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bam, said the lady

I’ve told the story before about how a group of us online Giants fans convinced Chronicle writer Henry Schulman to mention Abe Vigoda in a piece about the team, as a kind of shout out to us. Well, Nathan Fillion did an Abe Vigoda Monday night, although I only just found out about it a little bit ago.

Fillion is a charismatic actor, mostly for television, who always seems to be smiling with his audience about his good looks and rapport with viewers. He is also one of the many celebrities on Twitter. I confess I’m not a big expert on Fillion … I first saw him as one evil mother on Buffy, then after the fact caught up with his starring turn on Firefly/Serenity. His new show is Castle, which just began its second season. I don’t watch it … if it was my kind of show, I suspect I’d love it, but it’s not my kind of show, so I just catch the occasional ten minutes when I’m in the room with Robin as she watches it (it IS her kind of show). She may watch it, but I watch Twitter, and I friended Fillion because his tweets tend to be entertaining.

One thing Fillion did … and it’s not entirely clear how or why it got started … Fillion has created a couple of catch phrases. One, “feed the birds,” is his version of a high five. The other, which seems to be the more popular, is “bam, said the lady,” which is a way of concluding a conversation, like “there you go.” Fillion said it on an episode of Castle last season, apparently worked it into a voice-over on a video game, and has pushed it on his Twitter page, using it whenever possible, convincing fans to follow suit … it’s quite the thing, you can get t-shirts with the saying, there’s a shorthand version (BSTL), even an entry in the Urban Dictionary.

Well, tonight, Robin’s watching Monday’s episode of Castle … it comes on too late for her to watch it in real time, so she cranks up the DVR and catches up later in the week. I’m goofing around on the Internet, bemoaning the official elimination of the Giants from this year’s post-season, and I can hear the show in the background, but I’m not paying attention. Or so I thought.

Suddenly, Fillion’s character (also named Castle) blurts out “Bam! said the lady.” I just about jumped out of my chair. I immediately asked Robin if he said that all the time, but she couldn’t remember him ever using it before. Since she spends zero time goofing on the Internet, she had no idea that Fillion had done an Abe Vigoda for his fans. I quickly did a Twitter search for the phrase, and saw that his many Twitter friends had jumped right on it, tweeting excitedly (and continuously … as fans catch up via their DVRs, they tweet, so there’s been a run of BSTL tweets for two days now).

Robin thinks this is all quite silly, but I found it delightful. Doesn’t make me want to watch Castle, but it shows how the Internet has affected entertainment, and also shows why I like Nathan Fillion even though I don’t always watch his shows.

Now I need a catch phrase …

i read the news today, oh boy

Charlie Brooker:

I don't like Apple products. And the better-designed and more ubiquitous they become, the more I dislike them. I blame the customers. Awful people. Awful. Stop showing me your iPhone. Stop stroking your Macbook. Stop telling me to get one. …

I vaguely prefer the clumping, clueless, uncool, crappiness of Microsoft's bland Stepford gang to the creepy assurance of the average Mac evangelist. At least the grinning dildos in the Windows video are fictional, whereas eerie replicant Mac monks really are everywhere, standing over your shoulder in their charcoal pullovers, smirking with amusement at your hopelessly inferior OS, knowing they're better than you because they use Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard. SNOW LEOPARD.

I don't care if you're right. I just want you to die.

goodbye candlestick: ten years ago

Ten years ago today, the Giants played their last game at Candlestick Park. It wasn’t much of a game … the Dodgers won, 9-4. Not many in the crowd of 61,389 cared (they’ve never had that big a crowd, since … the new park holds 20,000 fewer fans) … we were there to say goodbye to one of the worst parks in baseball history. Julian Tavarez finished off his three years with the Giants by hitting two batters … he hit five batters in his last three games as a Giant, which is pretty remarkable, considering he only faced a total of 19 hitters in those games. The last play at Candlestick was Marvin Benard grounding out to the first baseman. After the game, we got someone to take this picture of us:

end of candlestick

And here is the most historic moment I ever witnessed at a Giants game at Candlestick Park:

i read the news today, oh boy

danah boyd:

Herein lies the reality that makes all of this quite messy to deal with. It wasn't just anyone who left MySpace to go to Facebook. In fact, if we want to get to the crux of what unfolded, we might as well face an uncomfortable reality... What happened was modern day "white flight." Whites were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. The educated were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those from wealthier backgrounds were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those from the suburbs were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those who deserted MySpace did so by "choice" but their decision to do so was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more peaceful, quiet, less-public space would be more idyllic.

Amy Larocca on Carrie Fisher:

The happy ending of the story, if it really can be called that, is that she underwent electroshock therapy and now feels much, much better than she ever has before, even if she sometimes doesn’t remember things that happened in the past few months. “But that could be all the acid I did,” she says. “You do the math. But fuck the past four months anyway. Worth it!” Fisher likes to shout things for emphasis sometimes. “Totally. Fucking. Worth it!

Australian Associated Press:

A HOMEOPATH has been sentenced to at least six years in jail and his wife will serve at least four years for the manslaughter of their eczema-stricken daughter.

Thomas Sam, 42, and his wife Manju, 37, were convicted in June of the manslaughter of their nine-month-old baby Gloria by failing to seek proper medical treatment.

The tertiary-educated couple were accused of "gross criminal negligence" by failing to get the treatment, instead mainly relying on homeopathic remedies. …

A "very wide chasm" lay between how they had acted and how any other reasonable parent would have acted, Justice Johnson said.

"The omission of the parents to seek proper assistance for her can be characterised accurately as cruelty," he said.

"Gloria was totally dependent on her parents complying with their clear duty of care for her and each offender fell profoundly short of their parental obligations to their daughter." …

"This is not a case of a hidden condition going untreated and ultimately causing death.

"Rather this case involves an accumulation of obvious health problems which, whilst not properly treated, saw the child descending towards death."

who is that out there?

50+ years of watching baseball have turned a lot of the game into shorthand for me. I know the Giants far more than I know any other team, since they’re the ones I watch most often. But if I see a close-up of a Giant, I usually recognize him. If I turn the game on and a Giant is at the plate, I can often tell who it is simply by the batting stance that he takes. And if the team is in the field, I know that when I look at the centerfielder, there are only a few guys who would be out there … I’m not working my way mentally through 25 players, but only Rowand (usually), Torres, Winn or Velez.

I’ve been watching soccer for a lot less than 50 years, so there’s little shorthand involved. I know the Earthquakes, for the same reason I know the Giants (more so if I attend a lot of matches in person, since soccer is particularly instructive when you can see the whole field). The difference with soccer is that I watch other teams besides my favorites. I watch the Giants more than I watch any other sports team, but I watch, say, Liverpool more than I watch the Atlanta Braves. And at times, I realize I’ve picked up more knowledge than I’d thought about soccer. For instance, I’m watching Liverpool play as I type this. It’s not in HD, so the screen is smaller and the picture is fuzzier, which is to say that I need to apply what I already know to help illuminate what I see … an HD telecast makes a big difference.

I often find myself wondering, who is that out there? It’s not as easy as wondering who the Giants CF is … positions are more fluid in soccer, and I don’t know Liverpool as well as I know the Giants. But more often than not, I DO know who that is out there, which is something people who were born into the sport take for granted, but which still surprises me.

So, for instance, Liverpool has two attacking players with blond hair who look similar, at least absent an HD picture.  One, Dutchman Dirk Kuyt, has wavy-bordering-on-curly hair; the other, Spaniard Fernando Torres, has straight, stringy hair, so it’s not like you couldn’t tell them apart if they were standing right in front of you. But on TV, it’s not so easy. Except … I know that Torres is more of an out-and-out forward while Kuyt is nominally a winger, so all else being equal, the blondie in the center is Torres and the one on the wing is Kuyt. I also know that Torres tends to place himself where goals are likely to begin, while Kuyt, who has a tremendous workrate, will by the end of the match have covered pretty much every inch of the field (not that Torres is lazy, but he plays a different role and style from Kuyt, who is so active anyway that he’d make a speeding meth addict look lazy). If the blondie is back amongst the defenders, trying to prevent a goal from the opponents, that’s going to be Kuyt as well … again, it’s not that Torres is lazy, he’ll move back if necessary, but that’s not his job, whereas Kuyt’s job sometimes seems to be “go wherever the ball is” … he’s like a 6-year-old in a junior game.

None of this is of particular importance, and for a seasoned soccer fan, it’s painfully simple, rather like watching a baseball game and being proud that I know the difference between Pablo Sandoval and Pedro Feliz. But I probably won’t live long enough to be able to call myself a seasoned soccer fan, which means I’ll always surprise myself when I recognize Dirk Kuyt.

lie to me, season premiere (and new goodman power rankings)

I suppose I could just repeat myself: Hugh Laurie is to House as Tim Roth is to Lie to Me. Both are decent shows made especially watchable by the stars. There is reason to think Lie to Me will be even better this season … Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield, has taken over as show runner. The big problem is that watching House and Lie to Me back-to-back is too much of a decent thing; neither show is good enough to make you want to watch two hours worth, but both are good enough to get you through an hour. Since Lie to Me comes after House, I suspect it will be the one where my boredom gets a workout. But it’s a fun show, and Erika Christensen did a fine job in her guest spot tonight. (Funny note, at least I thought so: Christensen and Julia Stiles have always been Top Ten Separated at Birth people, and when Christensen showed up on Lie to Me playing a person with multiple personalities, I joked to my wife that they should have let Julia Stiles play the other personality. She didn’t get the joke … she thought it WAS Julia Stiles.)

Meanwhile, Tim Goodman has his latest Power Rankings. Not sure I’ll comment on them every week, but I’ll toss in my thoughts now. Mad Men is still on top … all is right with the world. He swapped Glee and Sons of Anarchy at #2/3, which is meaningless. There are the usual sitcoms I don’t watch, along with two that I do (Curb Your Enthusiasm, headed for a great season, and The Office). He bumped Dexter to #5 … guess he liked the premiere more than I did … and pushed FlashForward to #7.

i read the news today, oh boy

Phil Plait:

So, as always, don’t listen to people like Lipman, or even to me when it comes to this stuff. Instead, go to your doctor, a board-certified and science-based doctor, and ask them about the H1N1 swine flu, and see if they recommend getting the shot. And yes, as soon as it’s available here I’ll get vaccinated, as will my wife and daughter. We talked to a real doctor about it, and we understand the threat of H1N1, and we understand what vaccines do.

Maybe he can take Sabean with him:

Omar Vizquel is done catching massive snakes. Next up, he wants to become a matador.

The Texas Rangers infielder, who last winter searched for anacondas, plans to try bullfighting when he goes home to Venezuela this winter.

"Just go and learn the basics and stuff," Vizquel said. "It's one of my things on the to-do list. There's a lot of things still to do."

dexter, season four premiere

As I hope the selections in the previous post demonstrate, great works of art inspire great works of critical analysis. Dexter has been a great show for a few years now. Apparently, some people found last season to be off, but I thought Jimmy Smits was brilliant, and I liked it just fine. This season? Well, I can’t really say after one episode, but Dexter-as-Family-Man isn’t all that, just yet. Michael C. Hall never gets old, and it’s always good to see Keith Carradine, who was once just a smoothy with Carradine genes, but who in his later years has become a terrific screen presence (case in point will always be his remarkable turn as Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood). But, as Alan Sepinwall points out, “this isn't a show that should be having a fourth season.” Sepinwall was his usual best in discussing Mad Men’s latest episode, but with Dexter, he admits that he retains a fondness for the show but isn’t very invested in it any longer, so he’ll be writing about it less this season.

Great works of art inspire great works of criticism. OK works of art that may be past their sell-by date inspire critics to move on.

As for why Dexter doesn’t really need to be on TV any more, I’d argue along with Sepinwall that the more familiar we become with “normal” Dexter, the farther away we move from “killer” Dexter, the less interesting the show becomes. Dexter has always been a show with dark humor, and there is indeed something funny about Dex feeding the baby while telling him that daddy kills people. But we’ve gone from a killer with daddy issues to a daddy with killer issues … maybe it’s just me, but the latter is “nicer” in ways that don’t make the show any better. Tonight I watched Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, and DexterDexter was easily the lesser show of the evening. The first show is holding steady, the second show is on the rise, the third show? Well, let’s give it some time, maybe it will return to previous heights.

i read the news today, oh boy (mad men spoilers)

Alan Sepinwall:

The man Dick Whitman turned himself into is a master of the universe, capable of playing all the angles and finding a way to win the unlikeliest of victories. But here, we see other men sitting in Don's chair, putting him ill at ease and telling him how his life is going to be. Connie makes it clear that, however they bonded at the country club, he's going to dictate the terms of this relationship. And Bert Cooper turns out not to be the doddering eccentric we've taken him for, but an absolute killer. He's had the Dick Whitman card in his pocket since the end of season one, but he's declined to play it until now, going straight at Don with it, yet being elegant enough to phrase his attack in an oblique way. (He paraphrases a line he used on Don in last season's "The Gold Violin" about how he knows a little about him, then asks, "After all, when it comes down to it, who's really signing the contract, anyway?")

Maureen Ryan:

I think the key moment of the entire episode -- right up there with the moment in which Don signed the contract -- was when he looked into the mirror in that motel room and realized he'd been played. He'd been rolled by a couple of kids. And hell, maybe in his own self-destructive way, he'd realized from the start that was possible. But it almost didn't matter. He just wanted out.

Where "out" led was to this: The hustler got hustled. Don/Dick had to be as shrewd and brutal as those kids in order to get where he's gotten (and frankly he was lucky that the kids didn't take his new Caddy). But as his old man (i.e., his subconscious) pointed out, he had grown soft. A life lived on his terms has made him, in some ways, weak and vulnerable. It turned him into the kind of suburbanite who gets preyed on by streetwise types. …

Don wanted to be the alpha male who brought in a big account and yet could keep wielding power on his own terms. He was told no, which is not something that frequently happens to him. Don was the star of Sterling Cooper, but he could no longer shine.

But nobody denies Connie or Bert. Two sun kings who used their power and schooled Don about who's in control.

Heather Havrilesky:

Isn't that the American dream, after all? We like to see ourselves as independent, headstrong, deeply unique individuals, paving our own paths through the wilds of contemporary life. We so easily forget that almost every decision we make, from whether or not we breast feed our babies, work overtime, sleep more than six hours a night, exercise, visit the doctor, vote, do drugs, drink, stay married, all of it, springs from the common, accepted attitudes of the times. The beliefs we hold most sacred, the ideas that define our identities, more often than not boil down to trends. It might take a few decades, but one day we inevitably wake up and notice that a big percentage of the individuals in our demographic were also smoking, dabbling in Buddhism, using formula, spanking their kids with a wooden spoon, getting divorced in middle age, reading Dr. Spock, becoming vegan, you name it. The very choices that feel fundamental to us are the ones that look almost hilariously cliché and goofy in retrospect.

what i watched last week

The Class. Directed by Laurent Cantet, who made a film I liked very much, Time Out. This one is a documentary-style look at a year in a French classroom … literature teacher François Bégaudeau wrote an autobiographical novel about his experiences, and that novel became this movie, with Bégaudeau in the role of the teacher. The students are apparently played by amateurs … whatever their backgrounds, they are uniformly excellent. The film is excruciatingly realistic, and will have teachers and students squirming. My personal problem is that, even though I have spent a little more than 20 years of my life as a teacher, I always identify with students in these stories … the more rebellious, the better (my favorite character in Blackboard Jungle isn’t the liberal teacher played by Glenn Ford, or the surly but ultimately good student played by Sidney Poitier … no, I much preferred Vic Morrow as the bad student who will never turn good). My sense of identification means I am perhaps too willing to see the students’ side in all of this. The Class is noteworthy because it takes everyone’s side without being too heartwarming. 8/10.

A History of Violence. Watched it a few months ago and wrote about it here, so I’ll just add that for some reason, I found Viggo’s character funnier in the later scenes than I remember from my first viewing.