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Month: September 2004

Splat of Action

The Men of Action game, invented by Rob MacDougall:

Pick a historical figure; let’s say Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman’s Men of Action! Describe the ensuing campaign.


Over the plate

OK, let’s stop dicking around, shall we?

Here’s what it is. Bronson Arroyo has a 4.01 ERA. His K/9 is 7.2 and his BB/9 is 2.4. Derek Lowe has a 4.91 ERA, a K/9 of 5.2, and a BB/9 of 3.4. Arroyo’s K/B ratio is 2.95; Lowe’s is 1.53. Finally, Arroyo’s RSAA (Runs Saved Above Average, a measure of how many runs the pitcher has allowed versus the league average) is a very average -1… but Derek Lowe’s is -25. Second worst in the American League.

Lowe has benefitted immensely from having good defense behind him lately, but we should not cripple that excellent defense by forcing them to protect a declining sinkerball pitcher. Here are your Red Sox pitchers for the postseason:

Martinez, Schilling, Arroyo, and Wakefield start. Reverse Schilling and Martinez if the last week of the season forces it.

Lowe is your “someone needs to save the day for a couple of innings” guy. He is also your emergency closer. See also: Oakland/Boston, 2003 playoffs. See also: man, I wish there had been someone other than poor Wakefield to pitch in extra innings of that ALCS game 7, also in 2003.

Foulke closes. Embree and Timlin are the clear setup guys. Scott Williamson has pitched two scoreless innings since coming off the disabled list; my opinion is that he’s gonna be good to go in the playoffs. If not him, Ramiro Mendoza. (Look at his performance in August and September and tell me I’m wrong.) Mike Meyers fills out the bullpen as a lefty specialist, and since you want him around you don’t get to have both Williamson and Mendoza. Which is OK, it’s an awesome bullpen anyhow. No weak points.

Ten pitchers. Eleven wins. Certainly doable with that pool. But I make no predictions if Lowe goes into the postseason as the #3 starter. He lost every postseason game he started last year; this is not an unobvious observation. I hope Francona has made it as well.

Bloodier than thou

So Matthew Leutwyler and the people in his production company put together this movie. Michael Mosher and Richard Redlefsen were all like “yeah, we can bring the gore” and Ever Carradine went like “I can bring my uncle” and Oz Perkins was all like “I’m related to Anthony Perkins” and Jeremy Sisto was definitely all like “I am going to hold this goofy movie together with the sheer force of my charisma” until he gets whacked, oops. But he was way successful up until then.

And then the movie kind of gets sloppy and slack but BOOM Miranda Bailey was all like “I’m executive producer and I get a cameo” and she kicks ass as the chick who guards the records and stars in the sequel, I hope anyhow, and the aforementioned gore artists Mosher and Redlefsen toss in a bunch more blood bags and Zach Selwyn plays “We’re Comin’ to Get Ya” and there’s zombie linedancing. So by the end you’re all like “Wow, I was kind of worried after Jeremy Sisto died but it worked out OK there! Phew.”

Oz was really dull and wooden until it came time for him to loosen up due to the dictates of the story. He needs to not play repressed religious types without an outlet; he’s gotta be the guy who has given every fiber of his body over to God and as a result has realized that anything he does is OK as long as it’s for God’s glory. I see him as John Ashcroft in the inevitable movie about the Bush years. David Carradine was not in the movie very much so don’t get too excited. Ever Carradine really comes into her own when she’s flipped over into full bore Dog Soldiers mode. Miranda Bailey was great and superb and enunciates but I said most of that already. Nobody else stood out in a big way.

That was the bit where I was all like “I ought to talk about the actors some.” Did you know that “Selwyn” means something like “shining ardor” or “holy passion” and it’s Welsh? Me either.


“We’re not Oingo Boingo, but it’s a dead man’s party.”

This is a pain for some, because it’s Flash, but here’s what you do: go to the Dead and Breakfast official site. Click on the poster. Blah blah lengthy Flash intro which you can skip some of. Stick with it. Eventually it comes through with a menu. Select “Music”. Woo hah! Hit “comin to kill ya.” That’s what I call a country/rap splatterpunk groove, baby.

Through vinyl, darkly

There are three basic approaches one could take to a documentary about Jandek, and none of them are what one might normally attempt in a documentary about a musician: the man is nearly a complete mystery, so you can’t tell the story of his life. You could delve deeply into his music, performing an extended critical analysis that serves as an introduction for newcomers and a reaffirmation for the loyal fans. You could film the mirror, capturing how people react to him and what they read into the Jandek blank slate. Or you could try and unearth the answer to the mystery.

Jandek on Corwood goes for the trifecta, which is probably wise. I can’t imagine any single approach supporting an entire movie; indeed, the trio of approaches only barely keeps this movie going. The problem is that there’s so little to look at. Thirty-seven album covers, some with pictures of Jandek, and the people being interviewed. What else can you show? There’s nothing else known, and the director is reduced to long shots of scenes that evoke Jandek’s lyrics, patient pans over the address of Corwood Industries, and ominous footage of empty rooms and old-fashioned tape recorders which might be something like the environment in which Jandek records. Or not. Who knows?

I think the strongest element of the movie is the understated observation that everyone who listens to Jandek’s music paints their own picture of the man. The director never points this out explicitly, but he doesn’t really need to. We’ve got the magazine editor who thinks of Jandek almost as a spiritual guide, the guy who wrote the first published review of Jandek who uses Jandek as a way to affirm his own importance in the world (“it was my review that really kept him going, you know”), the music critic who reads Jandek as an atonal master who’s deliberately moving beyond representational art — it’s a cavalcade of opinions, which in sum make it eminently clear that when we are deprived of information we blithely make stuff up.

Hey, there’s a message there… nah, it’s just a movie about a guy from Texas who doesn’t want to communicate with people as a musician in much of any way except through his music.

Finale: about ten minutes of audio from a 1985 telephone interview with Jandek. That’s all the mystery uncovering that gets done, despite an awful lot of tease. (Look, it’s a shadowy live shot of a man in an amusement park. Could this be Jandek? Well, no. Look, it’s a close shot of a loaf of brown bread, partially eaten! Did Jandek eat this bread? Not so much.) It’s really interesting stuff for the Jandek fan, though, so all is forgiven.

It’s a good movie. If you aren’t into Jandek… well, consider it as an experiment; Jandek has sustained a complete absence of presence other than his music for over a quarter of a century and more than 35 albums. This is unique. As several of the interviewees point out, it’s part of the reason why we’re fascinated by his music.

Just unfair

Criminal, the remake of Nine Queens with John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, and Maggie Gyllenhaal; Ju-on, one of the best Japanese horror movies of recent years; Shaun of the Dead, zombie comedy; Bright Young Things, Stephen Fry doing Evelyn Waugh; and of course the three Boston Film Festival flicks I want to see this weekend. Kontroll is getting mixed reviews from Toronto, but who doesn’t like “a cute girl in a bear costume?”

This is what I get for, um… deliberately rekindling my enjoyment of movies.

Blood politics

I’m not posting this scenario because I intend to run it. I’m posting it because I like to think. Truth? I’m better at coming up with concepts than running them anyhow. This one’s a freebie; steal as you like.

It’s 1972. World of Darkness. Miami. Cuba smells like revolution and the Democratic National Convention smells like a boxing ring. McGovern has a legion of young, angry, active delegates behind him. They’d rather fight than think. Humphrey has the Machine, a political creature made of motor oil and money. To the Machine, the present moment is the last hope of traditional politics.

Everyone’s wrong; it’s always the largest hurricane in the world when you’re inside the eye of the storm.

You were turned into a vampire not more than a couple of months ago by a couple of guys pretending to be union organizers. You are weapons. You may, perhaps, be deluding yourself about this — but you are weapons: you were created in order to serve a need. Your master wants Humphrey to win. McGovern has the distinct edge.

It’s the second night of the convention, and Gary Hart — McGovern’s campaign manager — is executing brilliant procedural moves to get the right delegates seated; his floor organization is building strength. He needs to — not die, but vanish for a couple of days. He could be found in a drunken haze after the convention. That would suit; that would build the image of the McGovern campaign as a group of men unable to handle the demands of politics.

It’s the second night of the convention, and there are vampires on the floor. It is unlikely that you are alone; it is more than likely that you will meet those of your kind who wish to protect McGovern and Hart. Then again, as a vampire, alone is the default state of affairs.


Not that this will convince anyone, but Lt. Col. Killian’s secretary says she didn’t believe in the CBS documents. She says, as has been hypothesized, that she would have typed the documents for him and that she doesn’t remember doing so. She was very specific about the typewriters she had available.

She also verified the content of the memos, and said that they accurately reflected Killian’s opinions about Bush.

This all jibes pretty well with the theory that Bill Burkett was the source of the memos. He believes he saw Bush’s records being purged back in 1997. He’s highly pissed off about the whole thing. I’m ready to believe that he made a stupid mistake, and that he recreated (or perhaps simply retyped) memos that summarize how Killian felt at the time.

This explains why the memos mesh with what is painfully obvious: Bush didn’t take his National Guard service too seriously, and he was willing to pull strings to make it easier on himself. It also explains the amazing coincidence that the line breaks in the memos fall exactly where Microsoft Word’s default line wrap algorithm would put them. I’ve liked the “forgeries based on real documents” explanation for a while, so perhaps I’m biased, but I think the Dallas News story linked above illuminates the entire thing quite nicely.