Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quick hits

Just checking in. Haven't had the chance to blog much with so many things going on... hopefully everything gets sorted out next week so I can tell everyone about the plans.

Anyway, some things I liked over the past couple of days:

- The new Vanity Fair has an article about all the trouble the filmmakers went through for the first Godfather film. Awesome, awesome read. My favorite part was Frank Sinatra's intense antipathy towards the film getting made. The character Johnny Fontane, who was allegedly based on the Chairman of the Board, was marginalized in the movie even it was featured very prominently in the book. Francis Ford Coppola disputed that Sinatra had much to do with it, stating that the actor who played Fontane just sucked. Also, it was interesting to note that Marlon Brando was only 47 when he played Don Vito--and he was totally washed up in Hollywood eyes at the time. Isn't that crazy? For reference, Robert De Niro, who played the young Vito Corleone in the sequel, was also 47 when he did "Goodfellas". Oh, and Tom Cruise turns 47 this year.

- Here's a Slate piece about a guy who tries to apply the lessons from the Michael Lewis basketball article. The moral would resonate with every guy of marginal athletic talent who plays pick-up basketball.

- Speaking of number-crunching, analyst Nate Silver gives a roundup of his Oscar predictions after the fact, where he discusses the model he used and possible changes.

- The New York Times looked for a washed-up wrestler who didn't end up screwing up his whole life, and they found Tito Santana, who's now living comfortably as a high school teacher and basketball coach. Oddly enough, like Randy "The Ram" Robinson, he still spends weekends wrestling men who are half his age.

- Studios are bidding for the new buddy cop movie "The B Team", which would star Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. It's kind of amazing that Ferrell hasn't played a cop in any of his movies yet, right? Seems like a natural fit. I just hope there's a scene where Marky Mark starts talking to animals.

- While we're on the subject, Ferrell shakes and bakes with Nate Robinson! Haha, and Nate scored a season-high 41 points too. Not a bad month for Krypto-Nate.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Man Who Laughs

The image of the Joker, Batman's arch-nemesis (not the maverick Filipino senator/Pipol's Dragon), was based by Bob Kane on a photo of actor Conrad Veidt from the film The Man Who Laughs. The film was an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name, which is, oddly enough, described by Wikipedia as one of Hugo's more obscure works.

This iconic image from "Batman: The Killing Joke", Alan Moore's twisted one-shot about the psychotic clown, was drawn by artist Brian Bolland, who cited the film for his inspiration for the Joker's look. In 2005, "Batman: The Man Who Laughs", another classic Joker one-shot akin to "The Killing Joke", was released.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love and basketball

A few years ago, I spent way too many evenings staying up way too late, and drinking way too much. Fortunately, most of my friends also spent their evenings the same way, and quite often I would spend the wee hours of the morning chatting with a friend about, well, life. Quarter-life funks were all the rage back then (perhaps it still is), and our conversations would invariably turn to issues at work. After a particularly rough evening, I found myself trying to find words to make her feel better about the job she was doing, which isn't really a good idea after six (or seven, or eight) beers.

"In basketball," I told her, "there's the glue guy. There's this guy on the Rockets, Shane Battier, who's the reason for their resurgence. He's not a superstar, he doesn't score the most points, he doesn't hit any fancy shots, no dunks, no highlights for him on ESPN. And yet, anyone who knew anything about basketball would know just how important he is to the team; they don't win without him. To the team, he's just as essential as the superstars who grab the headlines."

"Do you have a point?"

"My point is, on your team, you're the glue guy. You might not get any of the headlines, but you're the one makes things happen. You're the one who always knows what to do when issues come up. You're the one everyone could turn to when they hit a snag. And you never lose your cool at the heat of the moment; you remain calm and everyone else draws from that. And I guess you just let it all out when we go out drinking afterwards, like, you know, now."

She took a puff, and sighed. I wasn't sure at that point if she was still listening to me. She probably wasn't. I continued.

"See, the thing is, you're just as important as anyone else on your team. And everyone who knows about what you do would--should--know how much you mean to everyone. And I'm sure everyone appreciates you. Everyone sees that. I see that."

Obviously, there are a couple of things to take away from this: (1) alcohol really does kill your brain cells; and, (2) comparing women to 6-8 NBA forwards with weird hairlines is never a good idea.

But I was reminded of this episode in my life because of an article about Battier in this weekend's New York Times magazine. The lengthy piece was written by Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, which chronicled one team's use of statistical tools to run a baseball team, and which ended up revolutionizing how most teams in Major League Baseball are run.

The story examines Battier's impact on the Rockets, whose GM Daryl Morey is one of the proponents of the use of objective metrics for basketball analysis. Why is Battier, with his marginal stats and limited offensive game, just as important to his team as an all-world superstar like Yao Ming?

Before the 2006-7 season, Battier was traded to the Houston Rockets, who had just finished 34-48. In his first season with the Rockets, they finished 52-30, and then, last year, went 55-27 — including one stretch of 22 wins in a row. Only the 1971-2 Los Angeles Lakers have won more games consecutively in the N.B.A. And because of injuries, the Rockets played 11 of those 22 games without their two acknowledged stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, on the court at the same time; the Rockets player who spent the most time actually playing for the Rockets during the streak was Shane Battier. This year Battier, recovering from off-season surgery to remove bone spurs from an ankle, has played in just over half of the Rockets’ games. That has only highlighted his importance. “This year,” Morey says, “we have been a championship team with him and a bubble playoff team without him.”

Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.

Of course, this is part of my original thesis in the tragic comparison I mentioned above. Any smart basketball fan of course would know just how important players like Battier are. (Dumb basketball fans, on the other hand, just root for Kobe Bryant.)

But anyway, you should read the Michael Lewis article if you are: (a) any kind of basketball fan, because it details not just why, but how, Battier makes himself so important to his team (i.e. while guarding a bad rebounder, he gravitates to Lakers' center Pau Gasol to help his teammates block out, a move that is never reflected on the box score); (b) you're the girl mentioned in the anecdote above, if you still read this blog; or, (c) you have friends who are prone to bring up basketball analogies in the wee hours of the morning after late night drinking sessions.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Here's a good interview at with Itchyworms drummer Jazz Nicolas about being the fifth Eraserhead during last August's concert. Apparently, when Buddy had called him up to do session work, no one had confirmed the gig to him either:

“’Uy, busy ka ba? Kailangan namin ng keyboardist.”

“Para sa’n?”


“Ano’ng gig?”


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Office favorites

Greg Daniels, the man who adapted The Office for American television, lists down his ten favorite episodes:

  1. Health Care

  2. The Alliance

  3. Office Olympics

  4. Performance Review

  5. The Injury

  6. Gay Witch Hunt

  7. The Convict

  8. Business School

  9. Local Ad

  10. Chair Model

Here's mine:

  1. The Client - Jan and Michael hook up!

  2. Booze Cruise - "You know what, I would save the receptionist."

  3. Conflict Resolution - The part where Dwight enumerates Jim's pranks, and Jim explains them, still makes me laugh out loud.

  4. Casino Night - "Not your fault. I'm sorry I misinterpreted our friendship."

  5. The Convention - The scene where Jim 'fesses up that he left Scranton because of Pam still kills me.

  6. Initiation - Love the end where Jim gets Pam on the phone accidentally, and they end up having this long chat.

  7. Traveling Salesmen - The Dunder-Mifflin crew at their very best.

  8. Branch Wars - "I think I cut my penis on the lid!"

  9. Job Fair - Andy was hilarious at the golf course.

  10. Goodbye Toby - The debut of the adorable Holly Flax

I know I've turned a couple of people who read this blog on to watching the show, so what's your favorite?

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