Lancelot Links postsFriday November 11, 2011
- 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.
Talented friends edition.
- My friend Adam Wahlberg has a nice piece in our alumni magazine about a panhandler, a statue, and a soul-searching moment. It's specific to Adam but universal. We've all been there on that curb. Somehow Adam also rates a Barry Blitt illustration? Not just that: he gets drawn by Barry Blitt? Was Blitt an alumnus? A Hubert Humphrey fan? Excerpt:
I stand on the curb a long moment, wondering when and how I became this guy. I shoot a glance across the rail line to Minneapolis City Hall. Hubert Humphrey is looking right at me. ...
I’m 41. Humphrey (B.S. ’39) was heading back to the U.S. Senate by the time I was born. Before that he was mayor of Minneapolis, a U.S. senator, vice president under Lyndon Johnson, and then the Democratic candidate for president. He died when I was in grade school. I never met him, voted for him, heard him speak, or experienced him in any firsthand way. But I’ve always been inspired by images of him. It’s the smiling thing. He’s always beaming in photos, especially when surrounded by throngs of people. The Happy Warrior. With how polarized the discourse has become, are people even allowed to be happy in politics these days? We have a comedian in the Senate right now who has barely cracked a smile in two years.
- Minnesota's newly conservative legislature, at odds with any notions of Minnesota Nice, not to mention 20th century progress, are wasting everyone's time by attempting to ban gay marriage in the state. My friend Jim Walsh, in the pages of Southwest Journal, penned this take on his first birds-and-the-bees lesson, an adolescent run-in with (and run from) reactionary forces, a middle-aged f-u to those guys and that moment, and a parting kiss:
Which was somewhat comforting, a subtle reminder in these times of scarlet letters, sexual suspects, and same-sex lynchings: No matter what laws go on the books, no matter how hateful the ignorance, people will find good love and good sex with whomever or whatever they please.
Because it feels good.
- Finally, one of Adam's best friends, and someone who's written for me in the past, Martin Kuz, is now working for Stars and Stripes and is stationed in Afghanistan. His first pieces came out this month. One is about “harrassing fire” in the remote region of Kor Jalal. The other is on the difficulty of being both soldier and ambassador in this remote region:
For now, the obligation to safeguard the remote southern reaches of Logar province — an area of eastern Afghanistan that troops dub “the frontier” for its sand-swept landscape and sparse population — falls mostly to the Company D platoon, deployed here since October. They have taken fire on at least 60 occasions from insurgents who typically strike from no closer than a half-mile away, hiding amid the clefts and caves of the surrounding mountains. “We never see them,” said Pfc. Joseph Tichacek, a radio technician. “You see muzzle flashes, but that’s about it" ...
Even nine years into this conflict, Beck recalls that early in the deployment some villagers saw U.S. troops and thought the Russian army had returned. “Closer to Kabul, people have more of an understanding of the world,” Beck said. “Out here, they just want to be left alone. But the Taliban isn’t going to leave them alone.”
Smile while you can, love whom you can, keep your head low.