Lancelot Links postsSunday December 14, 2014
- Via Uncle Vinny, Werner Herzog Inspirationals. Brilliant idea, nice execution.
- Last Sunday I came across this American Masters documentary on Johnny Carson, and started to watch. I wound up watching the whole thing. I still remember what it meant as a kid to stay up late and watch Johnny Carson. It meant you were growing up. It meant you were a little hip, too. The first time I did it, I believe, my friend Mark was sleeping over, and the next day, in the backyard, we performed a skit Johnny had done about kids selling “gape dink” and “lenomade” and then charging outrageous prices. We thought it was a scream.
- What's interesting about this Hollywood Reporter roundtable of potential 2014 best actor candidates is how engaged Michael Keaton is. With everyone. It's really lovely. I particularly like what he says after Channing Tatum says that he went to college and failed at it miserably and left. “Not a failure. A success.” Again, lovely.
- Jeff Wells suggests pro-bono Oscar noms. I.e., movies and actors not campaigned for, not advertised up the wazoo, just the ones everyone thinks should get nom'ed. I.e., the way it should be anyway.
- David Denby lists his top 10 movies of 2014 but only talks about his favorite: “Ida.” Don't get his love for “Get On Up” and “Snowpiercer.”
- Holy crap, Tony Olivia came within one vote of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame!
- Via Slate, a statistical analysis of 29 years of David Letterman's Top 10 lists. Eat your heart out, Nate Silver! Seriously, this guy goes in-depth.
- Joe Posnanski lists off his “Top 25 MLB Players not in the Hall.” Meaning current players (Pujols, Ichiro), recently retired players (Jeter), and all the usual PED suspects (McGwire, Clemens, Bonds). Oh, and three of the top 7 once played for the Seattle Mariners—at the same time. And yet they couldn't make the World Series? Not one? When they do a Hall of Shame, 1990s M's front office, I'll nominate you.
- Sad poll of the week: More Americans now favor gun rights over gun control. The numbers have gone way up since 2012. Because we're inured to school shootings now?
- I don't know if the Senate Torture Report has been beaten to death yet (sorrty), but this is one of the must-reads out of it: a report from one of the torturers.
- Ward Sutton's “Where Race Relations Stand in America.” Spot on. And Minneapolis in the house!
- Apparently the NFL—or the Buffalo Bills—treat its cheerleaders like whores. Via The New York Times.
- Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is a major asshole but you knew that. But did you know he doesn't get along with Sen. John Boehner? (R-OH)
One of the Werner Herzog inspirationals.
- If you're like me, you've been wondering lo these many month, Hey, what's up with the Captain? You know, Mr. Movember? What exactly is Derek Jeter doing in retirement? Answer? He's created a website, The Players' Tribune, “that will present the unfiltered voices of professional athletes.” It will also put more sportswriters out of work. By happenstance or design?
- Bigger question: Is it any good? What do the unfiltered voices of professional athletes sound like? Charles P. Pierce over at Grantland has an amusing take—particularly regarding Tiger Woods' profound humorlessness.
- Now for some “Jeopardy.” And the answer is? Didi Gregorius. DING. Bob? “Who is the Yankees' attempt to replace Derek Jeter at shortstop?” Correct, you now have control of the board. (Yankee fans, I assume, are not impressed.)
- Since it's December, that means it's awards/lists season. For everything. Sight & Sound out of Great Britain drops its top 20 of 2014, based on votes by 50 critics. I agree with their first but not their fifth. “Ida” barely squeaks into the top 10. And no mention at all of “The Drop” or “Fury”?
- Closer to home, the New York Film Critics Circle chose “Boyhood” for its best pic (can't complain), while the National Board of Review upended its usual twee-ness and went with J.C. Chandor's “A Most Violent Year” (haven't seen). Meanwhile the Boston Online Film Critics Assocation did the notion of online critics no favors by choosing “Snowpiercer” as its best. There'll be more to come.
- The New York Times lists its “100 Notable Books of 2014,” of which I've read approximately ... one. “The Invisible Bridge” by Rick Perlstein. Wait, no “Flash Boys”? No “Five Came Back”? No “John Wayne: The Life the Legend” or “Hack Attack”? Tough crowd.
- With its Hall of Fame votes, the Baseball Writers Association of America does two things: determines who gets in the Hall (>75% of the vote) and who will be on the ballot next year (>5% of the vote). Joe Posnanski would like to change the way they do both.
- At 39, Torii Hunter has signed with the Minnesota Twins, his original team, and in his first press conference disparaged the notion of sabermetrics and advanced defensive metrics as a means of calculating his defensive prowess, which was once one of the best in all of baseball. Now he thinks he's still above average. Joe Posnanski sympathizes but doesn't exactly agree.
- The Harvard Exit, where I saw the first movie I saw in Seattle (way back in 1991), and which I go to at least once a month, is closing. The Landmark chain is apparently also closing the Varsity Theater in the U District. Just how many movie theaters can SIFF save?
- Tim Egan's excellent piece on the lack of respect accorded Pres. Obama, and how could it not be based on race?
- The rape scandal at the University of Virigina as reported in Rolling Stone magazine has become the Rolling Stone factcheck scandal. Richard Bradley, once suckered by Stephen Glass, was the first to raise dispassionate objections to the reporting.
- I shouldn't feel this way—so many lives have been upended, after all—but I do love the contretemps at The New Republic. Facebook founder buys it, promises no change. Two years later, hires digital-media yahoo to change it. Yahoo butts heads with editor, who resigns. A day later, almost everyone at the magazine resigns. It's hard out there for a journalist but they all still did it rather than take that crap anymore. A round of applause, please.
- Finally, your long read of the week: George Packer's excellent profile of German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The Quiet German”: her rise, her reserve, her scientific mind and political ruthlessness, her ability to unman macho men, and how her very popularity may be a threat to a nascent German democracy.
He actually makes this catch: Torii Hunter robs Casey Blake in 2003.
The Catch. The grounded, penalized Cowboy is the frosting.
- Grantland on Odell Beckham's incredible catch last Sunday. The call it “The Catch of the Century” but of course the century's still young. Even so. What fun. What grace.
- And the photographer by the sidelines who looks too stunned to be taking pictures? He was taking pictures, Twitter.
- ESPN's David Schoenfield gives us 10 questions (or nine questions and one comment) on this year's Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. If I had a vote? Randy, Pedro, Biggio and Bagwell (Houston's getting scammed, man), Mike Piazza, Tim Raines and—of course—Edgar Martinez. I'd have a crowded ballot but there's a lot of talent in the room. BTW, I assume Randy goes in as a Diamondback, not a Mariner. Which means Junior will be our first. As always.
- Amir over at Film Experience, who writes about the weekend box office, does us all a service by listing the top 20 movies of 2014 that aren't 1) franchise flicks; 2) DGI spectacles; 3) animated. I.e., What used to be called “Movies for adults.” Or just “movies.” No. 1? Hint: It came out in October. And stars Ben Affleck.
- Comedian Marc Maron's top 10 Criterion films aren't bad—although I can't watch “Straw Dogs.” And I wouldn't include “Big Chill.” But definitely Numbers 1, 5, 6 and 7. I don't know. Should I give this a try?
- I really should have something on the Ferguson decision here, but nothing I read this week stood out. Any recommendations?
- #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.