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Wake Me Up When September Ends

After beating the Texas Rangers on Sept. 3, the Boston Red Sox were 84-54. Although half a game behind the Yankees in the American League East, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card and roughly a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fast forward one excruciating month to a dead heat with Tampa coming into tonight's bitter imbroglio. Boston struggles ahead of laughingstock Baltimore by a single run until a rain delay clears the field, leaving them in the surreal position of rooting for the hated Yankees playing down in Florida. They can only watch from the sidelines as the rival Rays, tied with Boston in the pennant race but down 7-0 against New York, roar back to life with six runs in the eighth inning and a tie run on the final pitch at the bottom of the ninth. And then, after blowing two different strikes that would have salvaged the game, Boston loses to Baltimore, completing what is arguably the worst late-breaking collapse in the history of major league baseball.
posted by Rhaomi on Sep 28, 2011 - 196 comments

The Cartoon Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 6, 2011 - 29 comments

There can only be One

It's a simple concept: Given a choice between two random movies, which one do you like best? That's the driving force behind Flickchart, an addictive review site for movie lovers. Faced with two posters, click the one for the title you prefer (weeding out the ones you haven't seen). Good! Now do it again. And again. And again. With each new face-off, Flickchart perfects a growing list of your favorite films -- and there can be no ties. This leads to some difficult dilemmas: Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark? Citizen Kane or The Godfather? WALL-E or Spirited Away? But you needn't struggle alone -- Flickchart is also social. By drawing on the data of tens of thousands of fellow users, you can create remarkably specific lists: Martin Scorsese's Best Period Films. The Best Road Movies of the 1980s. The Worst Movies of All Time. If you rank enough films, you can generate interesting personalized charts, like "Your Favorite Musicals" or "The Best Movies You Haven't Seen." These filters carry over to the ranking system, letting you judge nothing but Horror movies or 1960s movies or unranked movies or movies from your top 100. You can also comment on popular match-ups, lending your voice to contentious debates like Ghostbusters vs. Back to the Future or Jaws vs. Predator. Not a movie fan? Don't worry. Flickchart will be expanding into books, games, and music soon. Until then, you can give your own data sets the Flickchart treatment using this tool from CNN. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Sep 3, 2010 - 202 comments

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