Aren't I Clever?

I finally came up with something to replace the lighthouse included with the blog template. Huzzah!

The Kid Needs a Nickname

Now that Stephen Strasburg has signed with the Nationals, it's time to talk about something really important: what his nickname is going to be in the majors.

Nicknames have fallen by the wayside for the most part in baseball, with most of them being of the boring 'First Initial of Given Name-First Syllable of Family Name' variety. But every once is a while an exception is made, and it's usually made for pitchers who capture the public's imagination. The Rocket. The D-Train. You get the idea.

Strasburg has almost certainly qualified for that status even before he throws his first pitch as a pro, so there's no sense waiting for the Arizona Fall League season to kick off before we start looking for something catchier than his unwieldly four-syllable name to call him by.

For me, the first option to explore is some sort of train reference. The history of train nicknames for fireballing pitchers is a rich one: not just the recent tragic example of Dontrelle Willis, but also more illustrious hurlers like Nolan Ryan ("the Ryan Express") and Walter Johnson ("the Big Train") had locomotive-inspired nicknames. And, as Washington Post beat writer Chico Harlan points out, there are some parallels between Johnson and Strasburg. (Ha! Bet you didn't think the hype could get any more ridiculous, did you?) A train nickname definitely seems to be the best fit.

Given the Washington connection with Johnson, "Little Train" might seem the obvious, if slightly silly, way to go (considering that Strasburg is a good three inches taller than Johnson was.) "S-Train" is hopefully right out as too boring, although S-Train/Strasburg is about as close a phonetic match as D-Train/Dontrelle is. And if the city's NBA team hadn't PC-ified their franchise name a decade ago, "the Bullet Train" might have been an option.

Riffing on a Ryan-like nickname instead, "the Double-S Express" is catchy but probably too wordy for the modern media environment.

Frankly, nothing's jumping out at me yet. But the kid needs a nickname. Anyone have any bright ideas?


I'll be livid and outraged about this at some point, but I don't really have time right now. If I allowed myself an honest reaction to information (I can't really call it "news", since it isn't) like:

According to two sources—one who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on it—the report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."

I'd be marching my way down to DC immediately, with the intention of chaining myself to the gates of the White House and conducting a hunger strike until every single person responsible for this sadistic madness is on trial for the crimes which I, as an American citizen, have been made an unwitting accomplice.

Instead I'll maintain a mile-thick wall of detached irony and just say that taking tips from Gary Busey on any subject, much less an important one like intelligence gathering, is a terribly fucking stupid idea.

UPDATE: The '9/11' on the video refers to the fact that it's the 9th chunk of the movie (out of 11). But it's depressingly apropos, all things considered.

Musn't... Punch... Total... Stranger...

Jumping Jesus Aitch Effing Christ on a pogo stick:

Information asymmetry is always going to exist, and, living as we do in a Democratic system, most journalists are going to give the government the benefit of some doubt, even having learned lessons about giving the government that benefit.

No, Marc, you ignorant slut, journalists should not be giving the government "the benefit of some doubt."

The entire fucking point of the profession is to not give anyone the benefit of the doubt, ever. Journalists are supposed to be professional skeptics, not professional stenographers.

If you, or anyone else in the media, don't understand that then you shouldn't be allowed to practice journalism.

Tom Ridge Joins the Shrill Chorus

Look, it's great that Tom Ridge is coming out with a book in which he highlights the dysfunction of the Bush White House, tried to prevent 'Brownie' from becoming head of FEMA pre-Katrina, etc.

But like Colin Powell, Scot McClellan and others, when he was actually in a position to do something to correct the mistakes he saw happening, or at least kick up a stink if he couldn't change things, he instead stayed quiet.

Ridge put party loyalty above country when it mattered. I can't say I'll be rushing out to reward him by buying his book.

Last TIFF Preview

The rest of the TIFF schedule got released. The highlights:

We are in fact getting the new von Trier, bless his twisted little heart. He's apparently mellowing as he gets older... this one's merely called Antichrist and appears to be his riff on a horror movie.

There's a noodly bit of French sci-fi called Mr. Nobody, starring Jared Leto, that could be interesting.

Black Sheep director Jonathan King returns with an adaptation of the Kiwi kid's classic Under the Mountain. I used to gloss over the Sprockets program, and thus missed seeing Let the Right One In at last year's fest... I won't be making that mistake again.

Francois Ozon brings his latest La Refuge, a film so brand-spanking new that it doesn't even have an IMDB page yet.

There's also a Senegalese musical being described as Jacques Demy-esque, Saint Louis Blues, that I may give a shot.

Oh, and also two 'important' films for me to ignore: the new Haneke (which won the Palme d'Or) and the new Denis.

Defining Justice

It looks like convicted Lockerbie Pan-Am bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi will be given a compassionate release tomorrow by Scottish authorities, due to his having terminal cancer.

There's much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth from the usual suspects over the prospect, of course. I don't understand why. It's obvious to me that while he thought he was doing Allah's work, our God has judged al-Megrahi and inflicted him with a really nasty, horrible disease.

Sending him home to die in agony so he can be an object lesson for what happens when you cross the wrong deity seems like both the merciful and the politically smart decision.

Woefully Stupid Jackasses

Somewhere, at the bottom of a bird cage, one of our avian friends is improving this puerile bit of vile fear-mongering immeasurably by pooping on it.

Of course, maybe I'm being too hard on Klavan. Maybe he's stumbled upon a brave new world of opinionation, one in which you openly admit you are making shit up to try and advance your arguments. No longer do pundits have to worry about maintaining the pretense of being journalists! It's now a war of pure ideas, baby, and if my fiction trumps your fiction then my fiction becomes reality!

That being said, if the right-wing wants to win this new war they should recruiting better fiction writers, because Klavan flat out sucks at it. Plus, anyone who would write a sentence like this

The drug of power has been sugared over in their mouths with a flavoring of righteousness.
already has a forum for their peculiar literary genius. They don't need to start infesting op-ed pages too.

John Wayne, RINO

McLintock (sorry - that should be McLintock!), which just wrapped up on TCM, has always fascinated me.

For one, I find it damn funny even though most of the parts I laugh at aren't the clumsy broad laughs the film is aiming for. John Wayne isn't what I'd call a gifted comedian, but he'll occasionally find some wry humor in a line that you wouldn't expect to be there, or shoot someone a withering look that hits the mark square.

It also completely encapsulates why Wayne is such a conservative icon. McLintock is the archetypical captain of industry. He's built an empire out of little more than a tireless work ethic and incorruptible character. He puts justice and his own personal code of ethics over the law and civilized custom. And he has a deep and abiding love for the good old US of A. He's like an Ayn Rand hero, but with dialogue that actually sounds like it could have been plausibly uttered by a human being.

Of course he also lacks the necessary disdain for non-whites, college-educated young 'uns, and the environment to be a perfect modern Republican. But I doubt he'll be relegated to RINO status any time soon. Being a dead saint gets you a pass on those kinds of indiscretions.

Novak's Gone

While Robert Novak became a vicious, twisted caricature of a journalist at the end of his career, easily duped and used by people who knew what buttons to push with him, he does get a wee bit of respect from me for having been a cantankerous, contentious bastard pretty much from Day One.

Frankly, journalism needs more cantankerous, contentious bastards.


Not much of interest in today's film fest news trickle.

Apparently ESPN has taken over the Mavericks program though, as both Peter Berg and Barry Levinson are showing their 30 for 30 films at the fest. Berg's is on the Gretzky trade to the Kings, while Levinson's is on a Baltimore (I know... shocking choice for Barry) marching band. I suppose that's better than getting Steve Nash's Terry Fox pic, but it would have been nice to see Ron Shelton's flick about Michael Jordan's minor league baseball career as well.

Also, Ted Kotcheff's lost film Wake in Fright gets a screening. Kotcheff's had a weird and interesting career, mixing stuff like Wake in Fright and the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz with stuff like Weekend at Bernie's and a couple of Red Shoe Diaries episodes (where he at least had the good sense to work with a Bond girl.)

Hey, fun with Wikipedia time! I knew Maryam d'Abo and Olivia d'Abo were cousins, but I didn't realize they were cousins once removed -- Olivia's dad, and Maryam's first cousin, is Mike d'Abo, lead singer for Manfred Mann during their 'Mighty Quinn' period and also the original Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar.