"One more note for anyone watching: I always wondered why Krista Allen wasn't one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood, since she's more attractive than just about anyone out there. Now we know why. Good golly."-Bill Simmons, referencing last night's episode of "Project Greenlight," which featured actress Allen showing up, drunk off her ass, to the movie's last night of filming at 4 AM.
There are two things about last night's episode that I'm surprised Sports Guy didn't mention: first, he was quoted, in a commercial for the show that aired on Bravo, referring to director John Gulager as possibly "the biggest wacko in the history of Hollywood." (The attribution was to "ESPN.com"; funny that they would promote themselves with the strange but nevertheless correct idea that their director is a wacko.)
Second is the classicly awkward moment on last night's episode in which Gulager went up to Allen to tell her that she'd changed her bra, and that since the new bra (unlike the old) didn't render her nipples visible, that would thus be a continuity error and she'd have to change back. It's silly, yes, but hey- fanboys notice that sort of thing. Too bad "Feast" won't have any fanboys.
Just 21 years after helping Boston College beat Miami with one of the most famous Hail Mary passes in college football history, Doug Flutie is returning to his native Boston, signing a one-year deal with the Patriots. Great move, though I highly doubt he'll ever actually get into a regular-season game.
""Saying the [Atlanta] Hawks are a bad basketball team is like saying that living in Beirut would be exciting -- true, but not really the whole story"- Phoenix Suns benchwarmer/blogger Paul Shirley, quoted in Wall Street Journal story about his blog. Paul might want to see below.
Star Tribune: "Tigers' Owner Jailed After Woman Attacked"
Forgive me for, upon reading this, believing that Mike Ilitch had been arrested on spousal abuse charges. In fact, it was merely a dude who owned some tigers.
During the boardroom segment of tonight's episode of "The Apprentice," contestant Alex, in a last-ditch effort to avoid being fired, played a rare card- he invoked USFL football.
After Trump referenced a losing streak by Alex in previous tasks, Alex out of nowhere brought up the losing 1984 season of the New Jersey Generals, a team in the upstart football league that was owned by Trump. And in doing this, Alex invoked the name of the Generals' star running back, Herschel Walker.
As all Vikings fans know, introducing Herschel into the equation is never, ever a good idea. Alex was fired.
Or did President Bush, at the beginning of the Q&A in his news conference tonight, refer to reporter Terry Hunt as, uh, something that rhymes with "Hunt"? If it he did, this is far and away the worst Bushism ever, but... how will any newspaper report it?
The best site on the web for revelatory essays about Jewish love is… Nerve.com? What used to be a softcore smut site first gave us that memoir of Jewish youth group debauchery last week, and now features a pair of essays, by sisters, both about an upcoming Jewish wedding, and touches on all the issues of class, manners, and intermarriage among “the tribe” that have long fascinated myself and others. Check them out here and here.
I can’t tell if this blog is a parody or not, but either way it’s hilarious. The “Green Day CDs for Palestinian kids” campaign is my favorite part.
And elsewhere in the Bush-hater-parody subgenre, there’s this, unquestionably the best obit anyone wrote for Andrea Dworkin.
This is a meme that circulated throughout the Blogosphere last week, but I’m just getting to now. And even though the Blogosphere is supposed to be all iconoclastic, all-inclusive, and anti-elitist, for some reason it’s “invitation-only.” But luckily, Petitedov said “it,” so here we go:
List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling . . . but nice.”
1) Bush-bashing. No, I didn’t vote for him either time, and I’ve certainly got lots of disagreements with various aspects of his program. But for some reason I just haven’t been able to muster the inner bile and hatred towards the president that so many of my peers have.Honorable mention: Phish, Adam Sandler, "Sideways," Yankee Stadium, and the entire "CSI" franchise.
2) Punk triumphalism. Yes, I like listening to the Ramones and the Clash as much as anyone. It’s great music. But these bands never had even a small fraction of the effect on me that the Beatles or Springsteen or Dylan did, and the attitude of those who believe that punk is THE ONLY GOOD MUSIC IN THE WORLD still irks me to this day.
3) “The Shawshank Redemption.” I took tons of guff for leaving this off my “Top 50 Movies of the ‘90s” list back in college, but even its thousands of showings on cable haven’t changed my mind: it’s still cloying and pretentious, way too long and with the wrong ending. Take any two “Oz” episodes, and they have just as much profundity.
4) Rick Reilly. This guy is supposedly America’s most honored sportswriter, but I find his schtick one-note and incredibly schmaltzy. You can glean more about the underlying essence of sports from any Gary Smith piece than from a whole years’ worth of Reilly columns.
5) Comic books. I’m a connosiour of pop culture and was a nerd when I was a kid, so you’d think I’d have been into comic books. Nope, never was. And that goes for "graphic novels," too.
The domain name for RonMexico.com, which has been selling t-shirts ever since the scandal broke, is for sale on Ebay- with an opening bid of $10,000. Did they put it that high so Vick himself would buy it?
Meanwhile, here’s the Ron Mexico Name Generator! Mine is “Bjorn Ghana.”
This week's award goes to former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who called a press conference on Sunday after he was chosen by Denver with the 101st pick in the NFL draft- a move not taken by the 100 men drafted ahead of him. Also nominated is Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who drafted Virginia defensive end Chris Canty in the fourth round. Canty is not to be confused with the other Chris Canty, a cornerback out of Kansas State and colossal bust, who the Patriots drafted in 1997 with one of the picks that was compensation from the Jets for, that's right, Bill Parcells.
And speaking of the NFL Draft and awards, the Georgia Bulldogs’ Eckstein tandem had a good day on Saturday, with 2004 Eckstein Award winner David Greene going to the Seahawks in the third round and his running mate, defensive end David Pollack, drafted in the first round by the Bengals. All in all, a great day for University of Georgia football players named David who aren’t Jewish, despite their names.
As for the Vikings, I was pulling for Mike Williams but am satisfied with Troy Williamson, so long as they got a receiver. As for their second pick, I’ve added “Erasmus” to my “potential names if my first-born son is a boy” list, along with Plaxico, Laveranues, Norv, Marvcus, Tebucky, and Craphonso.
There’s an article in the latest issue of GQ that’s been causing quite a bit of controversy. It’s called “The Forbidden Word,” it’s by New York Times guy Walter Kirn, and it concerns, uh, the use of a certain vulgar euphemism for female genitalia, that starts with a “C.” (It's not online, but this LiveJournal has reproduced it in full).
While the piece had the makings of a fascinating Safire-like anatomy-of-a-word sort of composition (along the lines of Randall Kennedy’s book-length history of the “n-word”), it eventually takes a rapid detour into the land of “guy who thinks he’s charmingly clumsy with women, when in fact he seems more like a sociopath.” Read it yourself and be the judge, but much of the female blogosphere seemingly subscribes to the latter view, with Jessa Crispin taking the lead:
There really are no redeeming qualities to this article; it's not even provocative in its controversial stance. It's just... dumb. It's like that guy at the bar complaining about how the "Mexicans" are coming into our country and stealing our jobs. And why can't they just learn some fucking English already? Everyone just averts their eyes and slowly backs away. Except for the brain dead idiots who agree with him.Then again, Kirn's point that women "sling around [the words] whore and slut now like they're nothing" is sort of supported by the name of Jessa's blog: Bookslut.
And if you don’t think I’ve waded far enough into the gender wars already with this post, here are some additional thoughts on what men and women want.
We've got another Twins stadium proposal, which hopefully has a better chance of passing than the last ten that failed. And I don't mind that the proposed park doesn't have a retractable roof- even though the Twins had two games in Detroit snowed out over the weekend.
TV, rather than dumbing people down, actually makes them smarter, according to this article in the New York Times magazine, excerpted from a new book called “Everything Bad Is Good for You,”by Steven Johnson. The book sounds right up my alley, and has already joined my already very-crowded Amazon wishlist.
Because if my blog had been around 35 years ago, do you think I’d be able to come up with more than one or two points on “Gunsmoke: Liberal or Conservative”?
David Brooks, on that study that shows overweight people live longer:
I've been happy because now there will inevitably be a shift in the fashion winds, favoring members of the Zaftig Corps. Sports enjoyed by people with Rubenesque proportions, like floating, will come into vogue. More people will appreciate the thigh-rubbing musical rhythms you hear when overweight people wear corduroys. More people will realize we should all be patterning our lifestyle decisions on those made by Christopher Hitchens.I think everyone should strive to be a little more like Hitch.
And in technology news:
If you think video games are engrossing now, just wait: PlayStation maker Sony Corp. has been granted a patent for beaming sensory information directly into the brain.This sounds like a rather big story, yes? But then there's another application: It’s been said that "the average lag between the invention of any new medium and its use to create and transmit pornography is about 15 seconds." How long before this new technology is given some pornographic dimension?
The NFL Draft is tomorrow, and I'll be watching it, somehow having lucked into finding a girlfriend who's just as into football as I am. Barring a trade or draft-day snafu, the Vikings have the 7th and 18th picks; I vote for drafting Mike Williams with the first and Eckstein Award nominee David Pollack with the latter. But if they want to trade up for Braylon Edwards, I won't complain.
Be back Monday with postgame thoughts on the draft and first NBA playoff games, as well as that "5 overrated things" meme, the latest Andrew Sullivan controversy, and "the c-word."
I'm #1 on Google for "Earth Day Sucks." Happy Earth Day!
UPDATE: I've been getting tons of searches for this today, so apparently plenty of you agree.
The playoffs start next week, minus LeBron, and minus the Wolves, who miss the postseason for the first time since Garnett’s rookie year. So it’s back to the lottery, although I’m not too excited, since they only have one ball. I’m just looking forward to the coaching carousel, which has the potential to be the most entertaining in league history. My vote for Wolves’ coach? Eric Musselman. Though I’d be okay with Paul Silas or Maurice Cheeks too.
Without further ado, my predictions:
Eastern Conference: Heat over Nets, Pistons over Sixers, Celtics over Pacers, Wizards over Bulls
Western Conference: Suns over Grizzlies, Nuggets over Spurs, Sonics over Kings, Mavericks over Rockets
East: Heat over Wizards, Pistons over Celtics
West: Suns over Nuggets, Mavericks over Sonics
East: Heat over Pistons
West: Mavericks over Suns
Heat over Mavericks
Keep in mind, folks, that in the past year I have:
- Correctly predicted last year’s Boston Red Sox championship, before the season, before the playoffs, and before the World Series.
- Correctly predicted, before last season, that the Patriots would face the Eagles in the Super Bowl, and win.
- Correctly predicted, before last year’s playoffs, that the Pistons would face the Lakers in the NBA finals, and win.
Remind me again why I don’t bet on sports?
“No, no, no, no, no! Ann Coulter is not attractive. Time didn’t make her look “more mannish & less attractive.” She’s not attractive to begin with and she might be a man. Usually John Hawkins is a smart guy but the only way Coulter is “4-5 points better on a 10 scale in the second pic than she does in the first” is if she started at -6. She’s a chain-smoking, conservative version of Twiggy who thinks she’s funny, and probably gets off on tying up Matt Drudge with duct tape.”–The all-purpose snark blog My Foot, Your Ass.
SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio City Councilman Julian Castro and State Rep. Joaquin Castro both denied allegations that they tried to dupe the public Monday night when the state lawmaker rode on a City Council float instead of his twin brother.Explaining things to their wives/girlfriends, however, could be more difficult.
Julian Castro, who is running for mayor, attended a candidates forum and was not able to attend the Texas Cavaliers River Parade. Instead, he sent his brother, who was announced to the public as Julian Castro.
You’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming weeks and months, but the Village Voice this week tells us about a film that, on the controversy scale, is likely to make “Fahrenheit 9/11” look like “Pooh’s Huffalump Movie.”
Directed by Brit Adam Curtis and originally broadcast on the BBC, the film is called “The Power of Nightmares,” and purports to describe the dual phenomena of “two groups”- the American neoconservative movement, and radical Islamists. I’m not certain that the film is aiming to draw a moral equivalence between the two groups (Curtis denies this), but in the way the two are juxtaposed in the Voice piece, written by Curtis himself, I’m for some reason given that impression.
Some other impressions I’m getting, based on the piece (I haven’t seen the film): Curtis doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He asks, absurdly, “does al-Qaeda exist?" He claims al-Qaeda “had no formal organization”- of course they did. He completely misunderstands what neoconservatism is and has been throughout its history- using a perverted interpretation of Leo Strauss to describe the significantly different views of today’s neocons. David Brooks once said that “if the word 'neocon' appears in a sentence, there's a 90 percent chance that everything else in that sentence is untrue.” Curtis couldn’t have proved him more right.
But worst of all is Curtis’ failure to grasp the big difference between the two philosophies: the ultimate goal of the neocons is the full democratization and free-marketization of the world; the ultimate goal of the radical Islamists is fascism, totalitarianism, and worldwide subjugation.
In the piece Curtis also draws on the work of the mid-20th century Islamist philosopher Sayyid Qutb. Paul Berman, in writing “Terror and Liberalism”- unquestionably the most important book written about foreign policy and political philosophy since 9/11- did the same, but reached a very different conclusion: that radical Islam is not something to be understood, but rather an evil, totalitarian, and utterly illiberal menace that must be defeated. And liberals, of which Berman is one, should be leading the charge.
Curtis is presumably a man of the left, but in arguing that the efforts of Perle, Wolfowitz, et. al are “a simplified fantasy of the Islamist threat,” he shows he’s not half the liberal Paul Berman is.
A final prediction: if this film is ever released in the States, the “sophisticated” indie film audience will LOVE it- after all, their “American self-hatred” (as Armond White astutely called it) is such that they enthusiastically cheered the pro-al-Jazeera documentary “Control Room” last summer. Expect a preview, when the film is shown next week at the Tribeca Film Festival.
If you’re not reading Veiled Conceit regularly, you should be. It’s a blog with a great niche: every week, it makes fun of the New York Times’ Weddings and Celebrations page, more than anything else mocking the snobbery and unintentional ridiculousness of such proceedings.
This week the author, known only as “Zach,” gives us Troy and Leanne, a couple that finally married this month after a long courtship in which, as described in the Times announcement, there were numerous times when he didn’t call her after first dates, until their mutual friend intervened.
Well in telling this story, Zach actually went to the trouble of creating an elaborate fake blog for the groom, purportedly written by Troy and complete with fake dates and timestamps dating back to 1999, where “Troy” describes the entire courtship. The real Troy hasn’t sued him- not yet, anyway. Though Zach does get bonus points for including references to Elian Gonzalez and the Y2K problem in the “1999” posts- even though Blogspot didn’t even exist for public consumption until two years later.
James Lileks on the papal election:
“To those who want profound change, consider an outsider’s perspective: the Catholic Church is the National Review of religion. You may live long enough to see it become the Weekly Standard. In your dreams it might become the New Republic. But it’s never going to be the Nation. And if ever it does, it will have roughly the same subscriber base.”And I’m sure Christopher Hitchens would denounce it.
The Twins have the vicious Johan Santana, they have the promising Joe Mauer, and they have the devastating Joe Nathan. These things are good. But without question, the Twins' greatest resource is Batgirl. Only Batgirl has the stones to call Ozzie's club the "B---- Sox." Only Batgirl has the focus required to go all game-face on her own kitties: "That I'm-so-cute-I'm-a-kitten thing is getting way old, you hear me? Way old." When the Twins win the AL West, there'd better be a seat at the glory table for Batgirl.That could be tough, however, since the Twins aren’t in the AL West. This has been up on the website for 12 hours as of this writing- how come that doesn’t get fixed, but it only takes them minutes to take down Sports Guy’s Ron Mexico jokes?
"Good Charlotte to me is in the same dugout with Sum 41 and the same ballpark as Blink 182. I wish that Car 54 would run them all over.”–Blogger “Mark” of ProgessiveBoink, coming from a cumulative top-50 list of the worst song lyrics of all time. Check out the bottom of the first page especially, in which "Ultimo Dragon" gives us a list of the worst wrestling theme-music lyrics.
Most of you probably associate this word, which we’ve been hearing nonstop for the last week, with the recently-completed papal election. But to me, “conclave” will always refer to those Jewish youth group events I went to, four times a year, in high school. Always a highlight when it came to meeting girls, especially for those of us who were totally hopeless in high school proper.
Here’s a Nerve.com story about exactly that, set in the Midwest to boot (and not entirely safe for work). Alas, there’s a bit of stuff there that I certainly never did, as I’m sure it wouldn’t meet the approval of your average rabbi. Let alone the new pope.
I haven’t exactly jumped on the bash-Ward-Churchill bandwagon, taking the position that it’s a mistake to refer to this professor, who referred to the victims of 9/11 as “Little Eichmanns” as anything but the pathetic, inconsequential figure he has always been.
I believe Churchill-mania is primarily a Republican construct, meant (as usual) to discredit anyone to the left of, say Joe Lieberman, by associating them with loony America-bashing. It’s just the latest from the people who spent most of the 2004 campaign pretending that Michael Moore was the Democratic nominee for president. After all, is it any surprise Bill O’Reilly has devoted 31 segments to Churchill in the past three months?
This factoid, along with numerous other great stuff, comes from this standout cover story in the Weekly Standard by Matt Labash, who is fast turning into the Gary Smith of center-right political writing: only a handful of pieces each year, but they’re always lengthy and always worth the time. In the piece, a tour-de-force that brilliantly weaves high- and low-brow conservative humor, Labash goes after the Cult of Ward, attempting to understand the man and tearing apart both his rhetoric and his dumber-than-him cult of personality, all the while remembering to engage in plenty of hippies-smell-bad humor. The centerpiece is an hours-long barroom confrontation between the two men that I would’ve paid about $1000 to have witnessed in person.
As for less honorable conservative rhetoric? Time did a cover story on Ann Coulter that was entertaining, but contained just about nothing new. But get this- Coultergeist and her allies are OUTRAGED because Ann’s cover photo was supposedly “unflattering.” Oh, my heart bleeds for her- for a woman who has built her entire career on unfair, cheap-shot denunciations of her political enemies, seems like she’s got a pretty thin skin.
A bloviating right-wing harpie is being mistreated by a mainstream media that only cares about her legs? No wonder Michelle Malkin is upset.
But please- don't call him a Nazi. He was forced into the Hitler Youth, later deserted, and has been pretty ambiguously anti-Nazi for the past six decades. But if you're gonna drop the Ratzinger-was-a-Nazi thing, you've also gotta drop the Klansman-Robert-Byrd meme, since that was a half-century ago, and long-denounced, too. Either accuse both or excuse both- either way, you can't have it both ways.
I'm now contributing, along with some friends, to the anti-Yankees group blog The Hidden Rebel Base. Check it out.
No, this time it has nothing to do with Peter North. In today's "More Cowbell" column Simmons discussed the possibility of either a class of NBA fans or the Toronto Raptors filing a lawsuit against Vince Carter, for tanking games with the Raptors before being traded to the Nets and reviving his career. Then he said this:
the way the NBA's collective bargaining agreement is set up, you can get away with just about anything and still get paid (like Sprewell choking his coach, or Vin Baker's showing up drunk to practices).Well, apparently fearing a lawsuit of their own, Simmons' editors quickly changed "drunk" to "in rough shape." Although I hadn't thought there was any doubt that Baker really did attend practices or games under the influence.
UPDATE: As the guys at SonsOftheSportsGuy pointed out, there was a whole paragraph of Ron Mexico jokes that were deleted as well. Uh oh.
Some Harvard students are selling T-shirts with Harvard president Larry Summers posed like Che. A great idea, even if the Communists For Kerry got there first; so go buy a shirt, and give them a vote of confidence.
An oft-told urban legend gets its own website.
I’d say the specific instance of a terrorist using an ACLU-like organization to stop the interrogation of a terror accomplice is ammunition for the “’24’ is Conservative’ argument, is it not?
Though casting the bald lawyer from the last season of “Sex and the City” as the group’s rep kind of detracts from the edginess. And I don’t think even the real-life ACLU would act to prevent an interrogation in a ticking-time-bomb situation.
Jesse Ventura recently referred to members of the Minnesota press corps as “pedophiles,” based on their coverage of his son and his parties at which he allegedly trashed the governors' mansion.
The only difference between Ventura and that other deranged wrestler-turned-politico, the Ultimate Warrior, was that Ventura was somehow elected governor of a state. My state.
The bidding is done for the next NFL TV contract, and true to longstanding rumors, "Monday Night Football" will move from ABC to ESPN, while NBC will take over the Sunday night package. Not sure what this means for the Al Michaels/John Madden team, but it looks like Madden can now start selling video games full time- which he's pretty much been doing for the past five years anyway.
I don't like this, for three reasons: One, MNF on ABC is an institution that's endured for decades, and I don't like saying goodbye to that. Two, after both broadcasting and co-owning the XFL, NBC should be banished from holding the rights to pro football for at least 25 years. And three, I don't like the idea of ESPN getting the keys to such a major franchise. Because after their Stephen A.-driven desecration of the NBA and continuing downward slide of the majority of their programming, I don't trust them.
From Reihan Salam, in making fun of Sen. Joe Biden's ripping of John Bolton for his practice of confronting a subordinate and "reaming him a new one":
What if the lower-level official badly needed "a new one"? Is the senior official not obliged to ream him one? Recall that Joe Biden is one of the tough-talking "national security Democrats." If he's unwilling to "ream" low-level officials "a new one," how does he plan on dealing with the Outposts of Tyranny (OoT), let alone the Axis of Evil (AoE)? Far be it from me to endorse bullying, but I dare say that there comes a time in a bureaucracy's life when "new ones" must be "reamed."Exactly. And the Weekly Standard thought so too.
According to a Wall Street Journal editorial last week, the Democrats and editorial supporters have taken referring to the Republicans' effort to permanently repeal the estate tax as the "Paris Hilton Benefit Act." The Journal goes on to mock liberals for doing such a thing, and then argues, as usual, for such a repeal.
Regardless of the merits of the bill, the decision by its opponents to call it that is a political masterstroke- probably the best political move by the Democrats since Clinton left office. The Republicans have been doing this sort of thing for years, naming laws after Laci Peterson, Terri Schiavo, and every other prominent cable news perma-victim- it's a surprise Chandra Levy never got her own law.
Naming pieces of legislation after unpopular celebrities is a great idea- but why stop with Paris? How about dubbing the Social Security privitization the "Bea Arthur Bill"? Partial Birth Abortion? Mary Kate and Ashley's Law. They could even try to scuttle the the next anti-"indecency" effort by adding the Carrot Top Amendment.
Because not every piece of legislation can be as cool as Idaho's recent act honoring "Napoleon Dynamite."
A dog named Bazoo was recently shot by police in Snoop Dogg's hometown of Long Beach, Calif., bringing to mind a similar incident a few years back in Tennessee that Glenn Reynolds covered at the time. Luckily though, the Blogosphere is all over it.
(This story comes from reader Jon, who along with me was an eye-witness to a near-riot between police and a group of breakdancers in Union Square Park last summer).
A “loaded logical fallacy” for Justice Scalia.
Terrell Owens, for demanding a contract re-negotiation one year into his 7-year, $46 million deal, and then pleading for sympathy, because “I’m in a contract situation.” In a league with a salary cap, nice to see TO, who recently hired rodent-like agent Drew Rosenhaus, has his priorities straight.
Oh, who cares? That this “major event” was the biggest story in the baseball on the day of the Washington Nationals’ first home game is unconscionable- and I also loved the “Baseball Tonight” anchors breaking down the video as though it was the Zapruder film. Though to be fair, Harold Reynolds did also narrate a five-minute analysis of Bush’s motion in throwing out the first pitch at RFK.
I’ve been has captivated by the last few years of the Yankees-Sox rivalry as anyone, but even I’m starting to get sick of it at this point. If the same thing happened with Bobby Higginson in a Tigers/Royals game, would anyone give a shit?
The Weekly Standard magazine is always ideological but usually fair, and so I usually end up checking its web site a few times a week. But this little piece of hackwork from Joel Engel falls considerably short of the norm, seemingly taking every wacky statement ever made by any far leftist, and attributing them all to “liberalism.” In Engel’s world, it’s “liberal” to root for the insurgents in Iraq, make excuses for 9/11, and “[praise] the neck-slicing Islamofascists”- nevermind that just about everyone I know is a liberal, and I’ve never heard any of them say any of those things.
Daniel Drezner, luckily, is all over this, invoking “The Princess Bride” while he’s at it. But I’ve been seen a lot of this sort of thing lately, especially from the still-a-Stalinist-in-deed-if-not-politics David Horowitz. Good ol’ Dave has assembled a ludicrous “flow chart” (which he calls “a guide to the political left”), which connects everyone from al-Qaeda to Bruce Springsteen. Nevermind that there’s nothing the slightest bit “liberal” about Islamic fascism, or that Springsteen’s “The Rising” album pretty clearly puts him in the “terrorism is bad” camp.
This is dishonest, small-minded nonsense, which only goes to prove that the same lying, hatred, and ideological extremism that marked David Horowitz back when he was a communist is still quite alive within him today.
Remember that story a couple months back about the NFL banning more than 1,000 words from personalized fine jerseys, and removing the word "gay" from the list because of the Patriots' Randall Gay? That list is back in the news, because the latest addition is "Ron Mexico."
Who's Ron Mexico? It's the alias allegedly used by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick when he registered for STD tests, according to a lawsuit by a woman accusing Vick of infecting her with herpes. Fans have been trying to order Falcons jerseys with Vick's #7 and the name "Mexico," (and this guy apparently encouraged it) but the NFL has now put the kibosh on that.
Out of luck in this whole thing is a Mr. Ron Mexico who played hockey for Utica College, and wore #9.
”Those people should all be shot.”- CNN's Anderson Cooper, giving his review of “My Super Sweet 16,” on ‘Conan O’Brien’ last night.
Good thing Garnett's signed for four more years, and probably has at least ten left in the league. They'll have a couple more chances to build a championship team around him.
For the long-awaited first Bill Simmons book: "Now I Can Die in Peace : How Clemens, Buckner, Pedro and the Red Sox Made a Man Out of the Sports Guy." We'll be seeing it October 1, and hopefully the anti-Sox backlash will have subsided by then.
I’d never heard of it before seeing the author on “The Daily Show” tonight, but John Avlon’s “Independent Nation: How the Vital Center Is Changing American Politics” has a chance to be the most important political book in recent memory. It’s a history and a defense of political moderation, and if I didn’t have five books on my shelf already, I’d go out and get it right now.
Well, actually it was Sixth Ave. Tonight I went to a book signing and had the chance to meet one of my favorite comedians, the “Daily Show”’s Lewis Black. The same in person as he is on the air and in his stand-up, Black riffed on such subjects as his influences, his comic process, and Bush’s iPod- Black asked the crowd if any of them had heard of Dubya favorite Kenny Chesney, and after two hands went up, he screamed “That’s why the rest of the country hates you!” Then he said some nice words about the late Mitch Hedberg, calling him "Steven Wright on acid" (I always thought Steven Wright was "Steven Wright on acid.")
Gotta love Lewis. His book is here; I read the first 40 pages on the train and it’s hilarious. And his HBO special from 2004 is even better. I asked him and he said another is in the works for next year; I wanted him to put a reference to “moo cow fuck milk” in the autograph, but couldn’t gather the courage to request it.
Call us anti-Semitic, but the last time we checked a map of the Middle East, it was overwhelmingly Arab and Muslim. And last we heard, the countries of the region, including the state of Israel, were still teeming with heated opinions about the Arab-Israeli conflict, many of them unkind to Tel Aviv. So we're always a little confused when Jewish student groups get upset that their Middle Eastern Studies professors aren't IDF-vets with leg shrapnel from '67 and the lectern demeanor of Yanni.- From a half-baked New York Press editorial giving a totally skewed and inaccurate picture of the Columbia academic harassment scandal, while also libeling Rachel Fish’s valuable David Project as “nutty.” Read Nat Hentoff for a much clearer picture of what’s going on a couple blocks up the road from me- when you have to rely on the Village Voice to correct misinformation in New York Press, you can tell it’s a pretty damn sad state of affairs.
Oh yea, and Jerusalem’s the capital, dumbass.
I haven’t been covering a lot of news from my alma mater (Brandeis) because I know most of you don’t care, but a couple recent stories I thought were funny, and might hold your interest. Both come via more-recent-graduate-than-me Josh.
First, we’ve got the same stupidity as every year, in which students bitch endlessly about the chosen celebrity commencement speaker, as though it actually matters who speaks, and as though the senior class is “entitled” to someone more famous/liberal/”cool” than whoever is actually chosen. Here’s a history (second item), that I wrote two years ago, of this stupid phenomenon; my personal favorite was when the chosen speaker was the first human to orbit the Earth (John Glenn), and the main complaint was that both he and the student speaker were “white males named John.”
This year the pick is Margaret H. Marshall, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court (the “activist judge” who, rightly in my view, helped make the Bay State the first in the union to legalize same-sex marriage), and among those getting honorary degrees are Tom Brokaw. Are students upset that their speaker presided over the decade's most controversial legal decision? Actually, no- they're mad that she's not enough of a hip celebrity. When the lineup was announced, this senior just about shit his pants- because he would’ve preferred Will Ferrell or Ali G.
In a letter to president Jehuda Reinharz, this guy partakes in two beloved Brandeis traditions- wall-to-wall bitching, and Harvard envy- in complaining that he and other seniors won’t be entertained enough by this accomplished jurist, and would prefer Ferrell, Bono, or Sacha Baron Cohen- after all, Harvard (or Penn) has hosted all three of them for Class Day (which, as the writer seems unaware, is separate from actual commencement). And there aren't enough parties, and WE PAY $30,000 a year, yadda yadda yadda. And since Justice Marshall apparently wouldn’t make a good-enough after-dinner comedian, our senior has threatened to never donate to the university ever again.
Oh, boo hoo. There are people in this world who legitimately have something to complain about, whether it’s not having jobs, homelessness, whatever. No reason to get your panties in a twist about who the damn commencement speaker is.
Then Reinharz, in a typically clueless moment, tried to ask his assistant to “find out if this guy is in scholarship,” and then hit reply by mistake. Oops.
Last point on this: last year I predicted that people would be pissed off at the selection as speaker of then-World Bank president James Wolfensohn, in part because “they think he’s Paul Wolfowitz.” Well what do you know- it’s a year later, the World Bank president IS Paul Wolfowitz.
In the above-linked overview, I referred to much of the criticism as “mostly driven by hypersensitive fools with easy access to the Justice letters page.” Well, not anymore: the student newspaper, of which I was once Arts Editor, has instituted a new policy which bans letters to the editor that reference any previous article from the paper’s pages. This policy, which puts them at odds with, oh, every other newspaper on Earth, has both completely neutered what was always the paper’s most lively section, and led it further into the abyss of what I used to call the ethos of “first, hurt no one’s feelings.” In fact, several of the editors have quit to start a rival paper.
UPDATE II: The Hoot is all over this, with an in-depth interview with Reinharz, and a general news story that, hilariously, includes the student who wrote the letter shirtless and in a Hulk Hogan pose.
Remember that internet video that made the rounds a month or so ago, where a DEA agent was teaching a gun safety course, and just seconds after introducing a Glock .40, accidentally shot himself in the leg, and then carried on the lecture as if nothing had happened?
Now it turns out that agent has been suspended- because he has a Valerie Plame problem. According to news reports the video, which was filmed more than a year ago, was unauthorized because the agent was undercover, and as a result of the video his identity has been compromised. That the agent was undercover apparently didn’t keep him from addressing a room of what looked like at least 100 people, one of whom had a video camera. And somehow his bosses, when he got back to the office, never noticed a bullet wound.
What’s the funniest angle to this story? I can think of at least seven candidates:
- That the agent shot himself, about five seconds after pulling the gun and saying “I'm the only one in this room professional enough that I know of to carry this Glock .40.”
- That he then carried on the lecture as though nothing had happened, later pulling out a second, much larger gun, which scared everyone in the room shitless.
- That the agent, in an attempt to establish “street cred,” said that the Glock .40 is favored in lyrics by such rappers as “50 Cent [and] Too Short,” the latter of whom is both not particularly “gangsta,” and not particularly current, either.
- That he is a dead ringer for former NFL star Ricky Williams, despite the career juxtaposition- one retired from football to smoke pot full time, while the other is a federal narcotics agent.
- That the speech was held under the auspices of something called the “Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association,” the sort of thing that could only exist in Tiger Woods’ hometown.*
- That, despite being an “undercover agent,” he would appear in a public setting, identify himself as a DEA agent, and wear a DEA t-shirt.
- And that, according to this blogger, there's no such thing as a Glock .40, and it's never been mentioned in any rap song either. In fact, the blogger offers to buy a Glock .40 for anyone who can find it referenced in a rap song. I'll bite: Ludacris did say "I got my twin glock .40's cocked back," in "Roll Out (My Biz-nass)," so I guess this guy owes me a Glock .40. Twin Glock .40s, in fact.
*UPDATE: Conversation between LilB and I over this point:
LilB:But [Tiger] is only 2/3rds minority.
Me: How can someone be 2/3rds of a race? What, he has three parents, and only one of them is white?
LilB: B/C Tiger Woods is Cablinasian (white, black and asian)
Me: Right, but doesn’t the fraction have to be a multiple of four?
In his write-up of the day at Fenway we thought we would never see, Bill Simmons (after calling “Fever Pitch” “indefensible”) drops the bombshell that he and Sports Gal are expecting their first child, a girl. Even more shocking, they discovered the news during last year’s ALCS- and the baby was conceived just days after Nomar was traded. There’s an incredibly perverse joke in there somewhere, I’m just not sure where.
Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, who agitated for years to ban pornography and also condemned sexual intercourse as "is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women,” has died at the age of 58. As she was a long-term foe of two things I’ve long held near and dear- free expression and sex- I can’t say Dworkin’s death is the most upsetting of the year for me, or even of the week. In fact, I’m probably more upset by the realization that her cohort, Catherine MacKinnon, is still alive.
Here’s Jonah Goldberg on going to see a Dworkin speech when he was an undergraduate at Goucher:
She was unpleasant. Her talk was quite thoroughly anti-male. She was clearly playing to the audience and she left a poor impression on me. As did her writing. And, most of all, her effect on many of the young women I went to school with and some of the teachers I learned from was anything but admirable or edifying.In other words, it’s all Andrea’s fault that Jonah never got laid in college.
Hit and Run has more commentary; let's just say this is an issue where I agree with the libertarians more than on most others. Much like Israel-bashing, porn prohibition was always one of those things where the far right and far left were almost always in agreement, and almost always wrong.
The “indecency” craze notwithstanding, I’d say the porn wars are officially over, and Dworkin’s side (on which she was aligned with the likes of Jerry Falwell) lost, big time. Want more proof? Legendary pornographer Al Goldstein is back in the game, hired as director of marketing for a new online porn-on-demand service. Check out the attendant press release, for a detailed bio of the Screw Magazine founder- and his e-mail address!
UPDATE: Perhaps "officially over" was too strong a term:
April 13, 2005 -- The city can give the boot-y to dozens of jiggle joints, including famed flesh emporium Scores, an appeals court ruled yesterday.This play, which mentions Dworkin by name, just got a lot more relevant.
In a unanimous decision, the state Appellate Division found the city's strict new zoning regulations against adult establishments is constitutional, paving the way for the city to shutter more than 100 strip clubs, peep shows and adult theaters and video stores.
A while back I got an e-mail from my landlords telling me to discontinue my practice of leaving garbage bags outside on the curb- on top of the pile of ten garbage bags that are always already there- because "city inspectors" had "witnessed" someone from my apartment doing that three times in the previous week.
What, I asked, do they have surveillance? Yet somehow, it took me about two weeks to relate this whole thing to "Alice's Restaurant."
"Sin City": The year's first great film. I haven't opened a comic book in about 20 years, but I loved this one, a standout both thematically and stylistically. Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, "Sin City" was like the best mid-'90s Tarantino knockoff ever made. A great cast led by an Oscar-worthy Mickey Rourke, amazing production design and effects- just great stuff all around. Unless you've got a problem with violence/amputation/"swirlies," I reccommend seeing "Sin City" immediately.
"Fever Pitch": I had major doubts going in about this one, but in the end I absolutely loved it. A wonderful synthesis of its three separate creativce teams- the Farrelly Brothers, Nick Hornby, and Lowell Ganz/Babaloo Mandel, the film gets both romance and Red Sox fandom exactly right, faithfully recreating the unforgettable 2004 season and tying it seamlessly to the plot. And most surprising of all, Jimmy Fallon wasn't that bad.
Uber Sox fan Bill Simmons has gone after this movie hard, both because of the Fallon/Barrymore incident during the World Series celebration, and Fallon's general unlikability. But I expect Simmons to back off once he sees it, for three reasons: it was pretty good, there's a "Road House" reference, and Drew's father is played by James B. Sikking, who played Mr. Walsh on his beloved '90210.' My full review is here.
Over the weekend I watched "Citizen Ruth," which I got from Netflix after it was on my to-see list for about six years. A flawed film to be certain, full of the sort of gleeful white trash-bashing common to the films of director Alexander Payne (see "About Schmidt," "Sideways," etc.) But it had some interesting points to make about the abortion issue without taking a predictable line, and the entire thing was so precognizant of the Terri Schiavo case it was almost scary, with two sides scoring political points at the expense of an innocent woman caught in the middle. The analogy holds, right down to the outside-the-clinic prayer circles, and the callous liberal landing in a helicopter a hundred feet away.
Also noticing the similarity- the blog "Sparkwood and 21," which I like not only for the fact that it's named for an extremely obscure "Twin Peaks" reference.
UPDATE: And... I'm a dumbass. James B. Sikking was the dad on "Doogie Howser," not on "90210." So yes, Simmons is now free to hate the movie (which he did).
Mitch Albom is apparently about to be fired from the Detroit Free Press, over a lapse in judgment in which he fabricated a line in a column last week. In a column written Friday and published Sunday, Albom wrote in the past tense that former Michigan State basketball players Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson had attended a Final Four game and sat together (they had planned to and told Albom so, but didn't).
It was a stupid thing to do, no doubt, but I don't think it should be a firing offense for my fellow former Brandeis journalism graduate. He didn't make something up out of whole cloth, Jayson Blair-like; he merely fudged past and future tense. Whatever happens, Albom's got highly lucrative second and third careers- as a radio host and author of hyper-earnest mega-bestsellers- to fall back on.
Yes, I know from first-hand experience sign-stealing is a big part of every local political campaign. But one guy running for office in Mississippi is even more susceptable to the tactic than most.
Yes, a gentleman by the name of Rick James is running for Hattiesburg city council, and has suffered a virtual epidemic of "Chappelle's Show" fans either stealing his signs, or writing "bitch" below the name. Then again, maybe the name recognition will propel him to office, and eventually to Congress- after all, that was the plot of the movie "The Distinguished Gentleman," which starred Charlie Murphy's brother.
Now the ex-wrestler is threatening to sue a blog for calling him a “crazy racist.” Or rather, it’s his “director of communications” acting as his mouthpiece. The e-mails, incidentally, are hilarious, as this intrepid public relations genius, apparently forgetting that he doesn’t work for Ted DiBiase, addresses his subject as “little man.”
Could there possibly be a lower-rung PR job in the world than flacking for the Ultimate Warrior?
(Via Scott Keith).
The Village Voice has given us a glimpse of their future, handing the “Press Clips” beat to 71-year-old Sydney Shanberg. I'm guessing their first choice was Jack Newfield, but he's been dead since last year.
We may not hear a whole lot about the sex lives of New York Times reporters, at least, those of us who aren’t regular readers of the “Ad Nags” blog. But that changed last week, with two different stories in one day involving romantic intrigue on W. 43rd St.
First came news that Susan Sachs, the paper’s Baghdad bureau chief, has been fired, after allegedly exposing extramarital shenanigans, by virtue of e-mails to their wives, of star war correspondents John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins (the shenanigans, at least presumably, were not with each other). Then came news that retired executive editor Joseph Lelyveld is supposedly having an affair with married reporter Janny Scott who, as far as I know, is the only person in the world other than my mother with the first name “Janny.”
What’s going on here? Is there something about the happier, post-Howell Raines work environment that has somehow revved up the lovin’?
The Weekly Standard, on why the Democrats would be smart to get Tom Hanks to run for office:
His body of work is the stuff of which Democratic coalitions are made. Want to bring Reagan Democrats back into the fold? Show them 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'Band of Brothers,' and 'Apollo 13.' How about reaching out to family-values types? Try 'Big' and 'The Polar Express.' Need to keep women in the fold? Go with 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'A League of Their Own.' 'Philadelphia' connects with the gay vote (add TV's 'Bosom Buddies,' for undecided cross-dressers). 'The Green Mile,' with its wrongful execution theme, plays to the anti-death penalty crowd. There's even something for Deaniacs: 'Cast Away' can be conveniently spun into an anti-corporate screed (heartless Federal Express ruins a man's Christmas, strands him on a deserted island, and costs him the love of his life).I’d vote for Hanks over Hillary any day of the week.
- “The West Wing”’s best season in years ended last night with a standout season finale, depicting something likely to never happen ever again in real life- a brokered convention. When the dust settled, the Democratic nominee for next season’s general election was Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits), who surprisingly picked longtime chief of staff Leo as his VP. Guess now we know why they had Leo have a heart attack earlier this season.
And if you thought the real-life Democratic Party was in disarray, check out the “West Wing”’s fictional version: their four choices for president were Det. Bobby Simone, the boss from “Office Space,” Otter from “Animal House,” and Al Bundy. All for the right to face Hawkeye Pierce in the general. At least the guy who played Laura Palmer’s killer was just a governor, and didn’t jump in the race.
- “24” was great on Monday, even though I did predict the ending in the first five minutes of the episode. And why, exactly, is it considered “controversial” to do a presidential-assassination plot? Remember the entire first season?
Four seasons in, a pattern has emerged with "24" that while the show’s unique real-time gimmick is one of its best attributes, the writers can be constrained by that gimmick that they often paint themselves into a corner, and leading to notably weak sections in each of the first three seasons (the amnesia thing in the first, the searching-for-the-recording section of the second, and the Salazar brothers arc of the third). There have been bad episodes this year, sure, but this is clearly the first season of the show with a strong beginning, middle, and end.
And speaking of “24” history, here’s a countdown of the show’s 24 greatest moments. Some hilarious stuff- and best part, of course, is the Kim-bashing.
- “South Park” was above average once again on Wednesday, not laugh-out-loud, certainly, but with lots of great references, making fun of/parodying: the lack of interest in baseball by today’s kids, the “epidemic” of sports-parent brawling, the William Ligue arrest, and “The Bad News Bears,” all while depicting the baseball scenes as something out of the old Nintendo game “RBI Baseball”- since the “South Park” boys are shaped exactly like the RBI characters.
But then again, how do you do an up-to-the-minute satire of baseball, without a single reference to steroids?
The “making fun of the pope’s death” thing was bad enough. But this week New York Press decided to sink even further, running a scummy little piece by Mark Ames in which he looks at the recent Minnesota school massacre and asks, “Was Jeff Weise's massacre justified?”
It shouldn’t be a surprise, since Ames is the same idiot who previously wondered aloud why more Americans don’t become suicide bombers, and- due in part to a phantom dispute with innocuous music writer Chuck Klosterman, has since moved to that noted capital of unabashed freedom, Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Ames’ version of the Red Lake events is that Weise’s killing of 9 people, plus himself, should NOT be placed “on Jeff Weise’s evil shoulders,” but rather should be seen as revenge against historical oppression, by our culture, against American Indians. The shooter himself, therefore, is absolved.
Now I certainly in no way mean to downplay the great historical injustices perpetrated against Native Americans- being from Minnesota, I know it as a part of our state’s history that I was taught from an early age. But if Weise’s anger was with the “culture” that systematically slaughtered his people, then why did he then turn around and kill ten people, all of whom were part not of the “mass culture,” but were Native Americans themselves? And if Ames thinks this was Weise's motive, how come his only evidence is some postings that criticized Bush foreign policy?
The reason is of course, because Weise was a Nazi sympathizer, who frequented white-power internet sites and proclaimed himself in sympathy with the Nazis’ goals. Ames ludicrously says “the Nazi claim is the craziest of all,” but it's still true nonethless. And besides- if past oppression against Native Americans is a cause for justifiable homicide (against other Native Americans)- why aren’t there Indian reservation school massacres all the time? Last week's was the first I’ve ever heard of.
So in summary: Despite calling himself a Nazi and posting to Nazi websites, to suggest Weise was in fact a Nazi is "crazy." The massacre was completely justified, and Weise committed it in order to get back at our "culture" for oppressing his people, except his victims were not "our culture," but were his people. In not realizing this, the media is guilty of a "coverup." And while the senseless murder by a child of several other children and his own family members is not "evil," what IS evil is Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon's character in "Election."
The most offensive notion of all in Ames' nonsensical piece is that it's now a “progressive” and "enlightened" position to defend and make excuses for a self-proclaimed Nazi who committed mass murder.
(The Press, by the way, this week put out its smallest issue in the five years I've been reading it, clocking in at just 50 pages. Are the tranny-escort advertisers deserting them in droves?)
Michael's Lebanon blog is live- check it out.
The city of Boston is about to lose two of its best journalists to academia, as Dan Kennedy of the Boston Phoenix will leave the paper this June to teach journalism at Northeastern, while John Carroll will leave the local TV show "Greater Boston" to teach at B.U. I've read Kennedy for years, and took a class from Carroll at Brandeis, and can safely say that both men are journalism's loss, but academia's gain.
Name That Ship!
(Try again here).
The professional wrestler formerly known as The Ultimate Warrior, who has since reinvented himself as (I'm not kidding) a conservative political commentator, is in big trouble for a speech he gave Tuesday night at the University of Connecticut, in which he made what were described as racist and homophobic comments.
Now while just about anything spoken on a college campus, these days, tends to get that label, in this case the charge may have merit: Warrior is alleged to have said that "queering don't make the world work," before telling a Middle Eastern student to "get a towel." And as opposed to the usual leftist campus firebrands, it's the UConn Republican club, which sponsored the speech, that has denounced him loudest:
We have written letters of apology to several groups and organizations on campus that represent the people toward whom many of the Warrior's comments were directed. A short, but not complete, list of these groups would consist of the Rainbow Center, AQUA, QUAD, the African American Cultural Center, the Asian American Cultural Center, the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, the Iranian Students Association, and the Women's Center.If The Iron Sheik spoke on campus and said all the same things, I bet the Iranian Students Association wouldn't be on the list.
The funniest thing about this is that the former WWF champ, who used to come to ring in facepaint and arm tassles, shake the ring ropes, and deliver rambling backstage monologues- and had his name legally changed to "Warrior" a few years back- has taken on political speechmaking as his second career. Is that not just as strange as Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming governor?
Also in the speech the Warrior, you guessed it, admitted that he used steroids throughout his career.
UPDATE: From a Scott Keith reader who was there:
Warrior was in rare form that night. After he made a comment about how homosexuals are nowhere near on the same level as heterosexuals, which elicited an "oh my god" from a female student, he quickly replied with "Don't have an orgasm now honey, save it for later!" And when an obviously gay student started screaming at him from the back of the auditorium, Warrior replied with "I can't hear you with that thing in your mouth." Just crazy.
Google has introduced something incredible: on Google maps, if you click on “satellite” and enter any address, you get a satellite picture. Here's my house; warning: this is VERY addictive.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the pictures are in real time. Because I was planning on zooming in on Yankee Stadium, refreshing every few seconds, and thus “watching” this afternoon’s Yanks-Sox game (which Boston won, by the way). Sure beats the further-behind-than-ever ESPN Gamecast.
Just as I was wondering whatever became of that investigation into Mike Tice's alleged ticket scalping, it was reported this afternoon that the NFL has found that Tice did indeed scalp the tickets, but is NOT likely to be suspended. Damn, looks like we're stuck with him for one more year.
In other bummer Vikings news in what's otherwise been a good offseason, Reggie Fowler's bid to buy the team appears to be in trouble, since it doesn't look as though he's got enough assets. So unless Glen Taylor can get his bid back together quickly, it looks like we're stuck with Red McCombs too. At least Paul Tagliabue is in town scouting stadium locations...
Much has been made of the efforts by various Hollywood studios and TV networks to piggyback on the success of "The Passion of the Christ" -and, to a lesser degree, the Bush victory in November- and appeal to religious viewers. It's sort of a parallel quest to the Democrats' similar political efforts in seeking their votes- and if something I saw tonight is any indication, it's every bit as hopeless.
The first major project in that vein- which doubles as a ripoff of "The DaVinci Code"- is the upcoming NBC miniseries "Revelations." It could be good, and NBC could be sincere in its presentation- but if that's so, why the hell are they running commercials with the phrase "Apocalypse Wow"? Do they actually think such an approach will attract their target audience?
From a City Pages profile of Twins pitcher-turned-broadcaster Bert Blyleven:
Viola saw his own share of Blyleven's ass over the years. "The last team picture that you take every year, Bert would always put his pants down," he says. "That always had to be the last picture. And that was the one all the players brought home that nobody else saw. The wives would look at it and say, 'That's Bert.'"Between that and Kirby Puckett turning out to be a wife abuser, I’ll never look at the ’87 Twins the same way again.
A representative for Spears said: "Britney and Kevin were at the hotel to celebrate [sister] Jamie Lynn's birthday. An emergency meeting was called, but only because Britney was afraid her dog, Bit Bit, was pregnant by [brother] Brian's dog, Porkchop — and that would be incest.
I always knew Vanilla Ice sucked, but he’s also a liar.
“Spurs Sign Robinson For Stretch Run Dog Days”
They’re referring to Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson. But am I the only one who saw that and thought The Admiral was making a comeback?
Don’t know about you, but I liked ESPN.com a LOT more when it looked like this. Back when it didn’t have that little “overhang” that blocks half the page every time I open it. But I love the hilarious-in-retrospect 2001 headline, “Knoblauch Says Twins Fans ‘Need to Turn the Page.’”
Strange doings tonight on “Hannity & Colmes.” Since any rumor, no matter how far-fetched, is deemed worthy of its own H&C segment provided it makes Democrats/liberals/”MSM” look bad, a discussion was held tonight on the issue, discussed through the Blogosphere today, of whether the Associated Press had collaborated with terrorists in Iraq in order to obtain one of the photos for which it was just awarded a Pulitzer.
Never mind that neither of the righty pundits present- Sean Hannity or Brent Bozell- was willing to accept that interpretation as fact. And since Hannity and Bozell are two of the most shameless right-wing prevaricators alive, that’s saying something. There are many smart, fair conservatives out there, but censor-in-chief Bozell and Hannity- who during his three-week Schiavo vigil gave voice to domestic terrorist Randall Terry, among other transgressions- are clearly not among them.
When asked about the "allegation" Bozell, rather than go along with the questionable meme like he usually does, instead denied that anyone has actually made that argument- and when Alan Colmes mentioned that “Power Line Blog” had discussed it that day, Hannity then claimed, absurdly, both that “no major conservative” has argued that the photo was a result of collaboration, and that he had never heard of Power Line!
If that’s the case, and there’s no non-circumstantial evidence to speak of that the photo was staged, and not even Hannity or Bozell would take up the issue, what the hell was the show even doing talking about it? And now that Hannity has implicitly dismissed right-wing bloggers by arguing that they're not "major conservatives"- and has claimed that he'd "never heard of" the Blog of the Year, will they turn on him en masse?
(The other top blogger on the story today was Michelle Malkin. I'd certain call her a major something, but a major conservative she's not).
Another great man has departed- they always go in bunches, it seems. Just the other day I was reading Christopher Hitchens' analysis of Bellow's "Augie March" in his essay collection, which made me want to dive even further in. I doubt Bellow will be recipient of one of Hitch's famed anti-obits.
It’s bad enough that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is proposing regulation of the Blogosphere (tell me what’s “liberal” about that?) But then comes this stupid piece the other week by Newsweek’s Steven Levy- a noted blog-hater- bemoaning the lack of “diversity” in the top ranks of the Blogosphere. As though it’s all planned, like the 8.5 million bloggers are all being manipulated by a small white male elite. Sheila convincingly tears this whole thing to shreds:
Let me explain to anyone out there whining about "the men's club" of blogging:One big problem in the upper ranks of the ‘sphere: other than Sheila (and Karol): not enough redheads.
You can blog FOR FREE. You need NO INCENTIVE except that you need to WANT to blog. You need to want to set yourself up on your soapbox, and see who shows up to hear your rants.
This kind of diversity stuff goes up my ass, especially since blogging is not a regulated activity in any way. You don't even have to TELL your race or gender if you don't want to. You can be invisible, and just be a mouthpiece.
Besides, all of this is besides the point. WHO CARES? I read blogs written by women and by men. I do not think my blog-roll has to be 50/50 just to keep the balance. Some of the blogs written by men SUCK. Just because you're a man doesn't mean your blog is good. I mean, it's ridiculous that I even have to say this, but apparently I do. And just because you're a woman, or you're black, doesn't mean that your blog is good either.
(This story came to Sheila via a blog called Cake-Eater Chronicles, a title which led me to assume that the author was based in the country-club capital of Edina, Minnesota. And I was right, but I won’t hold it against her.)
"If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about AIDS?"-The New Republic's Martin Peretz, in an excellent essay giving credit where credit is due to Bush, but not letting him off the hook either. The only problem? In a section bashing various half-baked counterterrorism measures of the Clinton Administration, he leaves out the part, as mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report, in which Clinton proposed sending "ninjas" to parachute into al-Qaeda's training camp.
My friend, blogger Michael Totten, is in Beirut of all places, blogging about the nascent democracy movement there on behalf of Spirit of America. I bet Michael never could’ve imagined he’d be heading to Lebanon to report positively on a democracy movement that was largely brought about by a Bush-led war in Iraq, back on that day in November 2000 when he voted for Ralph Nader.
UPDATE: You can donate to various Lebanon-related charities here.
Wrestlemania 21 took place Sunday night, and while it clearly wasn’t up to the level of either the mid-‘80s or late-‘90s heyday, it was a successful event with lots of memorable moments.
The best in-ring moments were the six-man ladder match- including an amazing walk-up-one-ladder-onto-another spot by Minnesota Gopher-turned-Intercontinental champion Shelton Benjamin- and the later clash between Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. Later in the evening, young stars Dave Batista and John Cena defeated veterans Triple-H and JBL to win the Raw and Smackdown titles (respectively); it remains to be seen whether this latest attempt to “create new superstars” will pay off. Last year, the two winners were Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, both of whom appeared Sunday in early matches that they lost.
In addition, longtime buffs such as myself were treated to such nostalgic moments as a faceoff between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the Hall of Fame induction, featuring Piper, Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, and others. For good measure, the Hulkster made a surprise appearance during the actual show- looking noticeably chubby and even more orange than usual, he came out to attack Arab villain Mohammad Hassan, the pro-Iraqi Sgt. Slaughter apparently not available.
Scott Keith, the internet’s best wrestling writer, has more.
But I don't know all the words. Did you know it was once covered by rapper-turned-convict Lil' Kim?
Oh yea, they played a game tonight, too. Congrats to Roy Williams for finally winning a title at his alma mater UNC; with he and Pistons coach Larry Brown, it's been excellent year for longtime title-starved basketball coaches who went to Carolina and used to coach at Kansas.
Even though I got just everything else wrong, I correctly predicted the championship game, and would've won one of my two pools if Illinois had won. Oh well.
And finally, another stupid controversy: some are mad that on Saturday afternoon, CBS switched away from Pope coverage, less than an hour after the Pontiff's death, in order to broadcast the first Final Four game. Please. CBS, along with every other network, had been broadcasting coverage for several days prior to the actual death, and they were obligated to air the Final Four, a major sporting event the rights of which had been acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars. And besides, any viewer wishing to tune into coverage of the Pope's death had about ten other options at the time. Sounds, as usual, like outrage for outrage's sake, mostly by people so negatively predisposed to CBS News that they likely wouldn't have watched it anyway.
And yes, I know that, on that fateful Friday night in June of 1994, NBC famously switched away from an NBA Finals game in order to broadcast the OJ Simpson Bronco chase. But that doesn't make it right.
The Minnesota Twins will win the World Series. Jayson Stark says so, and so do Peter Gammons, Buster Olney, and Jerry Crasnick. And so do I. They're a loaded team, for one-third the Yankees payroll, and they've won three straight division titles, which is sort of like winning back-to-back-to-back AAU national championships, only even more impressive. Predictions for '05:
AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Angels
AL Wild Card: Red Sox
NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Padres
NL Wild Card: Marlins
ALDS: Twins over Yankees, Red Sox over Angels
ALCS: Twins over Red Sox
NLDS: Cubs over Marlins, Mets over Padres
NLCS: Mets over Cubs
World Series: Twins over Mets
I say the same thing about his death that I did about Ronald Reagan's: I didn't always agree with him on many or even most of the little things, but he got the big things right, and was a great man who will be missed.
Yes, she's dead. It's the end of a very sad tale, one about which I plan to continue to not have an opinion on. There are way too many of those out there as it is. At this point I half-expect a "Best of Schiavo" DVD in the next few weeks, complete with the most memorable cable-news moments.
Other topics I neglected to cover during my vacation week and may or may not discuss next week: The Final Four; The Pope's health; the departure of Ted Koppel from ABC; the "conservative crackup" meme; the death of comedian Mitch Hedberg; Sandy Berger's guilty plea; and the Weinsteins' divorce from Miramax (which side gets to keep John Gulager?)
Topics I will almost certainly cover next week: The opening of baseball season, "Sin City," Wrestlemania, the new Beck and Moby albums, and whichever gullible media outlets fall for April Fools jokes.
A few observations on the week in TV:
- Tonight I watched “Left of the Dial.” While it does get credit for being named after a great Replacements song, this HBO documentary about the first year of the Air America radio network didn’t make me much more sympathetic towards the network than I was previously, telling the tale of massive, “Project Greenlight”-like behind-the-scenes bungling which nearly knocked the network off the air in its first few months.
More than two minutes of the completely insane Janeane Garofalo was bad enough, but worst of all was the focus on host Randi Rhodes- who comes across as a screaming, raving lunatic on the air, and as a self-loathing basket case off it. Best of all was Michael Moore appearing on the station and then, post-show, trashing the entire operation. Nothing like being sneered down at by Fat Fat Fatty, of all people.
Watching “Left of the Dial” made me want to become a Republican- luckily, five subsequent minutes of Hannity switched me right back. It’s kind of disturbing to see that liberals have decided to respond to shrieking, dishonest hatefulness of right-wing talk radio by giving us the shrieking, dishonest hatefulness of left-wing talk radio.
- Speaking of behind-the-scenes bungling, “Project Greenlight” had another standout episode last week, including the return of Evil Chris Moore! Good to see him back in his hostile glory, even if he is completely in the right. Check out his blog if you don’t believe it. Can they risk sacrificing the unintentional comedic gold that is John Gulager, if he's fired next year?
- Yes, “The West Wing” has improved dramatically this year, following two seasons of utter mediocrity. But while the recent episodes have been great dramatic TV –and practically a political junkie’s dream- they’ve got a glaring weakness: “West Wing” is set in an alternate universe in which a liberal Republican senator from California (Alan Alda), seemingly the fictional equivalent of Arlen Specter, goes virtually unchallenged in his path to the GOP presidential nomination. What, is there no conservative movement in their world?
- All I kept hearing about “The Office” was that it was supposed to take off in its second episode. Um, not exactly- it was horrible. The genius of the British version was that it made the boss character, Ricky Gervais’ David Brent, equal parts appalling and oddly endearing. The American version has grossly miscalculated in making Steve Carell’s boss way too unlikable- in that “Diversity Day” bit, he sounded not so much adorably clueless, as irredeemably racist- simply because the American and British sensibilities are so different, in regards to racial humor. In having Carell mimic the speech patterns of blacks and Indians, the bit wasn’t uncomfortably hilarious, it was just plain uncomfortable. And in basing a segment around a classic bit from the Chris Rock “Bring the Pain” special, I just realized I’d rather be watching the Rock bit (until that point, I’d have rather been watching the British “Office”)
Guess I’m not the only one who thinks so- the show’s been bombing in the ratings. Then again, my favorite thing about the original 'Office' was its essential Britishness. Take that out, and what have you got?
- “South Park” had been a bit weak the first few episodes this season, but it redeemed itself with a great parody tonight of the Schiavo madness, complete with references to “Star Wars,” “The Matrix,” “Lord of the Rings,” and the “Left Behind” books, and a special appearance by Gay Satan. Funny that the best episode of the year is the one they probably put together in two or three days.
Tonight I went to a speech at NYU by Daniel Pipes, the right-leaning Middle East scholar who has drawn colorful responses from activists in past college visits nationwide, including an appearance at Brandeis two years ago that I missed by only a few hours. The two biggest surprises of the evening were that Pipes said just about nothing particularly controversial, and that his opponents were practically invisible.
I go to these political speech/debates in Manhattan semi-frequently, and when I do, there's normally about a 95/5 liberal/conservative split- at one the week after the election last year, the moderator asked "how many of you think Bush stole the election in Ohio?," and just about every hand in the room shot up. But perhaps because it wasn't widely publicized, and perhaps because it was co-sponsored by the NYU Federalist Society and the Republican Jewish Coalition, the crowd was about 95% pro-Pipes, and only one of the questions in the Q&A session was overtly hostile. One of the 5% blogged it here.
The gist of Pipes' speech was that the true enemy in the War on Terror is not "terror," but rather the ideology of radical Islam. Not the religion of Islam itself, not Muslims themselves, but the ideology. There are many areas in which Pipes is to my right- he doesn't trust Mahmoud Abbas, for one, and opposed the January Iraq elections. But he's also no ultra-righty- he did point out that Ann Coulter's post-9/11 call to invade every Muslim country and convert their inhabitants to Christianity "obviously, is untenable."
The best moment was when Pipes was asked to respond to accusations that he's a racist, and he replied that the issues at play here have nothing whatsoever to do with race. I thought of the same thing before the speech, when I tried to guess which side of the debate each person who walked into the room was on- which is difficult, since many members of both sides tend to favor beards and/or headscarves.