ROGER EBERT BLOGS ANTICHRIST, another fun-filled romp by Lars von Trier, aka crazy man. (I believe von Trier and Werner Herzog compete for that title year to year.) I only read the beginnings of these Ebert posts, but will return to them if I ever actually get around to seeing the movie, which I’ve naturally become a teensy bit wary of, considering it’s being described as a mildly traumatic life experience. Here’s Ebert after the premiere at Cannes:

There’s electricity in the air. Every seat is filled, even the little fold-down seats at the end of every row. It is the first screening of Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist,” and we are ready for anything. We’d better be. Von Trier’s film goes beyond malevolence into the monstrous. Never before have a man and woman inflicted more pain upon each other in a movie. We looked in disbelief. There were piteous groans. Sometimes a voice would cry out, “No!” At certain moments there was nervous laughter. When it was all over, we staggered up the aisles. Manohla Dargis, the merry film critic of The New York Times, confided that she left softly singing “That’s Entertainment!”

[…]

If, as they say, you are not prepared for “disturbing images,” I advise you to just just stop reading now….

And then his follow-up two days later:

Lars von Trier’s new film will not leave me alone. A day after many members of the audience recoiled at its first Cannes showing, “Antichrist” is brewing a scandal here; I am reminded of the tumult following the 1976 premiere of Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses” and its castration scene. I said I was looking forward to von Trier’s overnight reviews, and I haven’t been disappointed. Those who thought it was good thought it was very very good (“Something completely bizarre, massively uncommercial and strangely perfect”— Damon Wise, Empire) and those who thought it was bad found it horrid (“Lars von Trier cuts a big fat art-film fart with ‘Antichrist'” — Todd McCarthy, Variety).

[…]

Enough time has passed since I saw the film for me to process my visceral reaction, and take a few steps back….

All this before an actual review.

IN THE WAKE OF THE EPIC MANNY BUMMER, let us focus only on the good things. Like, when Ellsbury, in a fit of daring, all of a sudden decided to steal home against the Yankees:

The plate beckoned. Jacoby Ellsbury, creeping farther off third base as Andy Pettitte delivered his second pitch to J.D. Drew, saw the situation clearly. The pitcher was throwing from the windup, the lefthander’s back to third base, the third baseman playing off the bag, the bases loaded.

So on the next pitch, Ellsbury was three-quarters of the way down the line before Pettitte noticed him, the pitch coming as fast as he could throw it to catcher Jorge Posada. Ellsbury was coming, too, then sliding, head-first after a brief stumble, as Drew stood watching. Posada’s tag was futile.

Ellsbury had stolen home in the fifth inning, the highlight of the Red Sox’ 4-1 win last night and a series sweep of the Yankees.

The roar was deafening, even though the crowd of 38,154 at Fenway Park seemingly was having trouble realizing what it had just seen. This was better even than his tear for home from second base on a wild pitch in his rookie season, the one that made them think he was a god on the base paths. It was simply brilliant.

And Pettitte had never even looked over.

Let’s just make sure not to dwell too long on the likelihood that steals are becoming a bigger part of the game because teams are compensating for the significant drop in dingers that go along with stringent drug testing. Let’s instead look towards the Bronx and the fancy new stadium with its ludicrously overpriced seats, “mallpark” atmosphere, and other fan-unfriendly features, like employees who literally leave paying fans out in the rain. A little schadenfreude goes a long way. But the troubles in the Yankee empire don’t just warm the cockles of the heart for their own sake. They also remind us to appreciate an ownership and a franchise that fans can happily get behind — if for no other reason than the invaluable gift of a new old Fenway:

“There are those who want to build the Eighth Wonder of the World,” Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox’ president and chief executive, told me Friday. “We just wanted to preserve a nice little old ballpark.”

So even though the ghosts of ownerships past continue to haunt Yawkey Way, and more upsetting disclosures may be just around the corner, we still get to watch the game at the same address as always. The seats are still cramped (along with necks), pillars still obstruct, and the dented wall standing in left field is still the same shade of green. These things at least are mostly unchanged — ready for a new generation of players to step in and pull off memorable, daring feats, all on their own.

SO, BASICALLY, IN ONE WORD…UGH. You could also read Bill Simmons’ 2,000-word imaginary conversation with his son regarding the epic Manny bummer, and pretty much arrive at the same conclusion:

We settle into our seats. I point toward the championship banners over the first-base side. They go in order: 1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007. Ever since Boston won the World Series 10 years ago, I always imagined pointing to that 2004 banner and telling my little boy, “That’s the team that changed everything.”

So that’s what I do. I point at the banner and tell him, “That’s the team that changed everything.”

“Isn’t that the team that cheated?” he asks.

Like I said…Ugh.

1B, BB, 2B, BB, 1B, BB, 2B, 1B, 1B, 1B, 1B, HR — yet another strange line involving the Cleveland Indians, only this one’s not in their favor:

Twelve batters crossed the plate before Indians pitchers – three of them – could record one out in the sixth.

Or, to put it another way:

Four RBIs make for a decent week. Jason Bay achieved that in one inning, going 2 for 2 with a double and a three-run home run.

BAMARAMARAMAheyhotdogRAMARAMARAMA — also known as the sound of your Football getting in my Baseball:

I went to a Baseball game the other day, and I have a few complaints. First of all, I understand the whole deal of how it (Our National Pastime) is a Business, and an Industry, and how it is Entertainment, so therefore you gotta make it Exciting–as in, way fucking more exciting than Baseball is to people who are not crazy about the Baseball but who end up at a game every now and then. So you gotta wake the motherfuckers up every inning because Baseball can be (get ready for this News Flash), according to some people, kinda Boring, but it’s like all this goddamn Intro Music every time somebody from the Home Team steps up to bat, like BAMARAMARAMARAMARAMARAMA with whatever fucking shit they got–Metal, Hip-Hop, Country, even Western–it’s all this goddamn BAMARAMARAMARAMARAMARAMA “BLAHRBLAR NOW STEPINNNN UPTOMRRMPH BALLLH, NUMMMBR PHRM-TNRMZLE BALWRR BLARR BLAHBLAH!!!” and then BAMARAMARAMARAMARAMARAMA BRRT-BRRT BAMARAMARAMARAMARAMARAMA, goddamn Jesus Fucking Christ, man, every goddamn time one of Your Baltimore Orioles steps up it’s gotta be BAMARAMARAMARAMARAMARAMA?

Amen.

(via YFSF)

1B, 1B, HR, FO, 2B, 1B, 2B, 2B, 1B, 2B, 2B, BB, 1B, K, HR (GS), HR, K — the top of the 2nd inning today at Yankee Stadium. Yikes. Also, it appears the ball gets a little extra giddy-up in right field at the Yankees’ fancy new digs:

In three games at the new Yankee Stadium, there have been 17 homers — 12 to right-center field. The dimensions are the same as they were last year, but in the very early going, all on relatively warm afternoons, the ball seems to jump in that direction.

Ultimately, that could help the Yankees, who have several left-handed or switch-hitters with power, plus right-handers who hit well to the opposite field. But on days when their pitching was so dreadful, it contributed to a historic mess.

The gamer over at YFSF was particularly prescient: “Bring a Glove.”

ROGER EBERT LOOKS BACK on the early days of a career as a good ol’ fashioned newspaperman, and it’s right out of All the President’s Men or the Daily Planet — except with a bit more booze and a little heavy petting.

Here, he’s a wide-eyed kid in the company of a Pulitzer Prize-winner:

I sipped the brandy, and a warm place began to glow in my stomach. I had been in Chicago four months and I was sitting under the L tracks with Mike Royko in an eye-opener place. A Blackhawks game was playing on WGN radio. The team scored, and again, and again. This at last was life.

“The Blackhawks are really hot tonight,” I observed to Royko.

He studied me. “Where you from, kid? Downstate?”

“Urbana,” I said.

“Ever seen a hockey game?”

“No.”

“That’s what I thought, you asshole. “Those are the game highlights.”

Another anecdote ends with free blow jobs. On the eve of the death of newspapers as we know it, the full, romanticized blog post is worth the read.

FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE is a science fiction novel by William F. Sample which was turned into a movie in 1953. And judging by the synopsis, it sounds kind of great:

Graduate students Robin Grant (John Van Eyssen) and Bill Leggat (Stephen Murray) have both loved the beautiful Lena (Barbara Payton) since childhood. After years of perseverance by both men, Lena finally chooses Robin, and the two become engaged. Devastated by the news of Lena’s plans, Bill uses his latest science experiment, a cloning device that duplicates matter, to create a “new Lena” for himself. Unfortunately, this device performs too well, producing a clone that also loves Robin. Furious and desperate, Bill decides to use electro-schock to burn the memory of love out of the clone’s brain.

(via Roger Ebert’s blog)

AS THE NEW YORK TIMES PONDERS the fate of Stan’s Sports Bar – the central watering hole around Yankees Stadium for the last 30 years — Joe Mondi, one of the bar’s managers, reminisces about the old days:

“I remember we played the Red Sox in ‘91,” Mr. Mondi said, “and right in that corner, some guy came in wearing a Red Sox jersey, and they ripped it off his body, they lit it on fire, and they urinated on it. Right here in the bar.”

Now that the stadium itself has moved and Stan’s is no longer in a prime location, the bar’s future is uncertain. But, oh, the memories!

EVERYONE BEING MANNY, or at least everyone would like to be Manny, according to Jeff Bradley in his ESPN.com article:

Quite simply, he’s the most studied, most observed hitter in baseball — and that’s just by his peers. They marvel at Manny’s ability to translate his prep work into success when the lights come on. They envy the short-term memory deficiency that seemingly allows him to bring the same level of confidence to the plate regardless of whether he struck out or hit a home run his last time up. “If slumps are between a player’s ears, which I think they are,” says former Boston teammate Sean Casey, “then Manny is slump-proof, because mentally he’s always the same.”

In the article, teammates and rivals alike heap admiration and awe on the slugger’s beguiling hitting prowess. Orlando Hudson, former second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, says when he played against Manny:

“I’d get so focused on what he did at the plate that I forgot my job was to see the ball coming off his bat and make a play. He can mesmerize you.”

His secret seems to be no secret at all — a solid game plan for every at-bat, plenty of hard work and preparation, a keen eye and great mechanics. But even so, Manny’s formula for success remains, like the man himself, a mystery. He can try to explain it – as he did for Russell Branyan, a former teammate on the Cleveland Indians – but good luck imitating it:

One time, Ramírez laid it all out for Branyan, gave him the whole hitting equation. “He told me that he put 70 percent of his weight on his back foot and 40 percent of his weight on his front foot. And even though I knew the numbers didn’t add up, I thought for a second, I’ve got to try that.”