A note: yes, there are many more pictures of San Francisco than LA. That’s because we were on foot much more in the former city- and that’s ‘cause nobody friggin’ walks in LA.
Here We Go:
Right after arriving in San Francisco, we took off for Golden Gate Park, and specifically an area known as “Hippie Hill.” Upon arriving we happened upon a performance by something called the San Francisco Mime Troupe- who since they spoke, sang, and danced, were certainly the most vocal mimes I’ve ever seen.
Anyway, the “mime” performance, nearest we could gather, was a dramatization of bad acts by the CIA, with various vignettes set in different countries, such as Panama, Nicaragua, and Iran. After a skit in which the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran was portrayed in glowingly positive terms, a man got up and recited a poem, the highlight of which was “America, America, you will be humbled/America, your towers will crumble,” after which the audience applauded. We left right then; even my sister, whose politics are about 45 degrees to my left, was horrified.
The sister and I, in front of the Bay Bridge. Not sure which part collapsed during the ’89 World Series earthquake- anyone remember?
Alcatraz. We didn’t take the tour, but if we had I would’ve spent the entire time reciting lines from “The Rock”- “I’d take pleasure in guttin’ you, boy!” “What kinda FUCKED UP tour is this?”
Lombard Street, America’s most crooked street.
Becca and I, overlooking the skyline.
The historic “Real World” house, from the 1994 season, which housed Puck, Pedro, and the others.
A unique San Francisco character known as the Bushman. He crouches in front of a garbage can, disguised as a “bush,” and then jumps up to scare passersby. An act that, for some reason, never gets old.
Authentic San Francisco crab bread.
Amy and Becca try on their pimp hats.
As do I.
Lots of Steve Silvers in San Francisco. Here's a bust of the late, great creator of “Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon,” a popular musical revue that is America’s longest continuously-running stage musical. The show’s author was #1 on Google for “Steve Silver,” prior to the creation of this blog.
The famed City Lights bookstore in North Beach. I appreciate its historical value, of course, but on its own merits City Lights doesn’t compare with the Strand in New York. Also, way too large a collection of Ward Churchill books.
That’s what I’m talking about.
Hanging off the trolley. The one at Lake Harriet is merely a pale imitation.
Even this coffee company’s headquarters has a Starbucks in it.
SBC Park- now with 100% less Barry Bonds!
More about those Steve Silvers- here I am with Stephen A. Silver, a longtime reader of this blog who we met for dinner before the game. Nice to finally meet him after years of correspondence; as you can tell he’s a much better dresser than I am.
Meanwhile, back at the stadium, the Giants defeated the Phillies on shutout pitching from Noah Lowry, who needed last-out relief help from LaTroy Hawkins. Tons of Philly fans on-hand though, and the Phils do still hold the wild-card lead.
The Giants have decided to borrow the Mets’ innovation of holding “ethnic nights” late in the season in order to drum up interest, and unfortunately, we missed “Jewish Night” by just a few days. We were there for Irish Night, which unfortunately did not include the serving of Guinness in the ballpark. What was served, however, were garlic fries- which made the entire stadium smell like garlic.
The kids get their own, private, SBC Park in center field. Call it the real ballpark’s Mini-Me.
News flash: P.J. Carlesimo has retired from NBA coaching, and is now giving tours at the Robert Mondavi winery in Napa.
The Niebaum/Coppola winery. In addition to great wine, a mini-museum of film memorabilia, including Coppola’s father’s Oscar (for scoring “The Godfather”) and an elaborate Coppola family tree. The highlight was probably the offered deal in which $200 buys a large bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, along with the “Apocalypse Now Redux” DVD.
More Silvers, I tell ya…
Rosebud… Hearst Castle, in San Simeon.
Skeeball in Santa Cruz, with the 27-and-over world champion.
Becca and I, on the beach of Carmel (not pictured- former mayor Clint Eastwood).
I got a snake, man!
SO MONEY, AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT: Me outside the Dresden room in LA, sight of the “kill the bunny” scene in “Swingers.” Also visited the Derby (where he meets Heather Graham), and drove by both Mikey’s apartment and the 101 coffee shop (“Our little baby’s all growed up!”)
Silver and Rockwell- badasses. Blogger extraordinaire Jordan was kind enough to host us the first two nights in LA. Be sure to check out his forthcoming book and reality show.
Becca and I at Universal Studios.
If you’ve got a two-year-old delinquent in your family, the kind who likes to hit traffic cops with Lexuses, moon their rivals, and smoke pot “once in a blue moon,” this is an ideal gift. And yes, we’re still glad to be rid of him.
The happy couple, in Beverly Hills on our first anniversary.
In Orange County, The Shadow knows.
Not pictured: A few other notes from the trip:
- I enjoyed San Fran a lot, but man, what a weird city in terms of weather. Fog every day we were there, and the temperature varies wildly depending on what part of each hill you’re standing on. Not that there’s any rhyme or reason to the cold levels on each part of the hills… like in New York, you have to walk everywhere, but unlike New York, there are extremely steep hills all over the place.
- As demonstrated by Hippie Hill and other places, the freaks/hippies/hipsters in San Fran make the New York version look like Young Republicans by comparison. My sister said I’d be a conservative Republican if I lived out there but, I told her, since she supports the continued existence of the State of Israel, she is too.
- Still, a beautiful waterfront on all sides, and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was a blast. Take it from my girlfriend, the bridge designer.
- We stopped by Berkeley and I found it, I don’t know, underwhelming. Maybe it was just because school’s out and no one was around, but it didn’t seem any more interesting than any other college town.
- Loved LA. I know lots of people hate it, but I loved every minute I spent there. Didn’t see any celebs though, probably because we weren’t on foot that much- because NOBODY WALKS.
- Also in LA, nice to finally meet Scott Ganz, the blogger/screenwriter (and one-half of Yuppies of Zion), who I’ve been reading for 3 or 4 years. I had thought that Scott was the one who coined the phrase “Fat Fat Fatty” (in reference in Michael Moore), though he informed me that the etymology of the phrase comes from the original film of “The Producers.”
- It’s a small (Jewish) world- we met an Israel-trip friend of Becca’s who she hadn’t seen in years, and her husband was the brother of a girl I knew in college.
- All in all, a wonderful trip, my first visit to the Golden State in 15 years. It probably won’t be another 15 before I go back.
A few news stories that I didn't have a chance to comment on while I was away:
- It's practically impossible to imagine the magnitude of what's going on in New Orleans right now- I had thought previously that it was beyond the realm of possibility that a major U.S. city could simply cease to function, or that nearby towns could virtually cease to exist. And even more sadly, because it's weather and not terrorism, virtually no one outside the Southeast will remember that it happened six months from now.
And one more pet peeve- stop talking about the hurricane's "wrath," or its "fury." It's a storm- it doesn't get angry.
Meanwhile, Ann Althouse ties the whole thing to Katrina and the Waves (who sang "Walking on Sunshine"). There were a bunch of girls in my high school, including the homecoming queen, who were named Katrina- must have been a Scandinavian/Midwest thing- but maybe this will all have a silver lining in bringing back the popularity of the name. Worked for Storm Davis.
- As for the Cindy Sheehan story, watching rival groups of dead soldiers' moms screaming at each other is just as sadly tiresome as watching the dueling rival Vietnam vets was this time last year. Cindy herself, meanwhile, gets less sympathy from me every time she opens her mouth- her attribution of the war in Iraq to "the PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel” is just as wrong -and just as insane- as Alan Keyes' repeated ramblings about the "radical homosexual agenda."
- Pat Robertson- what a dumbass. Led to a great headline though: "Robertson neglected first rule in planning a murder -- don’t..." Pat, like Courtney Love, is at that stage now where everything that comes out of his mouth is likely to cause embarrassment to himself and everyone around him. Though at this point, Robertson's probably a better singer.
- I didn't see the "Six Feet Under" finale until today, but wow- an absolutely brilliant final ten minutes that managed to transcend cliche, probably the best ending to a great series since "Cheers" ended with Sam alone in the bar, 12 years ago. Say what you will about the show's disastrous fourth season, and a few miss-steps this year- the show pulled itself together just in time, to end just the right way.
- And finally- speaking of HBO- I caught Louis CK's standup special while on the trip. Absolutely brilliant stuff, probably the best standup I've seen since Lewis Black's "Black on Broadway," and I can't wait for his new sitcom on the network next January. Get your hands on a tape of it, or On-Demand it.
California pictures to come tomorrow.
Remember that girl who was flashed by a mysterious man on the New York City subway and got her revenge by posting the flasher's picture on the web? The man has been found and... he's the owner of a vegetarian raw foods restaurant restaurant chain. (No, it's not Moby). And I thought all-veggie menus were scary before...
Gotta go with "Rape Charge Follows Marriage to a 14-Year-Old." Though "charges dropped" would've been even creepier.
One of the highlights of our recent trip to LA was the chance to visit the Derby, the Los Feliz nightspot popularized in one of my favorite films, "Swingers" (it's where Favreau meets Heather Graham at the end). And "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fans may recognize it as the place where Bob Cobb invented the Cobb Salad.
I've got a brand-new SportsByBrooks update, right here.
"And Turtle's (Ferrara) role in the Entourage foursome is still as unclear as the job of the 'culture' guy on Queer Eye: He drives the car, smokes weed, and—what else again?"-Dana Stevens of Slate, on "Entourage." Yes, I love the show, but Turtle is a clear weak link- he brings nothing, absolutely zero, to the table.
Culled from various sources:
- The Ron Mexicans (My team)
- The Whizzinators
- Just the Tip
- The Sex Panthers (Bill Simmons’ team)
- The Hyman Roths
- Boies in Da Hood (My buddy’s team; he works for uberlawyer David Boies)
- The AriGolds
- Pantalones Fuegos
- The Tight Ends of Cruelty
- The Syphilitic Spurts of Blood
- Testicular Torsion (Chris Lynch)
The new team at New York Press has taken over, and presents their "manifesto" in last week's issue. And if they stick to it, I've got a feeling the paper's about to get a LOT better:
We care about good writing and intelligent ideas, not ideology... but a good newspaper does more than express the tastes of its editors, and there will be many ideas and arguments in New York Press with which we furiously disagree. The Press has a fine tradition of vigorous disagreement within its pages, and this will continue. The one thing we never want to hear about this paper is that you agree with every word in it.Guess that excludes you, Taibbi, and you too, Alan Cabal.
Seems like everyone's talking about that new ad campaign for Dove's new "firming soap," featuring a variety of non-stick-thin women (NSTWs) posing suggestively and boasting that the product was "tested on real curves."
I'm generally supportive of the campaign, as someone who has been quite vocal about my preference for NSTWs, and my heart is gladdened by the rise of both the campaign, and FeedLindsay.com- it's good to see that most men agree that Lindsay Lohan was much more attractive as a NSTW than as the curveless stick she is today.
And besides- there's no doubt that the women in this billboard-
are much, much more attractive than the ones in this one:
I mean, couldn't they find anyone who doesn't look like an AEPhi sister from Hofstra?
"[Dukes of Hazzard] is a film that is not there. It can't really be reviewed because it doesn't really exist. It is not empty calories, which implies pleasure, but simply empty. It's a cosmic void where a movie ought to be... with no plot, character, or dialogue worth experiencing, let alone remembering, the film merely occupies space on the screen and hopes for the best.- Kenneth Turan, in the LA Times. Hey, I liked "Dukes." Not a cinematic classic by any means, but at least it was fun- and the sequence with Willie Nelson throwing moonshire "grenades" from the back of a car between one-liners was one of the better comedy moments of recent times.
I've returned safely to Philly from my trip out West, and regular posting will resume sometime later today.
I'm writing from beautiful Los Angeles, where we're enjoying the sights and sounds. Be back in Philly on Monday, with much to catch up on.
I'm writing live from my sister's place in the Nob Hill section of San Francisco, where I just saw the Giants beat the Phillies 5-0 at the incredible SBC Park. Lots of exciting stuff going on in the city by the bay, which should lead to this blog's first-ever photo essay. Off to Napa tomorrow and LA on Thursday; I'll check in again around then.
I'm off tomorrow morning for eight days in California, including San Francisco, Napa Valley, Carmel, and Los Angeles. Blogging will be sporadic, though I will have occassional access to e-mail. I'll be back August 28, with lots of stories and lots of pictures.
Thanks to the fine efforts of Anthony over at Andunie.net, I'm now running the CAPTCHA anti-spam tool. I'd been getting up to a hundred pieces of comment spam every day, and it's great not to be bothered with that anymore.
The only change- when you leave a comment, there's a small box with a string of numbers. Just type the numbers from the box in the small text box below it, and you're all set.
My fellow Philadelphians are defending the honor of their fair city following that stupid NYT piece last Sunday that called Philly “the new Brooklyn." First, they're disputing that such cheap housing is actually available in the Rittenhouse Square area, as stipulated by the Times. Then, we've got a long letter from a longtime Philly resident, taking apart the piece:
First, the story will be imbued with an air of exoticism, curiouslyAll that, and the Phillies are all alone in the wild card lead.
introducing New Yorkers to this strange place called "Philadelphia."
It's only 90 miles south, but when you're in the Center of the Universe,
it might as well be Brigadoon...
But this piece of...really goes the ultimate distance in its zeal to
sneer: "Philadelphians occasionally refer to their city - somewhat
deprecatingly - as the `sixth borough' of New York..."
Never once has any Philadelphian uttered such a piece of b.s., nor would
Were you happy that "The West Wing," uh, "unjumped the shark" last year, returning from the edge of irrelevance to actually produce entertaining and engaging episodes once again? Sorry- looks like your reprieve was short-lived.
Reports yesterday said Janeane Garofalo will join the show next year for several episodes. Having long ago abandoned acting and stand-up for political commentary, and her previous anti skinny-girl stance for a look that just screams "heroin addict," Janeane will hopefully not take the show down with her during her few episodes.
I'll only be happy if they let Ron Silver back on as well.
I don't know what's more annoying about this Randy Moss marijuana story- the fact that an athlete's use of a recreational drug is deemed the biggest sports story of the day, or the wacko comments of his agent, who makes Drew Rosenhaus seem subtle by comparison.
After the comments, made on HBO's "Real Sports," were released to the public yesterday the agent, Dante DiTrapano, charged that "an attempt to promote their dying network, they have maliciously couched his remarks in a manner that is confusing and leaves room for negative interpretation."
Dante must have read all those "what's wrong with HBO" pieces last month. But according to an AP story, the network made a profit of $1.1 billion last year. I'd hardly call that "dying."
Let's get real- the marijuana admission doesn't rank even in the Top 100 of outrageous acts by Moss in his career. But regardless, yes, we're still glad to be rid of him.
It worked for Bloomberg, I suppose... William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, says he's running for the same job in New York next year, which will place him in a race against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Weld's a capable politician who will likely benefit from widespread anti-Spitzer sentiment on Wall Street. But the real test, of course, will be how he finesses the Yankees-Red Sox question.
I want to say a hearty mazel tov to my friend and loyal reader of this blog, Twin Cities musician Dan Israel, and his wife, Lisa, on the birth of their son, Isaac. Then, Dan went and played a gig a few hours later.
I look forward to going to "see the baby" in Minneapolis next month.
I'd been meaning to post about what's going on with Cindy Sheehan, but like the Terri Schiavo case I haven't, just because like the Schiavo case, I hate it and just want it to go away. The fact that, like the Schiavo case, it's caused every horrible political extremist to come out of the woodwork doesn't improve my feeling on these matters.
But thankfully, Michael Totten has posted my thoughts exactly:
I didn’t want to write about Cindy Sheehan for the same reason I didn’t want to write about Terri Schiavo. Each woman’s story is tragic. Each woman’s story is painful to think about, let alone write and opine about. Both women are (or in Terri’s case, were) emotional lightning rods for polarizing politics. Each became poster children for one partisan viewpoint or another. Each of these most public of controversies ripped families apart; Michael Schiavo’s vicious dispute with his in-laws, followed by Cindy Sheehan’s split from her husband.I absolutely have sympathy for Mrs. Sheehan in regards to the death of her son. But no, that does not excuse some of the simply crazy rhetoric she's espoused since, blaming Israel and "the neocons" for her son's death. And beyond that, I find it somehow incongruous that her position is "Bush is a vile, evil fascist- why won't he meet with me?" You try saying that about any powerful executive and see how eager they are to meet with you.
News Item: Eminem In Rehab For Sleep Medication
I knew there must be a reason he talks about Vicodin so much.
I'm hearing from sources that two major baseball steroid suspensions are going to be announced imminently- of no lesser names than Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon. It was mentioned today on Michael Kay's radio show and by a blogger named Adam Telle, and supposedly Gammons is working to confirm it...
UPDATE: Damon denies it to the Boston Herald.
Next thing you know, Terrell Owens will admit to greed throughout his NFL career.
A Jewish couple out to dinner at a Jersey Shore restaurant last weekend was furious when they received the check, and it had the two of them listed as "Jew Couple." The restaurant apologized, but claimed that the designation was not meant with malice, and that it merely was indicated as a distinguishing characteristic.
As a now semi-regular visitor to the Jersey Shore, and one-half of a Jew Couple myself, I'm not buying it.
A Slate piece today extolls the virtues of the great OverheardInNewYork.com, which has now gotten so popular that it contains dozens of entries per day. The Slate piece shares one of the better bits ever on the site:
Dumb teen: Hey, look at this! It says 'Train for jobs in beeyotch.'The site yesterday, meanwhile, had an item of particular interest to you Yankee-haters out there.
Smarter teen: Fool! That word is biotech. Why you gotta be ignorant all your life?
"I disagree that he's Satan, though. He's not smart enough to lead a rebellion against God. He's not smart enough to lead a rebellion against a maitre'd."- A Road From Bristol voter, on Skip Bayless. Bayless' last match-up was so one-sided, indeed, that the comments section quickly devolved into an argument over whether or not Skip is the devil.
After sweeping the first-place White Sox this week, the Twins are just four games out of the AL wild card, with 42 to play.
I can't promise they'll make the playoffs, but what I can promise you is that the White Sox will lose in the first round, whoever they play. I guarantee it.
Blogger Dave Friedman got some interesting viewer mail the other day:
"I wish to complain about your views, And prey every day for you to burn in Hell. You pathetic little man, You are a very boriong man"You been visiting other blogs lately, "A"?
The already-reeling MSNBC might be looking at a major defection, as 10 PM host Joe Scarborough is said to be mulling an entry into next year's Florida Senate race. Scarborough, a former Congressman, has been approached by Republican officials said to be squeemish about heading into a general election with controversial 2000 recount figure Katherine "Cruela De Vil" Harris as the GOP standard-bearer.
If Scarborough succeeds, I suggest Keith Olbermann run for governor of New York.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick latches onto what no one in Philly will admit: they've got a pretty good ballclub.
UPDATE: And... with tonight's victory over the Nationals, the Phils are now tied for the wild card lead. But TO showed up at training camp, so it doesn't matter.
"They didn't exactly hug it out."-Sal Paolantonio, on ESPN, on this morning's meeting between Terrell Owens and Andy Reid.
Sal also used the word "Keyshawn" as a verb (Keyshawn- verb- to deactivate a troublesome wide receiver for the season- Keyshawn'd, Keyshawning, etc.)
News Item: Last Living Marilyn Monroe Husband Dies
Imagine the hubbub when the last living Elizabeth Taylor husband dies. Or the last Larry King wife.
It may be coming up on two years since its last new episodes, but "Sopranos" fans got some good news the other day, when it was officially reported that the show will continue for a seventh season in January of 2007, following next March's fifth season.
With this news, plus the pending return of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the very promising "Rome" and "Extras," perhaps all those "What's wrong with HBO" stories were greatly exaggerated.
Seems like I do this post every six months... but now there's better news, as the New York Sun reported today that Harry Siegel will take over as the new editor of New York Press, bringing several contributors with him from the New Partisan blog, and generally attempting to bring the paper back to what it was when I first discovered and loved it five years ago- a forum for smart, iconoclastic writers, coming from all different political viewpoints.
Harry, who I discover was a classmate of mine at Brandeis, replaces Alexander Zaitchik, who came to the paper along with previous editor Jeff Koyen in 2003. The paper has since taken a sharp turn towards the bizarre, with virtually all pieces taking on a hard-left political stance, and most of the content appearing virtually indistinguishable from what runs in the paper's competitor, the Village Voice. It all culminated in the publication earlier this year of Matt Taibbi's stupid, unfunny, and generally offensive "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope," which resulted in Koyen's departure.
I'm confident in Siegel to restore some of the integrity and gravitas that the paper had when I first came across it five years ago, and I look forward to seeing his version of it.
The somewhat shocking news broke the other week that ESPN.com's top NBA writer, Chad Ford, was leaving his post in order to become a professor of Conflict Resolution at BYU-Hawaii. As it turns out, the report was only half-right.
Ford, who somewhat improbably has a doctorate in the subject, has now broken his silence, and says that while he is indeed taking the Hawaii post, he will still do work for ESPN from time to time.
Humorous anecdote on the SI.com "Truth & Rumors" page:
"White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was not sure whether he should apologize a week after making an inappropriate remark within earshot of media members. after completing a pregame media session with at least two dozen reporters in New York last Monday, Guillen's face lit up as he spotted an old friend along the railing of the dugout. Guillen sprang from his seat, and in an attempt to be playful, he called his pal a ''homosexual.'' He followed that by calling the friend ''a child molester.''Must be a Chicago thing.
Angry about the NCAA's stupid recent ban of "offensive" team nicknames in postseasion tournaments? Jay Mohr- of all people- has written a convincing piece in their defense, on SI.com.
On this, I'm with Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton:
“Lots of NBA players travel with baggage - and not the designer kind. Jackie Christie, in Doug's case, is like the suitcase that Houdini used to be locked in.”
Here's the worst public-school fundraiser of the year, no doubt:
$50 laptop sale sets off violent stampedeThey should've charged $250, at least.
People trampled, beaten with folding chair as 'total chaos' takes over
RICHMOND, Va. - A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday, with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far as to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line.
According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox featured three Jewish players in their lineup in one game last week (Gabe Kapler, Kevin Youkilis, and Andy Stern), the first team to do so since the 1978 White Sox (Ross Baumgarten, Ron Blomberg, and Steve Stone.)
News Item: Orlando Magic Waive Doug Christie Under "Amnesty Provision."
"The only things TO has in common with Muhammad Ali is that they're both athletes, they're both black, and they're both alive.-WIP radio host Paul Jolovitz, Sunday night, responding to a caller's inane suggestion that Terrell Owens is the "modern-day Ali."
Things aren't looking good these days for Mr. TO. Peter King- who missed last week's Owens-Reid confrontation by a couple of hours 'cause he left to go eat lunch- administers a wicked smackdown that takes up most of his column today. And even the previously pro-Owens Stephen A. Smith has jumped ship:
Owens has become a caricature of himself. The situation has surpassed embarrassing. So much so that regardless of his case, its merits or any genuine passion behind it, his actions simply cannot be defended any longer.For Smith, who never says anything negative about any athlete who's a bigger star than Slava Medvedenko, that's saying something.
A player can't be defended when he tells his offensive coordinator not to speak to him unless he's spoken to. No player can be defended when he continues to take one jab after another at a teammate who has said nothing about him, especially when that teammate happens to be Donovan McNabb, the star.
Such flagrant insubordination, disrespect and defiance can never be tolerated - even if Eagles coach Andy Reid told Owens to shut up, as Owens claimed Reid did.
That New York Times "New Yorkers moving to Philly" piece discussed here earlier ran on Sunday, and like most trend pieces of its kind is almost totally anecdotal, describing a "trend" that may or may not be more of a fact of life now than it was five years ago, or five years from now.
And even more unconvincingly, just about everyone in the story in some way relates Philly to Brooklyn- "I was priced out of Brooklyn, now I'm here"... "Philadelphia reminds me a lot of what Brooklyn used to be." The worst line of all is probably that "Philadelphians occasionally refer to their city - somewhat deprecatingly - as the 'sixth borough' of New York." Bullshit. People in Philly are way too territorial to ever use such a term.
Worst of all... they didn't talk to me. I'm not enough of a hipster, I suppose, and I've never lived in Brooklyn.
If "Six Feet Under" (SPOILERS!) wanted to turn off their audience as much as possible with just one episode left, then last night's creepy dream sequence "sex" scene between Brenda and Billy was a great way to start. Not only has the show greatly overused the "it was all a dream" devise in recent weeks, but the scene was just so wrong, on just about every level. The show's always been at its worst when it tries to be shocking (i.e. the abduction episode), but in this case, the writers wouldn't even fall through with the shock.
As for Claire's meltdown, which including screaming invective at an Iraq war veteran's grieving mother: I've heard the same rant dozens of times, from people who didn't have the excuse of either being drunk, or grieving a deceased sibling.
Next week: the 75-minute finale. Maybe they'll have every major character die one-by-one, like on the 75-minute final episode of "Oz."
Roger Ebert, savaging the "aggressively bad" "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," brings up "star" Rob Schneider's feud last year with critic Patrick Goldstein:
Schneider retaliated [for a bad review] by attacking Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: "Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind ... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers."
Reading this, I was about to observe that Schneider can dish it out but he can't take it. Then I found he's not so good at dishing it out, either. I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a RockCritics.com award, and the Publicists' Guild award for lifetime achievement...
As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."
The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson tears into the cable news networks for obsessively covering missing white girls, even when there's no news to report in the cases. And even Anderson Cooper goes after his contemporaries, for devoting hours of coverage to the boring, inconsquential Natalee Holloway case. I think the nadir was when O'Reilly had on a "media consultant," to give advice to the Holloway family on "how to keep the case in the news."
Check out this quote from Orlando's co-star in "Pirates of the Carribean," Keira Knightley, in Entertainment Weekly:
"There are so few manly men on the big screen today- we sort of get these pretty androgynous types."Gee, wonder who she's talking about.
And you thought the half-bald fro he sported two years ago couldn't be topped... not only is Donovan McNabb getting the upper hand in his feud with TO, but he's got clearly the best haircut in NFL training camp, with the cornrows atop the headband, and the return of the fro under it. Call it the NFL's answer to "business in the front, party in the back."
The Ugliest Player in NBA History is no longer a T-Wolf:
The Minnesota Timberwolves traded aging point guard Sam Cassell and a conditional first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night for guards Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers.Still, it's never a great sign when your #1 acquisition of the offseasion is Marko Jaric.
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, the 2003 winner of the prestigious Eckstein Award, has suffered his second catastrophic injury in as many years, breaking his ankle in last night's preseason opener against the Rams. Grossman will likely be replaced as Bears QB by Chad Hutchinson, and as Eckstein Award favorite by the "scrappy" one himself, David Eckstein.
The Rolling Stones were in the news this week for two reasons: First, they announced a deal with the NFL to both perform at the league's annual "kickoff" concert and to appear in advertisements season-long for "Monday Night Football." Secondly came word that the Stones' new album contains a song called "Sweet Neo Con," which rips the Bush Administration and Republicans in general for various transgressions.
And then, you guessed it, the Fox News Outrage Machine decided to latch onto both stories.
Last night on "The O'Reilly Factor" (guest-hosted by John Gibson, who would certainly finish high up in any news version of RoadFromBristol), morning show host Brian Kilmeade appeared on the show to vent his OUTRAGE that the NFL would dare go into business with such a controversial, anti-American act, and Gibson seconded that how dare the NFL book performers who aren't even FROM America. Time Magazine's Christopher John Farley argued, extremely meekly, the liberal side, in true Fox style.
Yes, at this point we know that most movie stars and rock stars are considerably left of center, and the vast majority of them don't know what they're talking about. Indeed the Stones, judging by their lyrics, clearly have no idea what the word "neocon" even means.
But I don't see why this is something worth getting outraged about. Why can't people accept that there are people in this world whose political beliefs differ from their own, and live with it? And how snide is it of Kilmeade to believe that criticism of the president, all by itself, is "anti-American'? Did he feel the same way during the Clinton Administration?
The highlight of the segment, meanwhile, was when Kilmeade read some lyrics from "American Idiot" by Green Day, another performer on the kickoff concert. Farley failed to point out that not only does the album (which Kilmeade has almost certainly never heard) have almost nothing to do with Bush, but it was far and away the best album of 2004.
"At a time when much of our news and entertainment media is controlled by a handful of corporations, “The Goebbels Experiment” is a cautionary reminder that equal access to the machinery of ideas may be society’s most critical goal."-Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times, drawing a parellel between FCC oversight of media ownership and, uh, Goebbels. (Via Jeff Jarvis)
From RoadFromBristol comes news that ESPN programming director Mark Shapiro- the man more responsible than anyone else for the network's slide into irrelevance and unwatchability- is on the verge of leaving the network in order to work for that other great bastion of classy sports, Daniel Snyder's Washington Redskins.
Could things actually improve now on the erstwhile Worldwide Leader? I'll believe it when I see it.
Huh huh huh... And you thought the real Pirates were embarrassing. More great stuff from Dan Savage, guest-blogging for Sullivan.
Not only was the former skipper of the Twins, Phillies, and Angels one of the ten winningest managers in baseball history, but according to Peter Gammons, he was the guy who talked Ronald Reagan into pursuing a political career.
Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff will be indicted on fraud charges later this week, according to numerous published reports, in connection with allegations that he bilked Indian tribes and other clients out of tens of millions of dollars.
Abramoff is a graduate of my alma mater Brandeis, and this is believed to be the highest-profile indictment of a 'deis alum since Angela Davis was brought up on charges by the FBI for her ties to the Communist Party, in 1970. (But that's only because Mitch Albom's fabricated article broke no laws).
As critic David Elliot said about the first film, "Attend enough movies and you begin to pick up clues. 'Directed by Akira Kurosawa,' for example, means something. 'Starring Rob Schneider' means something else."
A New York Times reporter is in Philadelphia working on a "sixth borough" story about "the young hot NYC transplants" who have recently migrated to the City of Brotherly Love, according to Philebrity.com. Give me a call, Jennifer 8!
Last year's Eckstein Winner was then-Georgia quarterback David Greene, and one of the runners-up was his teammate, defensive lineman David Pollack.
Both Davids have since graduated to the NFL, but with the new college season starting a new teammate duo is set to take their place. The University of Colorado features as two of its biggest stars quarterback Joel Klatt and tight end Joe Klopfenstein, who sound as though they could be partners in an accounting firm, but are in fact running the Buffaloes' high-octane offense. They're both game-breakers, but neither is a Jew.
Too bad they play for a program that protects and makes excuses for rapists.
Rick Santorum tells the "Aristocrats" joke, in Philadelphia City Paper.
"[Dukes of Hazzard] is a stool sample in movie form, proudly trashy and juvenile and lacking even the lowest sorts of invention. Incredibly, it makes the original CBS series—a weekly rehash of the then-current hit film Smokey and the Bandit—seem charming in retrospect...In place of the TV series' willful innocence, director Jay Chandrasekhar substitutes a contemporary equivalent of Laurel and Hardy/Three Stooges slapstick, including a scene where Bo clings to safe that's being dragged by a car, a moment where Luke teases Bo by attacking him with a blowtorch, and numerous groin injuries"- Matt Zoller Seitz, reviewing 'Dukes' in New York Press.
Terrell Owens reportedly walked out of Eagles training camp today after a verbal spat with coach Andy Reid, in which Reid asked the temperamental receiver to leave. I'm not in the car listening to WIP right now, so I have no idea what people are saying locally, but I'll keep my ear out later on.
Peter King, the nation's #1 football writer, was at Eagles camp today, yet somehow missed out on this rather major story.
King, however, also writes that he paid a visit to a local eating establishment called Deja Brew, where he enjoyed a sandwich known as "The Engineer" ("roast beef, turkey and American cheese, with Dijon mustard, on pumpernickel toast,") along with a tossed salad, a Nantucket Nectars apple juice, and "one peanut butter ball" for dessert. I'm guessing the Owens/Reid confrontation took place somewhere between King's sandwich and his dessert.
Yes, Stephen A. Smith is exactly that, as even ESPN ombudsman George Solomon admits. Even more refreshing is that Solomon calls Smith on his wild pro-athlete bias, which manifests itself in ass-kissing along the lines of Sean Hannity interviewing Dick Cheney.
In fact, this is such a problem on the network (as well as in ESPN the Magazine) that I only wish its audience cared as much about this as it apparently does about "East Coast Bias."
UPDATE: Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, is planning a spin-off magazine of its stupid "players" section, which is built around the flawed notion that serious fans actually give a rats ass about athletes' tattoos, and favored video games. It's not as brainless as "ESPN Hollywood," but it's close. ES
Anyone catch Keith Olbermann's tribute to Peter Jennings the other night, when the MSNBC anchor shared the tale of his own cancer scare a few weeks earlier? The graphic description of having spit up blood in MSNBC's newsroom reportedly drew the ire of network president Rick Kaplan, who immediately rushed onto the set and yelled at Olbermann.
Kaplan's concern? That Olbermann's monologue would draw viewers away from the debut of the new talk show hosted by former Fox News reporter Rita Cosby, the woman who -with her hours and hours of interviews with inconsequential hangers-on of the Chandra Levy and Laci Peterson cases- has done more than anyone else to steer cable news towards the celebration of young-gals-in-peril.
If Olbermann gets fired, expect MSNBC to replace him with yet another conservative-leaning mediocrity, to go along with Cosby, Joe Scarborough, and Tucker Carlson. Hey, I hear Bob Novak is free these days...
And speaking of the third-place network, this amusing bit appeared in The New Republic last week:
Conservative complaints about the liberal media die hard, and now Accuracy in Media (AIM), a group whose raison d'être is to make such complaints, is targeting MSNBC. AIM's beef? Carlson and Scarborough are being muzzled! "Shows featuring conservative hosts like Carlson and Scarborough seem designed to prevent them from speaking to issues of concern to conservatives," AIM editor Cliff Kincaid griped this week. Kincaid pointed out that Carlson is sometimes joined on his show by liberal guests--one of whom "is a lesbian with hair so short that she looks like a man"--while Scarborough "has been endlessly covering missing-person cases." Poor MSNBC. Sometimes joining 'em doesn't even work.For the record, I'm much less offended by Tucker's short-haired sidekick (Rachel Maddow) then I am by the inexplicable inclusion on the show of former "Around the Horn" loudmouth Max Kellerman.
Ross G. Douthat on "Wedding Crashers":
How great it was to watch a movie in which the preppy asshole villain was also . . . a liberal Democrat. (And not just any liberal Democrat - an obvious parody of RFK Jr., right down to the sanctimonious Riverkeeper environmentalism.) This choice wasn't just funny, it was realistic - since most of the preppy assholes you meet these days aren't Rockefeller Republicans anymore, but trust fund liberals. (Well, okay, at least in the Northeast. The GOP is still the party of choice for Southern preppy assholes.)You sure? Sack Lodge seemed like a GOPer to me, but I guess everyone sees sneering, rich, "elitist" assholes as part of the opposite political team.
This reminds me of something, incidentally, that always annoyed me about the otherwise-classic Old School - namely, that the villainous, stick-up-his-ass dean (played by a pre-Ari Jeremy Piven) decorated his office with photos of himself with George Bush the Elder. Whereas in real life, an officious, anti-frat dean at a major university would never be a Republican. Not in a million years. (And sure, Dean Wormer probably voted for Nixon - but that was a very different time.)
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the passing of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. Hopefully fans of the band have found new and interesting things to do with their lives in that time, at least enough to invalidate the famous Norm MacDonald joke: "followers of the band, formerly known as 'Deadheads', will now be referred to by a new name: 'homeless people.'"
I still remember the day Garcia passed away: I was at summer camp, and one of my hippie-inclined co-counselors had been calling around camp screaming "Jerry's dead!" (sort of a faux pas, considering that the camp's director was also named Jerry.) Then, at the breakfast table, another of my colleagues told everyone the bad news. He told one girl- who was wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt- and she gave him a puzzled look and asked "who's that?"
Amazon's got it:
October 1 is the day.
Here's Jack Shafer, in Slate:
"The larger point that the boneheads who so despise the media need to appreciate is that the mainstream American press is better than it's ever been. If you don't believe me, visit your local library and roll through a couple of miles of microfilm of the papers you're currently familiar with. By any comparison, today's press is more accurate, ethical, reliable, independent, transparent, and trustworthy than ever. Skepticism is a healthy disposition in life. I wouldn't be a press critic if I regarded the press as hunky-dory. But mindless skepticism is mainly an excuse for ignorance. Even the people who denounce the New York Times as the bible of liberals ultimately get most of their useful news from it."
The longtime ABC news anchor died of lung cancer last night at 67. His was a voice anyone of my generation likely heard for most of their life, and it's one we will greatly miss.
The four panelists on ESPN's abominable talk show just spent several minutes debating the merits of the "raise" announced today in Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper's contract, and none of the four paid any mind to the obvious fact that it was not a "raise" but a "restructuring" of the $102 million contract the QB signed two years ago. Goes to show once again that most sportswriters have no idea how NFL contracts work; the fact that they're not guaranteed should be in the lede of every football contract story.
Here's New York Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan, on last night's episode:
But the ideal of sincerity has long ago been devalued, rendered commercial or quaint. Today, for example, it is associated with Coldplay, mewling God-and-country Republicans and weepie cable-television dramas like "Six Feet Under" that appeal mostly to women and gay men.That paragraph is just so, so wrong, wrong, WRONG, on so many different levels. Sincerity is NOT devalued, it is NOT only associated with "god-and-country Republicans," and I know all sorts of straight men (myself included) who have long enjoyed SFU, and Coldplay too. And no, last night's episode -unlike several others this year- had nothing to do with politics.
Good episode though- it had the right amount of gravitas for a rare episode about the death of a protagonist. But why all the flashbacks to the Beavis-like villain who kidnapped David last year, in what was undoubtedly the worst hour of the show's history?
And Karol doesn't want to hear spoilers- but she probably woudn't mind if I pointed out that the young Claire in the dream sequence looked just like Karol.
"I used to think this show was way too disturbing to watch, but now I love it that way that way I love overflossing my teeth until they bleed."- Jessica Shaw, on The Comeback, in Entertainment Weekly.
UPDATE: John Podhoretz (surprise, surprise), absolutely loves this horrible show.
"I promised Andrew no smut, no lower-case santorum, no discussions of the latest sex toys or scandals. I reserve the right, however, to renege on that agreement if a sex scandal as irresistible as the case of the man who—how to put this delicately?—went home to Jesus after being the passive partner in a romantic interlude with a horse should break."-Dan Savage, beginning his must-read stint guest-blogging at AndrewSullivan.com.
That's right, I'm now accepting BlogAds. Contact me if interested.
One thing I've seen no one mention so far about the Rafeal Palmeiro scandal- remember when Raffy first was hired as a pitchman for Viagra, and he tried to claim that he didn't actually use the anti-impotence pill, before later backing off? So we know he has a history of lying about his use of controversial drugs.
I just heard Jay Mariotti, on PTI, refer to Stanozolol as "The S-Drug." Ugh. Just showing how much better a journalist Wilbon is, he went on to pronounce Stanizolol correctly.
They've been saying Stanozolol has a "brand name," Winstrol. How can an illegal drug have a brand name?
And perhaps the worst development of all is that it'll give a Congress yet another chance to grandstand even more. But I wouldn't worry too much if I were Raf- were he to be indicted for perjury, I'm sure he'd subsequently be pardoned by his good buddy, the president.
The Road From Bristol tournament has reached the third round, and much to my consternation, my favorite to win (Sean Salisbury) fell to Chris Berman in round 2. So I guess I've gotta root for Stephen A. from here on in.
Here's the updated bracket; I predict a Final Four of Stephen A., Skip Bayless, Stuart Scott, and Dan "The Bastard" LeBatard.
I went to the Phillies-Cubs game last night at Citizen's Bank, and saw one of the more exciting finishes I've ever experienced in person.
Here's the bottom of the ninth for you: Score tied 3-3. Jimmy Rollins doubles, then advances to third on a groundout. The Cubs intentionally walk the next two hitters, Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu. Then the Cubs bring in an obscure pitcher, Michael Wuertz, who takes Pat Burrell to a full count.
Burrell then swings and misses at the payoff pitch, but the pitch got away from catcher Michael Barrett. By the time Barrett got ahold of the ball, he threw to third rather than wait for Rollins to reach the plate, and the throw back from third baseman Aramis Ramirez was not in time. Game over.
I listened to WIP in the car on the way home, and it should go without saying that the callers and hosts spent the evening trashing the Phils- who are 57-52 and just a handful of games out of both the division and wild card leads- as "losers," with one caller even calling for a fan boycott. From that, you'd think they were 20 games under .500 or something. The lesson, as always: East Coast sports fans are insane.
I think of Kirby Puckett, my favorite days in baseball while the lights were still off in the Metrodome at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Game Six, the night he won the World Series, probably the only guy in the world that called me Petey, says, 'Petey, get up in your SportsCenter and tell everyone that Puck is going to jack the Twins up on his back today.' Well, four hits, a game-saving catch, and a 11th-inning home run later, Puck took us to the greatest seventh game, World Series game I will ever experience: 10 innings, 1-0, Jack Morris. These players are great players whose success is measured in overcoming adversity, but no one had to be a great person, no one had to be a great player to be a great person stored in my memory bank. So I think from John Curtis to Bill Campbell to Jerry Remy, Buckethead Schmidt to Bruce Hurst, Ellis Hurst to George Lombard, I've been lucky to know thousands of people who loved the game as much as I do.-From Peter Gammons' amazing Hall of Fame induction speech, last Saturday. In the unlikely event I ever got the Ford Frick award, I'd imagine I'd tell the Puckett Game 6 story too.
I figure everyone who cares about this knows already, so I feel okay sharing the news that Nate Fisher, the show's protagonist for nearly five years, died on Sunday's episode of "Six Feet Under." It's probably not that big a deal, since Nate is a fictional character, the show is ending forever in three weeks anyway, and characters on SFU always continue to speak and interact with others even after they're dead.
One other amusing note from Sunday's episode of the resurgant-in-a-limited-way drama: it contained an argument between Claire and her lawyer boyfriend about Iraq that I've probably heard (and participated in) thousands of times- except for the part where she calls him a "redneck blogger pig." Especially funny, since subtle left-wing touches have been finding their way into SFU episodes since last year.
There's another one of those stupid studies out alleging that the Jewish people is about to die out, and this one specifically bashes Reform and Conservative Jews for not sufficiently carrying on the flame. But the reasoning is woefully wrong, and thankfully, Asparagirl is here to bash the study to smithereens.
Saturday I went with six friends to Randall's Island to see, among other acts, the Dave Matthews Band and Barenaked Ladies- two of my favorite bands, both of whom known for delivering kick-ass live shows, and both of whom I had never seen before, despite owning about six albums per band.
So why was the show a colossal disappointment? A few reasons- Randall's is a horrible venue, not at all condusive to concerts, with horrible sightlines and shoddily maintained grounds. Both the lighting booth and (!) a t-shirt stand were placed directly in front of the stage, totally obstructing the view of large sections of the crowd- and organizers didn't even bother to turn on the screens for BNL's performance. And the island was practically impossible to get to and from- I think we took five different modes of transportation to get to New Jersey at the end of the night.
And besides, I should remembered from my Phish-going experiences that these outdoor "lawn shows" are never worth their trouble anyway. Not to mention DMB's annoying habit of stretching the average song to about 15 minutes in length. And those stupid improvised raps that BNL does...
One highlight though- buses left for Randall's from 125th St. and Lexington Ave., right in the heart of Harlem. Quite a juxtaposition, with hundreds of Dave-heads, almost all of them white, who had almost certainly never stood on that corner in their lives. One neighborhood resident summed it up: "What are all these white people doing here? They scare me."
I spent the afternoon of my birthday Thursday at Yankee Stadium, for my lone look this year at my Twins. And it wasn't a good one- they lost 6-3, meaning that no, they won't win the World Series this year. The Twins, you see, were undefeated in both '87 and '91 in games I attended, and every other year of my life, I've witnessed at least one loss.
Independently of that, it's over anyway. Torii Hunter may be out for the season, they did nothing at the deadline, they got crushed by the Yankees and Red Sox on the weekend road trip, and Manny Ramirez (returning from trade-rumor purgatory) delivered the knockout punch with his game-winning pinch hit on Sunday.
(Speaking of Manny, I had a lot of fun, while at the concert Saturday, checking the evolving story on my cell phone every hour or so and seeing the trade morph from "almost done" to "almost dead" and back again. Nothing like that since the A-Rod-to-the-Red-Sox debacle, except this particular Manny trade didn't drag on for several months.)
Saturday night, I went to the birthday party of a friend at Culture Club, the '80s-themed nightclub that operates in New York and several other cities. Culture Club, which I've probably been to more times than any other NYC club (and I'm not the clubbing type at all), has now added a '90s-themed room called "Nerve Ana." The highlight? Unquestionably, the lifesized replica of OJ's white Ford Bronco that fills a corner of the club and contains a booth. And over that plays a continuous loop of the infamous Bronco chase.
Better that than the Spice Girls, for sure.
From today's Chat House:
Ashburn, Va.: I heard that Derrick Dockery looked good in his one-on-one blocking drill against Phillip Daniels in this morning's practice. In other news, an errant Patrick Ramsey throw knocked the cigar out of Sonny Jurgensen's mouth causing a minor brush fire.Especially funny, since all year long Wilbon has been lambasting his chat readers for only wanting to talk about the out-of-season Redskins, even though the Nationals and Wizards were making DC sports history.
Michael Wilbon: Who are you, Walter Winchell?
And I bet Stephen A. doesn't even know who Walter Winchell is.
A Harvard researcher recently acquired a rare two-headed snake- which he has christened "Belichick-Brady." Read about this, and more, on my latest SportsByBrooks update.
It's my first victory in months in the blogger dead pool- King Fahd of Saudi Arabia is dead. Fahd had been incapacitated for several years, and columnist Taki Theodoracopouloswrote a few years ago that Fahd "a playboy king who has gotten so fat he is bedridden because his knees can no longer take the strain." And I'm sure Fahd would be thrilled to know that oil reached an all-time record price on the day of his death.