My alma mater Brandeis last night held a talk by '60s-radical-turned-conservative-pundit David Horowitz, at which he took the school to task for "promoting leftist ideology," especially in the Sociology and Peace And Conflict Studies departments.
Now I'm with Horowitz on those two points- after all, I remember the SOC and PACS people wandering around like brainwashed zombies. But as is his wont, Horowitz overreached, and his argument went off the rails.
In an exchange that I wish to God I had witnessed in person, legendary American Studies professor Jerry Cohen- like Horowitz a former '60s activist who turned rightward in his later years- took the guest speaker to task for his claim that there are no conservative professors at Brandeis, putting himself forward as one. What's especially interesting is that the first time I ever heard of Horowitz was when Cohen assigned one of his books in his popular class "The Sixties."
I can understand Cohen's indignation; Horowitz was merely giving the same speech he always gives at every college, regardless of whether it's true. And yes, all the "social justice" nonsense can get annoying, but things at 'deis aren't nearly as bad as the fascist-like "speech code" conditions at some universities.
The SI baseball preview is the magazine issue I most look forward to reading each year, and has been for pretty much as long as I’ve known how to read. And this year’s, with a “geeks vs. scouts” feature, should be no exception. But while I don’t believe in all that cover jinx stuff, if I were a Cubs fan I wouldn’t get too confident right now, especially with Prior hurt. I mean, remember this?
On the heels of Jake the Snake killing his own snake and Brutus “The Bioterror” Beefcake, we’ve got yet another wrestlers-behaving-badly story: The WWE and three wrestlers –Dustin “Goldust” Runnels, Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall, and “The Nature Boy,” Ric Flair- are being sued for sexual harassment by a flight attendant because of their behavior on a chartered international flight:
The suit alleges Flair wore only a jeweled cape, flashed his penis and forced a flight attendant to touch his crotch. It claims that Hall asked a flight attendant to give him oral sex and licked the face of another attendant. Runnels, the suit says, grabbed one attendant and said they were going to have sex.Both Hall and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig were fired for their drunken behavior on that May 2002 flight; a few months later Hennig was dead of a drug overdose.
As for Ric Flair’s role, I don’t know what’s sadder: that he’s still an active professional wrestler at the age of 55, or that he was able to board an international flight wearing only a jeweled cape. If we can’t stop shit like that from happening, why even bother having a Department of Homeland Security?
The NYC alternative paper New York Press, for which I’ve written from time to time, has launched a re-design this week- its third, in fact, since Jeff Koyen took over the editor’s chair just over a year ago. The paper is now going by “NYP: New York Press,” and I like it- much better than the Village Voice’s awful new design scheme.
The first issue of the latest “new era” features the paper’s second annual “50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers” list. A few observations:
- They apparently decided to disqualify anyone who was on last year’s list, which means obvious suspects such as Ted Rall, Michael Moore, and ’03 winner Keith Blanchard were ineligible.
- Rather than obvious choice Michael Bloomberg, NYP decided to give the #1 spot to his predecessor as mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Bad move- regardless of what we thought of him pre-9/11, the man is a national hero. And what’s he done in the past year besides lay low?
- Even more unforgivable: Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman is #37- I’m not a big fan of Foxman myself, but does this supposedly mainstream paper really need to share bizarre conspiracy theories about the ADL, much less endorse the notoriously anti-Semitic book “The Holocaust Industry”? The ADL was bashed as "liberal" during the 'Passion' controversy; now apparently Foxman is "Likud's point man."
- Best quote: in bashing former NYSE head Richard Grasso (#28): “When Forbes.com calls you ‘dangerous,’ you're either Hugo Chavez or a Wall St. monster so grotesque you threaten to bring down the house on the whole party.”
- While I find it hard to object to the inclusion of Bud Selig (#36) on any “most loathsome” list, in this case he’s out of place, as he neither lives nor works in New York, and runs MLB out of Milwaukee.
- Also included, at #15, is Gawker editor Choire Sicha and NYP makes clear, in case you were wondering, that “yes, folks, that's pronounced ‘Cory’, and yes, it's a dude.” No response yet from Sicha, though when Elizabeth Spiers edited Gawker she would post e-mails from Koyen that called her “a nasty little cunt.”
- The bashing of Joan Rivers (#30), Sarah Jessica Parker (#13), Bonnie Fuller (#27), and the Hilton sisters (#26) is welcome, unoriginal as the targets may be. And it’s interesting to point out that NYP’s “most loathsome” idea was pretty much ripped off from a similar piece in the Buffalo Beast last year- that Beast article included Parker and called her “a woman's idea of what a sexy woman looks like”; NYP this week says “when girls think another girl is beautiful, but guys know she isn't, call it the Sarah Jessica Parker syndrome.”
- Janeane Garofalo (#9) is called “a liberal Dennis Miller with tits.” Somehow not as biting as when the Beast called Ann Coulter “Goebbels with tits.”
And outside the “Loathsome” list there’s a convincing piece by Matt Taibbi comparing the metrosexual craze to Communism.
Are you ready for the Hatch Sisters? In the hellraisin’ tradition of the Hiltons, the Bush twins, and Jesse Ventura’s son, two daughters of Minnesota state Attorney General Mike Hatch were arrested over the weekend after getting into a 3 AM scuffle with police outside a nightclub in Chicago. The “hot blooded Hatch heiresses,” as the New York Post would undoubtedly call them had the incident happened in Manhattan, were later charged with misdemeanor assault, resisting arrest and criminal damage to property.
Anne Hatch, 21, and Elizabeth Bell Hatch, 22, are the two youngest daughters of the attorney general, who has run for governor before and is said to be a likely candidate in 2006. The Hatch sisters have become media darlings in Chicago, it appears; whether that will help or hinder their father’s political prospects remains to be seen.
The University of Minnesota womens’ basketball team is in the Final Four after beating Duke last night. Not bad, especially since the mens’ team had a losing record this year and the two-time defending national champion hockey team lost early in the tournament. Go Gophers!
Jeremy's women's sports threshold, apparently, is much lower than mine.
In an inspired attempt to capitalize on the success of that “other” Jesus movie, Rainbow Film Company next month will re-release the Monty Python New Testament parody, “The Life of Brian,” on its 25th anniversary. When we saw ‘Passion’ my friends and I had planned to exit the theater singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” but decided against it; I hope to re-assemble the entire 10-person contingent from that night to go see the Pythons.
Does this mean that this summer’s Keira Knightley-enhanced “King Arthur” movie will be followed with a ‘Holy Grail’ re-issue?
The 9/11 Commission hearings and subsequent fights over Richard Clarke have brought out the worst in both parties, as I write over at Detroit News.
Here's the story. Who knew these "Sopranos"-type turf wars extended to ice cream?
Well, ya know something Mean Gene...
Page Six reports that "the next Britney Spears" is Brooke Hogan- daughter of Hulk Hogan. She sings and plays piano, and her first album will debut this fall- so be sure to buy her record, brother.
Brooke sounds more to me like a Joss Stone/Katy Rose type than a Britney, but if she plays piano maybe she's going for the Norah Jones vibe- which I guess makes the Hulkster her Ravi Shankar. Regardless, it's good that Brooke decided not to follow her dad into the wrestling business, we've all seen the effect it's had on Stephanie McMahon.
(Page Six also, in a photo credit, mistakenly identifies "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner as "Bruce Ratner," the new Nets owner).
My alma mater Brandeis has named this year’s commencement speaker and it’s the president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn. I expect student reaction to be split three ways:
1. People pissed off because, as head of the World Bank, Wolfensohn is responsible for globalization, and thus not a promoter of “social justice.”
2. People pissed off because they’ve never heard of Wolfensohn, and feel entitled to a more famous speaker. And,
3. People pissed off because they think Wolfensohn is Paul Wolfowitz.
Also receiving honorary degrees are NAACP chairman Kweisi Mfume, scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, businessman/philanthropist Lester Crown, businessman Bernard Osher, and artist Anselm Kiefer. The speakers the last few years have been Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, Ted Koppel, Fidelity head Peter Lynch, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Senator John Glenn, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Shimon Peres.
David Brooks’ best columns always come when he abandons politics and gets into sociology. Today, for instance, he has a great column about how SAT scores, high school grades, and “getting into a good school” aren’t what they’re cracked up to be at all. I completely agree- I’ve come across all sorts of people in my professional life, very successful people, who went to non-elite colleges, even ones I’ve never heard of. And, as Brooks points out, “if at any moment in your later life you so much as mention your SAT scores in conversation, you will be considered a total jerk.”
So if anyone reading this is still in high school and “looking at colleges,” keep this in mind- you’ll be hearing a lot about how which college you pick is “the most important decision of your life”- no, it’s really not.
Paul over at Sanity’s Edge is running a “Blogging 101” feature- it’s hilarious, and you could learn a thing or two as well.
The 2004 baseball season got underway in Japan at 5 AM (EST) this morning, as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the New York Yankees 8-3 on a homer by ex-Yank Tino Martinez, to drop the Yanks a half-game behind the Red Sox in the closely contested AL East.
If you'd told me a year ago that the Devil Rays would be in first place, a game ahead of the Yankees, in late March, I'd have laughed in your face.
The Japan trip has given the New York papers all sorts of opportunities to make feeble “Lost in Translation” jokes, though the rest of the major league teams don’t begin play until a week from now. At any rate, I’ll have predictions and everything else prior to the weekend…
The Massachusetts state legislature today passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; here's my favorite part of the AP account:
The vote came at the opening of the third round of a constitutional convention on the contentious issue, as competing cries of “Jesus Christ” and “Equal Rights” shook the Statehouse outside the legislative chamber.
Competing cries of "Equal rights" and "Jesus Christ"- that's really what it all comes down to, isn't it?
A few notes on last night’s “Sopranos” episode, “All Happy Families”:
- The highlight of the episode, for me at least: A.J., sitting in his new car for the first time, exclaiming, “this is so deck!” Apparently someone on the writing staff has read “The Hipster Handbook,” a satirical tome written a few years ago that made up an entirely fake hipster lingo- examples including “kale” (money), “Cronkite” (boy), and, most infamously of all, “deck” (cool). I’ve never heard anyone actually use the word “deck” unironically, but Dong Resin last year made fun of the phenomenon. Still, I’m sure the reference sailed over the heads of about 99.999% of the “Sopranos” audience.
- I was surprised Feech was gotten rid of so quickly, although I’m sure his sort-of one-note schtick would’ve gotten tiresome after another episode or two (tell funny stories, then scream at the top of your lungs once or twice an hour). Still, interesting to hear him mention the now-shuttered Hoboken landmark The Clam Broth House in one of his stories; makes you wonder if there was any mob complicity in that building’s collapse last year.
- And speaking of quickly-departed new characters, I think they could’ve done a lot more with the lady loanshark as well- and the whole getting-shot-as-she-runs-naked-through-the-house thing is gonna have the “Sopranos is misogynistic” people going nuts, like they did during the violence-against-women marathon that was Season 3.
- The first time they showed guest star David Lee Roth, I wondered why Steve Buscemi was wearing a blond wig. Lawrence Taylor didn’t look nearly as embarrassing, though with all the guys sitting around the poker table “ribbing” each other, a drugs-and-hookers joke or two thrown LT’s way might have been appropriate.
- Most nonsensical guest appearance- New Republic Literary Editor Leon Wieseltier, the man who called Mel Gibson’s Jesus movie “a sacred snuff film,” appeared as one of the Jews whose cars got stolen. Still, nice to see ‘Sopranos’ embrace Jewish family ritual for a change.
UPDATE: Here's Wieseltier, discussing his character:
But Stewart Silverman lives in perfect horror of the street. He doesn't even park on the street. A derangingly materialistic co-religionist who dreams frantically of "Wedding of the Week" and waits a whole year for some stupid car in which he can idle for endless hours in traffic east of Quogue every weekend of every summer, the vulgar Zegna-swaddled brother of a Goldman Sachs mandarin whose son's siman tov u'mazel tov is provided by a pulchritudinous and racially diverse bunch of shellfish-eating chicks in tight off-the-shoulder gowns—such a fellow is a long way from authenticity. And so he would land very hard on that "g" [in "motherfucking"]. He didn't go to BU for nothing. This is a man who is this week boasting to anybody who will listen that he once flew into West Palm on the same plane as Peter Bacanovic. In sum: motherfuckinggg.
My friend and faithful reader of this blog Dan Israel, a musician and legislative aide at the state capitol in St. Paul, is profiled in today’s Star Tribune. Check out his website, or his band if you’re in the Cities.
And speaking of people I know appearing in the Strib, John “TwinsGeek” Bonnes today makes it official that his blog will be moving to the Tribune’s website, probably before opening day. So congrats on that as well.
The Boston radio talk show host (and Brandeis alum) has survived his latest brush with near-death (this time, it was cancer; he also has AIDS) and is back on the air on WBZ in Beantown.
I’m looking forward to hearing Sean Hannity, author of the current bestseller “Deliver Us From Evil,” bash Kerry for this tonight on Fox News.
Here’s the best idea for a charity event I’ve heard of in quite some time- Boston’s ALS association –with the support of the Red Sox’ Curt Schilling – is staging a 100-inning baseball game next month, which will begin at 9 AM on April 17 and conclude at 6 PM the following evening. I'll be up there that weekend so I may just check it out.
An idea likely borrowed from W.P. Kinsella’s great novel “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy,” the game will be the longest ever played in New England; players are invited to play “part or all” of the game.
I went and saw “The Ladykillers” over the weekend and I’m happy to say the Coen Brothers are back in championship form, after the middling “Man Who Wasn’t There” and the how’d-they-screw-that-one-up brainfart “Intolerable Cruelty.” ‘Ladykillers’ is quintessential Coens, and successfully recaptures the spirit of their classic comedies “Raising Arizona,” “The Big Lebowski,” and most of all, “O Brother Where Art Thou.”
The script follows ‘O Brother’’s winning formula of dialogue filled with goofy Southern aphorisms, substituting gospel for bluegrass on the soundtrack; it's made especially hilarious by Hanks’ pretend-gentility (his invocation of the shofar may be the film’s biggest laugh). Also great to see Vern Schillinger of “Oz” playing an ex-Freedom Rider, and a Vietnamese character with a Hitler moustache who is known only as “The General,” though a running joke involving Bob Jones University isn't quite so successful.
Unlike last year, when there were no good movies to speak of for the first four or five months of the year, ‘04’s shaping up to be a good one, with the still-unanimously praised ‘Eternal Sunshine’ and now “Ladykillers.” If “Walking Tall” turns out to be a masterpiece, then I’ll be really pleasantly surprised.
Here’s an animated treatment of the LOTR trilogy, a must for those of us who never read the books and thus had no idea what exactly was going on. That, and it doesn’t take nine hours to watch.
Jerry Orbach is set to leave “Law & Order” after 12 years, though he’s said to be in line to star in the show’s latest spin-off.
The show will need a new “older cop”; may I suggest Ron Silver?
"In the homeless community, if you don't drink, they send you to Sober Anonymous" -A homeless man, outside my office, earlier today.
Just a few days before that, a pair of twin brothers on a JetBlue flight began fighting over an armrest, which devolved into a full-scale brawl that required the flight to make an emergency landing in North Carolina. My sister and I used to fight over the armrest at movies and on long car trips, but then I turned 10.
Either these guys are all big Oasis fans, or they (unlike everybody else) actually found some meaning in “Matrix Reloaded.”
First point: Most American people already understand why 9/11 happened. Those who aren't busy trying to make everything Bush's or Clinton's fault understand. It happened because there are people of a certain ideology that would like to see every American and every non-Muslim person dead. If it wasn't 9/11, it would have been another day, another way.-Michele, A Small Victory
All I have to say about this Clarke thing- Yes, he “flip-flopped” from what he said two years ago (since when did “flip-flopping” become the most sinister crime a person could commit?) But he worked for the president at the time of the original comments- of course he wasn’t going to rip him. I’m not saying I believe everything Clarke says, but if that’s the best thing they can come up with…
And isn’t it a major breach of journalistic protocol that Fox News released quotes from him that were on background? If I did that in my job I'm probably be fired.
Besides, I think calling the guy “Dick Clarke” hurts his credibility more than anything.
“The Apprentice” last night finally did the inevitable Atlantic City casino episode, as the show traveled to the Trump Taj Mahal, where I just visited not three weeks ago. Rather than actually run the casino for a night like I suggested (as in, supervising the pit bosses, working as dealers, breaking legs, etc.) the two teams merely had to come up with promotions and see how much money they could raise.
The competing teams set up shop in the lobby of the casino (the same lobby from which my friend Abe called his girlfriend at 4 AM when I was there) and attempted to ply alleged high rollers* with stupid promotions, including the introduction of a large tiger- all of which were counterintuitive to the business of casino management, because they kept people in line doing nothing when they could’ve been gambling.
(*I use the term “high rollers” very loosely, by the way, because the gamblers depicted were among the skuzziest, most shabbily-dressed “VIPs” I’ve ever seen in AC or anywhere else- and not a single Japanese businessman among them).
Anyway, the episode ended with the last of the show’s Stepford Wives Holy Trinity, Katrina, getting bumped off (following Ereka and Kristi), with Trump’s fabulously gay “you’re fired” hand gesture out in full force once again. And now, after men were eliminated in the first four episodes, women have gotten the hook seven straight times, so Amy is the only remaining female. Does this mean Donald will draft some of the “hostesses” (aka hookers) from last night’s episode to join the show at the last minute, “Average Joe”-style?
News Item: Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz split up.
I never really understood this couple; Tom could likely have any woman he wants in the world, but instead he chose someone who would make the very top of my “most overrated ‘beautiful women’” list, along with Julia Roberts, Paris Hilton, and Tara Reid. The couple’s other primary legacy is that they starred together in one of the worst Hollywood films ever made, “Vanilla Sky.”
Perhaps now Tom will hook up with Entertainment Weekly writer Clarissa Cruz, "Twin Peaks" singer Julee Cruise, or blogger Kambri Crews. Or, if some of “those rumors” are true, baseball player Jose Cruz or California Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante.
Ashleigh Banfield, who I had a huge crush on a few years ago but I cooled on when she dyed her hair and I discovered Campbell Brown, has left NBC News.
Ashleigh was known throughout her tenure primarily for her diva-like behavior, her boyish haircut when she reported from Pakistan, and her embarrassingly low ratings each of the three or four times MSNBC decided to give her her own show. But I always liked her, and will never forget her reporting from Ground Zero on 9/11.
Today is the last day of Tony Kornheiser’s acclaimed daily talk show on ESPN Radio. I’m a huge fan of TK’s work in writing and on PTI (sorry, can’t say the same for “Dream Job”) though I confess that his show has never been on the air in any market in which I’ve lived, and therefore I’ve never heard it. It’s rumored that he’ll return to the air in the DC market a year from now; if so, hopefully I’ll get to hear him then.
On his show last night, King interviewed Newsweek political reporter Michael Isikoff, and his first question was “how are you feeling physically?” Isikoff was confused, until he realized that King had mistaken him for Michael Weisskopf, the Time reporter who last year lost his hand while attempting to deflect a grenade from U.S. troops in Iraq. Not sure whether the interview was in-studio or via-satellite, but either way King likely should’ve noticed that Isikoff still has both of his hands.
It's bad enough that they refer to her weight gain two different times in the story, and that they claim it's the "first photo" when there have been many others. But the front-page shot of her ass is really the coup de grace.
“The West Wing” hit another new low in its already wretched season last night; I guess if I weren’t such a political junkie I might have to stop watching it altogether. The show has had bad episodes before, but never one with a premise so ridiculously, utterly implausible.
Some background- the show devoted a whole episode (during sweeps, and guest-starring Matthew Perry!) last fall to the case of the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, an 80-something Brennan-like paleolib who refused to step down from the bench despite his failing health. It was never mentioned again until the episode before last, when we found out that a justice had passed away- not the 80-year-old, but rather a younger, Scalia-like conservative who had a heart attack.
This week’s show began with the staff scrambling to come up with a nominee, with the president at one point interviewing a circuit court judge played by the guy who was Coach Cutlip on “The Wonder Years” (always nice to see him get work, even though I don’t know his name). The staff wants to nominate a liberal judge (Glenn Close) but is afraid she she’s too lefty to be confirmed, especially since she once struck down a parental-consent law, and (horror of horrors of all) also had an abortion herself. No word on whether her screenname is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, it goes on like this until Josh comes up with a compromise: they persuade the old liberal chief justice to step down, leaving two vacancies, allow the Republicans to pick a “strict constructionist” (William Fichtner) to replace the conservative who died, and then nominate the star of “Fatal Attraction” as the first female chief justice. Which is, of course, exactly what happens.
So for us to believe this scenario, we have to suspend our disbelief on just a few minor points:
1) That the Republicans would allow a woman who had had an abortion to become chief justice of the Supreme Court. I mean, what would Sean Hannity say if that happened?
2) That a Democratic president would be willing to appoint an ultraconservative to the the court, rather than filling the two vacancies with two liberals.
3) That such a deal could be struck before any hearings could be held, thus circumventing the constitution and allowing easy passage to two judges on the fringes of their parties. And, worst of all,
4) That the 80-year-old liberal justice, whose refusal to resign from the court was the subject of an entire episode just three months ago, would accede to the above plan after a 15-second conversation, even though it resulted in the elevation to the court of a Scalia clone who looks like he’s about 35 years old.
Other than that, good episode. I never thought I’d say this, but I want Aaron Sorkin back.
How apropos, that a guy who lost his last job for getting drunk and making out with coeds would take over as coach at Trishelle Cantonella’s alma mater.
As quoted by Jayson Stark, about Rangers outfield prospect Laynce Nix:
"This guy's going to be a good player," said one NL scout. "Eventually, I think he'll be a better player than Rusty Greer, and he's that type of player.
With baseball about to start, I thought I'd share a few more; here are last year's. Some are real (from various sources), some merely imagined:
-The Motherfucking Shore Patrol, Motherfucker
-The BALCO Busters
-Brady Anderson’s Needles
-The SABR Rattlers
-The Gleeman-Length Thoughts
-Andre Dawson’s Creek
-The Wandering Bears
-The Dowd Reports
-The Greg Olsen Twins
-Guys Steinbrenner Had Blacklisted
-The Penultimate Warriors
-The Crab People
-The Suckiest Bunch of Sucks that Ever Did Suck
-The Long Balls
-Placido Polanco and the Three Tenors.
And finally, the ones I’ve used myself, in various sports:
-The Silver Sluggers
-The Twinkie Defense
-The Dell Vikings
-The Sack Kings
-The Jewish Jordans
Feel free to share your own in the comments.
We're coming up on the ten-year anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death; I still remember coming back from a week in Mexico spring break of my sophomore year in high school to the news that the Nirvana frontman had offed himself.
Say, someone should look up his widow, and see if she has anything to say on the occasion.
On the same day that Wonkette made fun of the New York Times’ latest “ironic Republicans” story (this time, it’s “Republican punk rock”), the Justice has gotten into the act as well, with both a feature story and positive editorial about the emerging groundswell of political conservatism at the Non-Sectarian Jewish-Sponsored Home of “Social Justice,” Brandeis University.
Jaws is thrilled, though he’s for some reason not mentioned in the story; I’m not myself a Republican but I have to admire anyone with enough courage to espouse conservative ideals at ‘deis, a school where roughly half the population arrives with the expectation that the GOP and the KKK are more or less the same thing.
Still, I’m already looking forward to next week’s angry letters to the editor- I wonder how many of them will use the phrase “paradigm shift.”
“The Darkness sound like Tiny Tim covering Heart, and their image is playful enough that I doubt they'd get angry if I assumed they were being satirical… [Eamon] claims his sound, proudly described as 'ho-wop' at the start of his debut album, ‘I Don't Want You Back,’ is inspired by Frankie Lymon and the Wu-Tang Clan. And his best songs do kinda suggest 'Why Do Fools Fall in Love' mixed with Ol' Dirty Bastard's 'I Want Pussy.'-Anthony Miccio, reviewing the debut album by Eamon (who did that brilliant “Fuck It” song), in the Village Voice.
Speaking of The Darkness, they kick ass- the download of the year so far is their two-octaves-higher-than-Thom-Yorke cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).”
The BBC finally did something right- they had readers submit entries in order to put together a story comprised entirely of clichés.
Nick Shuitt of The Black Table calls “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” a “remake” of “Annie Hall”- yes, I suppose I see that.
At any rate, ESOTSM came out nearly a week ago, and I’m yet to either read a negative review, or speak to anyone who saw it and didn’t like it.
Not only is this Onion piece about the “return of the Negro Leagues” unfunny, but it gets Sammy Sosa’s race wrong (he’s Dominican), and whoever wrote it is apparently unaware that Albert Belle retired three years ago.
My old college colleague “Marvelous” Ari Hagler is living in Jerusalem and blogging from there; check it out here.
I discovered the blog on the Brandeis Ring awhile back but didn’t put together that it was the same Ari; after all, on my freshman hall alone there were at least five different people whose names were variations of Ari/Ariel/Arye/Areyeh/Ariella.
I bemoan the excessive nastiness of the presidential campaign thus far at Detroit News, while my review of the brilliant “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is posted at Hot Movie Ticket. As of now I place the likelihood of ‘Eternal Sunshine’ being my #1 film of 2004 at roughly 50/50.
Isn’t that like a headline saying “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Name Attractive Woman as New Captain"?
I think you lose your Hamas ghetto pass if you’re anything BUT a “hard-line figure.” And I really don’t understand these people arguing against the assassination of Yassin- what, are we afraid we’ll piss off Hamas and they’ll start killing Israelis? Hello- Hamas exists for no other reason than to kill Israelis, and make Israel go away!
A group of the International ANSWER Stalinists had a protest of the death of the mass murderer (Yassin, not Stalin) tonight in front of the Israeli Consolate in Manhattan. I only caught the tail-end of it, as a few protestors on either side took turns yelling at the Aryan-looking reporter from ABC7 for their perceived "biases." I'd have covered the whole thing, including a rumored appearance by Little Red Kaffiyah Hood, but alas I had to stay at work 'til 6, and the event was all but over by the time I arrived.
Also on the topic, Michele has a memorable Fisking of- who else- Robert Fisk.
And finally, Allison Kaplan Sommer, who lives in Israel and has to deal with this nonsense every day, gets the last word:
That is what these three-plus years of Intifada have done to the Israeli public. They see that when we try to make nice and compromise we get terror attacks. And when we're tough and aggressive we get terror attacks. Nothing we do seems to lower the motivation to slaughter Israeli civilians -- men, women, or children -- and in the case of Hamas, to see the state of Israel destroyed. So since there's absolutely nothing to lose by getting Yassin, and something to possibly gain -- at least temporarily derailing the Hamas leadership structure, and hopefully weakening it long-term -- so why not go ahead and do it?
What if they threw a cable network and nobody came? That’s the problem going on in Minnesota with the Twins’ new Victory Sports One network, envisioned as a huge new revenue stream for the ever-cash-starved team. But, in a situation mirroring New York’s never-ending Yankees/Cablevision debacle, the team has been unable to come to terms with any of Minnesota’s major cable operators on a broadcasting agreement, meaning that the vast majority of the team’s games this year will not be seen on television by anyone.
Even worse, unlike in the YES/Cablevision dispute, DirecTV customers (and subscribing bars) also won’t receive the games, because the Twins haven’t agreed to terms with them, either. It also doesn’t help that the Twins are demanding twice as much per subscriber as the Yankees did. And you thought the stadium campaign was a disaster…
And worst of all, no cable deal means no local TV revenue. No wonder the Twins can only afford three starting pitchers and no closer.
Schrader, who wrote “Taxi Driver,” “Last Temptation of Christ,” and “Auto Focus,” is generally considered to be one sick bastard, so that really says something.
“Cargo might be the worst idea for a magazine in human history. It's certainly the worst idea for a magazine since December 2000, when Conde Nast launched Lucky, a shopping magazine for women. The apparent idea behind Lucky was simple: Women are too dumb to read magazine articles. They just want to look at pictures of shoes and makeup and handbags and hairdos. The idea was profoundly insulting to women, and women responded by enthusiastically embracing Lucky, which now sells 900,000 copies a month.”–Peter Carlson, in the Washington Post, reviewing the new "men's shopping magazine." (Via Romenesko) Read the whole thing; it’s my new favorite anti-metrosexual piece.
Christopher Reeve was thrown from a horse 12 years ago and has been confined to a wheelchair since. Paris Hilton was also thrown from a horse, last week, but walked away unscathed.
Then again, Reeve has accomplished considerably more in 12 years paralyzed than Paris has in 23 years able-bodied.
“The Senate energy bill is back, much in the way that Anna Nicole Smith has returned to cable TV. She cuts a leaner figure, but spend any time watching her and you discover she's the same old Anna.”
–The Wall Street Journal editorial page, this morning. If only the federal budget could get the kind of cash infusion that only comes from marrying an 89-year-old oil billionaire...
Quincy Jones is planning a sequel to 1984’s “We Are the World”- it’s “We Are The Future,” an all-star concert set to take place in Rome on May 16. Apparently abandoning the earlier song’s USA Africa cause, the new concert will be in favor instead of a generic piece-and-love sort of message; Stevie Wonder, a holdover from the original, will be joined by Norah Jones, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, and others.
Somehow I get the hunch that the co-writer of “We Are the World,” Michael Jackson, won’t be invited.
There was a moment on this past Sunday's "Sopranos" episode that made me think creator David Chase and the writers are just as irked by this "how come nobody got whacked?" nonsense as I am.
About halfway through the show, when Tony goes to meet Johnny Sack in the parking lot of Giants Stadium, Johnny complains about the female loan shark character, and part of his critique is (I'm paraphrasing) "all she wants me to do is whack everybody- whack whack whack whack!"
We know that Chase, most notably in last year's Columbus Day episode, has often used the show's scripts to answer various critics of the series; perhaps this throwaway line was meant as a rebuttal to all those fans who panned Season 4 because the only major whacked character was Ralphie.
After it appeared last week that a union dispute had scuttled the deal, the city of Philadelphia is now once again in talks to host the next season of the popular MTV show "The Real World."
An idea I give free of charge to the Bunim/Murray people: if the deal comes through, have the Phillie Phanatic be one of the seven strangers. I know we've all wanted to see him getting drunk on bad tequila, and hooking up with Trishelle. I mean, he's already conquered politics...
Better him than Iverson, right?
Sasha Frere-Jones writes on the phenomenon that is Norah Jones (no relation)- specifically the sexuality of her music- in the New Yorker.
Sasha, incidentally, has a blog; it's like reading the Village Voice music page every day!
Glenn, over at "Hi, I'm Black," has a couple examples of "the dumbest shit I've ever heard," from Dr. Phil, of all sources.
Glenn, for what it's worth, has another blog (Not Work Safe- which, actually, is the name of it), which makes him the only active pornographer on my blogroll, at least until Al Goldstein starts a blog. Though since Gawker Media publishes Fleshbot, I suppose they count as well.
Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium was imploded yesterday morning, marking the end of an era in Philadelphia sports, an era of screaming drunken fans, an arraignment court under the stadium, the booing of Santa Claus (and the broken-necked Michael Irvin), players spying on naked cheerleaders, and the 1980 World Series.
The city of Philadelphia carried out the implosion early on a Sunday morning, the way they might put a condemned man to death. Who'd have thunk it, that the Vet would be outlasted by Mumia?
That's the Phillie Phanatic on the left symbolically pressing the button that triggered the implosion; I'm sure no one would object if he pulled the lever for Mumia's execution as well.
Hamas kingpin Sheik Ahmed Yassin, known primarily for both the dozens of Israelis he's slaughtered and for his uncanny resemblance to the Dark Lord Saruman from the "Lord of the Rings" films, has been killed by an Israeli missile strike.
I could say I was upset about this, but I'd be lying.
Hollywood.com, in what has to be the year's most offensive headline, covers the box office victory of "Dawn of the Dead" over "Passion of the Christ":
Then again, had "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" beaten out 'Passion,' I was all set to do a post titled "In Battle of Box Office JCs, Carrey Bests Christ."
Yes, Stanford lost, but MAN am I looking forward to the NBA career of Josh Childress (right), just for the Sports Guy jokes alone.
"New Jersey is like a beer barrel, tapped at both ends, with all the live beer running into Philadelphia and New York." -Benjamin Franklin, via HBO.com's awesome "Inside the (Sopranos) Opening Credits" feature.
When you enter the URL for any Blogspot site, if “Blogspot” is mis-spelled as “Blogpsot,” it comes up as this bible site. How sneaky –not to mention exploitative, and not so Christian- of them. It’s just as bad as the Enetation/”poseurs” thing from a couple years ago.
Apparently the Volokh people know about it too.
It’s finally Minnesota’s turn on Sports Illustrated’s 50-state “Sports in America” series, and I’d say the magazine does my home state justice. There’s a decent piece on the state high school hockey tournament (it’s like “Hoosiers” on ice), a very funny Steve Rushin essay that name-checks SuperAmerica (the Wawa of the Midwest) as well as Minnesotans’ tendency to write checks for very small amounts. And didn’t everyone play floor hockey in 7th grade gym class?
Can’t disagree with much in terms of the greatest homegrown athletes (Bronco Nagurski, Paul Molitor, Kevin McHale, Dave Winfield, Neal Broten, golfer Patty Burg); no Hrbek, but he gets best quote. And Game 7 of the ’91 World Series is the only logical choice for greatest moment- SI includes the great scoreboard shot of nine-and-a-half innings of zeroes for the second time in as many years. And unfortunately, the list came a year too early to feature any mention of the Tower of Mauer.
Still, it would’ve been cool to see something like this in the geography section:
Tom Niedenfuer, the Dodgers pitcher who gave up Jack Clark’s series-clinching home run in Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS, was born in St. Louis Park.
One more thing- wanna know a word that doesn’t appear anywhere in the SI story? “Minny.”
Browsing at Barnes & Noble last night I stumbled into a peculiar-looking book called “Casualty of War: The Bush Administration's Assault on a Free Press” by David Dadge, which makes the argument that in the War on Terror and elsewhere, Bush has cut down on press freedoms, the New York Times’ daily criticism of him notwithstanding.
The book’s thesis, after all, is very much contradicted by its own existence. If there really were an “assault on a free press,” wouldn’t those carrying out the assault have found a way to keep such a book off the shelves of a major corporate bookstore like B&N, along with the titles by Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and others that shared the same shelf?
I guess the book is supposed to be ominous, but that effort is very much undercut by the choice to put Ari Fleischer on the cover, Fleischer being the least ominous-looking press secretary in White House history. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of negative stuff to say about Bush lately, as you can see below. But an “assault on a free press” is when journalists are tossed in gulags, or shot, for exposing the truth. I don’t know of Bush doing either.
(Funny bonus fact: When you enter “Bush” into the Amazon search engine, the first three results have nothing to do with either president, but rather are albums by the shitty band of the same name that sang “Glycerine.” Even worse, the 55th result is this.)
“Remember, under NHL rules (I think I have this correct) it's okay to punch somebody in the head repeatedly - or at least until he loses consciousness - just as long as you don't make any derogatory racial remarks in the process. Bludgeon your opponent into a coma, just don't hurt his feelings.”–Bill Simmons, on the Todd Bertuzzi incident, on ESPN.com.
I’ve finally put my finger on what’s been bothering me about the rapid deterioration of ESPN. Amidst all the preening anchors, panelists yelling at each other, in-SportsCenter game shows, there’s an overall organizational shift that seems to have grasped Bristol and changed it, for the worse.
Three or four years ago, Fox Sports Net went national and attempted to challenge ESPN’s cable-sports hegemony, hiring Keith Olbermann and Chris Myers, and embracing an innovative combination of regional coverage and youth-skewing programming. The plan, however, failed miserably, and within a year FSN had all but abandoned its attempt overtake the Worldwide Leader on a national basis.
So what did ESPN do after vanquishing its foe? Just as the WWF followed its conquest of WCW by more or less dropping its level of quality to that of its defeated rival, ESPN has, for all intents and purposes, become Fox Sports Net. Not only have they adopted FSN’s crude, vulgar style that seems aimed primarily at 14-year-old boys, they’ve also hired away much of Fox Sports’ primary “talent”- Jim Rome, Michael Irvin, John Kruk, and Stephen A. Smith have all made the jump in the last year; could Tom Arnold be far behind?
The website, incidentally, is going down the toilet too: what the hell is up with that huge, uncloseable ad at the top?
This guy went to Mariners’ spring training and photoshopped himself into all the pictures. Great stuff; my personal favorite is when he grabs John Olerud’s ass.
Some of you may have noticed that my political commentary has become a lot more anti-Bush as of late; I explain why over at the Detroit News blog.
Today is the first anniversary of the start of the War in Iraq, and Judith over at KesherTalk is doing a "BlogBurst" today on the topic, encouraging everyone to blog about it. For more, check that out here.
I'm not going to do a big huge post about the war, except to say that a year later I still believe taking Saddam out was worth it, despite all the speed bumps and all the revelations about lack of WMDs. We still freed a country from a vicious dictator after a quarter-century, and have opened the door to a democratic Middle East- in all, not something that happens every day.
Nat Hentoff has a great column in this week's Village Voice taking apart the theory, put forward by Michael Medved and others, that Jews are themselves to blame for all the "Passion of the Christ" controversy, just by virtue of their complaining. Hentoff is old enough to know what it's like to be beat up because of things Father Coughlin said, and as often he's got a great perspective that's not dependent on ideology.
I'm much less impressed, however, with the Voice's latest re-design, which screws their best writer, Hentoff, in two ways: it gives his formerly self-titled column a high school paper-caliber name, "Liberty Beat," and consigns Ted Rall's weekly cartoon to the bottom of his page. Yuk. Rall isn't even worthy to carry Hentoff's notebook, let alone appear on the same newspaper page.
Thanks for all the comments on the marriage-name-changing post below; clearly you’ve all got interesting perspectives. A couple of you, in e-mails, said that a man taking his wife’s last name as his own is an even worse offense than hyphenating them both.
Well guess what? I know one guy who not only changed his last name to his wife’s, but after they got divorced he kept working with her for years, even though she for some reason makes him tell everyone she’s his sister. And worst of all, she makes him dress to match her too!
No, so I don’t really “know” Jack White. And the sister thing is more creepy than anything, while at the same time he gets to bang Renee Zellweger on the side. But the fact remains that Jack White’s real name is Jack Gillis, and when he married Meg White, he took her last name. Even if it is only a stage name.
Maxim this month has two different covers- and they’re one of the best ever and one of the worst. Marge Simpson makes her lad-mag debut, but unfortunately two-thirds of subscribers will be subjected to the vile visage of the vomit-inducing Paris Hilton. Hasn’t everyone already seen Paris more-naked-than-that?
Yes, I certainly prefer Marge to Paris- much less risk of knobrot.
The Madrid bombing- which took place on 3/11 and exactly 911 days after 9/11, demonstrates the ironic obsession terrorists have with numerology, as well as anniversaries. And it’s not just the Islamists either; Timothy McVeigh purposely carried out the Oklahoma City bombing two years to the day after the Waco massacre, while the Columbine killers committed their crime on 4/20- (likely in tribute to the marijuana code, though some still say it was because of Hitler’s birthday).
So gentlemen, next time your wife or girlfriend chides you forgetting your anniversary, you’ve got the perfect retort: anniversaries are for terrorists!
The Jayson Blair book (no link!) has sold just under 1,400 copies, not including WalMart totals, in its first week and a half on the shelves, according to the Daily News. Proving once again that most people outside of Manhattan really don’t give a shit about what happens in the New York media bubble.
Still, a pathetic total for a pathetic man; hopefully now Jayson Blair the journalist will have to die.
Bill over at Bloviating Inanities had his blog taken over yesterday in a “coup d’etat” by several of his readers; hilarity, of course, ensued. About ten people posted continuously throughout St. Patrick’s Day, and apparently everyone was drinking as they posted. Anyway, scroll through the last day or two of entries- it's really some of the funniest stuff you'll ever read.
The free daily tabloid AM New York, which I don’t read, this morning has a huge headline: BILL’S RUNNING FOR MAYOR. Those rumors about Bill Clinton going for New York mayor are finally coming true? Actually no- It’s Bill THOMPSON, the city comptroller, who will announce his candidacy for the mayoral race that’s nearly two years away.
The NCAA tournament starts tomorrow, and in my bracket I have a Final Four of St. Joe's, Kentucky, UConn, and Duke, with St. Joe's winning, just because no one else thinks they can do it. I should mention, however, that whichever game I watch tomorrow will be my first of the year.
Dallas Mavericks owner and future reality show star Mark Cuban now has a blog, and on it he shares some exchanges he’s had lately with local sportswriters. Could be groundbreaking- how long before something on the blog causes Cuban to be fined?
In honor of St. Paddy’s Day, I share with you the lyrics of the Best Song Ever Written About 9/11 By Someone Other Than Bruce Springsteen: Doug Cogan and Christopher Storc’s “The Ballad of Mike Moran.” Remember the fireman from the “Concert for New York City” who said “this is my face, bitch” to Osama? It’s about him:
I am Irish and was proud to serve with other firemen Who gave their lives for us that day, each one of them a friend In remembrance of my brothers who from earthly bonds did pass Osama, step right up and kiss my royal Irish ass
They’re the bravest men I’ve known and I’ll miss them every day
I will keep them in my heart, so they’re never far away
In remembrance of my brothers, who from earthly bonds did pass
Osama, step right up and kiss my royal Irish ass
You’ll pay the price, but first you’ll kiss my royal Irish ass.
Never thinking of their safety, only saving other lives
They never made it home to see their daughters, sons, or wives
In remembrance of my brothers who from earthly bonds did pass
Osama, step right up and kiss my royal Irish ass
Try to take our freedom and you’ve made a big mistake
The Spirit of America, you’re never going to break
In remembrance of my brothers who from earthly bonds did pass
Osama, step right up and kiss my royal Irish ass
Apparently, neither does this guy. Too bad he’s only got two hands.
Feminist author Katie Roiphe has a piece in Slate this week that gives a brief history of womens’ changing, hyphenating, or or keeping their original names upon marriage. The “maiden name debate” is a fascinating topic that isn’t written about nearly enough.
While I certainly would have no problem were my future wife to keep her name, I have gone on record before that I will never subject any child of mine to a hyphenated last name- Roiphe rightly denounces this practice as “socially irresponsible,” though I’d go even further and call it child abuse. Why give your child a name that will be twice as hard for people to remember, not to mention never, ever fitting on a drivers’ license?
Roiphe also trashes the latest trend of married couples both making up a new last name for their whole family; as the final living male Silver in my family besides my father, I’m not about to go along with that one either.
But the all-time low in this regard was one I heard about from a friend who was in town the other weekend. She told me that a long-ago acquaintance of ours, who I’ll call “George,” had recently married, and had added his new wife’s name and hyphenated it to his. This has to make “George” eligible for the Whipped Hall of Fame; I wonder how many of his guy friends excommunicated him when they heard about it.
Andrew Sullivan, in giving his “quote of the day” award to Guardian writer Clive James, mistakenly refers to James as “Clive Davis.” (Bottom of post; it’s since been fixed). Who knew that the longtime head of Arista Records knew so much about international politics?
Convicted Killer: I Won Fixed Fight With Hepatitis. -ESPN.com, today. At least, it's the busiest since the New York Post's "Gay Porn Nazi Crook" piece last year.
(Jeremy posted this like a year ago, but I just remembered it today).
Researching a story at work today, I had to spend a significant amount of time on different California government websites, and nearly every one of the entry pages includes this:
Therefore, it becomes nearly impossible to read anything on any of the pages without, mentally at least, lapsing into Ah-nuld-speak- and his official proclamations are especially a hoot:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim February 1-7, 2004, as "California Consumer Protection Week” IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this the twenty-eighth day of January 2004.And you shall know California Consumer Protection Week has ended, for you will crush your enemies, seen them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.
Emily Jones (“Lolita”) had this quiz in her site, so I took it- and whaddya know, I AM an obscure book by a woman who just happened to have been my journalism professor at Brandeis!
And even more strangely, I never read the book.
You're Compassion Fatigue!
by Susan Moeller
You used to care, but now it's just getting too difficult. You cared
about the plight of people in lands near and far, but now the media has bombarded you
with images of suffering to the point that you just don't have the energy to go on.
You've become cold and heartless, as though you'd lived in New York City for a year or
so. But you stand as a serious example to all others that they should turn off their TV
sets and start caring again.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
I’ve been saying all year that “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” while consistently funny, hadn’t yet hit a home run this season- through the first seven episodes there hadn’t yet been a perfect half-hour, in the tradition of “Beloved Aunt,” the trick-or-treating episode, and the restaurant-opening curse-a-thon that closed last season. But the show finally achieved that in Sunday’s finale, with the entire final half-hour both depicting Larry David’s debut in “The Producers” and parodying the movie/play itself.
While “The Producers” musical itself is already metatextual enough, as a Broadway show about a Broadway show; the ‘Curb’ episode merely added another layer. All season long the show has depicted rehearsals of the musical, which inexplicably starred non-actor/non-singer/non-dancer David, and in the finale we discover that, like Max Bialystock, Brooks hired David because he wanted a flop, so he and his wife Anne Bancroft could retire. But, like the Elvis/Hitler in the original movie, the actor (Larry) ruined the producer’s plan by improvising brilliantly- and since the show is improv-based anyway, there’s meta level #4.
One question to those who watched: in the scene where Brooks and Bancroft are drinking in a bar across the street, was the lone drunk next to them played by Gene Wilder, or not? This has been a matter of much dispute between my friends and I. Less mistakable were cameos by Nathan Lane and Jerry Seinfeld.
No, the “Us” in "For Us, By Us" does not refer to the Jews, although it turns out one of the founders of the “urban sportswear” company is a Jewish ‘deis alum, (as is the very non-Italian founder of the restaurant chain Vinny Testa's). At any rate, FUBU last week was given the Non-Sectarian Jewish-Sponsored University’s Asper Award for social entrepreneurship.
Most amusing in the Justice account is a mention to “The Fat Albert” (sic); hey hey hey, the reporter was probably born in 1985, so I forgive him for not getting the reference.
From Mike Silverman’s Red Letter Day:
by legal same-sex
(automatically updated daily)
“The other day I amazed a 20-something acquaintance by saying I was all for evil Bush's evil war of freedom, and when he finished making hex signs and stringing garlic around his neck, I explained why. I was six when the Islamicists in the Middle East got their asses kicked by Israel once, 12 when they did it again. 11 when they killed a bunch of Olympic athletes, 19 when they kept American hostages for a year, 22 when they blew up a bunch of Marines in their barracks, 23 when the Achille Lauro was hijacked, 27 when Lockerbie happened, 28 when they announced a new literary prize and Salman Rushdie was the first winner, 32 when the WTC was blown up once, 39 when it was blown up a second time for good. And I couldn't even begin to tell you how many presidential peace processes and promises of a new day in the Middle East I've seen.”
“Mike G,” a commenter on Jeff Jarvis’ blog (and a Democrat!), as quoted by Asparagirl at Yuppies of Zion. It’s all amidst a fascinating discussion of the attack in Spain and why, if Iraq had “no connection to terrorism,” terrorists would be willing to kill 200 civilians just because their government supported the Iraq war.
As I write at Detroit News, Bush and Co. could learn a thing or two from Dylan, in regards to their disgusting crackdown on “indecency.”
For those of you who are also sick of this censorship nonsense, click here, to see a reel of celebrities (including several “West Wing” cast members) cursing vociferously. If you’ve ever watched ‘West Wing’ and fantasized about Donna blurting out “I like cunt,” today’s your lucky day. (via Jeremy Wahlman).
According to a piece in the most recent Entertainment Weekly’s “Listen 2 This” music section, a full-fledged reunion of Weezer’s original lineup is in the works, as original bassist Matt Sharp (absent from the band’s last two albums) has rekindled his friendship with frontman Rivers Cuomo.
This is good news, but I’ve got three problems with EW’s story: one, it treats Weezer’s 1994 debut “The Blue Album” like it’s the greatest record in history while disparaging the more recent “Green Album” and “Maladroit,” when in fact the quality gap, at least between ‘Blue’ and ‘Green,’ isn’t that wide; two, it acts as though 1996’s “Pinkerton,” a misunderstood masterpiece that is one of my favorite albums of all time, never happened, not even mentioning it; and three, the piece leaves out the whole story about Weezer being essentially dead for the five years between “Pinkerton” and “Green Album” and coming back from nowhere.
The WWE held its twentieth annual Wrestlemania event last night at Madison Square Garden; taking the train to my friend’s house on Long Island, I left from Penn Station –which is under MSG- meaning I traveled away from the live event in order to watch it on TV. This year is also believed to be the first time in history that both Wrestlemania and the Republican National Convention will take place in the same building in the same year.
Longtime fans were rewarded as in the final match of the evening Chris Benoit defeated Triple-H and Shawn Michaels in a three-way match to win his first-ever world championship. As the “technical wrestler” has long been a favorite of the “smart” fans in wrestling’s internet community, Benoit’s victory –coupled with that of longtime “scientific” favorite Eddie Guerrero in the other main event- was enough to get most fans to let slide the show’s five-hour running time.
The most surreal moment of the evening was unquestionably the match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. Both men are said to soon be leaving the federation, with Lesnar this week announcing his departure in order to pursue an NFL career, even though he’s never played organized football in his life. Throughout the match the crowd turned violently against both Lesnar and Goldberg, chanting “you sold out” and singing that “na na na na hey hey goodbye” song; they didn’t cheer until special referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin attacked both wrestlers.
The Rock and Mick Foley both returned to the ring after long absences, as did the “old school” Undertaker, and also appearing in a match was the 55-year-old Ric Flair, though Hulk Hogan did not grace us with his orange-hued presence this year. The youngest participant in the evening was Shane McMahon’s infant son, who appeared in a promo- I expect that kid to be involved in his first storyline within two years.
Pete Rose showed up for the Hall of Fame induction and was thankfully booed by about half the crowd; I would’ve joined them had I been there. Jesse Ventura also appeared and gave an interview to Donald Trump at ringside- four years ago Gov. Jesse was trying to get Trump to run for president, and now they’ve both been reduced to bantering between matches at Wrestlemania. The McMahons even dragged “Mean Gene” Okerland and the ailing Bobby “The Brain” Heenan out of the mothballs for old times’ sake.
And yes, before you attack the comments, I know wrestling is fake. So does Sports Guy, who like me watched the event despite largely ignoring the last year or two's worth of storylines. He riffs on a love-triangle plot, sure to reference the Donna’s-debutante-ball episode of "90210" before finishing with,
I keep expecting to turn on SportsCenter and see Linda Cohn choosing between John Clayton and Sean Salisbury.
Today is the second annual Eat An Animal For PETA Day.
A bunch of top baseball bloggers, including Aaron Gleeman and Bill James’ assistant Matthew Namee, have joined forces to create a new superblog called The Hardball Times; Check it out here. Sort of a baseball answer to The Command Post.
Following Saturday's draft the starting lineup of my 2004 fantasy baseball team, Hrbek’s Hermits, is as follows:
1B: Carlos Delgado
2B: Adam Kennedy
SS: Rich Aurilia
3B: Eric Chavez
OF: Jay Gibbons, Shannon Stewart, Jose Guillen
C: Joe Mauer
Rotation: Curt Schilling, Johan Santana, Jarrod Washburn, Gil Meche
Bullpen: Mike MacDougal, Chad Bradford, Ricardo Rincon.
It’s an AL-only league, but there’s no DH; go figure. I'm hoping Mauer can carry me to a better season than the fourth-place finish of my ’03 team, The Twinkie Defense.
To the tunes of Semisonic (who went to my high school, by the way), I want to welcome everyone to my new blog. After nearly two years on Blogspot I've finally made the switch over to my own self-titled server and Movable Type, and this will be my primary blogging home from now on.
All of my archives (that's more than 4,000 posts) have been switched over here from the old place and can be easily searched at right or browsed in monthly archive form; the other big changes are that each post opens as its own page, and I will from now on do the aesthetically right thing and put spaces between paragraphs.
I want to send a special thanks to Joe over at Short Strange Trip, who helped me out with the transfer, and to everyone who read and supported the old blog. Thus, the new era begins...
After more than a year of reading his blog I finally met Jordan Rockwell in person last night and yes, he's every bit the uninhibited wild-and-crazy-guy in person that he is in his writing. Good times... check out Jordan's Oscar thoughts here, and check back in his archives for some of the legendary "succubus" stories.
Something tells me Courtney herself was the source for this one...
Cobain joining Hole? That would be like if John Lennon had quit the Beatles, made music only with Yoko, and then died an untimely death. Oh wait, bad example.
TOP TEN ALBUMS WITH “ALBUM” IN THE TITLE:
1. “The White Album,” The Beatles, 1968
2. “The Black Album,” Metallica, 1991
3. “The Blue Album,” Weezer, 1994
4. “The Black Album,” Jay-Z, 2003
5. “The Grey Album,” DJ Danger Mouse, 2004
6. “The Green Album,” Weezer, 2001
7. “The Wedding Album,” Duran Duran, 1995
8. “The Yellow Album,” “The Simpsons,” 1998
9. “The Brown Album,” Primus, 1994
10. “Steal This Album,” System of a Down, 2003
TOP TEN SONGS WITH “SONG” IN THE TITLE:
1. “The Rain Song,” Led Zeppelin
2. “Redemption Song,” Bob Marley
3. “Your Song,” Elton John
4. “Silly Love Songs,” Paul McCartney
5. “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” Rupert Holmes
6. “Love Song,” Tesla
7. “LoveSong,” The Cure
8. “Undone (The Sweater Song),” Weezer
9. “One Song Glory,” “Rent”
10. “The Thong Song,” Sisqo
BEST ALBUM WITH “SONG” IN THE TITLE:
1. “Songs in the Key of Life,” Stevie Wonder
Ben Affleck, on the cover of Rolling Stone, to talk about his barely-at-30 midlife crisis. I’ve said it before, but if one of the two of them had to kill his wife/girlfriend, why did it have to be Scott?
"Significant Others," the new marriage-counseling sitcom that debuted on Bravo last week, has been getting rave reviews, but I don’t get why- I thought the premiere was overly smarmy, and not particularly funny. It also didn’t help that a central joke of the first episode- a guy gets angry when he finds out his wife/girlfriend has had sex with a comically large number of men- was lifted from a ten-year-old movie, “Clerks.” And what happened to the black couple from the commercials?
It seems to me that “Significant Others” is the show for people who have missed television about whining yuppies for the 12 years since “Thirtysomething” was canceled.
Last night’s episode was funny, especially Edie Falco’s guest turn as a sharky lesbian real estate agent. But one thing I couldn’t help noticing: from the guest spot by Chloe Sevigny to the reference to the Lindsay Lohan/Hilary Duff feud, half the jokes would have been completely lost on anyone who isn’t a daily reader of Gawker and/or Page Six. Stay tuned for next week, when Jack and Karen make fun of Tina Brown.
From IOFilm.com, where I review movies, I learn of an upcoming British film called “Suzie Gold,” in which the titular character (played by Summer Phoenix) is a “Jewish princess” from London who ultimately meets Mister Right: a guy named Anthony Silver. The film, described by IO’s reviewer as “Bridget Jones' Big Fat Jewish Wedding And A Funeral,” which would seem to be accurate except that Summer Phoenix is even thinner than Thin Renee Zellweger, nevermind Renee-as-Bridget. There’s no American release date scheduled yet, but I might have to see the film just so I can experience something as monumentally overdue as a movie hero named Silver.
That’s the subject of my latest Detroit News blog.
I don’t really have much to say about yesterday’s steroids-in-baseball hearings before the Senate; I only followed the news coverage to see if Bud Selig actually would be willing to lie to Congress again- if the proliferation of steroids in the game turns out to be Bud’s primary legacy as commisioner, that is quite a major silver lining. There was also testimony by players association head Donald Fehr, father of my college roommate, who gave an unconvincing libertarian defense, and was justifiably grilled by the much more admirable John McCain.
(The New York Post ran a “Fehr Strikes Out” headline, so I thought I’d throw in a gratuitous Fassbinder reference just to keep up with them. It was either that, or "Fehr and Loathing.")
Meanwhile, the Daily Quickie’s Dan Shanoff rips Reggie Jackson, calling him a “jackass,” for declaring that “somebody is definitely guilty of taking steroids.” Umm, after last year’s publicly released test results, which confirmed that more than 5% of MLB players tested positive, isn’t it true that somebody is definitely guilty? I like Shanoff, but his tendency to shill for ESPN programming (i.e., all the pro-“Playmakers” and “Dream Job” stuff, and now their baseball broadcasts) is getting to be a bit much. At least there weren’t any “Minny” references today.
More terror, this time in Spain. Damn. Al-Qaeda is now claiming responsibility, and calls it “Operation Death Trains”- we all know the connotation that “death trains” has, especially in Europe.
The comically named but generally serious anti-outsourcing site YourJobIsGoingToIndia.com.
The long-awaited “liberal radio network,” set to star Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and others is a go. Franken has named his show “The O’Franken Factor,” apparently deciding to define himself by Bill O’Reilly right off the bat, which can’t be a good idea.
The network will be called “Air America Radio”; ironic that, after weeks of furor over “Passion of the Christ,” the liberals would name their network after a Mel Gibson movie.
"For future reference, here's one Hip Tip: Never trust musical advice from a queen insisting that more Sting in your record collection will get you laid" -Jimmy Draper, reviewing the "Queer Eye" soundtrack in the Village Voice. Not tantrically laid, anyway.
ANOTHER JUSTICE SCANDAL: My old college paper, The Justice, just can’t seem to stay away from controversy this year. First there was the “rhymes with tigger” racial scandal that resulted in the resignations of seven editors (see my entire October archives for commentary), then the paper made news again in November when most of a press run was stolen by a student senator. Now, the same week of the release of Jayson Blair’s autobiography, we’ve got a plagiarism scandal.
Michael Camp, a freshman writer for the arts section (of which I was editor in 1999-2000), has confessed to fabricating all or part of seven pieces for the paper, including lifting of quotes and passages from movie reviews in the Boston Phoenix, as well as from The Justice itself. And while Blair and Stephen Glass each at least made cursory attempts to cover their tracks, Camp didn’t even bother- he reviewed a performance of the school’s Israeli dance troupe by merely cut-and-pasting the Justice piece about the same performance from the previous year, and somehow thought that no one would notice. Especially not the performers mentioned in the story and the author of the original piece. Just as Jayson Blair lifted a story from one of his former co-interns, Camp cribbed from a reporter, now a sophomore, who is still a Justice staffer. Ouch. Let’s hope this is seen as an isolated incident and doesn’t do anything else to further impugn the integrity of the paper. Meanwhile, in better ‘deis news:
WALTHAM’S GOT A WINNING TEAM: Brandeis actually won a rare sports championship, a conference title in womens’ basketball. Yay Judges. But in less happy news:
STUDENT DRESSED AS JESUS ASSAULTED: A Brandeis undergraduate showed up at a Purim party last week in costume as Jesus- complete with crucifix, fake blood, and “king of the box office” sign- and got into an altercation with another student. The student, who is Jewish, defended the decision, saying that he dresses up as a popular movie character every year for Purim (last year, he was Spider-man.)
Interestingly enough, the student who assaulted “Jesus” is the same guy who last year was impeached from the student senate for stealing 2,000 copies of The Justice. See, it all comes full circle!
"Expect historians to one day look back on the launching of Von Trier’s Dogme95 (the manifesto that brought filmmaking closer to amateur porn) and laugh. That overhyped, low-fi creed made it possible for naive film buffs to think that by trading celluloid for video they were welcoming the arrival of a great artistic millennium.” – Armond White, rightly trashing the vomit-inducing Danish film movement, in New York Press.
The exodus from the San Francisco 49ers continues, as wide receiver Tai Streets has signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions, a move that reunites him with former coach Steve Mariucci.
Paying homage to the ‘70s detective show that starred Karl Malden while also referencing Streets’ team, Chris Berman dubbed the player “Tai Streets of San Francisco.” Unfortunately there is no cultural significance to “Streets of Detroit,” (outside of “8 Mile,” that is), although Berman was undoubtedly rooting for Streets to sign with the Eagles, where he would have become “Tai Streets of Philadelphia.” Maybe next year.
My score on the Libertarian Purity Test is an abysmal 20 out of 100, putting me in the "soft-core libertarian" category. I always thought my social liberal/fiscal conservative ideology gave me libertarian leanings, but I guess not- after all, I would never be for the privatization of Central Park
Lifelong terrorist Abu Abbas, who among other acts masterminded the 1985 hijacking of a cruise ship that killed American Leon Klinghoffer, has died in custody in Iraq. If you feel bad about this, there's something wrong with you.
The New York Mets’ new rightfield platoon of ex-Yankees Shane Spencer and Karim Garcia allegedly got into a scuffle with a pizza deliveryman outside a bar in Port St. Lucie last week. Apparently the two outfielders left a bar in the vicinity of the club’s spring training facility, and Garcia decided to make a “pit stop” and urinate in front of a pizzeria next to the bar where they had been drinking. The delivery guy working there took exception, and a brief fight ensued.
I must say, I’ve rarely seen the words “scuffle outside a bar” and “New York Mets” in the same sentence since the participants were Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Tim Teufel; the closest we’ve come lately was that relief pitcher a couple years ago who couldn’t handle smoking pot. While I certainly hope the pizza man is all right, kudos to Garcia and Spencer for paying tribute to the hellraisin', barfightin’, and public-pissin’ legacy of the ‘86 Mets.
UPDATE: And in other Florida spring training fisticuffs news, there was a near-fight outside of yesterday's Yankees-Red Sox exhibition between the Yankees' head of public relations and a Sox security guard- though it was not the same Sox security guard who fought with the aforementioned Karim Garcia during last year's playoffs.
MORE NEW CONTENT: I make fun of Maureen Dowd's latest awful column, on The Black Table's Black List (10th item from the top).
ONE MORE AC NOTE: At about 5:00 in the morning at in the poker room at Trump Taj Mahal, I saw a guy wearing an OJ Simpson Buffalo Bills throwback jersey. No, I'm not kidding. The only thing worse would've been a Pete Rose jersey in a sports book.
THE RED AND THE BLUE: My latest Detroit News blog piece is up; this time I look at the inherent fallacies in the ever-present red state/blue state theory.
SOPRANOS V, EPISODE I: Very good first episode of the fifth season last night, bringing in just the right mix of “mob family” and “family family,” while also revisiting both the Russian-in-the-woods episode and the Tony-wants-Melfi bit, the latter of which has been essentially dormant since the first season.
For those of you who have never read my stuff during a “Sopranos” season (and considering how long it’s been, that’s quite a few of you), here’s my position on the show: I love it, I think it’s the best thing on TV since “Twin Peaks,” and while I agreed that the fourth season was uneven, it was still better than 99% of what was on television in 2002.
But most importantly, I don’t watch the show just for the violence, and I sort of resent those who think the show is only about the blood, and/or a huge guessing game over “who’s gonna get whacked.” I don’t appreciate when people denigrate this great show for “focusing too much on the women,” and I feel like slapping anyone who complains about the previous night’s episode because “nobody got killed.”
That out of the way, I’m about ready for Carl Showalter/Mr. Pink’s arrival in the Jersey Meadowlands next week, how about you?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Kucinich [in the presidential debate] went on to explain that ‘as president, I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO,’ a statement roughly akin to my declaring that, as power forward for the Boston Celtics, I will end the team’s 17-year championship drought.”- Peter Beinart, memorably trashing virtually delegate-less candidates Kucinich and Al Sharpton in TNR, before encouraging John Kerry to “marginalize and ignore them.”
Hey, Beinart’s got a better chance of being starting PF for the Celtics next year than Vin Baker does…
SO LONG, DR. DAN: Dan Barreiro writes his final column for the Star Tribune today.
REQUIEM FOR A PLAGIARIST: The same week that saw the release of Jayson Blair’s book (no, that disgrace to my profession will never get a link from me), another serial practitioner of journalistic misconduct is going back to work: Mike Barnicle, bounced from the Boston Globe six years ago after numerous questions were raised about his practice of making up sources and lifting jokes from George Carlin, has a new gig, writing a twice-weekly column for the rival Boston Herald. Barnicle has spent the last few years writing a sporadic column for the New York Daily News and, somewhat inexplicably, serving as Chris Matthews’ primary substitute on “Hardball.”
Boston media expect Dan Kennedy, who broke the story, has got more, including the very true observation that “the Herald could have hired Barnicle any time during the past five-plus years. It's just that, until now, the paper's standards were too high.”
O'REILLY GOES NUTS, CONT'D: In an uncommonly intelligent column by Frank Rich over the weekend on 'Passion,' he says this:
Bill O'Reilly was not so circumspect when he returned to this same theme last week, asking an editor from Variety why Mr. Gibson has taken so much heat for his film. After beating around the burning bush for a while, Mr. O'Reilly said: "I'm asking this question respectfully. Is it because that the major media in Hollywood and a lot of the secular press is controlled by Jewish people?"
AC, BABY, AC!: I went to Atlantic City on Friday night for the first time in awhile, and it was a lot of fun. I won $125 playing blackjack at the Trump Taj Mahal, which has essentially been turned into a 10,000 square foot commercial for "The Apprentice," complete with the show playing on monitors and the waitresses serving bottles of Trump Ice.
My two friends and I had an "Insomniac with Dave Attell" kind of evening, if you know what I mean, and it had been way too long. A few observations I can share:
- I saw several things that should be addenda to Bill Simmons' landmark "how to spot casino trash" column: I played blackjack next to a kid who appeared to be about 17, and had braces. Against the FMA as I am, I would wholeheartedly back a constitutional amendment that would disqualify anyone with braces- and that includes Tom Cruise- from gambling in any American casino.
- At another blackjack table, the guy next to me repeatedly shouted "show me monkey!" every time he drew a face card and wanted the other card to be an ace. Don't ask.
- I think the world would be a better place if when you hand your chips in to be cashed, the cashier quoted "Casablanca" and replied "your winnings, sir" as he or she handed back the cash. Can someone get Trump on the phone and demand this?
KARMA INDEED EXISTS I: Ted Williams, a veteran of two foreign wars and one of the greatest who ever played the game of baseball, lived to be 84 years old. His son John Henry Williams, who spent years taking advantage of his father's fame in order to push his own ill-fated dot com ventures, and later had his father's body frozen in order to sell his DNA, lived to be 35 years old.
KARMA INDEED EXISTS II: The debut album of Probot, former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl's third-string side project, outsold Nirvana widow Courtney Love's solo album, "America's Sweetheart," by 1,500 copies in their opening week, according to EW.
NEWS ITEM: "Minnesota signs Winfield to five-year deal." No, the Twins haven't brought 52-year-old Hall of Famer and St. Paul native Dave Winfield out of retirement, but rather the subject of the story is former Buffalo defensive back Antoine Winfield, who the Vikings signed as a free agent yesterday. The latter Winfield is said to be one of the top players in the league at his position, but I confess I had not heard of him prior to yesterday.
The Vikes also signed defensive lineman Steve Martin to a free agent contract. Please, call him MR. STEVE Martin.
O'REILLY LOSES IT: Bill O'Reilly's nonsensical, deeply compromised commentary on "Passion of the Christ," was bad enough, especially the part in which he dismissed Mel Gibson's father as "some crazy old guy," when he surely knows Hilton Gibson has been publishing anti-Jewish, Holocaust-denying screeds for decades. Now Mr. Factor takes on the culture war and- I'm not kidding- he doesn't think President Bush has done enough to fight it! From his latest column:
President Bush doesn't like to talk about social issues like gay marriage and degenerate entertainment... most importantly, traditional Americans lack a strong leader on social issues. I mean, think about it. You have a conservative president in the White House who rarely engages these issues. So the secularists have the bully pulpit. And they're using it very effectively.
GUILTY: Martha Stewart was convicted today on all charges in her securities fraud trial, and it actually appears all those “Martha Stewart Living in Jail” jokes are about to come true.
I didn’t follow the trial that closely so I couldn’t tell you whether or not the verdict is correct, but what I can say is that I really despised that line of reasoning that said “how can we indict Martha for her little crime when the Enron people are still free???” First of all, it’s apples and oranges- Martha’s case was a minor deal over a stock trade; Enron was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and of course a prosecution will take years to put together. And does the non-punishment of Enron’s crimes mean that no one should ever be indicted for any lesser crime ever again? By that rationale, OJ’s acquittal should have led to a moratorium on assault convictions.
Second of all, they’re not still free- Fastow rolled on Skilling and went to jail, Skilling may roll on Lay, and that’s the ballgame. Not to mention, the week of Martha’s guilty verdict the trial of the Rigas family (Adelphia) began, while Bernie Ebbers (Worldcom) turned himself in on a multi-count indictment. So those calling for all the major corporate heads to roll before Martha’s did, in fact, get their wish.
Also, with Martha down and Jayson Williams teetering, that whole “celebrities are above the law” theory seems on shaky ground as well, which is certainly bad news for both Jacko and Kobe.
I can't wait for Christopher Byron’s column tomorrow...
SILVER AND GOLD: The letters page in Sports Illustrated a few weeks after the Swimsuit Issue is always one of the more entertaining reads of the year. And while this year’s was missing angry feminists, and also had no mention of that creepy photo of model Marisa Miller cavorting with sheep, there were a couple of gems. My favorite comes from Barry Gold of LA:
On Saturday I returned home after celebrating my son’s Bar Mitzvah. I’m not saying it was a sign from God, but in the mail was my new Swimsuit Issue. I just handed it to my son and said “Now that you’re a man, I think this belongs to you."
WHAT DID I EVER DO WITHOUT WONKETTE?: If it weren’t for her, how would I know about the John Kerry schlong controversy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “Richard Gere problem,” or the most unintentionally comical headline in history?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Discussing the 49ers’ trade of Terrell Owens to Baltimore, and the Ravens’ lack of a suitable quarterback, the Quickie’s Dan Shanoff asks, “Who, exactly, is going to get TO the ball? It's like someone giving you Angelina Jolie's number, but you don't have a phone.”
FILM CRITIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Had Michael Bay shared an era with Geoffrey Chaucer, he probably would have worked on this movie.” –Keith Phipps, reviewing “Passion of the Christ” in the Onion AV Club.
PROUD TO BE A RODENT:I’m happy to report that after six months I have finally transcended “Flappy Bird” level, and have as of today moved up to the status of “Adorable Little Rodent” on Truth Laid Bear’s Blogger Ecosystem, the leading ranking system for blogs. By their bizarre formula based on linkage and traffic, I’m now ranked #1281, out of just over 8000 listed blogs.
The ALRs are the sixth-ranked sector of the Ecosystem, out of 16, and if you’re new to blogging you’re probably either laughing at me right now or hyperventilating in incomprehension. Yes, I’ve still got a ways to go (this is sort of like being a green belt in Karate), but it’s also nice to know when you’re moving up in the world.
START SPREADING THE (DETROIT) NEWS: The big news I spoke of yesterday is this: I’ve been brought in for a 30-day stint as a blogger on the website of the daily newspaper The Detroit News, where I’ll be writing about the election and related issues three-to-five times a week. I’m very excited about it; my first post will likely run sometime over the weekend.
And in other housekeeping news, my move off Blogspot should be complete by the end of the month; my original goal was to switch over by my two-year Blogoversary in May, but I’ll likely beat that deadline easily.
RALL ON A RAIL: Ted Rall, the controversial “cartoonist,” (his lack of artistic talent causes me to use the term very loosely) will no longer have his work published on the website of the New York Times. A spokeswoman for the paper tells Editor and Publisher that “we found some of his humor was not in keeping with the tone we try to set for NYTimes.com ...while NYTimes.com and its parent company support the right of free expression, we also recognize an obligation to assure our users that what we publish, no matter what its origin, does not offend the reasonable sensibilities of our audience.” In other words, we’re the friggin’ New York Times- no more substandard bullshit for us.
Rall, who among other high points has made fun of 9/11 widows and dead firemen, and written a column expressing solidarity with the insurgents killing American soldiers in Iraq, has blamed “conservatives” for the decision, because we all know how much influence the right has over the New York Times.
Say it with me everyone: This. Is. Not. Censorship. The Times has a right to publish whoever and whatever they want, and as America’s most respected newspaper it has an obligation to maintain high standards. Clearly the words “standards” and “Ted Rall” don’t even belong in the same universe, let alone the same sentence.
Now, about that Chomsky op-ed…
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I'd write a story, and in the back of my mind know the guy I'm highlighting is either cheating the game with steroids or cheating on his wife with a Hooter's waitress. Or he was simply a compassion-deprived moron. I longed for the way it used to be - when the compassion-deprived morons who cheated on their wives with Hooter's waitresses weren't using steroids.” – Former Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman, who has a written a book about the 1986 Mets called “The Bad Guys Won,” which you can buy here.
Jeff, who I met awhile back and was kind enough to link here from his book’s website, wrote for SI for six years and was the author of 1999’s infamous “John Rocker on the 7 train” piece that did its part in helping the rest of the country to finally come around and start hating the Atlanta Braves. Pearlman left SI for Newsday a year ago but is now making his triumphant return to baseball writing with a tribute to the favorite team of his childhood. The book’s not likely to be a big hit among Red Sox fans, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.
Actually, I hope someday to write a similar treatment of the championship ballclubs of my childhood, the ’87/’91 Twins, in which I will include such “warts and all” items as Kirby Puckett’s infidelities, Kent Hrbek’s gluttony, Jack Morris’ midseason divorce, the Joe Niekro emery board incident, the famous Dan Gladden/Steve Lombardozzi lawn brawl, and (of course) a whole photo gallery of memorable Twins mullets.
GOD AND THE BODY AT HARVARD: The Boston Phoenix has a profile of the most unlikely Harvard instructor ever, Jesse Ventura. People used to rip on one of my favorite professors for not having a PhD; Ventura lacks even an undergraduate degree.
Like Al Gore after he left politics for teaching, Jesse has both gained weight and grown a funny-looking beard, though strangely the piece does not mention his failed MSNBC talk show.
I never voted for Ventura, but I did have a “my governor can beat up your governor” t-shirt.
NEWS ITEM: “UPN Show Is Called Insensitive to the Amish.” But they’ll never see it, will they?
The Center for Rural Strategies, aka “the hick lobby,” is behind this one; if I were them I’d concentrate more on trying to prevent comics from continuing to make lame “Deliverance” jokes.
NEW PIECES: My full review of “Passion of the Christ” is online at Hot Movie Ticket; in addition, my interview with Jewish rap superstar 50 Shekel (“In Da Shul”) has been published in the Blueprint. No link yet, but there should be one soon. I’ve also got a big, big thing that I’ll be telling you all about in the next day or two, once all the details are ironed out…
TRUMP CARD: We’re halfway through the inaugural season of “The Apprentice,” and I have a few questions: Was it planned that the first four people off the show would be men, and the next four would be women? With all the “business tasks” being assigned, why haven’t the contestants yet been asked to run one of Trump’s casinos in AC for a day? That way, the contestants would have to decide whether or not to hire thugs to intimidate the card-counters- and I can just see the boardroom of that episode now:
TROY: I wanted to hire additional muscle, but Bill insisted on putting that money into more cigarette girls.
BILL: That’s wrong! Troy is dishonest! It’s his fault the casino got robbed!
TRUMP: If there’s anything I’ve learned from my years owning casinos, it’s that being able to effectively break people’s legs is the key to every successful operation. Bill- YOU’RE FIRED!
ANOTHER REASON TO HATE “DREAM JOB”: Since Tony Kornheiser is one of the judges for the entire six-week run of the show, he is required to be in Bristol for it and is thus out of the “Pardon the Interruption” studio every Monday and Friday. Therefore, the best show on ESPN must now make do with such substandard co-hosts as Norman Chad and Dan LeBatard.
This is just another in my litany of reasons why “SportsCenter,” and the network itself, has gone down the tubes lately: they struck gold with PTI two years ago, and then proceeded to completely misunderstand its appeal: rather than the chemistry and rapport between Kornheiser and Wilbon, the network’s execs apparently believed it was arguments and yelling that people wanted to see, and as a result greenlighted the abysmal “Around the Horn” and turned “SportsCenter” into all-arguments, all-the-time. In bits like “Fact or Fiction” and especially that vile John Clayton/Sean Salisbury segment, ESPN presents mean-spirited insult-fests, which are light-years away from the competitive but respectful camaraderie of PTI. And with Kornheiser now missing shows in order to feed ESPN’s latest horrible new venture, the network has even further cooked its golden goose.
One more complaint: walking by the ESPN Zone restaurant in Times Square last week, I saw a T-shirt for sale featuring the catchphrases of all the current anchors- and they’re all lame as hell. Now granted, had I seen the same shirt in 1996 with “en fuego,” “he hit the ball real hard,” and “drooling the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse,” I probably would have bought it. But can anyone other than the most ardent fan tell you what Scott Van Pelt’s home run call is?
BLOG CRITIC QUOTE OF THE YEAR: “Reading this blog is roughly the equivalent of watching a homeless guy trying to negotiate 11 layers of dirty clothing in order to masturbate” –Happy Furry Puppy Guy (not to be confused with Happy Scrappy Hero Pup), reviewing Bill Cimino’s Bloviating Inanities.
KERRY WINS: The 2004 Democratic primary season is now essentially over, as John Kerry won almost every Super Tuesday primary yesterday and John Edwards is expected to drop out of the race today.
I don’t love Kerry, but like him enough that I’ll most likely vote for him- however, I am a bit concerned that the Democrats will regret choosing him over Edwards, who is both more dynamic and, I think, more electable. That said, I would love to see a Kerry/Edwards ticket.
Meanwhile, Howard Dean won the Vermont primary despite having dropped out of the race two weeks ago; the win meant that Dean was spared the embarrassment of his “historic” campaign not winning a single state. “We’re going to Vermont and… uh… YEAAAAGH!”
And hopefully, Al Sharpton’s weak finish in New York will spell the end of his campaign, not to mention any thoughts of national political viability.
The senator’s victory was followed by a surreal report in this morning’s Page Six that the wife of New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller was a paramour of Kerry’s in the ‘80s, and that the woman, Emma Gilbey, has also been linked romantically to such disparate men as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and right-wing socialite/hedonist Taki Theodoracopulos. Now perhaps Taki is embellishing, as he did the time he claimed to have gone to prep school with Osama Bin Laden, but it’s still bizarre that someone with his politics could have an ex in common with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Though if there were a woman or two out there who'd been boffed by both Taki and Bill Clinton, I can't say I'd be surprised.
However, I do think this revelation helps Kerry: you just know the Republicans are planning to paint him as a stuffy, know-it-all fuddy-duddy like Al Gore- but could you picture Gore dating a woman who later took up with a member of Pink Floyd?
“HERSCHEL WALKER-TYPE COMPENSATION:” With every other wide-receiver-who’s-an-asshole (Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, etc.) likely changing teams this off-season, could Randy Moss be next? That’s what a story in the Star Tribune says, alleging that Moss may soon be traded to the Miami Dolphins for “some combination of defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, cornerback Sam Madison, receiver Chris Chambers and draft picks.”
I was against the idea until I read the last line of the piece, which alleged that the trade will only happen if the Vikings “demand Herschel Walker-type compensation from any team willing to trade for Moss.” The Vikes, of course, traded five players and seven draft choices for Dallas running back Walker in 1989, and the Cowboys used those picks to build the nucleus of its three Super Bowl winners in the ‘90s. If the Vikings can get on the right side of that sort of deal, for a change, I say go for it.
Whether they keep Moss or not, the Vikes will have God on their side next year: Jim Caviezel, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, is a Vikings fan, and is the brother-in-law of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
UPDATE: Today, oddly enough, is Herschel Walker's 42nd birthday.
ROID RAGE: I don’t have a whole lot to say about the latest developments in the MLB/steroids scandal, as it now appears at least some major players have been using steroids for years. Sure, it’s not that big a surprise, but until now all the evidence had been circumstantial. Now we may actually see people testifying under oath that they have used the drugs, and who knows how baseball will react- fines? Suspensions? Erasing of records?
I did find it quite amusing that Jason Giambi showed up at camp looking about 40 pounds lighter, and claimed he’d lost 4 pounds from “cutting out fast food”- sure. I’ve cut out fast food before, and you lose a lot more than 4. If the storm surrounding Giambi and Gary Sheffield is a huge distraction for the Yankees all year (on the undercard of the Jeter/A-Rod storm) then I for one will be a happy man.
AND SPEAKING OF BASEBALL: If you’re still looking for a fantasy league to join, e-mail me, ‘cause my league still has a few spots open.
BLOG.CON: The second annual BloggerCon will be held at Harvard in April; I plan to be there, though not necessarily just to meet MTV veejay/blogger Adam Curry, who is confirmed as attending. Yanks-Sox at Fenway on that Sunday will hopefully be on the agenda as well.
BostonBlogs will host a party the night before for Beantown bloggers- but don’t expect to see This Fish there- the erstwhile Bostonian is moving to the Big Apple.
AND HER LITTLE DOG TOO: In what’s likely to be the least-mourned celebrity death by Americans this year, at least in the non-al Qaeda division, former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott finally kicked the bucket today at the age of 75. Probably the most all-around loathsome owner in baseball history, Schott achieved the rare trifecta of being incompetent, greedy, and virulently racist, and her persona added up to a chain-smoking amalgamation of Leona Helmsley, Donald Sterling, and Mel Gibson’s father.
An auto dealer who later became a baseball owner- because that career path worked SO well for Bud Selig- Schott owned the Reds from 1984 until she was drummed out of the game by her fellow owners in 1999, something that, despite all of the dozens of incompetent fools who run franchises all over the sports landscape, has never happened to anyone else.
Schott’s many fine moments included: being suspended from the game on two different occasions –three years apart- for using racial slurs/praising Hitler; calling star players Eric Davis and Dave Parker “my million-dollar niggers,” allowing her ever-present dogs to defecate on the field at Riverfront Stadium, removing both the out-of-town scoreboard and ‘70s-era championship banners from the park in order to save money; driving elite manager Lou Piniella out of town following the 1990 championship, even though she exhibited little-to-no baseball knowledge and didn’t know most of the players’ names; presiding over the Pete Rose betting-on-baseball debacle; complaining about the game being canceled after umpire John McSherry died on the field in 1996; and finally, letting the infrastructure of this once-great organization, in a great baseball town, slowly whittle down to nothing. There’s a reason the Reds have consistantly been a non-factor in the standings in the five seasons since her departure.
Ms. Schott was preceded in death by her husband Charlie and her dogs Schottzie and Schottzie 02; a biopic of Schott, called “Out of Her League,” is said to be in the works, to be produced by Roger Corman’s brother Gene Corman. Corman previously produced the TV film “A Woman Called Golda,” in which Ingrid Bergman was cast as Golda Meir; in that vein, expect Schott to be played in the movie by Salma Hayek.
NOTE: I apologize in advance to those of you thought this post was good at the beginning, but then went too far.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If you ask me, Pedro Martinez's jheri curl takes me back to a time and place where I'm not sure I want to be, where people wore things like leisure suits, and platform shoes with goldfish in them." -Michael Wilbon, on PTI. But that's nothing compared to this, as the Red Sox have apparently traded the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and replaced him in center field with Jim Caviezel:
UP WITH WILCO: One of my favorite bands, Wilco, will release a new album, "A Ghost is Born," on June 8. As their previous record, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," would have to go very, very high on any list of the best albums of this decade (#1, as a matter of fact, on mine), to call the new one long-awaited would be quite the understatement. Can't f'n wait...
PETE ROSE HITS ROCK BOTTOM: If Pete Rose's chances of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame looked bad after his insincere and incomplete "confession," it now appears the door is about to be slammed shut, as the New York Times reports today that Rose has agreed to appear at WWE's Wrestlemania XX later this month- at which time he will be inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame.
This is one of those situations where it's hard to tell whether Rose is being sullied by being in business with Vince McMahon, or vice versa. Rose's only previous wrestling experience consists of a few embarrassing appearances in which he has, among other gimmicks, dressed up as the San Diego Chicken and been assaulted by wrestler Kane, who is known as "The Big Red Machine" (get it?); Kane will "present" Rose at the induction. How this brief experience makes Pete worthy of wrestling's Hall of Fame is an open question; Rose can't get reinstated into the sport in which he's the all-time hits leader, but at least he's welcome to be enshrined by a fake sport which he never actually played.
Also on tap for WWE Hall of Fame inductions are another guy who's just been on a roll lately (Jesse Ventura), as well a GI Joe figure who sided with Iraq in the first Gulf War (Sgt. Slaughter), and old timers Tito Santana, Bob Backlund, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Don Muraco, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. They will be joined, posthumously, by the Junkyard Dog and "Big" John Studd; Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake will not be part of the festivities, as in the WWE's cosmos setting off a bioterror scare with your cocaine is apparently a much greater offense than betting on baseball.
Hulk Hogan, due to his falling out with McMahon, is not in the wrestling Hall of Fame- does this mean we can expect to see him in Cooperstown next August?
THE KAFFIYAH IS SULLIED YET AGAIN: Our old friend Charlotte Kates, aka Little Red Kaffiyah Hood, is back in the news, as Rutgers Law School's resident fanatical Israel-basher has had a letter to the editor published in that noted bastion of reactionary anti-Zionism, The New Republic.
Ms. Kates apparently had a problem with TNR having used a quote, from a satirical flier that circulated last year, that Kates' organization consists of "activists for the destruction of Israel," who planned a "Hatefest" in October of 2003 and are "'opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of colonialism and imperialism."
That's fair enough- except for the part on the front page of the organization's website, which states that, uh, "We are opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of colonialism and imperialism, and we stand for the total liberation of all of historic Palestine." (Emphasis mine) She also, of course, leaves out the part about how the "hatefest" was downsized and ultimately kicked off campus when the rest of the national pro-Palestinian movement that you've heard so much about (yes, the rest of it) pulled out of the conference because they thought Kates was too extreme.
In his rebuttal, the author of the original article, Omer Bartov, gives Kates the flogging she deserves. After pointing out that Kates proudly calls for the obliteration of Israel, he says "New Jersey Solidarity therefore advocates the destruction of Israel and condones--indeed calls for--the mass murder of innocents. If Kates is proud of such goals and actions, so be it." Amen to that.
ENETATION SUCKS: And so does Blogger, I know. Sorry if comments haven't worked the last few days, I'm working on it. A shift away from Blogger is imminent, and not in the same way the threat from Iraq was "imminent"; I have in fact registered the domain name SteveSilver.net. Anyone want to give me a hand switching over to MT?
TWINS UPDATE: The two-time defending AL Central champs reported to camp in Fort Myers last week, and Peter Gammons says the Twins may trade outfielder Jacque Jones to the Dodgers for pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii. I'm all for it- they have two too many outfielders and two too few starting pitchers, so every little bit helps.
Gammons ends that same column with a plea for Pearl Jam (who backed Nader in '00) to come to the Democratic convention in Boston and play their song "Bu$hleaguer." But I thought his column was called the Apolitical Blues...
OH DREAD: Wanting to clear my head of POTC, I went Sunday to see Broken Lizard's spring break thriller comedy spoof "Club Dread." It was all right, not nearly as funny as "Super Troopers" but still containing two or three brilliant gags and some hilarious songs by Bill Paxton's Jimmy Buffett-like beach-rock burnout.
There was, however, one thing in the film that rubbed me the wrong way big time, though I may be the only person in the whole country who noticed it. In the first scene of the movie, and once again about 40 minutes later, a character (played by Erik Stolhanske) appears in a sheriff costume referring to himself as "the fun police." That's not the problem. The problem is his costume- his "badge" is not a regular badge- it's yellow, it's shaped like a Star of David, and it's stitched to his shirt- an image most commonly associated, of course, with the Holocaust. Here's the picture, you be the judge.
Is it intentional? I don't believe it is; if such a gag popped up in something like "The Producers" I could understand, but in a beach/slasher parody, it just doesn't fit. I absolve the Broken Lizard gang of any malice, but shouldn't at least someone- a producer, a studio exec, a distribution person, anyone- have noticed the inadvertent presence of unmistakable Holocaust iconography, and thus suggested a wardrobe change?
Like I said, I went to see "Club Dread" to get away from all this anti-Semitism stuff...
FUCK YOU, YOU CARWASH PRESIDENT: Not too long ago I caught Susie Essman, who is best known for her shrill, profanity-laden rants on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," doing an appearance on "Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn." While Susie's not nearly as mean in real life as her character is (I met her once a few years ago, and she was quite nice), on Quinn's show she did as most showbiz types do- she was sure to toss a few anti-Bush lines into her commentary.
Now I don't get nearly as offended by this as some others do, especially around Oscar time; after all, if what celebrities have to say about politics is "irrelevant," why can't the O'Reillys and Scarboroughs just ignore them? That way, they wouldn't get material for their talk shows and would have to talk about actual issues, instead of ranting at Janeane Garafolo for 60 minutes.
Anyway, back to Susie Greene: When I heard Susie start talking about politics, I had a brainstorm: if the Democrats were smart, they would turn her loose at the Democratic convention in Boston, and have her give one of her priceless 'Curb' rants, only substituting Dubya's name for Larry David's. Wouldn't that be great? She'd be like the Ann Coulter of the left.
HOBBIT-FORMING: The big winner at tonight's 77th Annual Academy Awards was "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," which won a record-tying 11 awards, including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and every major technical category- that's two more Oscars than Norah Jones won Grammys. I've published my entire Oscar diary over on BlogCritics, but here are seven major observations, for the number (7) of Billy Crystal's favorite ballplayer, Mickey Mantle:
1. A good show all around, albeit nothing too memorable. Crystal was a pro, and he's obviously the best in the world at doing this- the clip-montage, the sung-monologue, and jokes throughout hit on all cylinders. Still, I wish the Academy had heeded my call to let Bill Kristol host the show, or at least given him and Crystal a song-and-dance number together.
2. Two biggest robberies of the night: Sean Penn beating out Bill Murray for Best Actor, and "Fog of War" besting "Capturing the Friedmans" for Best Documentary, clearly a political move on behalf of the academy which was hammered home by Errol Morris' speech. Both Penn and Morris are talented and have had distinguished careers, but I just thought their opponents did better.
3. Tom Cruise gave out Best Director, breaking with the tradition of the previous winner giving it out- but the winner was... oh yea, Roman Polanski. If R. Kelly can come to the Video Music Awards every year, why no Roman at the Oscars?
4. Funniest moment of the night: During the "dead people" montage, Elia Kazan got a loud, sustained ovation, and apparently no one sat on their hands. All of those people immediately stopped applauding, however, when the next name appeared: Leni Reifenstahl's.
5. As one of my readers pointed out, when Francis Ford and Sofia Coppola got up on stage together, it would've been great if someone had shot her, and then she'd muttered "Dad" before keeling over dead, like at the end of "Godfather III." I mean, Kay Adams Corleone was right there in the audience...
6. Charlize Theron won Best Actress and looked fabulous doing it, bringing up an interesting dichotomy: in today's Hollywood, the best thing a pretty actress can do is look ugly in her movie, while the worst thing a pretty actress can do is look ugly on Oscar night.
7. I correctly predicted 20 of the 23 winners, missing only on Actor (Murray instead of Penn), Adapted Screenplay (Mystic River instead of LOTR), and Song (I had the "A Mighty Wind" tune, instead of Annie Lennox's LOTR theme). Still, I went nearly the first three hours of the show without getting one wrong. I even correctly guessed Animated Short, Live Action Short, and Documentary Short, despite never having heard of any of the nominees.
For my expanded thoughts, click here.