Lancelot Links postsFriday September 29, 2017
Lancelot Links Takes a Knee
I suppose it's good to still be interested in a range of subjects. If the usual range of subjects:
- Adam Gopnik on the legacy of Hugh Hefner, who died this week at the age of 91: “The anxious adolescent coyness that the enterprise never escaped—in part because anxious adolescent coyness was Hefner's true signature emotion, a silk dressing gown and a pipe being exactly an anxious adolescent's idea of sophistication—was essentially anti-sex, replacing the real thing with a synthetic substitute.”
- How horrible has Neil Gorsuch's first half year been on the U.S. Supreme Court? Pretty damn horrible, says Jeffrey Toobin. He's making enemies—including possibly the court itself.
- I never watched “Thomas the Tank Engine” (I was in college when it started) but that's a good thing, if Jia Tolentino's take on its “authoritian, repressive” soul is correct. “The Sad Story of Henry” alone would've given me nightmares.
- This week, Patricia and I saw the touring production of “Something Rotten!” at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle. What fun! What talent! Here's a taste.
- I don't know Dallas sports reporter Dale Hansen, but his no-holds-barred take on the idiot National Anthem controversy (or how Donald Trump ruined football for everybody) has justifiably gone viral, and is one of the sharpest I've heard: “”I served in the military during the Vietnam War, and my foot hurt, too—but I served anyway. My best friend in high school was killed in Vietnam, and Carol Meyer will be 18 years old forever and he did not die so you can decide who is a patriot and who loves America more.“
- I'll take Bob Costas on the subject, too, particularly his thoughts on the conflation of sports, the flag, and the miltary.
- Then there's Jelani Cobb and how ”ungrateful“ has become the new ”uppity."
- The Daily Show's Trevor Noah expands on the gratitude discussion by asking: Black people should be grateful ... to whom?
- Here's a baserunning play you'll probably never see again—or how the Reds' Billy Hamilton went from being caught in a rundown between first and second to scoring. Love the pop-up, too.
- The good news of the week? Besides Billy Hamilton? The GOP's attempt to trade our OK health-care coverage for REALLY SHITTY health-care coverage failed again. Thanks in part to this guy. But they'll be back. They're assholes.
Lancelot Links: Trading Deadline Edition
- I think it should be illegal for anyone to trade good players to the Yankees but particularly at the trading deadline—when you trade the present for the future. You give yourself a better chance in the long run and them a better chance now, and the Yankees should never have a better chance now. But that's what the Oakland A's did yesterday: Sonny Gray for three guys. You know the Yankees and their fans are charged about this one.
- No link, just a reminder of why we hate the Yankees via a trivia question I asked on Facebook the other day. From 1949-1953 the Yankees won five World Series titles in a row. How many MLB teams have never won more than five titles in their entire history? The answer is most of them: 24 of 30. The five non-Yankees teams that have managed to win 5+ titles are: Dodgers (6), Red Sox and Giants (8 each), Athletics (9), and Cardinals (11). The Yankees, of course, have 27 titles. And counting.
- Another non-link (sorry, Lancelot), just an embarrassing stat of the day. This is the Yankees' record in the six weeks before arriving in Seattle on July 20: 11-22. And since arriving in Seattle: 9-2.
- More from “the rich get richer” files: The seemingly unbeatable Dodgers got Yu Darvish from the Rangers. Don't forget to take your practice swings, Yu.
- ESPN's David Schoenfield assesses the trading deadline winners and losers. Winners? Sonny Gray, who goes from the lowest-rent district in baseball to the highest. Also the Dodgers, who didn't stand pat. Losers? Red Sox, who had no future to trade; Houston, who didn't do enough to shore up their pitching/bullpen; and Texas, based on the last two trade deadlines (they gave up the future, and the future came faster than they thought). Virtually unmentioned either way? Your Seattle Mariners.
- Here's a break: A lovely little piece from The Poz on more reasons to dislike the intentional walk. Good callout to “The Natural.”
- The Chicago Cubs have given 2003 NLCS scapegoat Steve Bartman a 2016 World Series ring, saying, “We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series. While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.” Classy move.
- And if you haven't seen Alex Gibney's 2011 doc on scapegoats in general and Bartman in particular, by all means. One of my favorite baseball movies. Yes, I made a list.
- Dan Epstein, author of “Stars & Strikes: Baseball & America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76,” has an interesting point to make RE: Bartman and Gibney's “Catching Hell.”
- Finally, we're nearing Edgar Martinez jersey-retirement day, and it's about time. Here's a reminder of why he meant so much to us.
- ADDENDUM: Hot off the presses: The Poz on Bartman. Amen.
Lancelot Links Can't Stop Reading the News
- 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.
- 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
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.