and R2D2. Pegg has Anthony Daniels down.
- Lord. They're already rebooting “Daredevil,” with David Slade (“Twilight: Eclipse”; “Hard Candy”) set to direct. Well, can't be worse than the first one, can it?
- I referenced this last week but in case you missed it here it is again: In his year-early, March 2010 predictions for the January 2011 Oscar nominees, IndieWire's Peter Knegt correctly predicts only one of the best actor nominees (Colin Firth), one of the best supporting actor nominees (Geoffrey Rush), none of the supporting actress nominees, but four of the five best actress nominees. He only misses Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter's Bone.” So is the pool simply smaller for best actress? (Yes, it is.) Are these actresses more consistent? Did he just get lucky here and unlucky elsewhere?
- I like Jeff Wells' comments on “The Rookie”—the Dennis Quaid real-life story of a high school pitching coach who becomes, at 36, a reliever for the Tampa Bay Rays. It's one of those, “You know, that wasn't a bad movie” movies. Any others come to mind? Movies that are never in the big discussioins but are pretty good. “The Dead Zone”? “Unbreakable”? “About a Boy”? Or are some of those too good for this category?
Greatest living Twin.
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