March 31, 2005

New York Jets Moving to... New York

With today's unanimous vote by the MTA to grant the West Side rail yards land to the New York Jets, it appears the Manhattan football stadium will become a reality. And as a non-Jets fan who vociferously opposes the 2012 Olympic bid, I say, good. It's long overdue.

As a stadium architecture buff who looks for the sports facilities first whenever I drive through any major city, I look forward to seeing the first major outdoor stadium go up on the island of Manhattan since the New York (baseball) Giants left the Polo Grounds behind to go west a half-century ago.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:39 PM | Comments (2)

Loathsome, Offensive, Etc.

New York Press, fresh off that wonderful idea of making fun of the Pope's imminent death, yesterday came out with its third annual 50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers list.

Really, nothing to see here folks. While the list has been very funny before, and I wholeheartedly agree with the selection of Mayor Bloomberg as #1, this year's list is neither particularly well-chosen or well-written. NYPress' editorial opinion seems to be that any New Yorker who has reached any level whatsoever of fame or success in politics, business, entertainment, or sports is loathsome just by virture of their very existence. My patience with this once-great paper continues to wear thin.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:33 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2005

Heflin Dead

I know that, in my reduced vacation state, this blog is starting to resemble an obituary page. But I was informed this evening by my colleague Joe Koczera that former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama has died at the age of 83.

I'm sure Sen. Heflin had a long and distinguished political career, but like Joe I remember him for one and only one thing: his rambling, doddering, and barely coherent questioning during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, later parodied in the classic "Saturday Night Live" sketch by Chris Farley ("I agreee wit Senata Heflin," said Dana Carvey-as-Strom Thurmond).

Heflin gets credit, though, for outliving Farley by nearly eight years, even though he was born 40 years earlier. That's more than I can say for Frank Sinatra, who was played for years on SNL by the much-younger Phil Hartman, and then died about a month before Hartman did.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:21 PM | Comments (2)

Carolina Juice

Three Carolina Panthers -Todd Sauerbrun, Todd Steussie, and Jeff Mitchell- allegedly received steroids from a doctor around the time of the 2004 Super Bowl, it was reported yesterday.

Now, put aside how laughable it is that the baseball players under investigation for steroid use are all superstars, while the football players are all non-stars, and one of them is a punter. It all makes sense, for three reasons: One, that the middling Carolina team was able to reach the Super Bowl last year. And two, that a pair of incidents- Sauerbrun's long-running feud with the Gramatica family of kickers, and Steussie's infamous shot at Page 2's Bill Simmons ("I guess that's why he's not on Page 1")- can both be explained by 'roid rage.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Those Guys Again?

My favorite magazine issue of the year is here- I haven't read it yet, but at least they've got the Twins winning the Central. Maybe this cover means the Yankees AND Red Sox are cursed, and "Minny" can slip on through to the Series.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2005

The Best Wrestling Reality Show Is No Longer "Tough Enough"

From VH1:

Hulk Hogan's famous "Grr" extends way beyond the wrestling ring and into his home. Not only is he a world famous wrestler - he's also a very "red state" suburban dad who lives on a 20,000-square-foot estate in Florida with wife Linda, 16 year-old daughter Brooke, who he won't allow to date and 14 year-old son Nick, who wants to be a race car driver.
Who knew the Hulkster was a "red state" guy. I'd have thought orange state, since that's the rather bizarre hue of his skin.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:00 PM | Comments (5)

The "Chewbacca Defense" Takes On New Resonance

Johnnie Cochran, the attorney best known for helping O.J. Simpson get away with murder, has died at the age of 67.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:56 PM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2005

Bob Casey, RIP

I was sorry to learn over the weekend about the passing of Bob Casey, the in-stadium PA announcer for the Minnesota Twins ever since the franchise's inception in 1961. Best known for introducing "Kirbeeeeeeeee Puckett," Casey had a career that spanned seven decades. Without him, Twins' games will never be the same again.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)

Film Critic Quote of the Week

"['The Ballad of Jack and Rose is] a study in isolationism, unwieldy family dynamics, and countercultural idealism gone awry that could easily fill out a double bill with The Village, assuming that audiences didn't care to see a good film on either half of the bill."
-Keith Phipps, The Onion AV Club.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2005

Out of Town

I’m going to be on vacation next week, so posting will be slow, but not nonexistent. I have to miss this Saturday’s big blogger party, but I should however be on hand for the Brooklyn shindig the following weekend.

I have nothing to say about the Schiavo case; for narrow-minded uses of her cause in order to justify just about any other political viewpoint, just enter her name into Technorati- you’ll find plenty of that there. And I also have no opinion on the Red Lake school massacre- first it’s mass-murdering Asian hunters, and now we’ve got a mass-murdering neo-Nazi American Indian, all in my home state. Minnesota Nice is officially dead.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:52 PM | Comments (2)

I'm An "SMTP"

Got a problem with that?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:53 PM | Comments (1)

TV Notes

- Yes, the American version of "The Office" was halfway decent. Not nearly as good as the absolutely brilliant British version, but still better than expected- and a helluva lot more watchable than the extricable American "Coupling" from a couple years back. That it's supposed to get even better -and more original- in subsequent episodes will likely keep me watching.

- The first few episodes of this year's "Project Greenlight" have me more convinced than ever that the show is rigged. You may have thought the second-season directors were clueless idiots, but John Gulager- the guy who can't make a single decision except that he wants all the roles filled by his family members- makes Kyle and Efram look like Godard and Fellini.

- I’m still yet to catch the “Real Sports” segment on Doug and Jackie Christie- whenever I do, I might have to take the following day off from work just to recuperate.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:43 PM | Comments (4)

The Fat Fat Fatty Bandit

He looks and dresses like Michael Moore, and robs banks in Michigan. As opposed to staging documentary scenes in them.

(H/T Petitedov, via Dead Serious).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

The Boss is Back

I somehow didn’t hear about it until today, but Bruce Springsteen’s coming out with a new album next month. Called “Devils & Dust,” it’s solo-acoustic, without the band, sort of in the “Nebraska”/”Ghost of Tom Joad” style. A tour too; I can’t wait.

Should be an exciting spring music-wise, with Moby and Beck coming out with new stuff this month, Bruce in April, and Dave Matthews and Weezer in May.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Random Netflix Note of the Day

There is currently a "short wait" for "They Saved Hitler's Brain," which is #33 on my queue.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2005

The Sports Book

This blog's favorite sports columnist, ESPN's Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons, is working on a book, he reveals today on his "More Cowbell" blog. Can't wait- this has the potential to be the best ESPN book since Olbermann/Patrick's "The Big Show" ten years ago.

Speaking of ESPN books, I read Jim Caple's anti-Yankees screed "The Devil Wears Pinstripes" in its entirety, on the flight to Vegas. Pretty funny, if a bit repetitive; though that's worth it just to get all the embarrassing Yankee stories together in one place.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:56 PM | Comments (2)

Rhymes With Tigger, Redux

Yet another brouhaha surrounding a sports columnist, race, and Dusty Baker.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

The iPod Meme

Aaron Gleeman’s asking people to hit the shuffle on their iPod and list the first 40 songs; here we go:

1. R.E.M.- “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”
2. Radiohead- “Sit Down, Stand Up (Snakes & Ladders)”
3. Dave Matthews Band- “So Much to Say”
4. Prince- “Musicology”
5. Stevie Wonder- “I Was Made to Love Her”
6. The West Texas Rednecks- “Rap is Crap”
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers- “Power of Equality”
8. The Beastie Boys- “Slow and Low”
9. The Beatles- “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”
10. Eric Schoon- “A Song For Emma”
11. JET- “Come Around Again”
12. D.V.D.A- “What Would Brian Boitano Do”
13. U2- “Miracle Drugs”
14. Led Zeppelin- “Stairway to Heaven”
15. Kim Jong Il- “I’m So Ronery” (Team America soundtrack)
16. Norah Jones- “Toes”
17. Ludacris (ft. Snoop Dogg- “Hoes in My Room”
18. Jackson 5- “I’ll Be There”
19. Smashing Pumpkins- “Thirty-Three”
20. Jay-Z- “Izzo/H.O.V.A” (unplugged version)
21. The Muppets- “Mannah Mannah”
22. Franz Ferdinand- “Come On Home”
23. Bruce Springsteen- “I’m On Fire”
24. U2- “Heaven and Hell”
25. Loverboy- “Working For the Weekend”
26. Travis- “Safe”
27. The 5th Dimension- “The Age of Aquarious/Let the Sunshine”
28. The Replacements- “I’ll Be You”
29. Genesis- “Invisible Touch”
30. Good Charlotte- “The Anthem”
31. Journey- “Only the Young”
32. Roxy Music- “Avalon”
33. Five For Fighting- “100 Years”
34. Outkast- “Happy Valentine’s Day”
35. Weezer- “Simple Pages”
36. George Harrison- “(I Got My Mind) Set On You”
37. Phish- “You Enjoy Myself”
38. Crosby, Stills, Nash,& Young- “Teach Your Children
39. The Doors- “Love Her Madly”
40. Tom Petty- “American Girl”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:39 PM | Comments (8)

Vegas Baby, Vegas!

As the plane was about to touch down at McCarron Airport for my first-ever trip to Las Vegas, what should come up on the shuffle function of my iPod than Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas." It was the sort of irony that would set the tone for my time there.

Aside from what will henceforth be known as The Great Blackjack Debacle of '05, I had an excellent time on my visit to Sin City. My work stuff went well, I had a great time walking the strip, and uh, I didn't lose all my money. A few highlights:

- After some light blackjack Sunday afternoon at the Mandalay Bay- where my conference was- I returned to my hotel for a nap, and after waking up hit the Hard Rock, which was right across the street from where I was staying. I approached a table and was immediately offered a comp card- probably because I was the only person in the casino wearing a suit and tie, and they probably thought I was some sort of high roller, even though I'd just sat down at the $15 blackjack table. Guess no one else there paid attention to "Swingers."

So I felt pretty good about that. Good crowd, cool dealer, I had a pretty good vibe about the whole thing. And then I dropped something like 10 hands in a row- drawing "more 13s and 14s than R. Kelly," as Simmons would say. Ouch. I had never had such a bad run before- and in fact, I'd kicked ass in AC just two weeks ago.

My general gambling history is that I win when I go to Atlantic City, and lose just about anywhere else- Foxwoods, Mohegen Sun, and any of the Indian reservation places in Minnesota or Wisconsin- so I guess now I can add Vegas to the list. Hopefully not forever though.

- America West -known to Sports Guy readers as "Olowokandi Air"- totally sucks. I'd argue that it's actually worse than Michael Olowokandi, because it's never been anyone's #1 pick for anything. Never fly it- even the in-flight movie ("Bridget Jones 2") was horrible.

- All I could keep thinking of was the different movies set in Vegas- "Swingers" of course, plus the Nicolas Cage Trilogy of "Leaving Las Vegas," "Honeymoon in Vegas" and "Con Air"; both versions of "Ocean's Eleven," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Viva Las Vegas," and "Casino." "Showgirls" and "Very Bad Things"? Not so much.

- Supposedly there was a Motley Crue concert at that very same Hard Rock that very night, that I had just missed. Also, someone mentioned that David Copperfield was there too, though I didn't see him. And there was a woman in the lobby of the Monte Carlo who may or may not have been Glenn Close. Whatever, I met the Phillie Phanatic on Saturday, and that was much more exciting.

(And speaking of baseball celebrities, my dad Blackberried me last week from a Twins-Orioles spring training game in Florida. Apparently Sammy Sosa was having a better day than he had in DC the day before; he was able to go all nine innings without perjuring himself.)

- When you walk into the New York, New York casino from that little bridge thing, the first thing you see is… Coyote Ugly. Because if New York is defined by anything, it's Coyote Ugly.

- I did not get a chance to visit the Palms; my pilgrimage to the former stomping grounds of Trishelle, Brynn, Arissa, and Irulan will have to wait for another day.

- I stopped by Harrah's on Sunday night and it was completely dead- was it the inspiration for the casino in "Swingers" that "back in the day… used to be a contender, but nowadays they'll just appreciate the business"?- but the buffet was excellent. "A" may be a pain-in-the-ass when it comes to leaving vituperative comments, but she sure knows her Vegas buffets.

- No, I didn't visit any strip clubs/hookers/massage parlors on my visit, for three reasons: There's something skeevy about going to those alone; I barely had any money left at the end of the trip; and you only really want to go to those if you haven't seen a woman naked in awhile.

All in all, a memorable experience, and I hope to get back there soon. And now, perhaps now I'll relate to the opening half hour of "Swingers" just as much as I do the rest of the movie.

-Do you think we'll get there by midnight?

-Baby, we're going to be up five hundy by midnight!

Vegas Baby, Vegas!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:05 AM | Comments (3)

March 23, 2005

Bruno’s Back

Ron Silver will return to “The West Wing” on tonight’s episode, as campaign strategist Bruno Gianelli. Like the character’s original inspiration (Dick Morris), and like Silver himself, Bruno has apparently shifted right since we last saw him, as he’s now working for the Alan Alda character, the Republican presidential nominee.

UPDATE: The "West Wing"/"Twin Peaks" synergy continues- first Leland Palmer is the governor of California, and now Major Briggs is Alda's potential running mate!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:04 PM | Comments (1)

What’s the 410?

The best cop show on television, “The Wire,” has been renewed for a fourth season. Great news, since it’s a wonderful show that deserves to carry on as long as possible. And in learning the news, I realized I haven’t watched HBO with any regularity in several months.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

Four Words That Just Don’t Belong Together

Pat O’Brien Sex Scandal


Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:22 PM | Comments (3)

Leaving Las Vegas

No, what happens in Vegas doesn't necessarily stay in Vegas. In fact, I got back yesterday and have lots of stories to tell, but right now I'm both sick and at work. Look for an update on that (and much else) sometime tonight.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2005

Vegas Vacation

I'm off to VEGAS, by way of Philly, and hopefully I'll be up five-hundy by midnight. I'll be back Tuesday with some tales; think more Simmons than Thompson.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:43 PM | Comments (5)

Paul Wolfowitz, International Ladies' Man

From a Washington Post article on the controversy over Wolfie's nomination to head the World Bank:

Adding fuel to the controversy is concern within the bank staff over Wolfowitz's reported romantic relationship with Shaha Riza, an Arab feminist who works as a communications adviser in the bank's Middle East and North Africa department.
Now isn’t every conspiracy theory about Wolfie standing at the forefront of a global right-wing Jewish/neocon/Zionist conspiracy to subjugate the entire Islamic world sort of undercut by the fact that his girlfriend is an “Arab feminist”? With any luck, she'll show him how to use a comb, too.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

The Steroid Hearings, Lego-Style

I click on Bat-girl for the first time this year, and I find this little bit of brilliance. I just wish she had a Lego with a pig-like nose, to stand in for Henry Waxman.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

Steroids Are Bad, Mmmmkay?

All I can say about today's Congressional hearings into steroids in baseball is, good for Mark McGwire. In the middle of an 11-hour grandstanding session, McGwire had the dignity to refuse to assist in the embarrassing charade put forth by members of both parties.

I can say two things about the House Government Reform Committee: They try to grandstand, and they can't even do THAT right: led by chairman Tom Davis and ranking Democrat Henry Waxman, the committee chose to convene 11 hours of testimony to coincide exactly with the first 11 hours of the NCAA tournament, on St. Patrick's Day. And for the first time probably ever, they got me to take Bud Selig's side. Murray Chass in the Times has it right: the committee "wasted hours and hours by grabbing hold of a phony issue and refusing to let go."

Yes, I agree that steroids are a problem, and should be cut down on. And both baseball and the union have taken steps in recent months to combat the problem, something that should have happened years ago. But comparing the problem to the Enron debacle? Please. No one lost their life savings here, and the senators' attempts to play the "victims' families" card was especially tiresome- as were the rantings of the sadly senile pitcher-turned-Senator Jim Bunning.

Even worse was how ridiculously ill-informed the members of the committee were about the game and its policies. My favorite part was probably when Chris Shays was interrupted mid-yell by a staffer, who very clearly pointed at one of the witnesses and mouthed the words "he's right!" Another lowlight was when one congressman attempted to invoke the death of former Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler in an anti-steroid argument, and couldn't even be bothered to pronounce Bechler's name correctly.

So I don't blame McGwire. Unlike his truly pathetic former "Bash Brother," Big Mac actually made friends in the game, and had a positive impact on it- so forgive him for not ratting out everyone he ever played with.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:59 AM | Comments (3)

Best of the 'OOs

With the decade officially half over, some bloggers -including Matt Yglesias- are bandying about the question of what the decade's best films have been. I'd been meaning to do an official list but never got around to it; I remember I wrote a "Top 50 Films of the '90s" list in my college newspaper column* that engandered lots of controversy, mostly because I left off 'Shawshank.'

As for the current decade, I have no choice to put Tim Burton's "Big Fish" in the #1 spot- the film is an absolute masterpiece that has profoundly affected me each of the three times I've seen it- and the fact that in a 50-or-so-post thread not one person mentioned probably says something about Matt's commenters.

Then again, I'm always a sucker for father-and-son stuff- which is just one reason that I rank Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" very high. Meanwhile, my dating-theory-obsessed-single-guy self mandates the inclusion of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and "High Fidelity." Rounding out the top ten- Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" (the most underrated and misunderstood film of the past ten years- ask Armond White if you don't believe me); "Almost Famous," "Mulholland Drive," "Road to Perdition," ""Y Tu Mama Tambien," and "Capturing the Friedmans."

Watch for a more formal list sometime in the next few months.

(*On my '90s list, "Silence of the Lambs" was #1, in case you were wondering, followed by "Goodfellas," "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List," "Pulp Fiction," "Fargo," "Dead Man Walking," "L.A. Confidential," "Forrest Gump," and "Good Will Hunting." I had "Wayne's World" at #50, which more than one friend said was way, way, too low. I'd link to the list, but The Justice deleted all their pre-2002 online archives a few years ago. Maybe they should hire third-world labor to transcribe all 56 years of back issues, like Harvard did.)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:34 AM | Comments (7)

Blog Backlash

Eric, the Young Curmudgeon, has a great post on why he doesn't read political blogs anymore, mainly because they've gotten even more partisan and mean-spirited than the "MSM" they presume to critique. The best part:

A corrolary of 3 is how cliquish and juvenile the whole enterprise has become. If you dis a given politician, pundit, or god forbid, blogger, then immediately that blogger/pundit/politician's entire fan club attacks you, most often with personal insults. (All the while, Reynolds links with "Jarvis smacks down Cole" or some such line, like a blogospheric gossip columnist.) Thinking, actually analyzing an issue, (which I think was the point originally, right?) has been completely lost.
He also criticizes the recent OpinionJournal piece by right-wing comic Julia Gorin that everyone linked to; I hadn't thought it was funny either, but then I'd figured it was just "libertarian humor" that I wasn't meant to understand anyway.

And on the same topic, Lindsayism has a hilarious list of "blog cliches."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:54 AM | Comments (2)

Say It Ain’t So, Plaxico!

The New York Giants today signed former Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress, generally considered the top wide receiver in the free agent market.

When I thought maybe Burress would be signing with the Vikings, it reinforced my longtime plans to name my first-born son “Plaxico.” But now that he’s signed with a conference rival, I suppose I have to cross him off the list. Oh well, should it be necessary years from now to name my son after an NFL player/personality, there’s always Antwaawn, Aeneas, Laveranues, L'Roi, Tebucky, Marvcus, or Norv.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:34 AM | Comments (0)

Hellooooo, Wangsta

Some office banter the other day:

My co-worker Mike, after I mentioned him on the blog the day before: “Do blogs have re-occuring characters, like the wacky neighbor or older, wiser janitor, or surley coffee shop worker?”

Me: “Let’s just say if my blog were ‘Seinfeld,’ Peter Vecsey would be Newman.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:23 AM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2005

The Tournament

Final Four picks from a guy who hasn't watched a game all year: Illinois, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Duke, with Illinois winning. To read someone who actually knows what he's talking about, check out Yoni Cohen's blog.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005


Already descending into self-parody about two weeks into the job, Scoop Jackson’s column on today… compares the Shaq/Kobe feud with the Tupac/Biggie feud. Yes, you read that right. Simmons might have made that comparison in one paragraph, but for Scoop it's most of a column.

Furthermore, Jackson leaves out two major pieces of analogy: not only did Kobe and Tupac both have rape trials, but with his scrawny build and shaved head at the time, Bryant was a dead ringer for ‘pac during his rookie season, which began just week's after Shakur's death.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

Hot Babes For a Free Lebanon, Cont'd

Michael Totten shows us the juxtaposition between the pretty Lebanon freedom fighters and the ugly Syrian loyalists.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

Minor League Merkin

The Giants have optioned notorious pitcher Merkin Valdez to Triple-A Fresno, delaying the return of "Merkin on the mound" jokes by several months.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

Landin' In Jail

News out of Philly:

Cops To Be Arrested: TWO LOCAL cops involved in a brawl with an on-duty officer last May outside the Old City set of the "Real World Philadelphia" will soon be arrested, sources say.

The off-duty officers were trying to enter the house when the plainclothes policeman, assigned to guard the set tried to stop them and a fight broke out. Internal Affairs has since been investigating.

This brawl is not to be confused with the one in which drunken housemate Landon –who was once arrested for assaulting a police horse- threatened several friends of his roommate with multiple knives- all while wearing a yellow t-shirt that read “Huggable.” An all-time great moment in reality TV history.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:41 PM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2005

What Is the Deal With the New York Times?

The Times today ran a front page story on “life’s little annoyances” and how we deal with them, as though it’s actually some sort of breaking news story that people don’t like to be annoyed. Aside from internet references, the entire piece reads as though it was lifted from a Jerry Seinfeld standup routine, circa 1991.

We’re introduced to a young rebel who doesn’t like that Starbucks calls their sizes “venti” and “grande,” so he always orders a “medium” instead. Ooh, he’s so subversive! What will the barista do? Her head might explode! The guy even wears a t-shirt dedicated to his plight- apparently he never considered that maybe he should, oh, go to another coffee shop. I hear non-Starbucks coffee establishments are notorious hangouts for frustrated societal outcasts like him.

We hear from others who… don’t like to be put on hold! And… don’t like registering at newspaper websites! And… don’t like telemarketing and spam! No way! But some people aren’t going to take it anymore. They’re… pressing zero! And using! Why, it’s a revolution!

Possibly even literally. We hear about all these anti-annoyance efforts, leading into… this paragraph:

During the Solidarity movement in Poland, people expressed their disapproval of the government-run news media by taking a walk with their hats on backward at exactly 6 p.m. when the state news program started. When the government noticed the trend, it issued curfews, but people then put their televisions in their windows facing outward so that only the police walking the streets would see the broadcasts.
Soviet control of Poland… silly names for the drink sizes at Starbucks. Same thing, right?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:51 PM | Comments (1)

A New Low For Vescey

As pointed out by my co-worker Mike, Pete included this in Sunday's column, which is a candidate for Worst Paragraph in Journalism History:

Seattle, on the other hand, invades Fun City this evening schlepping a season-high three-game slide, lowlighted by yet another disturbance by Danny Pigtails, expelled from a recent practice for being himself, an out-of-control wangsta; he verbally fought the law and Nate McMillan won.
Let's count the things wrong with that paragraph:

- It' s run-on sentence.

- Vecsey lapses into hip-hop lingo, even though he’s white*.

- He both misuses and misspells "wanksta."

- He neglects to disclose that he was sued, last year, by "Danny Pigtails" himself (Danny Fortson) for, that's right, calling the player a "wanksta." (Though, to be fair, in the original column Vecsey spelled "wanksta" correctly.)

- He uses Yiddish ("schlepping"), even though he's not Jewish, and uses it incorrectly, since the first-place Sonics aren't schlepping at all. In fact, they won that game in "Fun City" by 10 points.

- And worst of all, he quotes a Clash song when he clearly has no punk rock cred.

*This “ironic ebonics” trend among aging white sportswriters is reaching epidemic proportions, with Vecsey, Kornheiser, and Rick Reilly all busting it out in the last couple weeks. Anyone else support the idea of a constitutional amendment banning use of the word “bling” among over-40 white male sportswriters?

UPDATE: Here’s a report of a feud between Pete and my other favorite NBA writer, Stephen A. Smith. I agree with the commenter: “Stephen A. vs. Peter [Vecsey]. Kinda like choosing between syphillis and gonorhhea."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

There's Only One Liberal On Earth More Ineffective Than Alan, And We've Found Him

News Item: Terry McAuliffe Guest-Hosts "Hannity & Colmes."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:26 PM | Comments (2)

Conte And Zahorian

The other day, in response to that post facetiously comparing the baseball and pro wrestling Halls of Fame, one reader got incredulous, asking “I can't believe you compare wrestling to baseball?”

Yet as the steroid scandal in baseball continues to mushroom, it’s hard not to draw parallels to what's gone on in wrestling, especially since just about everything that’s been happening in baseball this year already happened in wrestling a decade ago.

There was the indictment on steroid-related charges of a figure tangentially related to the wrestlers (ring physician George Zahorian, in the Victor Conte role) who, at trial, implicated several of the sport’s biggest stars. This led to interest from the federal government, which in 1993 indicted WWF head Vince McMahon on steroid distribution charges, and at trial several of the sport’s biggest stars (Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, etc.) testified that, despite prior denials in the media, they had indeed used steroids throughout their careers.

Although McMahon was ultimately acquitted, this led to much soul-searching, and big changes, in wrestling. McMahon resigned as CEO (replaced by his wife Linda), they sent Hogan packing, instituted testing (or at least, said they did), and sought for a time to emphasize smaller, less ‘roid-oriented stars such as Shawn Michaels and Bret “Hitman” Hart. I thought of this when I read Peter Gammons’ column last Saturday, in which he suggested baseball do exactly the same thing: start marketing smaller, non-McGwire lookalikes such as Albert Pujols, Juan Pierre, and Vernon Wells. Then again, baseball (unlike wrestling) doesn't have the luxury of deciding the outcome of their games at the start of the year.

Did wrestling’s changes ultimately work? Well, on the bright side, it reached unprecedented popularity just a few years later, buoyed largely by the talents of a certain star who is currently appearing as a gay bodyguard opposite John Travolta. But on the other hand, there have been many, many premature deaths of ex-wrestlers in the last few years, many of them were likely steroid-related. And if you’re wondering if they’ve been able to get the drugs out of the business, Wrestlemania 21 is next month- and these two guys are squaring off in the main event.

But look on the bright side, baseball: Vince McMahon was accused of and later admitted that he had used steroids himself. I think Bud Selig is probably in the clear, in that respect.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)

Mmm. Meat.

Today is International Eat An Animal For PETA Day.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:19 PM | Comments (1)

More Fun At My Alma Mater

From this week’s Justice:

Admissions Possibly Receives Marijuana Seeds In The Mail

Staff at the Shapiro Admissions Center reported receiving a suspicious white envelope that contained what appeared to be marijuana seeds on March 4, according to a campus police report.

Director of Admissions Deena Whitfield said the envelope was addressed to "A.B." and had no return address.

"We have no idea who it came from," Whitfield said.

Only at Brandeis. But why doesn’t the story tell us what the admissions staff DID with the marijuana seeds? Perhaps next year’s freshman class will be a bit more “groovy” than usual.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:17 PM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2005

Scarborough Country: Held Hostage

Joe Scarborough right now is airing an entire show dedicated to the Atlanta judge-killer story, and specifically the woman who was held hostage by the killer before he was captured. It's a worthy topic, until you see the accompanying graphic:

Scarborough Country Held Hostage: Seven Hours Of Terror
Yes, I know it's merely the name of the show, and they're clearly paying tribute to Ted Koppel's old "America: Held Hostage" shows during the Iranian hostage crisis. But all I could think the first time I saw the graphic was that the show itself is being held hostage, by this story. Which I'd say is true, right?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:19 PM | Comments (4)

Blog Hangover

Have so many bloggers ever been so hung over on the same day? It appears so, after Ari's excellent birthday party on Saturday night.

It was wonderful to hang out with a veritable who’s who of New York’s smart and beautiful lady bloggers: the birthday girl herself; Fish; Esther; Karol; Jessica; Petitedov (down from Boston); Lisa; C; and Dawn (who left her boyfriend Clay Aiken at home), all of whom rose to dance when the DJ spun Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” It was clearly the best song played that night that was recorded by an accused pedophile, but that’s only ‘cause they didn’t play any R. Kelly, Roman Polanski’s not a musician, and Pee Wee Herman was acquitted.

There were a few males there too- Ken, Yaron, Chris, Doug, and Ace of Spades. All in all, a great time- and Ari STILL hasn’t posted about it. But Jessica has (as have C, Esther, and Karol, among others); check it out for possibly the most unintentionally hilarious photo ever taken of yours truly.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:55 PM | Comments (4)

Not Cool

My review of the no-good, very-bad "Be Cool" is online at Hot Movie Ticket. And you can see some of my older reviews here and here.

One correction from the review: I had said that Steven Tyler couldn't have been inspired to write "Sweet Emotion" by his daughters Liv and Mia, as he says in the movie, since he didn't know Liv was his daughter in 1982. In fact, it's even worse: the song was written in 1975. Liv was born in 1977. But I'm sure the thought of one day having a daughter who would maybe play Arwen in "Lord of the Rings" was enough to push Steven towards writing the song.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:48 PM | Comments (1)

Time To Make Fun of Maureen Dowd Again

MoDo on Sunday decided to tackle the Michael Kinsley/Susan Estrich op-ed gender war- which is tricky, since despite nominally agreeing with Estrich about the paucity of female op-ed writers, she’s on Kinsley’s side, since he’s her friend and Estrich isn’t- therefore, the result is a muddled series of arguments that I still don't understand even after reading it twice.

Then MoDo launches into her usual schpiel about how “men take professional criticism more personally when it comes from a woman,” which Dowd has used, for her entire time as a columnist, as a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card against anyone ever not liking her. It got so popular that Teresa Heinz borrowed it throughout her husband's campaign.

Back during the Jayson Blair mess, I had a standard response whenever anyone blamed the whole thing on affirmative action: as America’s most prestigious newspaper, the New York Times has virtually unchecked power to hire whomever they want. The problem wasn’t that they hired a black guy, it was that, having their choice of any of the countless talented black writers in the country, they hired the wrong black guy.

Yes, it’s unfair that out of nine regular columnists on the NYT op-ed page, only one is a woman. But what’s even more unfair is that of all the talented female writers in America who would go to work for the Times in a heartbeat if asked, the only one with a column on the NYT op-ed page is a hack like Maureen Dowd. If the Times dropped Dowd, Herbert, and Rich, and replaced them with Virginia Postrel, Gretchen Morgenson, and Megan McArdle, I'd be thrilled.

Besides, if you don't think Jennifer 8. Lee is ultimately bound for the editorial page, you're fooling yourself.

(I enjoyed engaging in some fun MoDo-bashing with Ace of Spades and Petitedov at Ari’s soiree; Ace continues the fun here).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Congrats to my friends Bill and Christina, who got engaged over the weekend. I’m thrilled for them, and doubly so because I introduced them, just over a year ago- this is thus the first marriage for which I'm directly responsible.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:13 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

Michael Wilbon’s weekly “Chat House” chat on the Washington Post website is a must-read every Monday. Here’s why:

Arlington, Va.: If I want to win my office pool, should I listen to you or Tony?

Michael Wilbon: I have actually won office pools. Tony hasn't. I see games, talk to coaches, scouts, players. Tony talks to...his dog, Maggie. I'm taking me.

Happy Valley: Hey Mike ... how do you think our PSU Lady Lions will fare in the women's bracket?

Michael Wilbon: Are you on drugs?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Idol Battles

News Item: Mario Vazquez Drops Out of ‘American Idol’

I don’t watch the show, so this doesn’t really matter to me, except for one thing. Mario’s departure means that the show will bring back Nikko Smith, who was voted out last week- and Nikko, I discovered today, is the son of former Cardinals shortstop and baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

I’ve mentioned before that when I used to go to ballgames with my dad, we would fill out our All-Star ballots, and since he didn’t know who any of the NL players were, the only one he’d vote for each year was Ozzie Smith, for shortstop. And after Ozzie retired, he would vote every year for St. Louis’ shortstop (this year, it’s the famed David Eckstein).

I say this only because I think my dad should bring back this tradition by watching “American Idol” each week and voting for Ozzie’s son.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:08 PM | Comments (1)

Yes, Sire?

You may remember my post the other week about Sire Castro, the up-and-coming rapper who may be well on his way to re-popularizing Communist chic in hip-hop. Anyway, that promotion van they used must not have worked so well, because Mr. Castro is still hardly mentioned anywhere on the internet, and my post about him came up as #3 on a Google search of his name.

But then I realized something- if my blog is so high up in the results, there exists a chance that Sire has seen the blog and knows that I made fun of him- and if that’s the case, my life may be in danger (the same is true, oddly enough, of Peter Vecsey). And here I thought I didn’t have to worry about being shot by a rapper, so long as I stayed a safe distance away from the Hot 97 studios.

(Sire, incidentally, is not to be confused with Sir Loin, the fictional rapper from an episode of “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” Since I was pleased to discover how many ATHF fans I have in my readership, I figured that merited mention.)

And speaking of rap beefs that lead to gunfire, who’s to blame for such conflagrations? If you believe the Village Voice, it’s… Clear Channel! According to an asinine Voice cover story (is there any other kind?) the corporations who own the radio stations and record labels bear ultimate responsibility for fostering rivalries between rap stars. Nevermind that they’re the ones shooting each other, or that the recent fracases have required the labels and stations to shell out significantly more on security and legal fees, or that it’s fundamentally NOT in the interest of the labels for their most popular artists to be shot and/or incarcerated. But I guess we shouldn’t expect such bohemians to actually understand capitalism.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:14 AM | Comments (5)

Vegas Baby, Vegas!

I’m going to Vegas next week for a work-related conference, and before going I plan to re-watch “Swingers” and the “Real World: Las Vegas” season, re-read Thompson and Simmons, and play several hours of computer blackjack.

I’ll be staying here; looking up hotels last week, I googled one of them only to find that the #1 result was a news story about a body that was found there.

If anyone has any advice or recommendations for stuff to do there for this Vegas virgin, let me know.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:11 AM | Comments (4)

On the Bookshelf

Brief reviews of some books I've read lately:

“Hard News,” by Seth Mnookin- This standout book is a must-read for any media junkie, and will clearly take its place as THE definitive account of the Jayson Blair/Howell Raines scandal at the New York Times. Coming across almost like a thriller, the best thing I can say about Mnookin’s book is that it maintains interest throughout, even for the reader who knows how everything is going to turn out.

“Blog,” by Hugh Hewitt- Blogger and radio host Hewitt presents an overview of the first few years of the blog phenomenon, telling the various stories (Trent Lott, Raines, Dan Rather, etc.), and discussing the ways various political activists and business interests can use the Blogosphere to their advantage. But the entire book is undermined because- as with everything Hewitt writes- everything else is subordinate to fanatical Republican partisanship. Hewitt has lots of insights about where the Blogosphere has gone and where it’s going, but he seems to only care about blogs to the end in which they reinforce his political goals.

“Attack Poodles,” by James Wolcott- Vanity Fair media columnist and blogger Wolcott is capable of being very cutting and funny, but this book is like a left-wing version of Hewitt’s- the book will hold absolutely zero appeal to anyone who doesn’t share the author’s political leanings, and Wolcott’s anti-Bush bile is way too angry to be funny. As Hewitt yammers on about a mainstream media that “leans way left,” Wolcott’s thesis is the opposite, and just as wrong: rather than mount just another anti-Fox News critique, Wolcott believe the entire media gives Bush too much of a free ride- and therefore his enemies list includes people like Thomas Friedman, on top of the usual denunciations O’Reilly and Co. It’s also not cool that the book lifts huge chunks of several of Wolcott’s earlier VF pieces, without labeling them as such.

“The Hipster Handbook,” by Robert Lanham- This comical book is either meant to make fun of hipsters, or those who make fun of them- even after reading it, I’m still not sure. That’s because the book, which deconstructs hundreds hipster archetypes that indisputably DO exist, yet also makes up several others that don’t- one of which, the idea of “deck” meaning cool, made its way into a “Sopranos” episode last year. Read the book, just don’t take it too seriously.

On the shelf: Jim Caple’s “The Devil Wears Pinstripes,” Christopher Hitchens’ “Love, Poverty, and War,” and King/O’Nan’s “Faithful.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:05 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2005

It's Groundhog Day!

I woke up this morning to find that my last 24 hours worth of posts had all vanished into thin air- they're gone from the blog itself, the "Edit Entries" page, and even the Activity Log- and not only that, but both the rap battles post and FAQ page are missing yesterday's mid-day edits. And no, my alarm clock this morning did NOT play "I've Got You Babe" as I woke up.

Anyone have any idea what the hell might have happened here? And more importantly, do any of my RSS-based readers happen to have a copy of yesterday's posts saved still, so I can re-post them? Any help is greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Through the magic of Google cache, the three posts have been recovered, and re-posted below. I still have no idea what happened to them- maybe I somehow I hit "delete post" while de-spamming the comments- but I guess we'll never know.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:31 AM | Comments (4)

March 11, 2005

Tice is Toast, Cont’d

The embattled Vikings coach (he was always “embattled,” but now he REALLY is) has admitted that he did indeed illegally scalp Super Bowl tickets this year, as head coach, taking about four days to do what took Pete Rose 14 years. But regardless, this means he lied to Chris Mortensen the first time, and you just don’t do that.

He’s like Dan Rather at this point, only without all that “broadcasting legend” baggage.

UPDATE: Bob Sansevere:

Early in his career, Tom Hanks made a movie called "Joe Versus the Volcano.'' His character is diagnosed with a "brain cloud." I'm starting to think Mike Tice suffers from the same affliction.
"Joe Versus The Volcano" is indeed an apt metaphor for Tice's coaching career.

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

Mail Time!

I've been getting a ton of feedback lately on various subjects, so I figured it was time to do a Simmons-style mailbag. Some of these are in response to comments, some to e-mails, and others are to things people wrote on other blogs in response to my comments. Here we go:

On the WWE Hall of Fame inductions, John the Catholic Packer Fan writes:

Are you kidding, those are all of the 'originals' of the WWF. Piper and his kilt, Volkoff the 'evil enemy' during the waning Cold War years, etc. Most of those guys brought wrestling into the forefront of entertainment at the time.

I must be too young to remember Volkoff’s heyday, since I only know him as half of the very, very old Soviet tag team the Bolsheviks. Though it was pretty amusing when, after the Baltic states broke off from the USSR in 1989, the WWF had Volkoff suddenly become “Lithuanian,” and switch to being a good guy.

On the NFL’s new jersey policy, Jeff S. writes,

Hey you can use "Quick Silver." Now's the time to get your 100 mile club t-shirt steve-o

Coming from my high school cross-country teammate, I nominate this for oldest joke in the history of the blog, since it references what I had on my team t-shirt my freshman year of high school, 13 years ago.

On the “24: Liberal or Conservative?” question, Sean writes:

I don't care if 24 is conservative or liberal. It's still an awesome show. And I disagree with both Mr. L and Mr. C: bring back Kim for the eye candy alone. Season 4 is really good, but it needs some hot babes.

Kim’s an interesting case- she goes in the Jenny McCarthy/Stephanie McMahon pantheon of women so annoying that their own fanboys turned against them, regardless of how hot they are/were. As for the “24 needs hot babes” thing, Sean wrote this before Michelle returned last week. Ah, Michelle…

Meanwhile, the show seems to be copying its template verbatim from Season 2: the villains in the first half of the year are evil Islamic terrorists, while the villains in the second half are evil corporate executives. Let’s hope it doesn’t also follow the Season 2 template of utterly sucking in the second half.

On the horrible Peter Vecsey, Matty D writes:

You should see Vecsey's daughter's work. She is absolutely terrible for the Baltimore Sun. Most of what she writes is absolute worthless drivel, and the rest is just a bit worse. She's got a loyal following in Baltimore of people who hate her work.

Ah yes, I know of Laura Vecsey- the time she accused Curt Schilling of faking his bloody ankle was a particularly nice touch. But she’s actually Peter’s niece, not his daughter; her father is PV’s estranged brother, the NYT’s much less loathsome George Vecsey.

On the Harvard/”heteronormative” issue, Downtown Lad writes:

I think the reaction to this story is probably overblown. I highly doubt that any students were actually upset by her statements. I think they were just making a point. And maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but I back those students 100%.

Having now seen the leader of that student group interviewed on a cable news show, I’m prepared to concede this point, especially since it doesn’t seem as though -contrary to the Crimson's reporting- anyone was actually offended by the statements. The real villain here isn’t the gay student group- it’s the reporter for the Crimson, who both created a controversy seemingly out of thin air, and failed to even include the “damning” quotes in her original story.

Still, getting to the crux of the matter: of course it's unfair to gays that people assume that they're straight unless they have reason to believe otherwise. But the fact is, straight people are the majority, and believing such things is inherent to majorities. I just feel like the fight for marriage equality and the inclusion of gays in the military- two causes that I wholeheartedly support- are much bigger fish to fry than whatever Will Smith's wife's opinions are on gender roles in society.

And speaking of gay, Dawn Summers has a question about everyone’s favorite weatherman, in reference to my Oscar recap:

umm...Sam Champion is happily married with kids. What do you know that I ...and well, his family...don't?

I don't know for an absolute fact that Sam is gay, although he's been identified as openly gay in the local press more than once, and has appeared at numerous gay community events, including one which he co-hosted along with Harvey Fierstein, Frank DeCaro, Bill Brochtup, and Nick Lachey. Sam is also the inspiration for local band Sam Champion, the frontman of which said in a recent interview that "our band is named after a gay weatherman."

Then again, according to her lifelong friend Karol, Dawn also thinks Clay Aiken is straight.

Also on the Oscars, the reader who happens to share my name has an interesting idea for next year:

The one Oscar moment I'd MOST love to see that will NEVER EVER happen: Lewis Black wins the Academy Award for best actor, then thanks his "very esteemed personal ball washer."

That's not too likely- since as far as I now, Black has never actually acted- though I'd personally love to see him host the show. Even if, like with Rock, the producers' squeamishness detracts from his strengths and prevents him from using any of his best material. What did you get- another car?

In reference to my recent iPod purchase, and my approving link to Slate's "bloggers are just like rappers" piece, "A" writes,

Rappers?? I think not...most of them actually get paid for what they do! You are a part of 2 cults now..I am glad you can admit it.

Only two? Guess you're not counting the Twins Nation. Or Reform Judaism.

And also, just to clarify, if you thought the serial commenter known as "A" was just some random troll, you were only half-right: she's actually a good friend of mine who likes to bait me by doing provocative things such as bashing blogs and (even worse) praising the Yankees. She also claims to hate the Blogosphere, but commenting seems to amuse her so much that I predict she'll have a blog of her own by this time next year.

And finally, on the Game/50 Cent feud, LilB has a crucial insight that you may have missed:

The "lollipop" that 50 refers to in "Candy Shop" is not a lollipop in the literal sense. It actually refers to his penis.

Wow. Now that I know this valuable information, my perspective on the situation has changed completely. As has my perspective on life itself. Next thing, you'll tell me "Magic Stick" isn't really about magician tricks.

UPDATE: The latest Simmons mailbag is one of the best ever, putting mine to shame. The part where his reader drew an elaborate analogy between the upcoming steroid hearings and "Godfather II"- with Jose Canseco in the Frankie Pentangeli role and Ozzie as Frankie's brother- had me howling with laughter, right in the middle of Cosi.

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

Jon Bon Jovi Remains a Candidate, However

Report: Bono Will Not Take Over World Bank

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2005

Keepin' It Real?

The hip-hop community and New York papers have been abuzz all week about the feud between rappers 50 Cent and The Game, which ostensibily ended the other day when they declared a truce. But now Post music critic Dan Aquilante is alleging that the entire feud was staged, just to sell albums.

It's not completely out of the realm of possibility that Aquilante is right, since the total fabrication of such issues isn't unheard of (I maintain, to this day, that the Jay-Z/Nas thing was a scam from the start). But how does Aquilante explain the guy who got shot the other day? Was that just "part of the act" too?

UPDATE: Here's another rap battle, one in the Middle East between a right-wing Israeli and left-wing Palestinian. I say these guys are about 10 times more likely to kill each other than 50 and the Game are.

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

Down With MoDo

I played a game today where I opened Maureen Dowd’s column, just to see how many paragraphs I could read before I couldn’t take it anymore. I ended up lasting until the fifth graf, when she started in on how “9/11 was an emasculating blow, and the White House had to strike back at somebody.” This completely wrong formulation, surprisingly, only Maureen’s third most-tiresome meme, trailing “men are afraid of strong women like me” and “[so-and-so politician] is a metrosexual.” The only worse thing I could imagine would be if Frank Rich wrote a column about the "Aristocrats" joke and somehow related it to the evils of George Bush. Oh, wait...

For more, check out

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

Back to Press

Following last week’s nationwide shitstorm over its making-fun-of-the-Pope’s-upcoming-death cover story, the NYC alt-weekly New York Press returned this week with tons of angry letters, a denunciation of author Matt Taibbi by the paper’s founder/columnist Russ “Mugger” Smith, and a response by Taibbi himself.

Taibbi admits that the Pope-mocking piece was “written in the waning hours of a Vicodin haze the previous Saturday morning” (I assumed it was probably some stronger drug); thankfully, he doesn’t attempt to pass himself off as a First Amendment martyr, instead admitting that

“the only accurate metaphor to describe what happened to the paper last week was stepping in shit. The shit was there, and we stepped in it of our own volition. It was a joint effort, between us and the shit.”
Now hopefully Taibbi is prepared to lie in that shit; he is the journalist who, after all, once vowed to eat his own feces if Jets receiver Curtis Conway scored a touchdown on the Patriots’ Ty Law in a 2003 game (he didn’t).

Taibbi then explains that the piece was written as a reaction to the unanimity of opinion often seen among pundits, and "the 197 consecutive fucking hours of Pope funeral coverage on cable we all know is coming very soon." Fair enough- but how the hell does his stupid, totally unfunny article prove his point? Taibbi, who has been very funny in the past, sounds like a 12-year-old, trying to shock without really having anything to say.

Karol, in a post the other day, shared my sentiments exactly: Four or five years ago, New York Press was GREAT- probably the best thing I read every week, a journal that greatly assisted in my introduction both to wide-ranging political views, and to New York itself. They ran such disparate writers as former editor John Strausbaugh, historian William Bryk, Christopher Caldwell, Taki, J.T. Leroy, Alexander Cockburn, Amy Sohn, Toby Young, and numerous others- all fascinating, all unique, all throught-provoking, and all long-gone from the paper.

In their place, the Press has been regularly running such writers as the erratic Taibbi, the apparently insane Mark Ames (who once called for working-class Americans to become suicide bombers), ‘60s dinosaur Paul Krassner, and the inexplicably published local political gadfly Christopher Brodeur, the guy who used to always get arrested for yelling at Giuliani in press conferences, who now authors a weekly cartoon where he calls for journalists to be arrested. Not exactly a stellar lineup, especially since nothing any of them has ever written would be out of place in the Press’ erstwhile blood foe, The Village Voice.

The paper even ran a group blog, the Daily Billboard, which was around well before blogs were popular, and then inexplicably killed it just as it was building momentum (I wrote for this blog for several months). The only top writers still around from back then are Jim Knipfel, and the two film critics- mad genius Armond White and the equally solid Matt Zoller Seitz.

Whoever the new editor is, I’d like to see the Press start to tap into their old format- smarter writers, more diversity of opinion, and less of this “iconoclasm for iconoclasm’s sake, even if it’s not funny” nonsense that’s been the hallmark of the Koyen/Zaitchik/Taibbi era. Who’s with me here?

(One writer who won’t be returning, however, is the truly vile Alan Cabal, a serial Israel-basher and Holocaust denier who spent years soiling NYP’s otherwise fine pages, and has written in to request removal from the masthead. Good riddance, I say; for a guy who once wrote about attending a Holocaust-revisionism conference in Beirut, it’s a bit hypocritical of him to resign over the Pope article. It will be a fine legacy for Koyen as editor that the last thing he ever wrote in NYP was a “fuck you” response to Cabal, in which he called him “an over-the-hill, anti-Semitic, paranoid, talentless Thompson wanna-be who's seen his glory days fade into the past. Glory days that never were, actually.”)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:44 AM | Comments (1)

Torch the Box Office, Meatwad

Everyone’s favorite talking milkshake, order of fries, and meatball are headed to the big screen, as an “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” movie is in the works, scheduled to hit theaters next year. I’ve been obsessed with this show for the past several months, watching it on re-runs at Cartoon Network almost every night, so I for one can’t wait to see what they come up with. I’ll be happy as long as the Mooninites are involved.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:47 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2005

The Best Thing Since Wrestling

Having made peace with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan will finally be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at Wrestlemania 21 next month. Call it the wrestling equivalent of Pete Rose going into Cooperstown (although Rose was, in case you forgot, inducted into the wrestling Hall last year as a publicity stunt).

Also going in this year: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Jimmy Hart, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, and "Cowboy" Bob Orton. Piper I can understand, and possibly Pope The Iron Sheik as well- but the rest? To return to the baseball metaphor, this is like a Cooperstown class fronted by Jim DeShaies, Denny Walling, Dennis Rasmussen, and John Vander Wal.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:18 PM | Comments (4)

Wednesday Night TV Notes

Yes, “South Park”’s season premiere tonight –on the way to parodying “The Swan” and all that- actually began with a direct homage to “Myra Breckinridge.” I didn’t just imagine it. Though I suppose I’m part of about .0001% of the show’s audience that got that. Andrew Sullivan probably is too.

“West Wing” was even better- the sort of political-gamesmanship episode that they do best. But my favorite part of all was Ray Wise (Leland from “Twin Peaks”) as the governor of California. It was one thing for Schwarzenegger to get elected to that office after all the groping stuff, but we’re supposed to think a man can win an election after he killed Laura Palmer?

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

Tice is Toast

The Vikings’ coach has now admitted that he scalped Super Bowl tickets while an assistant coach, and while continues to deny that he did the same as head coach, evidence suggests otherwise. I suspect he’s not long for the Vikings’ job, and at the very least he’ll likely be suspended- hopefully, before next month’s draft*.

I’ve been one of Tice’s toughest critics, and I should say that he’s probably not a bad guy. He’s just a guy who had no business ever being a head coach in the NFL, who was thrust into that role with little preparation, when he’s prone to bad judgment. This scalping thing is pretty consistent with what we know about Tice anyway, from having watched him coach for the past three years.

The strange thing is, the Vikes were having a stellar offseason as it was. The horrible Red McCombs sold the team; they both moved Randy Moss and got much higher value for him than San Francisco did last year for the far superior Terrell Owens; and they’ve added two big free agents (Pat Williams and Fred Smoot) on the defensive side of the ball. And on top of all that, now Tice may very well be out as well. There may be hope for this organization yet.

(*In Philly last weekend, I heard a sports-radio rumor that the Eagles could package Freddie Mitchell and a couple of mid-round draft choices to the Vikings in exchange for the 7th overall pick. I really hope that was just idle chatter/wishful thinking, because it’s the sort of move that Tice- if he’s still in charge a month from now- is just dumb enough to make).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:19 PM | Comments (2)

Synergy Affield

For the last couple of years, has, at the bottom of its news stories, run a link to breaking news from ABC News, though only when there was major news to report- for instance, logging on to ESPN on a Sunday morning in December of ’03 was how I heard for the first time about Saddam Hussein being captured. Having that occasional link brought a certain gravitas to the Worldwide Leader’s site, even if it was a naked example of corporate synergy (as the two networks are both owned by Disney).

Well, the ABC link has now been added, breaking news or not, as a permanent feature- and what was the bit of “breaking news” linked for much of the day on Tuesday? That’s right, “Heartbroken Model Reflects on Tsunami.” Not only is it laughable that this is even a news story, but model Petra Nemcova has a long association with… Sports Illustrated, ESPN’s competitor. So much for “synergy.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Please Let It Be True...

Report: Tice Target of NFL Ticket-Scalping Probe

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:08 AM | Comments (2)

March 08, 2005

Blind Justice

No, I’m not talking about the sure-to-be-terrible cop show that debuted last night. But rather an op-ed in my college paper, The Justice, attacking Brandeis' Near-Eastern Judaic Studies professor, Kanan Makiya. Makiya, an Iraqi who was active for many years in that country’s exile movement, was a vocal supporter of the war in Iraq, and subsequently went on leave to assist in the re-building of his country following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

I never knew of Makiya at 'deis, but always admired him for doing this- he went on sabbatical not to enjoy a vacation or to teach somewhere else- he did it because his country was liberated. And beyond that Makiya, an avowed Marxist, is likely not a supporter of the Bush Administration on much else. But he was of course enthusiastically supportive of the effort to overthrow the dictator who had pillaged his country and murdered his countrymen for nearly 25 years. Can you blame him?

If you’re Justice writer Joe Farbeann, you can. Farbeann writes that in acting within the exile community before and since the war, “Makiya’s actions [were] improper,” as though Makiya were somehow wrong to agitate for the liberation of his own people. And Fabeann wants him to “admit that he made a mistake"? Why in the world would he?

Then the author concludes this asinine diatribe by sharing that “things have not improved for the Iraqi people”- oh yea? They’re no longer under a despotic dictator, and they had an election. Things are certainly not perfect in Iraq now, but they’re well on the road to freedom, something that never would’ve happened without the invasion.

I didn’t think the Boston-area collegiate press could do worse this month than the Crimson/ “heteronormative” story, but apparently I was wrong. Follow Brandeis alum Josh has more.

For some much-needed levity, check out this review of the campus’ recent performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” which uses the unbelievable headline “’Vagina Monologues’ Fails To Climax.” We also learn that it was performed as part of both VaginaFest, and Vagina Week. (But isn’t every week Vagina Week?) Since the semi-negative review was written by a male, I expect at least 10 negative letters next week.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:13 PM | Comments (4)

Quote of the Day

"So they named John Bolton to be our ambassador to the UN? Am I imagining things? Next you'll tell me that Pootie Tang himself is going to stop by to give me his fur blouson."
-Reihan Salam, the American Scene. I think Pootie, in fact, would make an even better UN ambassador than Bolton would, what with his belt/whip that could serve as a check on Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Then again, it might be difficult to get him through the confirmation process:
Sen. Biden: Mr. Tang, how do you propose solving the refugee crisis in the Sudan?

Pootie Tang: Tippy tai. I'm a sine you piddy on da runny kine.

From that point forward, "getting Borked" would be referred to instead as "getting Pootied."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

In Good Company

This blog has me blogrolled, under the sub-heading “Traitors (Pro-War Left/Pro-War Liberal Delinquents),” along with, among others, Eric the Unread, Michael Totten, Norm Geras, Oliver Kamm, and Paul Berman. Inclusion in such a fine list is one of the prouder moments of my nearly three years as a blogger.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:58 PM | Comments (5)

Here’s the Scoop

Meet the newest columnist: Robert “Scoop” Jackson. Not only did he take his name from one of the greatest senators in American history, but Jackson was once, tangentially, my co-worker: He was editor of Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines when they were published by PSP, where I worked from 2000-2001.

Based on Jackson’s introductory column, however, I’m sure not how often I’ll be returning to it:

Well, first off – I is not that important. I am just a writer from Slam, XXL, NBA and Nike who found his way into ESPN's backdoor. Lucked up. Spit a few verbs, convinced 'em that Stephen A. wasn't the only one.
Guess that’s bad news for Slava Medvedenko. Jackson’s first column is written in the format of Costner’s famous monologue from “Bull Durham,” and while he remains silent on Astroturf, the designated hitter, and whether Oswald acted alone, Jackson does share this nugget:
I believe until she has a child, Serena Williams is the sexiest female athlete alive.
Huh? Is Jackson saying that Serena will cease to be as sexy once she gets pregnant, or that her child will eclipse her in sexiness, once she has one?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

Who’s That Girl?

Someone should, like, find her, and sign her to a movie deal. Because at the very least, she’s probably more talented than Penelope Cruz.

Instapundit has more. Is it because she's a Lebanese?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2005


In my review 18 months ago of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball,” I drew a somewhat facetious analogy between the strategy discussed in that book and a certain other movement that was in vogue at the time:

What the neo-conservatives of the Bush Adminstration are to foreign policy, the sabermetric movement is to major league baseball: a movement that has existed and gradually gained steam for years, and now has finally broken through and more or less been accepted by those in power.

The sabermatricians' Weekly Standard is the Baseball Prospectus; their Scoop Jackson Bill James, and their Axis of Evil is baseball's traditional scouting establishment. And their George W. Bush is Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane: a longtime insider who has embraced the movement's long-held ideas and applied them on the main stage.

Well, you can imagine my surprise to open up last week’s Sports Illustrated, and in a profile of Beane and his latest A’s makeover, to find this passage:
But whereas A's general manager Billy Beane had usually been content, as in the cases of Giambi and Tejada, to wring the last years of service from his young talent and accept draft picks as compensation, he changed tracks this winter. In essence Beane preempted -- to borrow a term now in vogue in foreign policy circles and favored by several members of the Oakland brain trust -- an imminent financial crisis, surrendering three years' worth of dividends for immediate help. The consensus around baseball has the A's dead and buried, with preemption the cause.

"Nothing wrong with it if you're a neocon," roars Beane, who showed in Michael Lewis's 2003 best-seller Moneyball that he's equal parts earthy and wonkish.

Guess this proves Billy Beane reads BlogCritics.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Koyen Out

In the wake of the whole “Funny Things About the Pope’s Death” cover story brouhaha, Jeff Koyen has resigned as editor of New York Press. In his two-year tenure, Koyen presided over something like four different redesigns, and lurched the paper considerably far to the left (that’s bad), but he did publish me a couple of times (that’s good).

It’s probably the right move, although the publisher’s rationale sounds like B.S., and calling for New Yorkers to “exercise their right to take as many of these rags as they can and put them in the trash” was not one of mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s finer moments. But still- was this turn of events attributable to a “chill on free speech”? No. Shockingly poor editorial judgment? Yes. The back-from-hiatus The Minor Fall, the Major Lift says it best:

If you're going to do a deliberately controversial piece about the death of the Pope and you use the word “funny” in the title, it sort of behooves you to, you know, actually be funny at least one out of fifty-two times, even if you are writing for a journal whose main function is to provide lonely men with tranny fixations a chance to make new friends.
You'll know the Press is screwed if they start losing those advertisers.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:42 PM | Comments (1)

Not So Churchillian

I haven’t written a lot about the controversy involving Ward Churchill, the Colorado college professor who has drawn fire for referring to September 11 victims as “Little Eichmanns.” I feel it’s best to treat Churchill as the minor, inconsequential figure that he always has been and deserves to continue to be, so therefore his ravings are best left ignored, much as one would treat the bleatings of a belligerant vagrant, muttering to himself in a subway car.

But Fox News, which has devoted about ten segments a day to Churchill for the past two months, obviously disagrees. And so, unfortunately, does Bill Maher, who had the laughable prof on his show last Friday (I missed it, but Jeff Jarvis is all over it). And unfortunately, Andrew Sullivan wasn’t around to dress down Churchill, as he did when Noam Chomsky appeared on Maher’s show last fall.

An interesting nugget in Jarvis’ comments: apparently Jeff’s anti-spam software blocks comments that include the word “socialist.” A piece of subversive anti-leftist propaganda? Actually, no… “socialist” is banned because it contains the word “cialis,” the anti-impotence drug that is- deservedly- is on the blacklist.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

Halo 1

Last Thursday’s Netflix movie was “Horns And Halos,” the fascinating but ultimately infuriating documentary about the hullabaloo a few years ago over “Fortunate Son.” That anti-Bush bio, published in 1999 when Dubya was running for president, alleged (apparently, without any evidence) that Bush had been arrested for drunken driving in 1971, and was hastily pulled from the shelves when it was revealed that its author, James Hatfield, had been convicted of and served time for attempted murder.

The film, while admittedly fascinating, makes two big strategic mistakes. One, it clearly positions itself in the position that Hatfield was done a grave injustice, as though it doesn’t hurt an author’s credibility that he had hid an attempted-murder conviction. Especially the author of a book that blasts its subject for… hiding a long-ago conviction. Then at end Hatfield, somewhat implausibly, claims that Karl Rove was his source for the information about Bush's conviction.

The other mistake the film makes is that rather than give the lion’s share of screen time to the very intriguing Hatfield- who committed suicide not long after the book was published- it has as its central figure Sander Hicks, the maverick New York publisher who took the book on after it was dropped by St. Martin’s Press. Hicks- who pulls the rare feat of being both totally uninteresting and immensely unlikable- spends much of the film pontificating about the dark sinister forces represented by Bush, and by capitalism in general- that is, when he’s not seen in an East Village club performing pseudo-punk poetry that seems inspired by that of Mike Myers in “So I Married An Axe Murderer.” There's also an instructive scene where Hicks cautions his colleagues to bash "Republicans" in TV appearances, as opposed to the capitalist system itself.

Especially galling is the film’s belief that there’s some sort of climate of censorship right now, as though there haven't been dozens of other anti-Bush books that said almost all of the same things as “Fortunate Son.” “Horns & Halos” is an entertaining look at a flap most of us had forgotten about, but it’s to be taken with quite a great many grains of salt.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

Great Moments in Mustache History

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton has been nominated as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. With Bolton coming to New York and Bernard Kerik losing out on his cabinet post, Thomas Friedman continues to reign unchallenged for the title of Best Mustache in Washington.

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

Politicians vs. Rap

Al Sharpton -yes, Al Sharpton- has proposed a "90-day ban" for any rap artist using violent lyrics in their music. Does this mean rappers will start ripping Sharpton on their next albums? Maybe 50 Cent and The Game can reunite in opposition to Al.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:01 PM | Comments (3)

March 04, 2005

One Phrase That’s NOT Banned From NFL Jerseys

Not on the list. Probably because it’s true. Make your vulgar-but-true jersey here.

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

Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey

Jumping at a last-minute offer from a co-worker with an extra ticket, I attended Thursday’s night’s game between the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat at the Meadowlands. Always good to go to an NBA game, especially when a future Hall of Famer like Shaquille O’Neal is involved.

But I’ve always thought there’s something weird about Continental Airlines Arena generally, and Nets games particularly. Namely, the fact that nobody wants to go to them, and those who do go just don’t seem to have a good time, or show any enthusiasm at all.

Now in case you haven’t noticed, even going beyond the normal East Coast Bias, the East Coast has begun to dominate pro sports in recent years like at no time since the ‘50s. Teams from east of the Mississippi have won the last two World Series, the last five Super Bowls, and last year’s NBA title, while Boston has improbably transformed itself into Titletown USA. East Coast sports fans have cultivated a reputation for being passionate to the point of obsession, to the point where players such as Curt Schilling have demanded to be traded to the region in order to enter the pressure cooker.

But somehow, this boom of success and passion has passed the Meadowlands by, even though the Nets have been decent for the past few years, and currently have both a recent MVP (Jason Kidd) and an internationally known superstar (Vince Carter). The Nets are still unable drum up much interest, rarely selling out the arena (even in the playoffs), and not particularly drawing a lot of media interest either. And when the team was sold last year and announced plans to move to Brooklyn, there was no organized movement to speak of aimed at keeping them in town.

Perhaps it’s because the Nets have to share the New York market with the Knicks, who are clearly more popular. And maybe it’s because the arena- which is a clearly obsolete building- is so far out of the way and not very transit-accessible. But even though the Nets have kept tickets relatively cheap and thus not priced out most working class fans as many other teams have, fan enthusiasm for the Nets remains all but nil.

Last night was no exception, as Miami came from behind to beat the Nets 106-90. Despite the presence of Shaq- both the NBA’s best player and a native of nearby Newark, and despite the return to town of former Net Alonzo Mourning, who ripped Nets management for not buying out his contract and subsequently signed with the Heat- there were empty seats all over the place, and even the fans who were there made little noise and showed little enthusiasm. By the time ‘Zo got in the game with two minutes left, most of the crowd was long gone.

A few notes on the evening:

- I didn’t hear about it until after the fact, but I understand Jay-Z and Beyonce were in the house, as the Jigga-man is now a part-owner of the team. I can’t believe I was in the same building as Beyonce and didn’t realize it- normally the big shots stick to Knicks games, and the biggest celebrity at most Nets contests is Joe Piscopo.

- Now maybe this is true of every NBA team these days, but it appeared as though aside from superstars, the two rosters consisted entirely of journeymen who are on their 9th or 10th NBA team. No matter what team you’re a fan of, I guarantee that at some point they’ve had at least one of Christian Laettner, Ron Mercer, Cliff Robinson, Travis Best, Michael Doleac, or Shandon Anderson. The Heat even dragged out Steve Smith, who was their best player a decade ago, though I'd assumed he'd been retired for quite some time.

- The Heat, now that they’ve signed Mourning, have all of the top three picks from the 1992 NBA Draft- Shaq, Zo, and Laettner. They do not, however, still have their own first-round pick from that draft, Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner.

- Another stadium drawback: the concession line, while not particularly long, was the slowest I’ve ever experienced in 20 years of attending sporting events. Now perhaps it's some sort of union thing, but the Nets really ought to consider bringing in a concession worker or two who’s under the age of 70.

- Simmons was right- Dwyane Wade is an even more amazing player in person than on TV. I just wish I could say the same about the Nets’ dance team- they looked not so bad from our seats, but more typically New Jersey-like when I saw them up close after the game.

- Vince Carter seemed to be the only guy on either team who could make a shot in the first quarter, but then he all but disappeared in the second half, going 1-for-11. Still, I could see the Nets doing something next year, if they have him, Kidd, and Reggie Jefferson all healthy, and are able to pick up a big man in free agency or the draft.

- Seriously- I still can’t believe they couldn’t sell 19,000 tickets in the greater New York area for Shaquille freakin’ O’Neal. I used to go to Wolves games in the pre-Garnett era, back when the only sellouts each season were for Jordan’s Bulls, Shaq’s Magic, Ewing’s Knicks, and whichever team Barkley was on that year. But even then the crowd wasn’t as dead as it was last night. Hell, I’m going to an Arena Football League game in Philly on Sunday, and I fully expect a larger and livelier crowd than the one at Continental last night.

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

The Press vs. the Pope

A huge tempest has been raised by Matt Taibbi’s cover story in last week’s New York Press, titled “52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope.” So huge, in fact, that NYP’s website has been down for the much of the past 24 hours, probably as a result of the link from Drudge.

Now I’m all for being “edgy” and “controversial,” and that’s the sort of thing that Taibbi’s done (with varying success) for all his time with the paper. And I’ve always been of the view that any subject –up to and including the Holocaust- can be played effectively for laughs, provided it’s done right (see, “The Producers,” etc.)

But what’s shocking here is that not only is the premise of the piece over the line, but it’s just plain not funny, at any point. My respect for this once-great paper has dropped once again, and I look forward to watching it get fed into the Fox News Outrage Machine. Maybe William Donohue will have a heart attack on the air.

Then again, the Taibbi piece is over over the top that I can’t help but think this was the plan all along. Once they get pounced on by talk radio and Blogosphere, and likely get hit with an advertiser boycott, the NYP editors will get to pretend that there’s a “chill” on their free speech, and that it’s just another example of Bush-era American fascism. The outrage train travels in both directions, you know…

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)

Least Likely News Story of the Year

Republican Media Adviser Found Dead At Carrie Fisher’s House. I won't make a "Death Star" joke.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

The Battle of Who Could Care Less

Apparently America’s two most inconsequential pseudo-celebrities are feuding. Hopefully they'll cancel each other out.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:45 PM | Comments (1)

What Might Have Been, and Other Vikings Notes

ESPN reported today that Vikings owner Red McCombs came close to firing Mike Tice as coach at mid-season. Because Tice is an idiot? Because he sucks at both in-game coaching and handling the team? Actually none of the above- it was because Red wanted to appease Randy Moss! But instead, McCombs has both traded Moss and sold the team; Tice, unfortunately, remains. McCombs will remain owner until the sale to Reggie Fowler is approved- so way to give his coach such a public vote of confidence.

But that’s nowhere near as strange as this piece by former NFL player Alan Grant, on the racial aspects of the Fowler purchase. Making five different arguments that make sense but don’t really fit with one another, Grant eventually leads into this:

While we're on unspoken rules, Ed Gordon of National Public Radio mentioned one recently that applies to black folks in corporate settings. It goes like this: If there are two black people in conversation, it's a business meeting. But if there are three, then it might be perceived as a plot to overtake the power structure. [Guess that's why the Fugees never reunited].

And this brings us to Randy Moss.

While we're awaiting Fowler's confirmation by his soon-to-be peers, there is much speculation about whether he had any say in the trade of Randy Moss to the Raiders. In the week before the deal went down, Fowler said, "No, there will be no trade of Randy Moss."

I'm sure that sounded good to Moss fans. Nevertheless, Moss, the league's best receiver, is packing his bags and heading to Oaktown.

Now for the past seven years, Moss has been responsible for ... oh, say 3/5 of the Vikings' success. But don't you think the joined forces of Daunte Culpepper (field leader), Moss (unshackled field hand) and Fowler (landowner) would have the power to alter the league's structure drastically? Neither the seller (Red McCombs) nor the buyer (Fowler) amassed his wealth without some common sense, so I'm sure no one had to remind either man of this.

Huh? Is Grant trying to argue that the NFL power structure was afraid of having a black owner and two black superstars on the same team? Well, the league doesn’t choose who buys and sells teams and signs or trades players- the individual owners do, in this case, it’s McCombs.

But if McCombs is so afraid of blacks taking over the Vikings, why did he choose to sell the team to Fowler? Why did he trade Moss when he knew he wasn’t going to be owner for much longer? And isn’t it almost certain that whatever receiver the Vikings draft or sign to replace Moss will be black as well? Never mind that McCombs elected to buy the team back when they had a black coach (Dennis Green), in addition to a black quarterback (Randall Cunningham) and two star black receivers (Moss and Cris Carter).

I don’t deny that racism exists in the NFL, and I’m certainly not one to defend Red McCombs. But Grant seems to be constructing something out of nothing on this one.

Speaking of those potential receivers: the Vikes are rumored to be interested in signing Plaxico Burress, the top free agent receiver, to replace Moss. I approve- he's almost as good as Moss, less of a headcase, will get less money, and they can use the Raiders' first-round pick on either defense or a running back. In fact, bringing in Burress makes so much sense, that I'm sure the Vikings won't do it.

And finally, an agreement was reached yesterday between Gov. Tim Pawlenty and several of the state's Indian tribes in order to share profits on a new metropolitan casino. Previously, all Minnesota casinos have been Native American-owned, and been located on reservations and in other rural areas.

The agreement makes no reference to using such revenues for stadium construction, but such an application remains a possibility, and indeed it has been discussed throughout the last decade of Twins/Vikings stadium agitation. Let's hope if negotiations of the kind are re-opened, Pawlenty doesn't hold them in a room in the governor's mansion adorned with a large painting of a battle in which Indians were massacred, as former Gov. Arne Carlson once did.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:01 AM | Comments (1)

HeteronormGate: Day 2, or “Harvard Hates Heteronormativity” is still available- should I reserve it?

Anyway, a day has passed since the breaking of the shocking allegations, and there have been quite a few developments:

- The original Harvard Crimson story, infamously, left out the actual quotes by Pinkett Smith. Here’s what she said, from an earlier Crimson story:

"Women, you can have it all—a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career," she said. "They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want. All you have to do is want it."
"To my men, open your mind, open your eyes to new ideas. Be open," she added.
Wow, how shocking! Controversial! Subversive! Some would even call it… liberal!

- Drudge linked to the piece yesterday afternoon, likely causing the Harvard Crimson office to go nuts when hundreds of blogs subsequently attacked the story. It’s gotta be embarrassing for this group of likely overworked and underpaid (unpaid?) college newspaper editors, and especially the writer- although I’ll bet within three years she’ll be on the national staff of the New York Times.

- Here's an op-ed by a former officer of the student organization that first raised this, who essentially rips the whole "heteronormative" idea to shreds.

- Here are the first “MSM” treatments of it; though neither the Boston Herald nor Page Six adds much to the Crimson version.

- The greatest absurdity of all, of course, is that people attending the world’s most prestigious university believe that they have an unalienable Right to Never Feel Bad. The problem with the whole college PC regime- well, one of the problems- is that you get out of college into real life, and things suddenly stop working that way. It’s an absurd story, of course, but it is entertaining, and if it helps to draw attention away from the Summers brouhaha, then all the better.

This reminds me of the time during my Brandeis days when former New York Mayor Ed Koch was brought in as a visiting professor to teach a political science course (I didn’t take the course, but several of my friends did). Now normally when students would say something in class that was stupid and/or ignorant, the reply from the professor would be along the lines of "I respect your opinion, but..." Not Koch. He would respond to the assembled idiots, every day, with "you're wrong, you don't know what you're talking about.” I hear Koch handled the city council much the same way when he was mayor, but I digress.

A girl in the class wrote a “Koch is a jerk” op-ed in the Justice, and Koch’s reply was classic: “She thinks I’m tough? Wait until she gets into the private sector.”

As Harvard students, these people are likely to end up in the upper reaches of that same private sector. And I’ll bet, at some point, they’re going to have to deal with the boss talking about his wife.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:45 AM | Comments (3)

Quote of the Day

Leftist-turned centrist John Paul Pagano, on a particularly egregious post by Atrios:

Reread Atrios' passage, and then, if you've seen it, think of the closing sequence of In the Line of Fire. In it, John Malkovich's character delivers a posthumous monologue to Clint Eastwood's answering machine, and the latter, tired of listening to the once-intriguing but now dead and irrelevant assassin, just leaves his apartment without bothering to stop or erase the message. I feel like Eastwood's character just about every day now.
I'm sure John also wouldn't mind re-enacting the end of "Million Dollar Baby," with himself as Clint and The Left in the Hilary Swank role.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:35 AM | Comments (2)

Durka Durka

Somehow, I was unaware of this guy until today. And here I thought Jamal Levy had the best name in college basketball.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:30 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

The 1,121 Words You Can’t Say On An NFL Jersey

The National Football League just got a little more gay, as the league confirmed earlier this week that it has removed the word “gay” from its list of phrases that are banned from personalized jerseys. The reason? There’s a player, Randall Gay, who was the starting cornerback on the Patriots team that won the Super Bowl.

Yes, that’s right: the Super Bowl is Gay.

Bill Simmons has joked more than once that Randall Gay has "the worst-selling jersey in the history of the league,” which I suppose is technically true since it hasn’t been available until now. But there is demand: a professor of Gay’s from LSU attempted to buy the jersey and was rebuffed, as was “a gay man named Barry Gay.”

Randall is not the first Gay in the NFL; a running back named Ben Gay played in several games with the Browns and Colts in the early part of this decade. But apparently he wasn’t good enough that anyone ever tried to order a Ben Gay jersey.

While “Gay” has been taken off the list of banned jersey words, more than 1,000 words remain on it, and the list contains pretty much every vulgar expression you could possibly imagine (I’d like to meet the NFL official who came up with it). It makes for fascinating reading, and I’m sorry to those of you who’ve always wanted to hit the Meadowlands on a Fall Sunday with “Cameltoe” on the back of your Jets jersey.

But thankfully the NBA has no such prohibition, making possible all sorts of fun:

And finally, I believe Eminem has some insights on this situation that should not go unheeded:

Dr. Dre (what up?)
I got a question if i may (yea)
is it gay to play putt putt golf with a friend (yea)
and watch his butt butt when he tees off (yea)
but but i aint done yet
in football a quarterback yells out hut hut
while he reaches in another grown man's ass
grabs on his nuts, but just what if
it was never meant, it was just an accident
but he tripped, fell, slipped and his penis went in
his teeny, tiny, little, round hiney
and he didn't mean it but his little weenie flinched just a little bit
and I don't need to go into any more details
but what if he pictured it as a female's butt
is that gay? I just need to clear things up
til then I'll just walk around with a manly strut because…
.(Hat tip to blogger Dawn Eden, who made me aware of this story and if she read the above, probably now wishes she hadn’t).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:49 PM | Comments (4)

March 02, 2005

Call Me Heteronormative, But...

Many of you have probably been following the brouhaha involving Harvard president Larry Summers, and his comments about women in the sciences. I happen to think he said the wrong thing, but he’s apologized, so let’s move on; especially since he’s been an excellent president, one somehow immune from the gutlessness normally indigenous to elite university administrators.

Reasonable people can certainly disagree on that, though I find it amusing to see how Summers- a liberal economist who was Secretary of the Treasury in the second Clinton administration- has as a result of this become a conservative hero. I guess this proves my theory that there’s a big difference between liberals and leftists- Summers is a liberal, while the people who want his head are leftists. And to paraphrase Chris Rock, “leftists have got to go!”

But the Summers kerfuffle is nothing compared to the latest bit of news from Cambridge. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith appeared at Harvard last weekend to accept an award from the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations. But some on campus are taking issue with some of her remarks, which they criticized as “heteronormative.”

It’s hard to tell what the actual offending statements were, because the 23-paragraph Harvard Crimson story, strangely, includes not a word of them. But the school’s "gender activists" are angry with the actress for “remarks concerning appropriate gender roles were specific to heterosexual relationships.” Her crime, I’d imagine, is that she discussed her marriage to actor Will Smith who- in case you weren’t aware from following his rap, sitcom, and film careers- is a male. And we’ve now reached the point where speaking about one’s own heterosexuality is in itself somehow offensive- even at the world’s most prestigious university.

The controversy is doubly amusing, however, when we look at Pinkett Smith, and remember that the last time she said something controversial, it was this, in praise of her “Matrix Reloaded” co-director Larry Wachowski:

"Larry is one of the most intelligent people that I've ever had the pleasure sitting down and having a conversation with. You know, besides maybe Cornel West. Or even Sister Souljah."
The juxtaposition is hilarious for several reasons, not the least of which is that that co-director, Larry Wachowski, has since begun the process of gender-reassignment and is now known as Linda Wachowski (not so heteronormative, huh!). Not to mention that West was drummed out of Harvard after a highly publicized feud with Summers himself, and we all know what transpired between Souljah and Summers’ old boss, Bill Clinton.

But I guess someone who praises West (and Sister Souljah) is still too conservative for today’s Harvard.

UPDATE: Speaking of "heteronormative," this is hilarious. "No Republicans" appearing in apartment listings is nothing new, but this is way, way beyond.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:04 PM | Comments (4)

Vecsey vs. Aldridge

This blog’s favorite NBA writer, Peter Vecsey, nominates himself for the Chutzpah Award with an attack on TNT’s David Aldridge, who is both ten times the reporter and a hundred times the class act Vecsey is.

Citing no evidence at all, America’s Worst Sports Columnist accuses Aldridge of stealing his scoops over the years. This is pretty pathetic, especially since Vecsey fails to mention that Aldridge’s gig- TNT’s main analyst/reporter- used to be HIS gig.

But then again, who is Vecsey to bash DA’s trade-deadline reporting performance, when he himself went ahead with two “exclusives” of his own that turned out to be dead wrong? Peter would’ve written more, but he had to head to a Lakers practice, to interview Peja Stojakovic and Carlos Boozer.

I’m with blogger Tondar, who rips Vecsey for “trying to write like the Sports Guy, except with an extra chromosome.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:54 PM | Comments (1)

March 01, 2005

Sire Records

Walking home today I saw a bit of advertising- in the form of one of those decorated mini-vans often used for hip-hop promotion- for a new rapper who goes by the name of "Sire Castro." He’s so new, in fact, that he’s got no albums listed on Amazon or any record label’s site, and is only mentioned on several web sites devoted to underground mix tapes.

Now for all I know Sire could end up being the biggest thing to hit rap since Eminem- I’m yet to hear his music. But from what I can tell, he’s already got three strikes against him: his name is remarkably similar to that of Sarcastro, a character from an episode of the old “The Tick” cartoon who was depicted as a wannabe superhero so named because he was very sarcastic, and resembled Castro. Secondly, Sire Castro is photographed on the side of the van wearing a Ricky Williams jersey. Does this mean that, a week before his album is released, he’ll retire from rap in order to “walk the Earth”?

And finally, in the wake of Santana and Banderas’ Che-lovefest at the Oscars the other night, Sire Castro seems to indicate a resurgence in communist iconography in pop music unseen since the days of Gang of Four, and The Clash’s “Sandinista!” album. Perhaps the rise of Sire will lead to a vanguard of new rap acts named after tyrannical communist dictators: Are you ready for MC Mao Tse Tung? Da Bolshevix? DJ Nicolae Ceausescu?

At any rate, there’s no way Sire Castro’s music could possibly be as good as that of the new Conan O’Brien character Fidel Castro, Rabbit DJ.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:55 PM | Comments (11)

“24”: Liberal or Conservative?

I raised this question a few weeks ago, and the responses have been about 50/50. Consider these generic versions of the primary arguments, and should be taken as much as parodies of actual political dialogue than dialogue itself (spoilers are likely, if you’ve never seen ‘24’ up until now):

Mr. L: “24” is liberal because David Palmer, the presidential candidate in season 1 and president in seasons 2 and 3, is clearly established as a Democrat, and is depicted almost entirely as an admiral, brave leader. In Season 2, he expresses willingness to invade “three middle eastern countries,” but is cautious, seeking to prove first that the unnamed countries were in fact responsible for that day’s nuclear attack. Such a turn of events would likely make Palmer the New Republic’s favorite president of all time.

Mr. C: However, since we learn very little of Palmer’s views on domestic politics, we can’t establish that he’s actually a liberal, and furthermore, Palmer falls victim in Season 2 to a coup attempt led by his vice president and several cabinet members, most or all of whom were presumably Democrats as well. And finally, the president in Season 4, Keeler, is a Republican, and both Keeler and his Secretary of Defense, Heller, are portrayed just as bravely and heroically as Palmer. Therefore, “24” is conservative.

Mr. L: But you forgot: that plot during Season 2, in which evidence falsified by sinister forces within the government nearly caused the United States to start a war in the Middle East, happened to take place at the exact same time that the real United States was starting a war in the Middle East, also largely based on evidence that turned out to be wrong. Furthermore, in a Village Voice wet dream, the manipulation was carried out by a consortium of oil interests. Therefore, both in being so prescient about the misuse of government power and distrust of Big Oil, and in opposing the idea of pre-emptive war, “24” is liberal.

Mr. C: So what? That decision followed one in which a nuclear attack took place on U.S. soil. And indeed, all four seasons of the show have featured terrorists seeking to do harm to the United States and CTU fighting back against them- therefore proving “24” conservative both in acknowledging that we are at war with terrorism, and in unambiguously endorsing the notion of fighting back against the terrorists. This is also demonstrated in that in dealing with terror suspects, torture is not the last resort, but rather the first.

Mr. L: Speaking of nuclear attacks… the Season 4 storyline, involving a plot by terrorists to cause meltdowns at several nuclear reactors, highlights two popular liberal causes: the environmental dangers of nuclear power, and the Bush Administration’s lack of security at nuclear power plants. Therefore, “24” is liberal.

Mr. C: But let’s look beyond the show: “24” airs on Fox, which as we all know is owned by the arch-conservative media baron Rupert Murdoch. Furthermore, all of the news footage broadcast within CTU is Fox News Channel, while on the February 28 episode, the terrorists were seen watching CNN. And the show’s creator and executive producer, Joel Surnow, described himself in a recent Entertainment Weekly article as a “right-wing nutjob.”

Mr. L: True, but there’s nothing conservative about the main character, Jack Bauer- yes, he’s willing to kill and torture terrorists, but he’s also practically the right-hand man of a Democratic president (Palmer) who he can get on the phone whenever he wants, and don’t forget that he was also cautious about going to war in the “three Middle Eastern countries.”

Mr. C: That’s nothing: throughout its history, “24” has exhibited a conservative-oriented tendency to spit in the face of political correctness- despite the cries of Muslim activists, it has used Islamic terrorists in two of its four seasons, and has never felt the need to depict racial minorities necessarily as heroic characters. Case in point- the show’s most notorious villain is Sherry Palmer, a black woman.

Mr. L: True, but even in doing so the show –in classic liberal fashion- has taken pains to balance out the Muslim villains with Muslim good guys, such as Resa and later the Muslim CTU agent in Season 2, and Berooz in Season 4. And that’s to say nothing of that PSA Sutherland did. There has been more than one African-American hero (from David Palmer on down), and besides, Sherry may be the show’s biggest villain, but by far its most hated character- Kim Bauer- is a white woman.

Mr. C: I agree. Kim sucks.

Mr. L: Indeed. A character so bad she transcends politics.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:48 PM | Comments (3)

Tierney of the Majority

The New York Times announced today that John Tierney will become their newest op-ed columnist, replacing the recently retired William Safire.

This is a good choice. More a libertarian than a conservative, though less of either than Safire, Tierney authored one of my favorite magazine pieces of all time, the 1996 NYT Magazine cover story “Recycling is Garbage.” (I haven't recycled since) Can’t wait to see what he comes up with as a columnist.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)


Allow me to indulge in a bit of Sullivan-style blogger triumphalism: February was this blog's first-ever month with more than 20,000 visitors. I'm guessing about 5,000 of those were people searching for Randy Moss trade info.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:42 PM | Comments (2)

So Long, Sipowicz

“NYPD Blue” closed out its 12-year-run tonight with a tasteful, workmanlike, not-particularly-“special” episode, ending with now-Sgt. Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) thanked one-by-one by the other cops in the station. A fitting end to a pioneering show that, I admit, I haven’t watched regularly in several years.

In the end, ‘Blue’ deserves credit for paving the way for such “adult” cop shows as “The Shield,” as well as popularizing the short-sleave-shirt-with-a-tie look. And the Jimmy Smits death story arc was quite well-done as well.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:38 PM | Comments (1)

New York's Cutest Couple

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:36 PM | Comments (5)