TURKEY FOR YOU AND TURKEY FOR ME: I'm getting ready to leave for my first trip to Minnesota in a year, to visit my family for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to all kinds of traditions that I'm used to enjoying from spending every Thanksgiving of my life in the Twin Cities: seeing all the relatives, eating lots of turkey (no Tofurkey for me), watching football, the once-a-year broadcast of "Alice's Restaurant" on KQRS, the ass-cold weather...
Another thing I love about Turkey Day in the Twin Cities: getting the morning paper and finding out the identity of the Turkey of the Year. See, each year since 1978 Star Tribune sports columnist Patrick Reusse has chosen the Minnesota sports figure most deserving of the label of "turkey-" sort of like the New York Post's Gerard Finneran Man/Perp of the Year Award, only not quite as mean-spirited. Recent Turkeys have been Cris Carter and Randy Moss (last year), Gov. Jesse Ventura (2000), disgraced former U. of M. basketball coach Clem Haskins ('99), and miserly Twins owner Carl Pohlad, who became the first two-time winner in 1998; Herschel Walker was awarded the Lifetime Turkey Achievement Award in perpetuity in 1991.
This year's top candidates are Pohlad (again), Moss (again), Ventura (again!), Vikings owner Red McCombs, Vikings coach Mike Tice, Bud Selig, DFL booster Rick Kahn, Garrison Keillor, and T-Wolf Wally Szczerbiak (someone's gotta be the scapegoat for First Round Exit #6).
However, I've got a feeling about who this year's Turkey will be, and it's a bad feeling: Kirby Puckett. He's been arrested a couple times, his aura as Minnesota's Perfect Athlete has been shattered forever, there's only one honor left that Kent Hrbek has but he doesn't... Puckett has been in the picture for almost as long as the Turkey Award has existed, and has never even been considered, but now Reusse almost has no choice. After all, Warren Moon wife-beated his way to the award in '95. Puckett as Turkey- kind of reminds me of when Hulk Hogan suddenly turned evil and joined the NWO.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, and be sure to have a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat...
INJUSTICE OF THE WEEK: Anyone who follows music at all is perfectly aware that at any given time there are dozens (if not hundreds) of high-quality bands out there that deserve record contracts and radio airplay but unfortunately must make do with sparsely attended club/bar gigs and demoralizing day jobs. And it's a slap in the face to every one of those bands that Kelly Osbourne has a record contract and they don't.
Sure, it was cute when Kelly got to do a karaoke-level cover of "Papa Don't Preach" for the "Osbournes" soundtrack. And she's entertaining enough on the show. But awarding a full-length album to someone who has never demonstrated even the slightest hint of singing ability is exactly the type of decision that we can point to when analyzing why the music industry is expected to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars this year.
WHICH IS WORSE: The ever-present car commercials with "what about now/why can't we wait?," or the ones featuring "nothing from nothing means nothing"? Almost enough to make me long for Bob Seger's "Like a Rock."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The Islamic world today is being held prisoner, not by Western but by Islamic captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that a badly outnumbered few are trying to open. As long as the majority remains silent, this will be a tough war to win. But in the end, or so we must hope, someone will kick down that prison door." -Salman Rushdie, who knows the wrath of Islamist fanaticism as well as anyone, in the New York Times.
STILL NOT GUILTY, YA'LL GOT TO FEEL ME: 3,000 years later, Abraham has been acquitted of the attempted murder of his son Isaac. And the trial was presided over by Judge Wapner, of all people. Can you say "statute of limitations?"
MY GENERATION'S FIRST GM: The Boston Red Sox announced today that they have hired 28-year-old Yale grad Theo Epstein as their new general manager, becoming the youngest man to hold that title in the history of the game, as well as one of only two current GMs who are Jewish (the other is Mark Shapiro of the Cleveland "Baseball Team" Indians).
Epstein, who was only two years old when the Sox lost the 1975 World Series and only 13 when they lost in 1986, will join a brain trust that also includes team president Larry Lucchino, erstwhile acting GM Mike Port, former Phillies exec Lee Thomas, former Tigers GM Bill Lajoie, and legendary statistician Bill James. The best baseball teams in recent years have all been led by visionaries in the GM's seat, and Sox certainly hope that Epstein can live up to the successes of Brian Cashman, Brian Sabean, Billy Beane, and the like. Even though the Twins are my team I've always maintained that a Red Sox championship would be better for the game than perhaps any other development- perhaps it will be a kid that ultimately leads them there. Even if he is younger than many of the players that he'll be signing and trading.
THERE'S A NEW JEW: Apparently this "hip Jew movement" has legs. On the heels of the success of Heeb Magazine, now comes Jewcy, a new organization dedicated to the advancement of Jewish hipsterism, through live performances and other events (check out the Isro-inspired website art). I'll be profiling Jewcy for The Blueprint next month.
BLOG ME TO DEATH: Last week I attended my first-ever NYC Blogger Meetup and met quite a few interesting bloggers, including The Mighty Geek (a man who refused to either be photographed or divulge his real name); also the fabulous Rickey, the sharp Tom Davey, the deep Pitchaya, and the lovely Ursula. Check 'em all out.
MR. GARRISON... HOW YOU EXPECT TO UNDERSTAND THE HOMOSEXUAL UNDERWORLD?: No, this post has nothing to do with last week's gerbil-based "South Park" episode, but rather I am quoting Kevin Bacon's Willy O'Keefe (from "JFK") in reference to Garrison Hearst, the San Francisco 49ers running back who stated in an interview last month that "I don't want no faggot on my team." The comments were apparently in response to a question about Esera Tuaolo, the former Vikings lineman who came out of the closet earlier this season.
A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign criticized Hearst's comments, saying that "if he were a player in the Deep South, I'd understand it, but he plays in San Francisco." While I agree that Hearst's comment was wrong and that he needed to apologize, the HRC's statement has quite a few things wrong with it as well: it's prejudicial towards Southern people; it promotes the same "you be tolerant of me but I'll never be tolerant of you" logic that was lampooned in that same aforementioned "South Park" episode, and it's ignorant of the facts, most notably that Garrison Hearst is in fact from the Deep South, and played his college ball at the University of Georgia. What, did she think he was a decendant of the William Randolph Hearsts?
Hearst's statement is also indicative of another new trend: people named "Garrison" saying exceptionally stupid things. Whether it's Garrison Hearst gay-bashing, Garrison Keillor accusing Norm Coleman of adultry and murder, or "South Park"'s Mr. Garrison trying to get fired for being gay, there's something about that name that seems to be bringing out the worst in public people. Thankfully former Brandeis politics professor Garrison Nelson seems to have kept his cool; Jim Garrison would've likely had something outrageous to say on the 39th anniversary of JFK's death, but he died a few years ago.
JUST ANOTHER SILVER: It has come to my attention that there is a relatively new adult film star that has recently arrived on the scene who goes by the name Cheyenne Silver. Now I want to make it perfectly clear that while I'm sure she is a lovely and talented young woman, Cheyenne Silver is certainly relation to yours truly, and she is certainly not my sister. I just hope she doesn't get dragged into a national political scandal, like Long-Dong Silver did. And no, I'm not related to him, either.
CAMERON CROWE, VISIONARY: In honor of the ten-year anniversary of the movie "Singles," Seattle is finally building a super-train. Does Campbell Scott get residuals?
FILM CRITIC QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "With dour killjoys like Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky serving as the public faces of progressive politics, the Republicans can't help but come across as the fun-loving party of pony rides, keggers, and free lap-dances." -The Onion AV Club's Nathan Rabin, reviewing the Chomsky documentary "Power and Terror." Not nearly as much of a stretch as that critic in Dallas who somehow shoehorned his slam of President Bush as a "trained monkey" into a critique of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: James Lileks, on the latest proposed New World Trade Center: "It actually reminds you of the WTC, but not in a good way; thereís something creepy about the resemblance. Itís the architectural equivalent of Peter Bogdonovich marrying Dorothy Strattenís sister." Also, lower in the post, a fine discussion of downtown Minneapolis architecture.
WALKING CONTRADICTION: If you live in New York or any other major city, chances are you're familiar with the ever-present spectacle of idiots walking down the street yapping on their cell phones, not caring at all that they're exposing everyone around them to every last detail of their latest psychodrama. Whether they're talking to their broker or their baby-mama is immaterial; the conversation might as well always go "look at me! I'm a nuisance!"
Yesterday on Sixth Avenue I saw a guy with a better idea- he was typing on a laptop as he walked down the street. No, not a Palm Pilot, an actual regulation-size ibook, which he was holding up with one hand and typing on with the other. This guy may have looked goofy but hey, at least he was silent.
COLLEGE CRAZIES VS. HILLARY: I just watched the latest installment of Chris Matthews' "Hardball College Tour," this time featuring Sen. Hillary Clinton and taking place at SUNY-Albany. I was shocked enough that Hillary would agree to appear considering the not-so-nice things Matthews has said about her over the years, but the conversation between the two of them was actually quite civil. I just wish I could say the same about the audience...
Over the course of the hour-long interview, each time the conversation drifted to either the potential war in Iraq or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, students suddenly began screaming loudly at Hillary, who despite reservations about the president's plans on both fronts voted for the Iraq resolution and has been outspoken about the need for a strong and secure Israel (even while continuing to support a Palestinian state). Of course, the "ruffian fake radicals" (to borrow Nat Hentoff's phrase) were having none of that, and attempted to shout down the junior senator from New York nearly every time she opened her mouth on either topic. To Hillary's credit, she kept her cool and even spoke positively of the "passion" exhibited by the students. At one point a student offered Hillary an apology on behalf of the school- and was of course himself booed and shouted down.
And all this time I thought Hillary was a hero of the left, one of the few "progressives" left in the Senate following Paul Wellstone's death. Right-wingers have long considered Hillary the antichrist, yet I don't believe any conservative audience has ever tried to shout her down in a public forum the way the wackos at Albany did tonight. Funny that these self-proclaimed heirs of the '60s (the decade that began, you may remember, with the Free Speech Movement), have so little respect for speech they disagree with today. Then again, it's pretty hard to take them seriously when they deride Hillary for not being liberal enough.
"PLEASE, NO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SEVEN-YEAR VULCAN MATING CYCLE": When I interviewed Leonard Nimoy for The Blueprint a couple months ago, I was respectful and complementary throughout, and got all sorts of stimulating answers from him about his career and his new book. Unlike this guy, I did not bait the erstwhile Mr. Spock with sub-Stern questions about his sex life, and thus was not hung up on after two questions. And I didn't ask him about the Shatner fart thing either.
JUDAISM BY THE NUMBERS: Excellent piece in the Times today by Douglas Rushkoff, who writes many of the same things about American Jewry that I've been saying for years. Namely, that it's ridiculous to continue harping on "the numbers" (mainly about intermarriage rates), and even more ridiculous for Jews to continue to define ourselves first and foremost as victims.
Is American Jewry better off now than it was 10 years ago? 25 years ago? 100 years ago? The unqualified answer to all of those questions should be "hell yes." Outside of Israel, at no point in human history have Jewish influence and Jewish power been more important to a society than they are to the United States right now- and overwhelmingly, we use that influence for good and not for evil. We're not an endangered species, and for anyone to suggest so is asinine.
Rushkoff rightly points out that "it is in the short-term financial interest of Jewish philanthropies to paint the darkest demographic picture possible. And they do." When the Chicken Littles amongst us attempt to raise funds by crying that the Jewish community is near death, they're really employing the same strategy Commissioner Bud Selig uses when discussing the economics of baseball: attempting short-term gain through constant proclamations that things are considerably worse than they actually are. And just as Selig's running down of the game has the unintended consequence of driving fans even further away from our national pastime, the strategy of scaring young Jews by speaking of Judaism's impending death has had no effect other than turning them off even more.
So what if intermarriage rates are at 50%? That's what happens in a pluralistic society. If the intermarriage rate were 0%, I would be much more concerned because that would indicate widespread isolation from mainstream society by Jews. Such a situation would be horrible, both for Judaism and for America, and should be no one's goal. Rushkoff writes that "it would be a terrible shame if the religion's biggest concern continued to be itself." Amen to that.
WHACK THE DOG: I'm preparing a big piece about "The Sopranos"' fourth season that's soon to be published, but just a couple of thoughts on last week's episode: with the untimely death of Adriana's dog Cosette, this means that so far this season more animals have been whacked (two) than mobsters (one). And if a little dog on "Sopranos" can die after it was accidentally sat on by the relatively svelte Christopher Moltisanti, then I sincerely fear for Anna Nicole Smith's dog.
YO IT'S SHAQ- I'M COMING BACK: Those of you hoping that Shaquille O'Neal will soon retire from the NBA will be disappointed, as it was mentioned in this week's Sports Illustrated that the Lakers superstar plans to play "many more" seasons, with the hope that he can win more championships than past Laker centers George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (they each had five; Shaq has three). But the funniest quote in the story was from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak who pointed out that "this year, more than any other, I really feel like Shaq has a renewed passion for the game." Gee, is that in spite of the fact that HE'S INJURED AND HASN'T PLAYED YET, or because of it?
ATTENTION NYC BLOGGERS: I am planning to attend Wednesday's evening's Blog Meetup in Manhattan and hope to see some/all of you there. The automated e-mail they sent out, incidentally, provides all sorts of helpful hints for those of us who have never been to a restaurant before, such as "Check in with the host/bartender/manager. Ask them where the people are gathering for the Meetup. If they don't know about the Meetup, tell them why you're there and where you'll be so they can direct other people to you as they arrive." Gee, thanks! Otherwise, I would've had NO IDEA how to participate.
TALES OF MUPPET RIBALDRY, CONT'D: To those of you Weezer fans who thought I was some sick person for putting together the ideas of "muppets," "Weezer," and "sexuality," I point you in the direction of this week's Entertainment Weekly (with Harry Potter on the cover). There you will find an article about the Muppets and their upcoming comeback movie "A Very Merry Muppet Christmas," airing on NBC on November 29.
Now I already mentioned the historic Kermit the Frog/Snoop Dogg rap duet that was originally scheduled to be part of the film, until Muppet execs put the kibosh on it upon hearing that Snoop had made his porn debut earlier this year. But apparently this new movie does include "Scooter cage-dancing at a rave," and "Animal funnel-chugging eggnog," as well as the implication of frog-human romance (emphasis mine). Like it wasn't implied by Kermit and Jenny 15 years ago... anyway, it should go without saying that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog will make a cameo appearance as well.
WHAT'S WITH THESE HOMIES DISSIN' MY BLOG?: Upon arriving at work this morning and checking my e-mail I discovered that, at least within the subculture of online Weezer fans, I've become something of a minor celebrity. A little explanation:
Back in September I posted a goofy, tongue-in-cheek polemic on this blog in which I suggested that the video for the recent Weezer single "Keep Fishin'" (which guest-starred the Muppets) was an endorsement of inter-species sexuality. I posted it to BlogCritics as well and pretty much forgot about it until this morning, when the webmaster of Weezer.com (a fellow by the name of Karl Koch) posted the link on the site's newspage, where it was apparently read by dozens, if not hundreds of people. In turn, a couple dozen of those Weezer fans then posted comments (scroll down) on the original post, some complementary but others not so friendly. Here are a few of my favorites:
-"The symbolism of Pat [Wilson, the band's drummer] using the lampshade was far more subversive to our culture's foundation than mrs. piggy."
-"I'm pretty sure muppets dont have sexual organs, and if they do, i'm sure they dont fit in/on/around ours."
-"Not only is Miss Piggy married to kermit, Pat is married too. "
-"Ok, lets all admit, we've wanted to boink a muppet a few times in our lives."
-"Miss Piggy is a polygomous bitch."
Ah, who knew blog-world celebrity would have to come as a result of something so absurd? For what it's worth, BlogCritics editor-in-chief Eric Olson has his own analysis of all this.
In the meantime, I sure hope Maggie Gallagher doesn't have a high-traffic fan site...
HOORAY FOR THE ZIONIST ENTITY: The world's first major plane hijacking since 9/11/'01 was successfully thwarted today- and it was the world's most hijacked country, Israel, that did it. On an El-Al flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, guards subdued a single hijacker who was armed with a pen knife, and he was taken into custody after landing. Ha ha, sucks to be that guy right now.
In less happy Israel news, one of the nation's pioneers, Abba Eban, died today at the age of 87. There likely wouldn't even be an Israeli national airline, let alone an Israel, if it weren't for people like him. Say Kaddish...
SIX DEGREES OF RONALD REAGAN: It's been two weeks since Norm Coleman was elected Minnesota's new senator, and it took until now for me to arrive at a sudden realization. You see, seven years ago (April of 1995) I ran successfully for regional Vice President of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), the youth arm of the Reform Movement. It was the last time I ran for anything, and the girl I defeated in the election happened to be the daughter of Sandra Pappas, a Democratic state senator from Minnesota who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of St. Paul in 1997, losing to Norm Coleman. Coleman of course just won the Senate race over Walter Mondale, who as we all know lost the presidential election in 1984 to Ronald Reagan. Now I've never actually felt that much kinship with Reagan, but this means that I ran against someone whose mother ran against someone who ran against someone who ran against the Gipper.
IT TAKES DIFFERENT STROKES TO MOVE THE NFL: Certain friends of ours and I have noticed quite a few NFL players who have names that are reminicent of the classic sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes": The Arizona Cardinals have a wide receiver/kick returner named Arnold Jackson, while the Lions employ both kick returner Eddie Drummond and defensive lineman Jeff Gooch, the latter of whom shares a name with the show's never-seen bully. These guys should form an all-star team, along with '80s-era Minnesota Vikings punter Greg Coleman, who was mistakenly called "Gary" all throughout his career.
Now I long ago made piece with the Vikings and their lost season, but I must say it was wonderful to see them get the win over Brett Favre and Packers at the Metrodome- really, it's the game of the year that matters most. And thankfully, the Metrodome goalposts were put back up in time for the game, after they were taken down the day before after the University of Minnesota's loss to Iowa- by Iowa's fans. And you thought the Moss arrest thing was embarrassing...
MAGGIE LOVES THE MULLAHS?: With her latest New York Post/Town Hall column, Maggie Gallagher achieves the unique distinction of becoming the very first Christian conservative to publicly express support for militant Islam's sick subjugation of women. In the column Gallagher stands foursquare with the Taliban and the sadistic clerics who rule Saudi Arabia and Iran when she states that she has no problem with those governments forcing women to cover themselves from head to toe, because "democracy and human rights do not require sexual libertinism."
Ironically in agreement with radical feminists who argue that the burqua and the bikini are different but equally savage forms of oppression, Gallagher would apparently prefer an America where women are forbidden by the government to show their ankles to one in which they freely sport tank tops and short shorts.
To Gallagher, feminism and sexual freedom are apparently worse menaces to society than tyranny and terror. Does she not realize that the subjugation and humiliation of women has long been a cornerstone of Islamo-fascism? Their sickness in wishing to control women (whether through dress codes or "honor killings") goes hand-in-hand with their sickness in wishing to blow up innocent Americans and Israelis. Gallagher writes that in Saudi Arabia "women are not allowed to drive, have no rights to their children... and lack the basic rights to freedom and religion." How can she not see that the Saudis' policy of not allowing women out of the house unless covered head-to-toe belongs on that list as well? Doesn't she remember the glorious sight of Afghani women triumphantly tearing off their burquas after the Taliban fell? She mislabels these "dress codes" as women exercising freedom of religion, which they're not doing at all- they're being forced to dress a certain way, and if they don't comply, people come to their houses and shoot them.
Opposition to this sort of thinking is what being an "eagle" is all about. We can support battles to free people who are oppressed by the worst tyrants of the world, yet at the same time object vociferously to those who wish to demonize American culture as "indecent." I may be disgusted at times by such displays as the latest Christina Aguilera video, but I'd probably rather die than live in a country where such a thing is forbidden under penalty of death.
TRIUMPH OF THE INSULT-COMIC BLOG: Yes, you knew it was only a matter of time: it's the world's first blogging dog.
GENIUSES OF THE 10,000 LAKES: Remember yesterday when I was talking about the all time most brilliant Minnesotans? Duh, I forgot James Lileks. And also whoever invented Target. That's right, I grew up a mile or two away from the first Target in the world!
NEW ON BLOGCRITICS: My comprehensively compiled list of the best album of each year of my life. Granted, the hardest to determine were '92, '94, and 2000- especially since I gave myself the handicap of only using each band once. Enjoy; I'll do one for movies sometime soon as well.
DROWNING IN LAKE WOBEGON: For most of my life I've been a huge, huge, fan of the humorist and storyteller Garrison Keillor. I have fond memories of listening to his stories on long car trips with my family, and I consider him right up there with Bob Dylan, Thomas Friedman, Paul Westerberg, and the Coen Brothers in the pantheon of Geniuses From Minnesota. But a pair of recent columns Keillor wrote for Salon about Minnesota's new senator, Norm Coleman, have caused my respect for the great humorist to nosedive.
In the first column Keillor makes some valid points about Coleman switching parties, allegiances, and religions seemingly at at will in order to gain political office. That's fair enough. But then Keillor, with no evidence whatosever, insinuates that Coleman has had numerous mistresses, alleging that he has "an interesting family situation, to say the least," without elaborating and without offering any evidence. Then, in order to rebut critics who called the first column mean-spirited, Keillor wrote a second column slamming Coleman even more viciously. And while he first accuses Coleman of "coming within an inch of calling Wellstone an agent of Al-Qaeda," Keillor then himself comes within an inch of accusing Norm Coleman of murdering Paul Wellstone. "I personally don't believe he [Coleman] had anything to do with the crash of Paul's plane," he says, "plenty of people suspect he did. I don't." While nutjobs like Ted Rall have made similar insinuations that Bush, et al, murdered Wellstone, this is the first accusation I've ever heard that Coleman did it. ("Plenty of people"? Has Keillor been hanging out with Rick Kahn?)
As I've said, I believe Keillor is a genius. He even wrote a memorable Salon column last year lampooning Gov. Jesse Ventura as "Larry." But these attacks on Coleman are far, far beneath him, and I honestly don't know if I can ever take anything out of his mouth seriously again- how is this any different from those crazies who accused Bill Clinton of murdering Vince Foster? Yet another Minnesota Democrat fails to honor Paul Wellstone's legacy...
(Thanks to the blogger Spinsanity for pointing all this out.)
THE ENDLESS "RUSH" TO WAR, CONTINUED: The "rush to war" with Iraq has gone on for so long that there's now even a video game that allows you to topple Saddam yourself, from the privacy of your own living room, before the US/UN invasion has even begun. Yea, the game's supposed to be based on the '91 war, but why do commercials for it talk about "removing" Hussein from power? These games take awhile to be made- obviously the makers knew about the "rush" when they started working on it, over a year ago.
ARE YOU AN "EAGLE"?: Socially liberal but opposed to classical, big-government liberalism? Fiscally conservative but repulsed by the religious right? Respect "the social diversity of modern culture and want to see it defended against theocratic barbarians"? Count me in for sure. And Donovan McNabb too.
NO RUSH: Say what you will about the morality and/or likelihood of a war to drive Saddam Hussein from power (I'm in favor, but that's not my point), I'm getting more than a little sick of people from the anti-war camp railing about the "rush to war."
A few facts: the people around Bush have wanted to drive Saddam from power since right after 9/11, and some may even say before 9/11. Just as the "rushing to war" America waited more than two months after September 11 to invade Afghanistan, had there really been a "rush to war" with Iraq, that war would've begun the week after Afghanistan fell. Even more absurdly, the same people complaining now about a "rush to war" were complaining eight months ago about a "rush to war." When was the last time you were "rushing" to do something and it took almost a year?
The "rush" brigade accused "cowboy" President Bush of unilaterally deciding to invade Iraq- so he created a coalition with Britain's liberal Prime Minister Tony Blair, who favors Hussein's elimination as well. Bush was accused of bypassing Congress, so he got the permission of Congress. And when they accused the president of ignoring world opinion, he went to the United Nations and came out with a unanimous, 15-0 Security Council resolution in favor of disarming Saddam.
GOOD BUSHISMS: Even if you hate Dubya, you have to love some of the vocubulary he and his speechwriters have contributed to the lexicon. Bush 41's Gulf War-era catchphrases ("we must combat aggression") were spoofed memorably in "The Big Lebowski," but the Son has done one better. Already my friends and I have started referring to our roster of ex-girlfriends as the "Axis of Evil." Someone getting on your nerves in traffic or on the subway? Evildoers! And if you break up with one woman and start immediately dating another? Two words: regime change.
SHE WAS A PUNK, HE DID A BLOG: WIth the singular exception of the Middle East, there's not a single argumentative topic on Earth that turns nice people into screaming freaks quite like punk rock. As in, "what is punk?" "Is [so and so] punk, or not?" In the grunge era the same argument coalesced around the word "alternative," to the point where I knew one guy who simply refused to listen to any band that anyone he knew other than himself had heard of. It's really the devolution of music fandom into pure narcissism.
In the guise of a debate over whether or not Avril Lavigne counts as "punk," the hilarious journalistic satirist Neal Pollack spoofs this whole mentality brilliantly.
Because really no matter how punk you are, someone else is gonna say you're not punk enough, and someone else will retort that you're too punk. For a taste of what my college experience was like, take the previous sentence and substitute "punk" with "kosher."
GUILTY ABOUT 'SEX': Despite my gender, I've always gotten quite a bit of perverse enjoyment out of "Sex and the City." It's about sex, and it's about New York City, and those are both topics of great interest to me. Yet at the same time there's been something about the show that sort of rubbed me the wrong way, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on it. But Lee Siegel, in The New Republic, nails it perfectly "Someday someone will televise the real story of sex and the city and call it Judgment at Nuremberg." After all the dumb things people have been saying and writing about "Sopranos" lately, it's quite refreshing to read something so brilliant about an HBO show.
NEITHER SLIM NOR SHADY: My take on "8 Mile" is right here.
SENATE GAMES: Eric Black's Star Tribune postmortem on the extraordinary Minnesota Senate race is online; it's a great, great read. And in a related story Hubie Brown, the Walter Mondale of basketball coaches, will come out of a 16-year retirement and take over as coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, probably with about as much success as Mondale had. Brown replaces former Timberwolves player/coach/broadcaster Sidney Lowe, who had the worst winning percentage of any NBA coach in history, at least until Tim Floyd came along.
SPOCK SPEAKS: Tonight, after interviewing him over the phone in September, I finally got to meet Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, in person. Nimoy was in town to speak about his new book "Shekhina," which is a collection of his photography related to the feminine aspect of God. The book tour has caused its share of controversy at more than one stop due in part to the large amount of nudity in the work, as well as its use of Jewish rituals such as the laying of tefillan.
Nimoy also told some great stories, my favorite of which involved his casting as Morris Meyerson in a 1982 TV biopic of Golda Meir called "A Woman Called Golda," in which the former Israeli Prime Minister was played by (I'm not making this up) Ingrid Bergman. Yes Golda Meir, who "Seinfeld" named the "all-time ugliest world leader," was once played in a movie by one of the most beautiful actresses of all time. The only thing I can imagine more absurd than that would be if Frida Kahlo were played in a movie by Salma Hayek. Oh, wait...
SUPER, WILL ROBINSON, SUPER!: I was all set to write an item on my favorite and least favorite songs about Superman, until I came across this piece by Will Robinson Sheff, doing the same thing better than I ever could've dreamed.
BURN YOUR SIDDUR AWARD NOMINEE: This one comes from a letter writer to Reform Judaism Magazine: "Prayer and devotion to religious duties and practices is not a meaningful subsitute for taking a Reform Jewish stand on social and economic issues." This may be the first time someone has actually articulated the trend in Reform Judaism that I've been criticizing for years- that many within the domination see political leftism not as a corollary to the religion itself, but rather as a substitute for it- and there's always just a touch of elitism and Christian-bashing thrown in for good measure. These are people who have no religious beliefs whatsoever untiil it comes time to mine the Torah and Talmud to come up with quotes in order to justify their political beliefs- while all the while continuously bashing the Christian Right for doing essentially the same thing on the other side of the political aisle.
The writer continues that "Torah study, prayer, piety, and a coventantal system" are no good because they are indicate of the "Christian fundamentalist process." In other words, us Jews shouldn't be wasting our time praying or reading Torah when we've got John Ashcroft to worry about. We should be out protesting, and leaving all that "prayer" stuff where it belongs- with the goyim.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The third controversy, in which the 2-7 Chicago Bears keep going back and forth between dull journeymen Jim Miller and Chris Chandler, is so dull that I'll comment on it no further than naming it "Last Year at Marienbad," just to give some poor film major out there a chuckle." -Salon's King Kauffman, comparing the NFL's current quarterback controversies to old movies. I may have only minored in film, but I got a chuckle.
Y TO THE IZZO, D TO THE IZZA: Am I the only one who finds these new ads for the "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" DVD, featuring the slogan "Who Da Man? Yoda Man!," downright embarrassing? I mean, wasn't there once a time when "Star Wars" occupied a special place in the hearts of its fans, the kind of people who downloaded ten different versions of the "Clones" commercials and bought a $10 ticket to "Meet Joe Black" just to see the "Phantom Menace" trailer? And didn't George Lucas once have complete control of the franchise, right down to approval of every toy and every frame of every advertisement? How in the world did he let his movie be marketed with a slogan as numbingly lame as "Who da man/Yoda man?" I thought this franchise was supposed to be special- this is the sort of tagline I'd expect for a sequel to "Pootie Tang," not "Star Wars."
I think "Yoda man" represents a watershed moment- we don't have to wait for Episode III, because we finally have the offiicial word that George Lucas has thrown up his hands and decided he no longer cares what happens to "Star Wars." He may be the only filmmaker in the world capable of giving "gravitas" to a talking puppet, but first George giveth then George taketh away- after all those years building up Yoda's good name, how can we take the Jedi Master seriously again after such a cringe-inducing display?
I mean, even Weird Al Yankovic came up with a whittier "Yoda" jingle than that. And come to think of it, he told "Phantom Menace" better than Lucas did too. Maybe Al should direct Episode III- we all know he's capable of making a cinematic classic.
RALPHIE GETS THE RALPHIE TREATMENT: "Sopranos" fans who have bitched all season long about the lack of violence and "whackings" of major characters finally got their wish when the character of Ralphie Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) was rubbed out on tonight's episode. And even though Ralphie has been at the top of every "who's gonna get whacked" poll since he joined the show at the beginning of last season, his death still came across as a surprise.
What I noticed is that Pantoliano really must've done something to piss off the writing staff, 'cause they've really put him through a series of humiliations this year: first he begins an affair with Tony's unsightly sister Janice, then we find out about his bizarre sexual proclivities (which don't need to be repeated here), then he loses his mistress (Leslie Bega) to Tony, then he gets killed, and then his toupee gets pulled off his corpse. It was a surprise that the teaser for next week didn't include a scene of Tony's whole crew pissing on Ralph's severed head.
FORD BUILT NOT SO TOUGH: According to the Boston Globe, former Celtics, Bucks, and Clippers coach Chris Ford has had the "interim" removed from his title as Brandeis basketball coach. But due to Brandeis rules, coaches are required to also teach physical education electives, so this semester Ford (who once coached Larry Bird) is the instructor for basketball and "walking" electives. I think one's decision to take over as basketball coach (and walking teacher) at Brandeis can only be taken as an admission that he will never, ever, coach in the NBA again.
GAMES BY JAMES: In perhaps the biggest shocker of its kind since Pauline Kael left the New Yorker for Hollywood in 1978, the Boston Red Sox announced yesterday that they have hired the legendary baseball statistician Bill James as a senior adviser.
James, in his annual "Baseball Abstract" books in the 1980s, invented the field known as sabermetrics, which has had as much effect on the way baseball has been managed in recent years than perhaps anything else. Sabermetrics is the reason that managers and GMs now refer to on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS (OBP + SP) as the most important statistics, even more than batting average, RBIs, or home runs. Promiment adherrents include ESPN.com columnist Rob Neyer and such general managers as Billy Beane of Oakland, J.P. Ricciardi, and Kevin Towers of San Diego- all of whom, not coincidentally, were candidates for the Sox's still-vacant GM position.
The knock on sabermetrics and those who adhere to it is that many of them (like Mike Gimble, who previously held a similar position with the Red Sox) don't actually watch or care about the game, and only see it as Matrix-like numbers. But certainly no one can accuse Bill James of being like that- anyone who has read him knows that of course he loves the game. Peter Gammons (who has been criticized for not being on board with sabermetrics) said that he thinks James' hiring may prove to be the most important of the year, and I tend to agree.
OUT OF THE 'BLUE': The New York Post reports that NYC-based porn king Al Goldstein is suffering from the same mouth disease that the late mobster John Gotti was afflicted with while in jail- a condition that will force the "sizable smut sultan" to retire from his long-running cable access television show, "Midnight Blue." And that's really too bad- it was one of the funniest shows on TV, especially with its "fuck you" segment. The story also mentions that the mouth disease will prevent Goldstein from defending himself, as planned, in his upcoming trial for harassing one of his four ex-wives.
WILL & WONKA: Tonight's episode of "Will & Grace" marked the welcome return to American comedy of one of its all-time masters, Gene Wilder. The star of "The Producers," "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," "Young Frankenstein," and numerous collaborations with Richard Pryor, Wilder all but disappeared from public view after the mid-'80s death of his wife, legendary original "Saturday Night Live" cast member Gilda Radner. "Will & Grace" has long been known for putting together great roles for guest stars, from Matt Damon to Michael Douglas, and Wilder is certainly no exception- tonight's performance as Will's mentally unbalanced boss indicates that one of the great comedic actors of the late 20th century has still got it.
FUN WITH GEOBUTTON: According to my Geobutton Report from last month, I had one reader from Tehran, Iran. To my one Iranian reader, I give you this message: we here in America are with you. Down with the Mullahs!
LIKE THE PLAGUE: There's been a positive test of Bubonic Plague in New York. What century is this? Do we have to start worrying about rubella now?
THE TIE IS BROKEN: After weeks of pronouncements that America is caught in a 50/50 political tie that likely won't be broken anytime soon, the Republicans pulled way ahead early in Tuesday's midterm elections and never looked back. With the exception of the Arkansas and New Jersey Senate races and a few selected governorships, the GOP won virtually every contested race, from North Carolina to New Hampshire, and from Florida to Minnesota, re-taking the Senate and widening their lead in the House.
Three of the most liberal states in the union (Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New York), all of which I have lived in, each saw GOP victories for governor last night, and those states have not elected Democratic governors (respectively) since 1986, 1986, and 1990- that's 11 losses in a row. There's a reason for that: these local Democratic parties simply don't know how to get their shit together- they're so divided and so driven by special interests and identity politics that it's next to impossible for the party to ever unite behind a strong, electable candidate.
It was expected that the economy and corporate scandals would hurt the Republicans, while softness on national security and opposition to tax cuts were expected to hurt the Democrats- but the tie was broken by a simple disparity in the electoral strategies of the two parties- the Democrats at this point in their history have no leadership, and nothing to say- for Bush's entire presidency thus far the Democrats have never acted and only reacted. It's time for Tom Daschle to step down, and Dick Gephardt, and especially the loathsome Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe. But that might not be so easy- as Andrew Sullivan wrote last night, "when they went looking for new blood, they found Frank Lautenberg and Walter Mondale."
But regardless, the Democrats need not get too discouraged. Bad as Tuesday was for them, 1994's midterm election was ten times worse. But after that the Gingrich Republicans overreached, and two years later President Clinton won re-election in a landslide. Who's to say Bush and his Republican Congress won't go too far, and provoke a backlash that will put John Kerry or John Edwards in the White House?
(sorry, but I don't think there's anything the Republicans could do that would result in an Al Gore presidency...)
FEELING MINNESOTA: I wish that Walter Mondale had not lost the Minnesota Senate election to Norm Coleman, but I'm still too upset about Paul Wellstone's death to get too angry about an election result. I know quite a few people, however, who aren't going to agree with me with me on that point. In fact, let's reprise last week's Wellstone Prediction Contest: who will be first pundit/writer to suggest that Minnesotans have "dishonored Paul Wellstone's memory" by electing Coleman? And who will be the first to take it to the next extreme: "When Norm Coleman/the Republicans won the election, it was like Paul Wellstone was killed all over again?"
I've been a Minnesota Democrat pretty much all my life. In 6th grade I signed "Steve Silver, DFL" on all my school notebooks. But if a state party loses their standard bearer in a plane crash and then goes and tries to win by turning his memorial service into a wild political rally, then maybe they don't deserve the Senate seat after all. Yes, control of the Senate was decided by the time Minnesota was- but who knows how much that rally hurt the Democrats nationally?
SILVER LINING: There was plenty to be happy about in regards to election day though- fears of another Florida were greatly exaggerated, as there were next to no reported voting irregularities or tabulation problems. Despite a screwup by the Voter News Service, the networks made not a single incorrect call of a Congressional or gubernatorial race. It seemed, especially in Massachusetts, that local news outlets projected winners considerably earlier than the cable news channels did. Indeed, the networks were all over the map- CNN would make calls an hour before Fox News and vice versa, and at least two candidates (Jeanne Shaheen and Jean Carnahan) made their concession speeches before any network had projected a winner.
And finally, Congress this year will be saying goodbye to Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, Dick Armey, James Traficant, Gary Condit, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr and many others who won't be missed- regardless of party affiliation, in some respects Congress will be a much better place next year than this year.
AND ON A LIGHTER NOTE:
- I never thought I'd hear a more stereotypical Southern good-ol'-boy name than that of winning Georgia Senate candidate Saxby Chambliss, but then I heard about that state's new governor: Sonny Perdue. In other funny name news, the losing candidate for Hudson County Executive (in Jersey) was Ira Jersey. A Republican Congressional candidate in Indiana, Chris Chocola, won in a walk, thus sparing us all "Re-Count Chocola" headlines. But the best name on Tuesday was unquestionably losing Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick Posthumus . That's right up there in the pantheon with House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and 1996 New Hampshire Senate candidate Dick Swett.
- It was very, very creepy to once again see the words "Bush," "Florida," and "Projected Winner" on the same screen at the same time.
- I had a running debate going with some friends over who's the sexiest candidate this year- the consensus seemed to favor new Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, though I myself am partial towards Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. But that's just 'cause Judi Dutcher lost the DFL endorsement for governor to the much less sexy Roger Moe.
- I was sorely disappointed that, unlike two years ago, Black Entertainment Television did not host their own election coverage this time around.
- And speaking of 2000, I also really missed Tim Russert and his "Magic Slate." Lester Holt and his blue, red, and gold-colored Senate seats simply paled by comparison.
- Did Harvey Pitt's sudden resignation as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the middle of election night remind anyone else of Boris Yeltsin's calculated decision to step down the night of Y2K?
- Lindsey Graham is living proof that even if you're a confirmed bachelor, even if you have a girl's name, even if you were endorsed by some guy from New York who once shacked up with two gay guys, you can still be elected U.S. Senator from South Carolina.
- I loved that the Winona Ryder shoplifting trial went to the jury just as the polls were closing in the East- would a verdict have caused the networks to cut away from election coverage? Just like State of the Union/OJ Verdict all over again.
- In the Crazy Candidates department, former "Dukes of Hazzard" star Ben "Cooter" Jones lost his race for Congress in Virginia- shouldn't he be running for Boss Hogg's old seat? Convicted felon James Traficant got 18.614 votes in his jailhouse bid for his old Congressional seat. And both of the misbegotten "Secede From LA" movements fell to defeat- sounded to me like white flight for people too lazy to move.
- And last but certainly not least (if you're willing to count Christmas tree-loving Norm Coleman as a "Jew"), there is now once again a minyan in the US Senate: Joseph Lieberman, Charles Schumer, Carl Levin, Russell Feingold, Herbert Kohl, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Arlen Specter, Coleman, and the returning Frank Lautenberg. Mazel tov; say Kaddish for Paul.
DUCK... DUCK... DUCK...: There's a big scandal going on at the University of Oregon because the school's longtime, Donald Duck-like mascot has been replaced by a sleeker, more militaristic, 21st Century Duck. I have a better idea...
DEAD TERRORIST DIRTBAG WATCH: In the best news for the War on Terror in months, a US missile killed six high-ranking Al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen on Monday- one of whom was Ali Qaed Sinan al-Harthi, the architect of the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Now if any of those reading this, upon hearing the above information, had a gut instinct to think "oh no! How dare America do that!," rather than "cool! They killed terrorists!" than I humbly apologize, but I don't want to speak to you, or to know you.
But on the other side of things, Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin is near death after an apparent suicide attempt. Rubin, you may remember, was arrested earlier this year for planning to blow up mosques, thus depriving the pro-Israel side of much of the moral high ground we've been dilegently building up since Intifada II started in August of 2000. I think it's important to remember that terrorism is never acceptable, no matter which side it's coming from, and the Jewish-supremicist crazies of the JDL would be wise to take that under advisement.
"IDIOT USURPING BLIND WEASELS": Excellent Nicholas Kristof piece on the breakdown in civility on both sides of the political spectrum, drawing a parallel between the crazy Clinton haters of the '90s and the similar, conspiratorial Bush haters of today. My only quibble? Kristoff doesn't do anything to trash the Naderites...
POLITICAL COMEDY: Following this year's midterm elections has for me become no different from following pro wrestling- I'm fascinated and enthralled by it, but there's no way I'll ever take it too seriously. In fact, this year's gubernatorial and congressional races have been marked by the sort of drama that the WWE has been sorely lacking for the past year or two.
I'm voting in New Jersey and my vote for the Senate will go to Frank Lautenberg. If I still lived in New York I'd be voting for Carl McCall for governor over that schmuck George Pataki, and I think it's a shame that a good man and effective public servant like McCall can't win when someone like Hillary can waltz right into New York and get a Senate seat. And in Minnesota, I would vote for Walter Mondale, but I won't be crushed if he loses to Norm Coleman- though had Paul Wellstone lived and he'd lost to Coleman, I would've been devastated. And it's too bad Mondale can't go negative, because a "Norm Sucks" chant at a rally would've been awesome.
I will offer no predictions about individual races, though I do foresee that at 9 AM on Wednesday morning, we will still have no idea which party will be in control of the Senate- unfortunately, it looks like Florida 2000 is the new norm, and half the people who lose will file lawsuits and drag the election into December. But when it all shakes out, I predict that the House will stay Republican and the Senate will remain Democratic. For all you need to know throughout election day, check out Real Clear Politics.
And speaking of the wrestling/politics connection, the nexus of those two worlds (Jesse Ventura) today appointed Independence Party hack (if there is such a thing) Dean Barkley to be interim U.S. Senator. The reason is allegedly that Barkley's strong third-place finish in the 1996 Senate race got Ventura's Reform Party on the ballot in '98, paving the way for "The Body"'s victory. But if Ventura were really serious about honoring those who helped pave the way for him, why not appoint Verne Gagne to the Senate? Or Baron Von Raschke? Or The Crusher? Nick Bockwinkel? "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig? "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair? All pioneers of the wrestling business, and all natives/residents of Minnesota.
(I'm not completely sure that The Crusher is still alive, but if he is I'm pretty sure he's younger than Walter Mondale...)
EASY RIDERS, MAN: According to Entertainment Weekly, a movie version is in the works of one of the best all-time books about Hollywood, Peter Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls." On the heels of the success of a similar book-based documentary, Robert Evans' "The Kid Stays in the Picture," the film will be directed by documentarian (and Super Mario Bros. villain) Ken Bowser.
I'm looking forward to this movie and will see it, but the book was so good and so loaded with fascinating information about '70s Hollywood that I really can't invision a faithful movie version that would be less than 6 hours long. I always hoped they would make one of those 10-hour HBO mini-series ("The Late Shift" meets "Band of Brothers"), though I figured it impossible since Spielberg figures prominantly in the book and would likely put the kibosh on any movie. But thankfully we'll get something rather than nothing.
BROKEN 'WING': Entertainment Weekly (not online) signs on to my theory that "The West Wing" is no longer a good show. The best part of Ken Tucker's piece is his trashing of last week's episode's "debate" between President Bartlet and Republican Bob Ritchie, which was easily won by Bartlet- it couldn't be more obvious that the entire episode was creator Aaron Sorkin's wet dream of how he wishes the 2000 election had turned out- it's the debate (and electoral) trouncing of Dumb Bush by Smart Gore that never actually happened. No one wants to see Aaron Sorkin's masturbatory political fantasies- and that's why "The West Wing" has been losing in the ratings to the likes of "The Bachelor."
BAB-URA, BAB-URA: Just in time for Halloween, and live in Scary Streissand-Vision, Barbara endorses the "Wellstone-was-murdered" conspiracy theory.
A MOVIE ABOUT NOTHING: My review of Jerry Seinfeld's new documentary "Comedian" is online at American Dreamer Filmworks.
BABY BUELLER: A baby boy has been born to Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, Matthew Broderick. Now I can't help but think that when that kid grows up into a high school student, should he decide one day to skip school, I don't know how his father will have any moral high ground whatsoever to stop him.
STANDING UP TO THE ISLAMIST PC POLICE: Blogcritics head honcho Eric Olson is in trouble for writing that "The Islamists Would Like" a proposed FOX TV series based on arranged marriage. That statement doesn't offend me; the fact that the despots who rule Iran and Saudi Arabia don't let women leave the house without head covering and sanction "honor-killing" and advocate killing Jewish people for sport- THAT offends me. Charles Johnson, propriator of the excellent Little Green Footballs blog, recently had to deal with similar nonsense.
IT'S JUST ME AND 'JACKASS': I caught "Jackass: The Movie" the other night, and I can't decide whether it's a hilarious, uproariously funny comedy, or the most reprehensible movie in recent memory- more likely than not, it's both.
Nothing more than a longer, much more explicit version of the popular and highly controversial MTV show, "Jackass" is near-non-narrative film in the tradition of "Congorilla," and isn't much more civilized. Starting with the entire cast rolling down the street in a giant shopping cart to the opera tune from "Carmen" that's used in every other movie trailer (and parodied in the trailer of '99's "South Park" movie), director Jeff Tremaine and the cast stage some memorable sight gags, such as when the cast rummages around Tokyo dressed as pandas. Like the show, "Jackass: The Movie" is at its best when it stages elaborate, "Candid Camera"-like setpieces, and also like the show the movie is at its worst when it resorts to garish gross-out humor. I don't know how it's in any way funny for a guy to urinate on a snow cone and then eat it.
Oh, and one more thing: "Jackass: The Movie" has an all-male cast, in several scenes the characters have their shirts off for no apparent reason, there are over a dozen nude scenes, and the cast seems to have an unnatural obsession with penises, testicles, male buttocks, and especially anuses, culminating in an extended sequence in which cast member Ryan Dunn has a toy car inserted in his rectum. And then, two minutes later, the movie ends with a cameo by Rip Taylor. I wonder if the legions of 12-to-14-year-old males who made "Jackass" the #1 movie of last weekend are aware that they were patronizing the gayest major studio movie of the year.
A SAD FUNNY ENDING: I thought it was a joke when I first heard it, but as it turns out it's actually true: ESPN.com's well-known columnist "The Sports Guy" Bill Simmons will be drastically cutting back his column output because he is moving from Boston to LA in order to join the writing staff of Jimmy Kimmel's upcoming late-night talk show. A "Page 2" columnist for the past two years and propriator of the popular "Boston Sports Guy" website before that, Simmons quickly became the most popular writer on a site that also featured the likes of David Halberstam, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ralph Wiley. He developed a cult-like following by writing about the exact sorts of things that his audience of Gen-X guys care about- sports, movies, strippers, Vegas, etc.- sometimes writing three or four long columns a week while displaying sharp insight and a biting sense of humor at all times. He could contribute such classics to the sports lexicon as "The Ewing Theory" and "The Doug Christie Jersey," and then the next day write something as brilliantly silly as a list of 40 quotes from "The Godfather" and why they all apply to the Red Sox.
Like Springsteen before him, Simmons is experiencing the classic American dilemma of being unable to remain a "working-class hero" forever- eventually, if someone is good enough at being a working-class hero, they'll eventually be so successful that they cease to be working-class. Much of his appeal as a writer was that he's "one of the guys," the sort of friend you could have a beer and talk sports with. Now, especially from his fans in Boston, you can expect to hear all kinds of cries that Simmons has now "sold out"- after all, how can his guy-in-the-bar persona still hold up now that he's hobnobbing out in Hollywood with the likes of Jimmy Kimmel?
I'm not so quick to do so, though- after all, Simmons made clear that writing for television is what he's long wanted to do in life, and it doesn't appear as though he's sacrificing any of his long-held principles. And besides, we know he'll have some great stories to tell about celebrities and the like. There's nothing untoward about such a talented young man pursuing his dream and using his writing abilities as best he can. Now were he leaving Boston and moving to New York, then his Boston fans would have a point...
ANGELS WIN BY KO: I'm normally a huge fan of former ESPN personality and current Salon columnist Keith Olbermann, but I've gotta say I have mixed feelings about his latest, sky-is-falling piece in Salon on the sorry state of baseball. I'm with him in his criticism of Bud Selig and his pessimism related to the state of the game and its super-low World Series ratings. But I've gotta disagree when he talks about what a horrible World Series it just was. I disagree- the underdog Angels won, there were amazing comebacks in Games 2, 3, and 6, and there was the equally fascinating storyline of Barry Bonds finally making it to the Series and hitting four home runs. True, the starting pitching for both teams generally sucked, but like most things about the '02 Series, that was an abberation.
But even more troublesome in Olbermann's piece is his trashing of the Angels' organization, which does nothing but add credence to the hypothesis that Keith is just bitter that his beloved Yankees didn't make it this time. He even goes so far as to tar Angels team matriarch Jackie Autry as a "harpy," on the strength of her public trashing of former Angels star Wally Joyner more than 10 years ago. So what, George Steinbrenner has never criticized an employee publicly? And besides, considering reports of how Olbermann himself has treated both employers and underlings at various stops throughout his broadcasting career, to call him a "harpy" would almost be charitable.
TODAY'S SIGN THAT THERE IS A GOD: Bravo has decided to once again broadcast re-runs of the greatest television show of the 1990s, "Twin Peaks," each night at 8 and 11 P.M. If you didn't discover this amazing show during its intial run or since (and if your only impression of Kyle MacLachlan is as Charlotte's impotent husband on "Sex and the City") I implore you to watch it, right after the other great under-the-radar show of the '90s, "The Larry Sanders Show," also now airing nightly on Bravo.