Critiquing Charlie Brown’s record as a baseball manager



Good ol’ Charlie Brown. How I hate him.

At least, that’s what you might think the fans of his baseball team would think. The notoriously terrible team somehow continues to soldier on, as is the way of comic strips, but as Patrick Dubuque points out, that kind of relentless losing streak might make Charlie Brown the worst baseball manager of all time:

(Charlie Brown) lost hundreds of games, often by hundreds of runs, in a demonstration of stubborn, idiotic courage.

But although the evidence seems persuasive on the surface, Dubuque digs into the statistics in the way only a baseball nerd can.

Perhaps Charlie Brown is merely doing the best he can with an extremely terrible team?

There is evidence for that, of course, but also evidence that, even with a terrible team, Charlie Brown should be making some efforts at improvements:

Perhaps the team has settled into its natural state of defeat, with players and managers happy to blame and be blamed, respectfully. Or perhaps they’ve settled in a natural state, and  a better manager might be able to create a winning culture and the happy chemistry that goes along with it.

Given what little on-field evidence there is to go on — no, say, box scores — Dubuque does an admiral job of teasing out the ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses of some of the lineup, and of Charlie Brown in particular. Read the whole thing.

It also makes me wonder, for perhaps the first time, what thematic link one could draw between baseball in in the strip and its name, Peanuts — the traditional snack of the game.

Next up: Charlie Brown as the worst football kicker of all time? Or the worst kite-flyer?

Image unrelated: Post-apocalyptic Charlie Brown and Snoopy, via io9.


I could watch the incredible precision of this watch being made forever

The intricacy of watchmaking is fascinating, and it’s a real treat to see the pieces being assembled in one of the world’s most intricate. It’s sort of a miracle of workmanship that chimes the hours, half-hours and quarter-hours, all mechanically.

And I’m not joking, I could watch that bevelling and polishing all day.

I couldn’t find a price for the watch on the F.P. Journe website, but Uncrate says it’s a cool half-million plus.

Out of my league, I suppose.

Maybe I’ll save up for this one instead:


It’s made from an AK-47, so you’re not just wearing a precision timepiece, you’re also helping disarm the world.

And at just $195,000, it’s a (comparative) bargain.

My birthday is in the fall.


Whiplash meets Animal

For those of you who haven’t seen Whiplash yet — why not?

It’s well paced, clocking in at just over 100 minutes, beautifully directed and shot, and incredibly well acted — I think Miles Teller is going to be a pretty big deal soon, and J.K. Simmons just won an Oscar for his performance.

I never thought a movie about the competitiveness of jazz drumming could be so thrilling.

Those who have seen it, know that many of the scenes between Teller and Simmons are super tense. This mashup of Whiplash, and arguably the most famous drummer EVER, makes this particular scene a little more bearable.

(h/t to the AV Club)

Sam Smith, who?

I was taught from a pretty young age that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

So I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I watched a video by St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and by the voice that came out of the person I was watching.

I hadn’t heard of the band before, and only came across their music when their song “Broken Bones and Pocket Change” was playing in a bar. It was so arresting, so pained and reminiscent of 60s soul that I immediately pulled out my phone and soundhounded (is that a verb now? I think I just made it one) making sure I wouldn’t forget about it.

Here’s the video I settled on:


What is that voice coming out of this white man from Alabama.

It’s like Paul Janeway is channeling every single soul singer to ever grace the Earth — and maybe Aretha too.

And I feel a little silly for assuming anything else.

Looks like they’re going on a European tour pretty soon, which makes me a little sad. They won’t be performing anywhere near Canada. Guess I’ll have to go to Coachella to check them out.


Short Film Friday: Paperman

It’s Short Film Friday on a Saturday!  Okay, okay…cut me some slack.  I’ve been busy.

Don’t worry, though.  This week’s installment is a doozy!  It’s probably been floating around for a while and you may have seen it, but it’s new to me.  (See above note re: being busy).  And anyways, even if you have seen it in the past, it’s worth seeing again.

From almost the first short, you can tell it’s a Disney production.  It just has that old-school Disney vibe to it.  The characters look like they belong in 101 Dalmations or something — gorgeous, gorgeous animation.  The choice to present this short film in black and white is interesting, too.  It lends itself to both the setting of the story, but again hearkens back to the Disney films of old.  Online comments make a big deal about the lighting, but come on…it’s animation, not a set.  Commenting on the beautiful animation takes into account the lighting by the very nature of the way it was produced.

At the same time, however, there is a CGI element.  Instead of detracting from the classical animation, it adds to it.  No animator myself, I suspect the CGI makes possible some of the shots that would have been in the past nothing short of nightmarish to produce.

Finally, yes.  Yes, this is a saccharine-sweet story.  I know, I know.  But we’re closing in on Valentine’s Day and although I don’t buy into the Hallmark holiday itself, I wanted to let all of you know just how much I love you.

Paperman is my gift to you.  Enjoy.

Short Film Friday: Foxy and the Weight of the World

In the past, Short Film Friday has been heavy on the whimsical and light on the emotional.  This short film takes a small step to rectify that situation.  Foxy and the Weight of the World is the story of a small dog sharing her master’s last moments of life.

This short film is but one of the many that debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  Because my rare posts on Absurd Intellectual apparently do not provide me with an all-expenses paid trip to Utah, I was unable to attend this year’s festival.  If you are like me, you too will appreciate the fact that the Sundance Institute has a YouTube channel where many of the short films from this year have been posted.  If you like short films, you’ll want to check it out.

I know, let’s put a full cup of coffee’s equivalent of caffeine into a chocolate bar!

We got a box of these delivered to the office today. Awake Chocolate is new, but I can already tell they are going to be successful. I’m jealous that they thought of this before I did.

You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook, if you like, which proves they are social media savvy.

But they also sent a box of them to my small-city newspaper newsroom.

We don’t get as much swag as we used to, in the newspaper business. The cartons of CDs, which hung on for a long time, have dwindled to  trickle. For advertisers with samples looking for coverage, things like mommy blogs are the way to go now.

So why did Awake Chocolate choose the newsroom model?

Well, from their website, it sounds like they blanketed the country — so newspapers are probably  just one of the target markets.

But guess what? Newspaper newsrooms, for all their faults, are still filled with dedicated wordsmiths. And journalists are some of the most dedicated social media types out there. They are addicted to Twitter and have been long-term bloggers. If you’re looking for viral coverage — and have a product you are confident will cut through the chatter — journalists are always on the lookout for the next neat link. And us sensitive journo types love it when someone still appreciates us.

It doesn’t hurt that a chocolate bar with caffeine in it is laser-focused to hit our weak spots: candy and coffee.

The only thing that could possibly top it is my favourite ever newspaper swag — a bottle of Grant’s Whisky, shipped directly to me.

Contact me to arrange for delivery of future swag.

So — how’s the chocolate? Well, in a word: Good.

It’s not the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted, but it’s far from the worst, too. I would rate it a solid A-minus consumer chocolate — maybe a bit better than a Cadbury, but not quite as good as a Lindt. There are some tiny crunchy bits, which I presumed were solid caffeine. The chocolate was not too sweet, and was pretty soft, but maybe because it had been delivered on a 32C day. It had the company’s cool owl logo embossed on it.

Would buy again! (For the first time.) In fact, I pocketed an additional two bars from the box of 12 that the company sent. Hey — newsroom culture is cutthroat. Elbows out, journos!

(Cross-posted to my actual newspaper blog, because it’s appropriate.)

Somebodies That I Used to Know

If you’ve been on the Internet, or listened to the radio in the last several months, you have certainly heard (and seen) Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” It was probably the biggest song in recent memory. If you haven’t heard it you live under a rock.

I would argue that the song didn’t really get popular until it was covered by the band Walk the Earth and singer Sarah Blackwood — all playing one guitar. That video went viral, and it catapulted the song into popularity. In fact, the radio station I listen to at work only played the cover for a long time.

Fast forward a couple of months, and the song is everywhere. Everyone and their dog has done a cover. It’s been so saturated, that a song I used to love (hah) has grown tiresome.

Now, we have the cover to end all covers. Gotye himself compiled covers of his song found on Youtube, and made the ultimate remix:

He said this in the Youtube description:

Reluctant as I am to add to the mountain of interpretations of Somebody That I Used To Know seemingly taking over their own area of the internet, I couldn’t resist the massive remixability that such a large, varied yet connected bundle of source material offered.

And what he created is beautiful and fascinating. I also love an artist with a healthy dose of self awareness.

(via: everywhere on the Internet)