In the Moscow Art Theatre, in Tel Aviv in the Habimah, productions have been kept going for forty years or more: I have seen a faithful revival of Vakhtangov’s twenties’ staging of Princess Turandot; I have seen Stranislavsky’s own work, perfectly preserved: but none of these had more than antiquarian interest, none had the vitality of new invention. At Stratford where we worry that we don’t play our repertoire long enough to milk its full box office value, we now discss this quite empirically: about five years, we agree, is the most a particular staging can live. It is not only the hair-styles, costumes and make-up that look dated. All the different elements of staging – the shorthands of behaviour that stand for certain emotions; gestures, gesticulations and tones of voice – are all fluctuating on an invisible stock exchange all the time. Life is moving, influences are playing on actor and audience, and other plays, other arts, the cinema, television, current events, join in the constant rewriting of history and the amending of the daily truth. In fashion houses someone will thump a table and say “boots are definitely in”: this is an existential fact. A living theatre that thinks it can stand aloof from anything so trivial as fashion will wilt. In the theatre, every form once born is mortal; every form must be reconceived, and its new conception will bear the marks of all the influences that surround it. In this sense, the theatre is relativity. Yet a great theatre is not a fashion house; perpetual elements do recur and certain fundamental issues underlie all dramatic activity. The deadly trap is to divide the eternal truths from the superficial variations; this is a subtle form of snobbery and it is fatal.
This made me hmmm as I consider what to think about the exiling of comedy now felt to be unacceptably hurtful.
Sunday morning four weeks ago on the streets of the Beverly – Fairfax district was a bonanza for us collectors of non-lethal shells and projectiles.
The Honus Wagner card of this kind of collection is the LAPD stamped bean bag shell
A key guide for the hobbyist is the LAPD’s equipment page.
I hope I don’t have any more opportunities to add to my collection.
(Always remember the scene in The Last Castle (2001) where James Gandolfini, a military history buff, hears Redford, a real veteran, assess his collection of Civil War bullets and Minié balls: “it’s just something that caused some poor bastard a whole lotta pain.”
Couple real good scenes in that movie. When Redford teaches Ruffalo the meaning of a salute!)
Every time I’m in Las Vegas I pass through the sports book and pick up a few racing sheets. I’ve never been able to make much out of them, but the life of the full-time degenerate who’s eating a hot dog and watching the 3rd at Gulfstream or Louisiana Downs is somehow attractive. Why is that? What is it about this that’s appealing? The songs and legends are part of it, for sure. I’ve always found sitting in the stands at Santa Anita an appealing afternoon. Less so since news of the frequent horse deaths.
Santa Anita is running right now, without spectators.
“I love to go back to Paris,” Hemingway said, his eyes still fixed on the road. “Am going in the back door and have no interviews and no publicity and never get a haircut, like in the old days. Want to go to cafés where I know no one but one waiter and his replacement, see all the new pictures and the old ones, go to the bike races and the fights, and see the new riders and fighters. Find good, cheap restaurants where you can keep your own napkin. Walk over all the town and see where we made our mistakes and where we had our few bright ideas. And learn the form and try and pick winners in the blue, smoky afternoons, and then go out the next day to play them at Auteuil and Enghien.”
“Papa is a good handicapper,” Mrs. Hemingway said.
“When I know the form,” he said.
How do you “learn the form”?
I chanced recently across this academic paper, Sports Betting As a New Asset Class, by Lovjit Thukral and Pedro Vergel. It addresses the possible money-making potential of a strategy of “laying the favorite.”
The authors take a simple betting strategy based on Horse races in the UK and invest consistently on laying (betting on the event not to occur) the 4 favourite horses (with the lowest odds) in each race. They find the following:
(1) this type of horse racing strategy provide uncorrelated returns to the market;
(2) the strategy outperforms the Credit Suisse Hedge fund Index and S&P 500 Total returns on average for the last 6 years.
Can this be so? A quick investigation reveals that “laying the favorite” in this way doesn’t seem to be a commonplace option in US horse betting. I don’t think this strategy would be financially viable here.
This talk of laying favorites reminded me of my friend Beth Raymer’s book, Lay The Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling.
The book was made into a 2012 film starring Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
In the book, Raymer describes learning from the professional gambler and line-setter Dink:
Studying to find value — into it! I resolved to learn how to read a Racing Form, and try to glean some information from it that might give an edge.
Using the very helpful resources provided by the late Neil Benoit’s Getting Out Of The Gate website, which has a Racing 101-401 course, I was able to grasp the basics. This resource at Art of Manliness was also quite helpful, and there’s a Wikihow about racing forms, but it’s Benoit who really gave us a gift.
I’d like to try and summarize my learnings for you, to save you the time in case you’re interested, and because the easiest way to really learn something is to try and teach it.
Let’s take as our example the first horse, Route Six Six, in the 7th race tomorrow (Saturday, June 20) at Santa Anita.
Up top we’ve got some basic info about the horse, like who owns her (f=filly), and her mom (Dam) and dad (Sire).
Personally, and this is based on zero study, but I suspect there’s all together too much focus on breeding in horses. It feels distracting and possibly irrelevant, like when the old-time scouts in Moneyball are focused on how hot a player’s girlfriend is. It just feels old-fashioned and unstatistical. But then again, since I haven’t run any statistical studies, this belief of mine is based on zero evidence as well.
You know what I want to find out from a racing form? One thing. How fast is this horse?
1) elimination of horses that seem unsuited to the distance of the race2) elimination of horses that do not seem in sufficiently sharp condition3) elimination of horses that seem outclassed4) elimination of horses at a serious disadvantage on today’s footing or in light of track biases
Beyer figures are a whole thing
Beyer took a stack of old Daily Racing Forms and did the laborious math by hand, sifting through years of data, applying the analytical skills he had developed as a games-playing child. “‘Six furlongs in 1:13 equals seven furlongs in 1:26 and a fifth’ was my E=MC2,” Beyer says, laughing. By 1972 he had managed to construct a reliable speed chart that incorporated the important element of track variance, a measure of track speed and bias, which was previously calculated by an antiquated–and, in most cases, inaccurate–system. Beyer devised a highly specific, sophisticated method for determining track variances, a method that accounted for the times turned in by different types of horses.
By combining his newly minted speed ratings with his fresh perspective on track speed, the young columnist invented the Beyer Speed Figures.
Interestingly, Beyer come up with his numbers specifically because so much of racing thinking at that time was centered around class:
“The orthodoxy back then said that ‘class’ was the measure of a race,” Beyer says, while making hieroglyphic notations in the margins of his race program. “For instance, if a $10,000 claimer was running against a slower $200,000 claimer, the assumption was that the slower but ‘classier’ horse would win. I was looking for a way to verify–or contradict–that assumption.”
Don’t bet the horse, bet the jockey
Readers, I just idly checked out the 9th race at Belmont today, the Jaipur. Will be televised on NBC. I noticed Hidden Scroll, a very fast horse, had something aberrant in his last race:
What’s that about? Here we see the pleasures and oddness of the Racing Form as compressed storytelling:
Luckily in this glorious age of YouTube what Hidden Scroll did in his last race, this might be the craziest thing in a horse race I’ve ever seen:
Motherfucking horse nearly broke his own neck, lost his jockey, and still almost won! He’ll have the same jockey (JR Velazquez) today! That should be a very interesting race.
Today. Bloom sees a walking advertisement for his former employer:
A procession of whitesmocked men marched slowly towards him along the gutter, scarlet sashes across their boards. Bargains. Like that priest they are this morning: we have sinned: we have suffered. He read the scarlet letters on their five tall white hats: H. E. L. Y. S. Wisdom Hely’s. Y lagging behind drew a chunk of bread from under his foreboard, crammed it into his mouth and munched as he walked. Our staple food. Three bob a day, walking along the gutters, street after street. Just keep skin and bone together, bread and skilly. They are not Boyl: no: M’Glade’s men. Doesn’t bring in any business either. I suggested to him about a transparent show cart with two smart girls sitting inside writing letters, copybooks, envelopes, blotting paper. I bet that would have caught on. Smart girls writing something catch the eye at once. Everyone dying to know what she’s writing.
At swimming pools at hotels and apartment complexes here in California you’ll see this sign. Sometimes it causes quite a stir from people who’ve never seen it before, as it does summon up some graphic imagery, and violates the traditional taboo on not printing the word “diarrhea” on large public signs.
I’ve been pondering this sign for years. It’s not a choice to put it up. The uniform wording and ubiquity suggests there must be a rule. So that means there must’ve been some kind of meeting at a regulatory agency or the legislature where they discussed the diarrhea danger, and agreed to the diarrhea sign rule. Sometimes I’ve idly wondered if the sign were some kind of prank on pool owners, to force them to make all lucky pool users ponder the word “diarrhea” Did a bureaucrat harboring long-felt resentment against pool enjoyers push this through? Punishment for exclusion from a pool party, years ago?
Well, finally I decided to look into it, and quickly found the answer, in this Conejo Valley Guide post, “What’s The Deal With All of Those Signs Posted At The Swimming Pool.”
The requirement for this and other community pool signs comes from California Building Code Chapter 31B “Public Pools,” Section 3120B “Required Signs.”
Section 3120B.11 “Diarrhea” indicates the sign must have letters at least 1 inch high, clearly states what is noted above, and is posted at the entrance area of a public pool. Public pools include municipal/park district pools, hotel pools, water parks, swim schools, homeowner shared pools, apartment pools, campground pools, etc. One is thus not required to post this sign at your home pool (unless you really want to).
As the post notes, there have been outbreaks of waterborne disease from pools.
I’m inclined to give some benefit to common sense in the case of pool diarrhea. I think the California Building Code may have gone too far, living up to California’s reputation as a bit of a ninny when it comes to regulations. From a brief review, it seems like localities could make local amendments to the building code, and make themselves diarrhea-sign free zones. I would support that in my neighborhood. But it’s work to do that, and we can agree it’s not the most pressing problem.
What about the 14 days part? Must our language always be so bureaucratic? Do we just need a simpler sign that says: Be Cool About The Pool? Should the sign also be in Spanish?
Do we have a case study here in how rules, once made, tend to stay just through inertia? Is this a case of an annoying nanny state, or a reasonable public health measure? I suppose if it gives an occasional chuckle and a helpful reminder, it’s not so bad. Just a bit of local color.
Healy was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the eldest of five children of an Irish captain in the merchant marine. Having been left fatherless at a young age, Healy helped to support his mother. At sixteen years of age he began drawing, and at developed an ambition to be an artist. Jane Stuart, daughter of Gilbert Stuart, aided him, loaning him a Guido’s “Ecce Homo”, which he copied in color and sold to a country priest. Later, she introduced him to Thomas Sully, by whose advice Healy profited, and gratefully repaid Sully in the days of the latter’s adversity.
so far as I know no relation, there are plenty of Healys and Helys from here to Australia.
He painted Tyler
and drew Grant.
He’s got a few that have appeared in the White House, like this one, The Peacemakers.
or something more? Let’s get a more detailed atlas…
Lotta shakin’ and quakin’ going on at Naval Weapons Center China Lake (Restricted Area).
I’m prepared to conclude this was no earthquake, but the escape or an attempted escape of a captured UFO.
Interesting thing about this area: though desolate it’s dotted with petroglyphs, some alleged to be 10,000 years old.
Interested in the Goya drawing, in his series Los Desastres de la Guerra, where his only commentary is “yo lo vi.” I saw it. What else is there to say sometimes?