"[Phil Sheridan's] column on fan frustration reminded me of something I've been thinking about for awhile: How Philly fans are preventing their own liberation from championship purgatory with their toxic negativity. I'v been as frustrated as anyone by the Birds' failure to win a Super Bowl, but Eagles fans need to reevaluate their relationship to the team. The loss to Carolina in the NFC title game is a perfect example. As soon as things started going wrong, dread seemed to settle over the stadium. Booing is fine when it's deserved, but fans who turn on their team or curl up in the fetal position at the first hint of trouble negate the home-field advantage. Bill Simmons is right when he says that booing serves no rational purpose. Philly fans and Eagles fans in particular need to realize that being the best fans is more than being "tough." It's also about exhorting and willing the team to victory."- A writer to Phil Sheridan's awesome Q&A forum, one of the few places in Philly sports media which avoids relentless negativity.
News Item: Vikings Release Onterrio Smith.
And after this week's Ricky Williams news, Smith isn't even the league's best suspended running back.
Want to understand what's going on with high gas prices, and why you shouldn't believe the bullshit flying from the mouths of any politicians from either party? Check out this piece on Slate from Jacob Weisberg. It won't keep you from being angry about $3 gas, but at least you'll understand why it's there.
The new Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis is one step closer to reality, having passed the state House of Representatives tonight by a vote of 76-55. All that stands between that and reality is passage in the Senate and the supportive governor's signature. I can't wait to fly to the Cities and watch games from my dad's office next door.
A spot is available on the editorial staff of my fine newspaper, the Trend Leader, following the firing earlier this week of the world's most incompetent co-worker. If you live in the Philadelphia area and you're interested in being able to write about whatever you want, and have it distributed to a few thousand homes, shoot me an e-mail and I'll pass you on to HR.
Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column has returned to ESPN.com, after more than two years in exile on NFL.com. The column was killed back in 2003 after Easterbrook posted an item to his then-blog on the New Republic's website in which he appeared to be connecting the money-grubbing of Disney executives with their Jewishness.
I can forgive Gregg for his slipup- he clearly didn't mean any harm and apologized appropriately- but what I can't forgive is just how stale his TMQ act has gotten. I think I chuckled two or three times while reading the 15-page column yesterday. It's just a waste of time considering that Peter King does the same thing much, much better over at SI.com.
And speaking of the King of Coffeenerdness, I happened to be in a Starbucks in King's hometown of Montclair, NJ, a couple of weeks ago. But for some reason it didn't even occur to me to look for him until like the next day. Turned out he was out of town anyway.
What were the odds of the University of Pennsylvania hiring a basketball coach named Glen Miller, who shares a name with the bandleader who wrote "Pennsylvania 6-5000"? Glen Macnow, before catching himself, reported on WIP last night that Penn had hired Benny Goodman as coach.
It's official: Tony Snow has replaced Scott McClellan as White House press secretary. After working as a speechwriter in the first Bush White House, Snow has been a longtime employee of Fox News Channel, hosting a talk radio show and frequently sitting in for Bill O'Reilly. So really, he's pretty much already been White House press secretary for almost six years. Call it a lateral move.
Remember a while back when I reminisced about "SectorBall," an office sport often practiced by my co-workers and I back in New York circa 2000? Someone has set up a Wikipedia entry on the sport, stating that the game was "developed in a New York City publishing company's office in 1999." Sounds about right- the page must've been made by one of my ex-coworkers.
One of my current coworkers, meanwhile, suggests another new office sport, to be called, "Kill Everyone in the Office Who Sucks."
So Maury Povich has been hit with a $100 million sexual harassment suit by a former producer. But at least it wasn't a paternity suit. Because Maury himself having to take a paternity test might shatter the all-time unintentional comedy record.
I must say at the outset that I didn't love this episode. True, a "bad" "Sopranos" episode is still better than 95% of what's on TV, but this was probably the weakest of the season so far. I just felt like the put-upon-Artie-gets-revenge angle had already been done, two seasons ago, and the Christopher-in-Hollywood thing has been perhaps the weakest thread of all, throughout the series. Still, a few things I did enjoy:
- I loved the "Big Night" homage, with the cooking scenes at the beginning and end. When Tony mentioned the new rival restaurant, I half-expected Artie to channel Tony Shalhoub and yell out "Do you know what happens in that restaurant every night? RAPE! RAPE! ...The rape of cuisine!"
- Are the two Arabs going to lead Christopher into further trouble with the FBI, should terrorism and/or money laundering issues arise? It looks that way, but then again it almost sounds too obvious that I wouldn't think Chase would actually do it. And also, Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle brought up the interesting point that the "middle man" Chris hired to set up the hit with the two Italians could have been a government mole.
- I loved the three references to Season 1: Artie mentioning the fire Tony set at the original Vesuvio's; Artie reproducing the rifle that he was threatened Tony with in order to kill the rabbit; and Tony mentioning the night he and his family drove to the restaurant in the rain (in the Season 1 finale).
- Speaking of the rabbit, help me, foodies: is it common practice for a professional chef to kill an animal in his garden, and then later serve it in his restaurant?
- The "whacking" of Lauren Bacall was inspired, sure. But if you're going to cast Ben Kingsley, why not get him to play, you know, an actual gangster? He was brilliant in "Sexy Beast"- as well as in the groundbreaking role of "The Rabbi" in "Lucky Number Slevin."
- By the way- the Bacall-getting-mugged story made the cover of Variety and presumably made some other national news as well. Once Tony put two and two together and realized that's where the swag came from, wouldn't it cause him to get upset with Chris? Remember: Tony's a lover of old movies, and likely reveres Lauren Bacall.
- Next week: more of the Vito storyline, and could A.J. be embracing a life of crime?
On Sunday I caught the Phillies-Marlins game at Citizen's Bank Park, as Ryan Howard hit two home runs- including a 496-footer that was the longest in stadium history- to give the Phils just their third home win of the season. A fun afternoon, as always at Philly's incredible ballpark.
But the highlight of the day might have been the "birthday party" for the Phillie Phanatic, probably the only such event in the country that draws a near-capacity crowd. Not only was the Phanatic joined for a dance on top of the dugout by Mr. Met, Billy the Marlin, and numerous other major league mascots, but a between-innings bit during the game was one of the funnier things I've ever seen at a game:
The Phanatic comes out to third base. An actor dressed as an "umpire" starts arguing with the Phanatic. The umpire "tosses" the Phanatic (especially funny, since Phils manager Charlie Manuel had himself been ejected in the first inning of the game). The announcer then introduces the Phils' new mascot, a giant clam with a 10-foot long shell-mouth. His name? "Roger Clam-ens." So the clam charges at the umpire and... eats him, with the ump's entire body going into the clam's mouth. The Clam chews for awhile, and eventually spits out each of the ump's shoes, then his shirt and pants, and then finally the ump himself, clad only in boxer shorts, who quickly runs away into the dugout. The soundtrack for this whole bit? "Eat It," by "Weird Al" Yankovic.
In all, a brilliant bit of ballpark theater.
Bill Simmons' Friday column, in which he previewed the NBA playoffs using quotes from Pearl Jam songs, was only the beginning. We we get news that OLN (the Outdoor Life Network) is changing its name to... Versus. Which, of course, was the name of Pearl Jam's second album, which came out in 1993. No word on whether the band, still embroiled in their years-old TicketMaster litigation, will go after Comcast as well.
Mets first baseman/broadcaster/renowned "Seinfeld" guest star Keith Hernandez got in trouble over the weekend for criticizing the presence of a female trainer in the San Diego Padres' dugout. Hernandez later apologized; I invite readers to contribute jokes based on the events to the comment section, preferably referencing Keith's "Seinfeld" history.
"As a long-term proposition, I don't buy the superiority of blogs and the New Media any more than I bought the notion that America Online was more valuable than Time Warner. The Old Media - the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlantic Monthly - add to the store of public information in ways which seem irreplaceable. Do they have problems? Sure. Are some journalists bad at their jobs? Absolutely. But taken as a whole, the Old Media performs an enormous and valuable function that the New Media is neither able, nor inclined, to emulate."-Jonathan V. Last, both a conservative and a blogger, speaking the truth in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Last's weekly Sunday column, like Chris Satullo's, is a must-read.
The proposal of a new Minnesota Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis won a crucial victory last night, as it passed a key House committee. This was expected to be one of the bill's biggest hurdles, and now it's cleared. I'm not getting too confident right away, since I've been disapointed so many times before on this count, but it's indeed looking better than ever that we'll have a shot at outdoor Major League Baseball in Minnesota by the time the decade is out.
It was announced today that the 11th "Star Trek" feature film is in development, and it will be the long-rumored look back at Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy. "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams is set to direct. I'm sure I'll see it, but it'll be very odd to see the two of them played by actors other than Shatner and Nimoy.
"In "American Dreamz," a comedy about a faltering American president, a wildly popular TV talent show and the Svengalis behind them both, the jokes don't just fizzle into insignificance; they flop about with gaudy ineffectualness, gasping for air like newly landed trout. Unlike fish, alas, gags about nitwit commanders in chief, oily television hosts and rabidly ambitious young performers with stars in their eyes and sometimes their beds can't be tossed back in the water; only a blunt instrument, like a hammer, will do. Consider this a hammer, humanely but firmly applied."-Manohla Dargis, the New York Times. Yes, it's that bad.
Jerusalem Post: "'Jesus Christ Superstar' To Be Staged At Concentration Camp."
First runner-up: "Madeline Albright Can Leg-Press 400 Pounds."
And in a related story, a friend of mine in Minnesota (and frequent commenter here) recently invited me to his bachelor party- which he said may involve renting a boat. I'd advise him to give Al and Alma a call before all the summer reservations fill up.
David Lee Roth is reportedly out as CBS Radio's morning host on the East Coast, and will be replaced by Opie and Anthony, who will simulcast their XM show in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and a few other cities.
I've never been a big fan of O&A, but at least they're funny once in a while, which is more than I can say for Diamond Dave. And O&A should cause a bit of controversy, since they were fired in Boston for joking that the mayor had died, and in New York for staging a stunt in which a couple had sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Hard as it may be to buy a ticket to it- or even view the trailer- this is a breathtaking film, which deserves to go alongside "9-11" (the documentary by the French brothers that aired on CBS in 2002) as the definitive cinematic telling of the events of September 11.
The film takes the nearly impossible task of weaving suspense out of a story in which we already know the ending going in. It's harrowing, emotional, and ultimately inspiring, and served very well by the decision to cast nearly all of the roles with unknowns, and (even better) by casting most of the air-traffic controllers as themselves.
And perhaps most refreshing of all, there's next to no politics (aside from well-supported complaints about lack of communication that morning), and the film doesn't even touch conspiracy theories. My only complaint? The editing in some of the later scenes is a bit choppy, rendering the events quite hard to follow.
The local Philadelphia radio personality Dom Giordano was sitting behind me at the screening, and he said on his show last night that he greatly enjoyed and appreciated the film.
For Allen Iverson, it appears, it isn't just practice that's optional. The Sixers superstar, along with teammate Chris Webber, showed up just minutes before tipoff of last night's game against the Nets- the Sixers' final home game of the season. Both players were held out, on Fan Appreciation Night, and the team sold about 5,000 more tickets than usual for the game, which many expected to be Iverson's last at home in a Sixers uniform.
The turn of events led normally mild-mannered general manager Billy King to go on an expletive-filled rant in which he cursed out the players, reporters, and local sports radio station WIP. King's rant included the season-spanning admission that "we've got a team that sucked."
Expect to see big changes in Sixer-land this offseason, starting with the probable departure of Iverson. The Sixers are in the same position as the Timberwolves- their roster consists of one superstar, and about eight mediocre players with expensive, long term, and basically untradeable contracts. Not exactly a recipe for hope, though the fact that about a third of the teams in the league are in that exact pickle says a whole lot about both the craziness of the league's rules, and the sheer mediocrity of many, many players.
I was at the game, but we left at halftime, not really enjoying the prospect of watching a boring team, without its best players, playing in front of a dead crowd- especially not from what was, literally, the back seat of the Wachovia Center. The Sixers did come back to win, however.
According to the Star Tribune, when the latest vote came up at the Hennepin County Board on the question of a new Twins stadium, the board's four male members voted for the resolution and the three female members voted against it. It's unknown whether a separate vote was held on "Grey's Anatomy."
The vote left one board member in tears, and another said that "I think it will render the relationships up here irretrievably broken." But the vote is unlike a domestic quarrel in one key respect: the men won the argument.
From an interview, by the Post's Adam Buckman, with Gregory Itzin, who plays President Logan:
"The guy who invented this show, the creator of the show, Joel Surnow, is - and this is no secret - a right-wing Republican. He loves the fact that Rush Limbaugh is a big fan of this show. And the other gentleman who is now the show runner, Howard Gordon, is a liberal [which is] also well-known. So there is an evenhandedness to the story that's being told," Itzin said.The interview also says that neither Itzin nor the writers of the show know whether Logan is a Democrat or Republican. But I had assumed he was a Republican: Palmer was a Democrat, he ran against Keillor (the president in Season 4 who was on Air Force One when it was shot down), and Logan was Keillor's vice president. Unless Keillor had a veep of the opposite party, or Logan switched parties at some point, that seemed to put Logan squarely in the GOP camp. That, and the whole Nixon vibe.
"Jack Bauer armed with only a gun against a dozen special ops agents is hardly a fair fight. He should have had one [hand] tied behind his back or something to even things out."-Scott Keith who, yes, is now more of a TV critic than a pro wrestling critic. I'm still waiting for Phil Mushnick to make a similar switch.
For a story on the sentencing of a notorious subway masturbator who was sentenced to mere probation, the New York Post goes with "Subway Jerk Off The Hook." Because I suppose "Subway Masturbator Gets Off" would've been over the top.
No word on whether or not the Subway Masturbator met with a Post reporter for the purposes of soliciting protection money. But he does get the Chutzpah Award, for arguing that the woman who took the picture of him on the subway- leading to his arrest- was actually in the wrong, because "it's illegal to take pictures on the subway."
News Item: "Man Arrested For Molesting Girl in Coma."
But did he pretend to be gay so no one would suspect him, like the guy in the movie?
I've seen some pretty awful stuff this year, but none worse than this forced, shockingly obvious and unfunny "satire," predicated on the belief that it's groundbreaking and hilarious to suggest that George W. Bush is an idiot, that Simon Cowell is a jerk, and that reality TV is phony. And practically no laughs, either. Why anyone would see this when the brilliant and hilarious "Thank You For Smoking" is still in theaters is beyond me.
Going to see "United 93" this afternoon; will report back tonight.
Here's a Nintendo RBI Baseball simulation of the bottom of the tenth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, complete with the original audio. It's pretty cool, even if you're a Sox fan and watching it means you're reliving the most traumatic event of your lifetime.
"I think Barry Bonds is being investigated legitimately becasue his trainer and associated were the target of a Grand Jury investigation into BALCO...because Bonds is thought to have lied to that Grand Jury, and because there is reasonable suspicion that Bonds used steroids... hiding behind race, which is all Bonds and his sycophants are doing, offends me and I'm black. Bonds is black in color only...Let's not allow him to turn himself into Jackie Robinson because his skin [is] brown. He's black in much the same way O.J. Simpson was black...when in trouble, he's black. All the other time, he's just rich and unapproachable and obnoxious and not particularly any color. I'm tired of this garbage."-Michael Wilbon, in the Chat House. The idea that "they're only picking on Barry 'cause he's a brother" is as offensive as it is laughable.
New Orleans Mayoral Debate- Monday, April 17, 8 PM, MSNBC: "The closest thing you'll ever see to a Ray Nagin Friar's Club Roast"-Entertainment Weekly's "What to Watch" column.
Another excellent "Sopranos" last night, as the show took the Vito angle in an entirely new direction that almost no one saw coming. He is, after all, a "come-from-behind kind of guy" (heh heh), as Tony called him. But since no one got whacked, I'm sure Jason Whitlock didn't enjoy it. Sorry, big guy. Tony seemed to speaking to him and those like him when he said "some people just want drama like high school girls and some people just whack somebody, anybody..."
A few notes:
- When the guy at the diner in New Hampshire asked Vito where he's from, he said "Scottsdale." Interesting, considering that's where Big Pussy wanted to be placed once he reached witness protection status, and that is where Sammy "The Bull" Gravano really was placed, before he was again busted for selling drugs. Might Vito be considering a call to the feds, so he can achieve the sort of life in New Hampshire (or Scottsdale?) that he never got to enjoy? And Gravano, of course, was himself rumored to be gay...
- And speaking of Big Pussy... would Tony really let the widow of a confirmed rat get into the Family as an employee? You'd think the feds would be pounding her door down.
- What was that noise that Tony heard by the bird-feeder at the beginning? The hinted-at return of The Bear? Or maybe the Ducks?
- Tony may not want to whack Vito now- but once he finds out about Vito's scheming while he was in the coma? Fughettaboutit. And this truly is a case of storylines paying off 2 or 3 years down the line.
- As for the scene with Finn... are we supposed to believe that the Family would essentially make him an accessory to a homicide, knowing that he's a civilian? And Meadow really has become a despicable character, spouting her bleeding-heart nonsense when she likely knows for a fact that her father is about to execute a man just for being gay. And I like the idea of her working for this law center -where her bosses know exactly who her father is- while she's also investigating the exact sort of money-laundering and white-collar crime that Tony is neck-deep in. That thread bears watching.
- I never, in a million years, expected to hear Tony Soprano praise Rick Santorum, as he did in the therapy scene. And I wonder what Santorum himself thinks about it, both the association with a (fictional) mobster and his "man on dog" comments reaching a wider audience than ever before. Maybe Casey will even use it in a campaign ad. Between that and Carmela sharing that she voted for Bush, I can expect the show to lose some liberal fans.
- When Christopher was talking about the two mysterious Arabs, he mentioned that one of them was outraged over the Danish cartoons. How did they get that reference into the episode when the cartoon brouhaha only took place a couple of months ago? This isn't "South Park"- I was under the impression they filmed the episodes six months to a year in advance. And besides- the two Arabs are probably up to something- the guy who sold drugs in Adriana's club had terror connections, and remember Adriana's "he's gotten into his religion- and has been sending money to a boys' school in Pakistan" speech? Chris, of course, is just as dumb as she was...
"The popular sentiment among my friends who watch "The Sopranos" -- even the women -- is: "Man, I can't wait 'til Tony gets back to being Tony and starts whacking people. I'm sick of Tony being in a coma and being weak. They need to get back to the mob stuff."-Jason Whitlock on ESPN.com, showing that he's just ignorant about televised drama as he is about sports. If, six seasons in, he can't appreciate that "The Sopranos" is about more than just "Tony whacking people," then he doesn't deserve to enjoy it.
I complained to a friend Sunday that watching "The Sopranos" now is like watching Shaquille O'Neal argue with his wife about taking out the trash or picking up the kids after school. I know it goes on, but I just want to see Shaq dunk on people.
David Chase has either forgotten why we watch "The Sopranos" or he doesn't care why we watch. It's probably the latter. He wants us to watch the show "the right way.""
An exchange from Bill Simmons' Wednesday mailbag:
Q: ESPN2 obviously stole the script from "Bonds on Bonds" from Amber Waves' Dirk Diggler documentary. Seriously, has The Worldwide Leader ever produced a less honest puff piece? You have to admit that the Dirk Diggler doc involved more rigorous investigative journalism. Is it OK if I say this into the camera, Amber?
--Rob Jackson, New York
SG: And I thought I was the only one waiting for Bonds to fire back at his critics by saying, "I only am who I am because I was born that way. I have a gift and I'm trying to not be selfish about it, but to use it, OK? Jealousy will get you nowhere!"
Don't look now, but my Minnesota Twins have now won four straight, after last night's 5-1 win over the Yankees. Scott Baker, in seven innings, limited the A-Rod/Jeter/Giambi/Matsui/Damon Yankees lineup to one run on three hits, after whcih Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan slammed the door. And they're finally showing some power, too. Maybe we'll get a 30-homer hitter this year, after all.
In the prelude of his inevitable "resignation for health reasons" that's coming in a few weeks, coach Larry Brown left last night's New York Knicks game on a stretcher, after which he was hospitalized. Hey, if I coached the Knicks, I'd want to carried from the building too.
"His vital signs are stable," Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz said. Wait- his last name is Supranowitz? Is he an Italian Jew? You'd think that would be the coolest last name a man could have. It's just too bad he has such a soul-crushing job- PR for the Knicks- and that he works for a sexual-harassment-happy boss.
This morning, the New York Post re-ran an editorial from the New York Sun, excoriating the New York Times for joining the New York Daily News in ripping the New York Post for the Page Six extortion scandal.
Somehow, both Newsday and the Wall Street Journal went unmentioned, but then the editorial only took up a quarter of a page. Somehow, the Sun's argument- that it's horrible for the New York Times to have written more yesterday about Page Six than the Darfur genocide- is not even the most absurd part.
I had the honor Monday night of meeting and interviewing George Takei, the renowned "Star Trek" actor/gay rights activist/Howard Stern announcer, who was in Philadelphia to kick off a nationwide speaking tour at UPenn. Having interviewed Leonard Nimoy a few years ago in connection with his most recent photography book, I'm slowly working my way through the original 'Trek' cast.
When I asked him about "Brokeback Mountain"'s loss of the Best Picture Oscar to "Crash," he gladdened my heart by agreeing that "Crash" was an especially weak film. "I've been an Angeleno my entire life, and that's not the Los Angeles I know," he said.
Other highlights from the interview:
- Asked if he's noticed, since coming out, any type of subculture of homosexuals among the "Star Trek" fan base, Takei pointed out that "they're very organized," sometimes even coming up with creative scenarios involving which cast members have paired off with which (he was referring to "slash" fanfic, I assume). He was clear, however, that the character of Mr. Sulu was not gay.
- Takei expressed his enjoyment on working as the announcer on Howard Stern's Sirius show. When I asked him how he feels about some of the more anti-gay humor sometimes featured on the show, he first defended Stern as a staunch supporter of gay rights, and then said he's always sure to call them on it when they make gay jokes. I actually heard Takei on WYSP's "Kidd Chris Show" the week before, and for a show with a constant refrain of "you're a fag, no, you're a fag," it was refreshing to hear them treat Takei with reverence.
- During the speech, Takei talked about his experiences in a Japanesse internment camp in Arkansas during World War II. I'd love to see that bitch Michelle Malkin try to look him in the eye after that.
- And in response to the famous "Star Trek: Liberal or Conservative?" question, Takei surprisingly said he considers "Star Trek" to be libertarian in his politics. I didn't see that one coming.
The Philadelphia Daily News writes today about a new trend gripping Philly's inner city: people being shot in the buttocks. I still can't tell if they're seeking to emulate Forrest Gump, or that rapper who got shot on "The Sopranos" a few weeks ago, or Steve Buscemi's hitman character in the movie "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," who was known for a maneuver called the "buckwheat hit" (which consisted of shooting his victims up the ass.)
I still don't believe that this season of "The Sopranos" has been as good as the last, but this past Sunday's episode was certainly the best episode of the new season (which, after next week's show, will sadly be half over). A few observations:
- Tony and Johnny Sack discussing whacking the Frankie Valli character while at the table with five old people was just classic. I'm going to try that one next time I'm at a wedding.
- Other nice touches: Vito's wife watching a Rock Hudson movie while her husband's out at the leather bar, and Tony and Christopher arguing about the "man can't refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day" thing from "The Godfather." And I love when they just called it "One." Always a great episode when Steve Buscemi directs.
- Vito's gay bar adventure: was that supposed to be in New York? I'm assuming the collectors he ran into were from the Sack/Leotardo family. So does he kill the two guys who saw him (like Big Pussy did in Season 2), get whacked by Phil, submit to blackmail, or kill himself? Has to be one of the four, right? But yes, I agree that "The Wire" handled a similar scene in a much better way.
For more, as always, check out Matt Zoller Seitz's "Sopranos Monday" post.
"The trailer for The Break-Up, the new Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston vehicle, includes a remarkable scene. The couple has split up but still lives in the same apartment, and the Aniston character is looking for ways to make the Vaughn character pay more attention to her. "Go see Mischka, my personal waxer at the spa," a friend tells her, and "ask her for the Telly Savalas." And the next thing you know Aniston is parading naked through the apartment, showing off her waxed . . . well, you know, to Vaughn's goggling eyes...- I was saying exactly the same thing about Aniston to my co-workers at lunch today, about 15 minutes before I read that. And the idea that women are more sexy when they look like 12-year-old girls is really one of the more ridiculous ideas to emerge in the past two decades.
As with breast implants, it's another instance of modern women taking their sexual cues from pornography, and from the male fantasy of what Tom Wolfe calls "a boy with breasts," but which might be more accurately described as a prepubescent girl with breasts. Jennifer Aniston isn't a bad icon for this shift: When she started out on Friends, she was fetchingly adorable, with curves and baby fat to spare. Fifteen years later, she's exercised, smoked and plastic surgerized herself into a weird, porn-like parody of a beautiful women - skinny, over-tanned, and all angles except for her still-pneumatic breasts. The waxing is just a small part of the pantomime, a final insult to the "natural" body she gave up on long ago.
I still want to see the movie, though.
"All great scandals occur twice, first as Tom Wolfe novels, then as real-life events that nightmarishly mimic them. And so after "I Am Charlotte Simmons," it was perhaps inevitable that Duke University would have to endure a mini-social explosion involving athletic thugs, resentful townies, nervous administrators, male predators, aggrieved professors, binge drinking and lust gone wild."-David Brooks, on the Duke lacrosse scandal. Brooks may have copied his entire style as a writer from Wolfe, but it doesn't mean he's wrong.
Waiting for a friend in an apartment lobby last Friday, I took a look at the newspapers sitting on the table, because unlike in Manhattan, it's not just 20 copies of the New York Times. In fact, there was a copy there of an English-language Iranian newspaper. It didn't appear to be any kind of official organ of the Iranian regime, although there was a story on the front page below the fold: "O'Reilly Calls For End to Iran."
Just a few things to ponder after last night's episode (SPOILER WARNING):
- If Logan wants to really get Jack, why doesn't he just tell the Chinese that he's still alive? It's getting a little absurd that it's supposed to be a secret that Jack's alive, yet they just told every law enforcement organ in Southern California to be on the lookout for him.
- Why are they setting up Logan as though he wasn't part of the plot to kill David Palmer? I'd have thought he had a perfect motive to kill Palmer- he knew that Logan wasn't up to taking over the presidency during last season, and called Palmer in to, essentially, act as president. Since Palmer was in position to blow the whistle on that, you could see he'd want Palmer gone.
- Was the Charles/Martha Logan kiss more, or less, creepy than the Al/Tipper Gore kiss at the 2000 Democratic convention? I guess it loses creepy points for not being in public, but gains them for the president being a traitor.
- Why didn't the bank manager recognize Wayne Palmer, the former president's brother, right away? I know that if Jeb Bush broke into my house, I'd know who he was instantly.
- There's martial law in Southern California, yet the Secretary of Defense can land his plane at the airport at will?
- Wasn't Sexual Harassment Girl brought into CTU prior to the DHS takeover? If so, why wasn't she fired along with the rest of the staff, especially since Creepy Sexual Harassment Man likely would've wanted her gone?
With Tom DeLay resigning from Congress, we're finally now getting a complete picture of what a sleaze he was, with numerous former aides of his implicated in the Abramoff scandal and various other misdeeds. Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard has an excellent roundup of where the case is now, and I eagerly await his upcoming book, "The K Street Gang." Meanwhile, a Washington Post piece over the weekend by a former DeLay aide had this wonderful anecdote (as pointed out by TNR's The Plank):
In the meantime, [Ed] Buckham had become DeLay's chief of staff.... His win-at-all-costs attitude played out in strange ways around the office. He ran a fantasy baseball league that he always seemed to win, even if it meant browbeating young staffers into trading their best players to him.
The Plank had previously made fun of DeLay for claiming that he only went on that golf trip with Jack Abramoff because he "rarely gets to play golf"- considering that his house in Texas is on a golf course.
In a slightly amusing Boston Globe piece on people in the Boston area who don't care about the Red Sox, one non-fan is quoted as saying,
"During this past year's playoffs, or whatever they're called, one of the games preempted 'Lost' on ABC and I was furious," said Donahue. ''I told my roommate, 'I don't care that they talk about the team all the time, but when they start to mess with network TV, that's another thing."That's interesting that Donahue had that reaction, considering that ABC doesn't televise the baseball playoffs, and hasn't since the early '90s. Nice try, though.
New York Times: "Yankees Rough Up Angels' Colon." And that's the Times, not the Post or Daily News.
Finally, what we've all been waiting for: a map of the country, based on who says "Soda" and who says "Pop." Minnesota, always and forever, remains a green state.
I want to propose that The Media Kvetch is wrong. Not a little wrong or occasionally wrong, but absolutely blind to reality -- and kind of crazy. And we should send it packing.Amen.
Contrary to popular belief, this era may be a kind of high-water mark in the evolution of media, precisely because of all the flux. Ignore the kvetch for a second and think about this: Thanks to technology's ferment, we have all these new media. Yet at the same time, the old outlets are still very much with us. Not a single pre-Internet medium has died yet, though predictions of their demise are issued every day. And not only do old and new coexist, but they are actually learning from each other. Big newspapers and television networks now sponsor blogs, while countless blogs are trying to acquire the reputations and readership those old-time outlets still enjoy.
Every assumed negative about today's media universe obscures an underlying positive. A few examples:
1. Newspapers are dying. Perhaps, but right now they are still breathing and, as James Surowiecki noted in The New Yorker last week, still very profitable. At the moment, we get to pick between a hard copy that costs practically nothing, and a screen version that is almost always free. Enjoy it while it lasts.
2. Television is getting dumber. Quantitatively, it's unquestionably true that there is more dumb TV than smart. But this is nothing new. Dancing With the Stars will always trump The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. But the fact is, there is more of both smart and dumb in today's buffet than there has ever been before. Dumb is a choice.
3. Gravitas is dead. This is the alleged Katie Couric problem -- not serious enough to be an anchor. Have you ever watched clips from the supposed glory days of the old TV anchors? They were not as compelling as some remember. A day may well arrive when no media company in its right mind will shell out tens of millions of dollars for a real journalist like Couric, who has creditably covered serious beats (e.g., the Pentagon) in her career. Couric is a hybrid creature, old-media grounding crossed with entertainment-age glam. We could do much, much worse. And someday, we probably will.
In one of the funnier media news stories of the year, it came out today that Jared Paul Stern, a longtime writer for the New York Post's Page Six gossip column, had attempted to extort a story subject of the amount of $220,000, in exchange for agreeing to "protect" the source from ever appearing in the column. Stern was caught in an FBI sting, and may be indicted.
Stern's gambit reminds me of that of Harry Karafin, an ace investigative reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer in the '60s who went to prison after he extorted money from several investigative subjects, in exchange for not writing about them. And even more strangely, Stern's victim may soon own Karafin's old paper. It's Ron Burkle, head of the conglomerate Yucaipa Cos. and a major Democratic fundraiser, who is bankrolling one of the bids to purchase the 12 newspapers orphaned by the Knight Ridder/McClatchy merger (which include the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and my own paper, the Trend Leader).
This also brings up all sorts of questions: Does Page Six do this sort of thing often? Why approach Burkle and not someone like Paris Hilton, who gets mentioned in Page Six every day anyway, and probably has more money than Burkle? And since this has become public, how will Page Six cover Burkle in the future? Will they mention this every time, and since that would be unbelievably awkward for the Post, won't he pretty much now get his immunity anyway?
The Boston Phoenix gives us the list of the world's 100 least sexy men. My favorite part is that Alan Colmes (#5) comes in three spots ahead of Osama Bin Laden (#8).
I got a press release in my work in-box today with the headline "Gov. Rendell Schedules Holocaust Civic Commemoration," although in the Outlook window it originally looked as though it read "Gov. Rendell Schedules Holocaust."
"South Park" wins, hands down. In a tour de force episode that aired the other night, "South Park" simultaneously went after the Muslim cartoon rioters, their "head in the sand" apologists, their own bosses (who neglected to re-air the anti-Catholic and anti-Scientology episodes) and rival show "Family Guy." The latter slam took aim at "Family Guy's annoying, repetitive "this is worse than the time when..." joke construction. I never got it and never appreciated it. "Family Guy" can be funny, but it's far, far, from the league of "South Park."
"Here we are, almost a decade [after 'The Full Monty,'] suffering through the dregs of the knockoffs, the worst of which might be On a Clear Day, a Scottish comedy-drama about an unemployed shipyard foreman with “Big Dreams” that’s so calculating yet inept that your mind wanders from the action onscreen and envisions winsome male strippers being fed into the gears of industrial machinery... midway through the picture, in a sequence where Danny falls off a boat during a practice outing for Frank’s English Channel run, I found myself wishing Danny’s buddies would accidentally run over him in their rescue attempt, sending his propeller-severed noggin spiraling into the briny deep and transforming the latest Full Monty spawn into a cover-up psychodrama modeled on the fishing trip section of Short Cuts.-Matt Zoller Seitz of New York Press, who apparently so disliked "On a Clear Day" that it caused him to have violent revenge fantasies. Then again, he must just be in a "Sopranos" state of mind.
The version of ESPN.com that I have bookmarked on my computer at work points to Sports.espn.go.com- which has forever remained frozen on the day before the site's recent redesign, so it still holds all of the headlines stories from January 16. At least the site's URL from 1996, ESPNET.sportszone.com, redirects to the Disney portal GO.com.
Between that, and the snow this morning, I had the unsettling feeling all day that I'd accidentally woken up in the middle of winter.
When I saw that the Onion AV Club had published a piece called "Seven Songs With Factual Or Logical Mistakes In The Lyrics," there was one in particular I was looking for, and yes, it was included:
Young MC, "Bust A Move"Why, indeed? Chuck Klosterman asked the same question in a Spin column last year True, you could say that it is in fact Harry's wedding and the fact that he has a brother named Larry is merely thrown in for rhyming purposes, though in that case why would Harry chose Young MC over his own brother as best man? And if it's enough of a fly-by-night wedding that the best man is chosen just five days beforehand, you'd think it would be more of an informal affair. So why does he "go to the church in his new tuxedo"?
Though Young MC is completely logical throughout most of this song––he's absolutely right, in most situations, you should bust a move––things get a little confusing in the last verse. He raps: "Your best friend Harry / has a brother Larry / in five days from now he's gonna marry / he's hopin' you can make it there if you can / 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man." Now, why would your best friend's brother choose you as best man over his own flesh and blood? Is Harry just going to be a run-of-the-mill usher at his brother's wedding while you're toasting and keeping track of the rings? Also, why would Larry inform you of his family-shaking decision a mere five days before the wedding?
When I saw the headline "Wrist Slap For the Wild Woman" in the New York Post, I just assumed it was about the Zsa Zsa Gabor of Congress, Cynthia McKinney. But alas, it turns out there's a woman pol in New York who's even crazier. It's Ada Smith, a state senator who allegedly threw hot coffee at a staffer. And that's not all:
Yet she's been an embarrassment for years. In 2004, a staffer filed a civil-rights complaint alleging that Smith had called him "a fat, gay bastard" and ridiculed him in front of co-workers. The State Division of Human Rights concluded the staffer was fired for poor performance but that she had confronted him "inappropriately." That same year, she was convicted of disobeying a state trooper at a security checkpoint. In 1998 she was subdued with Mace after allegedly biting a police officer. She's also been accused of using a meat cleaver to threaten an aide.Yet Smith, for some reason, remains a part of the Democratic leadership in Albany. Yikes.
Last month, as The Post's Fred Dicker reports today, she got booted off a United Express flight after an abusive confrontation with a flight attendant.
New York Press film critic Matt Zoller Seitz has a blog now, and he's been contributing an excellent weekly feature called "Sopranos Monday." Excellent stuff, way beyond "Who's gonna get whacked," and as Ross Douthat pointed out, it helps fill the void left by the Slate's late lamented "Mob Experts on the Sopranos" roundup from last year.
"[T]he liberal tradition, the Cold War liberal tradition suggests, in fact, America can have civil liberties, and anti-totalitarianism, too. It's the Joe McCarthy traditions, the Richard Nixon traditions which say we can't,"- Peter Beinart, as quoted by Andrew Sullivan. Just two more months until The Book.
The drag queens in Southeast DC are upset about the plans for the new Washington baseball stadium. So is the Wall Street Journal. And most strangely of all, it's the Journal who is complaining that the design is too ugly (the queens are upset that a long-standing club is closing). Perhaps the two sides should get together and compare notes, though I'm not holding my breath.
A friend of mine, who loves gay clubs but hates baseball, nonetheless welcomes the news, opining that "that place was a shithole."
First, charges were dismissed against Daunte Culpepper in connection with the Smootgate scandal. Since all Daunte was accused of was grabbing a stripper's ass during a lapdance- probably about the 653th-most debaucherous moment of that evening- this is a good outcome. Daunte can cross the charges off his worry-list, leaving only his waning on-field effectiveness, and his three torn knee ligaments.
And moving from past to possible future Vikings QBs, the Purple is allegedly interested in swinging a deal for Matt Schaub, the Falcons' backup quarterback. Strikes me as sensible- Schaub has looked impressive during Michael Vick's frequent absences, he knows the West Coast Offense, and it would be wise to come up with a solution for the future, in case Brad Johnson is too ineffective and/or too old to continue as starter. Because no sane NFL team should ever go into a season with Mike McMahon a heartbeat away from being starting quarterback.
Roger Clemens, showing again why everyone hates him:
"None of the dry cleaners were open, they were all at the [World Baseball Classic] game, Japan and Korea," Clemens said. "So we couldn't get any dry cleaning done out there, but I guess the neatest thing is that 50,000 of them were at Anaheim Stadium."Jerk. Come on, is it ever funny to make fun of Asians?
UPDATE: Interesting. The ESPN.com story originally referred in the headline to Clemens having made an "offensive comment," though the current version includes the quote, but makes no mention of the comments being controversial. Hmm.
Senior charged for assaulting 2 copsUgg boots are so over. The girls in New York stopped hitting cops with them years ago.
Waltham Police arrested a student who allegedly assaulted two officers in the early hours of March 25, after what police described as a violent and hysterical confrontation with Brandeis and Waltham officers.
[Name Redacted] '06, a 21-year-old psychology major from Longmeadow, Mass., was arraigned March 27 on four felony counts, including three counts of assault on police officers and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon.
The weapon was identified by police in their report as a pair of brown Ugg boots.
Baseball season got underway today; I celebrated two days early, attending Saturday's pre-season game against the Red Sox with Becca, LilB, and our friend Summer. The Phillies won, playing much better than they did in today's 13-5 loss, and it was a beautiful day at the ballpark despite early rain.
Three weird things about the game: the Sox and the Phils both wore red jerseys with red hats, making it all but impossible to tell which team was which. Confusing things even more was that both major leaguers named Alex Gonzalez played in the game, one for each team (though not at the same time). And thirdly, the Phillie Phanatic- as part of a team promotion- was painted red, instead of his usual green.
It just looks downright wrong the first time you see it, and I only support this course of action if it ends with the red Phanatic and green Phanatic fighting to the death, a la "Superman III." Even the Kryptonite colors match.
Cathy Young, making sense in the Boston Globe:
Once, conservatives used to deplore the left's cult of victimhood and ridicule the obsession with real or imagined slights toward women, minorities, and other historically oppressed groups. Now, the right is embracing a victimhood cult obsessed with slights toward a group that makes up 85 percent of the American population... DeLay, ousted as House majority leader after being indicted for money laundering and conspiracy, was touted as another victim of religious bigotry, targeted for being outspoken about his faith, and his legal and political woes were compared to a crucifixion. (Isn't that offensive to Christians?) One is reminded of race-obsessed zealots who see a racist conspiracy in every prosecution of a prominent African-American, from O.J. Simpson to a corrupt politician.
News Item: Tom DeLay to Abandon Quest For Re-election
Now the Democrats just have to do their part, and toss Cynthia McKinney overboard.
SPOILERS FOR ALL:
"Sopranos," Episode 4: I liked it, especially since they keep going back to the Tony-and-his-mother scenario, and that Tony sort of "samples" all different types of spirituality now that he knows he's alive. The best thing about the episode was the little touches: Tony sneaking a cigar outside the hospital; the "wallet biopsy"; Aaron's T-shirt from the Terri Schiavo vigil; the rapper's lawyer: "street cred is a problem, since you had a job for all those years"; and Paulie's mom taking the bus to A.C. (I've been on that bus, and it's always 40 women who look just like her). Next week: Johnny Sack gets out of jail for his daughter's wedding. As he was the best character on the show the past two seasons, it'll be nice to see him chewing scenery again.
"West Wing": I love the whole election thing, no question, and it's an absolutely sublime way to close out the series. But Josh sleeping with Donna? Don't know how I feel about that. Though that opening scene- with the whole Santos campaign pairing off into "campaign sex" pairs- was quite inspired. So we'll get the Leo funeral episode next week and then- let me guess- a rehash of the 2000 Florida recount, only set in California. Do we really need that? It was depressing enough in real life.
"24": So wow, Logan is Evil, and the whole idiot thing was an act. Sort of puts him in line with the general liberal critique of Bush ("he's really an evil genius, and is just pretending to be dumb"). I'm guessing in the end they'll depict Logan as a Fredo Corleone figure, a wimp so desperate to prove he's not a wimp that he's willing to betray his family/country.
But does this work with everything that's happened so far this season? Were he and Walt Cummings part of the same conspiracy and each didn't know about the other? That would explain why he was willing to kill the Russian president.
And why the big deal about Homeland Security absorbing CTU? If CTU existed, wouldn't it be part of DHS anyway?
Despite paying hardly any attention at all to pro wrestling for the past year or two, I still felt it would've been wrong to miss the annual Wrestemania, so I watched it on Sunday- and was pleasantly surprised. Sure, there was lots of crap, including two T&A-only matches, and one featuring a worm-eating character known as "The Bogeyman." But the major matches all delivered- especially Shawn Michaels jumping off a 20-foot ladder onto Vince McMahon; Mick Foley and Edge falling onto a burning table; a three-match that had masked Mexican star Rey Mysterio emerging with the World title; and the main event, in which ostensible good guy John Cena beat Triple-H despite having about 90% of the crowd booing him. Yes, they cheered villain Triple-H, even though he inexplicably came to the ring dressed like Conan the Barbarian, with throne and all.
Also saw the WWE Hall of Fame induction the night before. Bret Hart's long-awaited return was uneventful, and the true head-scratcher of the night was when inductee "Mean Gene" Okerlund ended his speech by expressing a wish to be "buried upside down so my critics can kiss my ass." Not only did he steal the line from Bob Knight, and not only did he say it wrong, but it didn't fit the rest of his feel-good speech, and since when did Mean Gene have "critics"?
For more, here's Rick Scaia's lengthy recap.
From Spin Magazine, Chuck Klosterman reviews an album that we'll probably never see.
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: A's
AL Wild Card: Twins
NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Phillies
ALCS: A's over White Sox
NLCS: Mets over Cardinals
World Series winner: A's
I have a weakness, I admit, for buying and reading tons of books (I think I read 60 last year). But that's nothing compared to Pennsylvania State Rep. Mark Cohen, who the Philadelphia Inquirer reports charged more than $28,000 over the course of two years for... books, money that was reimbursed from public funds. I suppose that's better than spending that state amount of taxpayer cash on drugs, hookers, or some sort of political graft, and Cohen does claim that he uses the books to make himself a better legislator. But to spend that much money on books and charge it to the taxpayers? That's excessive.