April 30, 2004

The "Nightline" Broadcast

Assuming it doesn't conflict with the T-Wolves' playoff victory, I plan to watch tonight's much-publicized "Nightline," which will feature a reading of the names of every American soldier killed in Iraq.

The broadcast has been roundly attacked by the conservative side of the blogosphere pretty much since it was announced, though I can't figure out why; the main arguments seem to be that the show has a hidden agenda to undermine the war, that Ted Koppel is a radical leftist who seeks to exploit the war for partisan political gain, and that the whole enterprise is a big stunt aimed at the first night of sweeps month. One owner of stations has even refused to air it.

As someone who did (and continues to) support the war in Iraq and who hasn't watched "Nightline" in at least a year, my retort to those three arguments is, "bullshit," "bullshit," and "bullshit." First of all, if it were "Nightline"'s agenda to undermine the war effort, don't they have other tools at their disposal? Such as, say, throwing up pictures of blood, severed limbs, and other such wartime horrors? A listing of names accompanied by American flags and music isn't exactly the sort of material that's likely to ratchet up anti-American feelings.

As for Koppel, is he a liberal? Most likely. Did he oppose the war in Iraq? I would imagine he probably did. But come on- we're not dealing with Noam Chomsky here. Koppel is one of the most respected journalists in the country, and in more than 30 years I don't think any reputable source has ever questioned his honesty or his integrity. Unless you're of the mind that being a liberal signifies a lack of both. If anyone in television news has the gravitas to pull off such a move, it's Ted Koppel.

And thirdly, anyone who calls tonight's broadcast a "sweeps stunt" clearly knows nothing about how sweeps work. The four sweeps periods are when the networks are measured for ratings and demographics as to set advertising rates for the following three months. Is one night of "Nightline," on a Friday, really going to have that big an effect on that 30-day average, and thus on ABC's bottom line? I'd imagine that ABC's television brass, if they hadn't just been fired, would be more concerned with the upcoming series finale of "The Practice."

As I said, I'm planning to watch the show, and if it turns out I was way off I'll say so. But if there's some reason why it's inherently wrong for ABC to commemorate the dead, then I'd love to hear it.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

Daniel Boorstin, RIP

The noted historian and social theorist Daniel Boorstin passed away in late February, though a DC memorial service the other night is the first I’d heard of his death. That the inevitable, probably-sooner-rather-than-later passing of Courtney Love will receive exponentially more attention than Boorstin’s own death is indicative of how right Boorstin was.

Boorstin spent 12 years as Librarian of Congress, but I’ll always know him as the author of the 1961 book “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America.” He defined a “pseudo-event” as something that is “planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced.”

Considering America today seems to consist of more pseudo-events than events- whether we’re talking about politics, sports, television, pop culture, or just about anything else- Boorstin showed a prescience about the future reminiscent of Marshal McLuhan’s. He will be greatly missed.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

Who But Lileks:

“At the college paper we lived in a warm capacious womb, dogpaddling in the amniotic fluid of our unexamined assumptions, writing sentences as bad as this one and thinking ourselves quite clever. These things we knew: Soviet influence in Central America could be blunted by a complete withdrawal of American support; Ronald Reagan was indifferent to the possibility of nuclear war; Europeans were wise rational Vulcans to our crass carnivorous Earthlings, except for isolated throwback horrors like Margaret Thatcher. All new weapons systems were boondoggles that wouldn’t work and would never be needed, and served as penis substitutes for Jack D. Ripper-type generals who probably went home and poured lighter fluid on toy soldiers, lit them with a Zippo and cackled maniacally. A nuclear freeze was the first step to a safer world, because if everyone had 10,237 ICBMs instead of 10,238 we might be less inclined to use them. The Soviets were our enemy only because we thought they were, which forced them to act like our enemy. Soldiers were brainwashed killbots or gung-ho rapist killbots who signed up only because Reagan had personally shuttered the doors of the local steel mill, depriving them of jobs. Of all wars in human history, Vietnam was the most typical. Higher taxes on the rich resulted in fewer poor people. The inexplicable mulishness of big business was the only thing that held back widespread adoption of solar power.

The world outside the campus was crass and stupid and run by the people who went to frats and sororities. Say no more.”

I think I outgrew that attitude by the end of high school, but that's just me. In 7th grade I was probably 95% liberal, and by the end of high school I'd say about 85% (some of my classmates I'd put around 120%). I gradually dropped throughout college until I was about 70% at the end. Around 9/11 I reached my all-time liberal low of 60%, but now I'd say I'm back up to 75.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

He Does Sort of Resemble Julien From “The Shield”

Philadelphia Daily News:

Denver Nuggets rookie center Francisco Elson apologized yesterday for calling Kevin Garnett "gay" after the Timberwolves' star hit him in the groin during a game.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:14 PM | Comments (2)

A Creative Superstar Creates Runs

Red Sox second baseman and sabermetric fave Mark Bellhorn is off to a great start this year, leading the American League in walks. I recently saw his picture and noticed that he looked sort of familiar. Actually, if he were to take off his hat and grow his sideburns a little, Bellhorn would look quite a bit like this guy:

Who himself, in turn, was always a dead ringer, I thought, for this man:

Yes, Miller Lite’s Swedish-produced “Dick, Creative Superstar” really was one of my favorite ad campaigns of all time, a whole lot more witty than those stupid Budweiser frogs. Who knows why it didn’t catch on- but here's a Dick fansite.

This Has Been a Miller Time Presentation By SteveSilver.net. Thank You For Your Time.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Latest Meme That Everyone’s Doing

1. Grab the nearest CD
2. Put it in your CD-Player (or start your mp3-player, I-tunes, etc.).
3. Skip to Song 3 (or load the 3rd song in your 3rd playlist)
4. Post the first verse in your journal along with these instructions.
Don’t name the band, nor the album-title.

God, what a mess, on the ladder of success
Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung
Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled
It beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

The Best Minds of My Generation

Had drinks last night in Manhattan with Sheila, Bill, and Jim Moran at Bellevue on 40th St.- which is a legitimate heavy-metal dive bar where the tattoos and cowboy hats are worn unironically- don’t give me any of this Coyote Ugly/Village Idiot “wacker” crap.

It’s the sort of bar where, as Sheila relayed, the two TVs once simultaneously played a “Ron Jeremy-era” hardcore porn film, and a biopic of Evel Knievel. But really, any time in the last 20 years could safely be called “the Ron Jeremy era”; this would be like referring to a baseball game as being from “the Rickey Henderson Era.”

Anyway, great to hang out with some friends and fellow bloggers; we of course spent four hours discussing sports, politics, movies, and whether the bar had anything to do with Allen Ginsburg’s “from park to pad to bar to Bellevue.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:46 AM | Comments (4)

April 29, 2004

Disrespecting Pat

An idiot grad student in Massachusetts decided to write a column bashing American hero Pat Tillman for joining the Army Rangers and going to Afghanistan, accusing him of indulging in Rambo fantasies while participating in the “unjust” (?) war against the Taliban. Tillman, the student argues, “got what was coming to him.”

I’m not going name the guy or link to his piece, because he’s already gotten way more attention than he deserves. Michele’s already done the full fisking, and the UMass-based Campus Press Notes has more. But what I’m wondering is why ESPN.com decided this guy’s stupid rant was an actual story worth mentioning. Oh well, if the student gets a beat-down or two for his efforts, I can’t say it’ll upset me for a second.

Really, if you had to think of a left-wing corollary to the “rhymes with tigger” incident at Brandeis, this would be it, no?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:23 PM | Comments (1)

Three Pulitzers, No Oscars

Proving that even the best journalists in America can’t resist the urge to make lame “Lost in Translation” jokes whenever the topic of Japan comes up, Thomas Friedman is in Tokyo, and he has this to say:

As I lie awake in my Tokyo hotel, jet-lagged out of my mind and having my Bill Murray "Lost in Translation" moment, I am clicking back and forth between CNBC and CNN on the television.

I really hope Friedman isn’t trying to tell us that he spent the whole trip sitting around in his underwear regretting that he married Giovanni Ribisi. Although I would pay a lot of money to see Tom do a karaoke rendition of “More Than This.”

UPDATE: Bad day for TLF: he’s also gotten the McSweeney’s treatment. But why no jokes about his strained metaphors?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

Damn, That’s a Lot of Searches for “Diana Taurasi Nude”

Google Goes Public, To Raise $2.7 billion.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

‘Tomorrow’ Never Knows

Yes, it’s the second story about a heavy-handed political/movie exercise involving a Gyllenhaal sibling in as many days...

Perhaps you’ve seen the trailers for this summer’s blockbuster sci-fi movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” The Dennis Quaid/Jake Gyllenhaal film, about what happens in the future after the polar ice caps have melted and caused a second ice age, has become an unlikely political football, with environmentalists attempting to use it as a cautionary tale and conservatives more or less laughing the whole thing off.

Al Gore, the “environmental president” who wasn’t, will partner with the noxious website MoveOn.org to host a rally down the street from the movie’s premiere in LA, presumably to demonstrate that if Bush is re-elected, the type of environmental devastation depicted on screen will become a reality!

Now never mind the question, as brought up on last night’s “South Park” season finale, of how exactly global warming will lead to an ice age- wouldn’t it instead lead to a flooded Earth, a la “Waterworld”? Don’t forget that sci-fi is short for “science fiction.”

What’s truly laughable about this particular film being used as a left-wing propaganda vehicle is that it was directed by Roland Emmerich and produced by Dean Devlin. Their most famous film, 1996’s “Independence Day,” was derided by many critics as “jingoistic,” mostly because it dared to depict Americans fighting back forcefully against invading space aliens. (Indeed, a Google search for “’Independence Day’ AND ‘jingoistic’” brings back 555 results.)

Emmerich and Devlin also made 2000’s “The Patriot” with that noted Hollywood liberal, Mel Gibson, and while their infamous 1998 remake of “Godzilla” had no particular political orientation that I can remember (unless an abortion-related subtext is to be inferred from the plot twist that had each new Godzilla being “born pregnant”), it is in fact guilty of being one of the most horridly awful Hollywood releases of the past 15 years.

If aligning with these guys and their latest silly movie is the best the left can do at this point, then they’re in even more trouble than I thought.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:15 PM | Comments (2)

BloggerCon South

The whole New York blogosphere A-list will be on stage at the Apple Store in Soho on Monday: Gawker, Gothamist, Jarvis, Steele, Anil, AND Denton and Calacanis all on one stage, plus more. It’s the Lollapalooza of blogs!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Dwight, Darryl, and Dykstra, Revisited

Whether you’re a lifelong Mets fan or an unusually masochistic Red Sox partisan, you’re gonna want to check out “The Bad Guys Won,” the new book on the ’86 Mets by former SI senior writer Jeff Pearlman. The book’s website is here; you can buy it here.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

Striking Gold

Past Eckstein Award winner Ian Gold yesterday signed a 5-year contract with an estimated worth of $30 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the contract Gold becomes the NFL’s highest-paid gentile-with-a-Jewish-sounding name, beating out Russ Hochstein and Rex Grossman.

The highest-paid actual Jew in pro football, however, remains Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler, who signed a five-year, $24.5 million contract before last season.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)

April 28, 2004

Whither Kerry?

“John Kerry Must Go!,” screams the headline of an article featured in the Village Voice. It’s by loony Washington correspondent James Ridgeway, and in it he suggests that because Kerry “doesn’t have what it takes to win,” the Democratic party elders should toss aside their democratically-chosen nominee and pick someone else- preferably John Edwards or Howard Dean.

Yes, the “progressive” Village Voice, which reminds us every week that Bush “stole the election” and is “unelected,” is advocating a backroom coup d’etat by the Democrats, which would install at the top of their ticket one of the candidates who got a couple hundred thousand fewer votes than the actual winner. Sounds like Ridgeway was writing his usual rehashing-Florida column, only forgot which side he was on.

The punchline of the piece pretty much writes itself: “If things proceed as they are, the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry they screwed Howard Dean.” Because Dean would be doing SO much better now than Kerry is- and besides, didn’t Dean “screw” himself?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

Specter Survives; Santorum Spreads

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter last night narrowly won a tough Republican primary against arch-conservative challenger Rep. Pat Toomey. While the Club For Growth and many of the nation’s movement conservatives backed the challenger, Specter was endorsed by both President Bush and by the state’s infamous junior senator, Rick Santorum.

Specter’s victory tells us something interesting about the differences between the two parties right now, and why the Republicans happen to have the upper hand. Of the two Pennsylvania candidates, whose views are closer to those of Bush/Cheney/Rove? Probably Toomey. But they backed Specter, because he was the stronger candidate, and more likely to win in November and help the GOP keep their senate majority.

Rove has made it a priority, in the ’02 midterms and again this year, to find and support effective candidates for gubernatorial and senatorial races, while the Democrats have often seemed more concerned with “making statements,” and/or appeasing special interests. This is why the Dems keep putting forward ineffectual candidates to lose races in such blue states as New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

Particularly vigilant on behalf of Toomey was the right-wing magazine National Review, which put the moderate, pro-choice Specter on its cover last year as “the worst Republican senator.” During the primary battle (which, incidentally, seemed to go on for over a year), NRO’s The Corner group blog was almost constantly filled with pro-Toomey/anti-Specter sentiment.

Now here’s what’s funny: the day after Toomey’s defeat, the debate on The Corner is one that fans of “Savage Love” will appreciate: “Should Santorum get a pass?” The bloggers (and the mainland National Review) are upset that the Senate majority whip, a pro-life Catholic and one of the most conservative members of the Senate, chose to back his more moderate colleague over Toomey, and are debating whether the decision has caused irreparable damage to his conservative bona fides!

How ironic that Santorum, who is such a reviled figure on the left that he’s had the rare honor of having a deviant sexual act named after him, is now being attacked from the right for not being pure enough a conservative.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:11 PM | Comments (3)

Better Than Office Politics: Office Sports

Sheila’s got a post today about how a couple of her co-workers saw her playing with a balloon and used it to create an impromptu sport:

Then the two guys got involved, and within literally THREE SECONDS, an entire game, with a complicated rule system emerged. A point-system blossomed forth, and disqualifications were discussed - all of this seemed to happen immediatley, like flowers opening up on speeded-up film. The game just MANIFESTED.

Ms. O’Malley uses this as an example of why, due to their inherent competitive nature, “men are great.” And while I’ll leave judgment of that to Sheila, I must say I’ve had a lot of fun with “office sports” over the years, as it’s often the sort of thing that can make an awful workplace just a little bit more bearable.

At my first job in New York, myself and the rest of the copy-editing staff invented a new sport called “Sectorball.” Sectorball was a dodgeball/volleyball/gaga hybrid which entailed the five or six of us tossing around a Nerf football until it landed in someone’s cubicle (their “sector”). Players would get points for dropping the ball in someone else’s sector, and lose them if the ball landed in theirs.

Aside from getting tickets to the 2000 World Series, Sectorball was really the only good that came out of that job.

I think the make-your-own-sport phenomenon is the reason those “Great Moments at Work” commercials by Microsoft touch such a nerve- who hasn’t wanted to do a heavily choreographed touchdown dance after winning a makeshift sport and/or completing a particularly difficult TPS report?

Anyway, this trend apparently has caught on down under as well; Tim Blair addresses Red’s post and shares his own favorite office game, “Run Away From Gary.” Check out the comments of both posts for more examples.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)

Fits Better Than a Doug Christie Jersey

Sooner or later ESPN’s going to have to start selling Sports Guy t-shirts, with such catchphrases as “I feel very strongly about this,” “all right I’ll ask,” “not good times,” and “Ewing Theory MVP.”

I feel very strongly about this.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:01 PM | Comments (1)

43rd and South Park

This NYT profile of “South Park” by Virginia Heffernan includes absolutely no material that isn’t completely obvious to anyone who has watched the past season of the show, while at the same time completely ignoring the “South Park Republican” phenomenon. At least the reporter remembered to quote Andrew “Big Gay Al is not a leftist” Sullivan.

But the Times treatment does get one thing right- it establishes that the show had its best season in years, and may actually be better than ever. Really puts the lie to that whole “jump the shark” myth.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

Stripping on HBO

HBO aired a special tonight called "Strip Search." Was it another in their series of pseudo-porn documentaries a la "Real Sex," "G-String Divas," and "Hookers at the Point"? Oh no no no, much worse.

The show, which I would've expected to be mega-controversial except that I didn't even hear about it until the day it aired, was an hour-long mini-movie which attempted to attack the Patriot Act and other American anti-terror policy with all the subtlety of a "Weird Al" Yankovic polka medley.

"Strip Search," you see, followed the progress of two concurrent cases: the detention of a Muslim man in the United States, and that of an American woman in communist China. The twist of the script (by "Oz" creator Tom Fontana) is that both stories are the same. Don't you get it? We've become Communist China!

Except that, uh, no we haven't. If we weren't a democracy, if our government imprisoned all of their political opponents, if we had no market economy, if we ran over urban protestors with tanks, and, oh, if we didn't allow the airing of pay-cable movies that called the government a police state, then yes, maybe we would become China. But so far no, we're not even close.

I confess I was only able to sit through a few minutes of "Strip Search," Maggie Gyllenhaal's nude scenes notwithstanding. You know it's a problem for a Tony Kushner-style hard-left work of art when even the New York Times is calling it "painfully wrongheaded" and "as heavy-handed and simplistic as a Maoist textbook."

There are talented people behind this movie- director Sidney Lumet, Fontana, and stars Gyllenhaal and Glenn Close- who have done nuanced, multi-faceted work in their careers. But honestly, they should all be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to appear in such a travesty of a film. The network apparently agrees; amid all those irritating "H20" commercials, I never saw a single one for "Strip Search"- and as you can tell from my frequent "Sopranos" commentaries, I watch HBO a lot.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:26 AM | Comments (1)

Just Done

My old college paper The Justice published its last official issue of the year yesterday (there's a graduation issue next month, but not published by the seniors).

It's been a hell of a year for the paper- from the racial slur used in a column by a staff writer to the ensuing race riot and the resignations of several editors to a second-semester plagiarism scandal to (worst of all) the need to cover multiple student deaths. Through it all the writers and editors have come up with product that's as high-quality as I've ever seen from the Justice, both editorial- and design-wise. So congrats to the seniors, and best of luck to the rest of the staff.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:54 AM | Comments (1)

Girls Hate Each Other

With "Mean Girls" coming out this weekend, articles are up popping up all over the place about the supposed "epidemic" of girl-on-girl violence plaguing high schools and middle schools nationwide.

I remember Bill Maher including "girls hate each other" in his "controversial statements" routine a few years back (somewhere between "being drunk is funny" and "the Olympics are gay"), and there have been more and more stories lately, from that hazing incident in suburban Chicago to a more recent case involving a Baltimore 12-year-old beaten and stomped at a birthday party.

I can't think of any causes or solutions to the problem, but once the first all-girl mass murder happens, we can be sure it'll be blamed on all the same stuff Columbine was. That, and feminists.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:43 AM | Comments (3)

The Spirit of '48

Happy Israeli Independence Day.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

Mad As Hell About the NBA

As tonight's Game 4 of the Timberwolves-Nuggets series got underway on TNT, the arena played a recording that went like this:

"But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell..."

I eventually of course recognized the soundbyte as Peter Finch's famous speech from "Network." But before I noticed, my first question was- what window? Your luxury box window?

UPDATE: We win! And we clinch Friday.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:09 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2004

Tribute to a Hero

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

Iron Chef: Libya Battle!

Khaddafi Visits Europe

Afterwards Col. Khaddafi will proceed to Kitchen Stadium, to return his wardrobe to Chairman Kaga.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

Linda Lovelace’s Revenge

From Sunday’s NYT:

BOB WOODWARD has yet to write a how-to guide like "The Seven Secrets to Secret Sources" or "Interview Styles of the Great and Powerful," but a few tips are now available thanks to the Pentagon's release of transcripts of his interviews with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

I guess if Woodward were to write such a guide, #1 would be, “For your key source, come up with a cutesy, easily memorable nickname, preferably derived from porno, and don’t tell anyone who it is until the guy’s dead. Especially not your partner’s son.”

I actually once met Linda Lovelace when she gave a speech at Brandeis (after she'd become an anti-porn activist), and I really wanted to ask her how she felt about the title of her film being used in connection with Watergate. But unfortunately chickened out, and I guess now I'll never get my chance.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)

Sweep/No Sweep, Or: The Weekend in Sports

The T-Wolves won’t be sweeping their first-round series against the Nuggets, but I’m not too upset that they lost Game 3 in Denver; this way, they can clinch the first playoff series win in franchise history at home, in Game 5 at Target Center on Friday.

Speaking of sweeps, the Yankees dropped all three games to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium over the weekend (after a four-hit shutout by Pedro and Scott Williamson) to run their record vs. Boston this season to 1-6. Michele is happier than anyone, it appears. While, anyone but this kid.

Meanwhile, the latest baseball trade rumor (albeit one denied by all involved parties) has the Yankees trading Jason Giambi back to Oakland, along with cash, for soon-to-be-free-agent pitcher Tim Hudson. It’s a good idea for one reason (Jason would be able to grow back his hair and beard) though a bad one for several: the Yankees don’t get rid of superstars, the A’s can’t afford another big contract after the Eric Chavez signing, and I’d imagine Giambi would like to avoid a move back to the Bay Area, what with the whole BALCO thing.

I watched the entire first eight hours of the NFL Draft on Saturday, and I commend the Vikings on making their pick on time, and getting someone (defensive end Kenichi Udeze) who could turn out to be a helluva player. And funny that in a draft in which six players from Miami (Florida) were picked in the first round, the one guy from Miami (Ohio), Ben Roethlisberger, could turn out better than all of them.

But one weird thing about the whole Eli Manning/Giants controversy: several analysts on the draft speculated that the agents for Eli Manning and Philip Rivers would vie for the right to negotiate as the #1 pick. My question is, why? Manning was picked #1, Rivers #4. Just because the team with the #1 pick traded down to take Rivers doesn’t make him the #1 pick. Rivers doesn’t have any more right to #1 money than does the player taken with the third-round pick the Chargers also got in the deal. Why would anyone think otherwise?

Still, a generally good job by ESPN on the draft, proving that when they leave behind all the “premature jocularity” of SportsCenter and go back to the Chris Berman/Mel Kiper basics, the Worldwide Leader can still be the best in the business. And I say this despite several grossly unwelcome mid-offseason appearances by Sean Salisbury.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:30 PM | Comments (2)

“Marco Polo”

Unlike most people who watched it, apparently, I really enjoyed last night’s “Sopranos”; honestly, an episode has to be pretty bad for me not to like it (I’d ascribe the epiphet “that sucked” to maybe five or six hours in the show’s history, and last night was the 60th; I know, however, that many watchers of the show expect a classic every time out and are thus always disappointed)

One very important bit from last night: about halfway through the party scene we see Tony Soprano talking to Steve Buscemi, and Tony points at his house and says, either, “you know, you built this house,” OR “you know, HUGH built this house.” Which one is it? The former would seem to indicate that he’s saying the rackets he and Tony B ran paid for his house after TB went away (thus driving Tony B’s jealousy), yet the latter would also make sense, since Hugh (Carmela’s father) is a roofer, and after all, the party is for him. Then again, maybe it’s merely a second homage to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and its “Fuck Hugh” episode.

Also appearing on the show as the Indian doctor in an early scene was Brandeis grad Samrat Chakrabarti who is nothing less than a legend in the much-neglected subculture of collegiate a cappella.

As always, check out the Slate forum; this week the main debate is over whether or not those sausage links around his neck would’ve stained Tony’s shirt.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:26 PM | Comments (2)

Broken ‘Wing’

I bunch of “West Wing” fans have mounted a first: a “please cancel our show” campaign. Yes, the show has sunken to new depths this year (a fake documentary episode? Muppet cameos?) but I’m not ready to give up on it yet- the nucleus is still so strong that I’m rooting for the show to come back and once again prove the “jump the shark” fallacy wrong. Perhaps those fans should really be lobbying for Aaron Sorkin’s return from exile.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:24 PM | Comments (1)

RIP Estee Lauder

I’m sure she was a wonderful woman and I’m saddened by her passing, but like in the case of Gianni Versace, I am made aware for the first time by Estee Lauder's death that the brand is named after an actual person.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:21 PM | Comments (2)

RAW is Hillary

Remember that period of a year or two in the late ‘90s when everyone, it seemed, was watching pro wrestling? Apparently it went all the way up to the White House.

Hillary Clinton has admitted that between health care proposals and scandals, she and the former president watched wrestling “all the time.” Hillary, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, recently appeared together with several wrestlers at an event promoting WWE’s “Smackdown Your Vote” initiative.

For the second consecutive election both political parties are attempting to lure the wrestling fan demographic; you may remember The Rock appearing at both conventions in 2000. And while “Smackdown Your Vote” is likely a mere power play by Vince McMahon to convince both parties not to screw with his right to stay on the air, I think the fight over the wrestling audience goes hand in hand with that of the “Stern voter” battle.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

Black Mamba/Mama

My review of "Kill Bill Vol. 2" is online at IOFilm; I thought the first one was better, though some may disagree.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)

Movie Critic Quote of the Day

"'13 Going on 30''' has a different resonance. It's saying that the postfeminist princess culture has become a trap for every age group, ensnaring girls and women alike in a perpetual chain of arrested Babe Values."
-Owen Gleiberman, in Entertainment Weekly, giving an actual positive review to the Jennifer Garner film. The "postfeminist princess culture"- I'd been looking for a perfect term to describe that; I guess now we've got one.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Everything I Know About Fighting Islamofascism I Learned From “True Lies”

Schwarzenegger to Visit Israel

He’d better not try any of that groping shit with any female IDF soldiers; they’ll kick his ass- and don’t think they can’t.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

More NYT Embarrassment

Getting the Wonkette story wrong was bad enough, but now the New York Times has inadvertently mistaken a Colorado political candidate for a member of the Klan.

The Times earlier this week accompanied a story about Klan-affiliated murderer Ernest Avants with a photo of Pete Coors, who had announced his candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination in Colorado; the candidate was accidentally identified as Avants. Coors is not, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, a Klansman; he is merely a Republican politician and purveyor of shitty beer.

Coming eight months before the election, the story isn’t likely to hurt Coors’ bid in any way. That’s more than I can say for former Minneapolis City Council Chairman John Derus, who ran for the State Senate in the early ‘90s and lost after the Star Tribune, on the day of the election, mistakenly ran Derus’ photo with a story about a fraudulent charity.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:17 AM | Comments (0)

Defining the Death Toll Downward

The Times, as of Friday afternoon, listed the number of dead from the North Korea explosion at “between 54 and 150”- just a wee bit less than the original estimate of 3,000. And here I was about to rip the New York Post for putting the earthquake story on page 34 despite the familiar magic number of “3,000 people dead in one day.”

Then again, coming out of a fascistic, Stalinist police state with no free press whatsoever, it’s hard to fault journalists for not getting at all the facts.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:12 AM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day:

“We'd go with something less intimate, yet ‘John Kerry is a douche bag but I'm voting for him anyway’ is about as close as we're going to get to an endorsement ourselves.” –Wonkette, articulating my feelings exactly. I mean, did you see this? It makes him look like a Jewish summer camp songleader.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:10 AM | Comments (4)

April 23, 2004


Aw, those poor defenseless Yankees- whatever will they and their fans do, after the friggin’ best player in baseball has a two-week slump? My heart bleeds for them, it really does.

Seriously, I’m greatly elated that A-Rod is being out-hit, out-homered, and out-OPS’d by… Lew Ford. And also, for that matter, by Lego Lew Ford.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

A Traitor Goes Free

Mordecai Vanunu, the engineer who exposed the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons nearly 20 years ago, was freed this week after 18 years in jail in Israel. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he can roam freely within Israel but cannot leave the country and will be kept under close supervision.

I’m inclined to think Vanunu deserves to rot forever, and see no hypocrisy in also saying the same of Jonathan Pollard- there must be a deterrent against the leaking of nuclear secrets, and life imprisonment is certainly that. Vanunu had a moral objection to Israel having nuclear weapons? Guess what- if it weren’t for those weapons, there would be no Israel today. A dirtbag like him deserves much worse than 18 years of solitary. This Village Voice puffpiece, predictably, takes a different view.

Suppose Syria or Iran was developing nuclear weapons (because, um, they are), and one of their engineers leaked the whole plan to a British newspaper. How long do you think that guy would get to live?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

Pat Tillman, RIP

Former Arizona Cardinals player Pat Tillman, who gave up his promising pro football career in order to join the Army and serve in Afghanistan, has been killed in that country. He was 27.

All the time we call athletes heroes when they’re really not; Tillman actually was. May he rest in peace.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Buckeye Grounded

In the quickest Supreme Court appeal since Bush v. Gore, the high court (I refuse to ever call them "The Supremes") has ruled that Ohio State sophomore Maurice Clarett is ineligible for the NFL draft.

Should the decision be reversed after Saturday's draft, the league would then hold what is I believe its first supplemental draft since Brian Bosworth's year. If not, Clarett's sure-to-be-mediocre NFL career will have to begin a year later than planned.

What's interesting is, should a supplemental draft be held the draft order would be the same as that of the regular draft. Which means that San Diego, which has the #1 pick Saturday, would draft #1 again for the second draft, and could grab Clarett or USC's Mike Williams and thus get two top-of-the-draft picks in one year. Then again, any team making a supplemental pick would forfeit its first round pick next year.

That's all I'll say about the draft until afterwards; I'm just hoping the Vikings remember to make their pick this year.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:19 PM | Comments (2)

Better Her Than Alicia Silverstone

There’s a new blog on the block about the Minnesota Twins, and unlike nearly every other blog about baseball it’s actually written by a female. She’s Bat-Girl, she knows New York hipster blogger Lockhart Steele, and until last night the Twins were undefeated since she started.

Don’t miss her Lego-enhanced re-enactment of last night’s game; no telling whether or not she bought said Legos at the Mall of America’s infamous LegoLand store. And she also links to a Strib story about the latest in the Twins/cable brouhaha, which quotes a cable company spokesman with the beautifully bizarre name of Arne “Tucker” Carlson. Not be confused with either former Governor Arne Carlson or CNN’s Tucker Carlson.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:06 PM | Comments (1)

Two Holidays I Don’t Celebrate

It’s currently both Earth Day and TV Turnoff Week. Lileks demolishes the former, Nick Gillespie the latter.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:01 PM | Comments (1)

Tragedy in NK

There’s been a train explosion in North Korea that may have killed as many 1,000 people; unfortunately, Kim Jong-Il was apparently not among them. For more check out the North Korea-specific blog of journalist Rebecca MacKinnon, who was at BloggerCon.

Not including Korean War vets, MacKinnon is one of only two people I’ve met who have been to North Korea (the other being Christopher Hitchens).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

Guilty- HEE HEE!

Michael Jackson was officially indicted today on child molestation charges; the indictment was announced, via a bottom-of-the-screen crawl during "The West Wing," about five minutes before the airing of "South Park"'s Jackson parody episode.

Jackson's youngest son, Blanket, could not be reached for comment.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:28 AM | Comments (3)

April 21, 2004

Hey, Darkness- Where Are the Nuns?

I don't normally recommend Matt Taibbi's New York Press column, but this week's is priceless- a satirical "war diary" that parodies the Richard Clarke book and posits the Iraq situation a year from now. It's sort of a diplomatic version of the "I'm Rick James, bitch" sketch, with Ambassador John Negroponte standing in for James, and talking constantly about going to go kill some nuns.

By the end, I was still laughing about the Clarke character being named "David Twatt."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

Malkin on Eggshells

If Gogo the Evil Schoolgirl from the first “Kill Bill” movie ever became a right-wing political pundit, I’d imagine her column would look something like that of Michelle Malkin. An Asian immigrant who specializes in bashing other Asians and other immigrants (her last book was an anti-immigrant screed called “Invasion,”) Malkin is right up there with Ann Coulter and David Horowitz in the upper echelon of the most hateful of right-wing pundits- a hard fraternity to crack, to be sure.

This week Malkin unleashes her bile on James Yee. Capt. Yee, for those of you unfamiliar with his story, was an Army chaplain administering to Muslim inmates at Guantanamo Bay when he was arrested last September on espionage charges. After 76 days in solitary confinement, the espionage charge was dropped and Yee was eventually convicted on the considerably lesser charges of adultery and downloading pornography. Those convictions, in turn, were tossed out last week.

Assuming that he’s innocent -and we have no reason to believe he’s not- Yee got wronged, big time. If members of the military could sue the government for defamation (and maybe they can; help me, lawyers!), Yee would likely be looking at a judgment in the tens of millions after the Army essentially told the world that he’s a spy and a terrorist (on top of the absurdity, in 2004, of a man being convicted for adultery and porn). Pretty much everybody, on both sides of the aisle, must realize the horror of an innocent man being wrongfully accused of such a serious crime and can show some sympathy for him. Right?

Not Malkin. Like the pure partisan hack that she is, Malkin steadfastly refuses to apologize to Yee and instead turns the story into a critique of “the left,” assigning Yee guilt by association and deciding his ordeal has no validity just because certain radical anti-war activists –and the government of China- have come out in support of him. It’s a wonder she doesn’t visit left-wing message boards and pass off postings there as mainstream Democratic opinion- a tactic used by Malkin in almost every one of her columns.

Now lord knows I’m no anti-war activist, and I’m usually the last person on Earth to complain about the “excesses” of the war on terror. But guess what- on this particular matter, the anti-war left happened to be right, and Yee was innocent. Michelle Malkin, of course, is unwilling to own up to that.

UPDATE: I've been arguing this all day with a couple of Sheila's commenters; check it out here.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:33 PM | Comments (9)

More on Dion

I’ve gotten tons of hits the past few days from people looking for info about Jared Dion, the Wisconsin college student who was found dead in the Mississippi river last week. I wish to reiterate that Dion’s death was a terrible tragedy and that I wish to pay tribute to him by pointing out that the national media has done him a disservice by refusing to acknowledge him.

One commenter the other day shared that, in the wake of the Audrey Seiler incident, Dion’s family had chosen to not go public with information at the time Dion was missing, because they feared he would be accused of perpetuating a Seiler-like hoax. So great, it’s another wonderful contribution to the annals of kidnap-investigation history by Miss Audrey. Not only did she send the police on a wild goose chase that cost $96,000, but now she’s set the Amber Alert system back by about five years.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)


The creator of the Guinness Book of World Records has died.

Too bad he missed this.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Porn Stars of the World Unite!

Blogger Brian Flemming has the best commentary I’ve seen yet about the porn/HIV scandal, bringing up the very true point that if the porn industry were as over-unionized as the rest of Hollywood is, none of this would have happened.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:25 PM | Comments (1)

Best Picture of 2005

Steven Spielberg will make his first overtly Jewish-themed film since "Schindler's List" later this year when he begins work on an historical drama about the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich; Ben Kingsley will star. Can’t f’n wait.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:24 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2004

Columbine Plus Five

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the massacre that left 13 dead at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Today I remember the tragic deaths of those people, while also lamenting that it was exploited for political gain by a wider range of ideologues than any other event in recent American history, at least prior to September 11.

The bodies weren’t even out of the school before the blame game began, as the massacre was instantly blamed on everything from the NRA to the anti-gun movement to Hollywood films to video games to goth culture to Marilyn Manson to Hitler to the “4/20” stoner holiday to “those damn kids” to “The Matrix” to, by a guy on a Jewish listserv I read back then, Dylan Kleibold’s mother’s decision to not raise her son as a Jew.

For a period of about eight months, every single political argument that anyone made about anything was preceded with “in the wake of Columbine…”, as Americans on all sides decided to quench their twin desires for self-righteousness and "justice."

Eventually leading to very good movies (Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant”) and very bad ones (Michael Moore’s “Bowling For Columbine”), the post-Columbine period’s “We must blame them and cause a fuss Before somebody thinks of blaming us” mentality was finally perfectly satirized in the Oscar-nominated “Blame Canada” song in the “South Park” movie.

Yet after all that, guess what: just as 9/11 was ultimately the fault of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda (not Clinton, not Bush, not Islam, etc.), responsibility for the Columbine massacre belongs squarely at the feet of… the killers, Harris and Kleibold.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:39 PM | Comments (3)

“Khalil Greene is White”

As pointed out by TwinsGeek on a recent trip to San Diego and its new ballpark, the Padres’ rookie shortstop isn’t quite the race you’d expect him to be- what, did he think Greene would be green?

The Padres, as soon as possible, need to sign the also-improbably-Caucasian Marcus Giles to play next to Greene at second base. That way he’d be united with both his brother (Brian Giles) and his “brother” (Khalil).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

Jehuda Reinharz is My President

Ted Kennedy spoke at Brandeis last week on the occasion of the Heller School’s 45th anniversary. According to the local newspaper account, the speech was an anti-Bush/pro-“social justice” rant (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and the story ends with this priceless line, which will come as music to the ears of the “liberal bias” people:

Sophomore [name deleted] was impressed by the way Kennedy captivated the crowd.
"I thought it was really interesting," she said. "A lot of what he said is stuff we study here at Brandeis."


(Hat tip: Jaws).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:33 PM | Comments (1)

“In Camelot”

After an iffy episode last week, this past Sunday’s “Sopranos” was one of the best of the year. The Soprano-family backstory installments always get me, and I loved Polly Bergen’s charming-turning-into-creepy turn as Tony’s late father’s mistress. And with “Six Feet Under” borrowing a large subplot (the Ruth/Arthur affair) from “Harold & Maude” last season, it only made sense for “Sopranos” to follow suit and send Junior to a series of funerals of near-strangers.

Also, be sure to check out the weekly roundup of the show in Slate; this time they’ve got an actual writer for the show, Terence Winter, sharing some fascinating insights on the “Sopranos” creative process.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:28 PM | Comments (1)

Not the HBO Chris Rock Special

I finally caught Chris Rock's "Never Scared" comedy special Monday night- some good stuff, but far from Rock’s best work. Yes, the best comic of his generation got quite a lot to measure up to, especially 1996’s “Bring the Pain” (the best standup special of the last two decades). But “Never Scared” suffered from too many dead spots, and Rock’s insistence on giving away all the best jokes during various talk show appearances.

Rock, much like his previous two specials, shared his best material when discussing celebrities at the beginning (a great riff on R. Kelly) and in dealing with man/woman relationship stuff at the end. But the difference between “Never Scared” and the other specials was a long dead section in the middle, in which most of Rock’s racial and political humor fell totally flat.

Unlike George Carlin’s brilliant two-months-after-9/11 “Complaints and Grievances,” Rock had nothing of substance to say about war and terrorism, and while I was expecting about ten minutes of dynamite Dubya material, all Rock could come up with was the months-old “Bush sent the girl up to Kobe’s room” joke).

And that was the biggest problem: has been all over the place in recent months doing print and TV interviews to promote his recent tour and the special, and by the time I saw the special I’d already heard all the best material, sometimes several times. And better done, too- the bit about “how come it only took two weeks to take over [Iraq]? You couldn't take over Baltimore in two weeks,” was a lot funnier when the punchline referred to the Bronx.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

What a Dick

The sad, pathetic dissolution of Dick Morris continues. The former political consultant would be just another nobody today if not for the Clintons, yet after fucking up his relationship with them due to his weakness for toe-sucking hookers, Morris has parlayed his experiences into a lucrative second career disseminating wildly inaccurate political predictions and analysis on Fox News, in the New York Post, and in a series of books.

His shameless leeching off the Clinton legacy continues with “Rewriting History,” billed as a “rebuttal” to Hillary’s bestselling autobiography “Living History.”

After all, Morris’ primary obsession since becoming a pundit has been the former first lady, as he has spent the past three years making up baseless rumors and conspiracy theories about how Hillary would run for president in 2004, would run for VP as Dean’s running mate, would run for VP as Kerry’s running mate, and numerous other ideas which never came to pass. Eagerly embracing the wacky conservative caricature of Hillary that he used to spend his days trying to rebut, Morris seems to assign inordinate importance to someone who is, lest we forget, a mere first-term U.S. senator.

(Morris has yet to sign on- at least, not yet- to the theory posited by his FNC colleague Julia Goren that Hillary will get elected VP and “let [Kerry] get inaugurated, but then he'll go the way of Ron Brown, Vince Foster and Buddy the dog.”)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

Porno Bravo

The Los Angeles Daily News updates us on the porn industry quarantine, going so far as to quote a curiously named porn star:

Dino Bravo, 34, of Studio City said one of his shoots was canceled Thursday because it involved one of the quarantined women. But two others are set for next week. "There's risk in everything," said Bravo. "I put my clothes on in the morning, and could get hit by a truck. I got bills to pay."

Bravo apparently uses the gimmick as a tribute to the ‘80s-era professional wrestler who went by the same name. Known as the “Canadian Strongman” (much the way Manuel Noriega was the “Panamanian Strongman”), Dino Bravo was one of many wrestlers to go by the gimmick “world’s strongest man,” and in his later years strongly resembled Big Pussy from “The Sopranos.”

(I have vivid memories of a WWF show I went to in ’88 or ’89 at the old Met Center in Bloomington, when one heckler screamed out “Dino Bravo, you suck!” and another followed up with “Did you have your steroids today?”)

Anyway, we know that wrestler Dino Bravo and porn Dino Bravo aren’t the same person, because the former was murdered in 1993 by Canadian mobsters. No, he didn’t rat them out to the feds like his lookalike did, but rather had allegedly become involved with illegal cigarette smuggling, and was bumped off when he failed to kick up.

Now, if the porn star’s name had been Val Venis…

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:20 PM | Comments (1)

Marijuana’s a Helluva Drug

On 4/20, of all days, the Washington Post reports on the “de-potification” of
High Times magazine
on the occasion of the stoner bible’s 30th anniversary.

The magazine is now supposedly diversifying, moving beyond mere drug coverage and dealing with such topics as “prostitution, bike messengers, comedian Dave Chappelle, a Colombian guerrilla, singer Ani DiFranco, education reform and a piece on Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Whoa, writing about bike messengers and Dave Chappelle is moving beyond coverage of stoner culture? Not that I have a problem with Chappelle; his show is just hitting its stride now in its second season, and that three-part “true Hollywood story” of Rick James was among the great comedy moments in recent memory. I think at this point we can call “I’m Rick James, bitch!” the #2 catchphrase of 2004, after “You’re Fired.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

Play the Worst Song in the World

Blender, a music magazine that people seem to take seriously for reasons I’ve never quite understood, has released a list of the 50 Worst Songs of All Time. Starship’s “We Built This City” is #1, leading off a pattern of annoying but generally innocuous songs in the top ten. Though I agree with the placement of “Achy Breaky Heart,” as well as Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin.’”

Most outrageous is the inclusion of The Doors’ “The End” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence,” which in addition to being great songs are both known for leading off classic films. And besides, where’s “Girl You Know It’s True”?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

BloggerCon- We're Famous!

The New York Times reports on BloggerCon, and it's a generally well-balanced, accurate piece. And the guy described in the lede who folds old business cards into origami boxes? I was standing about three feet away when he demonstrated the trick to the NYT reporter.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

One Town, Two Minds

Today was a hell of a Patriots Day for Boston sports fans: the Red Sox won the first series of the year against the Yankees, they drew a beautiful day for the Boston Marathon, and the Patriots traded for Corey Dillon, their first marquee running back in years.

But looking at today with typical Boston sports fan pessimism, the Pats really didn’t need Dillon, ‘cause they’ve won two Super Bowls in three years without a marquee running back and besides, Dillon is an oft-injured, disruptive asshole. Also, no one from Boston was able to beat out the Kenyans in the marathon. And finally, if this were a playoff series, the Sox would have a 3-1 lead over New York with Pedro going in Game 5- and yes, they’d probably blow it.

Oh, and did I mention the Celtics?

UPDATE: And another thing- the Bruins lost Game 7.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Depravity of Ted Rall, Cont’d

Here’s the latest piece of filth from everybody’s favorite alleged cartoonist. If I were Mariane Pearl, I would go to Rall’s house and shoot him. Then again, I’m not her, but I might just do it anyway. Rall’s also sure to throw in a whiff of anti-Semitism this time, along with his usual hatefulness.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:36 PM | Comments (2)

Three Things I Learned From the NYT Profile of Wonkette

1. While working at The American Prospect, editor Ana Marie Cox coined the now-commonplace nickname “Crazy Bob,” in reference to editor Robert Kuttner.

2. The Drudge Report is “notoriously unreliable” (no way!), and

3. Wonkette’s dog is bigger than she is.

At any rate, like most Times blog stories this one sucked, completely missing the point of the Wonkette phenomenon while implicitly accusing Cox of dishonesty (NZ Bear has more). If I’d never heard of Wonkette and then read this story, I’d think the blog were awful, when in fact it’s one of the best.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

News Item: Kiss and Poison To Tour Together This Summer

Yikes. Expect Jones Beach to suffer a makeup shortage when this tour comes to town.

This may be the first double-bill in rock history in which the two bands are from two different decades, and neither is the current decade. Or, for that matter, the previous decade.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

Hipsters Still Suck

Two major pieces of news from the NYC Anti-Hipster Forum blog: It’s got a new entry for the first time in months, and proprietor Aimee Plumley is really a man.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Lots of Anniversaries, Lots of Death

Today is nine years since the Oklahoma City bombing and eleven since the Waco disaster; tomorrow is five since the Columbine massacre, and Thursday marks the tenth anniversary of Richard Nixon’s death (in August it’ll be thirty since his resignation).

Speaking of which, the following phrase appeared in Nixon’s resignation speech:

In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.

Richard Nixon said this, 30 years ago. Guess things didn’t quite turn out that way, huh?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

NHL in Trouble

The three biggest hockey stories of the year so far are 1) the impending lockout, 2) Todd Bertuzzi nearly decapitating Steven Moore in a game, now 3) this alleged murder-for-hire plot involving Mike Danton of the St. Louis Blues. There are now even whispers that the Danton case involved the player’s fear over being outed as gay, though it’s been denied by his agent.

This better be a good playoffs, that’s all I have to say. But at least the Devils are out.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

Back From Boston

I'm back in town, energized from BloggerCon and the impending first-round series victory by my T-Wolves. Also got to see my Boston friends (including bloggers Jeremy and Jabbett) and hang out with bloggers at Harvard Law and HBS students at a barbeque. Since when was everyone in Boston so friendly? I guess four years in New York has caused me to grade such things on a curve...

And speaking of Boston vs. New York, the Red Sox lead the first Sox-Yanks series of the year 2-1, prior to tomorrow's 11 AM Boston Marathon game. I didn't get to any of the games, though I had a beer at the Cask and Flagon during this afternoon's game, and was able to see into Fenway as I walked by.

Nothing like the sight of the Citgo sign in the sky as you walk out of the Kenmore Square T station. The rest of Kenmore Square these days, however, is another matter entirely.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

BloggerCon Roundup

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from BloggerCon this weekend, but I ended up enjoying nearly every moment of it. Best of all was the realization that it appears we're on the cusp of a major moment, on several fronts, in the history of internet culture.

The first panel I attended was a discussion on the intersection of journalism and blogger, which I took great interest in as a blogger/journalist. NYU professor Jay Rosen led the discussion and it produced quite a bit of insight; I was surprised to see that more than half the people in the room described themselves as professional journalists.

Next came a look at presidential bloggers, led by Dan Gillmor, which featured a couple of the principals behind Howard Dean's Blog For America (Matt Gross and Zephyr Teachout), as well as representatives of the Kerry and Clark blogs. Aside from one guy who kept steering the discussion towards how bloggers can work to defeat Bush in November, it was mostly agreed that Dean's internet strategy will be borrowed and co-opted by candidates in the future; Kerry and Bush have already begun to.

After lunch came a symposium on international blogging led by former CNN reporter Rebecca MacKinnon, who runs a wonderful blog about North Korea. I heard all about blogging movements going on all over the world, including the astonishing statistic that there are now more than 100,000 Farsi-language blogs in Iran. Some of the most illuminating discussion was provided by Ethan Zuckerman (who blogs about Africa), while the Iranian blogger known as Hoder joined us on an on-screen IRC feed.

However, the most popular session of the day was run by Jeff Jarvis, and it was a discussion on different ways to make money from blogging. Various advertising schemes were introduced, as well as approaches such as "make yourself a media property" (that's my strategy) and being hired to blog for hire (a full list is here). Also present were way too many tech/blogging entrepeneurs to count, including the celebrated Jason Calacanis of Weblogs, Inc., with whom I chatted briefly. Jason, like Kwame Jackson, is in business with Mark Cuban; wouldn't we all like to be.

At any rate, there was enough discussion of money-making ideas that I thought for a second that it was 1998 again and everybody had a plan for instant internet wealth- let's hope this time ends better than the last go-around did. The session ended with the suggestion of a Blog Trade Association; I nominate Jeff Jarvis as its first president. After all, the building in which BloggerCon took place stands on Jarvis Street in Cambridge.

On top of all that, I got to meet some bloggers who I've been reading for awhile, including Protocols honcho Steven I. Weiss and Oliver Willis. And the famed Accordion Guy was there as well- with his accordion- and he serenaded the crowd with accordion renditions of Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole" and Outkast's "Hey Ya!"

All in all, quite an experience; there's a roundup of links to other accounts of it here.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:46 AM | Comments (3)

April 18, 2004

Rest in Pieces

For the second time in as many months Israel has successfully killed the top leader of the Palestinian crime family known as Hamas. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, known as a "hardliner" (as opposed to all the moderates in Hamas), was killed Saturday by a rocket attack; he won't be missed.

Rantisi's death follows that of Sheik Ahmed Yassin; Mahmoud Zahar is expected to be the next leader, and should (hopefully) be dead by the end of May.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

Dru and Jared

They found Dru Sjodin's body over the weekend, a few months after her disappearence, which has sparked a renewed media frenzy for the case. The story of the also-young, also-missing Jared Dion, however, continues to get no national attention whatsoever. To wit:

Current Google News results for "Dru Sjodin": 1,510
Current Google News results for "Audrey Seiler": 2,600
Current Google News results for "Laci Peterson": 1,170
Current Google News results for "Elizabeth Smart": 180
Current Google News results for "Jared Dion": 37

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:36 PM | Comments (3)

Media Critic Quote of the Week

"Reading the [the Boston Herald's] editorials is like having bamboo shoots buried under your fingernails while delivering a huge breech baby with a car battery attached to your genitals."

-Unsigned editorial in the Boston alt-weekly the Weekly Dig. Not to be confused with the late, lamented, Onion-like satirical weekly known as the Weekly Week.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"[Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth] is a vicious, backstabbing, egomaniacal germ, who in a previous life, was probably stationed at the river Gambia, pointing out brothers for the slave trade."

Michael Wilbon, on PTI (via Jeremy Wahlman).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Acela Here I Come

Like the Yankees, I’m heading up to Boston this weekend. I don’t have tickets to any of the games, but I’ll likely be able to hear the roar of Fenway from wherever I am. As for other site-seeing, I may or may not make a pilgrimage to the Downtown Crossing T stop, former place of employment for Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake.

Be back Monday, with more on Sox/Yankees, BloggerCon, “Apprentice,” the NBA Playoffs, and the Chris Rock special.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:38 PM | Comments (1)

Offical SteveSilver.net NBA Playoff Predictions:

First Round:
West: Wolves in 5, Lakers in 6, Kings in 7, Grizzlies in 7
East: Pacers in 4, Knicks in 7, Pistons in 5, Heat in 6

Second Round:
West: Wolves in 7, Lakers in 5
East: Pacers in 6, Pistons in 5

West Finals: Lakers in 7
East Finals: Pistons in 6

NBA Finals: Pistons in 7

Game 1 of Wolves-Nuggets is Sunday night, and maybe I’ll catch the end if my train returns from Boston on time; I don’t have such high hopes that I’ll catch either “Sopranos” or “24.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

It’s Bill

Bill Rancic won “The Apprentice” last night, as Kwame Jackson’s bid was stymied by the actions of supervillain Omarosa, who caused guest star Jessica Simpson to go missing for the second time in as many episodes.
A few observations:

- Kwame only lost because his “employees” all screwed him. Is Omarosa really that evil, or is she just pretending? Guess we’ll never know, though I’m surprised the Republicans haven’t yet made a political issue about reality TV’s biggest villain being a former Clinton White House employee.

- The highlight of the episode was unquestionably early castoff Sam, always the most interesting contestant, handing Donald Trump a briefcase with $250,000 as he pleaded for a job. Was this the first time in his career Trump has been handed a briefcase full of cash? If the mob still has any influence whatsoever in AC, then probably not.

- My dad was in town and before the show we went over to Trump Tower to see what was going on finale night. Did you know that when people get fired they don’t go out the front door, but rather the back? The traffic on Fifth Avenue goes the other direction…

- Chris Rock on “Conan” (I’m paraphrasing): “You can’t expect a guy named Kwame to succeed in corporate America. I mean, how many movies have you seen in which one character says to another, ‘Kwame wants to see you in his office’”? Then again, people named Kwame aren’t so good at being #1-draft-picks-out-of-high-school, either.

- A just saw a guy shoving the front page of the Daily News, featuring Bill’s defeat of Kwame, into the faces of the Black Israelites outside Macy’s. Only in America!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

Headline of the Year So Far

All of Jersey is Toxic” (New York Post, today)

And not in the Britney Spears sense.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

Twins ’04: The Carnage Continues

This time it’s Doug Mientkiewicz, who hurt his ankle in last night’s game against Cleveland; no prognosis yet, though as of now he’s listed as day-to-day (aren’t we all?).

If Your Olympic Hero has to go on the DL, he’ll join six other Twins, and it’s only April 15. Experts are saying that the new Metrodome artificial turf is to blame; yet another argument for a new, open-air, natural-grass stadium in “Minny”!

Oh well, at least they beat Cleveland 3-0 on a masterful pitching performance by Brad Radke. And if Dougie can’t go, Justin “Nosferatu” Morneau will be the first baseman; TwinsGeek still can’t believe he’s not the starting DH.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:30 PM | Comments (1)

Don’t Take Away Our Porno, II

And you thought Ashcroft was bad for the porn industry? The US adult film industry is about to take an unprecedented two-month hiatus, after a top actor, Darren James, tested positive for HIV. A who-woulda-thunk-it organization called the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation is on the case, releasing lists of actors who have been “quarantined.”

This could end up doing for porn what the steroid scandal is doing for baseball- and it’s also likely to eventually lead to government action. Certain conservatives have wanted to all but shut down the porn industry for years; this should give them an opening.

At any rate, stories about porn are usually funny, but this sure ain’t.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

For Jared

A body was found in the Mississippi River yesterday and identified as that of Jared P. Dion, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student who had been missing for five days.

It’s a tragic death, of course. But a few questions about it- before now, had you been aware that he was missing? Were there constant updates on all three national news channels about his status, like there were a few weeks ago for another missing student in the UW system, Audrey Seiler? Even now that his body has been found, is it even a national news story?

The answer to all those questions is “hell no”: as far as I know Dion’s case has not been mentioned on any news network, and a search on GoogleNews for his name returns no results for any non-Minnesota/Wisconsin media outlets. Why’s this? Because the media has one standard for the disapearances/deaths of attractive white women, and quite another for the rest of the population. Is there any other reason why Audrey Seiler’s fake disappearance got about 50 times the media coverage than Jared Dion’s real one?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:27 PM | Comments (4)

April 15, 2004

Watch Your Back, Will Hunting

I’ll be at BloggerCon up at Harvard this weekend. I know Jeff Jarvis is coming; is anyone else?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

Misleading New York Times Headline For the Day

Sharon Coup: U.S. Go-Ahead.

It refers, of course, to the “victory” for Ariel Sharon in that President Bush endorsed his plan for a withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. But the headline makes it sounds as though Bush has given the go-ahead for a Kissinger/Chile-style coup attempt against the Israeli prime minister.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

Most Subversive ‘Conan’ Character Since Vomiting Kermit

We may have the next great “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” character- a Mr. Ed-like talking horse called “Cloppy the Late Night Horse.” On last night’s show Cloppy (a guy in a horse costume), in the course of an interview with Conan, shot both a farmer and the paramedic trying to save him with a shotgun, and later intimated that he had once committed bestiality with the arresting officer.

Googling around for Cloppy info after the show was over, I came across two interesting websites- the first, which I will not be linking to, was a pro-bestiality message board expressing hope that the Cloppy character was an indication of mainstream “acceptance” of man-on-horse love (Sen. Santorum, however, may be interested in such a site).

The second was just as funny (albeit unintentionally) as the sketch itself- a group called CleanTV apparently goes through every network television show, points out all the raunch, and produces a weekly “Raunch Report,” along with boycott-ready lists of local advertisers. (In this case, it’s KSL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah; no, I wasn’t able to find the Super Bowl installment). These are people who clearly love to be self-righteous, yet have no clue whatsoever about anything they’re writing about.

Yes, there are references to racy jokes on Jay Leno and “Friends,” especially a “Friends” episode with “Baby's Birthday Cake Decorated with Penis with Baby's Face on Penis.” But aside from that, the “Raunch Report” seems to have a bit of, shall we say, a one-track mind. Within just a few paragraphs, it refers to:

- “Homosexual Andy Dick” (who, last I heard, was straight)

- Ellen DeGeneres, “a funny lesbian activist.”

- “Homosexual comedian/actor Scott Thompson.”

- Leno regular “Ross the Gay Intern.”

- Conan joking about “Barbie and Ken dolls --Ken being a homosexual.”

- And a “Will & Grace” episode review states, wrongly, that it is “a top rated show about two homosexual lovers (Will & Jack).”

Clearly, these guys throw around “gay” the way al-Jazeera throws around “Jew.” Yet for some reason, Boy George is referred to as simply “singer and guest Boy George”- this writer’s gaydar must be way off.

But my favorite of the whole roundup is this, referring to a Leno appearance: “Guest Will Ferrell was pretty clean with only a reference to having a threesome.”

Sick of nonsense like this? Check out Howard Stern’s new website, which has evolved from the usual T&A festival to a sort of command center for Stern’s First Amendment battle. It even leads with a Justice William Brennan quote.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:15 PM | Comments (1)

TV Critic Quote of the Day:

"'Looking For Fidel,' Oliver Stone's latest round of pattycake with Fidel Castro, resembles nothing so much as one of those old the-land-that-time-forgot movies, with a couple of lumbering stop-action dinosaurs wrestling harmlessly in front of a crowd of natives that's trying hard not to look bored while it waits for evolution to take its course...."
-Glenn Garvin, the Miami Herald (Via Virginia Postrel)
Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

More Nonsense From MoveOn.org

I got an e-mail forward last night from my grandmother, of all people, alerting me about the latest big campaign by the lefty website MoveOn.org: a petition calling for the U.S. to “immediately transfer management authority over Iraq to the United Nations, to enable a transition to peaceful Iraqi self-rule.”
Just a few holes in this little theory of theirs:

1) Who ever said the UN wanted to take over authority of Iraq? Hint: not the UN. They evacuated all of their Baghdad personnel after last fall’s bombing, going according to their recent pattern of being much more eager to run away from war zones than towards them.

2) MoveOn is apparently unaware that there’s no such thing as “UN troops”- when the UN commits troops to an operation, such troops are provided by participating countries. And since so many UN members opposed the war, or supported it but declined to provide soldiers, a UN force in Iraq would likely consist of- American and British troops, with a few others sprinkled in as well. A UN-operated force would be “all the same soldiers, just with different-colored helmets,” as David Frum has said.

3) Wouldn’t a US abdication of control/withdrawal of troops (its implied corollary) do nothing but send the message that terrorism works, and give the likes of Moqtada al-Sadr exactly what they want?

4) Why would a transfer to the UN cause the violence to magically stop? Is there any reason Iraqi militants would be any more amenable to being occupied by the UN than by the U.S.? And why do we need the UN to supervise the “transition to peaceful Iraqi self-rule,” when we’re already planning to do the exact same thing, in just two and a half months?

5) Not content to be both morally and logically wrong, MoveOn then stoops to rank dishonesty, as it picks-and-chooses supportive quotes by Thomas Friedman, John McCain, and Chuck Hagel- all of whom, as anyone familiar with any of them surely knows, vehemently oppose MoveOn’s position. In fact, the only American politician I know of who has endorsed a US/UN switch in Iraq is that noted Democratic moderate, Dennis Kucinich.

It’s unbelievable that a group with as much influence –and money- as MoveOn could be so clueless. I'd like to see them go the way of MOVE.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:10 PM | Comments (1)

9/11: The Movie

We should be making movies about September 11 and the War on Terror, Lileks says, and I see his point- after all, I took a whole course in college about World War II movies that were made during World War II (“Casablanca,” the “Why We Fight Series,” etc.)

Here’s James:

Just tell the story as it happened that day, and people would cram the theaters by the millions. Just like they went to see “The Passion.” And with the same emotions, I’d bet: from the opening moments the audience would have the same sick clot in their stomachs, the same old throb of dread we all felt during “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” This wasn’t pleasant, but it was important to see it, and know.

It’ll happen eventually, once more time has passed, but unfortunately the man behind ‘Schindler’s’ and SPR won’t be the one to do it- Steven Spielberg has promised that he will never make a film about any of the events of September 11.

Though if you believe Matt Zoller Seitz, we’ve already had dozens of 9/11 movies. New York Press film critic Seitz has a fascinating essay this week about how all sorts of movies- from “The Passion” to “Walking Tall”- have been informed by the attacks, even if it doesn't seem that way on the surface. It’s more excellent work from Seitz; contrast that with his NYP colleague Armond White, who in the first paragraph of his “Kill Bill Vol. 2” review refers to the film’s soundtrack as “the sounds of cultural retardation.”

White pretty much takes any small detail about any movie he doesn’t like and shoehorns it into a critique of the overall moral bankruptcy of American film culture; if Olivier the art teacher from “Six Feet Under” had been a film critic, he’d be Armond White.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

Jew Bet!

You know that long-gestating campaign of Google-bombing aimed at knocking an anti-Semitic hate site from #1 search spot for “Jew” on Google? It has succeeded, as the Wikipedia entry today finally overtook “Jew Watch” (though it’s alternately shifted among the top five throughout the day). So congrats to the organizers of that whole campaign.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:00 PM | Comments (1)

A Quick Fisking of the Daily Quickie

NBA Playoffs: West

(1) T'wolves vs. (8) Nuggets
1st-round upset?


It IS Minny.
No, it isn’t!
Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

Phish Out of Water

Having eclipsed Howard Dean to once again become Vermont’s most popular export, Phish has announced the dates for their annual summer tour. The run will kick off at Coney Island in Brooklyn in June, though I’m thinking that if I can’t get tickets to that one I’ll be sitting this tour out.

Although, it would be kind of cool if they followed the Keyspan Park concerts with a nationwide tour of minor-league ballparks, sort of like Springsteen’s mini-tour of MLB stadiums last summer.

Speaking of phish, something I’ve been writing about a lot lately in my day job is phishing. You know those e-mail scams you sometimes get that have a fake interface for AOL, or 1-800 Flowers, and it asks you for your credit card number? That’s called “phishing,” with the name being derived from hacker slang (the ancient phone-hacking genre that was its predecessor was called “phone phreaking,” and it survived the translation.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

West Power!

A sentence I never thought I'd type: The Minnesota Timberwolves are NBA Midwest Division champions, and are the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs- both for the first time in franchise history. Not the Lakers, Spurs, Kings, or Mavericks- the Minnesota Timberwolves have home-court advantage in the West. They've sure come a long way since the days of Pooh Richardson, Thurl Bailey, Christian Laettner, Felton Spencer, and J.R. Rider.

The Wolves will face the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and it's looking like they'll finally get that elusive first playoff series win- and if not, I'm thinking they have to fire Saunders and/or McHale.

And in other interesting first-round stories...

-The Knicks and Nets will battle in the first round in a Hudson River Shootout, and I have two predictions: Knicks fans will outnumber Nets fans at every game in East Rutherford, and the Knicks will win the series, making Dikembe Mutombo a very happy man.

-The Pacers/Celtics tilt isn't a series, it's a mockery, though it'll be cool to see Larry Bird back in Boston for it. The inevitable drama involving Rick Carlisle and Isiah Thomas will also be dealt with, as various permutations of the Pacers, Pistons, and Knicks face each other later in the playoffs.

-Out West, after the last-second three by Kobe gave the Lakers the Pacific title, we get Shaq vs. Yao in round one, along with a rematch of last year's best series (Kings/Mavs). All that, and Spurs/Grizzlies- in which I wouldn't be surprised for a second to see Memphis steal a victory.

Official predictions over the weekend when the schedule is announced; it's going to be a hell of a run. 'Til next time, go Wolves!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:18 AM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2004

'Cause It's the Cool Thing To Do These Days

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 23.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"The bib was still around, but by the late seventies shirts began to appear with a different closure."

-The fifth sentence on page 23 of "Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract," a 1,014-page book. The line comes from a discussion of "uniforms of the 1870s."

(Via Emily- pinged again!).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

Ten Reasons Why “Saturday Night Live” Is No Longer a Good Show

- The appalling lameness of the writing. What used to be the most cutting-edge work on television now resorts to five-minute/one-joke sketches, and at this point one good sketch a night is a good night. They’ve got to hire some writers away from “The Daily Show” and “Chapelle’s Show,” pronto.

- The punchlines are months, if not years, old. Remember the great Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill sketch, with Carvey as Strom Thurmond and Hartman as Ted Kennedy? All they could come up with for the Condi Rice hearings was Janet-as-Condi flashing a boob- hilarious, especially three months after the Super Bowl.

- The utter unprofessionalism- it was funny to see Jimmy Fallon start giggling halfway through a sketch the first time he did it, but now that it happens every week it’s just become irritating- and he’s even started to drag Horatio Sanz down with him. Bill Murray and John Belushi never cracked up during their sketches- and unlike Fallon and Sanz, they were actually working with funny material.

- No male on the show, except for Darrell Hammond, can do varied impressions; neither can any female, except for Maya Rudolph. And the only impression Amy Poehler can do is of a male, Michael Jackson.

- The Fallon/Fey “Weekend Update,” so great when it debuted four years ago, is now beyond stale. I love Tina, and can’t wait for her “Mean Girls” movie, but Fallon at this point is like an albatross around her neck.

- No good recurring sketches to speak of.

- The show never recovered from Will Ferrell’s departure two years ago, and no centerpiece star has stepped up to take his place. There’s also currently no President Bush, after unsuccessful stints by both Parnell and Hammond.

- Once counted upon to “rise to the occasion” whenever a major news story occurred (the first Gulf War, Clinton/Lewinsky, the 2000 recount, etc.), SNL has flubbed the ball several times in a row now- from Fallon-as-Bin Laden to Sanz’s laugh-free Saddam Hussein to the flatlining coverage of the campaign so far, I can’t think of anything memorable the show has come up with for any world event of the past two years.

- The most talented young cast members- Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Seth Meyers- are given almost nothing to do, while sketch after sketch is clogged with Chris Parnell, Sanz, and Fallon.

- And it seems like more non-actors (Trump, Al Sharpton, Nick/Jessica, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake) than actors have hosted this year.

Speaking of SNL Sheila, who likely knows at least a couple of the people I just bashed, has a story about SNL in a better time- and yes, it involves Will Ferrell.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:51 PM | Comments (3)


If Barry Bonds retired tomorrow, that would be the name of the HBO movie about his life. Better that than 666, right?

The slugger-under-siege hit his 661st career home run last night, allowing him to pass his godfather, Willie Mays, for third place on the all-time home run list. Tony Kornheiser says 660 isn’t that big a deal, but I disagree- for the entire time that I’ve been alive, the all-time home run list has gone Aaron/Ruth/Mays; as of yesterday, it no longer does.

Tony also turns the whole thing into an anti-sabermetric argument, which I’m sure is already the subject of a 300-post thread on BaseballPrimer or SOSH.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:40 PM | Comments (3)

Working For/Against the Man

Great column by Jim Knipfel in NYPress, about his days working as a bill collector for a hippie-run book publishing house/commune in Philly. Best part:

As the months passed, my hatred for the people around me, their smugness, their self-righteousness and the controls they tried to place on the language began to overwhelm me. It was made very clear what we were and were not allowed to say, the terms we could and could not use around the office. In my lifetime, I have worked for and with people of every political stripe—anarchists, libertarians, Democrats, communists, Republicans, Maoists, avowed fascists. And I've noticed that none of those right of center has ever tried to control anything I said or wrote, which is much more than I can say about those who leaned to the left. (The fact that I ascribe to no political agenda whatsoever myself makes this easier to see and interesting to notice.)

Think about it- have you ever even met an "avowed fascist"?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:35 PM | Comments (1)

Better Him Than Kwame Brown

Here’s “Apprentice” finalist Kwame Jackson, on why he left his job at Goldman Sachs prior to the start of the show, in today’s New York Post:

"I invested money for rich people," said Jackson, "but Wall Street is basically an equation. You take extremely smart people, you work them an inordinate amount of time and you pay them an inordinate amount of money. "If you take out the inordinate amount of money, the equation doesn't balance."

And working for Trump would be different how, exactly?

It’s a common complaint for Wall Streeters- sure you’re making a lot of money, but you’re doing it managing and earning money for people with exponentially more than you. But once again, wouldn’t Trump’s organization be the exact same thing, being around billionaires like Trump and constant luxury- while making a comparatively low salary of $250,000?

The key to happiness, of course, is to find a job that allows you to freely spend other people’s money!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

A Review of Tonight’s “24” Episode (Spoilers)

Where did CTU go? Why isn’t anyone worrying about the virus? Why do they keep talking about Arab terrorists (is this a rerun from last season?) And most of all, how come the president is white?

I kid, I kid. I discuss the presidential press conference for my last-ever post on the Detroit News Decision 2004 blog.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

No Relation to Jeb Magruder

“Boondocks” cartoonist Aaron McGruder is just as politically extreme as Ted Rall, but unlike Rall he’s actually talented, and has a sense of humor. This New Yorker profile of McGruder tells us three things we didn’t know:

- He doesn’t actually draw the strip anymore, and has in fact “outsourced” it to an illustrator in Boston, though he still writes the dialogue.

- He voted for Nader in 2000, and mentioning this caused an entire room of lefty luminaries (including Jack Newfield and Eric Alterman) to walk out on one of his speeches, and

- When McGruder was an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, “The Boondocks” was published for the first time in that school’s student newspaper, the Diamondback. You may have heard of the editor-in-chief at the time- Jayson Blair.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:14 PM | Comments (1)

A Fatwa on Rumsfeld

A local Democratic organization doing fundraising for John Kerry in Florida has placed a newspaper ad calling for the assassination of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The St. Petersburg Democratic Club ran the ad in a local paper called The Gabber; referring to Rumsfeld's predilection for calling high-casualty events “one of our bad days,” it stated that “We should put this S.O.B. up against a wall and say 'This is one of our bad days,' and pull the trigger.”

The group’s ‘60s nostalgia, recalling “up against the wall, motherfucker,” is apparent, but come on- clearly this is a couple of deranged whackos, and Sean Hannity’s upcoming bleatings that “the Kerry campaign did this” are a lot of nonsense.

Then again, club vice president Edna McCall may find herself up against a wall of her own (looking down the barrel of a DNC rifle), after telling Drudge that “we’re all working together” with the Kerry campaign. Other wisdom from Ms. McCall: America is “getting raped” with Bush as president, and the reference to “pulling the trigger” means “let Rumsfeld know where we stand, not to shoot him!”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)

BlogWars: LGF vs. Matt

There’s been yet another Blogosphere conflagration –seems like they’re every week, these days. This time it involves Little Green Footballs, one of the primary “warblogs” that rose in the immediate post-9/11 era. LGF’s proprietor, Charles Johnson, mines the Arab press to find overheated anti-American, anti-Israeli, and anti-Semitic rhetoric, of which there is always plenty.

While regularly capable of interesting analysis, LGF devolves way too often into overheated rhetoric of its own, especially in the comments- more unfortunate examples include references to Islam as “the religion of piss,” comparisons of Arabs to animals, and mean-spirited “pancake” jokes directed at Rachel Corrie, the American college student killed by a bulldozer in Gaza last year.

It’s a bit much, and I say this as someone who’s generally right-leaning (whatever that means these days) on Middle East issues. Anyway, somebody thought it might be funny to take various phrases used by LGF commenters, compare them side-by-side with those of Nazis (Late German Fascists- get it?), and turn the whole thing into a quiz.

Well, Johnson and his army fired back, aiming particular ire at Matthew Yglesias, a major left-leaning blogger who had linked to the LGF/Nazi quiz. Yglesias’ post was met with 798 comments (as of this afternoon), some calling him a Nazi himself while others defended him with similar ire. Reading even a couple dozen posts is a meaningful education of the political divide in this country right now- the two sides might as well not even be speaking the same language.

But what’s funny is, you could take a typical day of LGF comments and mix it with a typical day of Yglesias comments, and the result wouldn’t look particularly different from the above.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:29 PM | Comments (3)

BlogWars Part II: Catfight

It’s A Small Victory vs. Wonkette- meow!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:26 PM | Comments (4)

Best Blog Name Ever

Wrapped Up Like a Douche.

Here are some other ideas, borrowing from a classic "Kids in the Hall" sketch.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)


St. John’s has named Norm Roberts their new basketball coach; I think it must be in his contract that he can never go to a strip club for the whole time he’s coach. Or maybe he can, if he brings a cell phone camera.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

‘Evil’ Is Their One and Only Name

The Evil Forces in the World group blog is back, with more intricate political analysis, as well as spoken-word rap.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

Those Sick Bastards

An attempt to carry out a suicide attack using a bomb laced with HIV-infected blood during the Passover holiday was foiled, according to Israel's Shin Beth security service.

An HIV bomb? Islamic terrorist depravity combined with AIDS- I can’t wait to see what Sullivan says.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

Is Chris Rock There? Hell No!

This woman got a cell phone, and the number just happened to be that of the recently-deactivated phone belonging to Chris Rock. It’s a story comparable to that of my friend Dena (who moved to Cincinnati and got the number of former mayor Roxanne Qualls), and that “Shaniqua” song.

(Via the Mark Cuban blog).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2004

I Like Cox

I think I can say, with complete confidence, that Wonkette is the best blog in the world right now.

Though Jenna Bush may disagree.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

The Carmela Show

Judging by immediate reactions -the five or six friends I discuss it with every week, a message board or two, and the weekly Slate column- this past Sunday's episode of "The Sopranos" was far and away the least acclaimed of the season so far. Why's that? Two reasons: 1) No whackings, and 2) Way too much focus on the lower case "family," i.e., the female characters.

Yes it was, as quite a few newsgroup posters wrote, "The Carmela Show," the apparent kiss of death for any "Sopranos" episode. The same people who dismissed last season's finale because it ended in the death of a marriage rather than the death of any people slammed Sunday's show for much the same reason. Guess what folks: that's what the show's about, the family and the Family, and we've gotten some of the show's better episodes out of the former as well as the latter.

That said, this week's episode didn't quite live up to last week's Tony/Adriana show, but the Carmela/David Straithern worked for a three-episode arc, sort of like what Noah Tanenbaum the black Jew was for Meadow. And speaking of Meadow, where'd she go? I'd sort of like to see her in an episode for more than two minutes one of these weeks.

Also, great to see Steve Bucsemi finally getting back to his "Fargo"/"Miller's Crossing"/"Reservoir Dogs" self, and after losing the loot in the snow in "Fargo" it's nice that he finally got it back. By why am I afraid that he'll once again end up in the wood chipper? Either that, or the meat-slicer thingy at Satriale's that was used to dispose of Richie Aprile.

Coming next week, judging by the preview: four whackings (maybe), and a funeral (definitely).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)

Bush Defeats Palmer

Never mind the Stern factor; President Bush has now apparently made enemies with the sizable audiences of "American Idol" and "24."

Bush's televised press conference tomorrow night will cause Fox to reshuffle all of its prime time programming for the week, as 'Idol''s two airings will be pushed back to Wednesday and Thursday and- of more concern to people such as myself- "24" will be pre-empted by five days, and will air at 9:00 (EDT) next Sunday, opposite "The Sopranos."

This means that Ryan Chappelle and Father Phil, both played by the same actor, could both concievably be bumped off on two different shows at the exact same time. If Ryan bites the bullet (conceivably more likely, judging by previews), then "24" will no longer be Chappelle's Show.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:22 PM | Comments (1)

Imitation/Flattery Department

"This is potentially huge news, if Bush has alienated the 'Stern vote'- and I'm not just speaking of people who literally listen to Stern... the Stern voters are very much up for grabs- and if Bush can't get them in his column, he could be in trouble." -This blog, February 24

"'The Howard Stern effect?' Keith shows you how the infamous shock jock could be planning a role in the Battle for the White House." -Keith Olbermann, tonight's show.

I forgive Keith, however, for dragging "you can't stop [William Hung], you can only hope to contain him" out of the mothballs. Very refreshing after all the well-documented "SportsCenter" garbage of recent months; I look forward to Olbermann tomorrow refer to former FBI director Louis Freeh as "drooling the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse" during his 9/11 commission testimony.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"Even if Victoria's Secret hopes to bring in more boomer women, do those women want their underwear to exude the spirit and essence of Bob Dylan? Or, conversely, is Bob Dylan the sort of man they're hoping to attract? Even if you're of the belief that men frequently shop at VS for their ladies, I still don't see the appeal of this ad. I, for instance, am a man, and I can assure you that Bob Dylan is not what I'm looking for in a woman's undergarment. (And if I found him there—man, would that be disturbing.)"

-Seth Stevenson, Slate.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

I Don’t Give a Damn For the Same Old Played-Out Scenes

The most played-out clichés/quotes/jokes so far in 2004:
- “[blank] Eye For the [blank] Guy” Parodies

- White people saying “Fo shizzle, my nizzle”

- “Whitney and Bobby are doing a reality show? It should be on Court TV!”

- Referring to people or benign inanimate objects as “weapons of mass destruction.”

- “What are we doing bombing [Afghanistan/Iraq/other country] into the stone age- they’re already in the stone age!

- That whole best-golfer-is-black/best-rapper-is-white juxtaposition, which I first heard at least four years ago.

- “What’s an NFL quarterback doing on ‘The Bachelor,’ can’t he get girls on his own?”

- “Freedom Fries”

I forget anything?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:53 PM | Comments (5)

TMQ on W

We’ve all heard the Clinton-couldn’t-attack-al-Qaeda-‘cause-the-GOP-would’ve-said-“Wag the Dog”! argument- which is, of course, completely correct. Here’s the Bush converse, also correct- and it may be the most brilliant thing Gregg Easterbrook has ever written.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)


My review of "Walking Tall" is online at Hot Movie Ticket; in it The Rock swings a 2x4 with skill not shown by any pro wrestler since the glory days of "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

Skilling's Shame

The former CEO of Enron, wandering around Manhattan in a drunken, paranoid stupor, grabbing at peoples' clothes in fear that they're undercover FBI- it really doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:11 AM | Comments (4)

Off the Schneid

After a long career full of choking in major tournaments, Phil Mickelson today won the Masters, for his first-ever major win.

Your turn, Red Sox...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

Hope the Smoking Man's in This One

There will be a second "X-Files" movie, according to David Duchovny. Makes sense, I suppose; DD's career hasn't exactly been on fire since the show went off the air two years ago, and I even saw Gillian Anderson's name on a "Where Are They Now?" magazine cover the other week.

Hey, if there's another movie maybe we'll even find out how Mulder and Scully got back from Antarctica at the end of the first movie.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

On Honor of Easter, and That Church Thing Yesterday

The Best Bunny-Killing (Or “Killing-Bunny”) Moments in Pop Culture History:

- Elmer Fudd singing “Kill the Wabbits” to the tune of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”

- Glenn Close boiling Michael Douglas’ daughter’s pet bunny in “Fatal Attraction.”

- The rabbit-costumed teenager prophesizing armageddon in “Donnie Darko.”

- The killer rabbit in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

- Jay and Silent Bob beating up the Easter Bunny in “Mallrats.”

- The “other three are figments of your fucking imagination!” speech in “Chasing Amy.”

- The everlasting, never-killed Energizer Bunny.

- Roger Rabbit who, I continue to insist, was framed.

- That Crunch Gym commercial a few years back with the woman having sex with a guy in a bunny costume in the back of a limo. Not “killing,” but certainly cruel to “animals.”

- The videogame Bunny Bomber.

- The comic strip Dead Bunny.

- The "you dug up her pet bunny" joke.

- “140 bunnies killed in Bunnyland since the official end of bunny killing season” (?)

- And best of all, the greatest pickup-bar peptalk in movie history, from “Swingers”:

Trent: You know what you are? You're like a big bear with claws and with fangs...

Sue: ...big fucking teeth, man.

Trent: Yeah... big fuckin' teeth on ya'. And she's just like this little bunny, whose just kinda cowering in the corner.

Sue: Shivering.

Trent: Yeah, man just kinda... you know, you got these claws and your staring at these claws and your thinking to yourself and with these claws your thinking "How am I supposed to kill this bunny, how am I supposed to kill this bunny?"

Sue: And you're poking at it, you're poking at it...

Trent: Yeah you're not hurting it. You're just kinda gently batting the
bunny around, you know what I mean? And the bunny's scared Mike, the bunny's scared of you, shivering.

Sue: And you got these fucking claws and these fangs...

Trent: And you got these fucking claws and these fangs, man! And you're looking at your claws and you're looking at your fangs. And you're thinking to yourself you don't know what to do, man. I don't know how to kill the bunny. With this you don't know how to kill the bunny…

Speaking of which, four words: Sports Guy In Vegas.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

Pete On Pete

In a meeting of two guys who have fallen quite a long way since their mid-‘70s peaks, Peter Bogdanovich will direct ESPN’s upcoming biopic of Pete Rose, called “Hustle.”

This would be like, in 2034, Wes Anderson directing a made-for-cable movie about the tragic fall from grace of Freddy Adu.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:17 PM | Comments (1)

Attention All You Journalists and/or Pornographers

The editorial director job at Hustler is now open.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

From Nudie-Booths To Nudie-Booth Jokes

With the stand-up comedy circuit in New York entering another upswing (as evidenced by this Jim Norton-centric New York magazine piece), new comedy clubs are popping up all over the city.

One major one is Laugh Factory, an NYC arm of the popular LA club, which has set up shop at the corner of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue- on the former site of Show World Center, once one of the city’s more notorious porn palaces. That’s a fact that I’m sure will be mentioned by, oh, every single comic who plays there the first six months.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

The Penultimate ‘Apprentice’

Jessica Simpson’s missing? And it’s all Omarosa’s fault? Hell, they can both stay missing, for all I care.

By the way, did you see those FHM photos of Ereka, Kristi, Katrina, and Amy? Funny that after I’ve been calling the first three of them “The Stepford Wives” for the last three months, it’s Amy (who unlike the others actually seems intelligent) who gets called that by one of Trump’s underlings on the show.

At any rate, I’m still wondering why Jessie, both the smartest and sexiest of all the “Apprentices,” was left out of the FHM shoot.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

Washington Expos?

Washington, D.C. has put together a deal for a publicly financed ballpark meant to lure the Montreal Expos to town. It’s great news, to finally get a team back in our nation’s capital- so watch Bud Selig pooh-pooh it by the end of the weekend.

He can go screw himself, and so can Peter Angelos.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

Movie Critic Quote of the Week

“Von Trier could justifiably make a fantasy about America, even an anti-American fantasy, and produce a good film, but here he approaches the ideological subtlety of a raving prophet on a street corner.”
-Roger Ebert, who normally has a soft spot for leftish message movies, trashing “Dogville.” It really does sound like one of the most vile films of recent years, as well as one of the most boring, and I have no desire to see it.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

Worst Book Critic Quote of the Week:

“On March 30, a Bolivian miner who was denied a state pension blew himself up in the Bolivian Congress building, leading to the granting of pensions two days later for tens of thousands of Bolivian miners. Why are America's poor so passive?”

-Mark Ames, apparently calling for Americans to become suicide bombers, while reviewing the new David Shipler book in New York Press.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

Most Uncomfortable Headline of the Day

Mike Weir Gets Wet Defending Masters Title (Yahoo! News)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:09 PM | Comments (1)

Confessions of a Not-Quite Bush Hater

I've been talking a lot lately about how I've gotten more anti-Bush in the last few months. While I still support what we're doing in Iraq, the gay-marriage amendment proposal infuriated me, and I'm not that much more keen on the FCC's "indecency crackdown," and even less so on Ashcroft's new anti-porn initiative.

So I got to thinking that, despite all the questioning I've done over the years and all the time I've spent wrapping myself in iconoclasm, maybe I'm really still just a liberal at heart. However, whenever I start to feel that way, I come across other people -even, or perhaps especially, those I love and respect- who get me thinking the opposite.

Take my Passover seder last week, for example. Now perhaps it was the Manichewitz, but my family, God bless them, for the first time made Bush-bashing part of the Haggadah- over the course of the evening I heard our president compared to Pharoah, called "The Eleventh Plague," and also heard comparisons made of the Jews-in-the-land-of-Egypt to Iraqis-under-the-American-occupation. I only raised my voice when someone tried bringing the Palestinians into the equation...

(The other big political argument of the evening was when some of the feminists at the table raised an objection to the inclusion of male pronouns for God in the Haggadah. My position is that God was undisputedly a male from the dawn of time until around 1985, when He magically became gender-unspecific, but I'm thinking I'm one of the few people left in the Reform Movement who believes that).

Anyway, don't worry Grandma, I had a wonderful time at the seder regardless. But the questioning of my lukewarm support for our commander-in-chief continued when I returned to work this week. Now I should preface by saying that while I am yet to work in The Official New York Elite Media With Its Liberal Bias and Cocktail Parties, even a 75% liberal such as myself has generally been the most conservative person in every one of my journalism offices. I've never worked with anyone who admitted to voting for Bush, and in my last job was the only person in the office who openly supported the war in Iraq (though when the chairman of the company visited from the London office several months later, he gauged our opinion about the war and concluded by saying, of Saddam, "I'm so glad we got rid of that bastard!")

Without getting into specifics, I'm happy to say my current office is refreshingly apolitical, though yesterday I was reporting a story related to legislation signed by the president, and called a source who is a generally well-known expert on that particular law. I asked him the questions I had, and the first thing he answered was something along the lines of, "obviously, we haven't had a constitution in this country since George Bush became president."

Now unlike some, I don't get "offended" when people say things like that. It's perfectly legitimate, in a pluralistic democratic society (which, yes, we still are), criticizing the president is perfectly okay, even admirable. But this strikes me as a "Stop the Police State" kind of situation- if this really were no longer a free country, wouldn't people be afraid to say things like that, especially to a reporter?

Relax, Bush haters- you're not about to be thrown in a gulag for your beliefs. And while I certainly respect your opinion, sorry- I don't share it. Bush may be ineffective, he may be unintelligent, he may even be bad for the country- but he's not Pharoah, he's not Hitler, and he doesn't represent the end of American democracy. Sure, you may not like what he's done, but if he loses in November, all of it may be undone within months- that's what's great about America.

So in the meantime, I apologize for not participating in the Bush-trashing parties that so many of you like to throw.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:16 AM | Comments (4)

Best in the West

After beating Sacramento last night for their sixth consecutive victory, the formerly slumping Minnesota Timberwolves are now in first place in the Western Conference with just three games left in the season. At this rate it looks like another first-round playoff exit is highly unlikely (since they'll probably playing Houston or Utah), though it's always possible they'll suffer four major injuries in two days and then lose to awful teams (see: the Twins).

Another thing I forgot to mention from my Minnesota trip- they're really doing the hard sell on their "Kevin Garnett For MVP" campaign, putting up "KG: MVP" signs all over town and handing out shirts at the games. Not that he doesn't deserve it...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)

I'm Not a Homophobe, But...

Whoever's been leaving me comment SPAM twice a day under the name "Gay Porn Fan" please- stop.

(Anyone know how to handle this, when it's the same person using multiple IP addresses?)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:35 AM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2004

Kill the Wabbits, Kill the Wabbits

A church group in Pennsylvania this week decided to commemorate Easter and show how Jesus was crucified- by torturing the Easter Bunny in front of several small children.

Apparently inspired equally by “Passion of the Christ” and that Jesus vs. Santa fight from “South Park,” the church sought to honor Christ by defiling the traditional iconography of Easter, which entailed whipping an actor costumed as the bunny, breaking eggs, and shouting (“Matrix”-like), “there is no Easter Bunny.”

Then again, the performers also “portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman,” so perhaps their real inspiration was Brad and Frankie of “The Real World: San Diego.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:26 PM | Comments (1)

A Happier Anniversary

Hank Aaron hit home run #715 to break Babe Ruth’s record 30 years ago today.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:24 PM | Comments (1)

No More Rumbles in the Bronx

According to the Post, last week was the first seven-day period in over ten years in which not a single shooting was reported in the Bronx. I’m rooting for the streak to end either the next time the Yankees come to town (today), or the next time J-Lo returns to “the block.”

But this doesn’t mean violence in the borough is a thing of the past: New York Press takes a look at that ice cream turf war from a few weeks ago:

Bronx entrepreneurs Luis and Juana Marrero, both in their 60s, learned just how brutal the ice cream business can be. On Saturday, March 27, the couple, together with their granddaughter, found their ice-cream truck boxed in by those of a competitor. Words were exchanged, sprinkles were thrown, and before you knew it the streets ran with soft-serve and blood.

Fernando Esparza and Librada Veron, in an effort to take over the Marreros’ route, beat the couple and the young girl nearly to death with metal pipes. The thugs were arrested shortly thereafter, putting a likely end to their days of bringing joy to neighborhood children.

But that means neither side has the route now, right? Now that there aren’t any more murders, let’s go to the Bronx!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

Provincial NYT Headline of the Day

"U.S. Vows to Re-Take Two Southern Cities In Hands of Militants.”

It’s about Southern Iraq, of course. But how much of the Times’ audience read that and thought, “Atlanta and New Orleans?”

Oh well, at least they used “militants” and not “rebels.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2004

Ten Years Gone

While I was away I neglected to mark the 10-year anniversary of the passing of Kurt Cobain; the man was a genius who ushered in an important era of great music, and he is still missed to this day. At least the anniversary served, for a day or two, to pull the media spotlight away from his psychotic wife.

This week also marks the ten-year anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide, while later this month will mark a decade since the passing of Richard Nixon. Funny, I don’t remember all this stuff happening at the same time… but with all that, plus the canceled World Series, the Gingrich takeover of Congress, and “Pulp Fiction” losing Best Picture, ’94 was just one damn calamity after another, wasn’t it?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:57 PM | Comments (3)

Smart Conservative, Dumb Conservative

How to Write a Funny Satirical Column: By David Brooks

How Not To: By Bill O'Reilly

Yet O’Reilly gets about a hundred times the weekly audience Brooks does, and his feeble-minded books outsell “Bobos in Paradise” by a substantial margin. No fair.

Speaking of Brooks’ 2000 “work of comic sociology,” it’s ranked by Amazon as the #12 most popular book at Brandeis University. The most recent “Harry Potter” book is #1, with more typical ‘deis books –“Fast Food Nation,” “Lies and the Lying Liars,” “Kosher By Design”- rounding out the top ten. No idea why Brooks is so popular in Waltham, but it may have something to do with American Studies/Environmental Studies professor Brian Donahue, who gave a long speech about “Bobos” at my departmental graduation four years ago.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:53 PM | Comments (5)

Leaning Tower

Twins phenom Joe "Tower of" Mauer is about to have his first surgery exactly two games into his major league career, though luckily he'll only be out about a month. I'm not too worried; he'll still be rookie of the year.

And speaking of baseball's best extra-inning team so far this season, TwinsGeek's new blog is online at StarTribune.com.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday TV Round-Up

“24”: Unlike last year, when the show blew all the great stuff in the first half and was stuck with nothing but boring nonsense for the last twelve hours, Season 3 has saved the best for last after a lackluster beginning- establishing a two-pronged set-up for the final seven episodes in which a terrorist madman has control of a lethal virus and is blackmailing the president with it, while a hotel is filled with guests infected with said virus.

I can forgive the producers for once again introducing a never-before-seen supervillain just for the last few episodes, only because Reiko Aylesworth (Michelle) looks really, really hot when she’s waving a gun and screaming.

But whatever happened to Jack’s heroin addiction subplot? Or the mysterious baby? And besides, it’s never a good sign when a show’s commercials include some variation on, “now is the time to come back and start watching again!”

“Real World: San Diego”: I’ve gotta say, this season has disappointed me after the strong beginning- nothing but arrests, drinking, and arrests-for-drinking, only occasionally interrupted by Frankie’s way-too-disturbing-for-reality-TV dysfunctions. Yes, we learned last night that she’s a “cutter,” though she’s not nearly as interesting a character as Maggie Gyllanhaal in “Secretary”; luckily we had Dr. Drew handy to explain it it all. I’m with EW recapper Josh Wolk:

After this show has spent the past few months fetishizing dumb people drinking, humping, and generally being irresponsible, then any random, serious Life Lesson moment seems comically discordant.
Especially when it's such a one-shot: As the coming-attraction segment showed, next week we're going to go right back to seeing Brad dry-hump some girl while the rest of the roommates peek into his room. It's like splicing an afterschool special into the middle of a ''Girls Gone Wild'' marathon. ''Show us your boobs! Show us your boobs! Hey, wait, that girl's got bulimia, and she needs therapy. But hey, girl behind the girl with bulimia, show us YOUR boobs!''

“The Shield”: Television’s first male-on-male oral rape- damn, that was some intense stuff, and should set the tone for the rest of the season. It may add a new layer of complexity to Aceveda’s character, but still, why have it happen to the “bad” good guy instead of one of the “good” bad guys (the Strike Team)? I guess they used up all their sadism points when they robbed the money train, burned that guy's face on the stove, and killed one of their own men.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:46 PM | Comments (5)

The Joel Stein Show Returns From Hiatus

Fans who miss Joel Stein’s back-page column in Entertainment Weekly (okay, maybe two or three people besides me) are in luck, as the ubiquitous “I Love the ‘80s”/”Best Week Ever” panelist has created a new sitcom, based on his own life.

Since Stein is too busy pontificating on VH1 to star as himself, the Stein surrogate will instead be played by Colin Hanks, Tom’s son who starred in “Orange County.” And despite Hanks’ appearance in the not-so-friendly-to-the-Germans “Band of Brothers,” I’m thinking the denizens of Deutchland will forgive him, because of who his co-star is: David Hasselhoff.

Joining Hanks Jr. and Michael Knight on the show will be Sharon Lawrence (“NYPD Blue”), Sheryl Lee Ralph of “Moesha” fame, and Roger Rees, who played Robin Colcord on “Cheers. (Much like Dan "Nick Tortelli" Hedaya, I'll never buy Rees/Colcord in any other role for as long as he lives.)

With a cast like that, the Stein show could even be better than the Jason Alexander/Tony Kornheiser sitcom. But probably not.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

Dammit Stuart Scott, Stop Saying "Playa Please"!

Norbizness responds to Slate’s anti-“SportsCenter” piece, with a hella lot of Cartman quotes included.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Scarlet IPs

While I'm flattered to be getting my first-ever comment spam, the following IP addresses are, as Dylan sang, "forever banned":

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

Mack, He's Back in Town

I've returned from four days in Minnesota and regular blogging should commence right about now.

Happy Passover.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2004

One Down, 161 To Go

I willingly violated that whole commandment about "not turning to other forms of entertainment" after the seder in order to flip between the NCAA championship and the Twins' season opener- yes, I put down the Manichewitz to go watch Mientkiewicz.

And I wasn't disappointed- the Twins erased a 4-0 lead by Cleveland in the bottom of the eighth before Shannon Stewart won it with a three-run homer in the 11th, just as "One Shining Moment" played over on CBS.

Joe Mauer, in his major league debut, looked like the real deal- two hits, scored the winning run, and some excellent defensive plays. And unlike Tony Soprano, he wouldn't fuck a catcher's mitt.

UPDATE: Make that 2-0. Twins win the second game 7-6, this time in 15 innings. Two games, 26 innings, no bullpen trouble whatsoever- I like what I'm seeing so far.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:28 PM | Comments (5)

Congratulations UConn

The University of Connecticut Huskies are national champions in both mens' and womens' college basketball, and since the two championship games fell on the first two nights of Passover, both teams are coincidentally Jew-free.

UConn beat out Minnesota in the national semi-final on Sunday night, and the run by the Gophers was a huge, huge story in Minny- meeting some high school friends for dinner on Sunday night, I walked into a bar to see (for the first and probably last time in my life) about 15 men in a row staring with rapt attention as womens' basketball played on TV.

So in marking the championship and the final game of Diana Taurasi's collegiate career, I give you a few search hits this blog has gotten just on Final Four weekend:

-Diana Taurasi nude
-Diana Taurasi lesbian
-Diana Taurasi tits
-Diana Taurasi sexy
-Fake Diana Taurasi naked pictures
-Diana Taurasi naked
-Diana Taurasi Jewish
-Lindsay Whalen, lesbian
-Diana Taurasi nude

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

Please, Please, Please, Please Don't Take Away Our Porno

The Bush Administration's crackdown on, uh, fun is continuing unabated, as the Justice Department will soon begin prosecuting a "war on porn," which is likely to bring the first obscenity prosecutions since the days of 2 Live Crew.

Yea, there's a great way to woo swing-voters- cut off Howard Stern and porn!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

Christ-ina and the Waves

From the people who brought you "Cups Being Knocked Off Tables," it's a shorter, more musical montage of "Passion of the Christ."

As for me, I'm still looking forward to "Passion 2: Give Me Back My Son!"

(Via Yuppies of Zion)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

Letter to the Editor of the Week

Emily Melchert of Minneapolis, writing to the City Pages about some 9/11 article:

I think this person needs something better to write about. Whoever wrote this is a crappy Democrat! Really, too bad Bill Clinton was too busy getting his balls sucked on to do anything prior to 9/11! We should be growing industrial hemp in order to reduce landfills and produce biodegradable plastics!

Ten years ago Minnesota's third-largest political party was the Grass Roots Party, a single-issue party dedicated to the legalization of marijuana, though Melchert sounds a lot more like a Republican-for-hemp.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:52 PM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2004

The Four Children

I'm off to Minnesota tonight for my grandma's seder, time with family, and Joe Mauer's major league debut (not in person, unfortunately). I probably won't blog at all over the weekend, unless I do.

So until next time, happy Passover, and Go Gophers!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

The Baseball Culture War

The 2004 baseball season (at least, the post-Japan segment) will get underway over the weekend, and so I thought I’d make my predictions now:

AL East: Yankees AL Central: Twins
AL West: Angels AL Wild Card: Red Sox
NL East: Phillies NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Padres NL Wild Card: Astros
ALDS: Yankees over Twins, Red Sox over Angels
NLDS: Cubs over Padres, Astros over Phillies
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees, Astros over Cubs

World Series: And in a Massachusetts/Texas series that comes just two weeks before the Massachusetts/Texas presidential election, the Astros (along with old friends Roger Clemens, Jimy Williams, and Jeff Bagwell) will open the World Series in Boston, and the rooting interests of the country will coalescence along geopolitical lines.

An upset victory by the AL in the All-Star Game in Houston gives the Sox home field, and they get much more geographical advantage –and therefore more success- than John Kerry does. Pedro out-duels Clemens in Game 7 to give Boston its first championship in 86 years, and Boston is way too jubilant to care whether or not Kerry wins the election.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:48 PM | Comments (5)

“Harvey Sucks: Miramax, Sundance, and Why Harvey Sucks”

I review Peter Biskind’s disappointing indie-film-in-the-‘90s book “Down and Dirty Pictures” over at BlogCritics. There’s some good stuff in it, but way too many “Harvey-Weinstein-is-an-asshole” stories and not enough material about the films themselves.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

Only the Good Marry Young

According to Page Six, Billy Joel ended up in the hospital yesterday- no, not another drunken car accident; this time he cut his finger opening a can of cannellini beans, and was taken to the ER by his 22-year-old fiancé, Kate Lee.

Yes, you heard that right, Billy Joel has a 22-year-old fiancé. Joel is himself 55; let’s put this in a little bit of perspective:

-Joel released NINE ALBUMS- “Cold Spring Harbor,” “Piano Man,” “Streetlife Serenade,” “Turnstiles,” “The Stranger,” “52nd Street,” “Glass Houses,” “Songs in the Attic,” and “The Nylon Curtain,” and won five Grammy awards, before Lee was born.

-Joel “was born in ’49, a Cold War kid in McCarthy time.” Kate was born in 1982, 25 years after Joseph McCarthy’s death- and when the Cold War ended, she was 7.

-Lee was also 7 for “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” but is of course too young to remember any of the historical references in the song, at least prior to “rock ‘n’ roller cola wars.” Perhaps the song was played by Lee’s teacher that year, to give an introduction of late-20th century history to her second grade class.

-Joel wrote a futuristic song in the ‘70s called “Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway).” In 2017, Lee will be 35, or 20 years younger than Joel is now.

-Joel’s most recent studio album, “River Dreams,” came out in 1993, when his blushing bride was 11.

-Lee is only three years older than Joel’s daughter Alexa Ray (b. 1985), though “The Downeaster Kate” doesn’t quite have the same panache.

-And when Joel entered rehab after his car accident two years ago, Lee wasn’t yet old enough to drink.

But if you ask me, Billy could keep hooking up with 22-year-olds for the rest of his life- he’ll never match Christie Brinkley in her prime.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

It's All Michael Eisner's Fault

''Tigger" Arrested on Molestation Charges

As it turns out, the worst "Tigger Incident" of the school year has nothing to do with Dusty Baker or Brandeis.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Comedy Central Becomes a Man

To celebrate their thirteenth anniversary on the air, Comedy Central will be broadcasting a “Comedy Central's Bar Mitzvah” special on April 25. Performers Jewish (Jeffrey Ross, Dave Attell, Lewis Black, Judy Gold) and gentile (Snoop Dogg, Drew Barrymore, Mario Cantone, Adam Carolla, Colin Quinn, Wanda Sykes) alike will appear at the event.

I’ve gotta say- I liked this same idea a lot more four years ago, when my college comedy troupe, Boris’ Kitchen, did the exact same thing, celebrating our 13th anniversary with a year-end show called “Boris’ Bar Mitzvah.”

Quite a memorable affair- a freshman in the troupe drank on stage, passed liquor bottles out to the audience, and was later ejected from the building. Wouldn’t surprise me for a second if Attell, Carrolla, and Snoop tried the same thing on Comedy Central's version.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

She Kidnapped Herself!

Like Bunny Lebowski before her, Minnesotan Audrey Seiler was not kidnapped from Madison, WI, after all, and made the whole thing up, police said.

What, didn't she learn from "Fargo" that people from Minnesota aren't good at faking kidnappings?

As is often the case when attractive white women are kidnapped or killed (but not so much when anyone else is), the case got a ton of national media coverage, and is now about to get a lot more- you thought that woman falsifying a lottery ticket was a big deal? I know I’ll be hearing about it constantly when I go home this weekend, and it may even knock the Gopher women and the Hatch sisters off the front page of the Strib.

So if you look like this guy, you’re off the hook:

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

How I Know It’s Final Four Time

I’m starting to get “Diana Taurasi nude” and “Diana Taurasi lesbian” Google hits again. Hey, why none for Lindsay Whalen?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:31 PM | Comments (7)

April 01, 2004

“SportsCenter” Sucks, Cont’d:

There’s a great piece by Matt Feeney on Slate today articulating just about everything I’ve been saying about “SportsCenter” for the past year: the anchors are in love with the sounds of their own voices, they shill constantly for network programming, the catchphrases suck, it’s all white people trying to pull off a hip-hop aesthetic, and none of them can pull off the genius chemistry of former anchors Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann.

In other words, it’s unwatchable.

Feeney totally hits the nail on the head, except that he forgets to mention the tedious “argument” segments, the game-show bits with athletes playing Taboo, and Stuart Scott. Other than that, great stuff. The money graf:

Dan and Keith infused SportsCenter with a knowingness (while miraculously avoiding smugness) that turned the show into a kind of meta-history of sports. In the thickly hyped world of sports television, this layer of irony was a valuable thing. In contrast, the current roster of Dan-and-Keith wannabes offers all the critical distance, and all the journalistic detachment, of a Gatorade commercial.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

Drudged Up

Want to see just how off-the-charts nuts this country’s partisan warfare has gotten, in both the media and in Washington? Meet George Smith.

Smith (as he tells it in the Village Voice) is an obscure, middle-aged journalist who writes a column on technology and security issues for an little-known website called Security Focus. In early 2003, around the time now-famous White House whistleblower Richard Clarke resigned his position as White House cybersecurity czar (he had been drummed out of his counterterrorism job a year before that), Smith wrote a column on the site ripping Clarke for his “legacy of miscalculation.”

The thesis by Smith, who is a liberal but didn’t appear to have any particular political axe to grind in the column, was that Clarke had done a poor job in the cyberterror job because of his misplaced focus on “cyberattacks,” which he considered detrimental to the war on terror.

But last week, when Richard Clarke briefly became the most famous man in America, apparently someone at the RNC discovered Smith’s column, realized it was anti-Clarke, and immediately assumed that 1) it had been written that week, and 2) it was a Republican-authored hit piece on the former White House aide. The piece was linked by Drudge and spread around the “conservative echo chamber” of blogs and talk radio, proving once again that most bloggers don’t really read most of the things they link to, at least not past the first sentence, and certainly not the dateline.

(The same thing happened this week, when a year-old “I’m-breaking-with-the-left” piece by Ron Rosenbaum in the New York Observer was passed around the Blogosphere by people who apparently believed it was new).

Smith was deluged with phone calls, including invitations to appear on right-wing political talk shows, by those who believed that he was himself a right-wing partisan hack. And speaking of partisan hacks, Smith got e-mails. Lots of them. From both right-wing kooks praising him and left-wing kooks bashing him, all unaware that he is himself a man of the left. Smith’s e-mails (sidebar) alternately praised him for doing “a national service,” and called him “an idiot who crawled from under a rock.”

Everyone’s reaction to this piece –written a year ago- was to filter it through blind partisan hatred. I give credit to the Voice for acknowledging for once that left-wing ideologues are just as good as being jackasses as conservatives are. The Smith story, more than anything I’ve read since the 2000 election, is a perfect microcosm of where we are politically in 2004.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

And Worst Of All

One of the e-mails to Smith, rather than stewing, had me laughing out loud:

"I have been compelled to write you about this article, because there is something you missed and it is very important. You mentioned . . . [a] cruise missle strike on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 1998. . . . You did not mention . . . that those cruise missles, (the ones that missed) that were left intact, were subsequently sold by bin Laden to China. . . . China has reverse engineered those cruise missles, and produced comparable weapons [which] have now been sold to Iran, and North Korea. I cannot prove this information, but I do know that this is a widely held belief/fact within the intelligence community."

I’m sure it’s also “widely held” in your mental institution, sir.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

The Best and Worst of Dylan

This guy Norm is running a “Name Your Five Favorite Bob Dylan Songs" poll. As I’m currently midway through my quest to download the entire Dylan catalogue (I’m up to about 1970), I’m happy to oblige:

1. “Like a Rolling Stone”
2. “Tangled Up in Blue”
3. “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
4. “If Not For You”
5. “Visions of Johanna”

But going the other way… what the hell is Bob Dylan doing in commercials for Victoria’s Secret? Ladies, does the image of a mumbling, husky-voiced 62-year-old man make you say, “hey, I want to go buy sexy underwear”?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:23 PM | Comments (2)

Directed by Hilton Gibson

McSweeney’s gives us a fake filmography for Mel Gibson’s father. Holocaust denial has never been this funny.

And speaking of America’s first family of Jew-haters, anyone catch “South Park” last night? You can’t beat animated Mel Gibson prancing around like a lunatic in his underwear, daring everyone he meets to torture him, and then farting on Cartman’s head.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)


I discuss the prospects of Al Franken and the “Air America” network over at Detroit News; I’ve actually been joined on their blog, as of two days ago, by the noted right-leaning political cartoonists Cox and Forkum. Check out their blog for a very entertaining April Fools joke.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)