September 30, 2004

Debate I

I'll be watching the presidential debate tonight at the San Marcos Bar on St. Marks Place with a supposedly bipartisan cast of bloggers and other political observers. Analysis of the debate and the just-as-important media coverage will come later tonight- because, after more than two months in my apartment, I finally got cable and high speed internet today.

UPDATE: I only saw the first third and last third of the debate, but from what I saw, Kerry won. He was on tonight- which was especially noteworthy, because Kerry's not on often. The start of another comeback, or a last hurrah? The next month will tell.

More tomorrow. I'm blogging on the high-speed modem with MSNBC in the background- our long dial-up nightmare is over.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:37 PM | Comments (2)

Debate II

Before it's even started, Bush backers say media bias will make it appear their guy will lose the debate. So do Kerry backers:

Paul Krugman: “Let's face it: whatever happens in today's debate, cable news will proclaim US President George W. Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions.”

Glenn Reynolds: “Unless Kerry melts into a puddle on the floor, the media spin will be that he did well and helped his campaign. This is for two reasons. One is, as Newsweek' Evan Thomas remarked, that the press ‘wants Kerry to win.’ The other, of course, is that they want the race to remain interesting.”

I'm with Glenn on the second point.

UPDATE: Krugman was completely wrong. As usual.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

Debate III

Michele Catalano of A Small Victory and satirist Neal Pollack engaged in a debate about Iraq and other foreign policy on BlogCritics the other day. The two went back and forth using capable albeit very familiar arguments. That is, until nature got in the way:

Neal Pollack: We're not killing people because they're Muslims. We're killing people and they happen to be Muslims. But why should their grieving families understand that?

Michele Catalano: Ok, I can't do this. I've got water coming under the office floorboards.

Moderator: oh shit

Neal Pollack: Likely story. You just fear my wrath.

I’d love it if that happened during the real presidential debate, with Jim Lehrer shouting "oh shit," and Kerry accusing Bush of "fearing my wrath."

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

“She Was Chubby and She Had Bad Roots!”

The maniacal drama queen plus the two dimwitted bumpkins plus the gay black supremacist equals, so far, the best “Real World” season in years. I agree with the EW recapper who said the new Philadelphia season “harks back to the pre-Trishelle days of the show, back when roommates were allowed to be a little bit surprising (instead of just pretty, drunk, and slutty).”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:26 PM | Comments (1)

Sexual Perversity in the WWF

John Kerry’s new self-tan remind you of Hulk Hogan’s? Check out this hilarious newsboard discussion thread, a compendium of pro wrestling’s most outrageous urban legends. It’s now at 68 pages and counting, though I won’t risk a libel suit from Ric Flair or Bam Bam Bigelow by repeating any of it here. Still, some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever read, even if you’re not a wrestling fan.

(Via Scott Keith)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

But I’m a Cheerleader!

You probably all heard today about the Cleveland Indians pitcher, Kyle Denney, who got shot while riding on the team bus in Kansas City. But Daniel Geffen found one minor detail at the bottom of the AP story that the rest of you may have missed:

Swain said all of Cleveland's rookies were dressed in cheerleader outfits as part of an annual ritual -- Denney's choice was Southern California -- and the mood on the bus was jovial until Denney was shot.
Can you say “burying the lede”? Luckily for the pitcher, there were no photos published anywhere of blood gushing from a bullet wound of the cheerleader-clad Denney; not sure he ever could’ve lived that down. Sort of like his former teammate Kazuhito Tadano, the guy who copped to having appeared in a gay porn film.

But still, it’s not as cool a hazing incident as last year, when the Yankees put all their rookies in pimp suits.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2004

Worst Stadium Name Since Enron Field

The erstwhile Candlestick Park in San Francisco, site of among other events the final Beatles concert, has been rechristened “Monster Park.”

Not only is it a ridiculous name that’s more appropriate for a theme park aimed at 1o-year-olds than the home of an NFL team, but as Eric points out, anyone hearing the name will likely think “,” when in fact the “Monster” in question is a local electronics company that has nothing to do with the job-search site.

Adding insult to insult, the 49ers got the comically low sum of $6 million for the rights. I’ve heard of such deals being for eight or even nine figures.

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

Brock and Scott

There was an extremely bizarre item in last week’s Sports Illustrated about the very close friendship between University of Miami quarterback Brock Berlin and Scott Stapp, former frontman for the now-defunct Worst Band on Earth, Creed. The two men, separated in age by almost a decade, are so close, in fact, that Stapp recently moved to the Miami area to be closer to Berlin. Hmm. Are there jealousy issues related to the breakup of the pseudo-Christian band Creed that we don’t know about?

The story isn’t online but an SI on Campus version is, and it describes the two men as “best friends forever” (?), and reveals both that Stapp’s son calls Berlin “Uncle Brock,” and that it was Berlin’s mother who taught Stapp how to sing. Oh, so it’s HER fault.

Also in Sports Illustrated, a special appearance by Aaron Gleeman. The next day, I saw an “Everybody Loves Raymond” re-run in which Ray’s sportswriter character is plagued with feelings of inadequacy because his writings have never appeared in SI.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:14 PM | Comments (3)

Again With the Damn Draft

For the second time in the last few months, the Star Tribune puts they’re-bringing-back-the-draft hysteria on its front page, despite no evidence at all that one is forthcoming. Yecch.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:09 PM | Comments (2)

Esoteric Website of the Day

It’s the Crazy Eddie Insane Tribute Page!

And fresh off his mention by Sports Guy the other week, it’s a tribute to another informercial legend, Tom Vu.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

When Bud Selig dies I am going to go to his grave and dig up some worms. I am going to take those worms and go fishing. I am going to take the fish I catch and feed it to my cat. I am going to take the litter out of my cat’s litter box and take it to the dump. Then I am going to check back at the dump in two weeks and look where I dumped the cat litter so I can say that I watched maggots engage in cannibalism.

Best Regards,

- John, from the blog known as "Synaptic Flatulence."

(Hat tip Colby Cosh, via Off Wing)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

Down the Well

The Jewish performing arts/merchandiser known as “Jewcy” is selling this T-shirt:

And is using this slogan:

War, huh...what is it good for? Relive the magic of that first protest with this limited edition T-shirt. There will always be mishegas somewhere, but couldn’t we work it out over a bagel and a nosh?
I love a lot of the stuff Jewcy does. But come on- let’s look at the “mishegas” going on in the world right now- do you really think those responsible are going to respond to a request for “bagel and nosh” from an organization with the word “Jew” in their name?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:50 PM | Comments (0)

BofM ‘04

New York Press’ Best of Manhattan issue for 2004 hit the street today, and it contains my first appearance in NYP since last year’s BofM. While the entire thing is unbylined and written in the editorial “we,” go to the Media and Politics section and scroll down to the Dick Morris item- that’s mine.

I want to especially thank senior editor Alex Zaitchik, who agreed to publish me even though I once, on here, all but called him and the paper anti-Semitic.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:18 AM | Comments (3)

Kermit and Piggy, Cont’d

Were Kermit and Piggy friends or lovers? Stephanie Klein has her own theory, in a post that starts with the phrase “I’m Miss Piggy”:

“Miss Piggy went with a safe bet, falling for her rainbow connection man for his green pad and keyhole eyes. She was wise to lunge for the good guy. That wild pig needed someone safe; she's reckless with everything else, from her Karate moves to her motorcycle tricks... that woman needed a sweet man to ground her and let her glisten.”
"Very, very good friends" my ass.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2004

It's Official

The Washington Expos will begin play in 2005. In the process Peter Angelos will get what amounts to a multi-million dollar bribe; thank God for the anti-trust exemption.

In other news, the Milwaukee Brewers have been sold. A week ago Bud Selig controlled two franchises; now he controls none.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:51 PM | Comments (2)

Pre-Game Entertainment

My sister finagled tickets to today’s taping of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”- Conan’s first show since he was announced as the next host of “The Tonight Show. The guests are Christopher Walken and Wilco. So remember to watch tonight, and maybe you’ll see me.

UPDATE: Or maybe not... the "stand-by" part of "stand-by tickets" wasn't mentioned to me until after I'd run 20 blocks through the rain to 30 Rock, so I didn't make it into the taping. Oh well, at least now I know the guests I missed were not the website-announced Walken and Wilco, but rather... Jim Belushi.

And continuing my wonderful evening, the Yankees/Twins game I had tickets to was rained out.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:46 PM | Comments (4)

September 27, 2004

This Week in Baseball

With a week to go in the regular season, only the Twins and Yankees have clinched playoff spots in the American League. If the season ended today, they would be joined as division winners by Oakland, with the Red Sox as wild card- in other words, the same four playoff teams as last year in the AL.

The Red Sox could conceivably overtake the Yankees in the AL East- after the latest Kevin Brown meltdown, anything’s possible- while Oakland is only a game or two ahead of Anaheim and Texas in the West. But if current positions hold, we’ll be looking at Twins-Red Sox and Yankees-A’s in the first round, with the Twins and Yanks each maintaining home-field advantage in the best-of-five series.

Twins fans are divided on whether they’d prefer to face the Yankees or Red Sox- the Yanks are conceded to be the better team, but their pitching is a mess, and with the unbeaten-since-the-All-Star-break Johan Santana going twice in a five-game series, I’d rather see Estaban Loaiza or Jon Leiber or El Duque on the opposite side, as opposed to Schilling or Martinez. All I know is, everyone on earth will be expecting another Yanks-Sox ALCS, but I’m not sure how likely that is with Johan as an obstacle to either team.

Anyway, there’s a possible playoff preview starting tomorrow, when the Twins visit Yankee Stadium for three games. I’ll be in the bleachers Tuesday night.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:53 PM | Comments (2)

Don’t Drink the Beer

Karol is off to Colorado to work on Pete Coors’ U.S. Senate campaign. While I always encourage my native-New Yorker friends to discover and savor my native Middle America, I hope Karol realizes she’s signed up to work for a purveyor of some of the worst beer on the planet.

I’m used to Republicans hitting Kerry on the Heinz thing, but I’m surprised “the beer sucks” hasn’t come up yet in a Ken Salazar campaign ad.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)

Bad Times

Here’s Lileks, on the Sunday New York Times:

“The Sunday Times is the weekly sermon: let us reinforce your world view, your sense of belonging to the Thinking Class, the Special Ones. Let the Red Staters spend Sunday morning in itchy church clothes at Perkins, dumping syrup all over their pancakes and yelling at little Lurleen not to pour salt down her baby brother’s jumper; you’re in your elegant spare little apartment with a cup of coffee (frothed on top; sprinkle of nutmeg) and a pastry from that wonderful place around the corner (okay, it’s an Au Bon Pain – hell, they’re all Bon Pain now) and there’s some light jazz on the radio. Morning jazz, if you had to give the genre a name. Anyway, it’s a sunny fall morning – well, noonish. Now comes the capstone moment when you lay the slab of the Times in your lap and begin the autoposy of the week. Scan the A section headlines - yes, yes, yes, appalling. Scan the metro: your eyes glaze. The arts section – later. Travel – Greece again? Good for Greece. Six pounds of classifieds: discard. No comics . . . there was always comics on Sunday back home. But that was IOWA, for heaven’s sake, what else would you expect but Blondie and Ziggy and the rest . . . ah.”
Funny stuff there. It’s why I don’t ever buy the print edition of the Times- I figure any given Sunday it’s going to consist of roughly 95% SSTIDCA (Stupid Shit That I Don’t Care About), from the automotive section to Styles all the way down to Maureen Dowd’s latest faux-Shakespearian nonsense. I’ll never consider the print edition of the Times my lone authority on what’s going on in the world, but the 5% I do care about is enough to get me checking the website several times a day.

The magazine bit on blogs from Sunday, however, goes in the 95% category. The piece had almost no new information, almost completely ignored the conservative side of the Blogosphere, and was chock-full of tiresome psychoanalysis of Ana Marie Cox, Josh Marshall, and others. Great cover photo, though.

Yes, treatments of blog culture tend to be lackluster when they come from the mainstream media (I refuse to use the stupid acronym “MSM”). But one exception is this recent Star Tribune effort.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:48 PM | Comments (2)

Eckstein Update

Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, winner of the 2003 Eckstein Award, is out for the season after suffering a leg injury in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings. Now that Grossman is out of the race, the top contenders for this year’s award are quarterback David Greene of 3-0 Georgia, and David Eckstein himself, who hit a home run yesterday to put the Angels within one game of Oakland, and was rewarded by being called “diminutive shortstop David Eckstein” in an story.

Greene is the favorite, so long as he doesn’t get injured in a shower-room brawl with Matt Damon.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

Consistent Wit and Humor Returning To ‘Tonight Show’ After 17-Year Absence

Having botched Johnny Carson’s succession in almost comical fashion in the early ‘90s, NBC ensured today that they will not make the same mistake twice- announcing that Conan O’Brien will take over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno after the latter retires in 2009.

The announcement will likely set the late-night rumor mill into overdrive- with Conan now bound to NBC, the question of David Letterman’s succession at CBS becomes Topic A, with the likelihood growing that Jon Stewart will either replace Letterman, or take over the ABC slot whenever they wise up and fire Jimmy Kimmel. Expect it to all shake out in the next year or so.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:09 PM | Comments (2)

“What Did the Five Fingers Say to the Face?”

“Slap!” is what they said, when Sheila confronted some drunken Hoboken frat idiots over the weekend. Way to go her. As Michael Wilbon is fond of saying, every so often you’ve gotta slap somebody.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

Brings New Meaning to “Girlie-Men”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill that adds transsexual and transgendered Californians to the list of those protected by the state’s hate crimes law. This provoked a strong response from bloviating lunatic Lou Sheldon, president of the Traditional Values Coalition:

“Schwarzenegger has sided with the homosexual and drag queen lobby in muddying the biological realities of male and female.”
Wow, I never knew California had a “drag queen lobby.” But I’m sure they’re quite fabulous, in addition to being effective.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

Q It Up

I saw the brilliant, Tony-winning musical “Avenue Q” over the weekend and loved it, although the human/puppet sexuality questions raised by it are so complex that I frankly haven’t even digested them yet.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

Burn Your Siddur Award Nominee

When I attended Kol Nidre services on Friday night, the president of the synagogue got up near the end in order to deliver the obligatory fundraising schpiel. It was the standard speech- a laundry list of things the temple had been doing that year, a plea for more funds in order to continue and expand on such efforts, and then an explanation of their new fundraising structure. It was then that the speech veered dramatically and inexplicably into Marxist doctrine:

"Call it socialistic, but I think that the notion of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' has worked very well for Jewish communities throughout the years."
I'd heard variations on this same speech a couple of dozen times- but never before had the speaker chosen to appeal for donations from the assembled congregants by invoking The Communist Manifesto.

Now I should make clear that this was not any type of conspicuously left-wing synagogue, but rather a typical suburban reform shul, in which the rabbi had just finished giving a John Kerry-like sermon in which he took about six different positions on the Israeli security fence. But I found it more than a bit ironic that a well-intentioned plea for money, from one rich Jew to a congregation of other rich Jews, found a way to quote Karl Marx. Not to mention a little depressing, considering that no, such systems have NOT worked particularly well for Jewish communities, at ANY time throughout history, and especially not in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, let alone in Westchester County.

(For newer readers unfamiliar with the "Burn Your Siddur" concept, here's an explanation).

UPDATE: Esther has enlisted in the "Burn Your Siddur" cause. Since she likely goes to synagogue a lot more frequently than I do, she should be able to come up with a lot more good ideas.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:42 AM | Comments (1)

Another Wrestler Dead

Ray Traylor, who wrestled in the WWF for years under the name "The Big Boss Man," passed away over the weekend at the age of 42. Rick Scaia has the obit. The Boss Man, who really was a former prison guard in Cobb County, Georgia, used to come to the ring in full police uniform, and after winning would handcuff his defeated opponents to the ring ropes and beat them with a nightstick- a practice that was kiboshed around the time of the Rodney King beating. Traylor remained active until not long before his death, and will be missed.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:31 AM | Comments (2)

September 24, 2004

Quote of the Day

"The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination."
-Paul Berman, author of the great "Terror and Liberalism," on "The Motorcycle Diaries." Good, I'm glad somebody said it.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2004

Father Joe

My old friend Joe Koczera, who in just five years went from studying at Brandeis to studying for the priesthood, has started a blog. And even though, no matter where you live, Joe could tell you who your congressman is, he’s vowed to keep the new blog politics-free.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:21 PM | Comments (3)

Don’t Believe the ‘FahrenHYPE’

There’s a new anti-Michael Moore documentary coming out called “FahrenHYPE 9/11,” seeking to “rebut” Fat Fat Fatty’s celebrated film point-by-point. Call it the right-wing version of “Outfoxed”- a quickie, direct-to-video attempt to shoot down a beloved icon of the opposite party- although ‘FahrenHYPE’ apparently trades in the earlier film’s seventh-grade-AV-Club-level production values for some actual star power.

I’m of two minds about the film- one, it’s Michael Moore-bashing, a pastime I indulge in frequently myself, not to mention that Ron Silver* is prominently involved as well. But on the other hand, ‘Fahrenhype’ also makes room for quite a few people I absolutely can’t stand- namely Zell Miller, Ann Coulter, and Dick Morris.

The film’s website describes Morris, its narrator, as “the man Time has called ‘the most influential private citizen in America.’” What the site doesn’t mention is that Time said that about Morris eight years ago, when he worked for the president. And nevermind that when Morris appeared on Time’s cover again the following week, it was to report his infamous hooker scandal. If this is the type of honestly we can expect from this film, I’m not so sure I want to see it after all.

Another reason not to see it? A press release heralding the film has Dick Morris referencing former heavyweight champion “Joe Lewis.”

(*Did you catch Ron on the “Law & Order” season premiere last night? I’m sure the neocon actor had tons of fun playing a Ron Kuby-like lefty lawyer trying to get a Muslim woman acquitted of killing a U.S. soldier. Not a bad performance, especially not from a guy who in his last TV appearance was seen arguing about the 1940 election with a sock-puppet dog. And while I’m already comfortable with Dennis Farina as the new cop, it wasn’t the greatest episode otherwise- the dialogue consisted almost entirely of Abu Ghraib-related speeches that I’ve already heard, word for word, hundreds of times, and there’s no way a U.S. military commander would ever take the stand in open court and defend torture. A cameo by the odious Mayor Bloomberg didn’t help matters either.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to Elizabeth Rohm’s midseason departure- she may be the worst actress on any primetime TV show. I read somewhere that they’re letting her out of her contract in order to concentrate on her “fledgling movie career”- which is funny, because other than an uncredited appearance in “Deconstructing Harry” seven years ago, Rohm has never appeared in a single theatrical feature.)

UPDATE: There’s also another anti-Moore rebuttal film called, I shit you not, “CELSIUS 41.11 - THE TEMPERATURE AT WHICH THE BRAIN BEGINS TO DIE.” Yikes.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:20 PM | Comments (15)

One More Cat Stevens Note

It’s sort of ironic that, even though Stevens converted to Islam 25 years ago and hasn’t performed any of his ‘70s music in nearly as long, while all the while he’s supposedly been supporting Hamas and other Jew-killing organizations, his songs are still regularly sung around late-night campfires at Jewish summer camps to this day. Or maybe just until yesterday.

Then again, renouncing his music didn’t stop Stevens, a couple of years ago, from suing the band Flaming Lips because one of their songs was directly ripped off from “Father & Son.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:17 PM | Comments (3)

Washington Expos?

The politicians in Washington, DC. appear to finally have a plan in place for a new outdoor baseball stadium, and Michael Wilbon has a persuasive column today arguing that DC, and not Northern Virginia, is where the team belongs. But unfortunately Peter Angelos, the failed owner of the Baltimore Orioles, has stepped in the way once again to attempt blockage of the move- and even though he has no legal standing to do so, fear of being sued by the former trial lawyer is what has kept the other owners and the spineless commissioner from standing up to him.

Angelos, who got a great ballpark built in the early ‘90s but hasn’t done a single right thing since, is single-handedly standing in the way of two things that absolutely MUST happen- the end of baseball’s embarrassing ownership of the Expos, and the return of major league baseball to our national’s capital. If we had a strong commissioner who could stand up for what’s right, this would’ve been resolved years ago, with Angelos shamed into submission by the other 29 owners. But as we all know, baseball doesn’t work that way.

Just imagine: a team in Washington, in the NL East, already stepping into natural rivalries with the Mets and Phillies, in addition to- in interleague games- the Orioles. Isn’t that better than letting the team continue languishing, before crowds of 5,000 or less, in Montreal?

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

Russ Meyer, RIP

Russ Meyer- the sexploitation filmmaker who William Goldman described as the last true American auteur- has died at the age of 82. Meyer directed such classics as “Faster Pussycat- Kill! Kill!” and the Roger Ebert-scripted “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” although come to think of it, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a single Russ Meyer film.

And speaking of pornographers… last Saturday I went to a show put on by the Jewish musical comedy revue known as “What I Like About Jew,” and on the bill for a standup set was legendary Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein. I had seen a listing for the show while reading the Jewish Week in Penn Station the day before- while looking for Esther’s column, actually- and thought, “I have to go to this.”

What was interesting was the contrast between the comedy of the “What I Like About Jew” duo –Sean Altman and Rob Tannenbaum- and that of Goldstein. Both sets consisted of extreme, Jewish-tinged ribaldry that included lots of penis jokes- at one point Altman and Tannenbaum even sang a song called “This is Not a Song About Our Dicks”- but the audience totally ate up all of their material, while they seemed more creeped out than anything else by Goldstein’s routine. It might be because the ‘About Jew’ dudes are young, good-looking guys, while Goldstein is a fat old man who made his living for 30 years as a pornographer.

I use the past tense because Goldstein, whose hilariously low-budget “Midnight Blue” cable access show I used to watch religiously when I first lived in Manhattan, has left the porn game, and after a stint living in his car in Florida, is now working as a host at the Second Avenue Deli. I got to meet him after the show.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:12 PM | Comments (1)

I Like Mark Cuban, But…

I think “no balls, no babies” might be the worst catchphrase of all time.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Thank You For Your Support

This conservative Christian blog quotes- and agrees with- my Ebert-abetted thesis involving Goofy, Kermit, and Miss Piggy. Only in America.

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

Pajama-Clad Masters of the Universe

The Blogosphere is like Voltron.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:06 PM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2004

I Let The Terrorists Win

Is there a New Republic cover jinx? Karol blames them- and me- for yesterday's terrorist attack in Israel. Guess that's the price I pay for being friends with Republicans :)

But let me be clear- declaring victory in Israel's war against terrorism doesn't mean there will be no more terrorism ever again. It does mean that Israel no longer needs to live in fear all the time, and that it's Hamas that's on the run and has to hide. As the TNR piece said, "terror that no longer paralyzes is no longer terror."

Freshly Insta-lanched Michael Totten has more.

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

"Here's a Spoiler: You Will Die Alone"

Jordan goes to the midnight-release of the "Star Wars" DVDs, and makes fun of the assembled geeks. Why would anyone wear a costume to wait in line for a DVD?

It's funny stuff, even if Triumph already did it. Blackwolf the Dragon Master could not be reached for comment.

Also, the Trial of George Lucas is underway. Fittingly, it begins with Episode IV. Though perhaps in 20 years Bill will decide to go back and re-edit the post.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:05 PM | Comments (3)

The Baffled King Composes No More

The greatest of the snark-bloggers, The Minor Fall, the Major Lift, has called it quits. I guess the Snark-o-Tron made him redundant.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

From a really good TNR piece by Telis Demos on the recent rightward migration of my home state of Minnesota and its neighbor Wisconsin, here's University of Minnesota politics professor Lawrence Jacobs:

"The Democrats, if you take Minnesota as an egregious case, have been pretty flat-footed. They're running the same set of people, except now it's their sons."
So true. Walter Mondale's son Ted was my state senator for a few years, and on the undeserving-nepotism scale he makes George W. Bush look like Nelson Rockefeller.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:55 PM | Comments (3)

I'm Being Followed By a Moonshadow- and the FBI

A London-to-Washington flight was grounded yesterday when airline officials realized one of the passengers was on a U.S. terrorist watch list. The alleged terrorist? The retired folksinger formerly known as Cat Stevens.

The '70s singer/songwriter, who years ago converted to Islam, changed his name to Yusaf Islam, and renounced all his prior music, was sent back on the next flight out of the U.S. It's unknown why the man who wrote "Peace Train" is on a terrorist list, but I'm curious to hear the full story. Until then, "Harold & Maude" will never play the same way again.

It's a Wild World, indeed.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:21 AM | Comments (2)

We Win, Cont'd

Ever wonder what it might look like if we won the war on terrorism? From TNR's cover story (by Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi):

"During those same six months, the Israeli army destroyed most of what remained of Hamas's organization in the West Bank and a substantial part of its infrastructure in Gaza. Just last week, Israeli gunships rocketed a Hamas training camp in Gaza, killing 15 operatives. Hamas leaders, who once routinely led rallies and gave interviews to the media, don't dare show their faces in public anymore. Even their names are kept secret. Hardly a night passes without the arrest of a wanted terrorist. Hamas's ranks have become so depleted that the organization is now recruiting teenagers: At the Gaza border, Israeli forces recently broke up a Hamas cell made up of 16-year-olds.

Meanwhile, life inside Israel has returned to near normalcy."

I'd pay $100 to see Stephen A. Smith scream out "the intifada is ov-ER!" And another $100 if he said "Abdel Aziz Rantisi" the way he pronounces "Slava Med-ve-DENK-O!"

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

September 21, 2004

Bye, George

I just watched the "Seinfeld" re-run in which Jerry and George pitch their sitcom pilot to NBC, and I was struck that there were probably more laughs in any 30-second chunk of the episode than there were in the entire 30 minutes of that other pilot with Jason Alexander- the one for "Listen Up" that aired last night.

No, it wasn't entirely laugh-free- some of the family stuff worked, and for stretches, the fictional version of the Kornheiser/Wilbon partnership- played by Alexander and Malcolm Jamal-Warner- captured the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry of the real thing. But then it was all ruined when, in the middle of a segment of the show's faux-PTI, Alexander suddenly broke into a song-and-dance number about why he hates soccer. Yecch. I think next Monday I'll watch "The Benefactor" instead.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:39 PM | Comments (1)

Dan Rather- or Ron Burgundy?

Bryan Curtis, in Slate, argues rather convincingly that Dan Rather is less of a liberal hack than merely an out-and-out lunatic.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:28 PM | Comments (2)

Fantasy Baseball Transaction of the Year

9/14: The Chair Tossers drop F. Francisco.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:22 PM | Comments (1)

So Much For the Anti-Semitism Charge

Gregg Easterbrook, in today's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column:

"Regarding the Hebrew phrases that have been showing up in the column recently, Hamilton Lau of Tokyo asks if someone can translate the TMQ signature phrase 'for thong-based reasons' into Hebrew."

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

Monday Night Mockery

How horrible did the Vikings look last night against the Eagles on Monday Night Football? They lost by two touchdowns, but played so horribly in every facet of the game- goal-line fumbles, missed field goals, touchdowns called back, and a couple dozen penalties- that it wasn’t even that close. Good thing the Twins clinched during the game, it took away some of the sting.

LilB, of course, called me and sang “Fly Eagles Fly” after every Philadelphia touchdown; when the Vikings scored late I retaliated by singing the “catch a beat running like Randy Moss” lyric from Outkast’s “The Whole World.” Then, at one point in the third quarter I said “you know, the Vikes might still be in this game, if only their head coach weren’t semi-retarded.”

Speaking of which, I loved when Tice forgot to throw the challenge flag after Terrell Owens’ non-touchdown. It was almost like he was making a draft pick or something.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:51 PM | Comments (3)

September 20, 2004


For the third consecutive year, the Minnesota Twins are AL Central Division Champions. And this time, they're the first team in the AL to clinch a postseason berth.

See you in the postseason. And if you're our first-round opponent, you'll be seeing Johan Santana. Twice.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:16 PM | Comments (2)

We Win

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

Pro Bono

U2’s new album, coming out in mid-November, will be titled “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” I just hope world events don’t force a title change.

The mid-fall release and six-word title both worked for “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” in 2000, and supposedly the album will have a similar sound as well. Can’t wait.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Fables Of The Reconstruction

Michele is back, and blogging about Rather- this time, stuffing the “What’s the Frequency Kenneth” lyrics with links to Rathergate stories. R.E.M., meawhile, had an album called “Document”- was it forged?

And speaking of Stipe and Co., they’ve got a new album next month as well. And it’s full of anti-Bush anthems. Oh joy.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:00 PM | Comments (2)

Fun With Google

This blog is:

The #9 result for “merkin”

The #7 result for “Best Mozzarella in Hoboken”

The #6 result for “Jim Mora diddly poo”

The #5 result for “Jews Kick Ass”

The #1 result for “Scarsdale Surprise” (but does not register for “Cry Cry Again,” “Prognosis Negative,” "Rochelle, Rochelle," "Death Blow," or any of the other fake “Seinfeld” movies).

The #13 (and 14) result for “Chomsky For Children” (Alan Wolfe’s dismissal of Michael Moore).

And the #3 result for “romantic depot Hoboken”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:57 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

”The one change I know a Kerry administration would bring, a change that I lust for, will be an end to the incessant whining, doom-saying, fear-mongering and general apocalyptic paranoia that has come to permeate "progressive" politics. For that reason alone, I will be up at the crack of dawn on election day eagerly voting for Mr. A.B.B.”
Journalist/blogger Marc Cooper, a leftist, articulating maybe the best pro-Kerry argument of all.

(Via Michael “The Last Centrist” Totten’s must-read “Hawkish Case For Kerry” piece. Great stuff).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

Tuna Betrayal

Peter King this morning reports that in a new book about the Patriots organization by Michael Holley, the most shocking revelation is that then-Pats coach Bill Parcells negotiated with the New York Jets during the week leading up to Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season.

While Holley may have been clueless enough to leave his job as a Boston Globe columnist in order to be Max Kellerman’s sidekick on Fox Sports Net, I don’t doubt the integrity of his reporting; my only beef with this story is that it’s such old news. Everyone knew for that entire season that Parcells was quitting after that year, and probably going to the Jets- to the point where “will Tuna stay or go” was a bigger story in Boston that week than the big game itself.

In fact, it took until five years later, when Bill Belichick led the Pats to the first of their two Super Bowl victories, for New England to let go of Parcells- and by then New York was in Tuna-withdrawal as well. But great, now the scab’s been picked again. Good thing the Sox are still in the race.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:49 PM | Comments (1)

Whacking the Emmys

The question of “how much does ‘The West Wing’ have to suck in order to not win the Best Drama Emmy?” has finally been answered, as last night “The Sopranos” finally won the Best Drama award for the first time. It should have been the fourth or fifth, but it took an especially great season for The Best Show On TV to finally get the big award.

I didn’t watch the whole show, but the other big story was that every winner’s speech was cut off after about eight seconds by an apparently neo-fascist orchestral director. The cutting off of James Gandolfini at the end made me think of Steve Martin’s great quip on the ’03 Oscars: “the Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:46 PM | Comments (2)

"Borat Will Be Back And He Will Loom Large Once More"

This Slate piece looks at the future of the Ali G phenomenon- which I’d imagine will have a third season, unless a train crashes into the White House. What we do know is that Borat will be back, to once again roam America and show people his hram.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

Roger That!

My long-held theories on Goofy and interspecies sexuality have now reached their all-time largest audience, because I have a question in Roger Ebert's "Movie Answer Man" column this week:

Q. You and Leonard Maltin both neglected to mention that in a series of Goofy shorts from the 1950s, Goof lived in blissful domesticity with a human wife. I suppose you could argue that Goofy is exempt from discussions of interspecies romance considering that we still don't know what species he is, but I thinks he qualifies, and your reader thought so too. Also, don't forget about the most famous interspecies couple in American history, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
Stephen Silver, New York City

A. I've always thought of Kermit and Miss Piggy as just very, very good friends.

Obviously, Roger doesn't remember "Muppets Take Manhattan:" "Because you share a love so big/I now pronounce you frog and pig."

UPDATE: If anyone has a paper copy of Sunday's Sun-Times, or any other paper that carries the column, please contact me.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:21 AM | Comments (4)

Godspeed, Tom Wopat

The long-gestating “Dukes of Hazzard” movie is apparently a go, with Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville starring as Bo and Luke Duke, and Jessica Simpson stepping into Catherine Bach’s Daisy Dukes as, uh, Daisy Duke. The involvement of the director of “Super Troopers” gives me hope that it won’t suck, but two questions remain unanswered: will Danny DeVito do what he was born to do and play Boss Hogg, and will the General Lee still be decorated with the Confederate Flag?

On the latter question, I can see the producers catching shit no matter what decision they make. Sort of like John Kerry on Iraq.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:17 AM | Comments (0)

Film Critic Quote of the Day

“’Silver City’ may be the mustiest political-conspiracy tale ever filmed; it’s like ‘Chinatown’ rewritten by Ralph Nader.”
-Owen Gleibermann, Entertainment Weekly. I haven’t seen the film, but it’s a shame to see a once-brilliant director like John Sayles stooping to such pure hackery. “It’s a guy pretending to be Bush! See, that’s funny!”
Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:15 AM | Comments (1)

Who Deserves to Win the AL Cy Young?

I’ll give you a hint: his name rhymes with "Bohan Fantana". Ten straight victories, 30 straight scoreless innings, magic number: 2.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:14 AM | Comments (0)

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

Continuing this blog’s policy of having no comment whatsoever on Rathergate unless it involves the Dan-derived R.E.M. song “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth,” I point you towards Jim Treacher, who not only has been providing some of the story’s best commentary, but even had the foresight to change his blog’s subtitle to “You Said That Irony Was The Shackles of Youth.” Then a reader wrote in that his senior thesis had been titled "You Said That Irony Was the Shackles of Youth: Generation X, Postmodernism, and Late Capitalist America."

And today- "X-Files" fanfic!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:38 AM | Comments (2)

September 17, 2004

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

Remember the other day when I made fun of that video store in Hoboken that switched to an all-romance format? A couple of days later I received a piece of terse but poorly spelled hate mail from the owner/manager of said store, laying into me pretty thick before concluding with “your truly [sic], someone a hell of alot smarter that you [sic].”

Yes, the owner of the romance store sent me hate mail. Maybe he should switch to an all-irony format.

I do, however, offer one correction, as I reported erroneously that the new store will not carry adult films; in fact, it will. So sir, I humbly apologize for implying that you’re not a pornographer, when it fact, you are.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:10 AM | Comments (3)

Baseball and Presidents

There have already been all sorts of baseball-as-politics and politics-as-baseball analogies attempted so far this election season, nearly all of which have involved the Republicans to the Yankees. After realizing, the other day, that the Yankees are yet to win a championship since Dubya assumed the presidency, I spent about 15 minutes figuring out who was president the last time each major league baseball team won the Series:

George W. Bush: Florida Marlins, Anaheim Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks

Bill Clinton: New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays

George H.W. Bush: Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s

Ronald Reagan: Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals

Jimmy Carter: Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates

Gerald Ford: None

Richard Nixon: None

Lyndon Johnson: None

John Kennedy: None

Dwight Eisenhower: San Francisco (then-New York) Giants

Harry Truman: Cleveland Indians

Franklin Roosevelt: None

Herbert Hoover: None

Warren G. Harding: None

Calvin Coolidge: None

Woodrow Wilson: Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox

William Howard Taft: None

Theodore Roosevelt: Chicago Cubs

Teams that have never won the World Series under any president: Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:06 AM | Comments (2)

Best Thing of Its Kind Since the Sloganator

Sheila lets us know about the Snark-O-Tron, which actually generates snark automatically. And to think, all this time we’ve been coming up with snark on our own.

Anyway, I plugged in a few of this blog’s favorite people, with hee-larious results:

“I think I'd be really aroused, and I mean that sexually, if a giant rock fell from the sky and landed on Michael Moore.”

“If I were stuck on a desert island with Ann Coulter, I would kill myself with a bottle of whiskey.”

“I'd like Bud Selig to spend less time crying about how he'll never marry Bea Arthur and more time dreaming about humans.”

“Imagine Noam Chomsky. Now imagine Noam Chomsky straddling Estelle Getty.”

"Hey Michelle Malkin. Stop trying to act tough. We all know you're lame."

“I'd like Ben Affleck to spend less time making out with Satan and more time throwing feces at humans.”

“The most fascinating thing about Stephen A. Smith is that he's sort of like a really lame version of Bob Barker.”

"I would love to see an episode of some show where Paris Hilton throws a bucket of chum at Nicole Ritchie."

"Hey Courtney Love. Stop trying to not suck. Just embrace it. And then go away."

“What's most disturbing: a bucket of poop, Madeleine Albright, or Sean Salisbury?”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:03 AM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2004


Happy New Year to all the Jews. It’s officially the mid-‘60s on the Hebrew calendar; last time we had a ’65, Sandy Koufax sat out a World Series game- on Yom Kippur. I’m sure at least one rabbi will mention that.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:54 PM | Comments (3)

The Incredible Shrinking Kerry, Cont’d

Our Fearless Nominee has an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal. Longwinded and incomprehensible, it’s about as successful as his midnight speech after the RNC.

I’m sure it’s been fisked in full by now, but here’s my favorite part:

”Under my plan, the tax cuts would be extended and made permanent for 98% of Americans.
Too bad the 2% of Americans for whom they’re NOT made permanent is the same 2% that reads the Wall Street Journal.

And speaking of The Guy We’re Stuck With, Ron Rosenbaum has a great New York Observer piece asking questions I’ve seen raised by no one but Peter Beinart: if this election is “about Vietnam,” how come we don’t know how Kerry or Bush feels, exactly, about whether that war was right or wrong?

And finally, Todd Gitlin looks at how the Democrats and the rest of the left would respond to a Kerry defeat.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:53 PM | Comments (2)


The New York Post this morning reported on the front page that Kobe Bryant told investigators the day he was first brought in that he would be willing to pay off his alleged victim in exchange for a promise not to press charges. Which is funny- because Sports Illustrated reported the exact same thing, more than two weeks ago.

Today’s Post story references a new SI story with a bunch of other information that wasn’t in the first version. But strange that the Post’s lead would be the only thing that was in the first story.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

“Trading Nomar Garciaparra might be not just a stroke of genius, but ultimately the antidote to The Curse. Seriously, usually the Red Sox are too busy collecting stars; this time they dealt a guy having no season to speak of to -- the Cubs! It's like sending a virus to somebody else's computer.”
Michael Wilbon.

And speaking of pathetic Chicago baseball, Batgirl links to this piece, containing numerous blind quotes by White Sox players bitching about how unfair it is that they failed to overtake the Twins in the AL Central for the third straight year:

"That's fine, let them do their talking and clapping and antics on the basepaths. Minnesota has two World Series banners, but not one came from this group of players. They forget that.
“Antics on the basepaths?” You mean “scoring runs?”

The White Sox, meanwhile, have won NO World Series with ANY group of players, at least not since the year of the Bolshevik Revolution. I guess there’s a reason Batgirl calls them the “Bitch Sox.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:47 PM | Comments (1)

“He Smoked Crack and Got His Job Back? If You Smoke Crack at McDonalds, They Won’t Let You Back Near the Happy Meals”

Marion Barry has made yet another successful political comeback, as the crack-smoking former mayor has been elected to the Washington, D.C. city council. Here’s Jonah Goldberg, from back when Barry was re-elected mayor after being released from prison, and campaigning heavily among the “ex-offender” population:

“At that point, we decided that any mayor who could rally the ex-offender community without losing too many votes from the, say, law-abiding community, deserved a drink named after him. We came up with a concoction of Jagermeister, Kahlua, bourbon and Coke. Why this collection? Because we wanted a drink “so black not even the man could keep it down.”
Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

The Trial of George Lucas

Like Hitchens going after Kissinger, Bill enumerates the crimes committed by George Lucas in his “Star Wars Special Edition,” on the eve of the DVD release. I still say it’s his movies, his choice, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

Office Pool

Anyone want to take action on what time the Mets fire Art Howe? I've got 3PM.

UPDATE: Damn, off by just one hour.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

Bad ESPN, Cont'd has elected to move Joe Morgan's unintentionally hilarious weekly baseball chats over to the pay-only "Insider" side, leading Mike of Mike's Baseball Rants to suspend his weekly critiques of the chats. In making the announcement, Mike joins the growing "ESPN is sinking" chorus.

It's well-argued, but I take issue with two of his comments: Mike says the Worldwide Leader "has been headed in the direction of PTI... for some time." I'm not sure if he means this as a dig at "Pardon the Interruption," but my take is that PTI is the best thing to happen to ESPN since its inception; the network has, however, misjudged its appeal and incorporated much less effective "argument segments" into the rest of its programming. And then, when Kornheiser and Wilbon took their annual summer sabbatical, they replaced Tony and Mike with two of their bottom-feeders, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, with predictably disastrous results.

I also take issue with Mike's denunication of "Peter Gammons’ unedited, William Faulkner-esque prose." Other than PTI, "NFL Primetime," and Bill Simmons, Gammons' column -and his ridiculously long run-on sentences- is the only thing I still enjoy about ESPN.

Aaron Gleeman- who recently pulled off the coup of the year by getting the legendary Bill James to write a guest column for Hardball Times- has more, as does Eric over at Off Wing.

And finally, how long before someone writes a Whitlock-style column arguing that the emerging ESPN Backlash critique is racist, because it invariably mentions both Stuart Scott and Stephen A. by name?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:21 AM | Comments (5)

September 14, 2004

One Unfortunate Side Effect of the Rather Scandal

The return of “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” jokes.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

On Moshe, On Herschel, On Al-Zarqawi

This past Saturday, “Saturday Night Live” broadcast a “Best of Jon Lovitz” special. (What’s next, “Best of David Koechner”?) Anyway, one of the featured sketches was the one from the late ‘80s with “The Year Hannukah Harry Saved Christmas,” starring Lovitz as Harry, which for awhile was a staple of SNL’s annual Christmas specials. I used to love the sketch when I was a kid but hadn’t seen it in years, so you can imagine my surprise when I noticed just how familiar Harry looked…

Which is Hannukah Harry?

And which is Osama Bin Laden???

The episode aired, of course, on September 11. Oops.

The Yuppies of Zion, meanwhile, have more on the Jihad/SNL connection, complete with one of my favorite post titles ever.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:11 AM | Comments (2)

The Last Picture Show

There’s a bit of a battle going on in my neighborhood over the recent closing of a two-screen cinema on 99th and Broadway- always sad to see a movie theater close, especially when it’s to make room for a Gristede’s supermarket identical to the one already across the street- indicative of the gentrification that causes the northern border of the Upper West Side to rise two or three blocks each year.

As a result of the closing, Upper West Siders and Morningside Heighters (?) looking to enjoy a picture will now have to either walk south to the multiplexes on 84th and 68th Streets, or north to the Magic Johnson Theaters on 125th Street in Harlem. Knowing what I know of them, I’m thinking they’ll be going south.

Sorry to turn for a second into that uptight New York journalist type who thinks the goings-on on a single block of the Upper West Side are of prime importance to the rest of the universe. But similar things are happening all over, preventing us from enjoying our favorite movies.

Take my old neighborhood, for instance. Sheila reports that Take 3, a video store in Hoboken that’s about a block from where I used to live, has morphed into “Romantic Depot”- a video store that stocks romance-based movies exclusively. Among other genres, they’ve cut out both old movies (Sheila’s favorite) and porn (uh, other people’s favorite). Looks like I got out of town at exactly the right time.

Even if this store weren’t two blocks away form a multi-leveled Blockbuster, this would still be the worst business-model decision in the history of the Eastern seaboard. “Hey, I know! Let’s cut out 90% of our inventory! And in the process, pretty much banish males from the store!” If Romantic Depot is still in business next Valentine’s Day, I’ll be shocked.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:09 AM | Comments (2)

Chain of Cheney

Jessica: unquestionably the first female Brandeis graduate ever to pose next to the Halliburton sign. Although the woman who was my orientation group leader, after graduation, went on to work in human resources for Enron.

As a commenter of Karol’s said, “if the good people at Halliburton had any sense, they'd immediately hire Jessica as a spokesmodel. It would beat the hell out of the current face they have attached to them.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:07 AM | Comments (1)

9/11: In Defense of the Middle

Jeff Jarvis, a September 11 survivor, articulates my feelings exactly.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

Matthews vs. Malkin, Cont’d

According to an AP story over the weekend, Chris Matthews is “hot again,” thanks to his celebrated recent on-air confrontations with Michelle Malkin and Zell Miller, as well as MSNBC’s standout coverage of both conventions.

As for Michelle, she’s apparently not quite so hot- a speech she had been scheduled to deliver at American University was canceled this week when the school’s College Republicans told her to back off; I don’t normally support such PC zealotry, but her “defense of internment” arguments are so noxious –and so blatantly ahistorial- that they don’t belong at any institute of higher learning.

Sorry, but I happen to come from a people that’s sort of sensitive to the idea of innocent people being tossed into camps, against their will, on the basis of nothing but their ethnicity.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:03 AM | Comments (2)

Fellman vs. Horowitz, Cont’d

The FrontPage people have responded to the Justice’s piece; Jaws has finally broken his silence and blogged on the subject. Watch the paper return the volley tomorrow.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:59 AM | Comments (3)

Was He Their Second Choice? Fifth? Fifteenth?

Jimmy Kimmel To Host American Music Awards

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004


Today marks the third anniversary of the day the world changed forever. And, even more so than last year, it doesn't seem like most people particularly care.

The first anniversary of 9/11, as I pointed out at the time, briefly brought back the feeling of introspection and cameraderie of the immediate post-9/11 period, as Manhattan was dotted with candles, flowers, and pictures of the dead. But last year, and once again today, September 11 is seemingly just another day. But the news, and even the blogosphere- which essentially came into being as a result of 9/11- was more concerned today with Hurricane Ivan, the Dan Rather/documents scandal, and other matters of the presidential election.

True, there's not a lot to say about it that hasn't yet been said. But for some reason, this "let's just move on" attitude just doesn't feel right to me. As I said last year, I'm not ready yet to forget or forgive, and I don't know that I ever will be. May the dead be remembered, and may they continue to rest in peace.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:43 PM | Comments (7)

September 10, 2004

An Appropriate Quote For Today

"You know what? I hated religious fanatics who wanted to murder me on September 10.” –Dennis Miller.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:56 PM | Comments (2)

Limerick Trick

Jeremy’s got the annual NFL limericks, here and here. So suck on that, Easterbrook!

UPDATE: Tony Kornheiser has more football poetry.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

Mad About Madchen

In the midst of reading Entertainment Weekly’s Fall TV preview –and discovering that there’s not a single new show on any network that I’m the slightest bit looking forward to watching- I read with surprise that Madchen Amick, who played Shelly the waitress on “Twin Peaks” and then apparently took the ensuing 14 years off from acting, is joining the cast of “ER” this year. Her character will be a love interest of Noah Wyle’s, which unfortunately means that one of the most beautiful women on Earth, Thandie Newton, will no longer be on the show.

Though speaking of fall TV, I watched “Joey” last night and had the same reaction many people did: “wow, it didn’t suck!” Which is saying something, because I never really liked the Joey character. Still, since when was Adriana LaCerva old enough to be the mother of Ruben from “Road Trip”?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:53 PM | Comments (1)

Theater Critic Quote of the Week

“You'd be hard-pressed to find a show as tacky and ineptly put together as "The Boy From Oz," although Frank Wildhorn's "Dracula" is a worthy successor… The audience, to be sure, was not diverse. Women, specifically middle-aged women from the suburbs, fell hard for Jackman. At times, the atmosphere in the Imperial Theatre resembled a bachelorette party for someone about to get married for the second time.”
-The New York Post’s Michael Reidel, marking the closing of “The Boy From Oz.” I didn’t see the show (as I rarely see anything on Broadway), but I nevertheless find it remarkable that Hugh Jackman, a semi-major Hollywood action star, took more than a year off from movies to star in a Broadway musical in which he played a gay man who died of AIDS. Such a thing wouldn’t have been imaginable ten, or even five years ago.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:50 PM | Comments (1)

Interspecies Sexuality Dept.

In Roger Ebert’s Movie Answer Man column this week, he got a question about one of this blog’s favorite topics:

Q. In "The Three Musketeers," the new made-for-DVD animated feature from Walt Disney Productions starring Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck, Goofy falls in love with Clarabelle the Cow. Which leads me to wonder: Is this the first interspecies romance ever depicted in a Disney cartoon?

Joe Leydon, Houston

A. Few people know more about animated characters and even their sex lives than my friend and colleague Leonard Maltin, who responds: "The first thing that comes to mind is Donald Duck's aggressive flirting with human bathing beauties in 'The Three Caballeros.' For the most part, Disney kept the animal species together, as nature intended, but the very same Clarabelle Cow kept company for years with Horace Horsecollar -- a horse.

Ebert and Maltin may be two of the nation’s leading authorities on film, but in this case they’re BOTH WRONG. As any reader of James Lileks knows, there exists a series of Disney cartoons from the ‘50s in which Goofy had a human wife. And not only that, but Maltin himself did commentary on those very DVDs, so he should really know better.

Then again, I suppose you could make the argument that Goofy is disqualified from discussions of interspecies sexuality, since we don’t know what species he is.

Speaking of Ebert, he’s got a new website. Check out his picture:

Look familiar?

That movie, incidentally, got one of Roger’s rare zero-star reviews, so strange that he would emulate it.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:06 PM | Comments (5)

September 09, 2004

Mr. 3000

This is this blog's 3000th post. Thanks for reading, everyone.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:29 PM | Comments (3)

What He Said

I'd been meaning to do a big post about why I, as a committed centrist liberal hawk who considers the War on Terror to be Issue #1, am voting for Kerry and not Bush. But luckily, Andrew Sullivan did it for me. I'll explain myself further later on.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:27 PM | Comments (4)

Unhinged Dick Morris, Cont’d

In today’s column, after dispensing a few sure-to-soon-be-proven-wrong paragraphs of prediction and analysis, Dick unleashes this nugget, in reference to the recent retention by the Kerry campaign of longtime Clinton cronies James Carville and Paul Begala:

"The decision to bring in Carville and Begala also begs a more fundamental question: Do they want Kerry to win?
Both men are primarily loyal to the Clintons — Bill and Hillary. Clearly, the former president would like the former first lady to be president in 2008. And a Kerry victory would stand in the way."
Of course. Why else would Kerry hire two accomplished political operatives- because they’re agents of Bill Clinton, sent to throw the election! Does Morris really believe this nonsense? How can the former president be rooting for Kerry to lose, while at the same time talking to him on the phone for two hours- the same day he had friggin’ heart-bypass surgery?

Yes, it’s long been established by now that Morris is incapable of ever writing or speaking for more than five minutes without eventually returning to the tiresome Hillary-wants-to-be-president meme. But enough already.

And speaking of Bubba- who I of course wish a speedy recovery- New York Press included this in their “1,001 Reasons to Hate the Convention” list (published a few days before the heart-surgery story broke):

“127. Bill Clinton lurking somewhere uptown, having wide-eyed protester chicks washed and brought to his tent, two at a time.”
Hey, maybe that whole "chest pains at home" thing was a cover story, like that Cape May/broken leg story of McGreevey's.

Of course, I'd be remiss in not including this, also on NYP’s list:

“948. Hard to tell if Dick Morris is hailing cab or prostitute.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:18 PM | Comments (3)

NFL Preview

The NFL season gets underway tonight with the “kickoff game” between the Patriots and Colts, before a full slate of games Sunday. I’ve been barely mentioned the preseason at all because not a single thing has happened that’s interested me, and once again I renew my annual objection to the awful “NFL Thursday Kickoff” tradition. Because after two months of preseason games on weeknights, we get another weeknight game that feels like the preseason. And this year, with everyone making feeble jokes about Janet Jackson, should be even worse.

Anyway, I predict the division winners in the NFC will be my Vikings, and the Eagles, Panthers, and Seahawks, with Washington and Detroit making it as wild cards; in the AFC I see the Patriots, Colts, Broncos, and Ravens winning the divisions, with the Bengals and Jets as wild cards. Super Bowl XXIX? Patriots over Eagles.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:15 PM | Comments (4)

All Good Things…

“Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings has reportedly lost. Call it the “60 Minutes” Jinx.

And speaking of that “60 Minutes” piece, despite a lengthy interview with Alex Trebek it completely omitted any reference to the classic “Cheers” episode in which Cliff Clavin appeared on the show. I mention this, among other reasons, because this blog is the #1 Google search result for “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)


“John Kerry, who says he doesn't like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security. That's the most dangerous outsourcing of all.” –Zell Miller, Republican convention speech, last Wednesday.

“WASHINGTON – The Senate has voted narrowly to block President George W. Bush from outsourcing some Homeland Security jobs to private companies.” –AP, today.

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

Sounds Like Something Brandeis Would Establish, Not the Government

Kerry Proposes 'Department of Wellness.'

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

Little Bit of Hypocrisy There, Norm

“Once again Senator Kerry has flip flopped on Iraq.”
-Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), who over the years has flip-flopped on -among other things- his party affiliation, his religion, and whether he supports U.S. military intervention abroad. Also, the same year John Kerry was returning from Vietnam and founding Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Hofstra undergrad Norm had this to say:
"I look at (the) Woodstock Generation versus Hofstra’s Young Republicans and I say ‘Choose Woodstock’

Then again, if you were married to this woman, you’d believe in free love too.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

And You Thought Skipping “American Pie 3” Was a Bad Move

Page Six:

THE love affair between "American Pie" actor Chris Klein and "Dawson's Creek" starlet Katie Holmes hit a speed bump over the weekend. The couple, who've been engaged for over a year, had a fight last Friday while dining at L.A. eatery Maggiano's. "They came in holding hands, sat alone, and during the dinner Klein was heard delivering classic break-up lines like 'I need space,' and 'it's not you, it's me,' " our source said.

Pull yourself together, Chris! Don’t make the same mistake Dawson did!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

Naomi Loves Mookie

In what should now be Exhibit A in my contention that the far left and far right are really one and the same, "liberal" writer Naomi Klein suggests in an article in The Nation called "Bring Najaf to New York" that last week's RNC protesters should have sought to emulate the example of theocratic thug Moqtada al-Sadr. Even though Klein is a feminist socialist (not to mention a Jew), and Sadr is an Islamist fascist who would likely put a fatwa on Klein's head- or worse- if the two ever met.

Thankfully, the protesters failed to heed Klein's advice; during the convention, no mosques were reported occupied anywhere in the five boroughs.

Disgruntled ex-Nation columnist Christopher Hitchens responds to Klein's "nasty, stupid article". Would you expect him to resist?:

"When I quit writing my column for The Nation a couple of years ago, I wrote semi-sarcastically that it had become an echo chamber for those who were more afraid of John Ashcroft than Osama Bin Laden. I honestly did not then expect to find it publishing actual endorsements of jihad. But, as Marxism taught me, the logic of history and politics is a pitiless one...
And now Ms. Klein, among many others, wanting to bring the war home because any kind of anti-Americanism is better than none at all. These fellow-travelers with fascism are also changing ships on a falling tide: Their applause for the holy warriors comes at a time when wide swathes of the Arab and Muslim world are sickening of the mindless blasphemy and the sectarian bigotry. It took an effort for American pseudo-radicals to be outflanked on the left by Ayatollah Sistani, but they managed it somehow."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:11 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2004

O’Reilly vs. Coulter

Human cartoon Ann Coulter this week goes after Bill O’Reilly, of all people- for being too moderate. Coultergeist takes Mr. Factor to task for not being supportive enough of the Swift Boat Veterans, after he said, in reference to a comparison of the Swifties to Michael Moore, that “I don’t want either of them.” Here’s Ann’s response:

"In Nazi Germany, O'Reilly would have condemned BOTH Hitler's death camps and the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In Bill O'Reilly's world, King Solomon would have actually cut the disputed baby in half.
The O'Reilly method of analysis works well about once a century. The last time was when Hitler invaded Russia in 1941."
I don’t know what’s sadder about this- that Coulter has been reduced to half-hearted Nazi analogies, or that O’Reilly will spend the next five years using this to brandish his “independent” credentials. True, he’s not a doctrinaire conservative like Hannity, but that doesn’t mean he’s not slanted to the right.

If Coulter were a rapper, she’d just diss Bill on her next album, like Ludacris did. But seriously, Ann’s such a self-parody at this point that she’s pretty much bequeathed the “most hateful pundit” title to Michelle Malkin; in order to get it back I guess she’d have to write a book defending segregation, or something.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:54 PM | Comments (7)

DVD Critic Quote of the Week

"Chicken Run (2000): What a relief when it ended happily. I had feared that at any moment Gibson's Rocky the Rooster was going to be graphically plucked and debeaked by a band of hook-nosed Frank Perdues."
-Chris Orr, surveying Mel Gibson’s “torturous” oeuvre on the occasion of the “Passion of the Christ” DVD release, in TNR.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:49 PM | Comments (0)

King James

Vanity Fair media writer James Wolcott now has a blog. Great stuff- from referring to Ann Coulter as “the Toxic Toothpick” to a comical look at the Kitty Kelley book to this brilliant post that answers the question of what ever happened to the Shalit Sisters, throwing in such wonderful phrases as “diminutive mantrap” and “the slut trenches of college.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"I love the fact that this network re-invented the way we watch televised sports. But I loathe the fact that everyone associated with it seems to believe they invented those sports themselves.

And I applaud the fact that these folks deliver the story. But I'm appalled by the fact that they so often believe they are the story.

Maybe that's why I find myself reaching for the clicker more and more these days, depending upon which frustrated stand-up comic is anchoring SportsCenter. (No, you twit, I don't want to say hello to your little friend.)"

Gordie Jones, on the ESPN anniversary.

Also, writing on Hardblogger, Keith Olbermann discusses an interview he did with Elizabeth Edwards in which the VP candidate's wife talked about how she and her late son used to greatly enjoy watching SportsCenter, back when Keith hosted it with Dan Patrick. Keith's concluding thought:

"Hadn’t felt too good lately about having [been] on that program.

Mrs. Edwards kind of changed that.

Right now I’m very proud to be part of one of her warm memories about her son."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:46 PM | Comments (10)

Rick Claws Back

Rick Ankiel, at one point the top pitching prospect in baseball, has returned to St. Louis Cardinals after more than three years out of action, continuing his comeback after a meltdown in the 2000 playoffs in which he suddenly lost the ability to throw strikes, and subsequently underwent elbow surgery.

I was there in Shea Stadium for Game 6 of the 2000 NLCS, when Ankiel threw three wild pitches, and it may have been the most uncomfortable scene I’ve ever witnessed at a live sporting event. Even the Mets fans, a couple of innings away from clinching the pennant, felt bad for him. I’m thrilled to finally see Ankiel back in the majors, and there are early signs he may have been cured of Steve Blass Disease: in his first game back, Ankiel tossed a scoreless inning, throwing 11 of 14 pitches for strikes.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)

A New Place To Read Unsubstantiated Allegations About Athletes Using Steroids And/Or Being Gay

Skip Bayless has joined

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2004

More Yankee Embarrassment

Nearly blowing their huge lead over Boston, losing 22-0 at home to Cleveland, and Kevin Brown punching a wall were bad enough. But to demand a forfeit from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays- who were prevented from traveling by a hurricane, has to be a new low for the 2004 Yankees.

Who’s had a worse five weeks- the Yankees, or John Kerry?

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard's Bill Whalen agrees, tracing Kerry's collapse- and Boston's surge- to the candidate's decision to throw out the first pitch at Fenway the night before the DNC. At the start of the season, I predicted a Red Sox/Astros World Series- to mirror the Boston vs. Texas presidential election the following week- and with both teams winning such a matchup remains quite possible.

UPDATE: Nevermind:

Sox fans can only hope the SI Jinx invalidates the, uh, "other" jinx.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:27 PM | Comments (3)

Two Anniversaries

And I’ll be nice about both. ESPN launched 25 years ago today, and it essentially defined what it means to be a sports fan for myself and for much of my generation. The network may have gone off the rails in recent years, what with reality shows, game-show segments, and Stephen A. Smith, but nonetheless- the network’s given me a lot of happiness over the years, and I’m glad it’s there. So I celebrated the anniversary tonight by watching Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.

Also, it was 20 years ago today that Carl Pohlad bought the Minnesota Twins from Calvin Griffith. True, we may know Pohlad today as the 90-ish, miserly billionaire who emerges every couple years to bitch about the team’s stadium situation, looking a lot like one of the evil bankers from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But lest we forget- he did indeed save the team from relocation by buying them in 1984, and presided over two world championships in five years. Which is almost enough to forgive Pohlad for conspiring with Bud Selig to try to dissolve the team three years ago. Almost.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:26 PM | Comments (1)

Going After Gordie

Today’s issue of the Brandeis student newspaper, the Justice, has a fascinating front-page article about sociology professor Gordon “Gordie” Fellman, and a hit-piece on him that appeared over the summer in David Horowitz’s Frontpage Magazine. The popular prof, who has taught at my alma mater for more than 40 years, comes under attack in the Front Page article for, among other things, being a rabid Marxist who indoctrinates his students in the ways of America-hating.

The Front Page article, written by Horowitz acolyte Thomas Ryan, is overheated and contains all sorts of distortions, as pointed out in The Justice piece by neoconservative American Studies professor Jerry Cohen, Fellman’s friendly rival for more than four decades. It also gets lots of things wrong- while Fellman’s politics may be so leftist that he makes Michael Moore look like William F. Buckley, he has never claimed to be a Marxist, and besides, his views are more tinged with pacifism than those of most of today’s academic left. However, like the proverbial broken clock, the piece is right on occasion.

I took a class, “Sociology of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” with Fellman my junior year, and I should say first of all that I liked him very much. On more than one occasion I attended his office hours, and we always had lively discussions. Gordie -he always insisted on being called by his first name- was a charismatic and engaging figure, and was always respectful of my and others’ opinions- even when, as often, my views dissented from his (this was around the beginning of my starting-to-question-leftism phase).

And that’s the thing- in a class of 40 or so students, myself and one or two others were the only ones who ever disagreed with anything Fellman had to say. He would talk, they would nod. Most of the class had previously taken Fellman’s signature course, “War and Possibilities of Peace,” and had read his book, “Rambo and the Dalai Lama,” and were thus thoroughly versed in Gordie-speak- to the point where I would often see students quoting him verbatim both in campus publications and in other classes. I must have heard the phrase “paradigm shift” more times in that one semester than I have in the ensuing six years.

I hesitate to throw around the b-word- brainwashing- but it got so laughable that at one point I jokingly brought up that ‘90210’ storyline about Kelly’s professor who started a cult. And this was back when the big issues of the day were Tibet, Mumia, and the war in Kosovo- from what I’ve heard, the rhetoric emanating from Gordie’s disciples only got worse in the ensuing years, considering 9/11, Iraq, and other recent world events. Fellman, to his credit, held his own in a surreal appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor,” just a few weeks after September 11.

Now I should say that I generally take anything coming from Horowitz’s operation with a rather large grain of salt- especially since, according to Josh, some of what appeared in the Front Page article appears to be based on off-the-record information, and none of it is based on the on-the-record testimonials of any student. I should also say that I distinctly remember, in my time at ‘deis, quite a groundswell of people who didn’t quite buy into the Fellman worldview and weren't particularly happy about its ubiquity around campus. But in four years at the school and four more reading the Justice regularly, I have no recollection of any such thoughts ever appearing in print before.

At any rate, I salute the current Justice editors for having the stones to run the generally balanced piece, because such a story never, ever, would’ve been possible when I was on The Justice- our first rule was always “first, hurt no one’s feelings.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:14 PM | Comments (1)

Just John!

My mother is convinced of John Edwards’ resemblance to Jack, from “Will & Grace.” Anyone else see that?

Then again, if we voted for Jack in November, would we risk another "devastating" attack?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:04 PM | Comments (3)

Quote of the Day

"There are plenty of people on the left who think America is the problem, that America is eeeevil, that America is the new fascist police state. I've beaten them over the head with a rhetorical club on this blog for almost two years now. They are the most irritating people in the entire country, in part because plenty of them live in my neighborhood and I have to put up with their bullshit on a regular basis. I've also taken aim at mainstream liberals who refuse to call them out on the carpet. I expect a blowhard like Rush Limbaugh to make no distinction between a mainstream Democrat and a radical wingnut, but no one, and I mean no one, who is a Democrat himself has any excuse for not getting this right. If ‘the leaders of the Democratic Party’ were as Zell Miller described them, Ralph Nader would be out of a job and Noam Chomsky would be a senator instead of a crank on the margins at Z Magazine."
-Michael Totten, in response to the Miller speech. Yes, my neighborhood too.

Then Mike Silverman, in the comments:

“I just wish the GOP could do away with the religious-right. They alone will probably keep me from voting GOP this November. It's like I want to buy the Republican car because of its powerful engine and great design, but I'd have to get used to the upside-down nails covering the driver's seat.”
Exactly. If the religious right didn’t exist, or if it broke off and started its own party, I might feel better about voting for Republicans. But not until then.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

“Ironic Republicans” Dept.

Now, they like art.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2004

The Shitstorm of ’04: Final Thoughts

I wasn’t around for the final day of the convention, but did see the last two speeches. A few observations:

What a smarmy, unlikable jackass George Pataki is. Not that I’ve ever liked him, but he’s got a lot of gall calling Kerry a flip-flopper, when he’s jumped from moderate to conservative and back numerous times during his decade as governor. And the implied blaming of 9/11 on the Clinton Administration was a nice touch as well. Of the three New Yorkers likely to run for president next time (Pataki, Rudy, and Hillary), I’m rooting for George to be trounced first.

As for Bush’s speech, I pretty much agreed with former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet’s take: it was brilliantly written and delivered, but it “soared above the facts.” If Bush’s main assertions had the slightest bit of truth to them- that Iraq is going well, that the economy is improving, that No Child Left Behind actually made any difference- than this would’ve been one of the best political speeches I’ve ever seen. But they don’t, so it wasn’t.

Still though, the writing and delivery were the best I’ve seen in a Bush speech since the post-9/11 period; I’m guessing that some combination of David Frum, Karen Hughes, and Peggy Noonan helped out after being out of action for the last two years. (Because Noonan is back in the political field, because she used to compare Bush to Churchill after every one of his speeches, and because the Bush/Churchill metaphor was common throughout the convention, I’m guessing Peggy played a heavy role in the week’s speechwriting).

The people who disrupted the speech notwithstanding, I was glad to see both that the protests never devolved into riots, and even moreso, that the protests weren’t THE story coming out of the convention. That, and I never knew there were still so many active communists. Then again, nearly all of them go by the 80/20 rule: they’re either older than 80, or younger than 20.

Overall, the convention was quite an adventure, and politics notwithstanding, I feel like New York is a better place for having hosted it. True, their “I Love 9/11!” fetishism was a bit unnerving, and I found the Miller and Pataki speeches particularly objectionable. But a situation like this is heaven for political junkies like me. See you in ’08, when I plan on blogging from the inside.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:24 AM | Comments (0)

Convention TV Notes

- On Thursday night C-SPAN replayed Bush’s speech while C-SPAN2 unspooled the 2000 version; the difference was like night and day. Bush looked uncomfortably nervous at the podium back then, and had that ever-present squint that made him look more like Will Ferrell’s impression than the Bush of today.

- The Wednesday “Daily Show” segment making fun of the Zell Miller speech may be an all-time high-water mark for that show, which is reaching new heights practically, well, daily during this campaign. And speaking of Stewart, that Ted Koppel quote from the other night was:

"For the sake of argument, let's say President Bush comes out there Thursday night and out of the blue talks about that well-known drug dealer and pedophile Ted Koppel… And my colleagues then, the next morning say the President of the United States last night in a surprising diversion from the rest of his speech accused ABC host Ted Koppel of being a pedophile and a drug dealer. Are they factually correct in reporting that the President of the United States said that? Is it news that he said that? Sure it is."
- Before signing off Thursday night, Chris Matthews thanked all his producers and numerous other off-camera people, but did not see fit to thank the security guards who saved him from that guy who charged the set.

- And finally, MSNBC’s “After Hours” segment on Thursday night with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was one of television’s great moments. In fifteen minutes Triumph:

- Shattered a longstanding on-air taboo by telling Mike Barnicle “don’t steal any of my jokes.”

- Teased calling Ron Reagan gay, before switching gears and saying that he supports stem-cell research because “it might make my testicles grew back.”

- Made numerous “there are only five people watching right now” jokes.

- And best of all, in a face-off of two of his blog’s icons, Triumph went head-to-head with Ron Silver- and Silver began debating issues of war and peace with Triumph, before catching himself and realizing that he was arguing with a plastic dog puppet.

All of this, mind you, took place at about 2:15 in the morning, a timeslot much more conducive to Triumph’s talents than 8:00, which may explain his lackluster recent appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor.” The early time slot prevented him from making many of the obvious jokes (“Fox News is about as fair and balanced as my nutsack”; “We report, you decide, for me to poop on.”) Then again, if O’Reilly knew that Triumph creator Robert Smigel was discovered and brought to “Saturday Night Live” by his nemesis Al Franken, the interview never would’ve happened in the first place.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:20 AM | Comments (2)

Eckstein Award Nominee

University of Georgia quarterback and Heisman candidate David Greene. Greene may share both a name and position with Brendan Fraser’s clandestinely Jewish character in “School Ties,” but no, he’s not a Jew. And neither is his teammate, David Pollack.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:18 AM | Comments (0)

A Royal Thrashing

Today I went to my first Twins home game of the year- and they lost, 12-3, to the Kansas City Royals behind stellar pitching from the unheralded Jimmy “Gobble” Gobble. The loss, of course, means that the AL Central-leading Twins will not win the World Series this year; the Twins were undefeated in games I attended in both 1987 and 1991, but have lost at least once in my presence every other year of my life.

Similarly, every time I have ever attended a campaign rally for a presidential candidate (Clinton in both ’92 and ’96) that candidate was subsequently elected president. I haven’t been to a rally for any candidate this year, although John Kerry was a featured speaker at that ’96 rally for Clinton in Boston.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:16 AM | Comments (1)

Memo to Kevin Brown

Next time, punch the clubhouse wall with your RIGHT hand. I hear it’s much more effective in terms of getting the frustrations out.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:14 AM | Comments (0)

Bowling For Shit

The #1 song on ITunes right now is Bowling For Soup’s “1985.” I just heard it for the first time, and not only does it sound like every other crappy emo song of the past six years, but its lyrics mostly recycle jokes that I think I first heard in 1985. Not to mention that it expresses wistful memories for Bruce Springsteen and Madonna- both of whom, of course, are still around. If this is someone’s idea of a profound nostalgia anthem, then I guess our musical culture is in more trouble than I thought.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:13 AM | Comments (8)

September 02, 2004

Grandpa Lenny

My paternal grandfather, Leonard Brawerman, passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 90. Here’s the obit. I’m back in Minneapolis for the funeral and staying for the weekend.

I want to thank everyone for reading my convention coverage and for all the nice comments; it’s made a difficult week a little bit better. Check back later for thoughts on the Bush speech, more in the way of convention wrap-up, and eventually a big general political post that’s been in the pipeline for awhile.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:57 PM | Comments (12)

The Shitstorm of ’04: Day 3

Today seemed a bit more calm than yesterday, as there was no coordinated anarchist demonstration this time- although the fact that protesters were able to get into the convention doesn't bode well for those of us worried about terrorism. And I was at work much of the day so I missed out on whatever else happened.

- So after work I headed down to Union Square to see what was going on- and whaddya know, the Protest Warriors were there! Holding up this sign:

They were, of course, outnumbered about five-to-one by nearby protesters, but held their own regardless- mostly because they're pretty experienced with it, and also because most of the protesters were used to hearing no challenges to their views whatsoever (see Scott Ganz post below). Almost every argument I saw ended with the protester screaming "you're a fucking idiot," or with an O'Reilly-style "shut up!"

A few people objected to the guy holding a “100 million people murdered by communism” sign, with one calling the debate over communism irrelevant because “there aren’t any communists anymore” (this in a city where I’ve seen about 500 Che Guevara shirts in the last three days), while others gave some variation on “what’s so bad about communism?”

Then, like the guy on the subway in that one “Seinfeld” episode, an old Ukrainian guy emerged from the shadows and argued that if anyone knows the horrors of communism, HE does. Then, he made a “Hanoi Jane” joke, which for some reason led his antagonist to run away, screaming “you’re a racist!”

- Another highlight in Union Square was running into a guy in a “Fuck Bush” button- worn over his Jason Sehorn Giants jersey. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth, which is that Sehorn 1) is a Republican who spoke at the convention Monday, 2) isn’t with the Giants anymore, and 3) sucks.

- Michael Reagan is a such a different guy when he’s not vitriolicly spewing right-wing talking points on “Hannity and Colmes.” Aside from the crude reference to his parents being “pro-life,” the tribute to Reagan was nice. But then it was ruined at the end by that awful Lee Greenwood song. Leading to the following exchange between Jeremy and I:

Me: This song is an insult to Reagan’s memory, as far as I'm concerned.

Jeremy: But the song came out while he was president

Me: True. But it aged a lot worse than he did. Which, considering he was nearly catatonic for the last ten years of his life, is saying a lot.

- Zell Miller’s speech was certainly the most effective of the convention so far, and he clearly was relishing the opportunity to take his longtime colleague, Kerry, down a peg or two. It was a stirring, vitriolic speech, one a Republican probably couldn’t have given, but I didn’t like its straw-man argumentation, in that it stooped to the Coulter-esque you-can’t-criticize-the-president-during-war canard. It was also hard to take anything Miller said seriously after reading this TNR piece today, which looked at Miller’s entire career and depicted him as a ruthless opportunist who has taken whatever position- from segregationism to Clintonism to Bushism- has been popular at the time.

Another thing about Miller- the first political convention I ever watched was the DNC in 1992- when I rooted for the Democrats the way I had for the Twins in the previous year’s World Series- and that same Zell Miller gave the keynote. In the same building, as many have pointed out, Miller bashed the incumbent President Bush and even made fun of Dan Quayle for not knowing how to spell “potato.” What a difference 12 years makes, as the same man comes to praise another President Bush who, as far as I know, has not yet proven that he knows how to spell the word.

Anyway, I guess Miller and Chris Matthews went at it on the air tonight (though I didn’t see it); Miller even invoked the Michelle Malkin incident as proof of Matthews’ unfairness to his guests. It really sucks that this false meme –Matthews as left-wing attack dog- will soon make its way around the right-wing echo chamber, when Sean Hannity gets a pass for viciously attacking liberal guests every single night a few channels over.

- Not much to say about Dick Cheney; it was just boring. And shouldn’t the delegates learn some rhythm before they start chanting again? It’s not that hard to make “flip-flop/flip-flop” rhyme.

- Ted Koppel and Jon Stewart supposedly hate each other, but I guess they made nice, because Stewart was on “Nightline” tonight. A great interview- Stewart, in a rare display of overt partisanship, called the Swift Boat Veterans “liars,” while Koppel asked a hilarious question, something like “if in the middle of his speech President Bush broke from his prepared text and decided to call me, Ted Koppel, a pedophile, would the media be obligated to report it?” Sounded like more of an Ali G question than a Koppel one, but nevermind.

- And if you’ve got 4-5 hours to kill at work Friday, check out New York Press’ 1001 Things to Hate About the Convention. It baits both left and right, reminiscent of the NYP I used to love.

Tomorrow we conclude. And I just realized exactly how conservative I feel whenever I watch the protesters, and how liberal I feel whenever I watch the speeches. Anyone else feel the same way?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:19 AM | Comments (12)

September 01, 2004

SI Jinx?

The day after Sports Illustrated revealed “damning new evidence” in the Kobe Bryant case, prosecutors reportedly will seek a dismissal.

How much ink, exactly, was wasted on this, all for nothing?

UPDATE: How long before the "Kobe got off/then, later, he got acquitted" jokes start, dragged out of the mothballs from the William Kennedy Smith era? I bet Leno makes one tonight.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:39 PM | Comments (2)

Quote of the Day

Slate’s Will Saletan, who has been providing some of the best convention commentary of anyone, on Ron Silver:

"Silver doesn't present himself as a Hollywood guy. He calls himself a New York guy. He talks about his parents and grandparents who lived here. He says his neighbors were murdered here on 9/11. ‘We will never forget. We will never forgive. We will never excuse,’ he thunders. The crowd applauds wildly.

I recognize this character: the Angry Jew. (Relax, I'm Jewish.) No Christian could get away with saying, "We will never forgive" in prime time at a major party convention. Forgiveness is a fundamental Christian value. You can condemn Osama Bin Laden's evil all you want, but you're not allowed to make the point in terms of denying forgiveness.

Jews don't have this problem. We're Old Testament people. We don't read that stuff about turning the other cheek or the meek inheriting the earth. We tried the meek approach and got slaughtered. We read the part of the Bible that talks about Yahweh and slaying the Philistines and your blood shall be on your own head. That means you, Osama."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:37 PM | Comments (2)

Lego-Vision Hits the Big Time

First it was just the Twins. But now Bat-Girl has gone national, and is Lego-visioning the Yankees and Red Sox at Page 2.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

The Protesters’ Conformity

Scott Ganz –like me a nominal liberal who nonetheless recognizes Chomskyite nonsense when he sees it- has a dynamite post on the lockstep conformism of this week's protesters:

“These people all look exactly alike. I know, it's a superficial observation, but I think it speaks to something deeper.

The look, as some fashion nazi from InStyle would call it, is as follows: The women, all short, thick-legged, and tanned like catchers' mitts, wear shorts, tank tops accented by star-shaped tattoos across their tits, and bandannas on their hair, which is either because they're too indie to wash it, or it's the closest they can get to a khaffiyeh…

The guys, meanwhile, are all thin as Italian racing dogs, and adorn themselves in corduroys or jeans, with painfully clever T-Shirts like this one, and top it all off with, again, totally fucked up hair…

The fact is, these people read the same books, study under the same professors, they often share the same men/women, and they have about as much respect for those with different opinions as the Duke Boys had for Sheriff Roscoe...

All I'm saying is, whatever their beliefs, we should be a little worried by how their community works. It's as conformist, exclusive, and snobbish as any country club, and it smells so much worse.”

One thing Scott doesn’t mention: not only are they stealing from one another, but the entire aesthetic is just one big rip-off of the ‘60s. How can we take a movement seriously when just about everything they’re doing is a pale imitation of what happened almost four decades ago?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

The Shitstorm of ’04: Day Two

Things in the city escalated a bit today on the protest front, as activists carried out their “A-31” initiative in which they “stormed” the convention site, with minimal success and lots of arrests.

Then there were people lying down in the streets to “symbolize the dead”- I don’t see how creating a citywide traffic jam draws positive attention to anyone’s cause, and they can’t even stick to it- I just saw a guy on the news scream- “I’m a dead person! I’m not alive!” I also ran into the tail end of the public-library conflagration at about 6.

- After work I went to a convention-connected industry event that I was invited to for work. I won’t say more because the event was supposed to be “off the record,” but a couple of vague observations: the steak was really, really good (they were, literally, serving red meat to the base) and the “Old School”-like ‘80s-era cover band was hilarious. They played Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun”; nothing like a roomful of Republicans grooving to a song about masturbation.

- I went back to my office at around 8 to grab something and midtown was pretty much in lockdown, as barricades were up along 35th Street, I guess to prevent screaming hordes from overtaking the MSNBC set. People were shouting “this is Bush’s America!”, as though the inconvenience of having to walk around the block is somehow tantamount to fascism.

(UPDATE: Apparently, a hooded man DID rush MSNBC's set, which explains the extra security. Guess I was right).

- A woman risked the protesters’ wrath by carrying a “Four More Years” sign down 38th Street; a passing hippie screamed “enjoy your nuclear holocaust!” at her. We should set him up with the “protect North Korea’s right to nukes” girl from the other day.

- One girl was more succinct, carrying an all-purpose sign that merely read “Fuck You.”

- I decided at that point to try to get a little closer to the convention site, so I walked over towards Eighth Ave.- it was crowded but less blocked, and I loved what CNN did to the Tick-Tock Diner- I knew they were taking it over but didn’t know it was still operating as a diner during the convention.

Congressman Charles Rangel was being interviewed inside; afterward I shook his hand and told him I’d just moved into his district. Elsewhere on the famous-for-DC celeb-sighting front: I saw Lou Dobbs standing outside the diner, passed Shepard Smith on the street about a block away, and there was a guy at the aforementioned industry event who may or may not have been G. Gordon Liddy.

- After that I just went home and watched the speeches. Arnold Schwarzenegger was generally impressive, except for the part in which he listed a few criteria in the speechwriting construction “If… then you are a Republican.” Lots of them were true of me, and I’m not a Republican. And I also hate this trend, also practiced by Rudy last night, of the speaker starting a chant mid-speech. Ugh.

Then there was the part when he said the Democrats should’ve used “True Lies” as their convention theme. Hey- McCain and Giuliani last night only talked about fighting nuclear-capable Islamic terrorists- in that movie, Arnold actually did it.

- As for the Bush Twins, I’d never seen them speak before, and as it turns out there was a reason for that. What an embarrassment- it sounded like an MTV award-show presenter-skit spread out to ten minutes, and filled with jokes that the conventional-hall audience didn’t get.

Still, it was sort of funny when George Bush Sr. and Barbara took out handwritten signs, especially after four days of looking at similar signs that read “Impeach Bush,” and stuff like that. As for Mrs. Bush, the best I can say of her is that she gave a conversational speech that didn’t lapse into mysterious languages like Teresa’s did.

- That’s it for Day 2; considering how little I’ve enjoyed the two days of convention speakers who I do like, that doesn’t bode well for nights 3 and 4.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:05 AM | Comments (2)