June 17, 2018

Reykjavík Roadblock

A penalty kick that ought to have given Argentina a 2-1 lead on Iceland in their World Cup match today in Moscow became electric when Hannes Halldórsson turned away Lionel Messi, prompting an absolute explosion of emotion from the Icelandic TV announcer.
Fiddle dee dee,
Fiddle dee dum,
Iceland beat Argentina,


They still love him in Alabama

Change in the President's approval rating by state.


June 15, 2018

Top Men

A White House official said more than 900 people, including GOP staffers on Capitol Hill, will head to a job fair hosted by the White House and the Conservative Partnership Institute on Friday, where officials from the Presidential Personnel Office will be on hand to talk to prospective recruits. The official said the number of RSVPs for the job fair shows the high interest of people wanting to work for President Donald Trump.  -CNN


June 12, 2018

That was a good band

June 11, 2018

And that's the name of that tune


June 10, 2018

How to introduce Perry Mason to America's youth

June 08, 2018

Shaun Livingston update

Missed two shots in the Finals, made 13.

Career totals so far:  Ten teams, 769 games, three rings.

See you next year.




June 06, 2018

Got my new walking music

Game recap

June 05, 2018

You know, for kids

Includes the smash hit, "Ego the Living Planet".


June 04, 2018

X Company: A Fine Canadian WWII Show

Just a recommendation for the fairly excellent, Mission Impossible style WWII Canadian edition show X Company, slightly low rent, but really engaging, with a fun group of a bit beyond stock characters, with lots of touches of emotionally charged realism, and an entertaining reminder that Nazis were really terrible people.  Like a lot of great shows , the unbelievable parts are often the most historic.  I spent of a lot of  time thinking: "But that means they would have to.. oh God."

Some cheese, but without it it would be too brutal.  The gruesomeness is alluded too, and there's a lot of the best thing: high stakes dinner parties.  Extra points for centering on women who do things like leap on burning tanks and shooting Nazis inside with sidearms, and pushing back on their (epically) dysfunctional relationships with SS General Dad.

Production's over, but recommended. Digestible nazi-shooting fun with a good side dose of we're not exactly innocent either.

June 03, 2018

A Japanese "Nighthawks"

Inoue's "Night View of a Ginza Store" (1882) 


That's just stupid

Also a new record for three pointers in a Finals game (9).

Game #2

Livingston 5-5, now 9-9 for the Finals.

Tremble, Cleveland.


Timely warning

June 02, 2018

Wodehouse on London vs NY, 1908

London was too big to be angry with. It took no notice of him. It did not care whether he was glad to be there or sorry, and there was no means of making it care. That is the peculiarity of London. There is a sort of cold unfriendliness about it. A city like New York makes the new arrival feel at home in half an hour; but London is a specialist in what Psmith in his letter had called the Distant Stare. You have to buy London's good-will.              

- Psmith in the City


A penguin that can't remember the score

Nice of you to notice

From The Ringer:
There’s a clear difference when Livingston is in the game instead of [the other bench] players. The Warriors have a net rating of plus-25.8 in the 23 minutes he has played with their four All-Stars in the playoffs, even higher than their net rating with Iguodala (plus-22.9 in 110 minutes). That number drops to plus-11.7 in 110 minutes with Looney. They play Golden State basketball when Livingston is the fifth option: All five players can handle the ball, make plays for others, and score, and everyone but Curry can comfortably switch screens and defend multiple positions. A lineup is only as strong as its weakest link in the playoffs, and there are no weak links when Livingston is the worst player.


June 01, 2018

Résumé of the estimable Jake Parker

We were walking through a bookstore some years ago when this caught my eye, tucked away on a high shelf:

The 2008 book is the first in the Flight Explorer anthology series, and Jake Parker had the cover and a story  featuring his creation, Missile Mouse.  It might be targeted at kids, but it was impossible to miss the quality of the art, and the note-perfect execution of the story.

We apparently weren't the only once who noticed, as Missile Mouse returned for Missile Mouse and the Star Crusher (2010), which also had an epic trailer:

And more great art:

The excellent Rescue on Tankium3 followed in 2011.

From our perspective Parker kind of disappeared after that, kidnapped, we assumed by roving bands of Disney talent scouts who intended to use his considerable talents to help storyboard things like Spymaster! A Marvel Story and Infinity War 6: Thanos Really Dies This Time We Promise.

And we were half right.  If you're thinking Missile Mouse has a few things in common with Rocket Raccoon, well, you're right:

He did some movie work, and did some classes and videos, but in 2014 we got Skull Chaser:

And in 2015 he got serious about a project that had long been back-burnered.  The Kickstarter was successful, he got the work done, and the book is now about ready. So we got that going for us.

And then we got an e-mail from him today with this:

Yes, please.

His "web-site" is here.

May 31, 2018

Our game is about joy and... CLEVELAND DELENDA EST


Game 1 - The Warriors' Plus/Minus leader in regulation is...


And...Shaun Livingston 4-4 from the field, 2-2 from the line.


May 30, 2018

The banality of talent

Good Cop: But for real, you really can’t make the The Warriors Are Too Good argument anymore. If we don’t take anything else from these playoffs, we can take that. The Warriors are beatable now.

Bad Cop: But they’re not. You keep saying they’re beatable but they didn’t get beat.


Bad Cop: Remember in The Fast and the Furious when Brian nearly beat Dom in that first race when they were racing for money and pink slips?

Good Cop: Of course I do.

Bad Cop: Brian was laughing and pointing at Dom, talking about how he almost had him. And Dom was like, “You almost had me? You never had me. You never had your car.” That’s the Warriors. They have everyone’s car. And that’s just not appealing.


Houston: a Warriors story

We talked about it leaving this building after Game 5 [down three games to two], this was a part of our story that we hadn't been through before. Our backs against the wall, not having home-court advantage, needing to win two games to keep ourselves alive...   - Steph Curry  (link)

Oh man.  These idiots.  The most gifted team in the universe nearly found a way to lose a seven game series, to a team (with Chris Paul injured) with one legitimate star.

There is an old formula for farce:  "In the first act get your principal character up a tree; in the second act, throw stones at him; in the third, get him down gracefully.”  Games six and seven of the Western Conference Finals followed this recipe to the letter.

In Game 6 the Rockets came out strong and built a 13 point lead, but then tired and the Warriors stormed back, taking the lead in the third quarter and winning by 29 points.

Actual footage of Klay Thompson in Game 6

In Game 7 the Rockets came out strong and built a 17 point lead, but then tired and the Warriors stormed back, taking the lead in the third quarter and winning by 9 points.

Actual footage of Steph Curry in Game 7

Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News writes:
Instead of panicking — instead of succumbing to the weight of the moment and the daunting challenge ahead of them — Golden State tapped into that experience. They knew the script — they trusted the script — and they believed that they had what it took to come back in the biggest game of the year.

The Rockets helped move the plot along by missing 27 consecutive three pointers, including each one they took in the third quarter:

Some say this was just terrible, terrible luck, but note that the Warriors have consistently been one of the best teams defending the three in recent years, and maybe they just decided to try.  Or maybe, like Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, they actually depowered their enemy in the climactic scene. It's a great path to resolution when the writers have painted themselves into a corner.

In any case, the laws of farce were respected and honored.  In each game Warriors fans truly felt the jig was up in the early going, and then wondered how they could doubt their heroes when the final score was posted.  In the end, the Warriors are what we thought they were: an incredible collection of talent the likes of which the NBA has never seen, which narrowly escapes defeat at the hands of James Harden and Trevor Ariza.  In this series the Warriors took another step on their special journey together, and reportedly even experienced fear before making a whole bunch of three pointers to win the games.

"Obviously stressful, but fun," said Curry.

But what about Houston?  What about their story?  That's the worst part.  They proved they could beat the Warriors.  They were right there, with a lead at halftime in two elimination games, including game seven at home.  And now they go home with nothing, as the goofy, flaky Warriors advance, still turnover-prone, inattentive, and invincible...


May 27, 2018

For our European visitors [Updated]

We have no idea how this works.  Google runs Blogger.  If you trust them, read on.  If not, we understand.

- The Eisengeiste Team

Addendum from VMM:

I reviewed Blogger's EU cookies notification guidelines and verified:
  • Eisengeiste served from Blogger's European URLs (e.g., eisengeiste.blogspot.de) display Google's cookie policy notification correctly

  • Eisengeiste does not contain 3rd party blog features that set cookies, or collect or process personal data
(My GDPR consulting bill is in the mail -VMM)

I admired him once, not without reason

Slate asks - What the Hell Happened to Rudy Giuliani?


May 26, 2018

Gotta play Game 7 now

As a shameless professional frontrunner, I acknowledge that tonight, I thought the Warriors were done.  After seizing home court advantage in their opening game against the Rockets, the Warriors began to go inexorably backward, losing home court advantage, and tonight, facing elimination, seemed unable to even play well at Oracle.

Down ten at the half, the Warriors looked ready to call it a night, wrap it up right here, skip that long trip back to Houston.

(Due to time limitations I have not completed my supercut of Warriors first half miscues set to the "Dead March" from Saul.  Just imagine it instead.)

But, as the chess master Siegbert Tarrasch once said, before the end of the game the gods have placed the third quarter.  And for the 2018 Golden State Warriors, the third quarter has been where they braced themselves and played their best.  Well, once more into the breach...

But the Rockets had shown, at Oracle just two nights ago, that they could take the Warriors' best shot and still win.  Could.  Tonight, after the first quarter, they were outscored 93-47:

And now...

May 25, 2018

I hate it, I love it, don't stop

This is a book about the power of language – strong style, single words – to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to literature I love, and it is a word-hoard of the astonishing lexis for landscape that exists in the comprision of islands, rivers, strands, fells, lochs, cities, towns, corries, hedgerows, fields and edgelands uneasily known as Britain and Ireland.

Macfarlane, Robert. Landmarks (p. 1). Penguin Books Ltd.

Date with destiny

Hockey remains the sport least infected by the once-enjoyable but now omnipresent cult of metrics.  On any given rink, on any given night, a motivated team can take down one judged far superior, a hot goaltender can shut down the most fearsome scorers in the world, a kid out of nowhere can cut loose for a hat trick, a random guy off the street can step in and play goalie.  All those things have happened in hockey.   In fact, all those things happened to the Chicago Blackhawks this year.

It is a sport of spirit and courage, a sport where skill and technique find themselves enhanced, or often challenged by that most insidious disruptor of all, the human soul.  As a result, hockey has the greatest underdog story in sport, the 1980 Miracle on Ice.

The Golden Knights, as they prepare for the Stanley Cup Finals starting Monday, have their own shot at history.  I don't believe any expansion team in the history of the world has every won anything, much less Lord Stanley's sacred Cup.  If they can pull it off it would be huge - incredible.  Not, say Terrance Doyle and Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight, not quite as impressive as Leicester City...
Infamously, the sportsbook Ladbrokes offered 5,000-1 odds against Leicester winning the EPL title. That number, which was bandied about constantly in the wake of the Foxes’ surprise championship, was probably a sham, set to entice people to place any bets on Leicester at all...
The “real” odds of Leicester’s victory were staggering enough, though. Leicester had to play near-perfect soccer for the final two and a half months of the 2014-15 season just to avoid relegation.2 According to our Soccer Power Index (SPI), Leicester City was the 12th-best team in England entering the 2015-16 Premier League season. Preseason odds for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons indicate that the 12th-best team in the league would have roughly 465-1 odds to win the Premier League.  

The Knights were maybe 200-1.  But if that's the air you're breathing, breathe deep.  Such moments are rare and fleeting, to be a part of such a team is not once-in-a-lifetime, it's once in a million or so lifetimes.  The older I get, the greater the existential please of watching such things.

When we celebrate these underdog upsets we celebrate a certain disorder in the world, an incompleteness in our understanding.  It is the rare joy of humility, a celebration of the (melancholy if you think about it) fact that anything really can happen.  It is a strongly American cultural trait:  in Japan something would be viewed as systemically wrong if the Iron Chef didn't usually win (Michiba had an 85% winning percentage); and in Russia Mr. Putin scores all the goals.

But on this continent?  In Vegas?

Golden Knights' Stanley Cup Run is no fluke

A shining ray of hope

You know, America, just when I think you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this…and totally redeem yourself!

  • "I wanted to find the cutest Barbie Power Wheels car online and turn it into a drift kart." 
  • The kart's frame couldn't fit into the Mustang's 36-inch wheelbase, so it had to be cut down and welded back together. 
  • [The] engine was pulled from a Honda CRF 230 dirt bike and has been bored out to 240 cubic centimeters with an upgraded piston and camshaft. 
  • According to Olding, the pink mini-Mustang can reach 70 miles per hour...


May 23, 2018

We're reconstructing the heck out 'em

[T]he Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that 1,186 munitions were dropped in that country during the first quarter of 2018 ― the highest number recorded for the first three months of the year since tracking began in 2013; that number is also more than two and a half times the amount dropped in the first quarter of 2017.


What a great time to start talking about hockey

This team is going to be bad, potentially historically so. They’ll be bad for a few years. They won’t even be enjoyable to watch once the novelty of new uniforms wears off, not unless you consider 4-1 losses enjoyable.  (link)

Congratulations to you, then, if you put a few bucks on Vegas at the beginning of the season: All the [expansion] Knights have done since is finish the regular season with the fifth most points in the NHL, then sprint through the Western Conference playoffs while losing just three games. That torrid run has landed them a spot in the Stanley Cup final... (link)

May 16, 2018

Anarchist calisthenics

I'm reading the book Two Cheers for Anarchism by James C. Scott. He relates his experience in an East German town during reunification in 1990 to explain the concept of anarchist calisthenics. The specific setting was an intersection near the train station in Neubrandenburg, bereft of auto traffic:

Again and again, fifty or sixty people waited patiently at the corner for the light to change in their favor: four minutes, five minutes, perhaps longer. [...] 
Twice, perhaps, in the course of roughly five hours of my observing this scene did a pedestrian cross against the light, and then always to a chorus of scolding tongues and fingers wagging in disapproval. [...] If my last exchange in German had gone well and my confidence was high, I would cross against the light, thinking, to buck up my courage, that it was stupid to obey a minor law that, in this case, was so contrary to reason. 
As a way of justifying my conduct to myself, I began to rehearse a little discourse that I imagined delivering in perfect German. It went something like this. "You know, you and especially your grandparents could have used more of a spirit of lawbreaking. One day you will be called on to break a big law in the name of justice and rationality. Everything will depend on it. You have to be ready. How are you going to prepare for hat day when it really matters? You have to stay 'in shape' so that when the big day comes you will be ready. What you need is 'anarchist calisthenics.' Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it's only jaywalking. Use your own head to judge whether a law is just or reasonable. That way, you'll keep trim; and when the big day comes, you'll be ready."

May 15, 2018

via Wikipedia, a parody of Edward Lear - recommended by Latouche Jr.

There was an old man with a beard,
A funny old man with a beard
He had a big beard
A great big old beard
That amusing old man with a beard.

- John Clarke

May 14, 2018

Strength in Dumber

Nick Young of course was crucial in the first half, making three of five shots, all three pointers, for nine points.  According to Warriors PR, Young's +/- of five was better than any Warriors starter, and matched only by...anyone? Bueller?  ...Shaun Livingston.

Young buried a three at the end of the half that tied the score and silenced the Houston crowd.


And...we're done here: