- Go west, young ballplayer! Dave Allen at The Baseball Analysts has graphed the U.S. birthplace of ballplayers in five eras. The first map (heavily Northeast) is almost the mirror image of the last (heavily Southwest).
- The original lyric sheet for Bob Dylan's “The Times They Are A-Changin'” sold for nearly half a million dollars to a hedge fund manager. Harry's Music parses the irony.
- Some smart, chicken-or-egg talk about world cinema and U.S. audiences from Salon's Andrew O'Hehir before his equally smart review of “Carancho,” a film he thinks can entice U.S. audiences with two word: “sexy” and “bloody.”
- Also on Salon, Bob Calhoun counts down the top 10 stunts of Judo Gene Lebell, a judo champ and Hollywood stunt man. Be sure to check out no. 1, an old episode of “Ironsides,” for the early work of Bruce Lee. Holy crap. Not a wasted movement. Everything is so clean.
- Speaking of stunts: Remember Danny MacAskill? The cyclist who did insane shit around Edinburgh? Well, he's taken to the Scottish countryside now in his new viddy “Way Back Home.” And he's gotten better.
- Five favorite movies with Elton John. The man, or the Sir, has got good taste. He also says smart things about each one.
- Five favorite books about movies with Darren Aronofsky. I've read three. Didn't even know about the Vogler, which seems right up my alley. Anyone read it?
- At the end of this snippet of February reviews, Joe Morgenstern tells us the story of how Lionel Logue, the hero-therapist of “The King's Speech,” helped, in a sense, create FOX-News.
- Roger Ebert has 13 smart questions from watching 11 1/2 minutes of Glenn Beck. I only made it to minute 7, and then just barely.
- Related: I can't stop reading Alex Pareene.
- From the “About Time” Dept.: Shirley Sherrod is suing Andrew Breitbart for defamation and general idiocy. OK, just for defamation. But I know a lot of lawyers, the super variety even, who would handle her case pro bono.
- Someday I'll have to post about my ideal search engine (something with a greater respect for original content, and chronology, and which can distinguish between sites that are linked to positively (“I love this!”) and negatively (“Look at this idiot!”)), but in the meantime here's another good piece by The New York Times on a search-engine snafu: How did J.C. Penney become the no. 1 Google result for everything from “dresses” to “bedding” to “area rugs”? And just in time for the holidays? Short answer: it wasn't legit.
- Finally, in this review of the latest attempt at a J.D. Salinger bio, Jay McInerney has both the best first sentence I've read in a while (“J. D. Salinger spent the first third of his life trying to get noticed and the rest of it trying to disappear”), and the best second paragraph I've read in a while (not reproducing it here; give the Times some love and click on the link). I read poor Ian Hamilton's attempt at a bio in the '80s so doubt I'll read Kenneth Slawenski's. I guess I'm waiting for definitive. At the same time, though I knew Salinger fought in World War II, I didn't know he was a one-man “Band of Brothers.” From McInerney:
For this reader, the great achievement of Slawenski’s biography is its evocation of the horror of Salinger’s wartime experience. Despite Salinger’s reticence, Slawenski admirably retraces his movements and recreates the savage battles, the grueling marches and frozen bivouacs of Salinger’s war. It’s hard to think of an American writer who had more combat experience. He landed on Utah Beach on D-Day. Slawenski reports that of the 3,080 members of Salinger’s regiment who landed with him on June 6, 1944, only 1,130 survived three weeks later. Then, when the 12th Infantry Regiment tried to take the swampy, labyrinthine Hürtgen Forest, in what proved to be a huge military blunder, the statistics were even more horrific. After reinforcement, “of the original 3,080 regimental soldiers who went into Hürtgen, only 563 were left.” Salinger escaped the deadly quagmire of Hürtgen just in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, and shortly thereafter, in 1945, participated in the liberation of Dachau. “You could live a lifetime,” he later told his daughter, “and never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose.”