Lancelot Links postsSunday November 23, 2014
- #Pointergate update: Earlier this month, KSTP-TV ran a story that Mayor Betsy Hodges, as part of GOTV efforts, had a picture taken with a “known felon” flashing “gang signs.” The rest of the world pointed out that they were just pointing at each other. But despite the backlash, KSTP's Stanley Hubbard stands by the story. And according to him? Some of his best viewers are black. So there.
- Anson “Potsie” Williams on how Robin Williams turned the worst “Happy Days” script into the best. Well, “best.” I mean, it was still about an alien (and his finger) battling Fonzie (and his thumb) for the soul of Richie Cunningham. Or something. But at least it was goofy. And no sharks were jumped.
- Rare, behind-the-scenes photos from the original “Star Wars”? Again? Yeah, but I didn't know about Lane Loneozner, Camie, and Biggs Darklighter.
- MLB.com has 10 finalists for its 2014 defensive play of the year. Always fun to watch. I was torn between Puig and Kiermaier, and went with Puig.
- Not fun to watch? Kirk Cameron's “Saving Christmas” movie. But it was fun to read Christy Lemire's review about why it was not fun to watch.
- The headline says it all: ESPN suspends Keith Law for defending evolution. At first you think, “OK, but what are the extenuating circumstances?” Here they are: Law was refuting anti-evolution tweets from ESPN's Curt Schilling, who's a bigger name and a bigger doofus. So Schilling fought the Law and the Law lost. World without end.
- Yesterday morning, Nathaniel over at FilmExperience.net alerted me (well, all of his Twitter followers) to the live streaming of the 2014 Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan. (Their Oscars.) I watched a bit of it, understood a few words, caught Chen Shiang-Chyi winning best actress for “Exit.” Interestingly, the other actresses in the audience, particularly Tang Wei, didn't quite have the brave face that Hollywood nominees put up during someone else's acceptance speech. They looked a trifle miffed. Best feature was“Blind Massage.” Wouldn't mind checking it out someday. Taiwan used to be my home.
- A Colorado rapper writes an open letter to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet on the Keystone Pipeline. He also includes 10 Questions for Sen. Bennet. And for you and me.
- Finally, the long read of the week: Ben McGrath in The New Yorker tells us about the rise of the professional cyber athlete via the Korean-dominated real-time strategy game StarCraft II, and the Canadian girl (Scarlett) who challenged them all. It's amazing the miniworlds out there. It's amazing how nasty people can be in them, too.
The 2014 Golden Horse Awards: I like the huge shot of the actress (Chen Shiang-Chyi) in character (in “Exit”).
If I could read Joe Posnanski on Buck O'Neil every day, I'd be a happier man. And a better person.
- Mother Jones has a good, short piece on the Democratic candidate who didn't run from his record, Pres. Obama, or progressive ideas, and won in a cake-walk in what was supposed to be a not-safe seat: Al Franken.
- Related: Charles P. Pierce at Esquire begins the “Al Franken for President” talk, writing, “The fact that this would cause Bill O'Reilly's head to detonate in a gorgeous orange fireball is merely a bonus.”
- Linda Greenhouse on why the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to intervene in King v. Burwell, about how the fineprint in the Affordable Care Act limits (or doesn't) tax subsidies only to those who buy insurance through the state-run exchanges (which only 14 states have), is worse than its interference in Bush v. Gore. “It’s a basic principle of administrative law that when a federal statute is ambiguous, courts defer to the agency’s interpretation—here, the I.R.S. regulation that makes the tax credits available without regard to whether the exchange is state or federal,” she writes.
- Related, from Vanity Fair: “Is the GOP Ever Right About Anything?” A breakdown of 30 years of GOP political arguments and their consequences.
- Normally when Ted Cruz makes an assinine comment about Pres. Obama, his supporters just nod their heads, shout some yee-has, and maybe shoot off their guns. But this week Obama came out for net neutrality, Cruz lambasted him in the usual reductive manner, and Cruz's Facebook supporters exploded in anger. Against Cruz.
- The GOP may love Vladimir Putin, but the G-20 leaders do not.
- In the battle for licensing revenue, which superhero leads the way with $1.3 billion worldwide? Superman? Batman? Here's a clue: thwip!
- You know those newspaper pictograms opposite the comics page where you're supposed to spot the (very very minor) differences between the pictures? That, according to Joe Posnanski, was what it was like choosing between Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Cleveland's Corey Kluber for the AL Cy Young Award. Kluber won in a photo finish: 169 (17-11-2) to 159 (13-17-0). I'd argue that Felix probably lost the award on Sept. 23, when, with the M's fighting for their first playoff spot in 13 years, he had his worst outing of the season: giving up 8 runs (4 earned) in 4+ innings. Not a “big-game pitcher” move. At the same time, for all the stats everyone considers (WHIP, ERA+, WAR), shouldn't we also consider this: Kluber got to pitch against the Seattle Mariners (1 game, 9 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 W, 1 CG), an advantage that year after year is denied to King Felix.
- I swear, if I could read Joe Posnanski writing about Buck O'Neil every day, I'd be a happier man. And a better person.
- This week, the MLB All-Stars (kind of) went to Japan and got no-hit.
- Even worse? This. But at least it's still November. Because we have $216 million left on that contract.
- What does Stephen Hawking think of Eddie Redmayne's performance of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”? “At times, I thought was me.” Looking forward to this.
- Via Washington Trails Association: Meet Honey Bee, the blind hiking cat. Don't worry, Jellybean; after reading the article I've decided not to try it with you.
- The first few grafs of this review from Corey S. Powell in Discover Magazine REALLY make me want to see “The Theory of Everything.” In a way that the trailer, with its reductive tendencies, never did.
- Via brainpickings, Bruce Springsteen's favorite 28 books. I've read about 10 of them. He's big on Richard Ford but that makes sense. To be honest, it all makes sense.
- Joe Posnanski compares and contrasts this year's Gold Glove and Fielding Bible award winners, and he has two main disagreements with the GG winners: Nick Markakis in right and (sorry, Seattle) Kyle Seager at third.
- Over at Just a Bit Outside, M's fan Jeff Sullivan declares that the Seattle Mariners will be the best A.L. team in 2015. Whatever, right? Except he did it by crunching WAR numbers. It's based on head, not heart. Even so, I'm not holding my breath.
- Riddle me this, Readerman: Why has it taken so long for the William Dozier-created, 1960s “Batman” TV series, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, to make it to DVD and Blu-Ray? Was it copyright issues? Were people embarrassed by it? Did they think it belittled the “Dark Knight” legend? Either way, it's here now. For more on this incarnation of Batman, here's my review of the 1966 movie, along with my “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” entry from same. I think I might just get the Blu-Ray just for Julie Newmar. Rahr.
- Have you seen the parody opening credits to the nonexistent 1980s sitcom “Too Many Cooks”? You should. Talk about commitment to the bit. Warning: It gets a little creepy and NSFW halfway through.
- Why do I care that Taylor Swift (an artist I don't listen to) pulled out of Spotify (a streaming service I don't use)? Because I think she's right.
- When my colleague Ross Pfund was 5 in 1989, he and his cousin watched Wrestlemania for the first time and taped themselves afterwards doing the moves. He recently visited his cousin again and recreated it all. Very cool.
- If you're in Minnesota you know all about “Pointergate.” If you're not, and haven't heard of it, get ready to slap your forehead like the young Alvy Singer. Brian Lambert reports.
- More fun in conservative news: the Breitbart site declares that “few are talking about” how Obama's nominee for U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch, represented the Clintons during the Whitewater investigation. Media Matters: Because that's a different Lynch. For a time, Wikipedia had it wrong, too, citing the Breitbart article. In the digital age, wrong news travels fast.
- The most unsettling thing about Theo Padnos' first-person account of his capture and subsequent months-long torture and humiliation by Syrian terrorists, from 2012 to this year, is that the captors, the Nusra Front, were the guys that lost to the more barbaric ISIS. But you can't get a more front-line perspective on the war on terror than this.
Obama's AG nominee (right) is not your Clinton's Loretta Lynch (left).
- They've found footage of the 1917 World Series. Via David Hirning.
- This year's World Series is over, of course, with the San Francisco Giants (or at least Madison Bumgardner) beating the Kansas City Royals in 7 games, but questions remain. Chief among them: Should the Royals third base coach have sent Alex Gordon on his single-misplayed-into-a-triple with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning? I assume not, but Joe Posnanski adds his thoughts.
- BTW: That San Francisco Giants fan who caught Travis Ishikawa's pennant-winning homerun is a mensch. He didn't put it up on eBay. He gave it back. Got a signed bat in exchange. The Giants asked him what else he'd like and he said World Series tickets. They said that'd be tough but eventually (after bad press?) came through with Game 3 seats. He took his friend who's battling cancer. A mensch.
- The world's richest man reads and analyzes our most famous book on income inequality.
- Via Jim Romenesko, the 1,000 most commonly followed Twitter accounts by the New York Times staff. I like that David Carr is the most commony followed colleague and that our friend Motoko Rich has as many NYT followers as Barack Obama. Also that David Brooks didn't make the cut. Because why? Should be a clue to the elders that maybe it's time to pull the plug on ol' David.
- Things I learned reading “The Thirty-Three Hit Wonder,” Nick Paumgarten's New Yorker profile of Bill Joel: that Joel hasn't written any new songs, at least with lyrics, since 1993; that he still plays sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden every month; that he travels back and forth by helicopter; that Paumgarten was a fan growing up; that Paumgarten is younger than me. WARNING: Reading the piece will make old Billy Joel songs get stuck in your head. But it just might be the loooonatic you're looking for.
- The last great movie Rick Perlstein saw was “Life Itself,” the documentary on the life, career and last days of Roger Ebert. Interesting series here from The Dissolve.
- Remember the class-action lawsuit attorneys general around the country pursued and won against tobacco companies in the 1990s? These days, Big Tobacco would just offer them some smokes to make it all go away. Eric Lipton reports for The New York Times. Key graf: “ ... unlike the lobbying rules covering other elected officials, there are few revolving-door restrictions or disclosure requirements governing state attorneys general, who serve as 'the people’s lawyers' by protecting consumers and individual citizens.” Scary stuff, kids.
- Scarier stuff: You've heard about that 1990s Tim Burton-Nicolas Cage Superman movie that never got made? Well, according to its screenwriter, David Gilroy, it would've begun with Superman in therapy. Hollywood Reporter writer Graeme McMillan thinks fanboys would've been turned off by the idea. I'm not so sure—you can make it work—but a combo of therapy, Burton and Nic Cage? That sounds really, really wrong.
- Title says it all: Surfing @ 1000 Frames Per Second.
- Wheel of Impressions with Kevin Spacey. I can't imagine a better guest for this.
Berenice Bejo is coming to Seattle? Merci mille fois, SIFF!
- Attention Seattle-area francophiles: SIFF Cinema is hosting a “French Cinema Now” minifest at SIFF Uptown, October 23-30. I'm excited! And not just because Berenice Bejo is making a personal appearance. Although that helps. Because it's Berenice Bejo.
- So is Marvel Comics discontinuing “Fantastic Four” in order to wrest it from the sweaty clutches of Fox Studios? And is Marvel mostly in the moviemaking business now? Consider it Stan Lee's dream fulfilled.
- More Hollywood Reporter Marvel news: Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man will be in “Captain America 3.” For a possible “Civil War” storyline? “This isn't freedom, it's fear.” Should work.
- Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. has announced a whole slew of DC superhero movies for the next five years, including a Wonder Woman movie and a Flash movie. WW, I assume, will be played by Gal Gadot, as in the upcoming “Batman v. Superman” flick. And Barry Allen? Would you believe Ezra Miller from “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”? I didn't. Although the dude does talk fast. I think Warner Bros. is trying to get its own Downey, Jr.: someone to enliven a dull franchise.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service is debuting Batman stamps. Give me '40s Batman (big ears) or '70s Batman (bat signal). The others? Meh.
- Director Guillermo del Toro lists his top 10 (really 21) favorite Criterion movies. The usual suspects: Kurosawa, Bergman, Kubrick, Sturges (the anti-Kubrick). But early David Lean gets a nod, too. My question (now and forever): When is Criterion going to come out with a version of “Breaking Away”?
- What is the most common three-word phrase spoken in movies? Probably “I love you,” but “Let her go” might give it a run for its money. The video is HuffPo, so vaguely annoying for that, but it does serve as a stark reminder of just how derivative Hollywood is. And awful. I mean, how many times do we need to see the good guy save the pretty girl from the bad guy? It seems we never get enough of it.
- My brother-in-law Eric Muschler, who works for the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, and knows everything about urban planning and affordable housing, was recently interviewed by Architecture MN. Check it out.
- I've never been a big fan of Anonymous, which always seemed a little too powerful and adolescent to me. I mean ... Guy Fawkes masks? David Kushner's New Yorker piece, “The Masked Avengers,” doesn't change this perspective much. If anything, Anonymous reminds me of that superpowerful kid in the “Twilight Zone” episode/movie who gets what he wants ... or else. No, I mean, what I mean is, it's good that you outted the wrong people in Ferguson, Anonymous! David Kushner is a bad man for what he wrote. I'm only thinking good thoughts!
- What does Rand Paul want? According to Ryan Lizza, and unlike his father, ca depend. Lizza's profile, “The Revenge of Rand Paul,” is fascinating stuff, much recommended. The dueling McCain quotes at the end had me laughing out loud.
- Finally, didn't I already link to Jill LePore's piece on money, politics and the Constitution, “The Crooked and the Dead”? I didn't? Apologies. Here's the sad takeaway: If you have to break the law to infuse your political campaign with massive amounts of money, you're just not trying hard enough.