James’ Brand New Blog

On the shelves @LPL:* Moneyball DVD

- August 22nd, 2014

moneyball-guitar

Kerry Dorsey sings Lenka’s The Show in a scene from Moneyball . . . image courtesy of thepeachtreedance.blogspot.com 

*An occasional series devoted to glories found at  London Public Library branches here & there.

JBNBlog enjoyed Moneyball via the LPL . . . but the non-baseball fan in the house saw it much more clearly as a portrait of a man on a quest (Brad Pitt terrific as a fictionalized version of Oakland GM  Billy Beane) marked by tossing stuff incidents, lonesome solo drives, confrontations with associates. little joy even in a 20-game winning streak, ambiguous relationship (how happy are they really?) with the daughter from a failed marriage  etc. … it’s an even better movie than JBNBlog realized because of all that.

Pitt/Beane’s Sancho Panza is Jonah Hill as a Yale grad who sees the real numbers in baseball & helps steer the fillm’s version of the 2002 A’s toward them. Hill’s character is even able to show a bit of film/truth to Beane. It shows a ballplayer failing to realize he’s hit a home run. Now that’s a happy ending. Of a sort.

For JBNBlog, the sight of baseball guru Bill James on screen in a black&white photo & off-screen as a formidable influence on the Pitt/Hill characters’ approach to baseball is a memory lane train.

Back in the day, ie. 1984, as a naive sportswriter JBNBlog was lucky enough to have Bill James — who was already a major figure in baseball analysis — pick up the phone in Kansas  a number of times . . .  no sufferer of fools, Bill hung up abruptly when I innocently asked which shortstop Alfredo Griffin (then a Blue Jay) was keeping in the minors . . . that’s what you get if you don’t do your homework or just pay attention basically  & realize the Blue Jays should have Tony Fernandez at short .. . which they did in 1985-1986-1987 (the years I covered MLB for the LFP) & into the World Series-winning 1990s.

That said, Bill James’s books are mostly excellent & he is such a good writer (unless it’s about world history) they are recommended even if you think you don’t like baseball or baseball books …. one thing that has always irked me is there would be a bill James snotty saying that if you don’t know what On Base Percentage is you shouldn’t be reading this book (I know, I know — just part of his charm, but really!)  … anyway, OBP is treated as the Holy Grail of stats in Moneyball … & in case you need some prep work, here is a definition, courtesy of fangraphs.com … complete with Moneyball reference

On-Base Percentage (OBP) measures the most important thing a batter can do at the plate: not make an out. Since a team only gets 27 outs per game, making outs at a high rate isn’t a good thing — that is, if a team wants to win. Players with high on-base percentages avoid making outs and reach base at a high rate, prolonging games and giving their team more opportunities to score.

The formula for OBP is simple:

OBP has become synonymous with the book “Moneyball” because at in the early 2000s, teams weren’t properly valuing players with high OBPs and the Oakland A’s could swipe talented players for cheap. These days, every team has come to accept how vitally important OBP is to their success, and that particular “market inefficiency” has been closed.

… there, now we can read Bill James without being told off … intriguingly, JBNBlog’s favourite team the Baltimore Orioles don’t seen to be OBP believers, having a mere .311 OBP … thanks espn.com … the Orioles have pitching, defence (I guess) & hit lots of home runs … maybe the OBP deficiency will catch up with us .. but for now. go Baltimore.

Back to the movie …director Bennett Miller gets a JBNBlog nod for drawing such an intense yet laid back on the surface performance from Pitt & other fine performances from Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman as “Art Howe,” (not a fair or accurate version of the Oakland manager who feuds with Beane/Pitt, but a dramatically effective one) and Chris Pratt who hits a big home run. Literally. As the saying goes.

Many reviews praise co-screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin . . . JBNBlog will see Miller as the auteur (despite not knowing much about him), just as Beane is presented as the auteur of 2002 A’s.

Here are details from sonypictures.com . . .

Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) challenges the system and defies conventional wisdom when his is forced to rebuild his small-market team on a limited budget. Despite opposition from the old guard, the media, fans and their own field manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Beane – with the help of a young, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist (Jonah Hill) – develops a roster of misfits…and along the way, forever changes the way the game is played.

SCREENPLAY

Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian

BASED ON A WORK BY

Michael Lewis

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Scott Rudin, Sidney Kimmel, Andrew Karsch, Mark Bakshi

STORY BY

Stan Chervin

PRODUCER

Brad Pitt, Michael DeLuca, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz

DIRECTOR

Bennett Miller

ACTOR

Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill

Here is Reuters on Moneyball when it was at 2011 TIFF:

BC-FILM-TORONTO-MONEYBALL (TV, PIX) Brad Pitt aims for home run with ’Moneyball’

By Christine Kearney and Bob Mezan

TORONTO (Reuters) – Brad Pitt has turned to the insular world of baseball economics for his latest movie and yet the Hollywood heavyweight is a relative rookie in terms of obsessing over one of America’s great pastimes.

The A-list actor is one of the top draws this week at the Toronto International Film Festival for the launch of his new drama, “Moneyball.” He plays Billy Beane, the real-life general manager of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s, who is famed for reinventing the game by running a competitive team in a cost-effective way.

Pitt told Reuters that he learned to appreciate the nuances and complexities of the game while making the movie, helped by several meetings with 49-year-old Beane, but he is not your typical baseball fanatic. “It’s shameful how little I know about baseball, but what I know about it, I got — it was a pop fly in the fourth grade — 18 stitches,” he told Reuters, referring to getting hit by ball when he was just a kid, opening a flesh wound.

“I find it really tranquil when it is on (TV) in the background now…There is a reason why it has become our national pastime. It’s a team sport yet at the same time it is an individual battle.”

The film’s creators want movie audiences to see that ”Moneyball” is not just another tale in the vein of “The Natural,” “Major league” or other baseball films that have become ubiquitous in U.S. theaters.

They are banking on Pitt, 47, to transform Beane’s use of bland statistics and mathematical tables into entertaining movie fare. And for that, they’ve tailored the story of the Oakland A’s into a tale of beating the odds.

“We are always looking for undercurrents in films, what is going on underneath it,” Pitt said, adding that “Moneyball” is ”much more than a baseball film” and more of “an underdog story. You have a justice story.”

AN UNDERDOG’S TALE

The film with a budget of $47 million was adapted by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of ”The Social Network,” from the Michael Lewis book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

It begins with Beane coming off a highly successful 2001 season where the small market A’s lost baseball stars including Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon to big city teams with lots of money such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Beane recruits an unathletic Yale graduate, Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), and the unlikely duo push a novel approach of using statistics to scout players who will create a competitive team at far less cost.

It may seem like inside baseball to some, but Pitt and Hill said the story of Beane and Brand should appeal broadly to moviegoers who aren’t necessarily fans of the game.

Hill said he showed it to friends “who couldn’t care less about baseball and they all adored it…It is really about values and underdogs and life choices.”

Pitt believes that, statistics aside, the spontaneity of the game which lures fans to ballparks isn’t lost in the film.

“These guys apply science to it and yet the magical happens when you least expect it, which was true for their season,” he said. “It’s a magical game, no question.” Early reviews have been generally favorable. The Hollywood Reporter said the movie “looks good perhaps not for a home run but certainly a long double or even an exciting scoot around the bases for a head-first triple.”

Daily Variety compared it to Sorkin’s “Social Network,” saying “the story isn’t as electrifying. ’The Social Network’ was about a highly unusual alpha dog; Moneyball is the story of a highly unusual underdog. No one remakes the world here. But someone does remake the grand old American game of baseball.”

(editing by Bob Tourtellotte) REUTERS

What’s up with The Palace Theatre c. 1930?

- August 21st, 2014

Palace Theatre Bill Trudell

 

This classic image of the old Palace Theatre was in the collection of London icon Bill Trudell.

The photograph looks familiar to JBNBlog — who can’t place it. Any IDs, details, educated guesses will be welcomed by the celebrity judges. Who? When? Why (or the occasion)?

We have the Where — the Palace Theatre as it was — and the What (an official photograph, likely of the staff) . . . One clue as to the When  . . .   you can see posters for The Big House, likely the 1930 movie directed by George Hill & starring Wallace  Beery etc.

Any other information gratefully received.

 

Pat Maloney launches (unearths?) Repotting Saturday

- August 20th, 2014

Pat Maloney LFP_20130603_Reaney_Maloney

Pat Maloney following a recording of Reaney’s Pick on Monday June 3, 2013.

TO GO WITH STORY BY JAMES REANEY
MORRIS LAMONT The London Free Press

JBNBlog is always happy to hear from ace singer-songwriter-truthteller Pat Maloney .. Pat sent along this note last week & it got forgotten about until now … when you still have a few days to prepare yourself for the launch of Pat’s new album Repotting.

In my initial excitement thought this was Wednesday. But as Pat has calmly pointed out it’s Saturday. Saturday.  Saturday.

Over to Pat & congrats on the new album . . .

Did you happen to hear your off-the-cuff shout-out at Home County? I love telling my story about the FP online commentary regarding my “wind farms” song. BANANA – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

I’ve just released my second full length album called Repotting, along with a music video for the title track.

Check the video with footage of the the old Embassy site / CTO / Kellogg’s etc etc

On August 23rd, I’m throwing a Launch Party at London Indie Underground (532 Adalaide St N).

9pm doors

10pm Songwriter Circle Featuring:

LUKE ROES (Ivory Hours)

OLIVIA BORKOSKY (Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies)

MARK KULMULA w/ RICHARD GRACIOUS (The Allens, My Father’s Son etc)

11pm PAT MALONEY

 

 

 

 

 

 

CanPlow 2014. Purple Hill. Wow.

- August 19th, 2014

 

Hooray for CanPlow 2014 …. & thanks to former LFP colleague Pat Currie for providing the following details of the event . . . 11,000 fans. Wow. Congrats & over to Par . .

CanPlow 2014 scores huge success at Purple Hill;

Heavy horses might return to the world stage

The success of CanPlow 2014, the Canadian Plowing Championships held at Purple Hill just east of London, has had one unexpected but potentially game-changing repercussion.

Canadian and Ontario Plowing Organization officials were greatly impressed by the calibre and setting of the three-day show. One of them, Jim Sache, of Chilliwack, B.C., Canada’s representative on the World Plowing Organization, told local heavy-horse enthusiasts that he would help set the stage for a return of the big horses to the World Plowing Championships in England in 2016, but that would depend in part on the Canadian winners finding sponsorship financing to get their horses and plows to Britain.

Sashe, that Canadian Plowing organization’s representative on the World Plowing Organization, said Tuesday from his dairy farm in Rosedale, B.C., that he had emailed his English counterpart, Ken Chappel, to see if an opening for antique tractor plowing in 2016 might also include a return of heavy horse classes. Sache said he has not heard if the world body will approve that step.

Horse plowing has not been included in the world event for several years, but a heavy-horse plowing demonstration at the 2013 event, held in Olds, Alta., proved how popular the big animals remain – 11,000 spectators crowded the fields to watch plowmen from 29 nations in a demonstration. Seven of the eight printed photographs carried by the Canadian Press news agency were photographs of the powerful horses in action.

Both the horse and antique events would have two divisions – walking and sulky plows for the horses and trail and mounted plows for the antique tractors.

Donna Telfer, of Paris, Ont., president of the committee that planned and staged the Aug. 14-16 event at Purple Hill farm, owned by George and Anna Taylor, said getting to the antique tractor event in 2016 would be easy compared to the challenge of shipping horses across the Atlantic Ocean.

“It would cost at least $10,000 and then there’s the matter of meeting British health regulations about importing horses,” she said.

“It is up to the Canadian Plowing Organization to figure out how to set it up,” she said.

Sache, Canadian Plowing Organization President Tom Murdoch, and competitors all said they were greatly pleased by their experience at Purple Hill, even though rain was an unwelcome intruder on the final day.

“This is a beautiful setting and the event was excellent,” said Murdoch. “And if there hadn’t been rain, it wouldn’t have been real plowing.”

Sache called Purple Hill “an awesome place with soil as good as any I’ve ever seen.”

Charlie Connors, a competitor from Shediac, N.B., called it “a beautiful venue with great land to plow. The whole event has met our expectations to the highest degree.”

Organizers estimated total attendance at the three-day event at 4,000. A major attraction was an “Artisans’ Village” – a large tent housing 11 artisans in traditional activities such as spinning and weaving wool, hooking rugs and making lace jams, jellies and pickles.

“This is wonderful. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Judy Keith, of Havelock, N.B.

Winners at CanPlow 2014 included two “dark horses,” winners who took home first-place honours in their first venture into competitive plowing at the national level.

In the junior division, Jay Lennox, 19, of Ayton, Ont., won a scholarship worth more than $4,000 towards his tuition at Olds University, where he is a second-year student,

“I’m the only one in my family who has ever gone into serious plowing matches,” Lennox said. “I’ve been plowing competitively since I was 16, but this is the first time I’ve ever been at the Canadian.”

It was also a first win in his first foray at the Canadian championship level for Carman Weppler, 36, of Clifford (Wellington County) Ont., in the senior conventional plow class.

“I’ve been plowing since I was 10 years old, competitively since 1992 (when he was 14),” Weppler said.

Senior reversible-plow winner was Bob Campsall, 63, of Oshawa Ontario. This was his third win in 14 Canadian championships.

All three winners will compete in the 2015 World Plowing Championships in Denmark.

 

Lionel Richie as heard in Section 113

- August 18th, 2014

 

Lionel Richie RE_2014_08_06T024934Z_274505163_GM1EA860TSD01_RTRMADP_3_AFRICA_

A few days after London (JBNBlog) . . . Singer Lionel Richie performs during the official U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama, inside a tent on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington August 5, 2014. African leaders on Tuesday called for a deeper economic relationship with the United States, hailing investment pledges totaling more than $17 billion at a Washington summit as a fresh step in the right direction.    REUTERS/Larry Downing  (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS)

JBNBlog forgot to add this guest post re: the sound quality at the Lionel Richie concert at Budweiser Gardens … my bad . . . here it is & thanks to David Skinner for sharing his thoughts on the experience in Section 113 . . .

James

I was at the concert last night as well.

Not wanting to sound negative but I found many of the songs that were performed were just too loud. Either the amplification or the mix was way off.

I thought the words to Lionel Richie’s more upbeat songs were virtually lost because of the noise.

The ballads were absolutely wonderful and his energy and stage presence was terrific.

I’ve been to concerts by Phil Collins and Elton John etc and came away with the feeling of total satisfaction. Not last night.