May 31, 2005

Well There's One Mystery Solved

Wow, when I left the house this morning, I sure wasn't expecting to come home knowing who Deep Throat was. But it's Mark Felt- as confirmed today but the former FBI honcho, as well as Woodward and Bernstein themselves. Interesting that, with the credibility of anonymous sources at an all-time low, we’d suddenly see the outing of the most famous anonymous source in journalistic history just a week later.

Even though I'm a longtime Watergate buff, I was never into the Deep Throat parlor game; I'm too young, I guess, and I don't who most of the players are. Though a friend joked today that if Watergate happened now, the anonymous source would be named something like "Where the Boys Aren't 17."

I'm looking forward to Woodward's tell-all piece on Thursday, but in the meantime, we know two things: it's not Ben Stein, and right now G. Gordon Liddy is probably on his way to Santa Rosa to kill Felt with his bare hands.

In the meantime, read this timeline, which made me want to dig out "All the President's Men" just for its brilliant third-act-on-a-typewriter.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

Notes From "Minny"

A few notes from my holiday weekend trip to Minnesota:

- Minneapolis has a light rail now. Huh? You’re not supposed to “catch a train” in the Midwest!

- I’d been wondering how long it would take my girlfriend and my mother, after meeting each other for the first time, to join forces and make jokes at my expense. The answer: “Only a couple of hours.”

- We paid a pre-dinner visit to the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, where I hadn’t been in years. The garden is best known for its spoon-and-cherry sculpture, the bridge of which is often used, according to my father, as a late-night destination for prom kids, if you know what I mean.

- We also went to the Mall of America- just 24 hours before the government-mandated shuttering of Camp Snoopy. Rumsfeld IS a blockhead. Seriously- I’d never realized before just how drenched the Cities are with Peanuts iconography- statues and posters of Charlie Brown and Co. are everywhere.

- There’s a Sunday night sports-wrap show in the Twin Cities featuring the local sportswriting/radio/old fart trio of Sid Hartman, Pat Reusse, and “Dark Star,” along with host Mike Max. A train wreck reminiscent of the early “McLaughlin Group,” only without the charm, “The Sports Show” consists of 30 minutes of the hosts mumbling, sharing strikingly obvious non-wisdom and talking over each other. There's probably more insight in the daily five-minute discussion my co-workers and I have about the previous evening's Mets game than there was on that entire half-hour show.

- Peter King has the Vikings winning the NFC, because of their offseason moves, and because getting rid of Randy Moss was “addition by subtraction.” I am predicting a vastly improved Vikes team, but I also tend to agree with Philly sports radio host Glen Macnow, who said last night that the Vikings aren’t making the Super Bowl anytime soon because “their coach is a blithering idiot.”

- The Zygi Wilf era is off to an excellent start, with the Vikes’ new owner actually reaching the radical conclusion that maybe a team in Minnesota would enjoy a competitive advantage from playing outdoors. Shocking, I know. I'm not sure if Blaine’s the right place, but if it’s going to be open-air, the further north, the better. I’m also enjoying the nicknames for Zygi- the Borat references, “Zygi Milf,” etc.- and then the King column dubbed him “Triple Word Score.”

- Speaking of stadiums, the Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis finally, improbably, looks like a reality. I went up to my dad’s office and viewed the site from above- the adjacent garbage incinerator notwithstanding, it looks like a good location. And the lucky law partner with the overlooking office will get a free, unobstructed view of every Twins home game for as long as he’s with the firm.

- As for the Wolves, it actually appears as though they’re going to hire P.J. Carlesimo as coach. I don’t like it- not because of the Sprewell thing, but because he just hasn’t been a winner, anywhere he’s been. And while Latrell and his yacht are likely gone regardless of who the coach is, it’s still a wacky juxtaposition. Could you ever imagine such a situation happening in any other profession? “We’re thinking about hiring this new sales manager, but awhile back one of our employees tried to murder him. Is that a problem?”

- Good to see some friends/readers on my visit; I'll be back in September, and will hopefully extend the continuing ballpark tour to the Metrodome. (Next week: Pittsburgh, and possibly DC as well).

UPDATE: Another Twins memory (from Steve Rushin's column):

"In March, after 44 distinguished years as the Minnesota Twins' public-address announcer, Bob Casey passed away. At the funeral one of Casey's sons, Mike, closed his eulogy the same phrase his father used to close every Twins game.
He said, in summing up a life well-lived: "The totals on the board are correct."
I don't think I've ever gone to a game with my father when he didn't make some comment about that phrase. And I'm going to miss hearing it.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:41 PM | Comments (3)

Well, it’ll be better than Woodstock ’99

Live Aid is coming back for a 20th anniversary encore in five cities, including Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love will host Bon Jovi, P. Diddy, the Dave Matthews Band, Will Smith, and (best of all) Stevie Wonder. I certainly plan on being there, but if not, I'll watch the whole thing on TV.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

He’ll Get About 2,000 “Stephen A. Sucks!” E-Mails Per Day

News Item: ESPN Hires First-Ever Ombudsman.

A welcome step back towards journalistic respectability for the Worldwide Leader, which of late has been trending more towards "boom goes the dynamite"-like catchphrase-ology than any sort of valuable information. The network might be doing a better job with this year's NBA playoffs, but I've barely been paying attention so I wouldn't know.

And speaking of ombudsmen, the Boston Globe is losing theirs, as Mark Jurkowitz is heading back to the Boston Phoenix to replace the best media critic in the country, Dan Kennedy, who is heading to a career in academia. A prediction: nothing Jurkowitz writes will ever match Daniel Okrent's acid-tongued Times finale, which took well-deserved shots at Dowd and Krugman.

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

Book Critic Quote of the Day

”The political lesson here is that special interests are in the eye of the beholder: Malanga thinks that janitors who clean buildings for eight dollars an hour are a special interest, while I tend to think that middle-age white guys whose cushy sinecures at conservative think tanks nicely insulate them from the vicissitudes of the same free market they so fetishize are a special interest.”
- Christopher Hayes, reviewing Steven Malanga’s “The New New Left,” in TNR.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2005

In Minny

Having touched down a few hours ago at the hallowed sight of Onterrio Smith's Whizzinator arrest (otherwise known as the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport), Becca and I are in Minnesota for the long weekend visiting family and friends. Apologies for the lack of content this week- but I'll be back Tuesday with my "Star Wars" review, a book-review roundup, and the long-awaited final edition of my latest LGP (long-gestating piece.) 'Til then, everyone have a great Memorial Day.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:18 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2005

In My Metrodome There is Problem

Which is new Vikings owner Zyggi Wilf:

And which is Borat?

Throw Mike Tice down the well...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:19 PM | Comments (3)

May 24, 2005

Our Long National Nightmare is Over

Red McCombs is no longer owner of the Minnesota Vikings, as the sale of the team to Zygmunt Wilf will be approved, probably today. From the skipped draft pick to the Moss traffic arrest, from the Tice scalping investigation to the Whizzinator, the McCombs tenure was just one embarrasment after another. And now, after a great offseason and finally a sale, the Vikings have a chance to finally become a class organization again.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:40 PM | Comments (6)

Film Critic Quote of the Day

"If Ava Gardner were alive, by contrast, I can't help but think she'd have a good laugh over the casting of Kate Beckinsale to play her. Nothing against Beckinsale, who seemed promising enough before her career detoured into Pearl Harbor and a series of crummy vampire movies (Underworld, Van Helsing).

But the twiggy young actress utterly lacks Gardner's carnal heft; she's like something Ava might have tucked into her cleavage for use at a later date, perhaps as dental floss. (Beckinsale reportedly gained 20 pounds for the role; it's disturbing to think that she probably needed at least 20 more.) Gwyneth Paltrow was originally signed to play Gardner, but it's doubtful she would have been much better. Is this really where we've wound up? A Hollywood so weight-obsessed that it's impossible to find an actress with enough meat on her bones to play a sex symbol of yesteryear?"

-TNR’s Chris Orr, reviewing the DVD of “The Aviator.” I’m also upset that the film shed no light on whether the Kate Beckinsale “45 degree angle” rumor is true.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:28 PM | Comments (1)

Santorum/Hitler! Santorum/Hitler!

Unlike some of my friends, I don’t like comparing right-wing politicians to Hitler. Then again, I also don’t like when the politicians themselves do it. Here’s Rick Santorum, last week, on the filibuster:

"It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me? How dare you bomb my city? It's mine,'"
Should the “frothy mixture” decide to run for president, I want him to be asked about this EVERY DAY. And I wouldn’t mind some occasional use of “will you condemn this” card, either.

Just a few days later, Senator Man-on-Dog found himself the subject of a long New York Times Magazine cover story that mentioned neither the Hitler remark, nor the “frothy mixture” thing. You figure it out…

And speaking of the filibuster fight, a compromise tonight means that, for the time being, it’s over. A rare triumph for centrism in Washington, and as the obnoxious, rabid partisans of both sides are hopping mad, I say it’s a wonderful thing. Don’t expect it to last, however- "extraordinary circumstances" is a loophole big enough to push Ted Kennedy through.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:48 AM | Comments (3)

The 24th Hour


It wasn’t perfect, but tonight’s “24” season finale was satisfying, marking the first season in the history of the show with a strong beginning, middle, and end.

Yes, the resolution of the missile plot was a bit of a letdown- call it deus ex Edgar- but I did enjoy the entire Mia Kirschner sequence, as well as the Tony/Michelle stuff. But wasn’t the Tony-isn’t-dead twist given away in last week’s promo, where we saw Jack confronting Mia as she held him at gunpoint? This took place after Tony’s “death.”

And was I the only one who, as soon as Michelle got off the phone with a suddenly-alive Tony, expected her to get into a fatal car accident? And who else expected Kim Bauer to meet Jack at the border?

While not as daring as actually killing off Jack, the ending took chutzpah. Will the fifth season begin without Jack? Will it start with him in Mexico (uh oh- they already tried that in Season 3, with disastrous results). Will it be a prequel? We’ll find out in 2006, as Fox once again will broadcast the entire season, rerun-free, between January and May.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:39 AM | Comments (1)

Another iPod/iTunes Meme

(This one came from Eric at Off Wing):

Q: Total volume of music files on my computer:
3,909 songs comprising over 14 gigs. 11 days in total. (When I was in college, my entire hard drive wasn’t even 1 gig).

Q: The last CD I bought:
"Separation Sunday," The Hold Steady

Q: Song playing now:
“Motorcycle Song (The Significance of the Pickle)," Arlo Guthrie

Q: Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
“Mr. Blue Sky,” ELO: Song I discovered in the great trailer for the great film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and has been #1 on my most-played list ever since.

“The Good Life,” Weezer: Listening daily to the “Pinkerton” album helped me get through a very difficult time in my life a few years back, this song especially. So what if I didn’t discover the album until about 5 years after it was released?

“Mr. Jones,” Counting Crows: I learned how to play guitar in 9th grade, mostly to impress girls. The first time I ever actually impressed a girl was by playing her this song- in 11th grade.

“Duke of Earl,” Gene Chandler: My dad gave me this one on a 45 record when I was about five years old, and I still love it to this day.

"Letterbomb," Green Day: The best song on Green Day’s improbably magnificent “American Idiot” album may be the best treadmill song I’ve ever heard.

Five people I’d like to see do this one: Jeremy, Petitedov, C, Big Red, and Sheila.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:32 AM | Comments (1)

He Could Use a Manual

From WIP (via my girlfriend) comes the story that Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid recently paid a visit to Citizens’ Bank Park to catch a Phillies game and hang out with the team, and during the visit he stopped by the office of manager Charlie Manuel. Charlie- who has drawn the ire of the Phils’ fanbase with his too-folksy personality and sometimes absent-minded game-managerial skills- had no idea who Reid was.

But this got me thinking- what if Andy Reid were to manage the Phillies for a game? Assuming he’s familiar with the rules of baseball and knows something about pitching changes, lineup dynamics, and other stuff that’s nowhere near as complex as football game plans, I don’t see how he wouldn’t do a better job than Manuel. Ditto for Bill Belichick/Terry Francona- but NOT Mike Tice/Ron Gardenhire.

And in other Philadelphia coaching news, Jim O’Brien was fired today as coach of the Sixers, and replaced by former Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks. The news means that while a year ago there were two working, Boston-connected basketball coaches named Jim O’Brien (the Celtics/Sixers O’Brien and the Boston College/Ohio State O’Brien), now there are none. As for Cheeks, the Philly sports market can be tough, but after four years with the crime family known as the Portland Trail Blazers, Iverson and Co. should be a breeze.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2005

Worst Film Critic Quote of the Week

A TV commercial for the upcoming remake of “The Longest Yard” that aired on ABC last night consisted of only one critic quote: Joel Siegel of “Good Morning America,” calling the film “a summer blockbuster.” A good blockbuster? A bad one? That’s not clear.

Not that it matters to this particular film’s audience what the critics think. But I find it hilarious that the studio releasing it couldn’t find a single positive quote, that they found a neutral quote preferable to none at all, and that they couldn’t get Siegel- who loves everything- to give it a positive notice.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"I'm glad that now we know the reason Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side and became Darth Vader. It's because Obi-Wan Kenobi failed to teach him the most important part of the Jedi Code: Bros before hos."
- Slate's Chris Suellentrop, on "Revenge of the Sith." I'll have my full review up later this week, but yes, I loved it. Still too much of the awful dialogue, but the last hour was the best sci-fi action I've seen since the first "Matrix."
Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2005

Come On Satan, It's Not Real!

Nothing like picking up the paper in the morning and being greeted by Saddam's package. (Would this have been better?-Ed.) Though it did lead to the wonderful Reuters headline "Bush Promises Probe Into Saddam Underwear Pictures."

Then again, usually it's the bodies of actresses and other entertainers that are made fun and dissected on the front page of the Post. Nice to see them doing it to a homicidal dictator for once instead.

Are the pictures a mean-spirited humiliation of Saddam? I sure as hell hope so.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:02 PM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2005

Heil the Twins

Since the Metrodome opened in early 1980s, it’s never been the most popular stadium in the world, and the reasons why are myriad: indoor baseball is wrong, artificial turf is wrong, the sightlines are atrocious, and outfielders seem to lose balls in the roof nearly every game. Oh yea, and there’s also a giant swastika right in the middle of the roof.

Say what? That last complaint is the deeply-felt grievance of a Twins fan named Tim Anderson, who sounds to me like a walking, talking “Daily Show” segment. Anderson believes that the cables that converge at the top of the dome’s roof form the shape of the Nazi swastika (see the photo here), and that he has “proof”- the architect who designed the stadium was German.

On his website, Anderson calls the symbol “the greatest hate crime in history,” (as opposed to, I don’t know, the Holocaust itself?), and includes a larger photo that’s somehow even less convincing than the one accompanying the Strib story. Even though the Dome will likely be torn in a few years, Anderson is suing the architectural firm and building contractor that built the stadium- and as further proof of Michael Moore’s nefarious influence on American life and culture, Anderson wants to make a documentary about it as well. How such a doc could possibly be longer than 10 minutes remains a mystery.

Anderson is, in fact, a backer of a new stadium- and demands that a Holocaust memorial be included as part of the project. 'Cause nothing gets a crowd jazzed up for a fun day at the ballpark quite like the Holocaust. Are we sure this guy is legit, or is he a plant inserted by anti-stadium forces to discredit the pro-park side? I bet if you checked Anderson’s wallet, you’d find John Marty’s card.

Legit or not, this is complete loony tunes, and I’m surprised any news outlet deemed it worthy of a story. And funny that the alleged swastika would be in the same building where, a couple hundred feet away, hangs the retired #29 jersey of Rod Carew, the only Afican-American Jew in the baseball Hall of Fame.

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

Home, Alone, With His Whizzinator

Onterrio Smith Excused From Vikings Mini-Camp; Faces One-Year Suspension

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

"Star Wars" Critic Quote of the Day

"The general opinion of “Revenge of the Sith” seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion."
-Anthony Lane, reviewing 'Sith' in the New Yorker.

And speaking of "Star Wars" and the "Manhattan media elite," right now, somewhere on the Upper West Side, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd are flipping a coin over who gets to write the "Bush as Darth Vader" column in the Times this weekend.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:49 AM | Comments (1)

Seven Points on the Newsweek Scandal

1. Yes, Newsweek fucked up. Their job, always, is to get the story right, and they got it wrong, and I’d imagine they feel quite bad about it, especially since the story led indirectly to people's deaths. This is something that will haunt the magazine for quite some time, and may even hasten the elimination of one-anonymous-source stories forever.

2. But the fact is, this story has much, much more to do with sloppiness and poor sourcing than it does with liberal bias, much less deliberate deception. Partisans of the We Hate MSM Club will of course see it the other way, but that’s because they see liberal bias around every corner and under every bed. And let’s not forget: the story was written by Michael Isikoff, an ace investigative reporter who has been super-tough on administrations of both parties. He is, after all, the guy who did some of the toughest, most damaging reporting for the Lewinsky scandal, after which he famously concluded that Bill Clinton was “psychologically disturbed.”

I’m not denying that existence of political bias in parts of the media, or even at Newsweek. But there no non-circumstantial indication whatsoever that bias was the cause of the Koran story, or that it was deliberate. Michael Isikoff is no Jayson Blair. He’s not even a Mike Barnicle.

3. The rhetoric in some corners of the blogosphere the day the story broke, of course, was insane. The normally sensible Dean Esmay referred to the reporters who made an honest error in judgment as “enemy propagandists.” Powerline, citing no evidence, called the obvious mistake “deliberate.” And even Glenn Reynolds- who I had always thought was a sensible moderate, actually wrote that “if Americans conclude that the press is, basically, on the side of the enemy, the consequences are likely to be dire.” But what indication in the world is there that any mainstream journalist is “on the side of the enemy”? And why is the blogger with the biggest audience on the internet propagating this myth when he knows it’s not true?

Please. I challenge anyone to name a single Newsweek staffer who demonstratively hates America, wants America to lose the war on terror, or identifies in any way whatsoever with Islamofascism. To find such a staffer, I’d imagine, would be impossible, because none exist.

4. Indeed, I’ve learned, through last week's John Rocker incident and others, that in any political discussion with conservative partisans, no matter what the topic, the subject will always- ALWAYS- eventually be changed to liberal media bias. All roads, ultimately, lead to that.

I know the anti-MSMers are thrilled to have another mass media head on a spike, but please, Miss Malkin, Mr. Hewitt, and Messers Hinderaker, Mirengoff, and Johnson: try not to chortle quite so loudly. People are dead, and your downright cheerfulness just goes to show that the line between outrage and outright glee is very thin.

5. No, the Koran story did not ultimately check out. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. hasn’t engaged in tactics in the War on Terror that would be classified, under U.S. or international guidelines, as torture, or at the very least immoral mistreatment of prisoners. In fact, the government’s own reports say they have. To point this out, alas, is NOT unpatriotic, is NOT to say that the terrorists aren’t worse, and is NOT something that, if true, any responsible journalist should cover up. Nor should such coverups be a matter of policy, as suggested by La Shawn Barber and others.

As a proud American who has been outspoken in my support of U.S. actions abroad, I favor exposing such abuses because THEY HURT US. If torture happens, it hands propaganda victories to the enemy, and works to diminish our standing. And when it does, the torture is 100% the fault of the torturers, not the messengers, as Anne Applebaum points out today.

6. If there’s a left-wing version of the right’s one-size-fits-all liberal bias obsession, it’s the “conspiracy by Karl Rove” meme. The increasingly irrelevant Norman Mailer puts that one forward today, alleging that Rove was behind not only the story, but the riots as well. Even the other people on the Huffington blog were backing off that one.

7. And finally, here’s a question I’ve heard no one ask so far: in the riots in Afghanistan how, exactly, did the 16 people die? Did the rioters kill one another, or were they shot at as part of some sort of government police action? Were the dead non-rioters who were killed by the rioters? Because if that's what in fact happened, it would cause the far-right of the blogosphere to choose who to really blame- Islamists, or the "MSM." I'm not entirely certain who they would choose.

UPDATE: David Brooks says many of the same things:

Excuse me, guys, but this is craziness. I used to write for Newsweek. I know Mike Isikoff and the editors. And I know about liberals in the media. The people who run Newsweek are not a bunch of Noam Chomskys with laptops. Not even close. Whatever might have been the cause of their mistakes, liberalism had nothing to do with it.
But he doesn't leave the Bush Administration OR lefty bloggers alone, either.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

Whither Knipfel?

Did New York Press just fire their only remaining good columnist, Jim Knipfel? Gawker reported it last week, but in today’s edition Knipfel denies it and says he's still Staff Writer. It remains possible that he’s been kept on staff but is no longer a columnist; the last two issues have been missing his column. That the headline of the mail section refers to “greatly exaggerated Knipfel rumors” (as opposed to, say, “greatly false”), seems to buttress this theory.

Jim or no Jim, I’m about ready to write the Press off. It’s been putting out increasingly substandard 50-page issues, and if it runs even one entertaining item per week outside of the film section, that’s a good week. If the paper is still publishing a year from now, I’ll be shocked.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:13 AM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2005

I Told You That Show Was Rigged

Sean Hannity coached two guests in how to respond to Alan Colmes’ questions on a recent “Hannity & Colmes” episode; video of it is here. Too bad these guests couldn’t just read the RNC/DNC talking points, like everyone else who goes on the show.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:38 PM | Comments (2)

You Might Not Like the Sports Guy Cartoon…

But you have to admit: the “Mike and Mike” cartoon makes it look like Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.” At least ESPN hasn’t subjected us to an animated version of Stephen A. Not yet, anyway.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

Film Critic Quote of the Week:

"McDiarmid [as Palpatine] isn't the subtlest of satanic tempters. With his lisp and his clammy little leer, he looks like an old queen keen on trading an aging butt-boy (Count Dooku) for fresh meat—which leaves Anakin looking more and more like a 15-watt bulb."
- David Edelstein of Slate, reviewing “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” Well, uh, that’s one interpretation. Though it does make a lot more sense than the “it's all an anti-Bush allegory” meme.

I’m seeing it Friday night. Not expecting a whole lot, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

Who Needs Ideas? We’ve got Moneyball

From a TNR piece by Noam Scheiber about Berkeley linguist and Democratic strategist George Lakoff:

Lakoff suggests thinking about politics the way Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager featured in Michael Lewis's book Moneyball, thinks about building a baseball team. Beane's philosophy is that no single player is particularly important. The idea is to pick the nine players who collectively produce the most runs. Likewise, in Lakoff's telling, specific policies are less important than the larger goal of conveying the right set of values.
Is it just me, or is “we’re applying the lessons of ‘Moneyball’” the most tiresome, overused cliché of the year? We’ve seen the book's philosophy applied to other sports, investing, business, law school rankings, and now politics, and on almost all occasions the “application” has either been crushingly obvious, or a complete misinterpretation of what the book actually said.

First there was Mark Cuban seeking to apply Moneyball to the NBA, even though Cuban's actual player personnel philosophy (drastically overpaying for free agents) is the exact opposite of Beane’s. And now we’ve got Lakoff, whose theories have been gaining lots of traction in Democratic circles of late, applying a relatively minor part of the Beane philosophy to theoretical electoral victory. That’s really not what the book is about at all- and wouldn’t a more faithful application of “Moneyball” to politics be a candidate winning by playing smart despite raising less money like, say, Paul Wellstone’s Senate race in 1990?

No wonder the Democrats, like Beane’s A’s, seem to always lose in the first round…

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2005

The Trump World Trade Center

With the long-troubled quest to rebuild at Ground Zero seemingly headed back to the drawing board, into the breach has stepped Donald Trump, whose organization has come up with a design proposal of its own.

Trump’s design is said to be a more modern version of the original World Trade Center, except that it will be one storey taller (to which a representative of architect Daniel Libeskind replied, "I suppose Trump wants to add an extra floor to make room for his name.”)

If the design is as garish as some of the other Trump-inspired architecture, then I’m not too excited about this. Then again, whatever he comes up with couldn’t possibly be worse than Libeskind’s convoluted Freedom Tower, and Trump might just be the man to cut through the bureaucratic nightmare that has thus far characterized the rebuilding effort.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:43 PM | Comments (1)

The Noah Challenge

In response to the New York Times’ decision to start charging $50 a year to access its op-ed pages online in September, Slate’s Timothy Noah is asking readers to take $25 and allocate a dollar amount to each of the current op-ed columnists (the other $25 covers the access fee to the paper’s archives). Here's my list:

Thomas L. Friedman: $20
David Brooks: $8
John Tierney: $4
Paul Krugman: $1
Nicholas D. Kristof: $1
Bob Herbert: $1
Frank Rich: $0
Maureen Dowd: $-10

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:23 PM | Comments (4)

May 16, 2005

Worst in Show

I’ve spoken before about “The Show,” the generally awful weekly column in Sports Illustrated by former Letterman writer Bill Scheft, in which Scheft produces 25 or 30 incredibly lame one-liners about the world of sports. If there are one or two good ones in a week, that’s a good week.

Now, inexplicably, the “best” of these mediocre jokes have been combined into a book, called “Best of the Show.” Scheft and his backers give the title the lead-in “Thousands of Jokes (Over a Dozen Laughs)," leading us to think that maybe they’re in on the joke. But that doesn’t answer the question of why the hell anyone would buy this book.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Ballpark Tour Begins

I’m planning on going to baseball games at eight different ballparks throughout America this summer, and the first stop was Saturday in Philly, where I watched the Phillies lose 12-4 to the Cincinnati Reds at Citizen’s Bank Park.

First I must say: it’s a beautiful ballpark, and a wonderful place to see a game. If the eventual Minneapolis stadium is half as good, I’ll be a happy man. Unfortunately, the team that plays there isn’t looking so good- with the majors’ fourth-largest payroll ($95 million), the Phils are five games under .500, leading folks in the very tough local media and on the radio to call for the heads of manager Charlie Manuel and GM Ed Wade (Bill Conlin sums up the thoughts of many in this column).

While the Phils won on Friday and Sunday, things didn’t go so well for them Saturday- while the Phils got off to an early lead, heretofore impressive reliever Ryan Madson had one of the worst outings I’ve ever seen, giving up six runs in a third of an inning to more than double his ERA for the season.

It got so bad that the guys behind us spent the entire second half of the game heckling, chanting “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!” and (my personal favorite) gambling on balls and strikes. Speaking of which, I attempted to initiate a game of Moundball- but when I explained the rules, my girlfriend looked at me like I had two heads.

Despite the loss, an all-around fun night at the ballpark, and the rain that had been forecast never materialized. Next on the agenda- PNC Park in Pittsburgh, next month.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:32 PM | Comments (2)

Newsweek’s Got Some ‘plaining to Do

I didn’t hear until last night about this controversy involving Newsweek, their report that US personnel at Guanatamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet, and the subsequent riots in Afghanistan and several other Muslim countries that resulted in several deaths. Then, Newsweek issued a retraction.

Yes, they screwed up, big time. Newsweek trusted the wrong source and subsequently got burned. But please- let’s not turn this into something it’s not. It’s NOT the “MSM” doing something to “help the terrorists” or purposely undermine the war effort- in fact the offending journalist, Michael Isikoff, is known as something of a conservative. It’s NOT lying or making up facts. And- as Karol of all people pointed out- the riots are more the fault of the rioters than they are of Newsweek. And who knows how the report was bastardized and embellished by Mideast propagandists?

Most of all, spare us the hubris and triumphalism. It’s certainly not something to be happy about that people are dead, and much of the blogosphere’s conservative commentariot is nothing but joyful about the fall of yet another erstwhile “MSM” powerhouse.

I can practically hear Malkin and PowerLine chortling from here, and I was quite disappointed to see the usually-sensible Glenn Reynolds pass along the notion that "if Americans conclude that the press is, basically, on the side of the enemy, the consequences are likely to be dire." Scandals notwithstanding, what evidence on Earth is that there that mainstream press is "on the side of the enemy"?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:29 PM | Comments (4)

The Moss Piece

I read Karl Taro Greenfield’s cover story about Randy Moss in SI last week, and while I was expecting an ESPN the Magazine-style puff piece in which an unlikable athlete is given an unfettered forum to bitch about being “misunderstood” and “disrespected,” the story was much more fair than that- portraying Moss less as a victimized superstar than as someone way too immature and childish to handle life as an adult, much less fame.

Reading the piece, Moss reminded me less of Terrell Owens than of Michael Jackson. And yes, I’m still very, very glad the Vikings are rid of him.

My favorite part was probably where Moss reveals that he lives in a community in Florida that is populated almost entirely with 80-year-old white retirees, who call security regularly on their tattooed and cornrowed neighbor.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

Weinkauf Award Nominee

"Lucas' themes of democracy on the skids and a ruler preaching war to preserve the peace predate "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" by almost 30 years. Yet viewers Sunday — and Lucas himself — noted similarities between the final chapter of his sci-fi saga and our own troubled times. Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between "Revenge of the Sith" — the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering — to President Bush’s War on Terrorism and the invasion of Iraq"
-A supposedly objective news story that makes the OBVIOUS connection between “Star Wars”’ evil empire and Bush. Couldn't anyone take any movie villain and apply them to their favorite political opponent, and have it make about as much sense as this? (I heard about 200 different similar interpretations of "Lord of the Rings.")

And here I was hearing that Cannes was going to be “less political” this year.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

Bad Idea, Times

Starting in September, the New York Times will begin charging a $50/year fee for access to the op-ed page, in addition to certain other popular features. Call it 43rd Street's version of ESPN Insider.

This is a bad, bad idea. Not only will it eliminate the popular "most e-mailed stories" parlor game, but it will reduce the Times' influence, by both directing fewer eyeballs to their content, and by making it more difficult for bloggers to link. The NYT already represents the "New York media elite" in most people's minds; now they're making sure no one BUT the media elite reads it.

On the other hand, anything that reduces Maureen Dowd's readership and/or influence can't be all that bad.

UPDATE: Ross Douthat makes the same argument, all the while impersonating Tom Friedman.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Rockettes

I know something now that I didn’t three days ago: being a currently mediocre has-been major league pitcher with occasionally resurfacing racist tendencies will win a man quite a few fans.

At least, that’s the impression I got on Friday after AOL’s blogs page linked to a post I had done a couple of days earlier, about John Rocker’s stupid comment that he had suffered more than any player in major league history, including Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson- two all-time greats who had to bravely endure years of death threats in order to claim their rightful place in history. Rocker’s legacy as an athlete, on the other hand, will be as the guy who insulted just about every ethnicity in New York, and then threatened to beat up the reporter who called him on it.

The ensuing 38 comments consisted of just about every fallacy of political argument imaginable, including: rank racism itself; the belief that the only thing wrong with racist comments it that they’re “politically incorrect”; the belief that the First Amendment grants Rocker immunity from criticism; the “your argument isn’t as important as other things going on in the world”; and (of course) changing the subject from the one at hand to “liberal media bias.”

A few favorites:

No he isn't an Arron or Roberson, but your no W. Conrite either!

Don’t know who “Arron” and “Roberson” are, but I’m pretty sure this guy’s referring to Walter Cronkite. While I’m certainly not up to Walter’s level as a journalist, I can say that judging by his contribution to the Huffington Post, I am a better blogger.

You subhuman politically correct nazi lunatics are in all actuality the bad guys here. Obviously, Rocker was not comparing himself to those dudes in THAT context. Most of what John Rocker says is pretty much right on and accurate, and subsequently he is being skewered and crucified by pc fascist morons like yourself. You mothers have a search and destroy mission and unfortunately you're raping the culture as a result.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m due back on planet Earth.

john rocker is a really good baseball player...and contrary to what many may say, evidentally a pretty smart guy

John Rocker’s current stats with the low-level minor league Long Island Ducks (As of Saturday): 0-2 record with a 16.20 ERA. As for being a “pretty smart guy,” see above. And consider why a guy who's hated for prejudiced comments he made about New York, in the context of his feud with then opponent the Mets, would decide to make his comeback with a team on Long Island- which is not only in New York, but populated almost entirely with Mets fans. And he's surprised the crowd isn't nice to him?

This is nothing more than a biased, liberal media looking to drum some crap up to make a buck.

There’s only one newspaper with a beat reporter on the Rocker story, and it’s the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post. Not quite the “biased, liberal media.”

he was making a comparison of the troubles he's had as did the two he mentioned. so big deal.two because of their color and him for his frankness.

Hank Aaron’s race, John Rocker’s history of racist comments. I think some would call that “false moral equivilence.”

John Rocker was an amazing pitcher before the Braves outcasted him for his correct though socially incorrect statements. He can't help that everyone loves freaks, fags, and blacks now. They will all be what they have always been. Freaks, wrong, and the missing link.

I was going to find some stats to show that Rocker actually nosedived as a pitcher after the comments and before the Braves got rid of him, but really, why argue with someone who refers to “freaks, fags, and blacks” as “the missing link.” Must be a Braves fan.

Why can't he say this??? Why does everything have to be SOOO overtly race related.

He can- no one’s saying he can’t. And we can say that he’s an idiot, who hasn’t learned the lessons of the past.

because he's not black, he's not allowed to point out the "crap" he's taken?

Barry Bonds is black, and he does nothing off the field but point out the crap he’s taken. And the media hasn’t exactly given him a free ride on that.

John Rocker is a idiot, theres no comparison to what he went through and the things hank and jackie had to deal with. Just think about it, black men in the majors, where blacks where hated beyond anything whites could ever imagine.

I was with this guy’s argument, until he started ragging on “white people… who I’d like to kill if I could.”

John Rocker has the balls to speak freely about what he believes. That, is something most of the politically correct pussies in this country wouldn't dream of doing…

I was ready to respond to this one too, until it suddenly turned into a long rant about non-English speaking Hispanics.

I've still got another of those "long-gestating" pieces in the works, which should probably finally appear next week, and it's on the topic of incivility in the Blogosphere -right and left- and how it mirrors that of political discourse itself. So I'd like to thank the fans of John Rocker for giving me lots of great examples.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:18 AM | Comments (4)

May 13, 2005

News Item: Shaq Misses Playoff Game Due To “Bruises on Both Thighs”

Here’s the story.

I guess it would’ve been too embarrassing for the team to attribute his absence to “chafing.”

And in other NBA news, Peter Vecsey reports that the Lakers and Phil Jackson have agreed to terms on a contract for Jackson to return to LA, with the only sticking point being control over player personnel. So expect Jackson to be named coach of the Knicks by this time next week.

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

Now He’ll Be Arrogant, In Addition to Sucking

Reggie Jackson will spend some time with struggling Jason Giambi this weekend in Oakland.

Unless Reggie has some revolutionary plan of “how to win without steroids,” I’m not so sure how much he’ll help.

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

Michelle and Pat

I’m not normally one to bash bloggers for not blogging about certain things; it’s their blog and therefore their prerogative. But I find it kind of fascinating that “In Defense of Internment” author Michelle Malkin has yet to address the Pat Buchanan column on World War II. Then again, I suppose she’s in a bind: she could either agree with it, and look like a Nazi apologist, and or disagree, and draw herself into a game of “my shoddily researched, fascist-tinged revisionist history is better than YOUR shoddily researched, fascist-tinged revisionist history.” And nobody ever wants that.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:05 PM | Comments (1)

MOVE, Bitch

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Philadelphia’s bombing of the headquarters of the radical group MOVE, which is believed to be the first and only time in American history that a mayor has bombed an entire city block, and then gotten re-elected.

I’m going to Philly tonight and am proud to have the chance to share this wonderful anniversary.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

The Whizzinator Hearings

If you thought the Congressional investigation into steroids was fun (whether live-action or in Lego-vision) get ready for more: lawmakers have subpoenaed the makers of the Whizzinator, and other drug-test evasion products.

If anything, after months of self-righteousness from both politicians and media over the steroid stuff, this whole Whizzinator thing has injected some much-needed humor into the proceedings. So be sure to buy one while it’s still legal! Collect all races!

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

May 12, 2005

I Never Saw Another Trucker Hat

After almost five years in New York, last night I finally set foot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the first time. I thought it was cool, though I’m guessing anyone who lives or hangs out there is going to try to convince me that I missed the guy times, and the neighborhood was in fact “over” years ago.

The occasion was the inaugural performance of the all-blogger band The Wifebeaters, and it was quite enjoyable. Ivan is an engaging and charismatic frontman, and lead guitarist Jessica single-handedly disproves George Tabb’s “chicks can’t rock” thesis.

Also great to see many from the blogger community there. Karol has more here, complete with fishnets. One of her commenters suggests a new trend of "knee-blogging," possibly inspired by this film.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

MVP Outrage!

With this year’s basketball playoffs so far notable for being the most boring in memory, NBA pundits have had to work extra-hard to find stories. And they’ve finally got one, in the news last weekend that the Suns’ Steve Nash has won the league MVP award, beating out Shaquille O’Neal.

Considering that some thought Nash was undeserving (in that he isn’t as dominant, and can’t play defense), those in the pro-Shaq camp were outraged. And since Nash is the first white NBA MVP since Larry Bird retired, it was only a matter of time before it became a racial issue, adding another week to the story’s life.

Miami Herald hack Dan “The Bastard” LeBatard did the honors first in regards to the racial angle, leading to denunciations from Charles Barkley and others on television. Jason Whitlock, not surprisingly, visited the issue today, and I can only imagine what Stephen A. thinks about it. Then, on Bill Simmons’ chat yesterday, one participant asked what the late Ralph Wiley would have thought about the situation, and another predicted that “5 years down the road people will regret this decision they made for Nash [as] MVP.”

I just have one question about this: who the hell cares who the league MVP is? Who wins the award has no bearing on anything whatsoever, and is completely meaningless except as an arbitrary measurement of the opinion of a bunch of sportswriters. Much like semiannual hubbub over “all-star snubs,” this stupid non-issue should never, EVER be more than a one-day story.

They’ll regret it in five years? Please, they won’t even remember it in five weeks. Real quick- name last year’s MVPs in the NBA, NFL, and AL and NL.

It bothers me that, with the playoffs in full swing, people are reduced to arguing about something so meaningless. Who wins the MVP matters about one percent as much as the NBA Finals do- simply because that’s decided ON THE COURT. In fact, I’d even argue that the regular-season MVP award is less important than the NBA Finals MVP.

Speaking of the Finals, at this point I’m almost rooting for Miami and Phoenix to NOT play each other, just because I’m so sick of hearing about this.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:08 PM | Comments (2)

Blog Comment of the Day

Just when I was wondering whether liberals would play the “will you condemn this” game with Bush vis a vis the Pat Buchanan column, comes this great comment by "Radek" over at Daniel Drezner’s:

Pat Buchanan does not have a monopoly on the tradition of criticizing Yalta, nor does the right wing. I remember reading somewhere that Michel Foucalt, of all people, was critical of Yalta as well (actually, not that surprising if you think about it). Does this mean that Bush has, wittingly or not, aligned himself with Post-Structuralism, deconstruction and homosexual sadomasochism?
In fact, I’m pretty sure Bush would condemn the latter.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:00 PM | Comments (6)

Sid In SI

Minneapolis native Steve Rushin devotes his column this week to 85-year-old Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman, the local legend who has been writing for the paper for over six decades. It’s a fairly Sid-friendly piece, but it doesn’t leave out the pertinent information that Sid is slipping, and has been for quite some time.

Want an example? City Pages has compiled a list of wildly inaccurate Sid predictions from over the years, all along the lines of “the Twins will leave, this year, if we don’t get a stadium bill passed.” And just like Dick Morris’ litany of Hillary predictions, they’re all wrong.

It’s part of an entertaining and comprehensive package by CP on the Twins ballpark issue which, despite being rabidly anti-stadium, is a pretty good read. Though I still recommend Jay Weiner’s “Stadium Games” as the definitive account of Minnesota’s stadium-debate history.

Rushin, to his credit, does include a “Panamanian strongman” joke, which for me at least, redeems the whole column.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:59 PM | Comments (1)

Quick: Before They Blacklist It!

Onterrio Smith's new jersey:

(This was Gib's idea).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)

May 11, 2005

Yes, He's An Anti-Semite

Pat Buchanan: "Was World War II Worth It?"

The argument from the veteran Israel-basher and death-camp guard apologist is that by letting the Communists take over Eastern Europe after the War, WWII may not, in fact have been worth the trouble. Then the question should of course be, "Was Yalta worth it?" Lots of people asked that question on the occasion of the 60th anniversary last week.

So instead, Buchanan floats a solution that... would've left Hitler in control of most of Europe. Not mentioned in the piece? "Jews," "Holocaust," "Auschwitz," or "concentration camp." Just collateral damage to Pat, I suppose. For him to weigh the consequences of the U.S. staying out of the war without even considering the genocide that took place at the time -and without the liberation of the camps, would've continued- is not only shoddy history, but it's morally unconscionable.

Buchanan is a joke, and it's a continuing disgrace that he's taken the slightest bit seriously as a political commentator. This column is right down at the level of the Trent Lott/Strom Thurmond comment, and as a result, MSNBC should fire Buchanan immediately.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:41 PM | Comments (3)

Movie Critic Quote of the Week

Nora Ephron knows comedy like Alan Greenspan knows arena football. With her output in the past decade—You've Got Mail, Lucky Numbers, Mixed Nuts, and Michael—Ephron has logged precisely 426 minutes of footage without managing so much as a chuckle, even with pros like Tom Hanks, John Travolta, and Steve Martin in the lead roles. It takes a special talent to suck the laughs out of can't-miss material like Bewitched, and Ephron seems up for the task.
-The Onion AV Club, previewing Ephron's "Bewitched" remake. I still say that "Michael," the movie where Travolta played an angel, was the worst movie released in America in the '90s.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:18 PM | Comments (4)

And in Vikings Arrest News…

The week the Vikings’ jettisoned bad actor Randy Moss appears on the cover of SI (let’s go jinx!) comes news that running back and two-time NFL substance-abuse offender Onterrio Smith has been arrested at the Minneapolis airport for carrying a kit used for evasion of drug tests.

What was in the kit? Why, it was the Whizzinator. And not just any Whizzinator- it was the ORIGINAL Whizzinator- a state-of-the-art drug test-evasion contraption which consists of a prosthetic penis, through which artificial urine is pumped. The Piss Man's here, and he's not buying it.

The Whizzinator was in the news a couple months back when actor Tom Sizemore was caught using one. Here’s what it looks like- link NOT work safe, and also not exactly the sort of thing you want to get caught having in your travel bag. I think my favorite part is that they have different Whizzinators available for different races.

If Smith isn’t suspended for the year, I can only imagine the chants he’ll be hearing in opposing stadiums (“Whizzin/ator/”clap!clap!clapclapclap!). And you thought Michael “Ron Mexico” Vick was gonna have it bad.

And finally, speaking of drug test evasion technology, my fantasy baseball team, the Masking Agents, is currently in third place in our 19-team league.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:15 PM | Comments (7)

Chutzpah Award Nominee

Controversial has-been pitcher John Rocker apparently spit this out with a straight face yesterday:

"I've taken a lot of crap from a lot of people," the lefthanded relief pitcher for the Long Island Ducks told "Probably more than anybody in the history of the sport… I know Hank [Aaron] and Jackie [Robinson] took a good deal of crap, but I guarantee it wasn't for six years. I just keep thinking: 'How much am I supposed to take?'"
Oy. Yea, John Rocker is JUST like Aaron and Robinson. Except that he’s neither black, nor a Hall of Famer, nor an admirable individual in any way whatsoever.

This is too bad, because the Rocker comeback was such a great feel-good story up until now.

And speaking of the mighty who have fallen, the Yankees are said to be mulling a demotion to Triple-A for Jason Giambi, the slumping, no-longer-BALCO-abetted former slugger who would be, at $15.5 million, the highest-paid athlete in the history of minor league baseball. With the possible exception of Michael Jordan.

UPDATE: Welcome, AOL Blogs readers! Feel free to look around and make yourselves at home.

UPDATE: I respond to some of the more outrageous comments to this post here.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:11 PM | Comments (42)

Quote of the Day

“I really don’t care what Larry David thinks about John Bolton. I care what Larry David thinks about the itchy tags on shirts that scrape your neck, because I know that he can make a 12-part TV series that revolves around that detail, and George Will can’t.”
James Lileks, on the Huffington blog.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Animal Lovers, And I Don’t Mean PETA

I never could’ve imagined that anything newsworthy would ever come out of Alan Colmes’ radio show*, but apparently it did last week, as Sean Hannity’s punching bag managed to wrangle a surprising admission from an obscure anti-abortion extremist.

Obviously having learned from years as a Fox News employee the network’s practice of inviting and/or quoting fringe left-wing guests and pretending they’re mainstream Democrats (remember “Malik Shabazz” of the “New Black Panther Party”?), Colmes has been inviting far-right fringe figures such as Randall Terry and Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps on to his radio show for interviews and giving them just enough rope. The latest is wild-eyed anti-abortion activist Neal Horsley, that guy with the website that lists the names of abortion doctors and, some say, incites others to shoot them.

On the Colmes show, the two men first discussed abortion, until Colmes suddenly brought up rumors that Horsley had partaken in both homosexual sex and bestiality. And Horsley… didn’t deny it, and in fact admitted that “When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule." And then, in what has to be the most unconvincing and unsuccessful anti-“liberal elite” argument in history, Horsley claimed that because Colmes and his ilk were unaware of such rampant red-state mule-fucking, “You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

Those effete, out-of-touch liberals, with their cocktail parties! If they actually understood middle America’s desire for free love with farm animals, they might actually win an election!

If Colmes were smart (he’s not, but let’s pretend), he’d mention Horsley on TV every day for three months, trying to turn him into some major figure in the Republican Party, the way the Republicans have with Ward Churchill. But instead, expect him to go back to half-agreeing with Hannity and being really really nice to Ann Coulter.

(*A solo radio show by Colmes, that must be a ratings bonanza! Wouldn’t listening to Colmes’ show be like attending a Washington Generals intrasquad scrimmage?)

(Via LilB)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:20 PM | Comments (3)

Ding Dong, Rivas is Benched

Luis “O-for-Th”Rivas has been benched by the Twins, and replaced as starting second baseman by Nick Punto. Aaron Gleeman, leader of the anti-Rivas lobby for the past three years, likens the move to “the fall of the Berlin Wall,” as well as the death of the Wicked Witch of the East.

Aaron knows of which he speaks- he was agitating for the placement of Johan Santana in the starting rotation years before he became baseball’s best pitcher.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:17 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2005

The Auburn Hills Melee of Amateur Wrestling

If you didn’t think amateur wrestling was as exciting as pro wrestling, then you must not have heard about the rumble a couple of months ago between rival high school grappling squads in North Carolina- which had a flesh-and-blood connection to one of fake wrestling’s biggest stars.

In a state tournament regional qualifier in February, Colby Hardin faced off against Reid Fliehr, who is (that’s right) the son of pro wrestling legend Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair. After Hardin won the match, he decided to taunt his defeated opponent by mimicking the elder Flair’s famous strut. (Had the loser of the match been Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ son, would Hardin have draped a snake over his body?)

Anyway, Fliehr took exception to the showing-up, and before you knew it both teams were engaging in a Greco-Roman variation on the bench-clearing brawl. Why Fliehr’s team didn’t simply wait until the event was over and attack Hardin and Co. in the parking lot with wrenches and tire irons, as his father and his teammates in the Four Horsemen used to often do, remains a mystery.

The penalties, alas, were not quite as severe as Ron Artest’s season-long banishment from the NBA: each school was fined $1,000, and the offending wrestlers got two-match suspensions. And even worse, the athletic director of Hardin’s school, South Mecklenburg, says the fine will prevent the team from purchasing new singlets next year.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:30 PM | Comments (3)

Band of Bloggers

Paraphrasing “Swingers”: “If and when you get a real gig,” I told Jessica, “give me a call.” But I’m happy to say that her band, the all-blogger supergroup The Wifebeaters, who call themselves “a revolutionary experimental mathematical band,” will be playing Wednesday night at 8 PM at the Lucky Cat in Williamsburg. I’ve got a couple of songs of theirs on the ol’ iPod, including “Communist Redneck Hiphop Orchestra” and “Bullshit.”

Considering how far uptown I live it’s very, very, difficult to get me to Brooklyn, but I plan on being there. Check out the blogs of band members Ivan, Jessica, Brian, and Yaron.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:27 PM | Comments (1)

Blog Critic Quote of the Day

I somehow get the feeling Nikki Finke didn’t much like the new Arianna Huffington-led celebrity blog that debuted today:

"She has now made an online ass of herself… she is finally played out publicly. This Web-site venture is the sort of failure that is simply unsurvivable, because of all the advance publicity touting its success as inevitable. Her blog is such a bomb that it’s the box-office equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven’s Gate rolled into one."
Yea, I know I never want to get on Nikki’s bad side...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:20 PM | Comments (6)

Arnold on the Moon

A British newspaper and an American primetime cable news host were both snookered last week by a Howard Stern prank involving Arnold Schwarzenegger supposedly advocating the demolition of the moon.

On the Stern show, an actor impersonating the actor-turned-governor argued that in order to eliminate both tides, and “womens’ menstrual cycles,” California's state government should pass a law mandating the moon's destruction. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, going off a London newspaper story, apparently believed it was really Arnold saying this, and went with it on his show.

An honest if stupid mistake, sure. But if Scarborough were ever to take something said by Conan O’Brien’s “Clutch Cargo” version of Ah-nuld (easily the best character in the decade-long history of that gimmick), that would probably constitute a firing offense.

Meanwhile, Rachel Lucas is presumably now much less of an Arnold fan than she used to be.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:14 PM | Comments (1)

Girls of the Big Beirut

Michael Totten is back from Lebanon, and he’s presenting a photo gallery of Lebanon hotties. I fully expect the Lebanese to replace the Russians and Czechs in next year’s SI Swimsuit Issue.

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

A New New Owner

It’s Ziggy Time in Minnesota. The Strib’s Sid Hartman confirms what wasn’t much of a secret: New Jersey real estate developer Zygmunt Wilf has taken over leadership of the group seeking to buy the Vikings, replacing Reggie Fowler (who will remain in the group).

Not quite sure what to think yet. With questions about both his finances and his resume, Fowler clearly wasn’t going to work out, and Wilf taking over is certainly preferable to the bid collapsing altogether and control of the team reverting to loathsome cheapskate Red McCombs.

With the team vastly improved in the offseason, its divisional opponents weakened, and a new stadium possibly on the way, things actually seem to be looking up for the boys in purple. The only thing standing in the way of a big year is that Mike Tice is still on the sideline.

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

We’ll Never Be Ranked That High In Football

My alma mater, St. Louis Park High School, is the 305th best school in the country (and third best in Minnesota), according to rankings released by Newsweek. The ranking system, however, seems a bit sketchy.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005 Plus Three

It’s hard to believe it, but this blog began three years ago today. Here's the first post. Thank you so much to all of you who have read and supported this blog in that time. I’ve had a ton of fun doing it and made so many great friends, and hope everyone’s enjoyed it as much as I have.

The timing of us makes me even happier to know that a guy went to college with, who now runs internet operations for a major lawmaker in Washington and has been sited all over as one of the nation’s leading experts on blog-based political organizing, was quoted in an interview last month as saying “two years ago, no one knew what a blog was.” I've had one for three- and I've been reading them for almost five.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:30 PM | Comments (3)

May 05, 2005

Imitation/Flattery Dept.

On tonight's "Daily Show," Jon Stewart stole my scoop about the Paula Abdul/MC Scat Cat affair, without even giving me credit. Don't the "Daily Show" writers know about Technorati?

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

Not-So-Bright Eyes

Just when you thought nothing edgy or controversial would ever happen on “The Tonight Show” for as long as Jay Leno was the host, a minor hubbub emerged earlier this week that I’m frankly surprised hasn’t been even bigger.

The young singer known as Bright Eyes (real name: Conor Oberst) appeared on the show Monday night and sang a song of his called “When the President Talks to God.” The mostly spoken-word piece contains a list of questions about things George W. Bush might ask the Almighty during their frequent conversations, and in the process attributing such positions to the president as being in favor of “raping our womens’ rights” and wanting ghetto areas to have “more liquor stores and dirty coke,” while later suggesting that Bush and God “pick which countries to invade” while debating the question of “which Muslim souls still can be saved.”

Considering that Omaha native Oberst went after two of Red America’s favorite things (God and the president), and because he did it on a totally mainstream late night program that I’d imagine even some of Our Children watch, you’d think this would have whipped up all sorts of conservative outrage, the kind that inspires 15 “O’Reilly Factor” segments in the ensuing three weeks. But you’d be wrong. Google News currently returns one result for the song’s title (the left-wing website Alternet), and I’ve barely seen it talked about on blogs either (except for this woman, who fisked it). Even Karol- herself a Republican political strategist and self-described fan of the singer- hadn’t heard about this before I mentioned it to her today.

Even though the lyrics are about ten times more incendiary than the Dixie Chicks’ benign anti-Bush comments that got them in so much trouble a couple years back, I don’t consider myself offended or outraged by the song. I just think it’s a terrible song, both as music and as political commentary. I say this as someone who has enjoyed Oberst’s music, but this song sounds like it was written on the fly for an eighth-grade talent show. Consider this an example of what I call Tony Kushner’s Law: “Leftists Will Always Respond Positively To Bad Art, Provided They Agree With Its Politics.”

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:57 PM | Comments (5)

CNN’s Gonna Need A New Cranky Old Guy To Break Down The Next War

Col. David Hackworth Dead at 74

But have no fear: the other Col. David who goes on the news channels to bitch about U.S. military operations, Col. David Hunt, is still alive.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)


The New York Post's disastrous web-registration experiment is over after two days, Lloyd Grove gloats in the Daily News. Consider it payback for the Post’s nonstop coverage of that stupid Daily News scratch-card story, likely the first and only time the Post will take lunatic city councilman Charles Barron’s side on anything.

Felix at MemeFirst has more fun at the Post’s expense.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

Best Sports (Mockery) In Town

This blog does a great job spoofing the writing styles of all sorts of popular sports personalities; check it out. (Via Gleeman)

And speaking of making fun of sportswriters, in the act of mocking the Self-Righteous Columnist Brigade (the firm of Mushnick, Bayless, Lupica & Associates) over the steroid thing, Bill Simmons takes a shot at Gary Smith’s recent SI cover story in his new ESPN the Magazine column:

One scribe who revisited McGwire's historic season came off like an adult who just found out Santa Claus didn't exist.
I love Smith and thought that was a great piece, but I must admit that was quite a skewering.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

What Is With Those Sox Legends' Sons?

Following on the footsteps of the late and unlamented John Henry Williams, Carl Yastrzemski's son is alleged to have stolen his father's identity to run up thousands of dollars of debt. Yaz Jr., like John Henry, paid for his sins in karma; he too died last year.

If I were Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, or Johnny Damon, I'd keep my son on a pretty tight leash.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:41 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2005

Breaking News: Paula Abdul Had Affair With MC Scat Cat

In a bombshell report that may threaten the integrity of television’s most popular show, ABC News’ Primetime Live reported tonight that “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul had a brief but very torrid affair with long-forgotten 1980s rapper MC Scat Cat.

The illicit dalliance allegedly began during the recording of Abdul’s 1988 album “Forever Your Girl,” and continued on the set of the video for the song “Opposites Attract,” on which the two dueted.

The affair came to an abrupt end, Cat told ABC, shortly after he met Taylor Dayne backstage at a concert in Uniondale, Long Island.

While the Abdul/Cat coupling took place during Abdul’s previous life as a pop star and ended years before “American Idol” debuted, its revelation is still shocking, mostly because the rapper is both animated and a cat, and also because it happened during Abdul’s brief marriage to actor Emilio Estevez (who, for his part, was rumored at the time to be carrying on with Jessica Rabbit).

In one of the more shocking revelations on the program, Scat Cat tearfully admitted that he and Abdul once entered a mall music store, where Abdul bought Scat Cat a copy of the Journey album “Foolish Heart.” Said to be especially livid at that particular bit of news is Neil Schon.

“American Idol” producers responded by accusing Cat of using the scandal to plant the seeds for an eventual musical comeback. Scat Cat did leave open the possibility of jumping back in the game with another duet; Clay Aiken is said to be interested.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:00 PM | Comments (1)

When Michelle Malkin’s Dead and Gone, There’ll Be No More Celine Dion

Everyone’s favorite neo-fascist doesn't want to be called a “South Park conservative,” dammit! Funny Michelle, I don’t remember Parker and Stone inviting you. Internment of whole races of people is just fine and dandy, but “South Park”? Eww, no!

Malkin also approvingly quotes Frank Rich, buttressing my theory that single-minded idiots of the left and right really do have much in common.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:06 PM | Comments (1)

If You Go Carrying Pictures of Chairman Mao…

Leaving the Apple Store earlier today, I saw a guy on the street selling 8x10 photos and caricatures of various icons such as Hendrix, Sinatra, and Kurt Cobain. But at the front of the table was a poster of none other than Mao Zedong. Yes, Mao. I wanted to ask if he had Hitler, too, or if he’d run out.

Hey, I’m a dictator buff- how about an 8x10 of Saddam? Or Jonas Savimbi? Or Sierra Leone’s own Valentine Strasser? I mean, Mao only killed 38 million people- is that the best they can do?

Clearly, the Prince Street junk vendors need to take a giant step backward. Or a great leap forward.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:00 PM | Comments (2)

Second Prize Is a Set of Steak Knives; Third Prize Is, You're Re-Elected

"If Republicans want to learn what they elected, under the mistaken impression that they were voting for Christianity and civic virtue, they couldn't learn their lesson more lucidly than by seeing David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross."
-Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold, who decided to come up with a wild political analogy rather than review the Broadway revival of Mamet's play.

It's a stretch commonly found on the Voice arts pages, and for it Feingold (who called for Republicans to be "exterminated" in an essay last year) wins the Weinkauf Award. The award is for arts critics who find an anti-Bush subtext in every single thing they review no matter how apolitical the material, and is named for Dallas Morning News film critic Gregory Weinkauf, who in 2002 ended his review of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by calling Bush "a retarded monkey."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:30 PM | Comments (6)

Because You're All Searching For It Today...

Yes, Sports Guy is on hiatus. No, I'm not sure why or for how long, but I'm guessing it probably has something to do with his becoming a first-time father. No word on the success of Bill's attempts to convince the Sports Gal to name their first-born daughter after Larry Bird.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)

News Item

Abu Ghraib Guard's Guilty Plea Is Tossed Aside By Judge

I don't know who's going to be more outraged: liberals, because the famous "leash girl" is going to "get away" with prison torture, or conservatives, because this was the act of an "activist judge." Tune in to "Hannity & Colmes" to find out!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:27 PM | Comments (3)

Quote of the Day

"Maureen Dowd is the liberal Ann Coulter. They share the same infuriating nuttiness, self-importance, and condescension, but Dowd is wimpy and insecure while Coulter is belligerent and brash. The two combined blow enough hot air to heat the Pentagon."
-Columnist Devin Brady of the Boston University Daily Free Press. Funny that such a witty line would come from the university press, since I've long alleged the Dowd writes more like a college (or high school) newspaper columnist than one for the New York Times.

(Via Jeremy)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)

How Many?

One of my oldest friends, Ben, has finally started a blog. It's called Mah Rabu, and will cover such topics as politics, music, Judaism, New York, physics, and much else. As he's both brilliant and hilarious, and once ran a newsletter-from-Israel that was nothing less than an event in itself, Ben's a natural for blogging, so check him out.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

Always On... Monday?

"Six Feet Under"'s fifth and final season will debut on June 6 and, unlike just about every other HBO original series in history, it will air original episodes on Mondays (encores from the previous week will air on Sundays). Supposedly the move is due to a desire by HBO to "expand its brand" beyond Sunday- either that, or they're deathly afraid of "Desperate Housewives" re-runs.

SFU was beyond terrible last year, but I'm still looking forward to it, probably because I don't think I've watched more than an hour of HBO since "The Wire" ended.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:50 AM | Comments (1)

Post Problems

The New York Post, for reasons known only to themselves, has added a registration requirement for its website, instantly making its articles less accessible to regular readers, bloggers, and Googlers alike. And even worse, the process has slowed the website to a crawl. Bad move, Post.

None of the BugMeNot logins seem to work, so I advise that everyone, should you feel like reading the Post, log in under the name "Bupert Lurdoch," with e-mail address, and the password "Bupert."

That way, you'll have access to such wonderful reporting as today's Page Six item on fashion designer Nicole Miller using strippers from Scores West to debut her new lingerie collection, because as everyone knows, "most fashion models are too flat and bony for lingerie."

Or this piece, as the Post trumpets that its total circulation this year rose, literally, by .00001%.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:37 AM | Comments (1)

One More Hurdle Cleared

Hennepin County OKs Twins Stadium Plan

(But Vikings-to-Blaine looks to have taken a step backward).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

The Yankee Meltdown, Cont'd

I was right in October- the Yankee dynasty is over. Their pitching is a mess, Giambi's been even worse than last year, and their latest stab at a shakeup has as is centerpiece the anointing of Tony Womack as starting leftfielder. Here's an indication for how bad it's gotten (via SI):

The [New York] starters provided only five quality starts (at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs) in those first 19 games, including none in one streak of 11 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 11 outings without a quality start was the worst such streak for the Yankees since earned and unearned runs were officially differentiated in 1917.
Ladies and gentlemen, your AL East champion Baltimore Orioles.

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

And We Make All Those Movies Too

The Onion: "I Can't Stand It When Jews Talk During Movies"

Then there's this.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:03 AM | Comments (2)

May 03, 2005

You're Risking a Patient's Life!

The latest steroid revelation in baseball comes from Tom House- yes, Tom House- who has admitted that he used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs when he pitched in the 1970s.

Wow, never saw that one coming. House is best known for being the Rangers' pitching coach for many years in the '80s, and also for having caught Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run in the Atlanta bullpen in 1974. Though now that we know the catch was drug-aided, expect a movement to have House's catch excised from the record books.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:55 PM | Comments (5)

Quote of the Day

"Every time someone publishes article X by extremist Y and waves it around shouting "since X is critical of the same things that my political enemies are, my political enemies are just as crazy as X!", we're lowering the level of discourse. Just a bit... So we have a situation where, whenever a liberal wants to say something, we must first go through the whole process of condemning liberals for hating freedom, the liberal has to prove he or she hates tyranny, the liberal has to condemn Ward Churchill, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...
-The Commenter known as, uh, "The Commenter," from Michael Totten's comments. If Sean Hannity weren't allowed to use that little trick, he'd be left with about five minutes of material per day.

In this thread, and in so many others, we're confronting with the liberals-want-the-terrorists-to-win canard, which is bullshit in just about every way imaginable. Yes, there are completely insane, far leftists who subscribe to that view, and hate America, etc. But those people aren't liberal, in any way whatsoever. Look up what "liberal" means- if you are, in any way, a supporter of terrorism and/or of Islamic fascism, than you are by definition not a liberal. See Paul Berman, and Peter Beinart.

This expands on something I've been meaning to do a long post on this for awhile now, on how the growing polarization and hatefulness on both the left and right of the Blogosphere (and political discourse in general) is beginning to turn off lots and lots of people, and cause lots of smart and fair people to either stop blogging or choose not to start. More on this soon, I assure you.

At any rate, read the whole thread, for a special appearance by the Socialist Bogeyman!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:02 AM | Comments (12)

May 02, 2005

The Events of My Friday Night, In Order

1) After leaving work, I met my lovely girlfriend at Penn Station- always the ideal cure for a long and difficult week. From there, we took the subway down to the West Village to the restaurant/bar Chumley’s (which is pronounced, but not spelled, the same as the infamous campus coffee house at Brandeis, Cholmondeley's). Chumley’s, like all the cool bars in LA, is hard to find and doesn’t have a sign.

2) At “Chum’s” (ha ha)we met up with a veritable all-star team of bloggers: Bill (along with his fiancé Christie, who I introduced him to); Sheila; Mr. Bingley, Chris, and our guest of honor, Miss Emily Jones- a woman whose blog I’ve read for THREE YEARS, but I was just then meeting for the first time. In short, Emily rules, and we look forward to seeing her again in LA later this summer. Last but not least, also on hand was longtime commenter Dave J- who was so profoundly affected by the proceedings that he's begun blogging himself.

Chum’s was a great time, filled with beer, burgers, and conversation, and while there Bill presented Emily with a stuffed Jar Jar Binks. Not surprisingly, he ended up hanging from the rafters, and got into even more trouble later on.

3) From there we all walked across the Village to the East side to attend an opening-night screening of “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”- the reason for Emily’s 3000-mile-odd trip. The verdict? Very funny and entertaining, and not just for the considerable charms of Zooey Deschanel. I also liked Sam Rockwell’s decision to play Zaphod as what appeared to be an extended impersonation of pro wrestler Shawn Michaels. And I say this as someone who read the book once, ten years ago: an excellent film, that made me want to read more Douglas Adams, and soon.

4) After that we walked BACK to the West Village to visit the White Horse Tavern, which was too crowded, so we instead repaired across the street to another bar (no, not back to the East Side). Luckily, on both of our walks we completely missed the KGB Bar, although Bill did stage a punching out of an Orlando Bloom poster on 7th Ave. After that, he had no energy to attack the poster for Janeane Garofalo’s Air America show just five feet away.

5) The bar was great as we all riffed on everything from other blogs to the movies to politics to how we’re supposed to save Jar Jar from his sad downward spiral (though I’ve been convinced, for six years now, that he’s hopeless). And it continued through lunch and a walk the following day, as we were joined by blogworld megastar Pejman as well.

For other versions of the same events, be sure to check out Bill, Sheila, and Bingley. And here's a review of the movie, from some crazy girl who traveled all the way across the country just to see it.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:44 PM | Comments (3)

Trying To Compete With Fox News Channel by Stealing Two Thirds of Its Name

MSNBC To Become “NBC News Channel”*

This reminds me of the time the Miami Dolphins tried to change the name of Joe Robbie Stadium to “Pro Player Park,” until fans of Joe Robbie complained, and the Dolphins responded by changing the name to “Pro Player Stadium.”

(Link is via Drudge, who linked to the New York Post story which lists as its source… Drudge. Circular reasoning, eh?)

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Peter Vecsey Post of the Day

"Peter Vecsey, your hoops scoops are the best in the biz, but your jokes aren't jokes. They're like a fifth grader emceeing the "Let's Get Retarded Pageant."
- Blogger Fitted Sweats, joining the very crowded anti-Peter bandwagon (via TMFTML).
Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

Cheeseburger in Omaha

Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett are longtime friends, according to this Wall Street Journal article. On that note, I think it’s about time I befriended Ron Silver.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:29 PM | Comments (2)

Only If He Brings Jordan

From the "Truth & Rumors" column:

Former Bulls, Pistons and Wizards coach Doug Collins has been mentioned as a possibility to become the Timberwolves' head coach.
-- St. Paul Pioneer Press
Maybe they'll hire P.J. Carlesimo! Just to ensure Sprewell doesn't re-sign.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"The difference between extremists and moderates? Moderates have lives. They don't have time to go down to Florida to tape 'Life' over their mouths. They have shit to do."
-Jon Stewart, from his new standup routine.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:02 PM | Comments (1)

Breaking News: Boo Berry Tests Positive

More bad Twins pitching news: first Johan Santana loses for the first time in 10 months. Now, the team's #2 reliever, Juan Rincon, has tested positive for drugs and been suspended. Boo Berry on steroids? What will Batgirl say?

UPDATE: Here she is, with responses from a very sad Twins Nation. For now, Juan's the answer to a trivia question: who was the first player of consequence to be suspended from baseball for steroids?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:55 PM | Comments (1)

Insomniac, With Jar Jar Binks

Wanna know how great a time I had on Friday night with my girlfriend and a veritable all-star team of bloggers? Here's an indication. Full story to come later.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:46 AM | Comments (6)