Lancelot Links postsFriday May 19, 2017
Lancelot Links Can't Stop Reading the News
Tuesday April 04, 2017
- It's tough to keep up these days—for obvious reasons. I think of the opening of David Remnick's great piece on Trump's first 100 days: “For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-racked constancy. Trump does not afford this. His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite.” I wonder if productivity has gone down in the U.S. under his administration. Wouldn't be surprised.
- The big story of the week, in a week of big stories, was the New York Times' revelation that Comey has memos from his meetings with Trump; and during the Feb. 14 meeting, Trump supposedly told Comey to back off the investigation into Gen. Flynn. Right now it's he said/he said, but if there are tapes, as Trump has implied, and the tapes bear out Comey's claim, well, then it's obstruction of justice. The whole thing is Watergate on speed.
- Or maybe we don't need the tapes. According to the Times today, Trump told Russian diplomats in the Oval Office: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. ... I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.” This is according to documents summarizing the meeting. That sounds like obstruction of justice to me. So it's all about the validity of the documents. Which are apparently official White House documents.
- Before these more egregious Trump stories broke, Evan Osnos at The New Yorker was already answering the question, “How Trump could get fired?” The stuff on Reagan and the 25th amendment is particularly interesting.
- In other news this week, Roger Ailes died. The man who wrote the book on him, Gabriel Sherman, says he's going to miss him.
- Matt Taibbi isn't so kind.
- Neither is Vice.
- Nor Media Matters.
- New Yorker.
- Sherman references Janet Maslin's takedown of his book on Ailes, which you can find here. Makes me never want to read Maslin again. Our insiders need to get outside once in a while. Breathe the air there.
Friday March 24, 2017
- The L.A. Times editorial board slams Trump in a must-read editorial, “Our Dishonest President.” I agree with it all. First in a series. No joke. They dive deep.
- This may be the best freelancer “hire me” site I've ever seen. It's for a copywriter. If you go there and think, “Yeah, so?,” just, you know, do as Eliza said: Look around, look around.
- Nathaniel at Film Experience, still list-crazy from 2016 and the Oscars, gives us the best movies so far in 2017. Big winners: Frantz, Get Out, Personal Shopper, Logan. So foreign art-house and smart Hollywood genre.
- Bill O'Reilly, poor bastard, keeps getting sued for sexual harassment. And Fox News keeps settling the matters for big bucks just to keep things on the down low. There's certainly nothing to the claims—or so he says. And that's certainly not part of the culture at Fox News. Heavens, no.
- A portrait of the artist as an old man: Robert McGinnis, 91, who drew the movie posters for “Breakfast at Tiffany's,” “Barbarella,” “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” and all the early James Bonds.
- Hell might not be freezing over but it's definitely getting a cool breeze: The New York Yankees not only don't have the highest payroll in baseball, they're third—behind both the Dodgers and (barely) the Tigers.
- Adrian Cárdenas, no relation to Leo that I know of, who got a cup of coffee with the Cubs in 2012 before quitting baseball for good, on the mental stress of the game, and the toll it takes on players.
- How unfair is baseball? SF Giants' ace Madison Bumgarner pitch 7 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Opening Day, gave up 3 earned runs, no walks, struck out 11, and, at the plate, became the first pitcher in baseball history to hit 2 Opening Day homeruns ... and he got a no decision. Diamondbacks' reliever Fernando Rodney, late of the Mariners, pitched the top of the 9th after the D-Backs had tied the game 4-4, and gave up: triple, sac fly, single, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, walk, fly out, ground out. But since the D-backs came back in the bottom of the 9th, he gets the victory. Nothing you can do for MadBum, but that “W” should go somewhere else.
- From my friend Linda, via 538.com, 10 burning questions about MLB. No, none of them are about Rodney getting that “W.”
- But this is: My man Joe Posnanski is going to track pitcher wins this year, and see how many seem legit, and how many are of the Fernando Rodney “are you effin' kiddin' me?” variety.
- Madison Bumgarner, by the way, is already the active leader in homeruns by a pitcher: He has 16. The all-time record is 37 by Wes Ferrell. Reminder: MadBum is only 27.
- Joey Poz writes about MadBum's power, too. Because he writes about everything.
- The Times gives us quick shots on 14 new baseball books that just got published. Last week, I read Jason Turbow's “Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic” about the 1970s three-time champion Oakland A's, the “Moustache Gang,” and recommend it. A lot of fun.
Lancelot Links Confirms 'Incidental Surveillance' on Big Boy Driving Truckie Wuckie
Thursday March 16, 2017
This also happened: The president of the United States got into a parked truck on the White House driveway and made vroom vroom noises. Not embarrassing at all.
- Nazis in a beer hall in Portland, Oregon. Thanks, Trump.
- Anthony Kuhn has been a journalist in China for years, but this month he became a viral sensation for asking a question about President Xi Jingping's megaregion plans around Beijing and the relocation of businesses/residents there. Also because his Chinese is so good. I wrote more about it here.
- In hearings before the Intellgience Oversight Committee this week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) laid out the Russia/Trump connections. This is just the stuff we know and they stuff the representatives can say. He acted responsibly.
- Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) did not act responsibly. He condemned the leaks more than what they revealed, then, the next day, went to Trump, whose administration he's investigating, and gave up the goods. Then he staged a press conference on the White House lawn and gave out tidbits of more information—information Schiff didn't even have—and which amounted to smoke for Trump's idiotic charge that Pres. Obama wiretapped him. But it's only smoke. U.S. intelligence “incidentally” picked up communications from Trump's transition team because (unspoken), they were calling foreign officials we're investigating. Attempting to unethically clear Trump's team, he actually provided further evidence of its culpability. More than resign from the comittee, Nunes should be investigated himself.
- More on Trump/Russia from Pasquino. “Remember, Remember/The 8th of November.” Like I could forget.
- Actually this is better: Mother Jones gives us the long history of connections and deals between Trump and Russia.
- A more pointed version from earlier in the week, courtesy of David Leonhardt: “All the President's Lies.”
- RIP Jimmy Breslin, who died earlier this week. Any man who runs with Norman is OK by me. Here's Breslin's column from Dec. 9, 1980. The day after the day the music died.
- A reason you shouldn't be behind Neil Gorsuch for SCOTUS (besides Merick Garland)? The NRA is for him.
- Q&A with my man Jim Walsh on the beautiful inexplicability of music, and the experience of sitting with Prince who is going over your column on him line by line.
- Bodybuilder Oliver Lee Bateman takes on the nerd-to-he-man mythos of everyone from Charles Atlas to Arnold Schwartzenegger, and discovers the true purpose in “making a man out of Mac”: “to create a suit of armor behind which one might conceal a real self, in the hopes that no one would ever bother inquiring its whereabouts.” Cf., “Moonlight,” Act III.
- Sometimes I think Eyal Press should be the conscience of our nation. We certainly need one.
- I think this new Frank Rich column, “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly: Democrats need to stop trying to feel everyone's pain, and hold on to their own anger,” is a turning point in a good way. Or maybe he's just saying what I've long felt.
Wednesday February 22, 2017
- My nephew, Jordy, 15, has put together his “Top 15 Films of 2016” list. Expecting “Star Wars” or “Dr. Strange”? Try “Cameraperson,” “Loving,” “Paterson,” “Certain Women,” “I Am Not Your Negro.” Torch, passed.
- The Chicago White Sox don't look too good this year, but their tickets do.
- Joey Poz calls Cubs' 2B Javier Baez the greatest tagger in baseball history, in part because “Nobody even knew that was a thing before he came along.” Check out that no-look tag during the World Baseball Classic. Makes me smile.
- Good piece by Sam Tanenhaus in The Atlantic: “Who Stopped McCarthy?” (Chase-cutter: Ike.) But this is an egregious line: “The villain was undone, ultimately, by methods like his own.” Really? By Tanenhaus' own description, McCarthy used lies and innuendo in a scattershot method to destroy lives; Ike planned carefully, leaked factual data, and let McCarthy hang himself. Seems the opposite method to me.
- A synagogue in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood—one of the most liberal in the country—was vandalized last week with graffiti reading: “Holocau$t i$ Fake Hi$tory.” Fake news/Fake history. They're learning from their masters. It's beyond sad. I'd like a couple of minutes with these cowards.
- East-siders: Don't forget that your rep, Dave Reichert, voted the GOP's godawful ACA replacement through committee, risking the health care of millions (24 million to be precise, according to the Congressional Budget Office). Vote this turd out of office in 2018.
- David Remnick is very smart on why there is no “Deep State,” another Trump admin locution that the press has to report and then disprove. Remnick ends with a flourish: the problem is not a deep state but “a shallow man—an untruthful, vain, vindictive, alarmingly erratic President.”
- Jelani Cobb uses Ben Carson's idiotic comment comparing slaves to immigrants as a jumping off point on how the optimism of American warps our view of our history.
- Bravo, Netherlands! Their Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, bleach blonde and xenophobic, who was leading in the polls recently, came in second in their election yesterday—although his party still gained six seats and now holds 20 of 150 in Parliament. The ruling party, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (all bases covered there) lost seven seats but holds 33. Two more parties, one right-leaning, another left-leaning, have 19 seats each.
- It took three New Yorker writers (Remnick, Evan Osnos, Joshua Yaffa) to put together the must-read piece (thus far) of 2017: “Trump, Putin and the New Cold War.” Read it all. I think I may re-read it today.
All previous entries
- I think I like Joe Posnanski's defense of “Field of Dreams” more than I like “Field of Dreams.”
- Nathaniel Rogers is bringing the Oscar trivia. Example: Can you name the 12 actors who have won both a lead and supporting Oscar? Six men, six women. I used to be really good at that.
- A woman at the Sante D'Or Adoption Center in L.A. gave the cats likes/dislikes to help them get adopted. Sylvia's dislike is classic.
- David Denby examines Steven Spielberg at 70. I was hoping for more insight, actually. Feels leaden. Maybe Molly Haskel's book is better?
- There's a great description of Michael Keaton's acting at the beginning of Anthony Lane's review of “The Founder.”
- The Yankees didn't make the playoffs last season but they still won 84 games, and they got a big boost from Gary Sanchez and his amazing two-month-callup. So a sunnier outlook this year? Thankfully, no, at least according to Fan Graphs, who project mediocrity for the Bronxers.
- John Oliver breaks down the horror of the Putin/Trump connection. Love the “La La Land”/“Human Centipede” analogy. Also the grizzly bear analogy. Also the dance number in the end. But the key line is this: “Trump is basically the propagandist of Putin's dreams.” So how do we stop him?
- Chris Vance, former Washington state GOP chair, on what the GOP can do to stop Trump.
- Michael Moore, filmmaker, on what you and I can do to stop Trump.