"Eagleton memorably calls this 'the gradual darkening of the dissident mind' and devotes many excellent pages in the first third of the book to documenting it. His pet hate is West-centred narcissism, a vice that he presents in its most stark form in the inconsequential topics cultural theorists now choose to study. Researching the history of pubic hair while half the world's population lacks adequate sanitation is a particularly poignant example."
-James Wood, reviewing academic theorist Terry Eagleton's new book, in The New Republic.
The history of pubic hair, huh? That would certainly be an interesting senior thesis, especially the merkin chapter. But how can it be so wrong to focus on such a topic, when there's a sociological point to be made of the fact that Brazilian women appear to have easier access to bikini waxes than they do to adequate sanitation?
This interview in the NYT Magazine with "Bergdorf Blondes" author Plum Sykes made me gag, as I'm sure it did for any reasonable individual reading it:
"These girls are quite serious about finding an A.T.M. An A.T.M. is a rich boyfriend. New York girls have a code they speak in. When they say they have to find an M.I.T., they don't mean they have to go to college. They mean they have to find a mogul in training."
Nice to see they're, uh, "serious" about something. But luckily, Edward Champion is here to run Miss Sykes through the ringer.
Ana Marie turns her usual anti-Tina Brown fisking method on the goofy right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, who recently wrote a supremely self-righteous piece about Washingtoienne. If a nationally syndicated columnist called you a "skank" in print, you'd do the same, right?
Make that low-carb gravy, of course.
This guy is suing the Atkins organization for the almost comically low sum of $28,000, alleging that the diet caused his cholesterol to rise. The suit is- as if I had to tell you- backed by the radical pro-vegan group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, undoubtedly seeking precedent to go after the deep-pocketed Atkins estate many more times in the future.
As for me, after four months I'm down 24 pounds and counting...
This piece on Salon details a movie trend that's been annoying me lately: the repeated soundtrack motif of a vaguely ethnic-sounding female wail. It was there in "Gladiator" and "Passion of the Christ," and was so omnipresent in the recent "Troy" that I found it a distraction.
Supposedly directors and soundtrack supervisors love the "lone female voice chanting in a nameless tongue, pouring out her melodious lament like a widow over a fresh grave." But I think it sucks; it makes me want to slit my wrists, if I don't fall asleep first.
Tuesday: A reader and Twins fan named Dave, after noticing on a Google search that I once mentioned the 1988 lawn fistfight between then-Twins Dan Gladden and Steve Lombardozzi, e-mails me asking if I remember what the specifics were of the fight.
Wednesday: I laughingly write back that while I certainly remember the fight, I don't recall a whole lot of specifics and besides, I was only ten years old at the time. So I suggest Dave contact another of the pro-Twins bloggers for help in answering his question.
Thursday: Dave sends the same e-mail to Bat Girl- who not only describes the action, but posts a LEGO re-enactment of the fight! Complete with a green floor to simulate Gladden's lawn.
Is this a great Blogosphere, or what?
I thought my blogging habit- 7-10 posts a day, usually all in one sitting- was time-consuming. The NYT tells us about people who literally can't stop blogging. It's better than the Times' usual blog coverage, but then that's not saying much. A year from now, expect the paper to publish a lengthy mea culpa about how it got the whole thing wrong repeatedly.
Asparagirl comes at us with one of the better blog posts I've ever seen directed at an individual troll. For instance:
no matter what action the terrorists may take against us in the future, it's not our fault. Not because we haven't done things that might have pissed them off--we're supposed to be doing things that piss them off!--but because there is no excuse for terrorism. Period. Being justifiably pissed off at prison abuse doesn't justify Nick Berg's unjustifiable beheading. Being justifiably pissed off at Action X does not in any universe correctly lead to Unjustifiable Terrorist Act Y.
Normally I advocate ignoring such folks, and maybe they'll go away. But if in results in great stuff like this, I make an exception.
"The Wizards had better not take a high school kid. If they do, people should burn their season tickets." -Michael Wilbon, reacting to Washington's #5 placement in the NBA Draft. I'm still at work every day at 5:30 so I haven't seen "PTI" in months, so I have to make do with Wilbon and TK's columns.
Jordan is still going strong with the succubus stories/analysis, and he probably has enough to go on all year; meanwhile, the great Jim Knipfel weighs in with one of his own in this week’s (generally Jew-bashing-free) issue of New York Press.
Knipfel tells the story of how years ago in Philadelphia, he was dating a rather difficult young woman, and had to reconcile that with both his record collection and some of the more salacious stuff he was writing at the time for a local alt-weekly. Here’s Jim:
To say that the woman I was living with in Philly could be a little uptight about sexual issues would be generous. Not sex itself, but rather representations or discussions of sexual matters. It took the form of a kind of radical feminism gone haywire, and sometimes went far beyond even that…
If she was around, I was not at liberty to watch any movies containing sex, sexual innuendo, boobs or women in revealing clothing—at least if I didn't want the evening to devolve into another big fight.
Reading this made me realize something. When I was high school and college, I knew all sorts of women who thought, talked, and acted like that. Now that I’m an adult living in a city, I know none. It’s not that I’m not friends with feminists, it’s just that I don’t even remember the last time I heard a female use the word “misogynistic” in a sentence, whereas five years ago I’d hear it every five minutes. Not necessarily in reference to myself, of course.
What’s caused the change? Has there been a cultural shift in the last few years, or are things just different for 20-somethings than they are in college? Indeed, do women undergo some sort of transformation once they escape the PC-beholden shackles of college, and start to realize that a lot of that women's studies stuff made a whole lot more sense in theory than in practice?
Maybe it’s the rise of the “Sex and the City”/"postfeminist princess” culture. Or maybe it’s that women, once they’re adults, realize that sex is a good thing, and that guys thinking they’re hot- rather than being insulting- is actually something they sort of like. As one friend of mine put it, “they all kind of realize how great sex can be after they have great sex.”
Then again, maybe I just went to college with the wrong women. Help me out here, ladies!
Then there’s this piece, asking why television teenagers (From “90210”’s Brenda to “Gilmore Girls”’ Rory) nearly always go straight from kissing to losing their virginity, skipping “second base” and “third base” altogether. Why, indeed?
Yes, the network that canceled “Firefly,” “Undeclared,” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” has somehow found a way to piss me off even more.
Tonight, during the “American Idol” finale, Fox ran a promo for its upcoming summer lineup. Now I was watching this on the treadmill so I’m paraphrasing the wording, but the ad began with a shot of a baseball stadium- empty- and the words “this summer, people won’t be where you’d expect them to be.“ Then, the image changed to a montage of the various upcoming shows followed by the loud on-screen graphic, “they’ll be home, watching FOX!”
Yes, Fox, which is in the middle of a 6-year, $2.5 billion contract to be the sole network television partner of Major League Baseball, has chosen to broadcast a commercial essentially tearing down its most valuable media property, by comparing it- unfavorably- to such programming as Paris Hilton’s TV show, and whatever other vacuous reality crap Fox will be broadcasting this summer.
Then again, since all Fox has done with postseason baseball each year is subject us to the same commercials literally hundreds of times in a row (six words: “His Father Is The District Attorney”), I can’t say I’m particularly surprised. The network may as well be saying “baseball is good enough for us to use to advertise our fall shows, but don’t concern yourself with it in the summer by actually going to any games- instead, stay home and watch Paris Hilton be stupid!”
I’d expect Commissioner Selig to step in and do something about this, but it’s not like he gives a shit either.
The third season of the one good show left on Fox-“24”- is history and I must say, the second half was much better than the first, reversing the way last year went. That is, I didn’t care about anything the Salazar Brothers said or did, or all the “fake viruses,” but by the time Steven Saunders showed up the show was back in business, baby.
So let’s look at the cast as it stands now: Jack is shaken, but alive. Tony? Heading to death row. President Palmer? Leaving office. Chase? Lost his hand, and he’s retiring anyway. Sherry? Dead. Chapelle? Dead. Nina? Dead. And thanks to a carefully planned leak the morning of the finale, we know that Reiko Aylesworth (Michelle), James Badge Dale (Chase) and Carlos Bernard (Tony) will not be returning to the show as regulars for Season 4. And in news certain to gladden the hearts of the show’s writers, who almost certainly hate the character, Elisha Cuthbert (Kim)’s role will be cut back next year as the actress pursues her burgeoning film career.
All this means one of two things: either the next season will involve Jack going to another, non-CTU location (NYC? DC? Maybe a globe-trotting type thing?), or it’ll be a prequel. Either would be interesting; even more interesting is that the show will return in January, and run on 24 consecutive weeks. That works for me.
Only in college football can a boss publicly and insultingly disparage the job performance of a female employee who had just been raped by a male employee, after nine different women in the organization had filed similar claims in a four-year period, and not get fired.
The University of Colorado should be friggin’ ashamed of itself.
The other day I posted about my desire to jump onto this supposed gravy train of bloggers getting book deals. Someone apparently saw it and decided to contact me. But he apparently didn’t read THE REST of my blog:
Greetings to you in Jesus' wonderful Name. He is our ever appearing King.
We are preparing for the new season of book releases throughout Europe, Africa and the USA. Since you are probably working on a manuscript now, you are the perfect candidate to contact first.
We are seriously looking for cutting edge, prophetic books that contain a 'now' word for the nations.
We are also looking for manuscripts that lay Christian foundations or deal with relationships, children, teens; or carry a personal testimony of hope and love.
To talk about a manuscript, please contact me directly, the founder and CEO of [company deleted] at [e-mail address@deleted]. Please visit [website deleted] to see all our books and our monthly new releases.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
I never thought I was a candidate to write the next “Left Behind,” but maybe I am. After all, it’s not like being a member of the tribe ever stopped Irving Berlin, Neil Diamond or Kenny G from writing or recording Christmas music.
Glenn Cunningham, the mayor of Jersey City and the first African-American ever elected to that office, died last night after a massive heart attack. He was 60.
Taking on Hudson County’s odious political machine, Cunningham was elected mayor of New Jersey’s second-largest city in 2001, succeeding future Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler.
For a group that claims to stand for worldwide jihad and want to kill every Jew on Earth, what the hell is al-Qaeda doing employing a former Brandeis grad student, as well as a guy whose given name is Adam Pearlman?
So they're hypocrites, in addition to being fascists and mass murderers.
Here’s a fascinating interview with Gawker Media boss Nick Denton, by Greg Lindsay in Business 2.0. Even though Lindsay calls Denton a “pornographer by proxy” and judges Kinja a failure, it’s still a generally complementary piece.
Aside from that stuff- and the mention of a previously unpublicized Denton/Elizabeth Spiers feud- the piece generally follows the conventional wisdom that Jason Calacanis thinks we can all get rich from blogging but Denton isn’t so convinced. He’ll ESPECIALLY have his work cut out for him if there's any truth to those Wonkette-leaving rumors .
Anyway, I met and briefly chatted with Greg at BloggerCon, and when he had the conversation with Calacanis that’s mentioned in the piece, I was standing about two feet away.
1. Which political party do you typically agree with? Democrats, about 40% of the time. Republicans, about 20%, neither, about 40%. Blind partisanship is for fools.
2. Which political party do you typically vote for? Usually Democrats.
3. List the last five presidents that you voted for. Gore in 2000, Clinton in ’96, wasn’t old enough before that.
4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy? Neither, really; I’m convinced the movement of the economy has little-to-nothing to do with the actions of the government.
5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs? Democrats I’d say; despite their own special-interest dependence I agree with them on most social issues, and disagree with the vile theocratic aspirations of many Republicans.
6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out? We’ve gotta keep them there until a government is established, or else we’re looking at a Rwanda situation. But I don’t think we’ll be there more than two or three more years.
7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11? Bin Laden and al-Qaeda for actually doing it, and Afghanistan for shielding them. Peripherally, Saudi Arabia and maybe Pakistan. But Clinton, Bush, the CIA, and Rudy about as “responsible” for 9/11 as Milli Vanilli was “responsible” for “Girl You Know It’s True.”
8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Unless they’re buried somewhere, probably not. Maybe there’s a weapon or two here or there, but no “stockpiles.”
9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana? It should be legal to buy it, legal to own it, and if you’re the proprietor of a hash-bar, legal to sell it.
10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last presidential election? I think we’ll never know who really won Florida, and the Republicans didn’t steal the election any more than Gore would’ve if he’d come out on top.
11. Do you think bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinsky? No, of course not.
12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president? Not any more or less than any other fourth-year first-term senator.
13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great president. John Edwards, Harold Ford, Jr., or Russ Feingold.
14. Name a current Republican who would make a great president. John McCain, Colin Powell, or Rudy Giuliani.
15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion? Yes.
16. What religion are you? Jewish.
17. Have you read the Bible all the way through? Only the Old Testament.
18. What’s your favorite book? “Bonfire of the Vanities,” by Tom Wolfe.
19. Who is your favorite band? The Beatles
20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election? Kerry. Grudgingly.
21. What website did you see this on first? Norbizness/Norbiznass!
Note: Sick of memes like this one? Jeremy’s got an anti-meme of his own:
1) Stand in front of your DVD or VHS collection.
2) Find the movie that's closest in the alphabet to your first name.
3) Fast forward to 8:39 into the movie.
4) Post the next line of (intelligible) dialogue into your blog.
Here’s mine (guess the movie and the character):
“Yes, I saw the Terrence and Philip movie. Who wants to touch me? I said WHO WANTS TO FUCKING TOUCH ME?”
And Minnesota-to-LA transplanted anchorman Paul Magers thinks so too.
UPDATE: No, he can't, at least not tonight. But with Kobe flying back from Colorado before Game 4, I'm hoping for a gust of wind to keep his plane on the ground...
Because there are thirteen per season, you see…
1. “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano” (Season 1) The inaugural season’s finale begins with Tony recovering from an attempt on his life, and ends with him screaming at his mother for okaying it- all interspersed with various killings of Uncle Junior’s henchmen, and bad-ass pronouncements by Junior himself (“My nephew running things? Not in this life.”) I’ll put the last three hours of Season 1 up against any movie from the latter half of the ‘90s.
2. “D-Girl” (Season 2): Beneath the Jon Favreau/Janeane Garofolo Hollywood subplot was the series’ most moving scene: Big Pussy, as the FBI agents listen in on the wire, telling AJ what a great man Tony is, and later- still on tape- crying about it in the bathroom. All that, plus a great performance by “D-Girl” Alicia Witt- I’m not sure I can approve of a culture in which Jessica Simpson is a superstar, but most people have never heard of Alicia Witt.
3. “Pine Barrens” (Season 3): The lone masterpiece of the very uneven third season was the famous lost-in-the-woods-with-the-Russian-episode, in which Paulie and Chris find themselves lost overnight in South Jersey’s Pine Barrens, looking for an escaped Russian gangster. Full of great one-liners, the episode was directed by future Tony B Steve Buscemi.
4. “Isabella” (Season 1): The jump-the-sharkers who bashed Season 5’s “Test Dream” episode obviously don’t remember Season 1’s penultimate show, which featured Tony’s Lithium-aided fantasy of an apparitional character, “Italian exchange student” Isabella. Oh yea, and Tony gets shot- in slow motion, as he drops his bottle of orange juice- a nod to the “Godfather” films’ "orange death" motif.
5. “The Weight” (Season 4): The series’ most underrated episode began the transformation of Johnny Sack into one of its best characters. Angry that Ralphie made a fat joke about his wife Ginny, Johnny demands a hit on the Joey Pants character, leading to death threats flying in both directions and a hilarious visit to a family of inbred hitmen in Rhode Island. But in the last five minutes, we realize the entire spouse-is-too-fat theme of the episode was really about Tony, as Carmela spends a botched sexual encounter realizing that she’s no longer attracted to Tony and leaning towards Furio.
6. “Nobody Knows Anything” (Season 1): In the first episode of the series that I ever saw, Tony gets a tip that Big Pussy is working for the feds, from Det. Makazian (John Heard, who showed up next to Annette Bening in “Test Dream”). Tony later learns Vin was wrong- but even later, that he was right after all. The episode takes its name from William Goldman's famous summation of Hollywood.
7. “Long Term Parking” (Season 5): Last week’s episode, featuring the Tony/Carmela reconciliation, the end of the Johnny/Carmine war, and the whacking of Adriana, represented the long-awaited resolution of several long-simmering plots, while slyly referencing “Goodfellas” throughout.
8. “College” (Season 1): In the first episode that really put across the whole family/Family thing, Tony takes Meadow on a tour of Northeastern colleges, and in the process discovers a long-ago mob rat who he later kills. Remembered for Meadow’s “Dad, are you in the Mafia?” query. Also, for what it’s worth, the favorite episode of at least a couple of the producers.
9. “Unidentified Black Males” (Season 5): History will remember this one as the “Gay Vito” episode, but this Season 5 hour brilliantly tossed in four separate references to phantom black criminals, while also filling us in on the background of the most important storyline of Season 5, the Tony S/Tony B relationship.
10. “Funhouse” (Season 2): Another forerunner of “Test Dream,” the Season 2 closer saw a food-poisoned Tony hallucinating about standing on the Asbury Park boardwalk and being addressed by a fish speaking in Pussy’s voice (“these two guys on either side of me? They’re sleeping.”) Mostly given a pass, I guess, because it consisted of several short “fantasy” sequences instead of one long one, it ended with Pussy’s inevitable whacking, followed by a montage of family business activity set to Jagger/Richards’ “Thru and Thru”- after the season had begun with another montage, set to Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year.”
11. “Irregular Around the Margins” (Season 5): The third great hour of this season had the Chappaquiddick-like Tony/Adriana car accident, and also featuring the near-whacking of Christopher and the "Bye Bye Birdie"-like succession of gossip phone calls by the mobsters. Extra points for Christopher's admonishment of Tony, "you'd fuck a catcher's mitt."
12. “The Knight in White Satin Armor” (Season 2): The escalating Tony-Richie war culminates in the series’ most shocking moment- Janice’s shooting of Richie. Most shocking until the Vito thing, that is.
13. “Whitecaps” (Season 4): It’s far from perfect, and most fans recoiled at the idea of a whack-free season finale. But the episode that began Tony and Carmela’s separation merits inclusion on the list if only for Edie Falco giving the best single-episode performance in "Sopranos" history.
I forget anything? That's what the comments are for...
Phish will break up following this summer’s tour. The final show will be a three-day festival in Vermont in August, that should full of a whole bunch of depressed hippies.
Think it’ll be like Woodstock? More like Jonestown, if you ask me.
You'd think she'd want to visit Tzvat at least, but I guess not.
A group of teenage vandals snuck into a Florida high school last weekend, destroyed computer equipment, stole petty cash, and used a school paper cutter to decapitate several fish, according to a local television station. The vandals, who caused $50,000 worth of damage, at least had the good sense to disable the school’s security system before doing anything else. And unlike AJ Soprano and Co., they didn’t leave any moozadell behind.
And speaking of decapitated animals, former major leaguer Kevin Mitchell says in Jeff Pearlman’s book “The Bad Guys Won” that the oft-circulated story that he once beheaded a cat is NOT true, and was made up by Dwight Gooden in his autobiography. Who knew the Doc had so little credibility?
Headline for the Pistons-Pacers game story last night on ESPN.com:
I knew "Chappelle’s Show" was popular, but did the Pistons really have to sign Mr. Purple Rain for the playoffs?
Then again, I guess it takes The Artist to guard Artest.
This blog, May 18*:
As students began to leave their seats at the end of George Washington University's graduation ceremony Sunday, school president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said, 'And you may now turn your tassels from right to left, as I hope happened to your politics in the last four years.'"
Richard Leiby, May 25:
Stephen Trachtenberg, president of George Washington University, went a little beyond the usual inspirational pablum at graduation ceremonies May 16, deciding to make a political statement. "If anybody has a mortarboard, you can move your tassels from right to left, right to left, which is what I hope happened to your politics in the last four years,"
Not to mention that I beat Leiby to the Washingtonienne story by about five days as well, and I wasn’t the only one. The lesson, as always: the paper of Woodward/Bernstein and Kornheiser/Wilbon needs to hire Silver/Wahlman.
*The words are National Review's, but I was indeed an eyewitness, and posted that day.
Baseball Prospectus writer and sabermetrics pioneer Doug Pappas died last week at the age of 42, while hiking in Texas’ Big Bend National Park. ESPN baseball writer Rob Neyer called Pappas “the best thing that ever happened to the Internet.”
In addition to his other work, Pappas was also a blogger, running a site called Doug’s Business of Baseball Weblog. Which brings up an interesting question: in the brief history of the Blogosphere, how many people have been active bloggers at the time of their passing? Pappas is the first that I can think of, though I'm sure there have been others.
From the Fake Washingtonienne, here's some proposed book titles for Miss Cutler:
The Seven Habits of Highly-Infected Poopers
Tuesdays with M.O., R.R. and I.E.
The Brownest Eye
An Assbreaking Work of Buggering Genius
UPDATE II: Another book title suggestion: "Wrong hole, Senator! "Confessions" of an Expensive Piece of Staff Ass." This one comes from blogger Peter Fallow; be sure to ask Peter about the time the rich guy he was having dinner with keeled over at the table, and he got stuck with the bill.
A bunch of major bloggers have book deals, according to this New Yorker piece. As for me, I've got nothing now, but maybe someday.
"Like the elderly Jewish lady who thinks someone must be Jewish because 'he's so nice,' liberals suspect that a writer as amiable as [David] Brooks must be a liberal at heart. Some conservatives think so too."
-Michael Kinsley, taking down Brooks' new book (which I still want to read anyway) in the Times book review section. Liberals, of course, also feel the same way about John McCain, leading to all this Kerry/McCain ticket nonsense.
But would the Times allow a slam of one of Krugman's books to run in its own pages?
Game 3 is tonight, with the Wolves getting a chance to go up 2-1. I say they'll be in good shape provided they can win one of the two games at Staples Center, and thus let home-court hold for the last three games of the series- that's what happened against Sacramento, after all.
I know I predicted a Detroit championship at the beginning of the playoffs, but right now I'm obviously rooting for a Wolves-Pacers Finals. Why? Among other reasons, because the opposing GMs in such a series would be Bird and McHale.
Did you fly to or from Minneapolis/St. Paul last Friday? If not, you missed Dan Israel, live at the airport:
Dan plays solo at the Twin Cities International Airport, 4-7 pm, at one of the bars in the airport - it's really irrelevant anyway, since you'd have to go through security to get to his show and you can't do that without a boarding pass, so unless you want to book a flight for this day specifically to see Dan play in an airport bar, might want to skip this one.
Check out Dan's website for news of some of his, uh, more accessible upcoming gigs.
Miss Cutler gives her first print interview, to the Washington Post’s Richard Leiby. Not much new in the story- she even makes all the same jokes she already did to Wonkette- so unless the head of the government agency turns out to be someone major, I think we can safely call this story over. It’s been fun, people.
But this, on the other hand, is blog history in the making:
I bet "Threesome Dude," whoever he is, is digging out Jessica's number right about now...
Well, the “NobodyGotWhackedItJumpedTheShark” people are happy tonight, because the plot of the fifth season of “The Sopranos” took a huge leap forward with Sunday’s episode, with loose ends wrapped up and - oh yea, somebody got whacked.
After the script used an extended “Goodfellas” homage to hint strongly that Christopher and Adriana would go the way of Henry and Karen Hill into the Witness Protection Program, it threw a curveball, and as a result Adriana was whacked. She thus became the first regular-from-the-beginning to meet such a fate since, I believe, Big Pussy, who expired in the finale of Season 2- an episode that aired four years ago.
See, this is why people don’t get whacked that often- so it’ll be special when it does happen.
In other happenings, Tony and Carmela reconciled, with Carmela’s price being an end to Tony’s extramarital shenanigans, as well as his agreement to invest in a plot of real estate that looked an awful lot like the place Adriana was dumped off.
And also, the Little Carmine/Dubya parallel crashed once and forever as the ineffectual semi-don agreed to abdicate his claim to lead the New York family, in process granting the world’s coolest job title –“Boss of New York”- to Johnny Sack. Carmine also gave us one last malapropism, referring to the situation as a “stagmire.” That’s something Bush would never say, as his speechwriters would never allow him to even attempt use of the word “quagmire.”
So with those loose ends tied up, we move on to the finale in two weeks, in which the main issues will be Tony’s burgeoning feud with Johnny Sack, as well as what they’ll do with Tony B, whose character arc appears to be complete at this point. My prediction- we’ll see an out-of-nowhere whacking, probably of either Christopher, Paulie, or Silvio. Call it a hunch.
After an embarrassing Game 1 home loss, the T-Wolves came back tonight to beat the Lakers by 18 points in Game 2 to avoid the prospect of going back to LA down 2-0. The demolition was especially helpful because, as I’ve been saying all along, the Wolves’ best hope in the series is if the Lakers implode and start fighting among themselves. Shaq has two days to rip Payton to the papers, or vice versa, and KG and Co. will be home free.
In other news, Gary Payton and Wally Szczerbiak will be getting married in Massachusetts as soon as the series is over.
I have it on good authority they'll be naming their first child Gary Payton Jr. III.
To the surprise of no one, Michael Moore has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his anti-Bush screed “Fahrenheit 9/11.” An old prof of my mine once said there’s nothing the Cannes audience loves more than an anti-American American film, so there you have it.
Never mind all this Disney/Miramax nonsense; Fat Fat Fatty’s film will be released in the US, and should become the elite-blue-state version of “Passion of the Christ.” Except, of course, considerably fewer people will see it.
Will I see it? Maybe, maybe not; there's no way in hell it'll be as good as the Palme d'Or winner from a decade ago.
The Washington Post discusses the (Jewish) Reform Movement’s recent tilt towards feminism-above-everything, and questions whether that move has begun to marginalize men.
This is stuff I’ve been saying for a long time myself- it’s not that I’m against feminism; hell, I’m more for it than most men are. But when the mission of an entire religious movement becomes feminism first and Judaism second, it’s no surprise when men start deciding that there’s nothing in it for them. Describing a rabbi:
At a retreat he led, he saw why different approaches were needed for men and women when he asked participants to write an "ethical will" about the values they hoped to impart to their children.
"People were in tears as we first led them through a little process of preparing for this, with the exception of one of the men -- who could be heard downstairs watching the NFL”
That’s what they get for scheduling their retreat on a Sunday in the fall!
Strolling through Washington Square Park the other night, I noticed a few bumper stickers with the slogan “Free Julia.” These referenced Julia Diaco- also known, if you’re a New York Post reader, as the “NYU Pot Princess.”
The “pot” part came from the 18-year-old NYU freshman’s recent arrest for operating a mid-level drug-dealing operation out of her freshman dorm room, while the “princess” is because Julia is the daughter of a millionaire construction contractor and grew up in a huge mansion in Rumson, the tony Jersey town where Bruce Springsteen also lives.
Now, perhaps the “Free Julia” bumper stickers are a show of solidarity from the NYU community, as “Free ___” stickers seem to appear whenever any female celebrity is in any sort of trouble (and including her). But in Washington Square Park? WSP has long been known as the drug-dealing capital of Lower Manhattan, so you’d think the pushers there would be thrilled that such competition is now out of business.
Did you think MLB bought all the domain names for each major league baseball team? You thought wrong- Orioles.com goes not to the Baltimore club, but rather to this, the “United States Beer Drinking Team.” Unrelated, presumably, to the Swedish Bikini Team; I never really got who the SBT was supposed to compete against- the Latvian Bikini Team?- or in what sport.
Here’s a proposed deal- the day Peter Angelos drops his opposition to a team in DC, he gets the Orioles.com domain name back. That okay with everyone?
The Western Conference Finals are starting right now- no, I won't be making any predictions, except to say that I have a lot more optimism about this series, from a Wolves standpoint, than some others do.
Also- Kobe, if you're reading this, check out the Northwest Airlines website- I hear they've got some excellent, same-day Minneapolis-to-Denver fares.
Incidentally, everybody's favorite buggery-obsessed blogger (okay, second-favorite- or third favorite) has a very similar name not only to my old friend Jordan- who has the same last name and himself was once a congressional aide- but also to another guy, Jesse Cutler, who Jeremy and I went to high school with.
Jesse is now a folk musician and in the tradition of The Replacements' "Skyway," he named one of his songs after Minneapolis' Lake O' The Isles. His bio calls him "a standard-bearer for an endangered art;" I always love music-publicity copy- on the college paper we once got a press release from a band describing its own sound as "panhuman."
At any rate, what's the over/under on how soon Ms. Cutler's book deal is announced?
UPDATE: Cutler (Jessica, not Jordan or Jesse) breaks her silence, speaking to Wonkette. There'll be a full thing on Sunday in the WaPo, apparently. She admits it's all true, and seems to be taking the whole thing rather well. The men discussed in the blog, however, are another matter.
I've been meaning lately to do a "Hannity & Colmes" scorecard some night, scoring each round like a boxing fight, and also counting how many seconds it takes Hannity to first interrupt the liberal guest (usually five or less), and then how many seconds Colmes spends conceding points to the other side before he begins his argument (usually ten or more).
But in case you doubted the fix was in on H&C, tonight the show's latest Hillary's-got-a-phantom-evil-plan-to-be-president segment was teased on-screen with the following:
"Is Hillary the Man for the Democrats?"
ESPN.com columnist Jason Whitlock goes after “The Sopranos” for what he calls an underwhelming fifth season, at once employing every unconvincing cliché about the show that we’ve all heard a couple dozen times- not enough violence, too slow, the dream sequence sucked, etc. I won't rebut the arguments one by one, 'cause I've done it all before (search the site if you want to see).
The only original idea in the piece is a tortured metaphor that Thomas Friedman would be proud of: “Sopranos” is having a “losing season”- and what do once-great sports teams do in losing seasons? Fire the coach, of course. Yes, Whitlock says that this year of “The Sopranos” is so bad that its creator, David Chase, should be dismissed and replaced by David Simon, who created the other great HBO crime drama, “The Wire.”
Now I agree that “The Wire” is brilliant- but it’s a totally different kind of show, a streetwise, gritty cop show, whereas “Sopranos” is about family/Family dynamics. Subbing Simon for Chase would be like if the Yankees fired Joe Torre and replaced him with Mike Shanahan.
The metaphor was likely inserted by Whitlock in order to justify putting a “Sopranos” argument in his sports column. But he's apparently unaware that nothing on ESPN.com is ever about sports anymore, i.e. John Kruk’s recent exegesis on Roman Polanski.
The bottom line is this: even if you didn’t like the dream sequence, this hasn’t been a losing season. There have been maybe two not-so-good episodes out of 11, giving the “team” a record of 9-2. So what if they were 13-0 in Season 1… the squad may be aging (especially Reggie Miller-like superstar-turned-benchwarmer Uncle Junior), but one important fact remains: they’re still the best team in the league.
Besides, I met a few of the front office people the other week, and I assure you, they’re very happy with their coach.
As for the “West Wing” finale, that was beneath even comment. It sucked. Suckity, suckity, sucked. One coach already quit; it might now be time for contraction.
The New Jersey Nets got crushed tonight by the Pistons, and will not make a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. Will people around New York and New Jersey be upset tomorrow about this? No, of course not. Because no one around here cares about the Nets, they’re more concerned about whether the Yankees have enough backup first basemen.
A prediction: the next time the Nets make the playoffs, the first home game of the series will be played in Brooklyn.
An e-mail is supposedly out there with all the real info about who Washingtonienne and all the initials people are; I haven’t seen it yet. Meanwhile, the Washington Post and numerous Ohio papers are on the story. And here’s a great cartoon by Roll Call. (I didn’t know Roll Call had cartoons, but then again I’ve never actually read it).
But the biggest development of the day is that a “Washingtonienne Archive” blog has surfaced, reproducing from cache the entire original blog- and it discusses someone named “MD” and a girl she saw him with. “MD” is apparently (but may not be) Sen. DeWine; the cache also reveals that the author thinks he’s a “chump”- though MD is included in her list of six current/former boyfriends.
Meanwhile, the Washingtonienne copycat blog lives, and has actually evolved into rather smart satire, as our intrepid heroine now has a sexual encounter with a mystery man known only as “ObL,” who pays her not in cash but rather gold bullion.
Aside from that, another blogger who calls his site “I Love Jenna Bush” (with the tagline “Bush Is a Giant Amongst Us Little Men”) has been leaving always-immediately-deleted comments on the copycat blog. It’s also hard to tell whether or not he’s for real, especially since every single one of his pre-Washingtonienne posts is about the porn industry quarantine. Not to mention that his overall idea seems ripped off from the now-defunct blog IWannaSpankJenniferLoveHewitt.com, also known by the Cettera-riffic title “I Am The Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor."
Seems this is a story no political junkie can get enough of; a good friend of mine -who prides herself on being an avowed hater of blogs- has been checking Wonkette hourly.
And finally, as part of today’s all-time record traffic day (thanks, people!), I got one referral from Washingtonienne’s private Sitemeter. Whether it’s the real or the fake one is, sadly, a question to which I shall never know the answer.
Today's quote of the day comes from Christopher Hitchens, ripping Michael Moore and the rapturous reaction his 9/11 film got at the Cannes Film Festival:
"But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities."
"Fahrenheit 9/11" has a shot at winning the Palme d'Or; let's hope the jury, led by Quentin Tarantino, knows better than to award a grandstanding doofus like Fat Fat Fatty (whose girth, incidentally, is fast approaching the Len Pasquerelli/Don Vito level). I'd also prefer not to see the refreshlingly apolitical QT get sucked into America's partisan wars.
This guy is not only choosing, for Christian reasons, to take a 40-day hiatus from masturbation, but he’s also blogging about it.
“Rick,” a 20-year-old Krispy Kreme employee, is undertaking the endeavor in order to achieve "purity," and is doing so along with an “accountability partner,” because (as he says), “you have to tell someone, and find someone that will join you and not masturbate for the next 40 days!” Yes, I suppose it’s logical that finding a “partner” who will “join you” is an excellent way to reduce your overall masturbation habit, though I suspect “Rick” doesn’t exactly mean what I mean.
We learn all this from a piece in Wired that describes a group calling themselves “Christian pornographers” who encourage Internet porn surfers to embrace the Lord instead. Remember those posters that said “every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten?” That was them too, though I'd had no idea it was legit.
Yes, Dad, the Forward now has a blog, called Fiddish, and it’s written by Steven I. (hey, better him than Stephen A.) Today, Mr. Weiss bashes Heeb Magazine, and its thus-far-unsuccessful attempts to start a blog:
It's hard to complain about this, as a blog treating us to the inner thought processes of Heeb's editors would necessarily have been a lesson in the feeble attempt at creating a perpetual adolescence through an utterly unsustainable and mediocre editorial agenda ("Today, we fought in our photo shoot over whether Mary's nipple piercing should be a ring or a stud...OMG, we're so edgy!")
Knute Berger has a piece in Seattle Weekly saying something I've felt for a long time: that with so much media out there now, it's people's own fault if they're ill-informed. And on top of that, any story that supposedly has been "covered up" hasn't really been.
The dirty secret is that more people need to get off their asses and read more newspapers and magazines and listen to and watch informative TV and radio, to become halfway informed... now you can read virtually every major newspaper in the world, for free, every day on the Web. Or listen to the BBC. Or watch Al Jazeera. Or follow the news wires.
If you think a pet story of yours has been "undercovered," go to Google News and look up whatever you want to read about. There'll probably be a couple dozen results.
“Was that Scott Bakula in Kevin Garnett's body? Because The Ticket -- and the T'wolves -- made a quantum leap by finishing off the Kings in a Game 7.”
The Quickie author, who doubted the Wolves for the entire series, finally jumps on the bandwagon. And he doesn’t even call them “Minny.”
And I agree with Dan that, from this point forward, “it’s all gravy,” as the Wolves have gotten one round further than anyone expected them to. Sort of like in ’02, when the Twins made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and then won in the first round against Oakland.
On Kevin Garnett's 28th birthday, the league MVP led the T-Wolves to an 83-80 victory in the first Game 7 in franchise history, as they edged out Sacramento 4-3 in the series and thus will advance to the Western Conference finals against the L.A. Lakers.
Great game, great series; I would have laughed heartily if it had ended with Chris Webber calling a non-existent time-out. But still, the best moment was Garnett's 26-foot three-pointer as the shot clock expired with just under four minutes left. For the Wolves to win this game Garnett had to step up and win it for them, and he did, as half of his 32 points came in the final quarter.
So it's the Minnesota team of the '50s vs. the one of today for the West flag; it would sure be nice to see another banner go up in the Target Center rafters next to the Mikkelson/Mikan tribute... Game 1 is Friday at Minnesota.
In a New York Press column that draws a seemingly unquestioned moral equivalence between Bush’s America and Saddam’s Iraq- in addition to being completely based on conjecture- author/managing editor Alexander Zaitchik throws in this little nugget, in reference to what would happen if Arabs invaded America and one of them was captured by a US militia:
Considering the ugly ends met in recent years by some of those in unoccupied America—Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. come to mind—it's a safe bet our young Arab would not receive the relatively quick, kosher slaughter afforded Nick Berg.
“Kosher slaughter”? Kosher slaughter? Excuse me? Not only is Zaitchik, by calling it “relatively quick,” downplaying the suffering of a man who was beheaded, but specifically using the word “kosher” to describe the murder of a Jew. I’m not saying it’s anti-Semitic, but it’s very, very, very close to the line, if not standing right on it.
(It should go without saying that the piece is flanked by a straight-off-the-internet sidebar which alleges that Berg's murder was faked).
For the second week in a row in that paper, no less. Remember that cartoon on the cover of the Rutgers University student magazine awhile back that used the phrase "knock the Jew in the oven"? NYP last week saw it fit not only to defend that vile piece of trash, but to run an op-ed by that paper’s editor, who offered no apologies and regretted only that he had tangled with Hillel, “the most powerful, most well-funded and most media-savvy group on campus”- yes, they’re powerful, rich, and they control the media too! Why doesn't he mention their beards and hooked noses? (Oh wait, the cartoon did).
Now I’m not sitting here and accusing New York Press of institutional anti-Semitism. I’ve read it just about every week for four years, written for it a handful of times, and there’s a lot I continue to love about the paper, especially the film writing, and Jim Knipfel's column.
The larger problem I see is that NYP has sought, either in order to compete with the Village Voice or for other reasons, to adopt a forcefully hard-left editorial stance that is totally incongruous with the paper's history. And such a stance, all too often these days, seems to involve a incredibly high tolerance for the bashing of Jews- something which is, of course, not liberal in the slightest.
The paper’s newish leftism leaves behind the NYP’s long tradition of balanced, diverse material (for years, it had an equally iconoclastic right/left columnist platoon of Christopher Caldwell and Alexander Cockburn). These days, in order to be published in NYP as a conservative you apparently have to have founded the paper (as Russ Smith did).
UPDATE: Alexander Zaitchek has written in to apologize for his use of the phrase "kosher slaughter," which I certainly appreciate; also, in the online version of the piece the word "kosher" has disappeared. Hmm.
Doug Christie died, went to heaven, and stood at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter spoke unto him saying, "I will ask you a simple question.
If you tell the truth I will allow you into heaven, but if you lie....
Hell is waiting for you."
To Doug, St. Peter asked, "How many times did you cheat
on your wife?"
“None,” Doug said.
“Very well,” said Peter, “you may pass.”
But since St. Peter had a woman next to him, Jackie wouldn’t let him pass through, so Doug Christie went to hell.
This concludes our series of Doug Christie Jokes- go T-Wolves!
UPDATE: Better luck next year, Doug (and Kings).
Michele is running an "open discussion" of the greatest moments in sports history. People have chosen Game 6 of '86, various Michael Jordan stuff, the Miracle on Ice, and Randy Johnson killing the dove. But I vote for a more counterintuitive choice, one that I witnessed in person: Kent Hrbek pulling Ron Gant off first base in Game 2 of the 1991 World Series:
It's a big day for Herbie; he was also named to Tim Kurkjian's list in ESPN the Magazine of baseball's best-ever characters:
The most human baseball player ever, he went to the postseason galas because the beer was free. He was big, funny and marvelous... in retirement, and while sitting around the fire during a camping trip, Van Slyke said Hrbek played a tape recording of his best farts.
I want to get ahold of that recording, maybe make some sort of remix of it. Like the "interlude" in Terrence and Phillip's "Uncle Fucka."
I completely missed it (and probably would’ve jinxed him), but last night Randy Johnson pitched baseball’s 17th perfect game- becoming, at 40, the oldest pitcher ever to do so.
Perfect games are a lot more rare in baseball than bowling, of course; in those weird Nike commercials with the athletes playing other sports, did Johnson ever even bowl a perfect game?
The best part, of course, was seeing the vile Atlanta Braves utterly humiliated, being unable to get a single baserunner –at home- against a 40-year-old pitcher.
Jimmy Fallon has broken character and cracked up at his own antics on Saturday Night Live for the last time. Fallon will leave the show to pursue a movie career; too bad his last episode was marred by the Olsen Twins proving themselves to have the comic gifts of your average, developmentally disabled poodle. We can only hope that Lorne Michaels and Fallon are going to spare us a movie version of pot-smoking webcam sketch "Jarret's Room," which was Wayne's World plus drugs and minus laughs.--Defamer
According to Protocols, the righty pundit is talking like I used to on Jewish college listservs:
“Dennis Prager asks if the average Reform Jew would prefer his kid to marry a Republican Jew or a Gentile Democrat.”
Great question. In the Reform tradition I grew up in the answer was definitely the latter; as I’ve said before, in that culture it’s not so important whether or not you believe in God, as long as you’re pro-choice.
(And yes, for the record, I am both a believer in God and pro-choice).
It's, as far as I know, the first-ever "Seinfeld" blog.
The latest on the Washingtonienne thing: the Senator for whom she worked is supposedly Mike DeWine, Republican from Ohio. The woman, still unnamed, was a staff assistant (or “staff ass,” in Hill parlance), and supposedly a mainstream media piece will be written about this sooner rather than later.
Even if he doesn’t deserve it, expect this to taint DeWine forever, much like Santorum on Santorum. And just as the Lewinsky and Chandra Levy scandals forever sullied the word “intern,” I think this will do the same to the term “staff ass.”
And in the meantime, here’s a great Chandra-era Andrew Sullivan piece about the history of politician/intern romance in our nation’s capital.
UPDATE: She's back! At least, someone claiming to be her is back. Couldn't anyone have just grabbed the Blogspot name?
UPDATE II: Here's the first mainstream treatment, apparently a syndicated Gannett story. Not much new, except that the staffer has not yet been officially fired.
“Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” normally my favorite cable news show, greatly disappointed me last night by making its #1 story a discussion of whether, following the previous night’s controversial “Test Dream” episode, “The Sopranos” had “jumped the shark.”
Now nevermind that ‘Sopranos’ is still the best show on television. Or that the “jump the shark” concept is not only false (TV shows drop off and return to greatness all the time- “Friends,” for one, went through the cycle at least three times) but is played out beyond belief. The website, after all, is full of idiots bashing shows they either don’t watch or know nothing about.
Olbermann actually had on “Jump the Shark” creator Jon Hein, one of those smug late-‘90s internet people who (like Matt Drudge) came up with one semi-smart idea that for some reason took off and caused him to get rich, yet survived the dot-com crash because his operation wasn’t technically a “business.”
On “Countdown,” Hein immediately sacrificed his credibility by comparing the Sopranos dream to the Bobby-in-the-shower debacle on “Dallas,” while sharing that “dream sequences are usually a sign that a show has jumped the shark.” He went on, as Sopranos-bashers nearly always do, to talk about the greatness of the first season, while bitching about the “yaks not whacks” of Season 4.
Except that in Season 1, there were dream sequences galore. Remember the entire episode about Isabella, the hallucinated next door neighbor? The Livia-morphing-into-Melfi? The multiple Melfi sex dreams? It’s a show that has Freudian stuff all over the place –from the psychiatry to the Tony’s-mother relationship- and that means there are going to be dream sequences. And there have been since the beginning.
When asked at that panel last week why "Sopranos" has "gone soft," producer Robin Green answered that “people remember the show they wish they’d seen, not the one they actually saw.” Amen to that.
A great actor, who I once had the privilege of seeing on Broadway. But because of my generation, I'll still always associate him with that "Saturday Night Live" sketch that Tom Hanks was in- "you're Tony Randall?"
Did you see that blog/chat/discussion on ESPN.com yesterday between Bill Simmons and Ralph Wiley about the NBA playoffs, “Sopranos,” and everything else? Interesting stuff, if sort of impenetrable. But then there was this line, which I’m still shaking my head about 24 hours later, by “R-Dub” (emphasis mine):
Repeating: take the Wolfmen in Game 7, if Flip benches Johnson and Kandi-puke and Trent, goes heavy jumbo with Madsen, quick with Hoiberg, Spree and the Fetus Formerly Known as the Space Baby From 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sam I Am Indeed ET.
That may be the most reference-packed, long-winded nickname for Sam Cassell ever devised, sort of like when Austin Powers said “I’m Richie Cunningham and this is my wife, Oprah.” Is Wiley high when he writes these things? That may be the only plausible explanation.
But I do give Ralph credit for one thing: no “Minny” references, compared to Sports Guy’s three. That, and R-Dub picked the Wolves to win Game 7 (Doug Christie-phile Simmons chose the Kings).
Meanwhile, we've got a mini-scandal involving Kevin Garnett. Has he been driven mad by the pressures of the late playoffs? Did that Peeler elbow knock him senseless? Or have the “soft” whispers following his failure to retaliate after said punch affected him in a way we weren’t ready for?
At any rate, this doesn’t sound like the KG I know:
"I'm loadin' up the Uzi. I got a couple M-16s, a couple 9s. I got a couple joints with some silencers on them. I'm just loading clips, a couple grenades. I got a missile launcher with a couple of missiles. I'm ready for war."
Well, at least he’s endorsing Israeli-made weaponry…
Such comments would be quickly forgotten about had there been, you know, a game tonight. But since we’ve got from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday night between Games 6 and 7 of a playoff series, it’ll be a two-day story. Stupid NBA.
Ah, it’s another of those wonderful only-in-the-Blogosphere stories…
This morning the illustrious Wonkette decided to link to another female-authored DC blog starting with the letter W, Washingtonienne. The anonymous blog contained the musings of a young woman working on Capital Hill, including her various sexual misadventures- at one point she acknowledges having simultaneous affairs going with six different men (including one she calls “Threesome Guy”), and also discusses having a sex-for-money arrangement with the Bush-appointed head of a major federal agency.
Problem was, the Washingtonienne apparently left a few too many clues (i.e., she works for a Midwestern senator, she graduated from Syracuse, there were already rumors about her, she slipped and called one boyfriend “Rob,” etc.), and the link from the much-read-on-the-Hill Wonkette most likely blew her cover within minutes. So now the speculation is that she was fired from her congressional job and the blog was deleted (yes, it’s been confirmed- and by the end of the day we’ll probably know which senator- I'll guffaw mightily if it's Norm Coleman).
I guess the lesson here is don’t talk about work on your blog. Especially not if you’re a Congressional staffer, a nymphomaniac, or both.
UPDATE: Wonkette has the whole blog, reprinted.
(Hat tip to Jeremy for making me aware of this)
I think the word you’re looking for there is “new,” sparky.
Then again, with debuting shows with names like “Desperate Housewives” and “Wife Swap,” maybe a few more hours of “20/20” each week ain't such a bad idea.
I’m back from three days in Washington, spent with ten relatives, yet somehow with no cicadas. My sister’s departmental graduation was held in GW’s basketball arena (site of Yinka Dare’s college games) and featured Steve Roberts as speaker; the full university commencement was held on The Ellipse across from the White House- when I needed a men's room, I thought about knocking on the Oval Office door and asking to use theirs- and featured four non-descript “mini-speakers,” the only one of note being former Joint Chiefs chairman John Shalikashvili.
As for the latter ceremony, the following was written yesterday morning on National Review’s The Corner:
A good source tells me: "As students began to leave their seats at the end of George Washington University's graduation ceremony Sunday, school president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said, 'And you may now turn your tassels from right to left, as I hope happened to your politics in the last four years.'"
I was there, it’s true. Strange that he would admit that, usually such things are said in code, i.e. “we uphold our strong commitment to social justice,” which is another way of saying “Bush is going down.” Though it should be noted that, in the ranks of loathsome and gutless American college presidents, Trachtenberg is generally considered to be one of the good ones. His seeming weakness for political indoctrination notwithstanding.
No, not Warhol… On the historic day that the first legal gay marriages in the United States were performed, the man who has done perhaps more than any other American to get same-sex marriage legalized, Andrew Sullivan, did a reading, Q&A and book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Chelsea. The event was in support of the new edition of his 1997 anthology, “Same Sex Marriage: Pro and Con.”
The crowd was mostly gay, apparently liberal, and not the slightest bit hostile (rival blogger Josh Marshall was there, and even he was nice). Andrew read two of his own essays from the book and talked about how he never thought he’d live to see the day that same-sex marriage was legal in the United States. As he pointed out, when someone you know gets married you say “congratulations”; you’d have to be a real asshole to tell such a person to sod off.
My favorite moment of the evening: when asked about whether he sees liberal bias in media coverage of the gay-marriage issue, Sullivan pointed out that CNN calls constantly to talk about the book while Fox News never does. Then he said this:
I mean, I didn’t exactly get a tough interview from Anderson Cooper. [beat] Oh wow, nobody got that.
That’s why we love Andrew. I introduced myself at the end and he thanked me for sending him a few Begala and Derbyshire award nominees over the years.
Last night’s “Sopranos” episode contained what’s likely to be the most-debated dream sequence on a television drama since Agent Cooper entered the Red Room on “Twin Peaks.” Also having a lot in common with “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Being John Malkovich,” and that weird “is Nate alive or dead?” sequence that opened the most recent season of “Six Feet Under,” the episode has received mix reviews so far, but I liked it. Probably because I really love all those movies/shows.
That said, I really don’t know how anyone without encyclopedic knowledge of all five seasons could’ve possibly understood any of it- I mean, did you recognize Mikey Palmice or Gigi Cestone? But like “Mulholland Drive,” the episode does make sense if you think about it enough, so I’ll take a stab:
- The last time most of an episode took place as a dream sequence was “Funhouse,” the last episode of the second season, which is best known for the Pussy-as-a-fish scene. In that, a food-poisoned Tony realized (through the hallucination of the talking fish) that Big Pussy was cooperating with the government and that he’d have to kill him; last night’s dream- which also featured an overt “Godfather” reference- made Tony realize he probably has to kill Tony B.
- Great to see the return of some favorite dead characters, even if none of them really did much of note, besides Gloria Trillo. The promotional poster heading into the season featured the current cast standing on top of a boat, with various dead characters from past years (Pussy, Richie, Ralphie, and Gloria) lying on the ground under it. I should’ve known they’d pull something like this, either a dream or flashback, in order to bring all those people back, along with Pie-o-My the horse.
- Perhaps weirdest of all was the return of Det. Vin Mackazian (John Heard) Tony’s cop informant in the first season who jumped off a bridge, and is resurrected here as the Commodores-crooning “father” of Finn. Imagine that phone call from David Chase- “John- we’d like you to come back to the show- you’ll be married to Annette Bening, and you get to sing!”
- Why was Artie Bucco so prominently featured in the dream? Who knows. Possibly because he was with Tony when he got the “Funhouse”-era food poisoning, or maybe because they went to high school together and thinking about both Tony B and the gym teacher brought him back to his days at West Orange High. But it was probably just because he wanted to nail Charmaine, and was guilty about how Artie would react. Going after a buddy’s ex? Sports Guy would NOT approve!
- The Asian hooker was, I believe, the daughter of the Korean guy who was Tony B’s partner in the massage parlor. She was featured for just enough time five weeks ago that we should’ve known she’d be important.
- Also, don’t forget, the Plaza has been important before- Tony and Carmela used to check in there on their anniversary each year, and Carmela and Meadow have tea there once a year, “under Eloise’s picture.” Coupled with the weird appearance in the lobby of Dr. Melfi, do we know Tony even checked in in the first place?
The best HBO comedy special in years. Just brilliant stuff from beginning to end, head and shoulders above the most recent Chris Rock effort. From now on, I’ll be sure to refer to milk as “moo cow fuck milk,” and Aquafina as “the end of water as we know it.”
Jordan has returned to doing what he does best- succubus blogging! He’ll be there all week with more evil-ex-girlfriend stories.
“Weapon of Mass Destruction” is not a word you often hear used in the singular. But that’s what happened today, when a roadside bomb in Iraq was found to contain sarin gas, marking the first time anything meeting the definition of “weapons of mass destruction” has been found in Iraq.
The temptation for those of us who supported the war now is going to be to gloat, to say “ha ha, you were wrong, the weapons were there after all!” Bad idea, for a number of reasons. First, we don’t know whether the weapon was Saddam’s, or was smuggled into the country by other insurgents. Second, even if it’s Saddam’s weapon, it doesn’t equal the “stockpiles” that were discussed prior to the war. And third, WMDs in the hands of the insurgents means that not only are our troops in danger of being exposed to them, but that they’re now required to carry around protective equipment, limiting their effectiveness.
I believe, WMD or not, that the decision to remove Saddam remains the correct one. But does the discovery of a single weapon redeem the lost credibility of the Bush Administration that came from the incessant WMD warnings and suddenly solve all the problems currently going on in that country? No, of course not.
Jimmy Fallon is leaving SNL; how apropos that, in his final sketch (a “Grease”-inspired musical number starring himself and Tina Fey) he giggled for a few seconds.
Will he have a successful movie career? Probably; the girls all think he’s cute and will see his movies and besides, in film he’ll have the benefit of multiple takes. But let's get real: Fallon is about one one-hundredth the comedic talent that Will Ferrell is.
Meanwhile, Darrell Hammond will return for a tenth season. He’s closing in on Tim Meadows’ record.
It was announced last week that “Moneyball,” Michael Lewis’ best-selling look at the strategies of Oakland GM Billy Beane, has been optioned for the movies by Sony Pictures.
Not actually sure how that would work- most of the book concerns either people looking at laptops or Beane thinking to himself. And the on-field action ends with them losing in the first round. Might they add a ficticious girlfriend character, and turn it into a baseball version of “A Beautiful Mind”?
And further, will Joe Morgan accuse Beane of having written the movie himself?
Speaking of which, Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, known to “Moneyball” fans as the “Greek God of Walks,” made his major league debut over the weekend and hit a home run in his first game. It’s hard to tell who’s more excited: the SABR people or the Jews-in-sports people.
And finally- there's actually a professional ballplayer named J.J. Putz? Why didn't I know about this until yesterday???
Is Prince a T-Wolves fan? If not, he should be. We all know how much he loves basketball...
This past weekend featured NBA playoff basketball the way it oughta be- games every other day- and the Wolves were 1-1 over the weekend, winning Game 5 on Friday night but losing Game 6 at Sacramento on Sunday. But since David Stern for some reason wants every series to have a night to itself for Game 7, we’ve gotta wait three more days before the series ends.
The Lakers await after beating the Spurs in six games, sitting up a potential Old Minneapolis Team vs. New Minneapolis Team West finals. If this series happens, might I make a Kobe Bryant Joke of the Day for each game? Hmm.
Could’ve been worse though; had the Spurs met the Wolves in the finals, we would’ve seen the on-court reunion between Latrell Sprewell and the man he tried to kill a few years ago, Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo.
And in news that comes as great news to Wolves fans everywhere- not to mention Wally-loving lady bloggers- Wally Szczerbiak returned from injury to play in Game 6, scoring 12 points in 19 minutes. Speaking of which, Wally’s father, Walter, played basketball at GW in the ‘70s, and I saw his photo on their “Hall of Fame” wall the other day.
Incidentally, after seven straight losing seasons and then seven straight first-round playoff exits, this is the Wolves’ first Game 7 in franchise history. Can they pull it off? Against notorious Game 7 chokers the Kings, I think they can.
Dennis Farina will join “Law & Order” next year, replacing Jerry Orbach in the “older cop” role. It’s a great choice, and the closer his cop is to his “Fuck you, fuckball” character in “Get Shorty,” the better.
I’m off to DC for my sister Amy’s graduation from George Washington University (congrats, sis!); so probably no blogging until Sunday. But I’m stopping off in Philly to watch “Sopranos,” and should have thoughts on that, as well as the possibly-concluded-by-then Wolves-Kings series, as soon as I get home.
My other plans for the Washington trip: wrestling with cicadas!
In lieu of an actual joke, I give you this, as suggested by a Sports Guy reader:
Find five smoking hot actress/singers (Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, Ashanti, Vivica Fox, J-Lo) put them all in a Doug Christie replica jersey-dress and heels; give them seats in the Sacramento wife/girlfriend section; then let the fireworks begin as Mrs. Christie goes ballistic -- the proceedings must be recorded and would beat all the Wrestlemanias combined.
Several bloggers have noticed in the last week or two that their traffic has spiked dramatically, and this blog is no exception; for some reason I’ve been getting double my normal hit count for the past ten days or so.
This phenomenon has been attributed both to the Nick Berg tragedy (by Sullivan) and to a combination of that and the Abu Ghraib scandal. But while that’s undoubtedly part of it, I’m not convinced it’s the only reason- after all, there was no similar blog traffic spike that I heard about from, say, the Pat Tillman death, or any of the other major war-related stories of the past few months. And the last time people spent this much time looking online for an mpeg it was the PHST, but I don’t remember that doubling the traffic of Gawker or TMFTML.
This isn’t to minimize the tragedy of Berg’s death, of course; clearly, a lot of people are scouring the Internet for information, the actual video footage, etc. But are these people who weren’t on the Internet/reading blogs before? I’m not convinced.
My huge traffic jump has come mostly from an influx of Google hits, but most of them haven’t had anything to do with Berg. I’m thinking something more technical is at work- might Sitemeter have done something to adjust their accounting methods? Did Google change something (the week of their IPO?) It seems like a lot of stuff in my archive that didn’t used to show up in searches now does. Or might the recent Blogger upgrade have something to do with it?
Speaking of Andrew, as I mentioned he’s doing a book signing at the Chelsea Barnes & Noble (on 22nd and 6th) Monday night at 7. I’d like to get some bloggers together to go; e-mail me if you’re interested.
David Brooks once wrote that if you care about what happens inside Conde Nast you’re not like most people. But now it appears that a lot more scrutiny is headed in the direction of the magazine publisher, because it was just revealed that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter accepted a $100,000 payout from producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer for suggesting the screen adaptation of “A Beautiful Mind.”
I don’t really like Carter or his grandstanding politics, but I concede VF is an excellent magazine, the only place where you can find analysis of, say, the Tarantino/Uma relationship side-by-side with an Iraq dispatch from Christopher Hitchens. And I can’t get too outraged by Carter’s profiteering from the movies he’s supposed to be covering, because it’s not like that’s not what he’s been doing for a decade anyway, by putting Gwyneth on the cover whenever she has a new Miramax movie out. The Howard/Grazer deal was nothing new; Graydon crossed the journalist/publicist threshold years ago.
What I am upset with Carter about is that “A Beautiful Mind”- a mawkish and insulting film that trivialized mental illness and sought to couple it with laughable action-adventure, and is probably the worst movie ever to win the Best Picture Oscar- was his idea.
I only saw the last 15 minutes of the “Frasier” finale, and mostly liked what I saw. Overall, it was a frequently amusing show, although I admit to not watching it a single time since it switched back to Tuesdays a few years ago. As a lifelong “Cheers” fan, however, I always had a soft spot for the Frasier character, even if his show had a completely different sensibility.
My favorite episode of the show’s run: the one in which Frasier, Niles, and Martin have all been rejected by their women of choice, so they go together to a bar and drown their sorrows. Frasier makes a request to the piano player, but the poor guy replies that he only knows three songs- “America the Beautiful,” “Happy Birthday,” and “Goldfinger.” Frasier, Niles, and Martin oblige, and the episode ends with the three men crooning Shirley Bassey’s classic James Bond theme. Don't know why I love that one, I just do.
In a move he compares –and this isn’t hyperbole- to Michael Jordan’s return to the Bulls in 1995, Bill “The Sports Guy” Simmons has left “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and re-upped with ESPN.
Simmons, in his latest column, says he “missed writing my column and wanted the chance to pursue some additional opportunities with ESPN.” Not sure what those are, and he’s not talking yet, but if I had my druthers I’d love to see PTI guest appearances and maybe a "SportsCenter" segment, as well the inevitable Sports Guy book- which could either be a column collection or a “Sports Guy’s Guide To Life”-type thing, and I bet either would be huge.
I’ve got a feeling we’re right around the corner from the breakout of the Sports Guy brand, and I for one can’t wait. He was never a right fit for Kimmel’s show, primarily because his comic sensibility is funny, while Kimmel’s is not. With its lone positive point now removed, expect Kimmel’s show to die sooner rather than later, probably as soon as Conan O’Brien or Jon Stewart becomes available to ABC.
So how did Kimmel react to Simmons’ departure? Why, he almost died on the air the other night!
My friend John Paul Pagano of Fightin' With Grabes is back posting regularly, and he's got a great post today about what he calls the right-wing version of "idiotarianism." John ventured into the echo-chamber that is Little Green Footballs and dared to disagree with the the prevailing wisdom there that day. And not only did he live to tell about it, but a friendly LGF poster (the only one, apparently) followed John back and left a productive comment on his blog.
Like me, John was a longtime liberal who began drifting right after September 11 and Intefada II, but has lately drifted back the other way in reaction to conservative overreaching. Here he is:
There is something I call "nouveau conservatism", a cheap, distilled ideology that grew out of post-9/11, pop neoconservatism, and which is often on display at LGF. Inevitably, all organic and powerful movements produce a shallow, gestural simulacrum of themselves. The hippies of the late '60s eventually became a smelly cotillion of kids at a Phish show. The culture of nouveau conservatism, like that of the nouveau riche, is obnoxious and noisome, a parody of its progenitor.
I endorse it all- especially the "smelly cotillion" Phish reference.
Stuart Scott, while narrating highlights of tonight's Lakers-Spurs game, described a steal of the ball by Kobe with the phrase, "he's stripped naked by Kobe Bryant."
Uh, Stu, is it really such a good idea to use that particular catchphrase to describe the on-court competitive actions of an accused rapist?
Here’s a U.S. military press officer, quoted in a Village Voice piece about the Arab Satellite network (emphasis mine):
People don’t understand what a complex organization al-Jazeera is. They say it’s all Islamists, Baathists, or Arab nationalists. You have all that, but you have really progressive voices too.
So nice of al-Jazeera to include the perspectives of the Saddam loyalists, al-Qaeda members, and Khomeinists- not as guests, but in their brain trust. Just one big happy, inclusive family. Because if Baathists and Islamists are known for anything, it’s their tolerance of “progressive voices.” Then again, it's awfully hard for a voice to be progressive if its head has been severed from its body with a knife.
The New York Post ran a story this morning asking various Americans how they’d like to personally get their revenge against the killers who decapitated Michael Berg in Iraq. It’s sort of in the same style as one of the paper’s “what are you doing on vacation” roundups, except that instead of answers like “we’re going to the Hamptons,” this one has answers like “then they should be skinned alive for all the world to see."
Now that’s all well and good, and some of the ideas are creative, but there’s just one problem: Even though the headline of the piece is “'Revenge!' Cries Echo From Coast to Coast,” the lede is the following:
From the Big Apple to Nick Berg's hometown of West Chester, Pa., horrified Americans cried for revenge over the savage beheading of Nick Berg.
Didn’t realize the definition of “coast to coast” was the Manhattan-to-suburban-Philly corridor. What, people aren’t pissed off in the rest of the country too? This East Coast Bias is the sort of thing I expect from the Times, not the Post.
Oh well, it could’ve been worse; the Post could’ve led off with “from Westchester to West Chester...”
Meanwhile, it’s been reported that Berg’s father was (and is) a member of International ANSWER. Watch the right proceed to turn on the family en masse.
I’m not going to do too much on this because my company is already covering it, but the Texas Rangers announced last week that they’re selling the naming rights to their stadium. Called The Ballpark in Arlington for the past ten years, the park will henceforth be known as Ameriquest Field in Arlington.
Now the “Spider-man” deal was bad enough, but this may be even worse. Because the Ballpark in Arlington has played host to SO MUCH baseball history over the years- from all those first-round playoff losses to the Yankees, to the historic filming of Rafeal Palmeiro’s Viagra commercials, to the Rangers’ three straight last-place finishes that followed their signing of the best player in the game. Call The Ballpark “The House That Dubya Built,” as it was built with public funds during Our Fearless Leader’s time as Rangers owner; also let it be known as the first Bush II business venture that didn’t go belly up (and some would also call it the last).
Almost enough to make you lose your faith in the integrity of the game- but at least, unlike Houston’s park, The Ballpark was never known as Enron Field.
What did the president know and when did he know it? That last question hasn't been asked since Deep Throat's glory days.
Say what? Actually, that question’s been asked all the time- so much, in fact, that it’s become a tiresome cliché, as Lileks pointed out last week. It was asked about Reagan during Iran-Contra, about Clinton during both Waco and Monica, and Bush, well, pretty much since right after 9/11.
The administration’s gotten a lot of things wrong lately, that’s for certain. But for journalists/politicians to drag out clichés from the Vietnam/Watergate area isn’t helping anyone; if anything, it’s cringe-inducing. Goldstein pretending that “what did the president know” isn’t a lame, played-out anachronism is just as dishonest as Dick Morris’ claim that his recent book was his “first time” writing something nasty about Hillary Clinton.
While we’re on the subject of the prison atrocities, Slate gives us a handy guide to the goofiest right-wing justifications/minimizations of the Abu Ghraib debacle.
Now being performed in LA and (they hope) on its way to Broadway is “Moon Shine!,” a new musical that stars respected veteran comic actor Fred Willard and semi-legendary sitcom star Jim J. Bullock. Even more strange is the backstage talent- the director is Ted Lange, who played Isaac the Bartender on “The Love Boat,” and the musical director is a guy named Brian O’Halloran. No idea whether or not it’s the same Brian O’Halloran who starred in “Clerks.”
I know most mainstream news coverage of the blog phenomenon tends to suck, but this segment by Chicago’s Fox affiliate may well represent a new low.
It’s official: Alex Cora has just replaced Billy Beane as the sabermetric movement’s new Messiah. ‘Cause that whole Bobby Kielty idea didn’t really work out.
Cora hit 14 straight foul balls; sort of reminds me of that Garrison Keillor story (“Babe Ruth Visits Lake Wobegon”) where a certain baseball player has the magical ability to hit a foul ball anywhere he wants in the stadium, so he hits 28 balls in a row off the home plate umpire’s head.
From the WaPo:
Would seem to be a big deal, as QT is- a decade after "Pulp Fiction" won the Palme d'Or- the chairman of this year's jury. But NO- it actually happened at the Cannes festival 12 years ago, when Tarantino was at the festival promoting his debut film, "Reservoir Dogs."
It could have been worse, I suppose- Quentin could've cut off the guy's ear. Or shoved him off a balcony and caused him to develop a speech impediment. But in those cases, I just hope the media would have the good sense and courtesy to use the past tense in their headlines.
After pretty much side-stepping the issue for the first five years of its existence, "The West Wing" tonight decided to dive head-on into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And they did it with a bang- literally- as a US delegation to Gaza was struck with a car bomb, killing longtime peripheral character Adm. Fitzwallace (John Amos) and injuring cast regular Donna Moss (Janel Moloney).
The episode was generally unoffensive, I thought, although it really illustrated that 'Wing' has for all intents and purposes become a non-fiction version of a segment on "The McLaughlin Group": a hot-button issue is brought up, the characters take predictable positions and argue about it, no one says anything new, and nothing is resolved. Two weeks ago it was outsourcing, this time it's the Mideast.
The Israel treatment continued the show's post-Sorkin pattern: it didn't fall into the moral equivelance trap, but they did fall into the "been there, done that" trap: there wasn't a single syllable uttered in any of the arguments that I hadn't already heard at least a dozen times before.
Meanwhile, two things have me worried about next week's finale: the introduction of Mary McCormack (Stern's wife in "Private Parts") as an intelligence officer who, like Jack Ryan and Jack Bauer before her, has unrealistically easy access to the president; it's one of those out-of-nowhere characters who takes up way too much space in so many episodes and besides- "West Wing," Sorkin or not, has always been terrible at writing non-CJ female characters- they all sound like each other. (Then again, so do the males).
Anyway, McCormack was much more interesting as the lesbian Republican lobbyist on HBO's now-defunct pseudo-reality series "K Street." And the other thing I'm dreading? Josh's visit to Donna in the hospital: you just know, if she in fact lives, they're finally going to stoop to the inevitable Josh/Donna romance plot that no one wants to see.
One great subplot, however, has emerged from this train wreck of a season: the subtle feud between Toby and vice presidential chief of staff Will Bailey over the legacy of the Bartlet administration and how his vice president will learn from it. If they can't build on that, I'd have to advise NBC to pay very close attention to the Don't Save Our Show petition.
(Oh, and Tobey and CJ's Minnesota discussion was a nice surprise too).
TwinsGeek, on why Minnesota owner/evil banker Carl Pohlad (like Selig, only older) is to blame for the failure of the team's recent off-the-field plans:
The Twins have continually framed the stadium debate in a threatening manner. They've participated in the cancellation of a World Series. They've "sold" the ball club to North Carolina. And most devastatingly, the owner threatened to dissolve the franchise unilaterally, just to throw some money into his own pocket. These are just a few examples of the threats and lies that that Twins fans have endured from an ownership group that has been largely indifferent to public opinion... if the Twins would have followed that [non-indifferent] path several years ago, it's likely they would have both a new ballpark and their own cable network right now.
Yet despite all that, they somehow keep winning.
How do you drown Doug Christie?
Put a picture of Jackie at the bottom of the pool.
This has been the Doug Christie Joke of the Day for Game 4. Go T-Wolves!
Another reminder of the sick depravity of al-Qaeda. Is it any wonder that of all the innocent Americans they could kidnap and behead as "retaliation" for the prison abuse scandal, they chose one with a distinctly Jewish last name?
Steve Weiss has more on Berg in the Forward.
Tonight I went to my first baseball game of the season, between the Yankees and Angels, and violated one of my own sacrosanct sports-fan rules: Never Leave Early. But since it was the Yankees, and I didn't leave until 90 minutes into the second rain delay of the evening, I feel like I had a good excuse.
The rain began about an hour before game time but we (my eight co-workers and I) embarked for Yankee Stadium regardless, and clearly glimpsed the setting sun as the 4 train pulled out of the ground as it approached 161st St. However, the drizzle returned in the third inning, and the players left the field for a 30-minute delay with one out in the bottom of the third.
Once skies cleared the tarp was removed and the players began warming up, but the rain began again literally the moment of the first pitch. The half inning was finished, before yet another rain delay. This one continued for over an hour, through periods of rain and no rain (as rain-themed songs played over the PA, Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" conspicuous by its absense).
Thankfully though, our seats were covered, as we were seated in literally the back row of the upper deck at the Stadium (albeit behind home plate). Not a bad view of the field, although our perch offered no depth perception whatsoever of batted balls, and we were way too high up to have any hope of catching a ball.
Drinking your way through a rain delay can be fun, but tends to lose its luster after awhile. Our party left one by one, and sure that the game would be called at any moment I checked out at about 10:00- I don't exactly live close to the Bronx, and had I stayed once the game was inevitably re-started (the Yankees won 8-7 in 10 innings) I likely would have arrived home around 4 AM. I was up late watching sports last night too, but in that case it was a game I actually cared about- not to mention that my team won.
One more baseball/rain story: when I was eight years old, my father took me to Chicago to see real, outdoor baseball for the first time, as at that point I had only been to Twins games at the Metrodome. We went to a game at Old Comiskey, and were going to attend one at Wrigley the following night (against the fabled '86 Mets)- but, you guessed it, the game was rained out, and we couldn't get a rain check for as long as we were in town. "Gee dad," I said at the time, "it sure is a good thing we have a dome!"
Andrew Sullivan (who, by the way, is doing a reading at the Chelsea Barnes & Noble in Manhattan next Monday) has a piece in TNR wishing- likely in vain, even he admits- that John McCain will be chosen as John Kerry's running mate.
It will never happen, of course, for several reasons. In a base vs. base election, it doesn't help to choose a veep of the opposite party. McCain has spent nearly four years swearing that he'll never run for president again and never switch parties, so he would look pretty silly reversing field. And most of all, it'll never happen because McCain is ten times more appealing as a candidate than Kerry is, and no presidential hopeful wants to be upstaged by his veep pick.
Despite his hawkishness and general social conservativism, McCain is the one Republican many liberals have learned to love. Indeed, many Democrats, I've noticed, have a Huck-Finn-and-Jim relationship with McCain: they love him so much, it's almost as though he's a Democrat inside. This is because the senator has taken the liberal position on campaign finance reform, because he's willing to dissent from GOP dogma every so often (such as his defense of the "Nightline" episode) and -most of all- because he hates Bush, just as much as they do.
I admire McCain as much as anyone, and if I were up to me I'd love to see him as VP (if not president). But come on- the bipartisan unity ticket Sullivan speaks of would be nice, but just plain doesn't exist in today's political climate.
I'm not certain, but I think Kobe Bryant has an excellent shot tonight at breaking the all-time NBA record for points in a playoff game by a player who had plead not guilty to rape charges earlier in the day.
Again, I'll have to double-check; I don't remember whether or not any of Ruben Patterson's playoff performances coincided with his arraignments.
But why did Vince Carter catch more flack for playing the day of his graduation than Kobe did for playing the day of his rape trial hearing? Must be a "street cred" thing.
Tonight I had an opportunity that few “Sopranos” fans ever get- I got to meet a few members of the show's creative team, and hear them discuss the behind-the-scenes workings of the program.
Taking place at NYC’s Center For Communication, the event was a panel discussion featuring several of the names familiar from the show's opening credits: executive producers Ilene Landruss, Robin Green, and Mitchell Burgess, producer Henry Bronchtein, and episode director Allen Coulter. Jeffrey Goldberg, who writes the wonderful “Mob Experts” roundup in Slate every Monday, was the moderator; Vincent Curatola, who plays Johnny Sack, was unfortunately unable to make the event due to a medical emergency.
Among things I learned: at least a couple of the producers share my pet peeve about fans only caring about who gets whacked to the point of ignoring the rest of the show. They bemoaned some fans bitching about too much violence while others claim not enough. Also, 'Sopranos' has never used actual mobsters as “technical advisers,” which isn’t to say they haven’t been approached by such figures.
Some fascinating insights were shared about the writing and storyboarding process, such as the way the entire arc of each character is mapped out at the beginning of the season. I also asked Green to confirm Daniel Geffen’s theory about Little Carmine being a George W. Bush stand-in. She said that while the theory made sense she hadn’t heard it before, although Green stressed that that particular episode was penned by another writer.
Interestingly, the Gay Vito thing did not come up in conversation, although an HBO publicist (while trying to fend off a pushy reporter asking about Dominic Chianese’s alleged ties to political extremist Lenora Fulani) said that Vito’s story is not one that will resurface in any major way this year.
And finally, Green confirmed that the writing of the sixth and final season will begin in January of 2005, with the new episodes debuting in (yikes) January of 2006. So enjoy the last three episodes of this year; you won’t be getting any more new ‘Sopranos’ for awhile.
Yes, more than a decade after Kramer first proposed the idea on “Seinfeld,” there now really is a coffee table book about coffee tables. And even worse, Seinfeld/David appears to be given no credit anywhere in the text. Read the Amazon reviews though, they’re hilarious.
The last few weeks of hype aimed at making the Olsen Twins into legitimate movie stars? Uh, I foresee a problem. Mary Kate and Ashley’s first major film as near-adults, “New York Minute,” crashed and burned at the box office, bringing in only $6.2 million in its opening weekend, about $50 million less than #1 “Van Helsing.”
Much will be written about this, most of it probably about another failed media attempt to “create” new stars. I didn’t see the movie, of course, but it sounded to me like it was an attempt to market equally to both the Olsens’ core fanbase of pre-teen girls, and to their other, skeevier base of middle-aged men- and surprise, it didn’t reach either.
That the Big Olsen Twins Movie didn't break $10 million is just more proof that tough statutory perv laws do work. Also, we're not quite sure which one of the set is going to be the Corey Feldman and which the Corey Haim, but the process of figuring it out is sure to be magnificent.
How many Doug Christies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Two: One to actually screw it in, and another to do all the hand signals.
This has been the Doug Christie Joke of the Day for Game 3. Go T-Wolves!
UPDATE: Wolves win in OT, in an absolutely incredible game, to go up 2-1 in the series and regain home court advantage. And notice this: I used a lame knock-knock joke for Game 1, which the Wolves lost, and slightly funnier ones for 2 and 3, which they won. So I'm open to suggestions for Wednesday...
I haven’t taken a position yet on whether Donald Rumsfeld should resign as Secretary of Defense, but if he does, I’m already looking forward to watching the rival “Best of Rummy” montages put together by “The Daily Show” and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Could be even more entertaining than ESPN’s oft-played Jim Mora press conference-meltdown clip collection.
It was actually quite funny- from the wheelchair/rap battle to Snoop’s wistful remembrance of “Friends” to his welcome repudiation of the fad he helped create (“white-people-saying-‘fo shizzle my nizzle’” jokes) to his continued embrace of “deez nuts” jokes. Who knew Snoop was such an expert comedian?
Even better- no sketches ruined by excessive cast laughter. Now, I wrote about this last week (see: "Debbie Downer") and several of you disagreed with me, so I’ll reiterate: I find SNL cast members laughing their way through the material to be repugnant, because Fallon, Sanz, and Co. are putting their own personal amusement ahead of that of their audience. To be a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” is one of the most sought-after acting gigs in the world, and I feel like if you’re a good enough actor to make the cut, you should also be professional enough to get through a five-minute bit without collapsing into giggles. And besides, were I writer on the show I’d be absolutely furious, to see my work desecrated on a weekly basis.
Anyway, Jimmy Fallon is said to be leaving the show, so perhaps that’ll solve two problems- no more ruined sketches, and more opportunities for the great Tina Fey to shine.
On ESPN.com today, Robert Lapchick seeks to refute the theory that the influx of European players is a conspiracy by white owners to make the NBA whiter. I liked this argument a lot better back when I said all the same things myself, almost a year ago. And again here (scroll down to “Best Village Voice Full Split”) eight months ago.
Besides, isn’t calling the NBA “too white” sort of like calling Hezbollah “too Jewish”?
Longtime Star Tribune ombudsman Lou Gelfand writes his final column today after being forced out. Mr. Gelfand has been the ombud for the paper for as long as I've read it- which is as long as I've known how to read- and I've actually met him before, as one of my best friends in elementary school was his grandson.
As one of the few remaining ombuds willing to regularly trash his own paper, Gelfand will be missed, and I'll be rooting for him in his upcoming age discrimination lawsuit against the paper.
I went to the most recent Kol Zimrah minyan (prayer meeting) on Friday night and had a great time- I ran into various friends from college, camp, and various other walks of life, and the service was led by Judith of KesherTalk fame.
Now, KZ encourages attendees to bring musical instruments- mostly guitars, drums, and the occasional flute. But one guy brought a great instrument that I hadn’t seen in years: the Jew’s Harp.
I should mention that when I was in fifth grade, my school brought in a gentleman by the name of Charlie Maguire, who was introduced to us as one of the nation’s foremost Jew’s Harp artists. So everyone in school was taught how to play the instrument, and we had a big concert in which we all accompanied Mr. Maguire.
However, the difference was, the instrument back then was introduced to us not by its proper name by rather as the “Jaw Harp,” which I suppose was the PC term at the time. Which came first, the Jew or the harp? That’s unknown at this point, although this history denies any anti-Semitic conotation, and points out that in the 16th century the instrument was known as a “Jew’s Trump.” Just watch, as the Donald horns his way into the Jew’s Harp market…
Ted Rall says something maliciously stupid, Ted Rall milks the resulting publicity, etc., etc. Same old story. What's amusing to me about this latest one is that now he's claiming to have received hundreds of "death threats." I'm kind of skeptical about that, because Rall's definition of the term "death threat" is a bit looser than the one used by the rest of us... Point is, if Rall was showing you the new suit he just bought for his latest Bill O'Reilly appearance, and you said it was "to die for," he'd add that to his list of death threats.
-Blogger Jim Treacher, bashing the alleged cartoonist. Read the whole thing.
Let's first pause to note that Al Gore and MoveOn.org appear to be planning a promotional event in conjunction with the movie's release. Once Gore was a serious thinker on environmental issues, and diligently sought out top-notch scientific advice; say what you will about his 1992 Earth in the Balance--it's an earnest, conscientious work by someone concerned with getting the details straight. Now Gore appears ready to affiliate his reputation with a cheapo third-rate disaster movie that makes Fantastic Voyage seem like a peer-reviewed technical paper.-Gregg Easterbrook, mocking the asinine science behind the upcoming “environmental disaster” film “The Day After Tomorrow.”
This week marks the first-ever edition of Beltway Jeopardy, during which media/politics celebrities will face off for charity. Among those participating are newsbabes Maria Bartiromo and Ashleigh Banfield, TV hosts Keith Olbermann, Aaron Brown, and Tucker Carlson; and also Al Franken and Bob Woodward.
Wouldn’t you just love to hear Franken bust out the old, “Suck it, Trebek”? Or, better yet, "Suck it, Woodward"?
That this blog -or rather, its Blogspot cousin- first came into being. Thanks for reading, everybody.
I love how extreme events bring out extreme partisanship. Much the way 9/11 brought out the abnormal idiocy of some leftists, the Iraq prison-abuse scandal has encouraged the true wackos of the right to come to show their true colors.
First there was Rush Limbaugh comparing the Abu Ghraib atrocities to a fraternity/Skull & Bones ititatiation. Then James Taranto blamed the events on the cancellation of college ROTC programs, while Linda Chavez laid blame at the feet of the presence of women in the military.
(I especially liked Sullivan's response to the latter: "Look, I know what it's like to have to write a column. You can't always come up with a new angle. But please.")
Anyway, now we have the usual gang of idiots, also known as the New York Post's letter writers. I won't name any of them as they're not public figures, but I will do a mini-fisk of their arguments:
I was disappointed by the actions of a few of our people in Iraq. They should have known better then to give our enemies any sort of propaganda weapon to use against us. But I am more ashamed of our media for helping our enemies by distributing anti-American propaganda. A lot of these liberal media types seem to have no loyalty to America and no regard for doing what is in the best interest of our nation and our men and woman in the armed forces.
American soldiers tortured prisoners, but you're more ashamed of the American media for not keeping it a secret? And besides, how does reporting what actually happened qualify as "propaganda"? Next:
Bush disgraced himself and the United States. The president of the world's only superpower does not make apologies to the tin-pot dictator of a tiny Arab desert kingdom or to any other country. We are still waiting for apologies from anyone in the Muslim world for the murder of 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center.
So the torture wasn't the problem, apologizing for the torture was. I see. And my personal favorite:
Who cares how Iraqi prisoners get treated? Have we all forgotten how these people treated America's people on 9/11? I say do whatever it takes to keep our guys safe over there, as well as our families safe here.
The Iraqis tortured in the Iraqi prison are responsible for 9/11? Or does "these people" mean something else? Say what?
As I've said before: I was for the war in Iraq and I still am. But come on- this sort of torture is beyond unacceptable, and our entire reason for being there is to free the Iraqis from savagery, not to engage in it ourselves. And even if the media has overplayed this story (and I don't believe they have), the media's handling isn't the story- the atrocities are.
A rabbi, a priest, and Doug Christie were all caught in a shipwreck. Naturally, there are a lot of sharks circling around. All of a sudden, one shark darts in and grabs the priest for lunch. No more priest.
The rabbi starts praying frantically, but to no avail, as a shark comes in and eats him, too.
Now Doug Christie is really worried, as a shark is coming for him. But, miracle of miracles, the shark puts him on its back, carries him to shore, and lets him off.
Then Jackie Christie comes along, and says, "you know you're not allowed to talk to sharks!" So she hits the shark with her purse, and then eats Doug herself.
This has been the Doug Christie Joke of the Day for Game 2. Go T-Wolves!
UPDATE: Wolves win Game 2 to even the series. And who missed two crucial free throws with 30 seconds remaining? You guessed it, Doug Christie.
The Minnesota Twins went 0-for-3 on Friday- and no, I'm not talking about Luis Rivas.
Three bad things happened to the team: They lost 11-9 in 13 innings to Oakland, their latest stadium bill went down to defeat in a legislative commitee, and the team agreed to a long-term deal with Fox Sports Net to broadcast its games, thus abandoning their effort to create a new, revenue-producing regional sports network.
True, there are silver linings in all: They're still just a game back of Chicago, the stadium effort isn't totally dead (though it's on life support), and the TV deal means the games will finally be televised again after they were blacked out locally for the first five weeks of the season. But the demise of Victory Sports One is a big blow- not only do they lose out on an attempt to make up some of the revenue disparity that comes with being in a medium-sized market, but it's demoralizing, sort of like if the Yankees had settled the YES/Cablevision dispute by agreeing to dissolve YES and sell their games to the Dolans.
And besides, the return of the Twins to local TV may well spell the end of Bat-Girl's Lego-Vision feature.
The "Friends" finale was pretty satisfying, I thought. Better than "Seinfeld"'s, but not as good as "Cheers." The Ross/Rachel stuff was contrived (who, in New York, doesn't ask "which airport?" before leaving?), but since there was only one logical conclusion, I'll forgive the writers. A few observations:
- I guess we've come a long way since 9/11, when the most popular sitcom on TV can put a scared-crowd-running-off-an-airplane scene in its finale. I mean, a year ago I remember cringing at the "get out of the cockpit" scene in "Beavis & Butt-head Do America."
- I'm generally in the Jennifer-Aniston-was-hot-before-she-stopped-eating camp, but her outfit in the finale? Damn. That said, Courtney Cox's pregnancy couldn't have been more obvious, and the strategy of using babies to block her stomach didn't work. Ironic, for such a thing to happen to a character who was so baby-hungry for ten years. But does the world really need another generation of Arquettes?
- Nice to see the long-underappreciated Pearl Jam song "Yellow Ledbetter" immortalized forever.
- I thought the part where all six of them put their keys on the table was poignant, but for some reason it was played for laughs.
- Who knew they lived at the corner of Bedford and Grove? All this time I thought it was the Upper West Side- you mean Central Perk isn't near Central Park? They don't seem like West Village types- none of them are gay, for instance, and aside from Ross' lesbian ex-wife, none of them know any gay people either.
- And finally, I saw the Jay Leno post-show. I haven't watched "The Tonight Show" with much regularity since the Lewinsky year- is Leno always this bad? That monologue made me long for the wit and comical sophistication of Peter Vecsey.
At any rate, "Friends" was a great show- created by two Brandeis alumni, natch- and I'm going to miss it. MUCH more than "Sex and the City." Its demise, after all, may finally mean the end of my lifelong NBC-on-Thursdays habit, and I can't imagine I'm the only one.
UPDATE: Speaking of which, this from the NYT roundup of "Friends parties":
Under the skylight sat some New Yorkers of the same age as the Friends, subject to the accepted maxim among young New Yorkers that it is possible to find a job, an apartment and a steady date in the city, but not all three at the same time.
Quite a sage piece of wisdom, except that it's from a "Sex and the City" episode. Oddly enough, one of the few things out of Carrie's mouth I ever actually agreed with.
It's been a rough few weeks for the neo-Kabbalah fad. First there was the oft-cited cover story in the New Republic by Yossi Klein Halevi which trashed the Kabbalah Centre as a near-cult which thrives on bilking funds from California trendoids and/or celebrities.
Rather than having anything to do with the ancient Jewish tradition of mysticism, Halevi's piece argued, the new Kabbalah fad is merely Scientology with an Old Testament imprimatur. Sheila and her commenters had some other interesting things to say about the subject last week.
Now, via blogger-turned-Forward-staffer Steven I. Weiss, comes word that an ordained rabbi in California who had been convicted on pedophilia charges was running a Kabbalah practice under an assumed name. This guy was apparently operating a low-rent version of the aforementioned Kabbalah Centre; rather than Madonna or Britney Spears, the best he could do in the way of celebrity endorsements was Tatum O'Neal.
Interesting that a convicted pederast in LA would embrace Kabbalah; I had thought that men freed from jail in California after having sex with 14-year-olds tended to spend their days bowling, talking trash, and answering to the name "Jesus."
“Bud Selig is the greatest thing to happen to baseball since jock itch” -BatGirl.
UPDATE: The Spider-man-on-the-bases idea is dead. Woo hoo!
Here’s Michael Wilbon, in a column about the pressure on black high school basketball players to go to the NBA:
But it's not Telfair and LeBron James I'm primarily concerned with... my concern is for the hundreds of boys in Southeast Washington, the Bronx and West Philly and the South Side of Chicago and in Detroit and East St. Louis and South Central Los Angeles who look at Telfair and immediately think, ‘Me, too.’
Notice for every other city Wilbon lists a specific neighborhood or section that's known for being high-crime, but for Detroit, it’s just “Detroit.” Reminds me of when he and Kornheiser got into trouble a couple years ago for saying on the air that the Motor City “looks bombed-out, as though the ’67 riots happened just a few weeks ago.” Makes you wonder if Mike drives an American car.
Speaking of which, now that I work until 6 (or later) every night, I haven’t seen my erstwhile favorite show, PTI, in months. Come on ESPN, what happened to the late-night re-run?
Who's fault is the prison torture scandal? If Linda Chavez is to be believed, it's the women:
It is hard to know what led to this breakdown in discipline. But one factor that may have contributed -- but which I doubt investigators will want to even consider -- is whether the presence of women in the unit actually encouraged more misbehavior, especially of the sexual nature that the pictures reveal.
But isn't it usually the absense of women, a la "Oz," that tends to drive males to violence? Chavez is reaching here, big time.
Michael Moore’s plan to follow up “Bowling For Columbine” with an even more radical (and probably even more false) polemic against America is in trouble, as Disney –the parent company of the film’s distributor Miramax- is threatening to “suppress” (NYT’s word) the release of Moore’s latest opus.
The film, called “Fahrenheit 911,” will- if Moore’s previous work is any indication- use the September 11 attacks as a jumping off point for a multifaceted and nearly incoherent series of rants, interspersed with a staged scene or two, and probably a third-act ambush on John Ashcroft’s house.
Likely fearing a “The Reagans”-type situation, Disney is threatening to prevent Miramax from releasing the film. Expect boss Harvey Weinstein to protest, although it’s worth noting that Miramax has a nearly unblemished history of always backing down in this sort of situation (see: “Dogma”).
I find myself a bit torn about this whole thing: on the one hand I hate seeing a corporation suppress a film for fear of a political backlash. But on the other, the two major figures on the other side are Michael Moore and Harvey Weinstein- who are, if you ask me, the two most loathsome individuals in the entire motion picture industry. So I'm not exactly ready to rush to their defense.
That’s all right though- if Weinstein and Moore are on the same side long enough, you just know they’ll inevitably have a falling out, and eventually (hopefully) one of them will eat the other.
You may have noticed that, with the singular exception of "The Apprentice," I don't blog a whole lot about reality TV. I've never watched an episode of any edition of "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette"; I haven't seen "Survivor" since the second season, "Fear Factor" disgusts me, and haven't been able to make myself care about any of the other one-shot shows.
However, one reality show I simply can't stop watching is the first one: "The Real World." Now in season 14 and set in San Diego, "The Real World" may not be at its all-time peak, but it's still, for me at least, impossible not to watch.
My all-time favorite "Real World" season was "Back to New York," which was filmed and aired the year I moved to Manhattan, and featured seven multi-faceted characters, including Midwestern wannabe wrestler Mike, and top-heavy militant Coral, who was Omarosa before Omarosa was (ironically, Mike and Coral's original racial feud has evolved fascinatingly over the years, as depicted on the various "Real World"/"Road Rules" Challenge series). The Chicago season, featuring the legendary Cara Nussbaum/Kahn, aired the following year.
Perhaps coinciding with the recent illness and eventual passing of co-creator Mary Ellis Bunim, "Real World" has undergone a couple of fundamental changes in the last couple of seasons: First, the casting agents have neglected to include likable or compelling cast members, instead opting to fill each cast with loathsome camera hogs. And secondly, all storylines and character development have been replaced by one thing- drinking.
Take the current "San Diego" cast, for example. We've got Jacquese, the nerdish black guy, and Jamie, the cute, quiet Asian girl. Both are, by all accounts on the show, honorable, respectable individuals- which means that neither has gotten more than 15 seconds of screen time in any episode thus far in the season.
The male cast is rounded out with drunken frat idiot Brad, and, uh, other drunken frat idiot Randy, while the other women are "innocent" Southern girl Cameran- who nonetheless mentions her vibrator at least once per episode- and Robin, a Coyote Ugly-working party girl who has been arrested twice already for her role in bar fights; Robin also, it must be noted, possesses comical, cartoon-like breast implants.
And then there's Frankie. As often, I refer back to my days as a camp counselor all those years ago. On the day before camp, the staff would always be shown the health files for each camper, including a list of every disorder a kid could possibly have- you know, ADD, ADHD, LD, OCD, bedwetting, you name it. And there was always one kid, every year, who had EVERYTHING checked off.
Frankie, it should go without saying, is that kid. Her dysfunctions, at least the ones we know about, include: cystic fibrosis (though she smokes), a self-mutilation habit, a phobia of big boats (which makes her job, on a boat, just a hoot), and perhaps worst of all, a predilection for getting drunk, making out with her male roommates, and then tearfully confessing to her boyfriend in a 10-hour phone conversation, even though she doesn't remember exactly what happened.
Is it right to laugh at Frankie? No, probably not, and it's safe to say her dysfunctions are way over the line of what's acceptable for reality TV to depict as comedy. This question has often been raised by Josh Wolk, who writes the “Real World Watch” column on Entertainment Weekly's website. Which is, I should add, a brilliant read, even if you don’t watch the show. To wit:
Brad and Frankie were screaming about how she was clearly just fueling the fires (how crazy is Frankie? She made me take Brad's side!), and then suddenly, in flew Robin, the deus ex drunkina. Fluttering her hand on her heart, she burst into tears as she ran to Cameran's bed, apologized, embraced her, and pronounced, ''We're just two dumb b----es who love each other.'' (Well, I'll give her the first five words, anyway.) Then she hopped under the covers, fully dressed, and went to sleep. This was a performance that Jennifer Jason Leigh would consider too mannered.
Yes, drunkenness, fights, and senseless drama: we sure have come a long way since the days of Eric Nies.
I haven’t said a whole lot about this Iraq prisoner scandal, probably because there’s not a whole lot I can add. It’s terrible, it’s inhumane, and it’s un-American, and I hope to see every single soldier involved in this rotting in military prison for a long, long time.
My biggest question with this, as it often is with exposures of massive wrongdoing, is: what the hell were these people thinking? Not only are they committing a war crime, but they’re taking pictures of it! Haven’t they ever heard of al-Jazeera? Don’t they know that their actions may well have done irreparable damage to the cause of what we’re trying to do in Iraq?
I remain unwavering in my support of the decision to remove Saddam Hussein and attempt to create a stable democracy in Iraq. But it’s now time to admit that yes, quite a few mistakes have been made- from the decision to invade with too few troops to the disbanding of the Army to this latest tragedy. This fall’s election may not turn out to be a referendum on whether we should be in Iraq; it will rather be a referendum on how best to handle the situation as it stands in November. If John Kerry can demonstrate that he is more capable of steering the Iraq ship, he will be our next president.
A couple more thoughts:
Does “the left,” as John Podhoretz argues, feel a “thrill,” and a “sense of moral superiority” from the prison-camp torture atrocity? I don’t doubt that some of them do- but that’s not the point. Let’s not pretend that that’s the story here, because attempts to argue such are nothing but a changing of the subject. The fact that Seymour Hirsch was opposed to the war doesn’t make him any less correct in his reporting that these atrocities actually happened.
And something from Virginia Postrel:
Andrew Sullivan has a long quote from one of al Sadr supporters who reports abuse at the hands of American troops. It concludes: "They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel, and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman." Being a Muslim woman is like being tortured and humiliated all the time? And this guy thinks there's nothing wrong with that?
And finally, considering that we’ve got an international atrocity that involved torture, shouldn’t ESPN.com maybe come up with a new name for its “tortured sports cities” series?
Have you noticed that ESPN.com isn’t really a sports news site anymore? The feature story is almost always either a poll result or the latest All-[whatever]-team. The content-to-advertising ratio is down there with that of Vogue or Vanity Fair; the ads are so omnipresent that they practically block the content. They’ve even added a separate page, “Page 3,” which is for non-sports news.
I'm telling you, if it weren't for Gammons, Stark, Sports Guy, and nine years of habit, I might have to switch to SI.com or Sportsline permanently.
I sure liked it better in the ESPNET SportsZone days...
That’s right Mr. Commish, with great power comes great responsibility. In another of Bud Selig’s fabulous contributions to the game of baseball, we’re about to see the debut of on-field advertising: on June 11-13, the bases and pitching rubber at every game will be adorned with the logo for “Spider-man 2.”
It’s not quite as much as an infringement on the integrity of the game as were the All-Star Game tie and the Nomadic Expos, but it still sucks, and I can only hope baseball will be shamed into abandoning the idea before it even starts. I mean, shouldn’t game-day promotions at baseball games involve, you know, baseball?
Baseball + "Spider-man" - Kirsten Dunst = bad idea.
Even if you're like me and you don't particularly care about what goes on on Broadway, it's hard not to love the New York Post's super-catty theater columnist, Michael Riedel. Riedel's in top form today, going after a favorite target- Tony Kushner- and more specifically the New York Times' near-idolatrous attitude towards the "Angels in America" playwright.
Apparently the producer of Kushner's latest play is upset that the NYT's lukewarm review was small and not displayed prominently enough. Boo hoo, says Riedel:
A playwright of Kushner's stature, Landesman says, should have been treated with more respect by the newspaper of record.
How right he is.
Why, not since the debacle of Wen Ho Lee, the nuclear scientist wrongly accused of leaking secrets to China, has the Times treated someone as shabbily as it has Tony Kushner.
In the past year alone, the Times has written favorably about Kushner only some 70 times, according to a Lexis-Nexis search.
If the paper really respected this great writer, it would have published twice that many articles about him.
One of those articles, a front-page Arts and Leisure puff job, ran 3,817 words.
What an outrage!
A profile of a playwright of Kushner's stature should run at least 6,817 words.
In that article, the Times published lists of Kushner's writing projects, his pet political causes and the books on his nightstand.
The paper neglected to make public his grocery list.
Dick Morris' anti-Hillary Clinton book, "Rewriting History," came out yesterday, and after Morris has spent the past four years betraying confidences from his time with the Clintons and making up weird conspiracy theories about Hillary's presidential aspirations, Dick and/or his editors actually had the cojones to begin the book jacket with this:
Now, for the first time, Fox News political analyst and former Clinton adviser Dick Morris turns his sharp-eyed gaze on Hillary, the longtime First Lady, current New York senator, and bestselling author.
For the first time?
Good thing they'll have FOUR DAYS to lick their wounds and get over it before Game 2. The NBA's playoff scheduling sucks the way few things have ever sucked before- why must it take 18 days to play 7 games?
It's Comedy Day for the Worst Sports Columnist in America. Vecsey calls today's column "Some Rimshots, Please," though if you laughed at a single one of his Yakov Smirnoff-caliber one-liners, that's one more than me.
Then there's this nonsensical paragraph:
The way the T'Wolves, the Off-Target Center and ESPN reacted Friday night, I expected the ghost of Larry O'Brien to show up and cancel the rest of the playoffs. Far be it from me not to give Minny [sic] its props after worming its way out of the first round following seven successive failures, but wasn't this a 1-8 matchup with eight facing a summer fling without its best player?
Why'd they react that way? 'Cause it was the first series win in franchise history, on the back of the league MVP, and the team's first realistic shot at a title. And how is a 4-1 victory in a best-of-seven series "worming out of the first round?"
Oh, and Petey- you're white, and you're in your 50s- please immediately stop using phrases like "give Minny its props." And while you're at it, cut out the "Minny" too.
Blogger Daniel Geffen has another interpretation of last week's "Sopranos" (no, it doesn't involve Gay Vito)- aspiring New York boss "Little" Carmine Lupertazzi is the mob version of a certain current President of the United States. Geffen quotes this scene:
Little Carmine Lupertazzi: The point I'm trying to illustrate is that of course no one wants all-out conflict, but, historically, historical changes have come out of war.
Carmine's Advisor: As far as I'm concerned it's a new day. All old treaties and ways of doing things are null and void.
Little Carmine: Exactly.
Angelo Garepe: And the Joe Peeps thing: where does that leave us?
Carmine's Advisor: When you've had a quadruple bypass like I did, it gives you a lot of time to think. The only thing Johnny understands is force.
Angelo G: But the fact is, we've pissed on a bee's nest.
Unknown Character: So what's the other option: roll over?
Angelo G: We could've had a sit-down...the other captains maybe.
Little Carmine: This isn't the UN, Angelo. I won't let what happened to my father happen to me.
Carmine's Advisor: God forgive me, but you may be a stronger man than your dad was.
Little Carmine: The fundamental question is, will I be as effective as a boss like my dad was, and I will be. Even moreso. But until I am, it's gonna be hard to verify that I think I'll be more effective.
As Daniel points out, it all fits- the contempt for the UN, the comparison to his predecessor/father, etc. And the analogy works further- when Little Carmine was first introduced last season, every other word out of his mouth was a painfully tortured malapropism; he's since gotten better but his syntax is still quite a ways off-"historically, historical changes have come out of war" does indeed sound like something from a Bush speech.
But on the other hand, it's hard to imagine Frankie Valli as part of the Neocon Cabal (but is "Phil treats nickels like manhole covers" a Jewish stereotype?) And besides, Johnny Sack isn't such a multilateralist himself ("What are we, the UN now?"). If he were the Saddam surrogate, he'd be getting bribes from the UN.
(Speaking of Johnny, he and a couple of the writers are speaking at CUNY Monday night, along with Jeffrey Goldberg of Slate. I'm there; anyone else?)
From Ben Kepple:
"The Raving Atheist has vowed to join the priesthood should he win the New York State Lottery with numbers from a fortune cookie."
"The average lag between the invention of any new medium and its use to create and transmit pornography is about 15 seconds." -From a listings item in New York Press, advertising the screening of an early-20th-century silent porn film. True of print, motion pictures, the internet- I think we've got something here.
A brief explanation: as I mentioned over the weekend, I'm planning to show my solidarity with the Timberwolves by, each game day of their second-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings, designating a Doug Christie Joke of the Day.
Don't know who Doug Christie is and why I'm making fun of him? Read this. Now you know. The Twins had their Homer Hankies; the Wolves have the Christie joke. Besides, could you imagine Latrell Sprewell running scared with fear if approached by a female sideline reporter, 'cause he was afraid his wife would find out they spoke?
Anyway, ahead of Tuesday night's series opener, here we go:
THE OFFICAL DOUG CHRISTIE JOKE OF THE DAY FOR GAME 1:
Q. Why did Doug Christie cross the road?
A. He didn't. Jackie wouldn't let him.
This has been the official Doug Christie Joke of the Day for Game 1. Thank you for your time, and go T-Wolves!
Tonight I went to the "NY Bloggers Talk" at the Apple Store in Soho, featuring many of the Big Apple's blogging A-Listers. The evening began with a Jeff Jarvis-moderated face-off between rival entrepeneurs Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis, during which the latter hinted- and wouldn't deny- that Mark Cuban will be an investor in his company. The two men did not, however, come to blows.
Next came a tech panel, with Anil Dash and Meg Hourihan, which sort of went over my head (though since the latter co-founded Blogger and the former Movable Type, I wouldn't be blogging if not for them).
Finally came the hipsters- Lockhart Steele, Jen Chung, moderator Felix Salmon, and Gawker's own Choire Sicha. Interesting discussion there as well, as each panelist was of course asked if their blog had ever gotten them laid (no one answered yes, though I suspect one or more or all of them was lying).
Most disturbing trend of the evening? Certainly the motif involving repeated mentions of "skullfucking," as a result of an advertiser-losing Gawker item from a few months back.
In other weblog news, Gawker Media will launch a new blog- a Hollywood version of the Gawker/Wonkette formula- tomorrow, and you can be sure they'll be all over the "Linda" Wachowski story. And Oliver "O-Dub" Willis is moving to Washington, DC, to to join the new left-wing blog effort led by ex-conservative David Brock. Someone re-locating just to blog? That's gotta be a first.
A barely literate cartoon insulting a heroic soldier who was recently killed- and whaddya know, the cartoon runs on the day said soldier is buried. Who but Ted Rall?
As Mel Gibson said about Frank Rich, "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick; I want to kill his dog."
Wow, nothing like the out-of-nowhere revelation about the latent homosexuality of an obese fictional mobster to get “Sopranos” fans excited about the show again.
Yes, as was revealed on last night’s episode, long-time peripheral character Vito Spatafore- despite being both married and after Adriana- is in fact gay, judging by his early-morning “hookup” with a security guard at the Family’s no-work construction site. The last time there was this much excitement among the show's fan base about a head popping up, it was Ralphie’s, and it was severed.
Not that the idea of same-sex love among mobsters is necessarily a new one- not long after he turned state’s evidence against John Gotti there were rumors about Sammy “The Bull” Gravano being a homosexual, and when Mafia capo John D’Amato was supposedly whacked for being gay in the early '90s, the New York Post- which is just as obsessed with homosexuality as it is with the mob- ran the perfunctory headline “Fairy Godfather.”
Reaction to the episode was mostly positive from the ad hoc roundtable of people I discuss each episode with and the newsgroup I read each Sunday night; this breaks the five-episode streak of ”Sopranos” watchers complaining that the show was “too slow,” that too many new characters were being introduced, that storylines were taking too long to pay off, and that (of course) there wasn’t nearly enough of the straight-on mob violence that made the first season or two so great.
My reply to these arguments are that first of all, the family/Family ratio isn’t any different now than it was in Season 1- remember all the Livia scenes? That the show takes its time with storylines and often sets things up to pay them off two years later is quite bothersome to those who are used to David E. Kelley-style hackery in their television drama, when everything is neatly tied up at the end of the 60 minutes. The “Sopranos”’ leisurely pace is refreshing- and sometimes it helps for storylines to never pay off: hasn’t it always sort of cast a sense of dread over the series that the Russian from the woods was never found?
And as for whackings, you may have noticed that there have been quite a few this year- and lot of funerals as well. And with a New York mob war going full-steam, expect there to be more.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, some other comments on last night’s episode:
- Johnny Sack really is a marvelous character, the old-school boss that Uncle Junior was before they ran out of things to do with him after the first season. The fat-joke episode last season was the most underrated in the history of the series, if you ask me, and his frequent eruptions just bring out the best in the character.
- The “Joey Peeps” headstone- classic. If Johnny gets whacked, will his say “Sack”?
- How exactly does Carmela propose to extract 50% of Tony’s assets, when she’s not even willing to admit to her own lawyer where all of his “supplemental” income comes from?
- It’s nice to see Meadow get more than two lines in an episode for once, and whether it’s her boyfriend Finn talking about “my process” or Meadow’s nonsense speech about Italian-American violence coming from “the old country,” I’ve always loved the way “Sopranos” satirizes the diversity-speak and other psychobabble that regularly comes out of the mouths of today’s college students. But memo to Finn: those marathon 10-hour fights with your girlfriend are supposed to end with make-up sex, not with a marriage proposal. It may have worked this time, but you only get one of those.
- And one more Vito note: next time I’m standing outside Yankee Stadium before a game, it’ll be hard not to laugh/crack a joke about being “stood up by Finn.”
As always, here's the Slate roundup; just four more weeks!
Kevin Garnett is the 2004 NBA Most Valuable Player, and the first Minnesota athlete named MVP of a league since Rod Carew in 1977.
After four years, Elvis Mitchell has left his position as film critic for the New York Times. Mitchell was never anything special, but I’ll take him over the new chief critic, A.O. Scott, any day of the week.
Mitchell, due to his multi-tond dreadlocks, is probably more likely than any other film critic in America to be mistaken for a homeless person. Well, either him or Jeff Craig of "Sixty Second Preview."
I watched only a few minutes of it (as the T-Wolves were clinching their playoff series on another channel at the time), though I stand by my earlier statement: I saw nothing untoward at all- just a legitimate tribute to the soldiers killed in Iraq.
What was, untoward, however, was what I saw on cable news the same night: both John Fund of the Wall Street Journal and the chairman of the Sinclair group go on MSNBC and Fox News, respectively, and make the exact same five arguments in the exact same order as to why the “Nightline” broadcast was underhanded and unpatriotic. I see somebody read the GOP talking points that morning…
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from Koppel’s speech on Friday:
I oppose the notion that to be at war is to forfeit the right to question, criticize or debate our leaders' policies, or, for that matter, the policies of those who would like to become our leaders.
Nightline will continue to do all of those things in the weeks and months to come. But that is not what this broadcast was about.
Amen to that.
It may have sounded outlandish when it was first reported last year, but now it appears true: Larry Wachowski, one of the two brothers who created and directed the “Matrix” franchise, is planning to go ahead with a sex-change operation.
Wachowski may not actually be the first acclaimed director to undergo the procedure; “Deer Hunter” and “Heaven’s Gate” helmer Michael Cimino was rumored a few years ago to have become a woman, although that was never confirmed and now appears false. At least Wachowski, as mega-successful filmmaker and won’t need to rob a bank in order to pay for the operation, a la “Dog Day Afternoon.”
I can’t imagine the “change” will affect Wachowski’s career in any way, though it certainly sheds further light on the brothers’ first film, the highly underrated lesbian heist flick “Bound.” Linda/Larry, at any rate, enters womanhood as Hollywood's most successful female director, which would be like converting to Catholicism and immediately becoming pope.
A 43-year-old US contractor in Iraq named Thomas Hamill has escaped from custody in Iraq and is free in the hands of coalition forces.
Wonderful news, and I'm sure glad the guy is alive. But will he get a book deal and TV interviews like Jessica Lynch did? He's not a pretty girl so no, he probably won't.
Despite my anti-SNL tirade of a few weeks ago, I did greatly enjoy this past week's episode. Will Forte is the new President Bush (the fourth in three years), and he's the best since Ferrell. An especially inspired "Harry Potter" parody had the cast distracted by Hermione's, uh, growth since the last movie, while a truncated bit with Horatio Sanz as Ron Jeremy (of course) worked as well.
The cast was, however, up to their old tricks in a sketch called "Debbie Downer." In the bit Debbie (Rachel Dratch) was supposed to constantly bring up death, destruction, and disease in order to ruin her family's trip to Disney World. Except- you guessed it- Jimmy Fallon and Sanz couldn't get through the sketch without laughing, to the point when Debbie Downer started giggling as well- and since every one of her punchlines was accompanied by a quick zoom, the entire premise was essentially ruined.
Probably a new low in the trend of SNLers-laughing-at-themselves; the bit had promise as a recurring sketch, but after what happened don't expect it to "recur" ever again.
Speaking of Lindsay Lohan/Tina Fey, "Mean Girls" was great- all the biting satire of "Heathers" with none of the Christian Slater, laughable outfits, or blood. And I know I'm the only person in the theater who got the "Lean On Me" homage, but I laughed nevertheless.
Rather than the dumbass at UMass, let's address the positive: America's best magazine writer, Gary Smith, eulogizies Pat Tillman in Sports Illustrated; Andrew Sullivan, who named Tillman his man of the year in 2002, does as well.
The Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Skipper Bologna over the weekend to win the European Premiere League championship. Nice to see Jews triumphing over the totality of Europe for once, instead of the other way around.
Speaking of which, here's a profile of my old friend Ron Garber, who played basketball professionally in Israel for a year after walking on at Michigan. And, because of that pesky little payoff scandal that caused two years of forfeits, Ron technically won more games as a Wolverine than Chris Webber did.
- The Strike Team
- The Little Lebowski Urban Achievers
- The Weasel-Faced Arses
- The Zionist Entities
- The "Good" Hodgkins
- Jimmy the Perv and the Oggmonsters
- The Other Shrubberies
- The Dirty Kuffars
- The Ass-Greased Knucklefuckers
- The Ignorance of the Faculty
- Bam Morris' Trunk
- The Boxes of Ziti
- The Bats & Balcos
- The Cheesy Foam Mesh All-Stars
- Crimson Jihad
After fourteen years of futility (seven seasons with losing records, followed by seven more first-round playoff exits), the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Denver Nuggets tonight for the first playoff series victory in franchise history.
The Sacramento Kings, led by the immobile Chris Webber, beckon in round 2, and while the schedule hasn't yet been announced, I'm planning to institute a Doug Christie Joke of the Day feature, which will run each game day for the duration of the series. E-mail me with ideas.
All that, and the Twins won too. Go "Minny"!