Friday, March 28, 2008

The NFL Airbrushes History

Galley Brother B.J. notices this re-imagining of recent NFL draft history:

In rebuilding the Chargers from the ruin of eight straight years without a winning record, Smith has assembled, mostly through the draft, what many believe to be the deepest roster in the NFL. His trademark is his decisiveness (some might call it stubbornness), which showed when he drafted (and then traded) Eli Manning against Manning's wishes, and last offseason, won a power struggle with former coach Marty Schottenheimer.

San Diego traded Eli against his wishes? Does anyone else remember Old Man Manning proclaiming that Eli would never play for a small-market team and that if they didn't trade him to a larger market, he'd sit a year?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

BSG Countdown

Galley Friend M.R. sends a link to this set of Colonial propaganda posters:

The only question is which goes in the office, which goes at home, and which Galley Brother B.J. will claim.

In Praise of Xavier

They never look rattled, they never panic. A really solid team and I'm proud to have picked them through to the Elite 8.

But I had no idea Josh Duncan was this good. Is he the most NBA-ready player in the tournament? Big, quick, great body, can play inside and out, can put the ball on the floor, and already has a mid-range jumper. I'm not saying he'll be an all-star, but he could be a solid starter for a playoff team right out of the gate.

Would look great in a Sixer uniform . . .

The Many Faces of Alfred Pennyworth

Valerie D'Orazio has a loving post collecting the history of how Batman's butler changed over the years. Great stuff.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BSG Countdown

Oh yes, get your geek on with this.

It would go so well with my Republicans for Voldemort shirt . . .

Joss Whedon: Sexist Monster?

That's the theory posited by this gal, based on the content of the Firefly universe:

I have become increasingly interested in examining Joss Whedon’s work from a feminist perspective since I had a conversation with another lesbian feminist sister at the International Feminist Summit about whether Joss was a feminist. I am really quite shocked by how readily Joss is accepted as a feminist, and that his works are widely considered to be feminist. I decided to start re-watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and also to watch Firefly and the movie Serenity.

I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.

I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.

For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.

There is so much hatred towards women contained within the scripts and action of the series that I doubt very much that this post will even begin to cover it. . . .

Mind you, she does try. Click through to see the valiant effort. Is this all an elaborate put-on? I know a few third-wave feminist types (Go Smith!), and my guess is that they would only write this way as a goof. But maybe I'm naive.

In any case, Ace of Spades has a funny rejoinder:

This has got to be the stupidest fucking essay ever written in the whole of the 'Verse. And when I say that, I'm including the Reavers' poetry.

Of course, we forget what radical feminism looks like at our own peril. Witness the greatest bit of unintentional self-parody ever produced: This piece in Salon about a woman who decides to explore the political results of strapping it on and giving it to her (very questionable) boyfriend. Read it for the hysterical sex talk (the boyfriend wants her to use something called "The Boss"), but stay for the ridiculous cultural musings. Here's a sample:

With the Boss, I was conquering, silent, responsible, the taker. With his legs spread, Adam was agreeable, inviting, ashamed, taken. I felt closer to him that night than any other time, because we changed in front of each other's eyes. Parts of ourselves that had been locked away from it engaged in sex for the first time.

The world looks different since then. I was riding up a steep escalator a few weeks after I took Adam's cherry, idly watching the butts up ahead of me as I usually do -- as a pleasing shape. And suddenly a slide clicked over the round female bottom perched above me: Access. Men aren't just admiring the curve of a butt the way women do; they're negotiating access. It's a hill to be taken.

And men do love access. Clubs, fraternities, committees, old-boy networks -- they've built a world where access is power. They like slit skirts, open-toed shoes, crotchless panties. They like finding a way in. I think the name of the highest-profile condom brand is no accident -- the Trojan Horse was the original tool of access!

Which is crazier: That or Whedon as sexist monster? I report, you decide.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Most Hated Woman in Seattle?

I'm sure that Michelle Gass is super-smart, a great wife and mother, and an overall swell human being. That said, this not-intentionally-mean WSJ profile of her suggests to me that she's probably the most hated woman inside Starbucks, and a prime example of how corporate failure snowballs.

Starbucks is in some trouble. Howard Schultz is back at the helm, and he's handed off strategic thinking to the 40-year-old Gass. Never mind that Gass is responsible for two of the company's biggest failures, the "chantico" and their pretty unappetizing breakfast sandwiches. Here's the WSJ on Gass's corporate culture paradigm shifting dribble:

At Starbucks's Seattle headquarters, Ms. Gass converted a conference space down the hall from Mr. Schultz's office into what she dubbed the "transformation room," where she huddles with other executives to hash out the new plans. Ms. Gass had the room painted red and purple with the hope it would help create an atmosphere of action.

"I'm not a traditionally trained strategist," says Ms. Gass, the company's senior vice president, global strategy, office of the CEO. "I've never worked at McKinsey or Bain."

It's like something out of those IBM ads.

Isn't this the type of promotion that drives the hive crazy and sends employees running for the exits?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And a Blessed Easter to You

Still smarting from Vandy's first-round exit, Pitt's loss, and G-town's monumental collapse (perhaps, VLM, the apple does not fall far from the tree, n'est-ce pas?) I was buoyed by Galley Friend M.G. sending along this clip from Letterman with the BSG cast doing a Top 10 list. You'll notice that some cast members sell their lines a lot better than others.

Kudos to Sackhoff, Hogan, and Douglas.

NCAA side note: Pre-tourney, Bob Knight kept nattering on and on about how Pitt was his pick to win it all. I like Pitt a bunch, had them in my Final Four. But it seemed to me a classic example of last in-first out from Knight and made me wonder about his basketball genius. Even more so after they got bounced by Mich State. Is Izzo the most dangerous tournament coach around these days? I say yes. He's what Calhoun and Boeheim were in their primes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Subverting Expectations

I'd point all writers (or those interested in writing) to this very smart Jane Espenson post about subverting audience expectations:

… Sometimes, I see good writers make fun of bad, obvious dialog and cliche. Saw a bit on Steven Moffat's JEKYLL, ep. 3. A bunch of suits and techies watching the usual assortment of screens tracking Dr. Jackman:

Shot of a dot moving along a drawing of a railroad track.

Technie: He's moving.
American agent: Of course he's moving! He's on a train!

We don't really need "He's moving" to tell us that he's moving, unless we're washing the dishes and listening to the TV out of one ear, or we are very, very stupid. The American agent makes that point for us.

But wait, there's the retort:

Technie: He's moving.
American agent: Of course he's moving! He's on a train.
English agent: You obviously haven't got the hang of England yet, have you?

Joss does this a lot, I think, subverting our TV viewer expectations:

Buffy: Puppets give me the wiggins. Ever since I was 8.
Willow: What happened?
Buffy: I saw a puppet. It gave me the wiggins. There really isn't a story there.

I bet that sort of retort comes up a lot in story rooms; I wonder how often it makes it to the screen. (Network exec: "But how does the audience know he's moving?")

The above isn't from Espenson, but from a friend of hers. She then digs a little deeper, hitting on what's probably the best writing moment in the entire Star Wars saga. (A cookie for you if you can guess what it is before following the link.)

Espenson is talking about screenwriting, but I think it's equally valid for prose.

Snake Eyes

Sigh. Sure, you can try to harden your heart to it and all. And it will almost certainly be awful. But O.S. has a couple pics of Snake Eyes from the G.I. Joe movie. And he looks kind of awesome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Brief Political Aside

Galley Reader C.L. notes that the self-parodic Andrew Sullivan (did you know he was in a Gap ad once!) has ascended to new heights of self-parody and suggests a fun game:

Trying to get Andrew Sullivan to publish your most over-the-top email about the greatness that is Obama. If I weren't swamped with work, I would be all over this. Here's a quick attempt:

"It seems improbable--dare I say providential?--that of all times, it is during Holy Week that Obama has reached out to heal our nation's soul. No, he cannot redeem us by himself. But he can be a vehicle of that redemption, an agent of restoration. Through him, America's original sin can at long last be overcome, and the better angels of our nature, restored. Yes, he can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can."

This shit is shockingly easy to write.

Can't agree with that last part. C.L.'s blurb has a breezy genius to it that's beyond my poor powers.

I imagine that getting Sullivan to run your email would make one feel like John Candy in Splash after Penthouse finally publishes one of his letters.

But if you don't want to actually tug on Sullivan's chain (so to speak), I'd suggest another fun game:

Before an Obama event takes place, write a short paragraph praising Obama's performance in the most over-the-top manner possible. Then, after Obama does his thing, pluck a graph from Sullivan's (or some other apologist's) "analysis" and email them to friends, daring them to guess which is real and which is Memorex.

So no one gets the idea that this is a partisan thing, I'll cop to doing this from time to time with friends concerning Mitt Romney and certain of his more, um, enthusiastic supporters during the earlier portion of the primary season.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"They put soap on it and you're supposed to thank them!"

And you'll really need to thank Galley Friend C.L., who has found every episode of Arrested Development online, for free.

That's right. Say goodbye to these!

Dune, Again

Did we need another Dune? Doesn't matter. Peter Berg just signed on to direct another one anyway.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Michael Bay Blog Is Back!!!!!

That's right. The greatest invention in the history of the internets is back. Lawyers have chased him off of Blogger, but Michael Bay is posting little items in the CHUD forum (it's a little like that other Forum, but with movies). Items like this one, explaining the disappearance of the blog:

Okay, this Tom Cruise Katie Holmes thing.... Look, I've worked with more than a few scientologists. I'm not going to piss on their shit, and you know what, the female scientologists, I mean their thing has nothing against freaky deaky sex shit. So that's something. I met a cute Baptist chick in LA, and she was like "God's against anal" and I'm all like "Then God's against you working in this town, and God's name is Jerry Bruckheimer."

And you know what, I've hung out with Cruise cause me and Spielberg are tight these days, since I've did The Island for him, and my next picture is at the SKG house. I wasn't stoked on The Transformers until I did some research on my cut of possible ancilary benefits, and there really is more than meets the eye. But Tom's a good guy, and I would never imply that he's gay and has lovers. Or that Katie Holmes is doing this because she thinks it will break her out of television, and she and her people haven't even come up with how she and Tom met story because everyone in town knows it's a big lie, and Tom Cruise's performance on Oprah was worse than the one he gave in Interview with a Vampire, which was surely not his coded way of saying to world "Look, I'm kinda gay!" I would never in a million years say that.

What I will say is this: I fucked Katie Holmes. It was after The Gift, and as I was casting Bad Boys II. I told her I might give her the Peter Stormarre role (and she believed me!)

Giant thanks to Galley Hero M.R. for discovering this treasure trove. More to come.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dept. of Sour Grapes

The free market is a highly imperfect thing, witness the victory of Blu-ray over HD DVD, which wasn't exactly powered by consumers. But it can be a good predictor: With HD DVD gone, Blu-ray prices are rising.

Go Sony!

The Bank Job and the Second Amendment

Per the recommendation of Sonny Bunch, I saw The Bank Job last night, and liked it. An interesting movie with a lot of different tones that made me wish I was British. (Anyone know what the Brits refer to the police as "the Old Bill"?)

But one thing in particular stuck out at me: The Bank Job would be unworkable as a story set in America.

Leave aside the fact that it's based on a true story which took place in London, obviously. The reason the The Bank Job couldn't be set in the states is because of guns. Access to firearms changes the dynamics of plotting, in ways which I'm not sure are particularly good.

Sonny makes the very astute point that the great joy of heist movies lays not just in the heist itself--we know it's going to be successful, otherwise we wouldn't have the movie. Rather, the interesting part is what happens after the heist--how the characters divide the loot, deal with each other, escape the law and/or other villains.

In superior heist movies, this becomes an exercise in systems engineering, where the robbers are trying to create a mechanism that will get their pursuers off their backs, allow them to keep some of the spoils, and often achieve the release of a hostage. What makes it interesting is that every party has something the other parties want and the parties have asymmetrical information and resources. The goal for the story is to devise an interesting way for the hero to solve what is essentially a big game theory scenario. That's exactly what happens in The Bank Job.

But here's the thing: Guns short-circuit the exercise. When the hero is trying to outsmart his pursuers, it often devolves into simply getting to the rendezvous point earlier and having an unseen team member working as a sniper. Any time the parties interact, there's the potential for gun-play, which often takes the place of plot mechanics. From the drive-in theater hand-off in Heat to the Tim Roth/Sam Jackson standoff in Pulp Fiction, guns make things simpler.

In That Bank Job, our hero arranges a complicated situation where he brings multiple parties together in a precise choreography in order to achieve his goals (I'm being oblique so as not to spoil things here), and the scene only works because the hero knows that none of the villains will be carrying guns. If everyone has a Mac 10 under their coat, then things have to be much simpler.

I'm sure that to some screenwriters, guns are a boon, because they simultaneously cut down on the amount of heavy-lifting you have to do with plot and up the stakes by placing everyone in immediate mortal peril. But that probably results in fewer interesting movies.

The Bank Job delivers they type of satisfying stuff you want from a heist movie. And I wouldn't mind seeing more gangster/heist films set in the U.K.'s recent past, if for no other reason than to clear the guns out of the way and force the writers to work a little harder.

Trailer City

Incredible Hulk 2.0 trailer is up. Meh.

Film Drunk has the perfect riff:

Everyone knows that in 2003, Ang Lee made a crappy Hulk movie. What this movie presupposes is, maybe he didn't?

So is yet another for the Wachowski siblings' Speed Racer. Maybe I'm being overly critical, but this looks like the fifth worst movie ever made. Something about the entire production--the casting, the color palette, the subject matter, the snippets of dialogue--makes it look like a distant relative of the 1990 Dick Tracy disaster.

Harry Potter News

Variety reports that WB is going to split Deathly Hallows into two movies, released six months apart. David Yates, who directed Order of the Phoenix and the upcoming Half-Blood Prince will direct the final two films as well.

Which is a little strange. Not quite clear why WB would hop from director to director for the first half of the series and then settle on one guy for the final half. OotP was a nice movie, but it wasn't so transcendent that it made Yates look like the only guy on the planet who could grasp the material.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lesbian Menage a Trois

It's always so much hotter on Cinemax.

What I really want to do is direct . . .

WWTDD has a funny rant about Scarlett Johansson's directorial debut:

Actors are idiots. Just because you're around something a lot doesn't mean you know how to do it. I've been to Magic Mountain a hundred times, that doesn't make me an engineer. My dad was a pilot for Delta. I talked to him about it all the time but I promise you, If I get behind the stick, we're goin' the fuck down. Look at her for christs sake. She's even wearing those dumb boots and hat like a director from the 40’s. I'm amazed she isn't yelling into a big megaphone at some actors in blackface for one of them to sit on a tiny cactus then run in circles for two minutes.

You have to see the picture of her on set to fully get the joke.

American Idol Notes

Watched this season for the first time last night--and the first time ever in glorious high definition. A couple thoughts:

* In HD, Seacrest really does look gay. Nothing wrong with that, but now I finally get all the jokes. And if I've said it once, I'll say it a hundred times: He's an amazing talent. He presides over that show with total authority, managing movement, time, contestants, and stars so deftly that you barely notice the heavy lifting he's doing. I suspect that 50 years from now, he'll be looked on as a national TV treasure, like Dick Clark.

* I don't know about you, but I was really surprised to see Rogue competing--and without the long gloves or anything. It's really brave. Maybe she's trying to absorb Seacrest's powers? Or maybe she really did take The Cure . . .

Slate on Spitzer

Well, not Spitzer exactly, but the Emperor's Club. Josh Levin takes a tour of the escort service's website. Highlights include:

According to a page on "Introduction Fees," the club ranked its call girls from three to seven diamonds based on "individual education, sophistication, and ambiance." Prices range from $1,000 for an hour with a three-diamond prostitute up to $3,100 for a seven-diamond hooker; dawn-to-dawn rates go from $10,000 for a three-diamond to $31,000 for a seven-diamond. Bargain hunters take note: $30,000 will buy you a trio of three-diamond prostitutes—that's a total of nine diamonds for less than the price of a single seven-diamond call girl.

But my favorite is this bit on "buyouts":

"We understand that some of our clients / members and represented models may be interested in long-term companionship / private dating on a more personal level," the site explains. "We are happy to contribute to such arrangements." How does Emperors' Club express its happiness on such joyous occasions? By demanding a "buyout"—"a mutually agreed upon lump sum which the client / member transfers to the company to compensate the company for its role in and allocation of valuable resources which make it possible for this relationship to occur between the client and model."


You may have noticed the pretty BSG ad running just to the right--I encourage you to click through because it takes you to an 8-minute How We Got Here to re-cap events leading up to season four. Season three comes out on DVD on March 18, which can't come soon enough for me.

And as another little BSG tidbit, here's some obsessive fan's look at Tricia Helfer in all of her Six configurations from the show.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer, blah-blah-blah

Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? What I want to know is what this all means:

The appointment was originally booked for four hours and, as Client 9 made his way toward the room, Ms. Lewis asked Kristen to send her a text message when he left. Kristen sent her a message at 12:02 a.m., the appointment having lasted more than an hour.

When she called Ms. Lewis, they discussed the client’s reputation as a “difficult” man who sometimes asked the prostitutes “to do things you might not think were safe,” Ms. Lewis said. But Kristen, according to court papers, was prepared: “I have a way of dealing with that,” she is quoted as having told Ms. Lewis. “I’d be like, Listen, dude, you really want the sex? ...You know what I mean.” The fact was that Kristen liked him, though, and told Ms. Lewis that he wasn’t all that difficult.

“I mean, it’s just kind of like ... whatever ... I’m here for a purpose,” the affidavit quotes her as saying. “I know what my purpose is. I am not a ... moron, you know what I mean.”

Ms. Lewis complimented Kristen on her sang-froid, telling her, “You look at it very uniquely, because ... no one ever says it that way.”

"Things you might not think were safe"? Is that a common euphemism?

I have to say, I'm not surprised. When the story broke yesterday, my first thought was, Dude must be into some kinky stuff because otherwise, no politician/actor/musician has to pay for sex. If the Gov needed some love, all he had to do was walk down the hall at the office and pick up a hot, star-struck 20-year-old intern.

That he was paying for it suggests that he wanted more than just a normal good time, no?

Of course, there are other, more innocent explanations. Maybe he's a Never-Nude?

French Men Are Liars, Effete

Robert Miller has fun with the numbers of a new survey which claims that French men average 13 sexual partners over their lifetimes while French women average only 4.

Monday, March 10, 2008

In Praise of Joseph Bottum

One of the many strokes of luck I've had in life is having had the chance to meet many of my writing heroes--Andy Ferguson, David Grann, Matt Labash, Stan Lee. In a few cases, I've even been lucky enough to become friends with these studs. Jody Bottum is one such friend. Over the weekend, I finally had a chance to finish his piece in the latest issue of First Things, "The Judgment of Memory." It's not available online yet (unless you're a subscriber, and if not, shame on you).

It is one of the finest essays I've ever read--at once profound and lyrical. After finishing it last night, I sat still for a while simply drinking in its beauty.

In the afterglow, it occurred to me that for last two years Jody has written four of the best essays you'll ever see, beginning with "The Mad Scientists' Club," moving on to "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," and then "Death & Politics." All of this while editing one of the three best magazines in America. He's operating in rare air these days and people who love words and ideas should take note.

And if you somehow missed any of those pieces, well. Print them out, take them home, and go treat yourself.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Was Street Fighter Really That Bad?

I'd never actually seen the movie, but . . .

Buffy Goes Lesbian*

I've been waiting to mention this, just in case anyone out there was (a) reading the Buffy Season 8 comics and (b) hadn't gotten to this week's issue yet. But now that the New York Times has done a story on it, I guess we're out of the spoiler zone.

So yeah, here's the deal: Buffy banged one of her slayerettes.

I'm with Buffy. Wow.

Except that I just don't know that they (meaning Whedon and writer Drew Goddard) earned it. The choice feels a bit off. I don't think it's exploitive, but it does feel a bit sensational. Left a vaguely metallic taste in my mouth.

* A quick end-note: Whedon says that Buffy isn't gay, just that she's experimenting. Good for her! Except that one of the things the writers had done nicely over time was grow Buffy to the point where she was world-weary soul aged far beyond her years. She didn't have time for juvenelia of any sort. She was Batman--scowling and laying down the law and being sort of annoyed at her peers who weren't as dead-serious. All of sudden she's doing sorority-house sex play? Like I said, this character evolution just doesn't feel earned.

All of that said, Goddard gets in enough funny in the ensuing four pages to nearly justify the entire thing.

There's a longer interview with Whedon here where he unveils the rest of the writing line-up for the series, which is pretty much a comic-geek dream team: Jane Espenson, Drew Greenburg, Doug Petrie, Steve DeKnight, Jim Krueger, and then Brad Meltzer.

Doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Congratulations to 14-year-old McKay Hatch of South Pasadena who helped launch No Cussing Week this week, to which the folks currently celebrating National Procrastination Week replied, “Fuck it.”

Defensive Intensity

Courtesy of Lion in Oil:

Where did he learn to play defense like that? As a Philadelphia '76er, of course.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Truest Thing You've Ever Heard

From Spengler:

Spouses do not necessarily share their likes, but they must have their hatreds in common.

You Mess with the Bull . . .

Will those crazy Israeli backpackers never learn? Two photos of a gentleman who thought it would be a good idea to taunt a 16-foot croc:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Brief Political Aside

I'm watching CNN's election coverage (in glorious high definition) and Wolf Blitzer was just showing Barack Obama with a giant, 18-point lead over Hillary Clinton. I was kind of surprised by that. He then showed the vote totals--436,064 votes for Obama and only 303,276 votes for Clinton with 1 percent reporting. He actually read the totals out and did some analysis on them. Apparently it never occurred to him that this might be some sort of technical glitch since, you know, Texas doesn't have 73 million voters.

Blitzer! Get over here and sit on my shoulders while I do push-ups.


CNN is reporting that Gary Gygax, the father of D&D, is dead.

It's sad, sad news. Go home and throw a 20-sider for the holmes.

The Emo Eagles Fan Returns

The best one ever?

Same as it ever was. You think you have so much to offer someone - emotional support, intellectual stimulation, consideration for their needs, a big contract with lots of guaranteed money - and yet they return to easy crutch of the familiar. People can be weak. Change can be a minefield.

I know this to be true, as do my cherished Eagles. Last summer, Samantha was dropping hints that she and Mathias might be on the outs. Now was my chance to show her what I had to offer. I took her to a couple movies she was dying to see. Even went shopping with her, y'know, to show her how much I enjoyed her company. I spent hours listening to her detail the various problems her relationship was undergoing. All the stuff Mathias wouldn't do for her. We didn't get physical. There's no way I could force her to cheat.

There was this one day in July, I was at a Phillies game and she had me on the phone the whole time. She was weeping, I mean, really bawling for hours on end. I don't even remember what happened in the game, so intense was my concentration with what she had to say. I guess Mathias had really screwed up big. Flirted with some other girl really obviously right in front of her. Even bragged a little about how hot this other girl was. What a dick.

So Samantha says she doesn't know why she kept falling for assholes like him and why she couldn't ever settle for a nice guy like me. Then came the bombshell: she had something important to tell me if I'd meet her the next day for lunch.

So I arrived at the Cosi the next day, hoping for the best. Soon enough though, noon turned to 1 o'clock and she hadn't shown. I called her cell a few times and it kept going straight to voicemail.

A few days went by and I hadn't heard anything but until I ran into her friend outside the Tower Records (God, I miss it). She told me Samantha was out of town at Mathias' family's beach house for the next two weeks. Apparently he told her he was just kidding around about the other girl. He also told her about the beach house.

That's when I knew I screwed up. If only I'd acted like I cared more during those calls, she'd've known I was the one. I mean, I did care. But I really should've poured it on. Whould it have killed me to shed a few tears myself?

I think the Eagles learned that lesson too.

BSG: The Last Supper

Galley Friend B.W. sends us this amazing link:

My Gift to You

Galley Friend R.S. mentioned this site, which I'll just call HCwD, to me yesterday. Having now feasted on it for a few minutes, I really can't recommend it enough. Lots of layers of funny.

Observe, for instance, the Primo Levi riff.

The NFL, Free Agency, and the Market

I'm endlessly fascinated with how the underlying economic models of different sports leagues influences their games. The MLB is what it is because of its lack of a salary cap and revenue sharing. The NBA is doomed to long-term failure because it's the only league to have both guaranteed contracts and a salary cap (which produces trades like the Van Horn deal and keeps 70 percent of the league mired in mediocrity for years at a time).

So looking at this year's NFL free-agent signings, I wonder if there's something about its structure which causes mid-level players to be over-valued. Looking at the deals being given to this year's free-agent crop, these players seem to be making more money than they probably should, if we were to assume that there is something like a constant dollar-per-unit-of-value rate by position. For instance, is a quarterback basically paid some dollar per QB rating point, or a defensive end some dollar per sack. (I'm abstracting all of this to an absurdly high level, but humor me.)

What I'm getting at, is that if you look at the top performers at each position, and see how much they're being paid, the free agents being signed seem like they're getting more money that you'd expect, given their stats. So I wonder if the free-agency regime distorts the market by encouraging teams to lock up players of the highest-caliber, to prevent them from ever going on the open market. This means that the free-agent players who do come to market are rarely of that first-tier in quality. But since those Grade A players are never available on the market, the market pays the best free-agents who are available (who might be Grade B or Grade C players) something closer to Grade A value?

Update: Astute Galley Reader J.T. writes in:

Salary structure within the NFL is skewed by the price controlling
franchise player tag. Typically a player who gets franchised is at or
near the top of his game and regarded by the team, his peers and fans at
large as one of the best players at his position. By excluding this
particular player from the free agency pool rather than diminishing the
value of other players in the pool, drives them higher. A fair to
middling cornerback will get a bigger contract from teams looking for a
cornerback because they cannot get the best cornerback that would have
been on the market, had his team not franchised him. The supply has
shrunk, but the demand has not, as even the team franchisng the player
has need of another cornerback. Decreased supply without a
corresponding drop in demand will result in a higher equilibrium point,
and therefore larger salaries. Further, because contracts are not
guaranteed, NFL teams feel free to issue four year deals, intending to
cut the player after three years, if not two. The size of the deal is
less important than the signing bonus. So Mr. Fairto Middling can
expect a big deal, with a modest signing bonus (the guaranteed portion
of the deal) and to be back on the market at least one year before the
deal is done. If he plays well and avoids getting cut (or wisely signs
with the Redskins, who seemingly are unbound by the NFL's salary cap) he
may even earn the full announced value of the contract.

Comics, Feminism, Giant Racks

Occasional Superheroine Valerie D'Orazio has a pretty funny (and year old) disquisition on the cheesecake of Power Girl and Wonder Woman.

Monday, March 03, 2008


A beautiful, moving eulogy.

Saul Bass's Star Wars

Galley Friend M.R. sends us this fantastic video, a send up of what the Star Wars title credits might have looked like if done by legendary '60s designer Saul Bass. You'll love it: