I was walking through Times Square last night and I started thinking "this is weird- why is it so much more crowded here than usual?" Then I remembered- oh yea, this is where they drop the ball on New Years' Eve.
So I guess I'm a real New Yorker now- for the first 20 years of my life that was the only thing I associated with Times Square. Now, it's just "that area between my office and my gym."
Happy new year everybody, and thank you so much for reading me this year.
In no particular order:
- Pete Rose, after years of denials, admits to betting on baseball; Barry Bonds, after years of denials, admits to using steroids; the Boston Red Sox, after years of denials, win the World Series.
- In a PR disaster for the ages, a Manhattan nightspot called AZ tosses out an entire contingent of bloggers during a Blogger Bash; coincidentally, AZ closes just two weeks later.
- Janet Jackson’s breast is inadvertently exposed during the Super Bowl halftime show; this somehow becomes the most talked-about news story of the first half of the year, and kicks off a wave of outrageous, censorious fines by Michael Powell's FCC.
- Former pro wrestler Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake sets off a bioterror scare in a Boston subway station- his current place of employment- when a bag of white powder is mistakenly identified as anthrax. The powder, police later discover, was merely Beefcake’s cocaine.
- A culture of serial rape is revealed in the University of Colorado football program- but it’s still not enough to cost coach Gary Barnett his job.
- Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi claims that his noticeable off-season weight loss was due to his “cutting out fast food”; leaked testimony later reveals years of steroid use by the slugger, who then becomes persona non grata in New York.
- A Brandeis University student who arrives at a Purim costume party dressed as Jesus Christ is assaulted by a partygoer; the “Jesus” student, in his defense, states that he dresses as a blockbuster movie character each year, and had been Spider-man the previous Purim.
- In hockey, the three biggest stories of the year are the near-decapitation of one player by another in a game, the murder-for-hire plot by a player against his agent, and the lockout that will likely cancel the season.
- Howard Dean's promising presidential campaign ends with one simple "YEAAAAGH."
- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig attempts (unsuccessfully) to put Spider-man’s likeness on each stadium’s bases; later, he inexplicably has his contract extended through 2009.
- Also extended through ’09: Jay Leno.
- Widespread torture is revealed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison; a conservative consensus quickly emerges that the biggest tragedy of all was that the New York Times put it on the front page too many times.
- Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold calls for Republicans to be “exterminated.”
- Smart liberals who should know better see- and praise- Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
- Muhammad Ali is asked to throw out the first pitch at the baseball All-Star Game, even though his advanced Parkinson’s Disease has rendered him unable to throw, and even though he never played baseball.
- On his hit rap single “Why,” Jadakiss asks, “why did Bush knock down the towers?”
- Ricky Williams announces his retirement from football a month before the season starts in order to travel the Earth and smoke pot; he periodically re-surfaces throughout the season to tease a return before quitting for good.
- Capitol Hill staffer Jessica Cutler starts a blog in which she details her various sexual adventures in DC; a Washington Post Magazine story a few months later, ludicrously, attempts to paint Cutler as some sort of feminist pioneer.
- Dan Rather puts a story on the air using likely forged documents that question President Bush’s National Guard service; the fallout leads to Rather’s early retirement.
- Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, inexplicably, continue to be celebrities.
- Writer Michelle Malkin releases a book in which she defends the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II; she later goes on “Hardball” and spreads the meme that John Kerry purposely wounded himself in Vietnam.
- Yusaf Islam, formerly known as ‘70s folk singer Cat Stevens, in detained on a flight when authorities determine that he’s on a government terrorist watch list; his music nonetheless continues to be sung around campfires at Jewish summer camps across America.
- The expected week-long tabloid/TV celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the O.J. Simpson murders is knocked out of the box by the passing that week of Ronald Reagan.
- Roger Clemens ends a sworn retirement to return (and win the Cy Young Award) with the Astros; he also gets ejected from his son’s Little League game, and leaves his team hanging once again as the year ends.
- Bill O’Reilly is sued as part of a bizarre sex scandal, in which a former underling alleges he attempted to initiate phone sex while using both a vibrator and fantasies involving “falafel.”
- The Lakers dynasty comes to an end when Kobe Bryant, after months of flying to games after hearings in his rape case, forces Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson out of town.
- Vladimir Putin all but crushes the nascent hopes of democracy in Russia- and tries unsuccessfully to do the same in Ukraine for good measure.
- The name of journalist and former intern Alexandra Polier surfaces, falsely, as an ex-mistress of John Kerry.
- The once-great ESPN devolves into a 24-hour scream-a-thon for the likes of Woody Paige, Stephen A. Smith, and Sean Salisbury.
- The presidential campaign is largely waged as a proxy debate over the Vietnam war, which ended 30 years prior.
- The Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons get into a 15-minute brawl that spills into the stands and results in the suspensions and arrests of several players.
- Oklahoma Senate candidate Tom Coburn says “lesbianism is running rampant” in the state’s public schools; he wins his Senate race by a comfortable margin.
- Yankee Gary Sheffield- the month after the Yankees blow a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox and he’s implicated in the BALCO scandal- is victim of a blackmail plot involving a sex tape of Sheffield’s wife and notorious R&B singer R. Kelly. The tape is “more than 10 years old”; Mrs. Sheffield is 28.
- Timberwolf Latrell Sprewell rejects a three-year, $21 million contract offer, retorting, “I’ve gotta feed my family.” Incredibly, it places a distant second among shameful events for Sprewell’s career.
- And at 2 AM on the final night of the Republican National Convention, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visits an MSNBC debate panel, during which actor Ron Silver engages Triumph in an argument about war, peace, and the 1940 election- temporarily forgetting that Triumph is a sock puppet.
I wasn’t going to do any normal blogging this week –in lieu of the year-end stuff- but there are a few news stories that I felt I should comment on:
- I’m just sick about this Tsumani story, as it’s hard to imagine the horrors that those people are going through- here's a list of charities that are accepting donations. A co-worker of mine was vacationing in Thailand, but thankfully she sent word today that she’s all right.
- So, after all of the year-end celebrity-death montages and magazine features have been completed, we get three relatively major ones in four days. I’ll miss Jerry Orbach most of all, although he’ll thankfully live on forever in around-the-clock “Law & Order” re-runs all over cable. Reggie White’s passing has set off major Blogosphere debate over whether it’s right for obits to mention his virulent anti-gay comments before the Wisconsin State Legislature a few years back; I say it merits mention, along with White’s athletic greatness and off-the-field good deeds. As for Susan Sontag, my first thought upon hearing the news was whether or not Sullivan will award the customary Sontag Award next week- and my second to remember one of the better quotes from “Bull Durham.”
UPDATE: Sullivan has, in fact, re-named the Sontag Award- you guessed it- the Moore Award.
- “The Wire” concluded its third season with a brilliant finale on Sunday that would serve as a sublime coda for the series, if it is in fact canceled. But fortunately, there’s a movement afoot to prevent that, including the “Save the Wire” campaign- which (borrowing a plot from the past season) asks fans to send disposable or toy cell phones to HBO headquarters. I like that. And Matt Yglesias has been running “Wire” threads every week, which I unfortunately didn’t discover until the season was already over.
- Speaking of HBO, they’ve been re-running Season 5 of “The Sopranos” this week, and I’d forgotten just how great it was. How, exactly, did Vince Curatola not win an Emmy?
- Mike Tice had his 2005 option picked up as Vikings coach. Ugh. The Vikings are in the playoffs if they win Sunday, OR the Rams lose, OR the Panthers lose. After last year, I'm totally prepared for none of the three to happen.
- The generally authoritative Village Voice “Take 6” film critics’ poll is out, and it names “Before Sunset” as the surprise winner, followed by “Eternal Sunshine,” “Dogville,” “Sideways,” and “Goodbye Dragon Inn.” As a pleasant surprise, “Fahrenheit 9/11”- which I would’ve predicted as the winner- comes in at #25. Also in the Voice- Michael Musto's gutbustlingly-funny year-end column.
Watch for the Shameful Events list tonight, and that’ll likely be it for me in ’04.
Man of the Year: Pat Tillman, for bravely sacrificing his NFL career, to serve and die as a hero in Afghanistan.
Sportsman of the Year: Sports Illustrated got it right: The Boston Red Sox.
Entertainer of the Year: Entertainment Weekly got it right: Jon Stewart.
Eckstein Award Winner (for cool gentiles with Jewish-sounding names): David Greene, University of Georgia quarterback, who led the Bulldogs to a 9-2 season in a tough SEC, thus becoming the winningest quarterback in Division I-A history. Greene is not a Jew, though he does share both a name and position with Brendan Fraser’s character in “School Ties.”
Burn Your Siddur Award Winner (for embarrassing statements/actions by Jewish clergy):
“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."–the president of a Westchester County (N.Y.) synagogue, giving a revisionist view of Jewish/Marxist history, in his Yom Kippur fundraising speech.
Chutzpah Award Winner: Rick Salomon, the co-star of the Paris Hilton Sex Tape, sues Hilton’s parents for slander, after they accuse him of seeking to profit from a commercial release of the tape. Then, after the suit is settled, Salomon releases a commercial version of the tape, called “One Night in Paris.”
Tabloid Front Page of the Year:
Headline of the Year: "Mob Boss 'Louie Bagel' Schmeared For Life" (New York Post, 1/24)
"Man Found Naked in Chimney Admits to Attempted Break-in." (Star Tribune, 2/3)
“All of Jersey is Toxic” (New York Post, 4/16)
Quote of the Year:
"If Tiger Woods called a press conference and then (a.) retired from golf, (b.) said he was gay, (c.) made several casual anti-Semitic remarks, (d.) punched a female golf reporter in the face, and then (e.) refused to comment on any of these issues (to anyone) ever again ... that would be pretty shocking."–Chuck Klosterman, from his chat on ESPN.com with Bill Simmons, on 8/17.
Film Critic Quote of the Year:
“Lars [Ulrich] deserves bonus points for being shorter than his wife, and his remark that the band's 'in a bit of a shit sandwich' wins the most-blatant–Spinal Tap–reference award. But he's not nearly as lovable as his ancient Danish dad, Torben—a bucktoothed, troll-bearded ex-Wimbledon third-rounder, jazz muso, painter, poet, filmmaker, and arts journalist who looks exactly like the wizard-of-the-rings mountain man inside Led Zep's Zoso gatefold. He's also the only person brave enough to tell Metallica their music sucks.”–Chuck Eddy, reviewing “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” in the Village Voice.
Music Critic Quote of the Year:
“Nick Hornby is full of shit. Actually, this is unfair to shit. At least life grows from shit. In his recent half-page essay printed on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, the lad-lit author stunned the music world with this revelation: They don't make 'em like they used to! In Hornby's sad, blinkered, midlife-crisis-as-a-lifestyle-choice world, music is only worth listening to if it reminds him of all the classic rock that made him feel funny in the tum-tum when he was 10.”–Scott Steward, the Village Voice
TV Critic Quote of the Year:
”Nicole and Jason are allegedly ex-lovers, but have such a dearth of chemistry that I dread their inevitable hookup, which will likely have the heat of naked Barbie and Ken dolls being smushed together by a bored toddler.-Gillian Flynn, reviewing “North Shore” in Entertainment Weekly
Book Critic Quote of the Year:
"There's an envy to Tom Wolfe's usual run of detractors, of course, but something more than envy--a resentment, an ache, a fury: If I could write like that, a small cat snarls inside each of their heads, I'd . . . I'd change things in this rabid, racist, right-wing world. I'd zola the rich bastards until they burbled for mercy. I'd dickens the corporate polluters until they drowned themselves in their own sick sludge. I'd thackeray, I'd balzac, I'd dostoyevsky everyone who doesn't get it--it, IT, the ineffable IT of political conscience, the mystical rightness that lets a Princeton professor be a revolutionary and, well, a Princeton professor at the same time. God--or Charles Darwin, maybe, or some freak of perverse genetics--put a sword in Tom Wolfe's hands, and the oblivious creep won't use it to smite the ungodly. The man doesn't deserve his sentences. Prose belongs to us, by divine right and right of conquest. And here comes this white-suited fake dandy, this reporter, to set up camp right in the middle of it, like John Ashcroft--or Gary Bauer or, I don't know, Elmer Gantry--buying the prettiest summer house on Martha's Vineyard."-Joseph Buttom, reviewing “I Am Charlotte Simmons” in the Weekly Standard.
Theater Critic Quote of the Year:
“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.”–Michael Reidel, in the New York Post.
Blog Critic Quote of the Year: "Reading this blog is roughly the equivalent of watching a homeless guy trying to negotiate 11 layers of dirty clothing in order to masturbate,” –Norbizness, reviewing the late, lamented Bloviating Inanities.
Photo of the Year (Via LilB):
Sports Logo of the Year (Via Jim Caple):
Top Ten Films of 2004
1. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (Michel Gondry)
2. "Spider-man 2" (Sam Raimi)
3. "Garden State" (Zach Braff)
4. "The Aviator" (Martin Scorsese)
5. "Team America: World Police" (Trey Parker)
6. "Friday Night Lights" (Peter Berg)
7. "The Incredibles" (Brad Bird)
8. "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" (Wes Anderson)
9. "Closer" (Mike Nichols)
10. "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (Adam McKay)
Honorable Mention: "Napoleon Dynamite," "Mean Girls," "The Ladykillers," "I Heart Huckabees," "Goodbye, Lenin!," "The Dreamers," "Control Room," "Shaun of the Dead," "Miracle," "Saved!"
Top Ten Albums of 2004
1. Green Day- "American Idiot"
2. U2- "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb"
3. Keane- "Hopes and Fears"
4. DJ Danger Mouse- "The Grey Album"
5. Grant Lee Phillips- "Virginia Creeper"
6. Brian Wilson- "Smile"
7. Norah Jones- "Feels Like Home"
8. "Garden State" soundtrack
9. Franz Ferdinand, self titled
10. The Walkmen, "Bows and Arrows"
Honorable Mention: Interpol, “Antics"; Modest Mouse, "Good News For People Who Love Bad News"; Starsailor, "Silence is Easy"; Kanye West, "The College Dropout"; Wilco, "A Ghost is Born"; Eminem, "Encore"; R.E.M., "Under the Sun."
Top Ten Television Shows of 2004
1. "The Sopranos" (HBO)
2. "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)
3. "The Wire" (HBO)
4. "South Park" (Comedy Central)
5. "Chappelle's Show" (Comedy Central)
6. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
7. "Rescue Me" (FX)
8. "The Shield" (FX)
9. "24" (Fox)
10. "Arrested Development (Fox)
Holidays, and/or Merry Christmas; I'll let Jarvis and Hewitt sort out which greeting is appropriate. In the meantime, I'll be taking the long weekend off from blogging, but stay tuned for my year-end posts next week: top-ten lists on Monday, the year-end awards on Tuesday, and the long-awaited shameful events list on Wednesday.
Especially now that he's dead.
The New York papers reported the somewhat surprising news this morning that the late Palestinian leader/terrorist Yasser Arafat invested money in the company that owned Bowlmoor Lanes, a hipster-inclined bowling alley in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
It sounds funny on the surface, yes, but let's not read too much into it, or start any boycotts or anything- the business connection between the late goon and the alley was tangential at best, as a company owned by Arafat invested in another company which was tied to the company that owns Bowlmoor.
In other words, Bowlmoor didn't know it was in bed with Arafat, and Arafat likely had never heard of Bowlmoor either, or even bowling itself. So don't worry- Bowlmoor's future as a hipster hangout/Bar Mitzvah distination is likely secure.
Esther has more.
New York Daily News gossip Lloyd Grove has banned Paris Hilton from ever again being mentioned in his column. If only the rest of the media would take the lead...
Over the past five years - without any discernible talent, education, scruples, manners, modesty or underpants - the pretty blond great-granddaughter of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton has waged a terrifying campaign for world domination.Read the whole thing; it's almost as good a takedown as the "Stupid Spoiled Whore" episode of "South Park."
The arc of Paris' "career" - from rich, witless party girl to rich, witless party girl with a hit television show - is an insult to the American sense of fairness: the idea that you get ahead by working hard, playing by the rules and acquiring a skill of some sort.
Paris has bothered with none of the above, and yet society continues to reward her with money and fame.
Yes, tomorrow is everybody’s favorite fake holiday, beating out Chrismukkah. The New York Times even ran a piece the other day on the origins of Festivus- it was dreamed up in 1964 by the father of a “Seinfeld” writer, and then re-appropriated for a final-season episode- and all those who currently celebrate the holiday.
This whole thing, as well as the DVD sets that my wonderful girlfriend got me for
ChrismukkahHanukkah, has got me thinking- it appears that today, almost seven years after it went off the air, “Seinfeld” is more popular and influential than ever before. Yes, a strange thing to say about the popular sitcom of all time, but look at it this way: it seems like people quote and reference the show more often than it any time during its original run.
Maybe it’s the constant re-runs, in which the episodes always get funnier with repetition. Maybe it’s that the new sitcoms on TV are almost universally horrible, making “Seinfeld” look better by comparison. Or maybe it’s the phenomenon that people of my generation who grew up watching the show all appreciate the jokes differently now that we’re adults and can relate to the jokes about dating, jobs, apartments, etc.
So be sure to ponder that, as you enjoy the Feats of Strength and the Airing of the Grievances.
(Image courtesy of Bill)
The two most anticipated, complicated, deals of the baseball offseason- Randy Johnson-to-the-Yankees and Expos-to-Washington- have each seen their fortunes drift back and forth dramatically over the course of the past month or so. As of now, it appears the latter is done and the former is dead, but I really feel as though both are inevitable.
I’m really glad the politicians in DC were able to work out a deal for a stadium, rather than consign the Expos to a continuation of their three-year limbo. I wish the ones in Minnesota could do the same, but alas it appears we’ll be stuck with no new revenues for the foreseeable future, and thus Luis Rivas in the starting lineup for another year.
Anyway, Eric was at the scheduled town hall meeting in DC the night of the stadium deal; always nice to witness history in the making, even if the mayor didn’t end up showing up.
On the Unit front, the Dodgers may have pulled out of the ten-player, three-team megadeal, but fret not: Johnson will be a Yankee, even if it takes another third team dedicated to being Steinbrenner’s bitch. The White Sox, certain to be a 100-game loser in ’05, are an excellent candidate. I for one actually hope the trade goes through; if you ask me the Yankees can never have too many starting pitchers who make $10 million a year and were born before the Six-Day War.
Sports Guy suggests that Kobe Bryant should “turn heel”- i.e., in wrestling parlance, when a previous good guy suddenly turns into a villain, like when lifelong hero Hulk Hogan became a bad guy in 1996 with the NWO.
It’s a funny analysis, but I would say Kobe’s already done it- acting like an arrogant jerk to everyone around him, running Shaq out of town, that whole rape thing… and the Karl Malone confrontation just clinches it. Remember when the Hulkster and “Macho Man” Randy Savage got in their fight over Miss Elizabeth? I can just picture Kobe going on PTI and telling Karl Malone that “you lust in your heart, brother.”
Tucker Carlson is rumored to be jumping from CNN to MSNBC to take over the 9PM timeslot. For my only commentary on this matter, I defer to George Carlin:
"Fuck Tucker, Tucker sucks. And fuck Tucker's friend, Kyle. Soft names make soft people. I'll tell you, ten times out of ten, Jimmy, Bobby, and Vinnie will kick the shit out of Todd, Kyle, and Tucker."For the purposes of this exercise, Fox News Channel will play the part of "Jimmy, Bobby, and Vinnie."
The well-known New York journalist passed away on Monday at the age of 66. Newfield wrote numerous books (most notably "City For Sale") and did stints everywhere from the Village Voice to the New York Sun, but I’ll always remember Newfield as the token liberal columnist with the Post, when I started reading it when I first came to New York. He will be missed.
Roger Ebert has come out with his annual "Best Movies of the Year" list, and he's got Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" (which I haven't seen and probably won't) as #1, followed by "Kill Bill Vol. 2," "Vera Drake," "Spider-man 2," and "Moolade." I expect "Spider-man" will be the only common denominator between my top ten and his.
I'm working on my own year-end stuff that should be posted sometime next week; I'll have my top tens for movies, music, and TV, as well as the annual awards, and (of course) the Shameful Events list. Here's last year's version.
The Star Tribune yesterday had a funny profile of Steve Rushin, the Bloomington native and columnist for Sports Illustrated, on the occasion of his new book. The husband of former college basketball star Rebecca Lobo, Rushin tells the Strib of his penchant for inserting Minnesota references into SI- "a tribute to Supreme Court justice and former Viking Alan Page here, a reference to Wally the Beerman there."
I of course can relate a lot to Rushin- he's a writer from Minnesota named Steve who now lives on the East Coast, and has as his partner a woman named Rebecca who went to a Big East school and is just as sports-obsessed as he is. Can I take over "Air and Space" when Rushin retires?
In the age of Chrismukkah, Jewish Christmas, and Festivus, 2004 may be the most contentious year ever in terms of the pro-Christmas vs. anti-Christmas conflict. But the blog GetReligion has perhaps the best point I've seen made yet on the subject:
Once upon a time, Hanukkah was a smaller Jewish holiday reminding Jews not to compromise their faith when facing pressures to assimilate into a dominant culture. Today, Hanukkah is a giant, major holiday because it is close to the holiday previously known as Christmas. Religious history doesn't get any more ironic than that.Via Andrew Sullivan's wacky group-blogging substitutes.
Red Sox World Series hero Orlando Cabrera has agreed to sign with the Anaheim Angels, who subsequently released the starting shortstop from their own World Series season, David Eckstein.
Eckstein, who you will hear described as "scrappy" in just about every news story that mentions him this week, is of course the namesake of this blog's Eckstein Award, though he's never won it. Were he to sign with the Twins to play shortstop or second base, Eckstein would become the immediate favorite.
So the Vikings did just about everything they could to blow Sunday's game against Detroit- giving up 178 offensive yards in the fourth quarter, including two touchdowns and an endzone pass interference call in the last two minutes- but because of a bobbled snap on the tying extra point, the Vikes won the game 28-27. And because of that, Minnesota is almost certain to make the playoffs in the sorry, no-account NFC, making them more likely (groan) to retain Mike Tice.
Fox was nice enough to switch over to the end of Vikings-Lions after the Eagles beat the Cowboys; my first reaction to the TO injury was, "can he still dance?"
The Hoboken landmark the Clam Broth House is being torn down today, after a years-long dispute involving the building's structural integrity. Not sure what'll go up in its place, but if I know Hoboken at all, it'll either be a bar or a real estate office.
Check out this old post for more on the sordid history of the CBH and one of its tenants, the Cadillac Bar.
One of my favorite sensible centrist bloggers, Michael Totten, had a great post yesterday about some comments by Gerald Allen, a slate legislator in Alabama, that what he'd like to do with any and all gay-oriented books: "Dig a hole, and dump them in it."
And Allen isn't some far-off kook: according to the story, he was on his way to meet with President Bush at the White House- for the fifth time.
The right -Sean Hannity more than anyone else- has had a lot of fun the last couple years taking any and all comments by any and all leftist fringe figure, and demanding of every single Democrat that they "condemn these outrageous comments." Hannity and Co. have also used the same trick to make it appear as though the wackiest fringes of the Democratic party- i.e., Michael Moore and far-flung posters on Democratic Underground- are in fact in charge of the Democratic party. So how about it, my Republican readers: will you condemn this?
Kobe Bryant did an interview with TK and Wilbon on “Pardon the Interruption” last night, during which Kornheiser asked him if he had any regrets, over all the unpleasantness of the past two years. I wish he’d answered the question honestly:
“Yea, I’ve got a regret. I regret going up to that fucking hotel room. That’s my fucking regret.”
No, he didn’t say that. But my buddy Jarrod points out that Kobe seems to have gotten less articulate as he’s gotten older. You could say it’s because he’s fallen behind the rest of the NBA, having no college compared to most people, who went for a year. But I say it’s because he’s still after that elusive “street cred.” You know, the cred he earned growing up on the rough-and-tumble streets of Venice, and Lower Merion.
Speaking of which, I think I’m going to have to change my away message to “I’m hunting little Mexican girls.”
Miserly Vikings owner Red McCombs leaks the news to Sid Hartman. ‘Cause nothing says “brilliant coach” like three (going on four) consecutive years of missing the playoffs, in the super-weak NFC, with two superstars in their primes leading the offense. What does Tice have to do to get fired? Have Moss throw a fourth-quarter interception next week, too?
Better is this, a Patrick Reusse column ripping the odious Sean Salisbury:
So, there's the track record for ESPN's Mr. NFL:
Six-for-20 for 113 yards and two interceptions in his biggest start. A 90 percent reduction in his original salary offer and two spots lost on a depth chart as a free-agent negotiator.
This is the NFL sage you're listening to on ESPN's outlets 12 to 14 hours day, seven days a week. This is the larynx that never rests.
ESPN the Magazine has released its list of the top 100 sports stories of the year. Guess what #1 is?
On that note, do what Denis Leary did, and pay up, New England.
And speaking of the Red Sox, Edgar Renteria is an excellent signing. Not only is it extremely rare for a major free agent to leave St. Louis (they all seem to sign with the Cards and play there forever), but Renteria is at this moment the best of the three All-Star shortstops Boston has had this calendar year.
But in less pleasant baseball news: the Expos/Nationals are now back in limbo, where they've resided for the past three years. With the team's stadium deal on the brink of collapse, we're now once again left with complete uncertainty as to where they'll be playing next year, with only about two months to go until pitchers and catchers report. They have to play in RFK this year, right? What about those free agents who signed with Washington- isn't the league looking at a union grievance nightmare if they're forced to play in Montreal or San Juan instead?
Great- baseball gets its most feel-good story in decades (Boston breaking the curse), and now they get another nightmare offseason. What else is new, in the age of Seligula?
Over the weekend I finally finished Tom Wolfe’s novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” While I’m a huge Wolfe fan, and the book held my interest, it just didn’t quite live up to most of his previous work, I guess because Wolfe couldn’t relate as well to the college students of this novel as he could to “masters of the universe” so brilliantly detailed in “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Besides- a few of the supporting characters (namely, the bitch-princess roommate and the PC-mad newspaper editor) were considerably more interesting than the main characters.
And speaking of PC madness in college… you would think a campus production of “The Vagina Monologues” would be in clear from rampaging hordes of the PC police. You would think. But there’s an outrage brewing at the University of Oregon, after last year’s annual production drew protests –yes, protests- because the cast was lacking in representation of ” The queer community, the women of color community and the plus-size community.” As blogger David Kaufman pointed out when this first flared up in February, “Apparently, when advertising for the woman-only cast, they didn't put up a sign, ‘free milk and cookies for fat black lesbians.’”
They’re even forgoing auditions for this year's version of the show, in favor of “nominations” of cast members from various campus identity-political groups. Because if anything, I know the theater community has always had a blatant bias against the casting of non-actors, and the non-talented.
I think I’m going to have to head to Eugene and start a protest of my own, because the "Vagina Monologues" cast- race, sexual orientation, body tape, and acting experience aside- excludes men entirely.
“It's long been Spacey's dream to make a biographical film about Bobby Darin… now that Spacey's dream has come true, viewers have the chance to see a two-hour film with little film sense, about a phenomenally selfish entertainer who was a prick to pretty much everyone, played by an actor who's 15 years too old for the part and who insists on doing all his own singing and dancing even though he's not very good.”–Matt Zoller Seitz, reviewing "Beyond the Sea" in New York Press. Kevin Spacey's five-year streak of failing to appear in a single watchable film sadly continues.
Here's Chuck Klosterman, with a definitive list of bands that are neither overrated nor underrated. I'd like to see similar lists for politicians, athletes, etc.
NEVERTHELESS EVENT WIT
NEVERTHELESS EVEN TWIT
ELSEWHERE VENTS VET TIN
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Because I know you haven’t heard enough about this stuff in the past few days.
Pedro Martinez to Mets: Yes, it’s sad to see Pedro leave the Sox, because in a fair world he would finish his career with them. But this isn’t quite as big a deal as Roger Clemens’ defection after the 1996 season, for two big reasons: the departure isn’t the result of comical bungling by the front office, and even more importantly, the Sox won the World Series last year.
I don’t think Pedro is, as Jayson Stark called him, “Mo Vaughn without insurance.” He’ll have at least one good year for the Mets, and his stint there won’t jeopardize his Hall of Fame bid. But don’t expect him to lead New York to a championship, either.
Carl Pavano to Yankees: It’s a good signing, more because they kept Pavano away from Boston rather than anything else. Pavano’s good, yes, but for that money? Especially after he’s had one good season in his career? Besides- it appears the Yankees, with Pavano and Javier Vasquez, are hoarding pitchers from the 2002 Expos. If they ever trade for Bartolo Colon, I’ll be totally convinced.
Corey Koskie to Blue Jays: The third baseman’s defection claims the last member of the Twins’ Polish Brigade of 1999-’02, after A.J. Pierzynski and Doug Mientkiewicz were traded last year. The Twins can live without Koskie, but his departure leaves them with no third baseman to speak of.
More later, as signings trickle in.
Now that I’m officially No Longer Jaded And Cynical About Romance, I can laugh wistfully at these two relationship posts: Jordan on girlfriend pet peeves, and Sheila on the “let's trash the girl who just broke up with our dear friend" phenomenon.
There’s a fascinating piece by Andrew Ferguson in this week’s Weekly Standard about the fall of powerful Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff- who is, improbably for a top Republican, both a graduate of Brandeis and a former movie producer, with credits ranging from “Red Scorpion” to “Red Scorpion 2.”
The piece details Abramoff’s alleged bilking of millions in fees from several Indian tribes, who hired the lobbyist and cohort Michael Scanlon to lobby on behalf of their casino interests. But the Standard story contains all sort of great little details, including that Abramoff and Grover Norquist once took over the national leadership of the College Republicans and turned it into “a right-wing version of a communist cell--complete with purges of in-house dissenters.” That Abramoff once organized a conference in Africa that had as a feature speaker Angolan rebel and “Maoist cannibal” Jonas Savimbi. And that Abramoff and Scanlon allegedly funneled money through a “think tank” which was really nothing more than a house on a beach in Delaware.
Makes me think I should start a think tank myself- all you really have to do is raise money, and come up with the occasional position paper. Strange seeing this piece in the arch-conservative Standard, although the conclusion seems to be that Abramoff and Co. have betrayed the principles of the Gingrich revolution.
Central Florida Man Accused of Biting His Dog
Ever better is the man’s name: Mount Lee Lacy. That’s gotta come as news to the former Pirate/Oriole.
Say what you will about Bernard Kerik, and all his shady financial dealings and all that other stuff: the man’s got excellent taste in mistresses. Normally when politicians have affairs they’re either with twenty-something interns or with Paula Jones-style politics groupies. I can’t speak for his other, concurrent mistress, but the very powerful and very beautiful Judith Regan has got it all over all those bimbos, if you ask me. When was the last time the female half of a political sex scandal was an actual figure of consequence in her own right?
Karol’s having one tonight; I may make an appearance.
UPDATE: I made it, and it was great to see Karol, C, Ari, Kevin, and everyone else. Still, I found it quite ironic that the staunchly Republican Karol would choose a venue with a "Say No To Bush's Agenda" bumper sticker on the front door, and "I Fucked Bill Frist" graffiti in the mens' room.
I had to bow out early to go see "The Life Aquatic"- very good, yet not at the same sustained level of brilliance as "Rushmore" and "Royal Tenenbaums." But despite that, the motif of David Bowie songs translated into Portuguese was a stroke of genius. I'll have a full review up later this week.
More tomorrow on baseball, specifically the Mets' decision to reach for the stars- with Pedro!
Last week I suggested that Vikings coach Mike Tice, who had expressed interest in the University of Washington job, should go ahead and grab it, leaving the Minnesota job open for recently deposed Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham. Unfortunately, UDub decided to cut out the middleman (Tice), and name Willingham coach themselves. Then Sunday, for good measure, the unfortunately-still-Tice-coached Vikings lost to a Seattle Seahawks team that shares a stadium with the Huskies.
The bright side is that the bizarre, Tice-approved call for a reverse in which receiver Randy Moss threw the ball for an interception – on first down with just over two minutes left and the Vikings behind- has been so roundly criticized that legitimate Tice-will-be-fired talk is circulating through the league for the first time. I’ve been calling for Meathead's ouster for three years.
Yet despite all that, the Vikings- at 7-6 while in the midst of their third consecutive late-season collapse- remain the top wild card contender in the NFC, and would make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Affleck lookalike Scott Peterson has been sentenced to death for the killing of his wife Laci, bringing this whole sordid, over-reported mess to a close. Also today, Danny Pelosi was convicted of the murder of Hamptons billionaire Ted Ammon, but unless you’re a New York Post reader, I’ll bet you’ve never even heard of that case.
The saddest thing of all? There hasn’t been a true national debate over the death penalty in many years- and now there will be, thanks to Scott Friggin’ Peterson.
Amid all the steroid and hot-stove furor comes word that Peter Gammons will be enshrined this summer in the writers’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gammons, best known today for his analysis on “Baseball Tonight” and his ESPN.com column, wrote for the Boston Globe for more than 20 years in addition to a Sports Illustrated stint, and he virtually invented the “baseball notes” column that is now a staple of every Sunday sports page.
Some fans dislike Gammons’ run-on sentences, his wannabe-hipster music references, and his over-reliance on unnamed sources. But “Old Hickory” (as he’s called due to his resemblance to Andrew Jackson) has a collection of sources (named or not) unrivaled among American sportswriters- and I like his unwieldy prose- I think it’s charming. Congrats to Peter; the honor is much deserved.
Anna Benson is a "Law and Order ripped from the headlines" episode waiting to happen. The pitch: baseball player cheats, his wife starts working her way through the team and winds up dead. Who did it? The husband? The star slugger? The closeted player? I'd pick the son of the owner who thinks he knows about baseball.Anyway, while Anna's still alive, be sure to order her 2005 calendar.
You may have heard about the nationwide epidemic that has unruly teenagers stealing those giant inflatable Spongebob Squarepants’ from the roofs of Burger Kings. Two teens were caught last night in Long Island, as apparently, after last month’s frozen-turkey-through-the-car-window incident that took place elsewhere in Nassau County, they decided to pursue a more low-impact crime.
My favorite part of the Post’s account is the reaction by a couple of kids to the theft:
Mahendra Ramsaywack, 39, of South Ozone Park, Queens, brought his children, Ryan, 9, Randy, 8, and Rachel, 5, to the restaurant.
"They should bring SpongeBob back," Ryan said. "It's not nice to take him away."
Rachel said: "He's a sponge and he can do anything. I wish I could be like that."
Wounded Marine in Iraq sacrifices finger to save wedding ring. And then, the Marines lost the ring anyway.
Make no mistake, I truly value and admire this man’s heroism in serving his country. But soldier or not, anyone who would put their wedding ring over an actual appendage has got to be the most whipped man who ever lived. I mean, even his wife was probably thinking “what the hell is the matter with you? It’s your fucking finger!”
So, since I switched to MT I've had Steve@stevesilver.net set up as my server e-mail account, which just forwards to my AOL account. But the past few days I've been getting error messages saying "your mailbox is full." Anyone know how to clear those out, from the Hosting Matters control panel or elsewhere? Thanks.
Just two months after the end of the Curse of the Bambino, the Red Sox have brought in the modern player who has done most to emulate Babe Ruth himself: David Wells has signed with Boston, and assuming Pedro Martinez stays, will replace Derek Lowe as the Sox' #3 starter.
It's a way to get back at Steinbrenner to sign a two-time former Yankee who the team still coveted, while Wells -considering his colorful personal history- should be a good fit with "The idiots." However, remains to be seen whether SonsofSamHorn regular Rocco Graziosa will change his name.
Bernard Kerik is out as nominee for Homeland Security secretary, due to a "Zoe Baird problem"- i.e., he employed an immigrant nanny illegally, and failed to pay taxes on her. You know, by this point, wouldn't everyone in politics know not to do that?
I'm a Kerik fan, but I'm not entirely certain he was qualified for the job anyway.
The Village Voice last week published an extended attack on Al Sharpton, at once accusing "the Rev" of: cheating on his wife with a campaign worker; lavishing gifts on said mistress that may have been paid for with National Action Network/campaign funds; lying throughout his recent presidential campaign about still living with his wife; hypocritically slamming Jesse Jackson for his affair while simultaneously carrying on one of his own; and finally, of being a liability to Democratic causes at a time when serious progressive politics are as important as ever.
The multi-pronged attack came as a surprise, as the Voice traditionally has been, for lack of a better term, Sharpton's bitch. Former Voice writer Peter Noel for years was essentially Sharpton's surrogate in the New York media, while the paper for as long as I've been reading it has generally given space to whichever cockamamie cause Al's been involved in at the time. Sharpton, for what it's worth, denies the affair.
At any rate, this fascinating broadside was enough for me to renege on my post-election pledge to stop reading the Voice.
I love when a coach benches his QB, tries a couple of other guys, realizes they're worse than what he had, then goes back to the original QB with his tail between his legs -- like what happened with Denny Green and Josh McCown this week. See, this is why there could never be an all-female football league.Considering Green changed QBs just about every year of his decade-long run as Vikings coach, I guess that makes him a male slut. Well, he did have that sexual harassment suit...
COACH: "We're making another change -- I'm giving you another chance."
FEMALE QB: "Just like that, I'm supposed to forget what happened?"
COACH: "Come on, I'm sorry I benched you, I made a mistake."
FEMALE QB: "Maybe you should have thought of that before you started those two other sluts!"
The legendary Boston radio personality David Brudnoy passed away today at the age of 64, after suffering from cancer, HIV, and other ailments for a period of several years.
Both a Minneapolis native and a Brandeis graduate, Brudnoy was on the air in Boston for more than 30 years, and had once appeared indestructible- he nearly died of AIDS in 1994, but survived, lived ten more years, and it wasn't the AIDS that killed him.
While he had the solid liberal credentials of being a longtime Boston resident, a Brandeis grad, gay, Jewish, and HIV-positive, Brudnoy's politics were always firmly conservative, though he left the Republican party to become a Libertarian a few years ago, and also broke the mold in another way: unlike the dozens of bloviating right-wing talk shows nationwide, the host was always known as a gentleman to political friends and foes alike.
I met David Brudnoy one time- in 1998 or '99, when I was writing for the college paper, I went with Joe to a screening of some Hollywood blockbuster, I think it was "Enemy of the State." The theater was overbooked and we couldn't get seats, and I asked one guy if the seat next to his was taken. "Yes, it is!," he replied curtly- and as we left the theater, Joe nudged me and loudly whispered, "that's David Brudnoy!" Brudnoy had long written film reviews in a local paper and discussed film on his show, and Joe had been a big fan (watch his blog for his version of the story).
Brudnoy's station, WBZ, has a tribute up.
"In fact, Bonds has always made my short list of least-favorite players, sort of a one-man Atlanta Braves."- Blogger BallWonk, who also compares old-Barry/new-Barry to the thin-Elvis/fat-Elvis dichotomy.
On the same subject, check out this week's Sports Guy cartoon, by far the best of the three.
(Via Off Wing)
It is, quite obviously, a bluff, and baseball would never in a million years allow 81 games a year to take place within walking distance of casinos. But I would sure love it if the Marlins moved to Vegas. Wayne Newton could sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"...
Philadelphia magazine has an in-depth profile of Inquirer columnist/loudmouth basketball commentator Stephen A. Smith, somewhat ludicrously comparing him to Malcolm X and giving him credit for "changing the way we talk about sports."
Not for the better, I'm afraid. Bob Costas, when I saw him last night, spoke out against the loudmouth style most often found in sports commentary these days, while not naming Stephen A. specifically, though the best he can say in the piece is that Smith has "a presence."
While even the writer of the piece essentially admits to disliking Smith's on-air style, he nonetheless describes him both as "Philadelphia's most talked-about journalist" and as "popular." Stephen A. is popular? Ask yourself- do you know anyone who likes him?
Vikings coach Mike Tice has been making some bizarre decisions this year, whether its the constant shuffling at the running back position, or his complete disregard for how to use the challenge rule. But none of that compares to yesterday, when the coach told a reporter that there are "two or three" college coaching jobs that he would be interested in for next year, primarily the one at the University of Washington.
It's strange enough for the coach of a team in the playoff hunt to speak openly with the press about other jobs, especially with four games left in the season. What's even stranger is that he's talking about college jobs- none of which are with his alma mater or in his hometown.
Not that I object, for a second, to the idea of Tice leaving, of course; how about they get former Vikings assistant Ty Willingham to replace him?
I had the great honor tonight of meeting Bob Costas, who has been among my very favorite American media figures probably since I started watching organized sports when I was 7 years old. Announcer of baseball and basketball, studio host for the NFL, the Olympics, NBC's "Later" and HBO's "On the Record" and "Inside the NFL," Costas' voice was essentially the soundtrack of my early sports fandom.
The occasion was a discussion between Costas and New York Times business writer Richard Sandomir that was presented by the Center for Communication, as Sandomir took Costas through his entire career, as the announcer told numerous hilarious stories from throughout his long broadcasting career, before taking questions and holding forth on topics from the steroid mess to the direction of his HBO interview show. Some highlights:
- Hired directly out of Syracuse to call games on the radio for the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis, Costas found his way to national baseball broadcasting without ever calling minor league or local games. Quite an accomplishment, especially since (unlike just about every other play-by-play guy currently working) he’s not the son of a broadcasting legend.
- When hired for baseball at the age of 26, Costas was told by then NBC sports boss Don Ohlmeyer that he looked like he was 14; even at 52 today, he could still pass for 30.
- Costas was asked which movie cameo he regrets more, “BASEketball” or “Pootie Tang.” The answer should be obvious (the former is an embarrassment, while the latter is an absurdist masterpiece), yet Bob compared the choice to Jimmy Stewart having to pick between “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Vertigo.”
- As lead Olympic host, Costas said he has inadvertently set off at least two international incidents during the opening ceremonies of different Games. In 1992, NBC cut to commercial as the Turkish Olympic team was entering the arena; the next day 50 Turkish nationals showed up at 30 Rock to protest the actions of the Greek-named Costas in cutting off the dramatic entrance of their countrymen. Bob, luckily, was in Barcelona at the time.
- Costas began the Q&A by answering about five questions in the row about the steroid thing, sharing that the use is a huge deal for the game, and that he sort of suspected that Bonds was juicing, especially since there's no possible exercise that can change the size and shape of a man's head at the age of 40 the way Bonds' has.
- Asked if he had ever refused to participate in any NBC sports programming, Costas offered three letters: X.F.L. Good move. Then again, maybe that’s why McMahon threatened him that time.
- Bob acknowledged that his HBO interview show, “On the Record,” got off-track last year, often ignoring sports altogether- though he promised it will return to its old format in the new season.
- Asked by an audience member if the Ron Artest fight incident had been “blown out of proportion,” Costas responded that “yes, but everything is blown out of proportion. If the world exploded, the survivors the next day would blow it out of proportion.”
- And finally, I gave Costas a business card with the URL for this blog- so Bob, if you’re reading this, thanks for coming, and feel free to leave a comment.
This is the subject heading I’ll be using for each Yankee transaction this offseason, just to tick off the Yankee fans among you, and also to back up my earlier theory.
The team today made their first two free-agent signings of the off-season, bringing in pitcher Jaret Wright and second baseman Tony Womack. Wright is the signing that will launch a thousand Jaret/Subway headlines, while Womack will replace Miguel Cairo, who last year was the only non-All Star in the lineup. Both moves are pretty low-risk, although it appears the Yankees have all but given up on Pedro Martinez- there’s no buzz to that effect anymore.
A footnote: in the movie “The Rock,” the FBI director (played by Leo from “The West Wing”) was named Womack. To this day I can’t hear Tony Womack’s name without thinking of Sean Connery screaming “Womack!” Just as I can’t watch “Jeopardy!” without thinking of “Suck it, Trebek!”
Andrew Sullivan has another new award- the Michelle Malkin-inspired Malkin Award:
One sentence; four cliche-ridden, playground insults. Can you beat it? Contestants can be nominated from either right or left; but the sentence must be entirely devised to insult; it should be completely devoid of originality; it must have at least two hoary, dead-as-a-Norwegian-parrot cliches; and it must assume that readers already agree with the writer. Arbitrary mean-spiritedness wins extra points.I like it- except their already is a Malkin Award- established this past August by yours truly:
This blog’s newest award, named after everyone’s favorite lunatic Republican spokesmodel, is for partisan political hacks who go on talk shows and spread unsubstantiated, slanderous rumors about their foes.Then again, I blatantly stole the whole “blog award nominee” schtick from Sully in the first place, so I guess now we’re even.
If you’ve read a political blog in the past week, you’ve already heard all about Peter Beinart’s New Republic cover story, “A Fighting Faith,” in which he argues that the Democrats of today should emulate the liberals of 1947 who vocally distanced themselves from communism, by recognizing the inherent illiberalism of terrorism, and by extension, the party's own left wing.
As a good TNR liberal, I agree with about 95% of the piece- liberals should be as vigilant about fighting the war on terror as anyone, simply because reactionary Islamo-fascism is just about the least liberal force on Earth right now, just as Nazism and communism were in the earlier and later parts of the 20th century.
While I believe the Democrats should indeed distance themselves from such extremists as Michael Moore and the MoveOn.org crowd, I don’t exactly advocate a “purge” of such individuals. One, purges aren’t so liberal; two, the Democrats need both the left and the center to win elections, and three, even if the 2008 nominee denounces Moore up and down, the Republicans will still pretend as though Fat Fat Fatty is the party’s vice presidential nominee.
Some have compared a hypothetical Democratic trashing of Moore to a “Sister Souljah moment,” but such an analysis ignores that while Sister Souljah was just some obscure rapper who no one had ever heard of at that time, Moore (noxious as he is) is actually a viable political figure. I admire Beinart’s piece and consider it an important piece of political writing, but his solutions are just a bit too simple.
That’s what he gets, for letting his relatives give away money in random e-mails to strangers for the past few years.
About two minutes after the arbitration deadline, the Twins announced that their most important free agent this year, pitcher Brad Radke, has re-signed for 2 years and $18 million. Now that Radke has re-upped two different times with his small-market original team, I really think he ought to get his number retired, don't you?
Like what Tony Soprano said when his drunken Russian ex-girlfriend called Carmela and spilled the beans, Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle was arrested last week for solicitation, after he allegedly paid a prostitute $40 for oral sex. But the price went up substantially a few days later, when the Rockies terminated the pitcher's contract- thus forfeiting the remaining $19 million.
Never has a man not named Bill Clinton suffered so much for a simple blowjob, although since the Rockies have been desperate to unload the ineffective and oft-injured Neagle's contract for years, it wouldn't surprise me if the organization sprung for the hooker themselves.
It's Game Over for Mr. Wiggles.
- I was sort of surprised to see that not only does MatchNet (parent company of JDate) not have a zero-tolerance policy towards gentiles on the site, but they’re even considering adding a “willing to convert” option. Then again, I suppose that’s the same reaction people generally hear when they find out Brandeis has non-Jews. Does this mean JDate is the non-sectarian, Jewish-sponsored dating service?
- As longtime readers know, I refuse to ever join the Jews-should-never-date non-Jews bandwagon, simply because I believe that in a pluralistic, free country, co-mingling of cultures is not only inevitable, but healthy, and I’ve always found arguments that “intermarriage will be the end of the Jews” to be nothing more than unsubstantiated scaremongering. I’ll never understand why arguing that blacks and whites shouldn’t date is racist, while saying the same thing about Jews and gentiles is “enlightened.” I see no significant difference at all between the two, and find the idea of arguing against true love for political/religious reasons to be indefensible.
Besides- since we Jews have been massacred and/or expelled from just about every country we’ve ever called home, I’d say it’s a good sign that in America, our reputation is such that non-Jews find us romantically desirable, is it not?
- Esther addresses the topic again; she hasn’t had a coup like this since Madonna changed her name. Though I should clarify- I am NOT an Upper West Sider, in geography or in spirit. I’m a “Morningside Heightser.”
And for the record, yes, my girlfriend is Jewish, and no, I did not meet her on JDate.
I caught Mike Nichols’ “Closer” over the weekend, and despite my abiding hatred for all things Julia Roberts, I generally liked it. Some good dialogue, a dynamite performance from Clive Owen, and great London scenery- it’s like the best movie Neil LaBute never made.
But “Closer” will likely most be known, I’m sure, by Natalie Portman’s soon-to-be-famous striptease scene (sorry guys, no nudity, at least not until the DVD). Armond White called the scene unrealistic, because the background song –The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now”- would never be played in a real strip club. True enough, but I can’t say the same about the other song in the scene- Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up.” Back in college, some asshole would ALWAYS blast that one from the upper levels of the quad, during the annual “Take Back the Night” march.
Additional thoughts on the baseball/steroids scandal:
- He probably was truthful enough on the witness stand that he has “plausible deniability” and was thus able to avoid perjuring himself, but I don’t believe Barry Bonds. You think he just woke up one day, realized he was twice as large as he used to be, and didn’t think something was up?
- Bud Selig, realizing that the steroid thing will indeed be his primary legacy and will cement him conclusively as the worst commissioner in the history of organized sports, has acquiesced to renegotiation of baseball’s steroid testing rules, in the face of government interference in the steroid matter. Then again, we’ve got John McCain threatening legislation- though he threatened hearings aimed at regulating boxing a few years ago, and nothing ever came of that.
- I honestly couldn’t tell you what the endgame will be for the Yankees/Giambi thing. I can’t see them getting permission to void his contract, just because the union will never stand for it, especially not with the government in control of the 2003 drug-testing results and fifty more Jason Giambis possibly waiting in the wings. But will the team just end up paying Giambi to not play? Will there be a settlement? Would that mean the Yanks will just write him a check for $50 million? That’d make for a hell of a luxury tax bill.
- After all that, I’m about ready for the hot stove to begin, how about you?
When I first heard that a “drug tape” had surfaced that involved Carmelo Anthony, my first thought was, “huh? They found a tape of ‘Melo’s buddy putting pot in Anthony’s gym bag?” My second thought was relief that R. Kelly likely wasn’t within a hundred miles of Baltimore that day.
Like Eric, I also thought of “The Wire,” especially since the tape concerned the drug trade in “Balmer,” and was aimed at scaring snitches. So I guess the question now is, who really has ‘Melo’s ear: Jeff Bzdelik and Kiki Vandeweghe, or Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell?
Sheila’s new site launches today. I know someone must be an awesome blogger if I’ve followed their site through three different incarnations…
Dan Kennedy, on that bizarre interview of Bob Dylan by Ed Bradley last night:
“You really need to see it. Dylan appears to be struggling mightily with his legendary shyness; he also seems to want to come off as reasonably normal, which is a struggle for him. Good stuff - a far better addition to 60 Minutes than the pending arrival of Dan Rather, that's for sure. I'd bounce Rather from the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News right now, and let Zimmy fill in until a replacement is ready.”I just can’t believe someone so strangely inarticulate is also one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived. But then again, I never understood the Beethoven-composing-while-deaf thing either.
It's a well-established phenomenon to most single Jewish males, and now the New York Times has seized upon it: non-Jews signing up for JDate.
If you've ever been a JDater, you've seen them: girls with screennames like "ShiksaGoddess" and "Shiksappeal." The ones who check off the "unaffiliated" box under "religious denomination." Most are upfront, but others are more clandestine- in fact, I'd say lies about actual Jewishness are the third most common JDate deception (behind false ages, and false/old photos).
The reason? According to the Times, it's that non-Jewish females see Jewish guys as "good catches," while "a lot of girls think that Jewish guys know how to treat women, so they want one." Left unmentioned is that whole twin-stereotype thing about Jews having money and girls wanting it, but I guess the editor must've cut that out in favor of multiple mentions of "all those traditions."
Personally, I love Jewish women, but never liked JDate- it's just dozens and dozens of women who look alike with all the same answers to every question. In fact, a buddy of mine dubbed it "The Video Game"- because you click through it, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and object of the game is to save the princess.
Esther, the Blogosphere's foremost authority on JDate, has more.
Someone claiming to have obtained a copy of Quentin Tarantino's next script has created a blog and posted it. Whether it's legit or not, I'm not sure, although Quentin seems like the sort of guy who ought to start a blog himself, doesn't he?
"You know what? Call me racist, and call me a xenophobe, but I'm not wild about Arab terrorists. I think they're a bunch of camel-fucking motherfuckers. And I want to make fun of them, because I'm a bad guy. And anyone out there who doesn't like it can kiss my ass. It's saying it that's so much fun. I'll admit, in some ways, even though I'm 56 years old, and dare I say a great artist and a wonderful human being and all that, and reasonably sensitive, there's just some part of me that's immature, that likes fucking over people and pissing them off."- "L.A. Confidential" author James Ellroy, in the Onion AV Club.
The Twins haven't given up on bringing Kirby Puckett back to their organization, and they talked again with the hall of famer this week.
Well, now we know, absolutely conclusively, that the reason that Jason Giambi showed up underweight to spring training last year was NOT because he "cut out fast food."
Yes, according to sealed grand jury testimony that was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees slugger has admitted that he did indeed use steroids, in addition to human growth hormone and, bizarrely, a female fertility drug.
Yankeenfreude? You bet! Now, I’m sure the Yankees are thrilled to have this guy under contract for five more years and more than $80 million, when 1) they gave him that money based on steroid-enhanced stats, and 2) he’ll never have credibility with their fans ever again. Oh, and he’s also completely untradeable.
Jayson Stark says the Yankees will try to void the contract. But such an attempt would likely be fought to the death by the union, probably because of the possibility that the same process would repeat itself dozens (if not hundreds) of times with other players busted for steroids. This thing could be like the salary cap the owners never had- which is doubly unfair, since they benefited from all those home runs for years.
I can think of another reason why Steinbrenner and Co. won’t be able to void the deal: when Giambi had that “mysterious health problem” that kept him out for much of last year, he was obviously in the care of the team’s doctors all along. Either he told them he’d used steroids, or they were able to figure it out themselves, yes? And since the team doctors are employees of the team, wouldn’t that make the organization aware –at least, by proxy- of Giambi’s steroid use? If that’s what happened, then the team is looking not only at not being able to void the contract, but possible sanction from the commissioners’ office for the cover-up.
There's still hope for Jason though: maybe he'll go the Ricky Williams route, and instead of accepting his drug suspension, he'll retire from baseball, grow his beard out again and "walk the Earth," doing steroids with the natives wherever he goes.
Frequent commenter “A” says Jason will also probably lose his Right Guard endorsement deal. Yea, the same thing happened to Hulk Hogan after HE testified under oath about his steroid use.
And finally, If I ever start a band, I think I'm going to have to call it The Clear And The Cream.
Thomas Friedman, today, on the impending firing of Treasury Secretary John Snow:
Yo, Mr. Secretary, I'd say someone in the White House wants you gone! If I were you, I wouldn't renew any leases for more than a month at a time - or buy any really green bananas for the office. And those books you checked out of the Treasury library? Could you, like, maybe return them in the next few days? You know, just in case. I mean, it all depends on what the meaning of "long" is.The bizarre, inexplicable slump of one of America’s best columnists continues. “Yo”? Who does he think he is, Peter Vecsey?
Nevertheless, TLF-worshipper John Paul says “be thankful for The Mustache.”
Vote yourself, over here!.
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Best Humor Blog: Jim Treacher
Best Liberal Blog: Pandagon
Best Conservative Blog: Ramblings Journal
Best Election Coverage: RealClearPolitics
Best Media/Journalist Blog: Buzzmachine
Best Tech Blog: The Office Blog
Best Culture Blog: A Small Victory
Best Sports Blog: Aaron's Baseball Blog
Best Photo Blog: Exposing Myself
Best LGBT Blog: BoiFromTroy
Best Military Blog: A Day in Iraq
Best Online Community: Television Without Pity
Best Blog Design: Snazzy Kat
Best Essayist: James Lileks
Best UK Blog: Dodgeblogium
Best Middle East Blog: An Unsealed Room
Best Australia/New Zealand Blog: Tim Blair
Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog:Right Wing Spic
Best of Top 100: Daniel W. Drezner
Best of 100-250: AlarmingNews
Best of 250-500: Tony Pierce
Best of 500-1000: The American Mind
Best of 1000-1700: The National Debate
(Note: I left out a few categories for which I'd never heard of any nominee).
Yes, Michael Moore went on Jay Leno the other night, in a suit, clean-shaven, and sans hat. But luckily, Crosblog is here to mock him all over again. How did I not notice the resemblance?
If, in the opening credits of a movie, you see single-named actor whose you name you don't recognize, that actor is always:
a) A rapper
b) A drag queen, or
c) A dog.
Another instant-classic "South Park" tonight, savagely mocking the most mockable person on Earth, Paris Hilton. Remember when they demolished Mel Gibson, in the "Passion of the Jew" episode? They gave it to Miss Hilton- who deserves it even more- this week.
Highlights- Paris vomiting every few seconds... Butters in a "bear suit" that made him look like Tanuki Mario... the "Stupid Spoiled Whore" clothing line and boutique... and best of all, the Dong Resin-inspired sequence in which Paris' dog Tinkerbell shot itself.
The show ended predictably, with Paris being shoved up Mr. Slave's ass. I sort of wish that would happen in real life- Paris, disappearing into someone else's orifice (for a change), never to return.
Stephen King is the co-author of a new book, called “Faithful,” which chronicles the Red Sox’s championship season. It sounds interesting and I’ll probably end up reading it, but funny that, of everything that happened in ’04, they would choose this particular cover photo:
I personally would’ve the used the final out of Game 4. Either that, or a shot of Nomar and Mia, crying together on the couch.
Having already conquered (heh) the world of reality TV, Mark Cuban’s got another idea: he’s starting a hedge fund, based entirely on gambling. The fund will operate much like any other of its kind, except that Cuban will hire professional casino and sports gamblers in order to place all the bets. The idea being that gambling on games of chance is no different than the plain-old stock market.
I’m not sure how legit the idea is- knowing Cuban, he may be just kidding. While it’s an intriguing proposition, the idea of the owner of an NBA franchise directing a hedge fund which involves sports gambling should certainly give the league office pause, should it not? Sounds to me like The Benefactor would have an SEC problem on one side, and a Pete Rose problem on the other.
Notre Dame made the rash and I believe irresponsible decision yesterday to fire football coach Tyrone Willingham, after only three years on the job. Willingham, one of the better young minds in college football, did a lot of good work in returning the team to respect following the George O’Leary fiasco, and he departs South Bend with a winning record. Willingham was the first Notre Dame football coach to ever not have his original contract honored, and was also denied the opportunity to coach a team consisting entirely of his own recruits.
In making the choice, ND failed to learn from the example of Nebraska, another longtime college power who fired coach Frank Solich last year after a 9-3 season, only to post a losing record this year and not qualify for a bowl. Willingham is expected to be replaced by Utah coach Urban Meyer.
Rejecting the racial angle in favor of the "old boys network" angle, I believe it all boils down to this: There’s been a Pope Urban before. There hasn’t been, and likely never will be, a Pope Tyrone.
UPDATE: Spoke too soon- there IS a Pope Tyrone.
News Item (via Page Six):
Anna Benson, the former model and stripper who is married to Mets pitcher Kris Benson, vowed yesterday that if she ever catches her husband cheating, she'll have sex with all his teammates.I suspect that Anna’s confession, on this morning’s Stern show, is part of a conspiracy by Mets management to get Pedro Martinez, and other superstars, to sign with the Mets, based on their hope at having a crack at Mrs. Benson.
Tom Ridge resigns.
For his primary legacy as the first Homeland Security Secretary, I give you Lewis Black:
"Our government told us that the only way we could protect ourselves from a chemical fuck attack was with duct tape? The only way duct tape would help in a chemical attack would be if you could get enough to wrap yourself up and die before the chemicals got you.”
After five months and $2.5 million in winnings, Ken Jennings finally lost on today's episode of Jeopardy. After missing almost the entire streak, I happened to catch the Final Jeopardy loss.
Yes, call Jennings a Charles Van Doren for the 21st century- except without the WASP intellectual pedigree. Or, for that matter, the answers.