Links! I gotcher links here! Get ’em while they’re hot!

Yup, it’s time for a “Wow, look at all the open tabs, let’s clear some of those out!” posts.

::  What Moneyball-for-Everything Has Done to American Culture.

Interesting article about the proliferation of numerical analysis for just about everything these days:

Smarties approached baseball like an equation, optimized for Y, solved for X, and proved in the process that a solved sport is a worse one. The sport that I fell in love with doesn’t really exist anymore. In the 1990s, there were typically 50 percent more hits than strikeouts in each game. Today, there are consistently more strikeouts than hits. Singles have swooned to record lows, and hits per game have plunged to 1910s levels. In the century and a half of MLB history covered by the database Baseball Reference, the 10 years with the most strikeouts per game are the past 10.

On another note, I should write a post sometime about the movie Moneyball, which is a fascinating sports movie from the standpoint of the front office, a good piece of evidence for my belief that Aaron Sorkin is at his best when he’s paired with another writer to neuter his more annoying quirks, and also an interesting case study in how to not manage.

::  A post about the title song from the movie That Thing You Do!, the wonderful 90s flick about what happened when a bunch of teenagers from Erie put together a garage rock band and ended up being a national one-hit wonder. The film was directed by Tom Hanks, and he directed it very well, which is why I’m often surprised to think how he never really pursued directing much at all after this one. Maybe he just didn’t want to. That’s fine!

As for the song, though, I did not know that it was written by Adam Schlesinger, the brilliant songwriter who was behind a lot of the amazing satirical songs that formed the backbone of Rachel Bloom’s masterpiece series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Schlesinger, sadly, died at the too-early-age of 51 in the first wave of COVID-19.

Oh, here’s the song, if you don’t remember it. It got quite a bit of airplay in the 90s when the movie was a thing:

::  Black conductors, long excluded, are now on the podium. But will it last?

When Jeri Lynne Johnson made it to the finals of an orchestra tryout in California and didn’t get the job, she didn’t think much of it.

“It happens. It’s like dating — you kind of work or you don’t,” says Johnson of the chemistry that gets tested when a conductor stands before an orchestra for the first time.

But when Philadelphia-based Johnson asked the head of the selection committee what she could have done differently, “He said, ‘We just didn’t know how to market you. You don’t look like what our audience expects a maestro to look like.’”

Orchestra conducting has been the almost entirely-exclusive bastion of white men for just about the entire two century period that the job has even existed. Woman conductors have only started breaking through into the mainstream in the last couple of decades. Black conductors? Imagine that quote above: “We didn’t know how to market you.” Why not…as a thrilling and exciting musician? The same way you market every new conductor who takes a music director position with an orchestra?

My God, we have so damned far to go.

(Classical music’s racism is often obvious, but it’s also worth noting the crustacean-like resistance to change at all in the genre and in people who follow it. I remember attending a Buffalo Philharmonic concert some years ago where the first half of the program was a modern work, and the second half was a Beethoven piano concerto. At intermission I heard the old ladies behind me saying things like “At last, now we get to the good stuff.” I can hear them now, exiting the concert hall after a Black conductor has led a performance of, oh, Brahms’s Third: “Well, I like Brahms, but I suppose he’s woke now.” Ugh!)

::  Who doesn’t love a ranked list? Here is The Best Crime-Solving Writers In Fiction, Ranked!

If that sounds confusing–and it did to me at first, too–it’s referring to fictional writers who also end up being detectives, like Richard Castle of my once-beloved show, Castle. (Who is on the list, by the way. He’s not Number One. If you’re wondering who Number One is, I won’t give it away, but it’s really kind of obvious, especially considering recent events.)

::  For my money, the essential reading following the passing of Jerry Lee Lewis is everything Sheila O’Malley has written about him.

::  Finally, here’s an excellent Twitter thread about what a gigantic mess everyone’s favorite WonderGenius, Elon Musk, is making of Twitter.

I, myself, have never been much for the notion that people are to be automatically afforded massive amounts of deference and respect because they have simply managed to amass some large amount of wealth. But in this country, I am in a distinct minority in this viewpoint, I think.

That’s all for now. Time to start letting the tabs pile up again!


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