It’s been another very disappointing season for the Minnesota Twins and their fans.
They managed to do better than last year, but that’s not saying much. Depending on how you look at it, 2011 was the third (or second or fifth) worst season in franchise history (which began in 1961). The equivocation comes from whether you look at the win percentage, games lost or games won.
This season is the sixth (or fourth or seventh) worst season in the 52-year history of the Minnesota Twins. It’s also only the second time they’ve such a bad win percentage two years running (and many don’t expect next year to be stellar, either).
I’ll explain about this and more, but regardless of how you look at it, it was an awful year!
You might be wondering why I’m writing about baseball. I have mentioned that I love baseball, and I’ve also mentioned how I like to explore new things. Some of them pass into memory as fun explorations, others stick and become a permanent part of my landscape.
As nearly all American boys do, I played baseball on vacant lots as a kid and even did two years on Cub Scout teams. Baseball has always been there as one of those defining characteristics of America (“as American as baseball, hot dogs, mom, apple pie and the Fourth of July”).
Back in 2010, various life stresses (work and politics, mostly) were severe enough that I needed something simple, something pure, something new that was different from everything else I knew.
So I started watching baseball, and the more I watched, the more I discovered a love for it! It helped that the 2010 season was the seventh best in Twins history even if those Damned Yankees did knock us out of the playoffs 1-2-3.
Back in 2011 I began writing a blog in the MLB blog space. Originally that blog was meant as an outlet for the hugely disappointing 2011 season, but by the time I started the blog, the Twins were having their “June Zoom” and doing well (albeit briefly). As someone fairly new to serious baseball, that didn’t leave me much to write about. (If I have sometimes found other bloggers intimidating, other baseball bloggers made me feel like just shutting up and watching the games.)
So my baseball blog was a huge, rousing unsuccess. I think my only reader was my mom, an occasional friend, and people who accidentally dropped by following a search link. In the entire two years, I got five comments and zero likes (let alone any followers)! Given how rarely I posted, that’s neither surprising nor terribly disappointing.
The baseball blogging did make me realize I enjoyed blogging and wanted one where I could natter on about anything I wanted. In the MLB space I felt compelled to write about baseball. Which, in reality, I’m not very qualified to do in that context. (There is also that, as of this year, two additional ad spaces were added, and I hate web ads even more than TV ads.)
Anyway, bottom line, I’m pickin’ up and movin’ any baseball writing I want to do to this blog. Those of you who don’t know much about baseball should be thrilled about this opportunity to learn more about America’s Sport!
And now that I’ve used up about a third of my usual word count setting the scene, we’d better get to it! (As I write more articles, I’ll fill in the back story, share photos of visits to Target Field, and present some other baseball fun. I’ll also explain why I have come to love baseball so much as well as why, despite seeming somewhat sedate, it’s actually edge-of-your-seat exciting.)
Let’s first clear up the matter of this having been the “sixth (or fourth or seventh) worst season” in Twins history. To understand this, there are a few things you need to know. (I’m going to assume most of my readers are not familiar with the details of baseball at the risk of boring those who are.)
Firstly, a baseball season consists of 162 games in a six-month period. (This is why baseball players are ever so much more manly and studly than those wimpy football players who only play 10-game seasons. :razz:)
However, sometimes that number changes. Due to the strike in 1981, the Twins played only 109 games, and due to the 1994-95 strike they played only 113 and 144 games, respectively. The 162 can also vary slightly if Division ties need to be broken, or if weather or other circumstances result in canceled games that are never made up.
Secondly, a team’s win record is tracked two ways. The obvious way lists the number of games won and lost. For example, the Twins win-lose record for the last three years is: 94-68, 63-99 & 66-96.
One thing that immediately stands out is whether there are more wins than losses. In 2010, the Twins won 26 more games than they lost, but in the next two years that was reversed (losing 36 and 30 more than won, respectively).
One way to encapsulate this is to consider the difference as a percentage. If you win every game, that’s 100%, and if you lose every game, that 0%. If you win exactly as many as you lose (81-81), that’s 50%.
In baseball, percentages are usually represented in their decimal form as a three-digit number with the exception that 100% is 1.000 (“one-thousand”). So if you won 50% of your games, that’s .500 (“five-hundred”). Represented that way, the last three years are: .580, .389 and .407 (“five-eighty”, “three-eighty-nine” and “”four-oh-seven”).
Generally speaking, a team needs to play .500 or better to win. (I’ll explain what I mean by “win” in a moment.)
Now I can explain the different season rankings. As a win-loss percentage, the 2011 season, with its dismal .389 record, is the third worst in Twins history. If you look at games won (63), it’s fifth worst, and if you look at games lost (99), its second worst. However, looking at just games won or lost is deceptive due to the strike seasons (all three of which alter the win and lost rankings).
As it turns out, the Twins did poorly in two of the three strike seasons. Their 2011 .389 record is tied with the same record in 1995. And in the 1981 strike season, they played .376—their second worst season ever (percentage-wise).
Their worst season was the year following. In 1982 (a full 162-game season), they played .370 (losing 102 games and only winning 60). Ironically, just five years later, in 1987, they’d go on to win the World Series for the first time in team history.
Which brings us to the irony of winning. In 1987, they played .525 (85-77), which ranks 19th in their 52-year history (ties sorted by year). But that was enough to win the Division and get us to the playoffs. In fact, of the four teams that made the playoffs in 1987, the Twins had the worst record!
The Twins played the Detroit Tigers (who had a .605 (98-64) record) for the American League championship and beat them four games to one. (The Tigers failed to make the playoffs for 19 years after that!) Those upstart Twins then went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals (who had a .586 (95-67) record) in the World Series.
What allows something like that to happen (besides baseball just being funny that way) is that (currently) there are two Leagues (American and National), and each League has three Divisions (East, Central and West). This creates six “silos,” one per Division. Over the season, the goal is to win the most games in your Division (the Twins finished last in the American League Central Division in 2011 and 2010).
If you win your Division, the first round of playoffs, the Division Series, results in two winners per League. Then comes the Championship Series where the two winners play each other to produce a winner in each League. And finally comes the “October Classic,” the World Series where those two teams play each other.
Astute readers may wonder how three Division winners manage to play each other to result in two champions. This gets us into the “wildcard” teams, but that’s a topic for next time (especially since this year they added a second wildcard team in each League).
For now, I’ll leave you with the current situation.
We’re in the Division Series games, the first round of playoff games. On the American League side, the Baltimore Orioles are taking on the New York Yankees [obligatory spit], and the Oakland A’s (who stole the Division title from the Texas Rangers) are playing the Detroit Tigers (who took our Division title away from the Chicago White Sox, and the only thing Twins fans hate more than the Damn Yankees is the White Sox, so yay!!!).
Now, naturally I want the Yankees to lose (anyone not an actual Yankees fan does), but former Twin home run slugger Jim Thome now plays for the Orioles, so even more reason to root for them. I was surprised by Oakland—really thought Texas had it locked—but Moneyball is a great movie (and book), and I can’t hold it against the A’s. I also don’t dislike the Tigers, so I have no dog in that hunt. (Just please, God, not the Damn Yankees.)
Meanwhile, on the National League side, the Washington (D.C.) Nationals are taking on the St. Louis Cardinals while the San Francisco Giants take on the Cincinatti Reds.
I really wanted the Rangers to win the World Series in 2010 and in 2011. I like Texas and have friends there. The Rangers have never won the World Series, and now they’ve been twice and lost twice (and got robbed this year by the A’s, then had a shot as a wildcard, but lost to the Orioles).
Point is, the Cards took it from them last year, so I want those red birds to lose (they’ve already won 11 times). If they make it to the World Series, I’m going to be unhappy! As for the Giants/Reds, again I have no dog in the hunt. I like both teams (I’m guessing the Reds will win).
My nightmare is that the World Series will be Yankees/Cardinals. If that happens I’m going to be rooting for a giant meteor strike to take out both teams.
October 10th, 2012 at 7:04 am
Okay, try as I might, I can’t get into baseball in as intense a way as most guys – but I’m glad it grabs you and wish the Twins had done better this year.
October 10th, 2012 at 5:43 pm
Well,… keep reading! I may convert you, yet! (If you like numbers, baseball is just plain crazy for stats.)
December 30th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
omg, the stats make me nuts… JoeSchmo is 14 for 14 while batting left against a lefty pitcher… literally batting a thousand here, absolutely the best in baseball… (swing and a miss times 3)… now JoeSchmo is 14 for 15 while batting left against a lefty pitcher…
December 30th, 2012 at 4:40 pm
But,.. but,.. but how else would you know that JoeSchmo is expected to hit .278 if: it’s the second half of the game; he’s facing a RHP; there are runners on base; it’s a day, home game; it’s rained in the last five days; and he ate tacos for breakfast??
I mean, come on,.. without that the game is nothing! 😐
December 30th, 2012 at 6:59 pm
I believe you just proved my point.
I like the idea of stats, only insomuch as they provide average information… but from one bat to the next, nay from one swing to the next, nothing is statistically guaranteed based on past statistics
or perhaps you’ve not heard of Josh Hamilton…..
December 30th, 2012 at 7:54 pm
I’m probably a bit more interested (quite a bit, actually) than you, but I know what you mean. Sabremetrics is the name for the deep, deep study of baseball stats.
It’s really not about predicting, although owners, managers and coaches do leverage it that way. As you say, previous performance means nothing. Even a player who doesn’t weirdly vary off their past performance can suffer unexpected injury (Yankee Manny Rivera, for example).
No, it’s not about predicting… it’s about reveling in all that data!!! Data analysis (which is part of my profession) is actually fun and amazing (especially when you get to play with graphs and charts).
IF you have a mindset that likes that kind of stuff.
I do; at least enough for work and to make baseball extra double-plus cool. But I only take it so far; at some point (we agree) it gets a bit unreal, and there are more interesting things.
December 30th, 2012 at 9:14 pm
I like the fresh stats… like when we have a new player come up and his batting average is 0.00000 (which Riley thought was a mistake on the scoreboard for Martinez last year when he came up) and after he batted the first time and got on base he was batting 1.000… he was batting a thousand! then he struck out, so pow! down to .500 in one at-bat…
I think he was 1 for 11 in his first 11 at bats so he had a .0091? I can’t remember and I have no calculator… I have a math mind, so I like seeing numbers in certain settings… but the minituae of statistics gets lost on me
but I do get the math appeal; mine is just directed differently… like I like seeing my birthday lined up in the balls, strikes, outs columns… or seeing a pattern on the scoreboard (one game we scored 1 run in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th innings, so the scoreboard read 10101010 in the 8th inning and I said it was a Base 2 Baseball Game which was only marginally geek funny)… or seeing all multiples of 3 or whatever…
my lord, I am a weird one, hahahaha…good thing I’m not still in middle school….
December 30th, 2012 at 10:12 pm
Well, if you can appreciate a base 2 baseball game, you’re definitely a geek after my own heart! I love it when the score for both teams is just “bagels and breadsticks.” I can’t help working out what number it evaluates to.
I heard a new version of that binary joke (it’s one of my faves): There are 10 types of people in the world: those who can count in binary, those who can’t, and those who weren’t expecting a joke in base 3.
There’s also: http://xkcd.com/953/
Our (AL) pitchers often have weird batting stats due to having ABs only when playing NL teams (it can be such a crack up to see AL pitchers batting). One of them actually got a HR (I think it was), but only had four ABs, so his rate of HRs was absurd (.250). I’ve got some code that generates some HTML stats pages for me, and I finally had to include logic to have it ignore any batter with fewer than X ABs (10, I think).
You know binary… are you into software (I haven’t had a chance to explore much of your blog)? Does Python mean anything? Even if not, appreciating numbers the way you seem to, you’ll find a number of articles here that you may enjoy!
December 31st, 2012 at 2:42 pm
no I’m not into software… I’m an embarrassingly illiterate computer person and rely on my husband to fix things when they slow down, act weird, or go black altogether… the computer that is…
when school starts again and i am less in demand during the day, i will go in and read more of your blog… right now i’m limited to evenings, mostly.
i don’t have that developed of a math brain, although if i’d applied myself differently in college i might have developed it further, as i def have the basics! i do mini math in my head and used to upset my manager in HS by refusing to count back change at the restaurant i worked at… if someone gave me a twenty dollar bill for meal that was $14.29 I knew immediately the change was $5.71 without thinking about it. One time I said, “Just quiz me” and he gave me a few “problems” from actual tickets off the tables and was satisfied, but still threw out the warning “If you’re off in your money, it comes out of your tips.”
And obviously this was back in the day before the registers told you what your change would be.
but def not in your league for numbersense
December 31st, 2012 at 2:59 pm
It’s actually a bit of a stick in my craw that people don’t know how to count change these days. But the thing thing that makes me just apeshit crazy is how they put the bills in your hand and then dump the coins on top of the bills. There is no graceful way to handle a handful of bills with coins on top.
It astonishes me that anyone who’s ever received change that way would give change that way.
Hmmm… I think I just picked my next foaming at the mouth rant post. Was going be about cell phones and driving, but…
December 31st, 2012 at 3:03 pm
really? I kind of like it… I open the change part of my wallet, let the coins slide off the bills into the opening, then stow the bills into the paper money section. You want me to repeat that when you post your rant?
December 31st, 2012 at 3:09 pm
Definitely! Maybe even with pictures!
This is why putting stuff out there is so effective. You think you’ve found something everyone will agree just sucks, so you put it out there only to have someone come back with, “Oh, I like that.” Just uproots your whole world view and sends you back to the ol’ drawing board. More importantly, it makes you realize how varied and rich the world is.
So thanks! (But I still hate it! :lol:)
January 1st, 2013 at 5:07 pm
yeah, Facebook is notorious for that… people will post something about how awful something is, or what someone did to them, etc, and expect that everyone will agree with them… I often have weird viewpoints on things, or am less likely to be critical of whoever done them wrong… once, I was not only defriended, but BLOCKED, by a guy who had this big soul searching bit about identifying with Charlie Brown and the football when Lucy pulls it out from under him… how he grew as a person by getting up and trying again–that without the Lucys in his life, he wouldn’t have gotten as far as he had…
I said I kind of got that, but that I thought Charlie Brown was stupid for trusting Lucy over and over again, that some people don’t deserve 3rd and 4th and 5th chances and after awhile you don’t really get to blame Lucy for moving the ball, you have to blame yourself for asking her to plant you flat on your back
we went back and forth for a bit and he refused to see any of that… just couldn’t get over the fact that I couldn’t see this big flippin’ metaphor for his life, like this comic strip was so important to him… very weird… it was then I realized he was an incredibly insecure person who needed people to constantly validate his writing style, his ideas, and his creativity…
although, truth be told, I am the type to throw out an opposing viewpoint just to DO it… an annoying devil’s advocate… and after he went crazy, it just served to make the devil work even harder, hehe….
January 2nd, 2013 at 9:57 am
Heh! I think we’re two peas in a pod on the Devil’s Advocate thing. Nothing activates my debate antenna quite as much as someone being certain on a topic that I know is not that certain (i.e. nearly all of them).
Thing about your story, you were seeing his point of view, but you were also offering him another, and that disturbed him. He wasn’t able to see your point. I run into that crap all the time. People get so rattled when you actually question their ideas and words. Sometimes you can’t even question them (purely to explore what they think) without them getting all hinky, like they think you’re going to debate them once they answer. (Well, okay, in all honesty, there could be some truth to that… But I think people also instinctively know when their positions aren’t thought out all that well or are based on purely emotional criteria (which isn’t necessarily wrong, actually).)
Ah, that Charlie Brown. He was a trusting sort, wasn’t he.
January 2nd, 2013 at 10:36 am
You know what it is? That kid in the parable of The Emperor’s New Clothes? One of my heroes. Ever since I first heard the story as a kid.
January 2nd, 2013 at 12:27 pm
Yeah I’m all about seeing as many different viewpoints as possible, even if *I* personally don’t agree with them. And to say “I can see why you feel that way/think that/have been brainwashed into expecting that… but I don’t feel the exact same way and here’s why”… I’m amazed how many people are threatened by that. I am not expecting them to agree with me, just acknowledge that it’s a valid viewpoint.
I do admit it makes me a lil crazy when they won’t even give a lil bit. Part of me becomes the 10 year old at the dinner table arguing with my dad who never could see where I was coming from.
“But what about in this instance? or with this group of people? or when 7 is an age, not just a number”
“nope. nope. and what the hell?”
It was his way or the highway. Finally I got on the highway and didn’t really look back. But that inner 10 year old does get frustrated. Maybe those people have different inner 10 year olds that channel my dad.
“HE’S NAKED AS A JAYBIRD, ‘E IS!” (could you do it? could you say it?)
January 3rd, 2013 at 10:32 am
I suppose it’s possible people might feel a little threatened if you told them they were “brainwashed!” 😛
Seriously, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve come to understand people are like that, but it’s not a trait I fully comprehend. I have written before, and will write again, about how we have become so polarized and entrenched in our positions that we’ve lost all give and take, all sense of working together to compromise.
There’s an old saying that the devil is in the details (alternately: heaven is in the details). It’s when you look at all those special cases that the full richness and texture of life appears. As a software developer, you get a sense of this. A huge part of any software design, and a place that separates the good from the crap, is handling all the exceptions to the rules. Our language; same way. Lots of exceptions.
Could I say it? I have said it. Bluntly, with my skill set and experience I could be in a lot different position now. Problem is I can’t keep my mouth shut, especially when it comes to speaking truth to power. I’ve been on their “lists” many times (I’m thinking not the ones marked “Nice” at the top). But I have to be able to not cringe when I look in the mirror, and like I said: that kid has been hero all my life.
January 3rd, 2013 at 11:30 pm
but did you say it with the Cockney accent? cuz without that, ‘e won’t know yer talkin’ to him, no ‘e won’t!
I don’t really have much opportunity to speak to truth too much… occasionally some overly judgmental people posting odd things on FB which makes me throw out the “hey, maybe there’s THIS side to see” kind of comment… but I’ve weeded out the really really hardcore scary thinkers who preach messages bordering on hate and complete intolerance… I guess that makes me judgmental of the judgmental type; intolerant of the intolerant or some such thing…
a paradox I can live with……
January 4th, 2013 at 8:56 am
Ah, that’s been my problem all along! No Cockney accent!!
I can identify with the paradox… I often say I’m intolerant of intolerance… which makes as much sense as saying I hate people that hate (which I also do). It is paradoxical, but it also seems right. Maybe the answer is in working out how it’s not really a paradox. Language can actually complicate rather than simplify things sometimes. (The dump refused our refuse.)
January 4th, 2013 at 12:02 pm
The dove dove into the bushes… They were too close to close the door… poor ESL students… poor elementary students… poor parents of elementary students…..
January 5th, 2013 at 11:04 am
Ah, the energetic and wild mongrel that is our English language! It almost seems like our language reflects our culture (dynamic, confusing, just plain weird sometimes).
I was watching the MLB network last night (and it’s not that I watch that all the time, but I’d re-watched Jodie Foster’s The Brave One, and after that couldn’t find anything else to watch that didn’t seem shallow. (I’d discovered baseball as a relief from the complexities and stresses of life, and it’s still a goto when I want to watch something that doesn’t remind me of any of that.) They’re talking a lot about the steroid era these days (due to the coming HOF vote), but they got to talking about managers.
Our Ron Gardenhire is among the longest tenured managers in BB. So is your Ron Washington (who’ve I’ve always thought was a hoot – I love watching that guy). However among that list of longest tenured managers, ours was the only one who hadn’t taken his team to The Series. We had a lot of shakeups in the coaches after last season (I guess we can say “last year” now). But it was more of a shuffle, really. Gardenhire is still the manager, and most of the others just moved around. The only actual losses: the first and third base coaches. Kinda weird.
So here we are in 2013. Your Gravitar pic makes you look much younger than I, but from reading your blog I’m thinking we’re approximately in the same age group? In any event, for me, the numbers are getting beyond being weird… 2001 was wierd (heck, even 1984 was a little odd)… but 2013? It just kind of doesn’t compute anymore.
January 5th, 2013 at 7:40 pm
That pic is about 4 years old, almost 5… pics in the blog of me with the fam at the games from last season/year are more realistic… especially that first one where I have something stuck in a front tooth. Yum.
You mentioned retiring, which made me think older, but follow up comments asked how you could be doing it so young, so obviously not the traditional 65+… too bad, cuz you could have made a fortune selling whatever it was that made you look that good at 65.
I am on track to post my next blog this weekend. The holiday one. It’s exceedingly boring, but the grandparents like it when I send them pics of what we’ve been up to, and this is the easiest way to do that. In it I mention being a mom many times over as well as being a grandmother. Another piece in the age puzzle.
And do you remember when you were little, thinking how old you’d be when the calendar flipped to 2000?
January 6th, 2013 at 1:10 pm
Maybe it’s the halter top (I have many fond memories of halter tops), the short hair or the smile, but you like like a teenager in the gravitar pic. In the baseball pics you seem more like you might actually be old enough to be married and have kids. (Quite attractive, I thought, and somehow reminded me of someone. Is there an actress your friends tell you you resemble? The face just seems familiar somehow. [shrug])
I’m beyond the 55 mark (I’m a little coy about the exact age only to try to keep my actual birthdate as off the public record as possible—it’s one of the datums identity thieves seek). My gravitar pic is actually even older than yours. About 11 years now. It was taken at formal night on my honeymoon cruise, and it’s one of the better pictures ever taken of me (I don’t photograph well). I’m grayer and a lot more worn now.
This June I could take early retirement. Actually, I could take it now—I have my “numbers” to get some pension, but obviously the longer you stay in saddle the higher that amount is. The kicker is getting the Social Security Bridge. The Company will pay what SS would until I reach SS age at 65. The pension alone isn’t quite enough; with the Bridge, I think I can swing it.
And be free!
I understand. Some of my blog posts are for my mom out in California. Or even just to commemorate things for my own sake. I see the blog as a way to leave a public record of myself. No kids, no close family (of my own) ties, so everything kinda ends with me. I’d like to leave something behind, even if it’s a weird blog with very few readers ever. It reflects me and my times, and that’s its purpose.
Wow! Feelin’ maudlin here for some reason. Might be because I was able to goof off all last week, tomorrow it’s really time to get back to the (currently hated) grindstone.
January 6th, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Congrats on the early retirement, if your bridge does come and you do cross it. With a late in life youngster, methinks we shall never ever retire fully. Not with health insurance the mess that it is.
I am past 40, actually closer to the next milestone birthday, although I know I will have ZERO desire to celebrate that one. I mean, yay, I made it, but bleh on the festivities. My sister celebrated her big 5-0 at the roller skating rink last year. Ironically, I had twisted my hip moving some heavy boxes and couldn’t roller skate with everyone who did partake. Sent the 6 year old out with dad and cousins. Then would say, in a cartoonishly-old person voice, “My hip! It’s my dang old hip that’s botherin’ me!”
I think that gravitar pic has a lot of fuzz/grain so it gives a soft focus effect. That will un-age anyone. Ever watch Giada, of cooking show fame? Me either, but she was on the TV at the doctor’s office the other day and every time the camera was on her–chopping onions, shredding lettuce, sauteeing chicken, whatevs–she was totally in soft focus. And I remember thinking that would be a lovely way to be presented to the general public all the time.
I have always looked younger than my age, which is good, but I don’t look like a teenager anymore. I shall try on a few halter tops this summer, though, and see if the clock peels back any layers…..
January 7th, 2013 at 12:17 pm
Yeah, it’s kind of funny… my personal life has pretty much been a train wreck, but my work life has always been good. Into each life… a little compensation, I guess. I look at those in happy home lives—even heavily weighted lives—and often think I’d be willing to trade in a heartbeat. (And at other times suspect that a life alone is perhaps best all around for all concerned. [shrug])
Well, you’re a lot older than your pictures suggest. You’re right, you do look younger. I’m not kidding that the gravitar pic looks very young. You’re right about the low rez, though. Maybe that does make a difference—a little virtual Vaseline on the lens! Ah, well, 50 is the new 40, you know!
Did you ever see the Woody Allen film, Deconstructing Harry? Whether you’d like it depends on whether you like Woody Allen films; it’s definitely a Woody Allen film! A sub-plot in the movie involves an actor (played by Robin Williams) who is having a “focus problem.” By which, I don’t mean he is having trouble concentrating; he is having trouble being in focus. Which makes it hard to shoot his scenes. Brilliant idea! Go around all day in soft focus!
Guys love halter tops (for rather obvious reasons). As I mentioned, fond memories! (And I don’t know if it’s Freudian or just normally bad typing, but both times now I’ve started typing “memories” as “mam…” (oops!)). You were saying I could sell the secret of youth… if you find you shed a few years in your collection of halter tops, then maybe you’ve got a youth secret to sell!! (And be sure to post some pictures in your blog! Bump up your male readership! :lol:)
January 7th, 2013 at 4:30 pm
lol… we have random “bad lyrics” moments on purpose… two standards are to switch mammaries for memories, in any song, as well as ass for eyes… it’s stupid, but harmless snickery fun
so next time you’re trapped at a showing of Cats, you can snicker when the lead feline starts in with the main song… or Crystal Gayle singing about her brown eyes being blue… snicker, snicker
I haven’t seen Deconstructing Harry… I’m not a big WA fan, per se, and I think I saw a couple in the mid 80’s–Hannah and her Sisters? Bullets over Broadway? the one I remember the most because we laugh a lot at it, is the obscure What’s Up, Tiger Lily… I know, weird one to have actually seen and remember, right?
January 7th, 2013 at 4:59 pm
Gad zooks! I’ll never look at Crystal Gayle the same way again! (Is “gad zooks” one word or two?)
Tiger Lily, wow! Going for the early works there! Allen’s a bit like (Roman) Polanski for me. Both are artists, but their personal lives give me pause. I understand that artists need to be outside convention, art demands that, but when you don’t have all those normal social conventions, it’s easier to get into dangerous places. Artists seek the new and unusual; it’s easy to lose ones way. (Been there, done that, never did time. :grin:)
Taste is really hard to predict, but with your mind I would lay odds on you liking Deconstructing Harry. My ex- had a pretty good head on her shoulders (hence the offer of a lifetime together), and she liked it a lot. Unlike some of Allen’s work, it’s very accessible, but very much like Allen’s work, it’s got some real clever in it along with some serious quirk.
Put it this way. If you know what “breaking the fourth wall” is and if you like that sort of thing, I’m confident you’ll like the film. (Other terms that apply are “genre-aware” and “self-reflective.”)
(Heh: one benefit/curse of hanging out with me is you get your book and film horizons forcibly broadened. I’ve practically trained my best friend to be a pretty good film critic! He knows what to look for and anticipate and such… I’ve been talking to him about storytelling technique for almost 30 years!)
January 7th, 2013 at 6:10 pm
oh man, you’re gonna drop me like change out of your pocket… I watch soooo few movies, it’s sad. I take the little one to the requisite kid-movie-of-the-moment once or twice a year, but that’s it. This summer we saw FOUR kid type movies (Madagascar, Ice Age, Brave and Katy Perry… are you weeping yet?) over the 12 weeks and I remember thinking that was the most movies I’d seen in the previous 3 years combined, mostly because Riley had a lot of sensory issues and just recently has been able to sit in a theatre. (my kids, they don’t come easy)
Last year (was it last year?) Ryan made me go see… um… what was the movie about the dreaming? I’m drawing a blank. Anyway, you know it… with Leo DiCaprio, et al… Ryan had already seen it, but wanted a second viewing to see what all he missed the first time around. I did that with 6th Sense, and ended up seeing too many things that kind of ruined the “mystique” of it.
I don’t not like movies; they are just big time suckers. It’s hard for me to sit and watch something for 2-3 hours straight. Even regular TV, as little as I watch, is DVR’d so I can fast forward (or, as Riley says “pass forward”) through the commercials.
AND (here’s a really odd reason) movies make me a little crazy. Either I want the acting or the dialogue to be different, or I predict the plotline coming and it makes me feel like I’m being cheated. I mean if *I* can write the plotline, the movie must suck. Same mindset as Groucho Marx joining a club, or some such thing.
January 7th, 2013 at 7:02 pm
There is a world of movies out there for you to discover someday. You’re right; most movies are written very predictably according to well-worn formulas. A key criteria I have for a book or movie is, “Take me someplace I’ve never quite been.” And all the good ones do.
Inception (which was fun) is the movie you’re reaching for. Pretty good; done by Christopher Nolan, whose work I have high regard for (Memento, The Prestige, Insomnia, oh, and the last three Batman movies).
Are you saying you didn’t enjoy The Sixth Sense when you saw it the second time? The film itself is among my all-time favorites; I think it’s an excellent piece of work. (Pity that Shyamalan went consistently downhill from then on.) Of course it’s a completely different movie once you know what’s really going on.
What was (and still is) amazing to me is how Shyamalan rubs your face in the secret throughout the whole film! Time after time, there are scenes that are odd, but you brush away the oddness as the plot moves on. Later you discover each moment of oddness had a different meaning. The Anniversary dinner where you think she’s ignoring him.
Or the scene where the kid comes home from school, walks in and sees mom and Bruce Willis sitting not talking. That they’re not talking is weird! But the scene moves on. Later you learn she hates psychiatrists, and you figure they’d had words and that’s why they weren’t talking. Nope. Not the reason! 🙂
Or you notice the fog in the kid’s breath (ghosts are cold, remember) or that he’s wearing a jacket in every scene with Willis. It really is an amazing movie, and it’s almost perfect in every note. Even after seeing it many times and discussing it a lot, I’ve found no real flaws. (Which is rare for any story.)
January 7th, 2013 at 6:13 pm
is breaking the 4th wall when the audience/viewer is addressed directly?
January 7th, 2013 at 7:07 pm
Yep, exactly. Goes back as far as the ancient Greeks (who loved their live theatre). Based (obviously) on the imaginary “fourth wall” between the audience and actors on a conventional stage with a conventional set. By extension it means any thing a story does that breaks the illusion of being real and makes you aware that this is a play or movie or TV show.
“Genre-aware” refers to things a story does that, not only makes you aware of the story “machinery”, but indicates the story knows what kind of story it is. It would be like a Star Trek episode where a “red shirt” panics when being assigned to the away party, because of course it means he’s not coming back. “Self-reflection” is the more general form of that when a story indicates it knows it’s a story.
January 7th, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Yes, I liked seeing all of the stuff I missed the first time in the 6th Sense–the cold, the anniversary scene (the taking of the check right from under his hand), etc… the one thing I never had explained to my satisfaction was Bruce Willis wearing his coat… all the other ghosts looked like they did right when they died… BW died in his sweatshirt and jeans/khakis (?) but in the rest of the movie he was wearing the overcoat, I assume to hide the giant gunshot exit wound in his back…? but a ghost wouldn’t/shouldn’t be concerned with that
it didn’t make me not like the movie… it was very well done without being all slashy and killy, like most “horror” movies are… I never go see those things…
I do remember seeing it as a matinee and then having 30 minutes to kill (heh) before I went to pick up Ryan at school and being scared alone in the house… actually I remember turning to the girl who I had gone with to the movie and punching her in the arm (just before the little girl’s funeral scene) and hissing, “WHY am I AT this MOVIE??!!”
because I don’t do scary so well
I’m a fan of the broken 4th wall… my fave sitcoms use this effect, mostly staged as a mockumentary type (Modern Family, The Office)… and certain scenes in movies where someone turns to just look at the camera to raise an eyebrow (i.e., the kid in Jumanji using an axe to chop down the shed to get to an axe), etc….
The “red shirts” in Star Trek equate to the grunts in army films who pull the picture of their “girl back home” out of their helmets for a quick, melancholy look… chances are, that young private won’t be in the final scene unless it’s draped by a flag….
January 7th, 2013 at 9:59 pm
I’m sure you’re right that the “real” (or perhaps a “real”) reason is to insure you never see the bullet wound until the dénouement. It’s also a good example of what I meant by being note perfect. In storytelling there are always exigencies (like insuring you don’t see the bullet wound). The real craft comes from how the storyteller “explains” those things within the context of the story. The more “organic” (appropriate and natural to the story) that explanation is, the higher the craft. In this case that would amount to an explanation for the clothing change that not only works but which actually seems necessary.
Such as, in his work a professional appearance is important, so (assuming we grant ghosts control over their appearance, and there is plenty of precedent for that) of course his ghost would dress the part. His ghost would, in fact, have to dress the part. QED!
(Science fiction fans are used to this back-fitting of sense to story. In fact, I coined the term “Star Trekking It” to label the process. https://logosconcarne.com/2011/08/20/sideband-39-star-trekking-it/)
I love The Office (enough to have bought the season DVDs)! Have you ever seen the British version?
If you rent movies, and don’t hate Bill Murry (some do) I’m going to recommend a movie for you. It’s called The Man Who Knew Too Little. It’s a “mistaken identity” movie, and it’s another nearly perfect script. Here’s what to watch for if you watch it. Mistaken identity stories often feel a little forced. The dialog has to be shaped to keep the secret, so no character can say anything that clearly reveals the situation. This usually results in some degree of unnatural or strained dialog.
I don’t think you’ll hear a word of it in this movie. The dialog is completely organic and always seems like exactly what the character might say… except it perfectly preserves the ambiguity of the situation allowing each character to believe something completely different. I think it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen (and it’s clever and smart and sweet—possibly family material, I don’t know your rules). The orange cone scene alone is worth the price of admission!
January 7th, 2013 at 10:35 pm
I gueeeeesssss… a wardrobe conscious ghost… even though none of the other ghosts in the movie seemed concerned with such things… put on a robe, poisoned nightgown girl, we have company!
but i’m okay with that… the impact of the “holy crap i’m dead” moment was really really good… and poor lil whatshisface as the terrified kid the whole movie… loved him
hey, i followed that one link (but you knew that, didn’t you?) and i’ve seen and liked ALL of those movies… except the bill murray one… i love bill murray… stripes, groundhog day, the first ghostbusters, snl… since i haven’t seen hardly any recent movies, i’m out for much more of his, although i did see most of royal tannenbaums… so i will put that on my list of movies… maybe i can kindle it… wonder how much it is…. i’ve never kindled a movie
January 8th, 2013 at 8:45 am
How about this: a young girl who died in an abusive situation like that might have other things on her mind, whereas an adult professional might naturally think in terms of his visual presentation. Yes? No? 🙂
Yeah, the reveal in that is amazing. For some reason, the moment I saw his ring on the floor it all came together, like snap! Because by then you really have all the pieces. You know deaths can result in unfinished ghost business, you know he was shot,… all of a sudden all those weird moments I’d been brushing aside came back, pow! (Yeah, Osment was very good in that! Didn’t over-play the role!)
If you ever chance to see it again, something to watch for: Shyamalan uses red to signify the ghost. Do you remember how the wife had blocked the doorway to the basement? How Shyamalan toys with you showing him in the basement, but you never see him go through the door. The doorknob of which is red.
I’ll be interested in what you think of the Murray movie. You could likely buy the DVD for 10 bucks, so if the rental is any more than 5, I’d say you’re being ripped off!
January 8th, 2013 at 1:46 pm
You realize this is a never-win argument, right? There’s no way to know if M Shamalalamadingdong is right or not in having his ghost wear an overcoat as it presupposes that he (or any of us) would have ANY clue as to how ghosts dress at all. And how much personality, forethought, and a myriad of other things a person carries over from here to the afterlife.
But your argument about him being an adult professional carries as much weight as anything else. I did read an article about the red within the movie, but can’t remember if Shams addressed the wardrobe change in interviews. And I guess how he chose to present his characters in his movie is entirely up to him. I just remember thinking in retrospect that everyone else looked as drippy dead in the afterlife as they had at the moment of death except for him.
And I realize, obviously, that he couldn’t have the guy leaking entrails out his backside for the duration of the movie. Def would have blown the dropped ring moment.
I checked for the Bill Murray movie on the Guide. It’s a 1997 movie and still has a $2.99 fee. Usually by then they show up on random movie channels for free. Like Groundhog Day that goes on a continuous loop every so often. Ah, the irony of that movie on a loop.
January 8th, 2013 at 7:21 pm
Oh, yeah, well, sure, if yer gonna be all logical and factual-like! 😀
But what’s the fun in that?! (I mean, seriously, if ghosts can move through walls, how is it they don’t just sink through the floor due to gravity? Do they constantly “hover” and pretend to walk on the ground? And what binds them to the Earth anyway? We move over 1.5 million miles per day in orbit around the sun. Let alone the sun’s motion through the galaxy or the galaxy’s motion through the universe (which are both way faster). How do ghosts know to (pretend to) be bound to this extremely fast moving ball of rock?)
And the thing about Star Trek is that, of course, at some point you have to let it go. “Dude! It’s a TV show! Phasers are never really going to make any sense!” And I have no confusion on that matter; it’s just fun to pretend sometimes. As I said, the craft is in how the author hides the machinery, but there’s always going to be hints of that machinery! 🙂
2.99 sounds reasonable (1.99 wouldn’t have surprised me given its age and general lack of popularity). I’ll be looking forward to what you think of it!
(They loop Groundhog Day for the same reason as in the movie! Until you learn something, dammit!! :lol:)
January 8th, 2013 at 8:08 pm
then WHAT is the purpose of The Christmas Story loop that occurs on TNT every Christmas Eve… you WILL shoot your eye out, dammit!!??
yeah I know I have to suspend belief… I’m actually fine with that in those types of movies. Your follow up on the physical properties of ghosts being a perfect example as to why it’s dangerous to tread that way.
I tend to REALLY overthink “real life” movies and books. I read that YaYa book with the really long name for a book club I was in years ago. Some of it was draggy, but some of it was read-out-loud funny (my highest praise as I LOVE to read things out loud–remember that reference to HS drama and forensics… yeah, that) but the ending bothered me.
I remember suggesting that it would have made more sense (to me) to end it a different way and I said what my preferred ending would have been. One of the other book club members got a little pissy that “not everything works out that neatly in real life” or some such thing. And I said I realized that, but given human nature, mostly, my ending had more closure and would be closer to what my real life experience was like. She called me a Pollyanna. I called her a bitch. We finished our spaghetti.
January 8th, 2013 at 8:38 pm
I think with that one the point is to make you laugh a little, cry a little, you know, the usual.
I’ve got some extra suspension of disbelief cables (double-strength, made from the finest steel) if it will help!
With stories it can be helpful to remember that stories aren’t about the most logical or sensible outcome. That usually doesn’t make for interesting stories. Stories are about what happened this one time. You have to consider them in that context. Can you make a claim that the story’s outcome is clearly contrary to the reality and context of the story? If so, that does reveal a problem with the story’s internal logic. If not, then about all you can do is personally dislike the ending (which I do plenty).
(I’ve never read the YaYa book (that’s the “traveling pants” one?) so I have no clue to plot or ending.)
My! We’ve wandered a bit far afield from the Twins! 🙂
January 8th, 2013 at 8:49 pm
no… Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood… something like that… 4 adult friends who have been friends since they were kids growing up in… um… Louisiana? something southern and swampy
in the case of the ending, there is a big SOMETHING that happened to one of the friends that affected her daughter… and the daughter has been resentful her whole life… and so finally the 3 friends sit down and have a convo with her about the big SOMETHING so she can stop hating her mother… I had just said in the book club discussion that I thought it would make sense (to me) if the mother (who felt bad about her relationship with her daughter) could have had that convo herself, or at least a follow up… instead of maintaining this “I can’t talk about the SOMETHING”
I understood that this person wanted the book to be that way, that she saw the character as more unyielding… but I didn’t see how the mom felt bad about the relationship, but didn’t want to change things when she had the power to do so… it would have been different if she didn’t give a shit about how things were with the daughter, but she did… so why so hard to take that last step?
interestingly in the movie, they DID have a follow up convo, so apparently someone heard us kvetching in the restaurant at book club and took my advice
and I realize that will all be mostly gobbledygook since you haven’t read/seen it
notice how my grammar and sentence structure deteriorates in the comments section? i get so lazy when free writing. I try to keep to all the rules in my formal writing and blogs, but it all goes to craptown on facebook, on forums and in comments…
and speaking of craptown, we’re back to the Twins record last season! let’s hope it is a better season for you in ’13
January 8th, 2013 at 9:15 pm
Nice save! We’ll see… it might take until 2014 before they’re really back. Hard to believe they’ll recover this year following two of their worst seasons in franchise history.
Yaya, Pants, whatever. So far off my zone of interests as to be non-existent in my world! Just more “reality TV,” and I hate reality TV. I deal with real people all day; I use fiction to escape real people and real life!
You know, I dunno if I’m really OCD (or bi-polar, but both seem to apply somewhat metaphorically), but it’s almost impossible for me to write outside the rules of grammar and spelling (I’m not talking about deliberate “jazz riff” departures from the rules for artistic effect). Each mistake bothers me. (The George/Walter thing horrifies me! How the HELL did that happen? Where was my head?!?!)
And, too, I have a very negative evaluation of that kind of Facebook comment / text-speak writing style people use today. If you’re capable of writing not like an idiot, then fine, it’s a choice, and I have no real problem with it, but I’m concerned about those who don’t seem to have the ability. And I recognize that most people may not choose to spend the effort I do even on the most casual writing… it does have a high cost (which being single and somewhat isolated, perhaps I’m more willing to pay).
I’m concerned about people losing the ability to communicate fluently, accurately and with great detail and texture. They may not be always necessary, but there are times when you really do want to communicate as perfectly as possible. The ability to do so is important, I think.
January 8th, 2013 at 9:27 pm
I think the world will continue on, with some people being exceptional writers, some being exceptional grammarians, some not giving a crap about how they write. I have been on a lot of different sites and have seen all manner of writing styles. And it’s not an age thing. I have seen 60+ year olds on forums who have horrible syntax and spelling issues. And of course the disjointed, abbreviated language that combines textspeak with shorthand conversation, that many younger people seem to favor.
Don’t make me pull out my Socrates quote, you old snapperwhipper!
(and look at me being all grammatical for you)
January 8th, 2013 at 9:50 pm
Oh, no doubt (the world will continue)! It just makes me sad to see us moving in a direction that seems backwards to me intelligence-civilization-wise. The loss of some of the richer more textured parts of culture seems sad to me. [shrug]
Socrates quote? You mean, “Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?” 😛
(Someone changed their gravitar pic! Nice photo!!)
January 8th, 2013 at 9:28 pm
And these types of books/movies are “reality TV” to you? I’m not quite sure what that means. The whole world isn’t Snooki, which is where my head goes when I hear “reality TV” although I guess American Idol is under that umbrella as well.
January 8th, 2013 at 10:03 pm
I was casting a wide net, probably to the point of being metaphorical. In, um, “reality” no, they’re not; they’re actually the opposite (because they’re stories, not real, even if based on real). What I was getting at is that they don’t interest me for some of the same reasons.
Simply put, I don’t much like reality. I manage to find plenty of joy and laughter, but that’s because I hold those things dear (primary even) and seek them out (and it’s not always easy, as I’m sure you would acknowledge). I try to live in the light, but I’m very aware of the dark in life. And be it taste, age or whatever, I just don’t connect with a lot of the world today. I find so much of it… shallow.
So stories about ordinary people in their ordinary lives aren’t enough for me. I get that from real life. I enjoy stories as escape from real life, so I like them ‘unreal’ in some fashion. I’ve been a science fiction fan all my life. And that’s a bit like skydiving compared to rollercoasters. It can make normal fiction seem a little dull (what, no aliens, spaceships or lasers?). I also love detective and murder mysteries: again, not normal life!
Actual Unreality TV takes that all to, for me, an ungodly level by bringing “real life” (in a highly amplified and lurid form) into my stories. Screw that! The topic was part of my TV Tuesday series last year:
January 8th, 2013 at 10:17 pm
interesting… I’m the total opposite… I never watch Sci Fi or murder or horror stories… I don’t need the escapism feature… I think it’s because it makes me have to think MORE when I’m watching them… the whole character assembly in Star Wars, for example, is way too much for me to contend with…
I like shows that are about real people who are flawed but funny… I never watch any of the reality shows like the housewives or the snookies or the honey boo boos… because i can’t deal with the editing that turns them into caricatures/exaggerations of their true selves… or if it’s not editing, that’s even worse! ha
if I’m going to pick a movie to watch it’s usually a romantic comedy but not a sickly sweet one… and, as I said, I watch so few movies it’s kind of sad…..
January 9th, 2013 at 8:33 am
Based on our conversation so far, I’m not surprised. It seems to be another one of those “two kinds of people” things. In this case, those that love SF and those for whom it just doesn’t click. I’ve tried to turn adults on to SF many times and have never once succeeded. (My ex-wife being one example. Loved most of the books I turned her on to, but never could get into SF.)
I think it might be one of those nurture/nature questions. Are certain people prone to liking it, or does it require discovering at a young age? Most SF fans I know discovered it young and loved it ever since. But is that due to being already prone to it or does early exposure capture the mind? Dunno!
I still think you’ll like the Murray movie… it’s basically a RomCom, but not, as you say, too sickly sweet.
January 9th, 2013 at 8:46 am
hopefully that wasn’t’ the cause of the divorce: Irreconcilable Movie Differences . sorry, not making light of your divorce .
I don’ t think they’ ‘re dumb or anything . I think they are highly imaginative and creative . my brain just doesn’t’ t want to “get” there . my youngest brother does, though, if that adds anything to the nature/nurture debate .
January 9th, 2013 at 8:54 am
Heh, “irreconcilable” and “differences” … those words are correct, but it wasn’t over movies. More like political, religious and lifestyle differences. Very long story.
Exactly, your brain just doesn’t want to go there. Variations on that theme are pretty standard for those who don’t get into it. Not sure if the brother is a factor. They’ve found significant differences in identical twins, so apparently personality and interests are a lot more subtle and complex than hair or eye color.
January 9th, 2013 at 9:04 am
Okay i switched to my netbook… the kindle is great for checking things, but awful for typing. I’m new to the hand held genre of devices. So all of that weird extra punctuation wasn’t me being lazy, it was the K being presumptuous. STOP guessing!
As to the brother, that was a push for the nature side, not the nurture side: raised in same environment, TOTALLY diff taste in books and movies. He’s a sci fi geek to the max. I think his wife is, too, so I guess that helps him there, mostly because he sits in front of the TV a lot for shows and movies and it would be very divisive if she didn’t share that interest.
January 9th, 2013 at 10:49 am
Yeah, I’m not a fan of the computer doing a lot of things “for” me… it’s wrong as often as not!
January 8th, 2013 at 10:23 pm
where did my long socrates comment go? i’m very sad that it seems to have disappeared….
January 9th, 2013 at 10:12 am
oh and speaking of movies off the radar, can’t imagine that the one referenced here is one you would be fond of… me neither:
January 9th, 2013 at 10:56 am
I read the article; I’ve never heard of the film!
I was an extra in a film once, but it was never released. Weird movie, it was about necrophilia and starred Chris Stone and Lindsey Wagner. My high school theatre director’s big (failed) attempt to break into being a film director.
January 10th, 2013 at 12:18 pm
gee, necrophilia right out of the gate… where do you go from there for a follow up?
January 10th, 2013 at 2:58 pm
Yeah! In some ways there’s no other way to but up!
January 14th, 2013 at 8:30 pm
lol… you left out “go” and what was left kind of made me snicker
January 15th, 2013 at 9:14 am
And my abiding claim is that I intended it that way…
January 15th, 2013 at 4:20 pm
that’s what freud would say….
January 15th, 2013 at 5:48 pm
Aw, he woulda just given me a cigar!