May 31, 2006

Rocket Returns

Yes, Roger Clemens has agreed to return to the Astros. Bummer, I was hoping he would come back to Boston, which would have been a fascinating scenario on about 17 different levels. But it's not over yet- how many weeks before rumors start of a deadline deal to the Yanks or Sox?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:49 PM | Comments (1)

What, Did Keith Millard Say No?

News Item: Minnesota SenateGubernatorial Candidate Lourey Picks Ex-Viking as Running Mate

It's Tim Baylor, who briefly played safety for the Vikes in the late '70s before becoming a prominent Twin Cities businessman. He's also one of the few Vikings of the last two decades with no charges of DWI, public drunkenness, Whizzinator possession, lewd conduct, or bigamy on his rap sheet. Another is Alan Page, who is a state Supreme Court justice.

And in other Vikings news, the Smootgate case is over after Smoot himself and another defendant agreed to plead guilty, robbing us of what will likely be the year's most entertaining trial.

And Rick Spielman has been hired to replace Fran Foley as VP of player personnel. Spielman is best known as the guy who was supposed to be the power behind the throne when Dan Marino was briefly GM of the Dolphins, but at least he's better than Foley and last year's lack of a GM.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:24 PM | Comments (6)

May 30, 2006

Book Review Roundup

I've read tons of books lately, including three over the long weekend, as I've been taking great advantage of the half-price new books by order at the Strand in New York. A quick roundup:

"The K Street Gang," by Matthew Continetti. A great book, probably the definitive account of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and how they contributed to the rotting of the soul of the current Republican Party in Congress, leading to their likely downfall. Every great story is here, and it's told in a page-turning and often humorous way. The twist: Continetti is himself a conservative Republican, and a staff writer at the Weekly Standard. It's a better book coming from him, and not anti-Bush lefty with an axe to grind. Continetti should take it as the ultimate compliment that Hugh Hewitt criticized the book for not showing sufficient fealty to the Republican cause. Grade: A.

"An Army of Davids," by Glenn Reynolds. An excellent look at where we stand today in terms of markets and technology, one that does not overstate the importance of blogs to the world, and does not seem to believe that right-wing politics is the most important logical use for blogs there is.. Reynolds uses his vast knowledge about various subjects, from the blogosphere to economics to nanotechnology, although at times it appears he's throwing things in just because he knows about them, regardless of whether they have to do with the subject at hand. Still, Reynolds is well able to translate from his usual single-paragraph blog posts to book-length form. Grade: B+

"The Schreiber Theory" by David Kipen. A very interesting yet very flawed look at American cinematic history, told from the viewpoint that it is screenwriters, not directors, who are the ultimate authors of films. It's certainly worth listening to, and of course it's true that writers' contributions to cinema have always been historically underrated by director-worshipping auteurists. But Kipen makes the same mistake as Andrew Sarris and the rest of the auteur movement: he fails to acknowledge that film is an inherently collaborative medium, and how much power and influence individual contributors have is vastly different from film to film. I should mention though, that Kipen's book is very entertaining and readable; it's the first book in several years that I've read in a single sitting. Grade: B-

"On Michael Jackson," by Margo Jefferson. This is a fascinating collection of essays, about Jacko, by Pulitzer Prize-winning NYT cultural critic Jefferson. In it, she looks at every aspect of the Jackson persona, from his family history to his musical career to his ever-changing racial and gender identities, to his recent trial and acquittal on molestation charges. The book doesn't answer every question about elusive former King of Pop, but sheds considerably more light on him than any other writer that I've read. Grade: A-.

"The Mind of Bill James," by Scott Gray. This biography of the legendary baseball statisician James is fascinating throughout, though it devotes much more time and energy to the subject's various ideosyncracies than to straight biography, which may have been more interesting. The narrative skips around chronologically, and James at one point riffs for four pages about, of all things, the Jan-Benet Ramsey case. It's a fine book, but a straight autobiography by James may have been more interesting. Grade: B

"The Areas of My Expertise," by John Hodgman. I didn't realize this until I started the book, but Hodgman is that guy who used to show up at McSweeneys readings in New York, and talk endlessly about how he's a "former literary agent." This, his first book, is a series of bizarre asides and weird lists, only a tiny bit of which I actually understood and appreciated. (The best part is unquestionably a list of 700 Hobo Names.) However, for most of the book I had the unfortunate feeling that the humor therein was operating on some wavelength half a world -or more- away from mine. Grade: C

"Republican Like Me," by Harmon Leon. A truly pointless and unfunny exercise in self-indulgent hackery, which isn't even what it promises on its own back cover. Leon gives the impression that he's going to be "infiltrating" Republican and conservative organizations throughout the 2004 campaign, and thus "exposing" what horrible monsters these people really are. But in vignette after vignette, all Leon does is act like an idiot, while the Republicans around him play the straight man. It's an apparent attempt to fuse "Daily Show" humor with the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, but the book utterly fails on both accounts. I'm just wondering how Leon got Howard Stern to blurb it. Grade: F.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Well, Calling Up a Hitman Is One Way To Get Under the Cap

News Item: Stephon Marbury Says He Wants to "Die a Knick"

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

False Milestone

On the occasion of Barry Bonds' fraudulent passing of Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, I give you this quote from Bill Simmons last week, which is such a perfect analogy that I can't believe I missed it myself:

"Bonds just isn't that compelling anymore -- it's a tainted milestone, he doesn't have any credibility, and watching him play baseball at this point is like watching Andre The Giant in the late-'80s, when he could barely move and wore those tights with the one strap over his shoulder. It's depressing."
At this point, I'd love to see Bonds re-enact Andre's late-'80s series of 30-second losses to the Ultimate Warrior, with Albert Pujols standing in for the Warrior.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:38 PM | Comments (1)

Ironhead Dead

Former NFL running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward passed way Friday from a brain tumor, at the age of 39. Not only was Heyward an exceptional running back for over a decade, but he starred in one of the greatest commercials ever, the "But Ironhead..." spots for Zest. He will be greatly missed.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:34 PM | Comments (3)

Exit Open Mike

It was announced on today's Kidd Chris Show on WYSP that the show's sidekick, Open Mike, will be leaving the program this week (on the link, Mike is the generally creepy gentlemen pictured on the far right). Open Mike, who got his name from his generally failed career as a comedian at open-mike nights and once lived for a spell in a storage unit in Florida, has not as of yet lined up a new gig. It shouldn't be a problem, since there's always quite a large job market out there for creepy 40-year-old men who are best known for having sex with trannies and blow-up dolls, and for once having "stopped a fan with his junk."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2006

The Ghost of Mora

Attention, Colts fans: If the Cincinnati Bengals overtake you next year in their climb towards the top of the AFC elite, you can blame... Jim Mora, the coach the team fired five years ago. That's according to this week's SI cover story, on Carson Palmer's injury rehab, in which the quarterback had this to say:

Stuck on crutches for eight weeks and deprived of his two favorite off-season activities, golf and pickup basketball, Palmer seethed. "I was so bored that I watched the whole [NFL] combine on TV," he says. "At one point [former Saints and Colts coach Jim] Mora was talking about my injury and said something like, 'He definitely won't be back for the first game, and when he comes back he won't be playing as well as he did before, and the team will suffer.'" Palmer felt like screaming back at the TV. "That pissed me off," he says. "Who is this guy? Isn't this the guy who said, 'Playoffs? Playoffs?' He doesn't know me, and he doesn't know how hard I'm going to work. I've used that as fuel -- I keep thinking of all the naysayers who don't believe I'll make it back. I'm going to prove them wrong."
Mora was a very good NFL coach, but apparently that press conference will haunt him until his dying day. Especially now that it's on YouTube.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Former Enron CEOs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were both convicted today on fraud charges in connection with their company's collapse. I hope they both rot in prison for a long, long time.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Eckstein Award Commitee Sends Its Get-Well Wishes

News Item: Beanie Sigel Shot in Philadelphia.

Here at we admit we have a soft spot for anyone who adopts an old-Jewish-man name, even if they are a 20-something black rapper.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:47 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

"But the fact is, this is a spectacle no more. Bonds doesn't talk much before or after games without prompting from his soon-to-be-canceled biopic, and nobody seems to begrudge him his silence. Bonds has lost the audience for no better reason than the fact that the audience doesn't like waiting. No audience does. Episodes of "The Sopranos" are evaluated based largely on the number of whackings rather than the precision of the character studies."
-Ray Ratto, in a San Francisco Chronicle column, combining perhaps my two biggest pet peeves of the moment.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2006

The Great Philly Newspaper Sale, Cont'd

Looks like I get to keep my job:

Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. will pay $515 million in cash - most of it borrowed from banks - to Knight Ridder's successor, the McClatchy Co., and assume $47 million in pension liabilities, to take over The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News,, and related publications and Web sites... [New publisher Brian] Tierney said the investors intended to continue publishing the Daily News, and would honor labor agreements and had no plans for job cuts.
My paper, the Trend Leader, is one of those "related publications."

Also, my managing editor asked Tierney about the status of our paper in a press conference yesterday and Tierney... had heard of it, and praised it! That's a good sign.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

Not So Perfect "Strangers"

I never really got "Strangers With Candy" when the show was on Comedy Central. I know, a lot of people I know thought the show was absolutely brilliant, but I never really understood what was so funny about it- it just seemed weird, and I got the feeling watching it that its humor was operating at a wavelength literally of another world than my own. But when I heard they were coming out with a movie version and there was a screening, I figured it couldn't hurt, so I went and saw the film yesterday. And... yikes.

Now once again, perhaps I just didn't get it. But I laughed maybe twice at the entire 90-minute movie, which didn't touch "funny" with an 80-foot pole. The main problem is with the main character, played by Amy Sedaris. A movie is always in trouble when the protagonist is more interested in being annoying than being funny, which is why I hated all the early Adam Sandler films while my friends loved them.

Like those Sandler roles, Sedaris gives a performance consisting entirely of weird noises, stupid facial expressions, and "funny" lines that make no sense. In this case, I absolutely loathed Jerri Blank and rooted for bad things to happen to her, a reaction I haven't had to a fictional character since Lisa Kudrow's awful HBO show was canceled.

And on top of that, the plot is nonsensical (something about a science fair) and talented actor upon talented actor is sent up to embarrass themselves. There will be no multimedia debate, alas, about whether or not Stephen Colbert is funny in this movie. Allyson Janney, Dan Hedaya, and numerous others show, do nothing, and then are shunted off-screen. I still have no idea what the hell Philip Seymour Hoffman was doing wasting his time with this movie.

The worst movie I've seen this year, easily, and probably of last year too (since that's when it was made.) There must be a reason why the film sat on the shelf for nearly two years. Once again, lots of people I greatly respect are huge fans of this character/show. Why that is, I'll never understand- I can think of about 40 shows that have aired on Comedy Central in the past decade that would make better movies than this one.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

The "24" Finale

(SPOILERS!) A well-done finale to a generally strong season, I believe the second-best after the fourth. It was satisfying to see Jack kill Vladimir Bierko- with a flying headscissors!- and shoot Henderson too. President Logan was such a brilliantly created character that I'll certainly miss him, although it'll be cool to have President Leland Palmer next year (will he go grey, overnight, during his presidency?)

As for the ending, I knew the Chinese would resurface eventually. With Jack running around in public all day, and the military and police sending out APBs about him throughout, he didn't seem to care too much about his secret staying safe. As for the Chinese telling him "you're too valuable" to kill, most have interpreted that as believing that they'll somehow use his superhero talents for their own purposes. But I think it means he'll be "valuable" in some sort of prisoner exchange, allowing him to return to America safely to set up Season 6.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

Lloyd Bentsen, RIP

Former Senator and Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen died today at the age of 85. He was an estimable public servant for decades, but Bentsen will likely always best be known for the moment in the 1988 vice presidential debate in which he confronted opponent Dan Quayle with the immortal line "I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.''

It's probably the most memorable line in the history of vice presidential debates, although it probably doesn't have much competition for such a title. The only other contender, I figure, would be James Stockdale's "who am I? Why am I here?" routine from 1992.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:35 PM | Comments (1)

Lotto Luck

As you may have noticed, I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention to the NBA lately, as after the last season the league just about lost me. However, I did watch last night's excellent Game 7 between San Antonio and Dallas, which was a classic, even if it was marred by way too many timeouts.

Then, tonight, I tuned in for the NBA Draft Lottery, which Toronto won. My Wolves did not move up but did end up with the sixth pick. This isn't a particularly strong or deep draft, so the pick isn't worth as much as it would be in most years, although it's also not particularly certain that this year the 6th pick will be much worse than the 1st.

Let's just hope the Wolves do better with this 6th pick than they did in 1990 with Felton Spencer. Or all those years when they had to forfeit their pick over the Joe Smith contract.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Life Imitates "Anchorman"

The funniest 14 seconds on YouTube this month. "He's gay! No, he's blind!"

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

"We have our disagreements, we Americans. We contend regularly and enthusiastically over many questions: over the size and purposes of our government; over the social responsibilities we accept in accord with the dictates of our conscience and our faithfulness to the God we pray to; over our role in the world and how to defend our interests and values in places where they are threatened. These are important questions; worth arguing about. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis, especially in times of crisis, we fight among ourselves for the things we believe in. It is not just our right, but our civic and moral obligation."
-Senator John McCain, making a fair-minded appeal to civility and respectful debate across partisan lines. It's unfortunate that the graduates at the New School weren't interested in such things, and instead chose to boo, heckle, and turn their backs on a true American hero.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:19 AM | Comments (9)

Too Jewish?

The Boston Globe ran a story over the weekend- one that was sent to me by multiple people- on the question of whether Brandeis University is "too Jewish." It's certainly a question that the university has wrestled with for much of its 58-year history, one that returned to the forefront last month when Matt Brown, a writer for my old student paper The Justice, wrote an article accusing the school of being "too Jewish."

My take? The level of Brandeis' Jewishness is in the eye of beholder. I can certainly understand how non-Jews could feel uncomfortable in an environment with a Jewish majority, at an historically Jewish institution, at which most people assume classmates are Jewish unless they know otherwise. Then again, there were certainly various levels and cliques of Jews at the school, from Orthodox, to Reform, to Israeli expats, to secular Zionists, to unaffiliated.

The truth is, everyone choosing to attend Brandeis knows when they arrive that the school has a Jewish majority. True, it sometimes bothered me that campus all but shut down on Friday nights, and yes, I often found the "Jewish supremacy" among some of my classmates troubling.

But that didn't bother me nearly as much in my college days as the culture of political correctness (or, for that matter, the culture of JAPpiness) that I was surrounded with at all times. The PC/"social justice" crowd, I thought, contributed a lot more to prevalent anti-fun vibe that was around campus my entire four years than any form of excessive Jewishness.

The "How Jewish should Brandeis be?" question is one that will likely always be with us, and it probably always will be. Let's let future generations decide the answer.

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

May 22, 2006

Us For Sale

Apparently a deal is near to sell Philadelphia's newspapers- including the Inquirer, Daily News, and my paper, the Trend Leader- to a local group called Philadelphia Media Holdings, which is led by PR executive Brian Tierney. I don't know much about the guy or the group, but I like that they're local, and I like that it appears that they actually care about journalistic stewardship, and aren't beholden to Wall Street. But like I said, we don't know much yet.

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

Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich, Cont'd

Apparently, according to the Michael Wilbon chat today, two of the least likable people in sports media- Stephen A. Smith and Phil Mushnick- are feuding. A reader asked Wilbon:

Would you rather discuss the state of sports in America at a bar with Phil Mushnick of the NY Post, or Stephen Smith of Philly? What do you think of Mushnick pointing out Smith's reckless reporting, and Smith's response to that criticism by calling Mushnick a racist?
First of all, calling Smith "of Philly" is a bit of a misnomer, considering he spends five days a week hosting both television and radio shows from New York, and I highly doubt he's set foot in the Inquirer newsroom in months.

At any rate, both reporters have narrow gimmicks: Smith yells, as loud as he can, about every topic regardless of whether he knows anything about it, while Mushnick, more simply, hates everyone and everything about modern-day sports. I suppose it was inevitable that the two would clash.

Mushnick, according to Deadspin, wrote that "Could it be that Smith’s urban street-hip brotha yak — which he seems able to turn on and off with the drop of a Kangol — is supposed to appeal/pander to young, urban, street-talkin’ sports fans?" Now there are clearly many, many things to go after with Smith, but please, leave his race out of it. I'm with Can't Stop the Bleeding on this:

That Stephen A. is very often, Full Of Shit For A Living, is not something I wish to dispute. But the Mushminded One would have you believe that that Smith’s spiel requires a Jive Translator ala “Airplane”. Which isn’t just an exaggeration, it’s a full-fledged slur.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

More Lunacy From Bud (and Sid)

Commissioner Bud Selig, as quoted by Sid Hartman in yesterday's column:

"I know Carl [Pohlad] has taken some hits and the Pohlad family, but there's no family that wanted to stay there more in their hometown than they did. And Jerry Bell, who literally gave his life here and all the Twins people."
Bell, the team president, literally gave his life? That's kind of going out on a limb, considering that, as of yesterday, Bell was still alive.

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

May 21, 2006

RIP, Vito Spatafore

"The Sopranos" (SPOILERS!) rebounded tonight with a strong episode which featured the whacking of Vito. Thankfully, this puts to rest internet rumors about a graphic rape scene between Vito and Finn, which I've been hearing about for weeks.

Other than that, my favorite part of the episode was Carmela telling Tony about her plans to visit France, cut to a scene on the History Channel of the Nazis marching into Paris. Classic.

What's strange is that there's just one more episode this season, and it doesn't seem as though the plot is building towards anything major, or that there are any cliffhangers coming up or anything like that. For all I know they could come up with a brilliant finale that blows everyone away, but all in all it's been an underwhelming season.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:00 PM | Comments (4)

At Long Last

After ten years, the new outdoor Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis is finally a reality, after the ballpark financing bill passed both houses of the Minnesota legislature this morning. I look forward to one day going to games, and taking my kids. And until then, I look forward to watching the construction from my dad's office, which is right above the site, as often as I can between now and 2010.

At the beginning of this decade, there were three things I was hoping to see in baseball that I hadn't seen before: a Red Sox championship, a team in Washington, DC., and a new outdoor stadium in Minneapolis. And now, somehow, all three are a reality.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

At The Movies

I've seen tons and tons of movies lately and haven't written about most of them, so I thought I'd do a roundup here.

"The Da Vinci Code": Very mediocre. I never read the book, but I do agree with the NYT's A.O. Scott, who wrote that it's one of the only movies that takes longer to watch than the book does to read. It's about 95% expository dialogue, with not nearly enough action for a two-and-half-hour movie that had no build-up or narrative momentum whatsoever. And I wasn't so much "offended" by the Catholic-bashing as I was befuddled- I think the theology in Kevin Smith's "Dogma" made more sense.

"Mission: Impossible III:" Not bad for an action film, yet still no better than the average episode of "24"- Jack Bauer's show, after all, is like a James Bond/Ethan Hunt film every week. And the plot was sort of senseless too, with the only "plot twist" clearly visible from a mile away. Strangely, they get one of the world's best actors (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to play the villain, and he's barely in the movie.

"Art School Confidential:" This film had some great touches, making fun of the various pretentious/phony types common to art schools and college in general. Good performances, good characters- but then the story totally goes off the rails in the last half hour with a ludicrous serial-killer subplot. Cynicism is great, but in this film it just goes over the top, and makes it clearly inferior to "Ghost World," the most recent Terry Zwigoff/Daniel Clowes collaboration.

"Keeping Up With the Steins:" A cute Bar Mitzvah comedy with lots of great Jewish jokes, sometimes brilliantly satirizing the ridiculous materialism among wealthy Jews' Bar Mitzvah extravaganza. A great cast too- even if Jeremy Piven essentially plays Ari once again- but it's unfortunate that the movie turns into just another father/son conflict drama about halfway through.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:10 PM | Comments (1)

"24": Liberal or Conservative, in TNR

Chris Orr had a cover story in last week's New Republic on the politics of "24," which mostly stuck to what I wrote in my landmark blog post of last year.

Orr disputes the common notion that "24" is a conservative show, by rightly pointing out that the show is mostly apolitical, and that while it is conservative in some ways (it's hard-nosed in confronting terrorism, willing to torture, etc.), but liberal in others (heroic Democratic president, oil- and big-business industry baddies, etc.) Orr's conclusion is so close to mine that it makes me wonder if he read my piece while researching his.

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

May 20, 2006

Quote of the Day

"You only have eight responsibilities during a baseball game: Take your hat off for the National Anthem; don't take your shirt off; don't bring your baseball glove if you're over 13; don't wear a jersey with your own name on it; don't run onto the field; don't reach into the field of play to grab a pop-up or ground ball if it could adversely affect your team; don't boo one of your own players unless it's absolutely warranted; and don't throw up. That's it. Everything else is up to you."
-Bill Simmons, in another standout mailbag.

The other highlight is when he makes fun of a reader for sharing that and his college buddies one played the "which NBA player would you have sex with at gunpoint" game. Then he goes into his buddy Bish having gone to a school with girls so ugly, "guys actually got drunk BEFORE they went out so they could have the beer goggles going before they even started talking to anyone."

What, they don't do that everywhere?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:25 AM | Comments (3)

A Farewell to Gays

Yes, I enjoyed the "Will & Grace" finale. It may have completely stolen the flashing-forward-through-the-future thing from "Six Feet Under," but it was a sweet and funny departure. "W&G," like few sitcoms before it, went from unmissable to unwatchable within just a couple of years, and I admit I barely watched it the last couple of years. I'm not about to declare the show a social justice triumph on part with the Civil Rights Act, but when it was at its best, it was as good as sitcoms have gotten post-"Seinfeld."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

I Saw The Sign

This website allows anyone to make their own Anti-Barry Bonds sign. Here's mine.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:05 AM | Comments (1)

May 18, 2006

Stadium Arcadium

The proposed Vikings' stadium in Blaine is dead for the year, after negotiators for the team, the legislature, and Anoka County couldn't come together on whether there would be a roof, and if so, who would pay for it. This is probably a good thing- waiting another year, and putting last year's scandals in the past, and not having to compete with the Twins and Gophers is probably the best outcome for everyone.

However, better news is in the same story:

"To listen to [State Sen. Steve] Kelley, it sounded as if a Twins' stadium was nearly a done deal. "We are going to build a Twins ballpark in Minneapolis," he said."
Finally! Woo hoo!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

Gay Vito, Observed

The New York Observer this week ran a story on Joseph P. Gannascoli, the actor who plays closeted mobster Vito on "The Sopranos," telling the story of what it's like for him going through life as the "Gay Soprano." Which would be quite interesting, if I hadn't already heard all the same stories 25 times already.

I don't think there's a bigger media whore among actors than Gannascoli. There's not a single radio show, AM or FM, that I listen to that hasn't had him on as a guest at least twice, and interviews with him in newspapers are ubiquitous too. It's hard to blame Gannascoli, since he's clearly striking while the iron is hot, knowing he's not likely to have much of a successful post-"Sopranos" career. But that doesn't change that he's really not all that funny, interesting, or compelling.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

The Redundant Podcast of Redundancy

It's been around for a few weeks but I think I've been numb from the shock until now: the Star Tribune has given Sid Hartman a podcast. Known as the "SidCast," the weekly broadcast will supplement Sid's thrice-weekly column, plus his weekly television and radio shows.

Yes, that's right: they gave him a podcast, when he already has his own radio show. I thought the point of a podcast was that you're acting as though you have a radio show even though no network or station will give you one. Now perhaps the podcast is a way to get the yung-ins interested in Sid's work, or perhaps to get the older audience into a modern, "with-it" medium like podcasting. Either way Sid, at 86, most certainly must be the world's oldest podcaster.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

Brown Back?

As if the Philadelphia 76ers organization didn't have enough dysfunction already, the Philadelphia Daily News, on their back page, calls for them to bring back Larry Brown, either as coach or player-personnel poo-ba, assuming his buyout from the Knicks goes through.

I'm sorry, bad idea. Anthony Gargano had the best line this morning, saying that he was more horrified by that back page than he was by the front page: which told the story of a guy who nearly got his testicles clawed off by his wife.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

Right Wing Wet Dream of the Week

News Item: Paris Suburb Names Street for Mumia Abu-Jamal

I'm surprised Bill O'Reilly's head hasn't exploded yet. It's the biggest made-for-Fox-News story since the time that prison inmate requested a taxpayer-subsidized sex-change operation.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:22 PM | Comments (1)

May 16, 2006

Impeach the King

Howard Eskin reportedly made a bit of a boo-boo on yesterday's show, according to Will Bunch of the Philly Daily News. Eskin was doing one of his "political shows," when this happened:

When it comes to facts about American politics, Eskin has less information than your cab driver who just arrived here from Uzbekistan three weeks ago. Tonight, we switched over just as a caller was comparing what's going on the Bush administration to George Orwell's "1984," but Eskin wasn't sure he'd go that far.

"That book came out, what, about 15 years ago?," Eskin asked.

The caller seemed stunned -- pausing for a moment before noting that in fact Orwell published it in the late 1940s. (To be exact, 1949 -- here's Wikipedia's article on the book.)

We would have been speechless -- especially because "about 15 years" ago would have been 1991, or seven years after the real 1984. It's very hard to write a futuristic novel about a time that was two-thirds of a decade earlier. If Orwell had written "1984" 15 years ago, he would have had to put in chapters about the Cubs' collapse in the NL playoffs and a whole riff on Walter Mondale. Probably wouldn't have been as good a book.

Then there's the whole problem of Orwell dying in 1950, but we won't even go there.

See, considering events of the last three weeks (and yesterday) aren't you glad Eskin didn't become GM of the Phillies?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2006

"Sopranos" Thoughts

I must admit, I'm underwhelmed. Maybe it's the two-year wait, and maybe it's the fact that anything would pale in comparison to the utter brilliance of season five. And I'm sure I'll watch all these episodes again in 2 or 3 years and be transfixed. But right now, something's missing.

Perhaps everything will tie together in the last two episodes. But the last few weeks have left me cold, and a lot of it has to do with the Vito storyline. No, I don't mind the gay stuff, but rather the fact that so many episodes seem to revolve around him, when he's not that interesting a character, and the guy playing him can't act to save his life. The same problem plagued Season 3, when the entire series seemed to revolve around Jackie, Jr. And strangely enough, Vito's the one who shot Jackie.

I also thought for a minute that Vito's fire heroism would be featured on the news, leading someone back home to see it and alert them of Vito's whereabouts. But then I realized there's no way David Chase would so brazenly steal the entire plot of "A History of Violence."

Other thoughts:

- I see what they're doing: things are ending very badly for everyone. Paulie's got cancer. Bobby got shot. Johnny's in jail for years, as is Junior (taking the two best characters on the show out of commission). And Christopher's back on drugs- and he also bought a dream house. Doesn't everyone on the show who buys a dream house die not too long after? (Richie Aprile, Eugene, etc.)

- How does Bobby expect to be a captain, when he can't even subdue a gang of 12-year-olds? And I love how when Tony was shot he got a round-the-clock vigil for weeks, while when Bobby gets shot Tony sits in his own living room watching TV, with a bowl brilliantly balanced on his stomach.

- Funny how Tony has invoked the suffering of the Katrina victims on more than one occasion- like his "heck of a job, Brownie" retort to Paulie- but here he is trying to embezzle money from New Orleans. It was bad enough when he was just ripping off construction sites. Speaking of which, it must've sucked for Vito to have to go to a construction site and actually work, instead of just sitting around. Though either way, he at least got laid beforehand.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:46 PM | Comments (2)

Are You Ready, Baseball?

News Item: Twins Putting Top Prospect Liriano in Rotation

At least it didn't take them three years to pull the trigger, like with Johan Santana.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:37 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

"Charlie Manuel will never be known as baseball’s supreme tactician, but at 21-15, his team is playing confident, winning baseball...

Few believe Manuel is anything more than a lame duck, as the loudest voices are still drumming for his head. With new GM Pat Gillick in charge, considered the polar opposite of the jolly, charming Manuel, most are waiting for Manuel to work himself out of a job and for Gillick to hand-select his replacement. The only problem: the Phillies are getting better, not worse. Frankly, they look like a playoff team.

Philadelphia’s small-town bias continues to be a total joke for a city that prides itself on progressive thinking. Isn't it about time to finally realize that a guy with a career record of 328-280 (.540) is not the disgraceful goon everyone thinks he is? No. He wasn't part of the 1980 championship team. Yes. He's from North Fork, W.Va. Yes. He listens to George Thorogood and the Destroyers. Yes. It's time to get over it."

- Blogger J. Weitzel, of Beerleaguer, pointing out the astonishing disrespect shown to Charlie Manuel, before and during their current hot streak. True, Charlie makes the occasional boneheaded move. But last year he led the Phils to more wins than any manager in over a decade, and now he's skippering the hottest team in baseball. Phillies fans' opinion of Manuel, after all, has always had a lot more to do with the way he looks and talks than his actual aptitude as a manager.

It never ends, really. Sunday night I was listening to WIP and a caller decided to berate Manuel for, on Friday night, pinch-hitting for rookie starter Cole Hamels in the top of the sixth with a 2-0 lead and the bases loaded (Hamels, a top pitching prospect, had a one-hit shutout going through 5 innings).

The pinch hitter failed to knock any runs in and two homers off reliever Ryan Madsen tied the score in the next inning and took the victory away from Hamels. The Phils, however, came back to win the game. And they won Saturday's game, and Sunday's. Yet this caller was still irate enough on Sunday night to berate Manuel on the air, despite his having managed three victories in the intervening three days. But it's not like Philly fans are overly negative, or anything like that.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Farewell, "West Wing"

"The West Wing" signed off last night with a respectable, fairly well-done episode that wrapped up just about every loose end and marked at orderly transition to new president Matthew Santos. Ending the show with Leo's "Bartlet For America" napkin was, I believe, the best sign-off I could imagine*.

Much as I sometimes derided the show during its early post-Sorkin years for falling from its previous heights, I'm going to miss "West Wing" a lot, as its given me enjoyment over the years like few network dramas ever have. That said, I do believe it went off the air at exactly the right time.

*Although all future series finales will likely be measured against that of "Six Feet Under." The last six minutes of which, Karol pointed out last night, is now available on YouTube, should you decide you'd like to burst into tears in the middle of your workday.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)

Two NBA Stories That Bill Simmons Could Likely Make Fun Of For 25,000 Words

1. Knicks May Fire Larry Brown, Hire Isiah Thomas as Coach


2. Elgin Baylor Named Executive of the Year

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

Gore on "SNL"

Yes, the bit was funny. (In case you missed it, the show began with Al Gore, as himself, sitting in the Oval Office, speaking as though he had been president for the last six years and none of the Bush-era calamities had actually taken place). But it seems a clearly calculated ploy by SNL to match the Colbert speech- do some pitched, anti-Bush satire that'll get the internet and lefty bloggers talking, and thus get e-mailed around the world via YouTube for several days, ala Colbert and "Lazy Sunday." It wasn't bad, though I sort of miss the days when SNL was at the forefront of this sort of thing and not playing catch-up.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:43 PM | Comments (3)

May 13, 2006

Yes, the Phillies (and Twins) Are Good

I've been saying since I arrived in Philly last August (and really, for several months before that) that the Phillies are in fact a skillful, exciting baseball team that deserves the support of the city's fans. However, most people in town have chosen to either boo the team into oblivion or simply ignore them for most of that time. But that's finally starting to change, due to new GM Pat Gillick, a recent 9-game winning streak, the recent call-up of stud pitching prospect Cole Hamels, and Aaron Rowand's amazing center field catch the other night in which he ran into the wall and broke his nose. The Phils are now 2 games out of first in the NL East, behind the Mets.

The Phils finally have some pitching, with Hamels coming up, rookie Gavin Floyd off to a decent start, and Tom Gordon nearly unhittable in the bullpen. But some of the fans, of course, still aren't happy. All I've heard on talk radio lately is how much outfielders Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell "don't play the game right," "don't hustle," and "need to learn something from Rowand." Guess what, guys- hustle isn't everything. Burrell drove in 117 runs last year- same as Albert Pujols- and Abreu got over 100 RBIs too, while leading the team in OPS. Rowand may "hustle" more in the field, but Abreu and Burrell are both significantly better players.

Meanwhile, how about those Twins? They shut down the defending champion White Sox 10-1 last night in another Johan Santana gem, putting them just three games under .500. And even better, the conference committee put together to consider a new ballpark next week seems to favor the Twins plan. Oh well, the Vikings can wait 'til next year, when Smootgate will be another year in the past.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:11 PM | Comments (1)

Don't Sell To Onex

A company called Onex- not to be confused with the famed rap group Onyx- is said to be bidding on Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., the consortium that owns both Philly dailies as well as my paper, the Trend Leader. And if a report in the Inquirer yesterday is accurate, it better not be them:

Teamsters officials say Onex has sought Teamsters assurance that drivers, pressmen and mailers, in exchange for preserving their own jobs, would not oppose attempts to eliminate hundreds of newsroom jobs. The two papers employ about 525 journalists, almost one-fifth of their total workforce.
It's not just that I want to keep my job. The dailies (especially the Daily News) are skeletal enough as it is. It'll be nice to know that the drivers will still get paid well enough to deliver a paper that barely exists.

(The Teamsters, to their credit, rejected the deal outright).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

Paris and Brenda

Like most of the sports world, my respect for Matt Leinart plunged immediately when I head that he was dating Paris Hilton. In fact, maybe that's the reason he fell so many spots in the draft. But it wasn't until today that I realized that Leinart will be backing up Kurt Warner with the Cardinals- hubby of the NFL's current most loathsome spouse, Brenda Warner. Will Paris and Brenda sit next to each other in the wives section? Or will Paris leave Matt before the season for some other quarterback and/or Greek shipping heir?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:55 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

"On the global political menu of ice cream flavors, if we called George W. Bush vanilla and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad New York Super Fudge Chunk (with extra nuts), our elections give Americans a choice between vanilla and French vanilla. Elections matter and ideas have consequences. But the American political system has already worked out the biggest questions--democracy, free market capitalism, individual rights, suffrage, etc. Even in the most polarized of times, the differences between the parties aren't so stark as to warrant a manning of the barricades. That's a very good thing."
-Dean Barnett, in the Weekly Standard, arguing that (contrary to the theory put forward in a new book) the red/blue state divide will not in fact lead to a U.S. civil war.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

A Self-Titled Mystery

From what I've heard of it so far, the new Pearl Jam album is a winner, their re-emergence into the musical mainstream after a full decade in which they retreated into an elective downsizing of their fame. But their re-appearance brings up an interesting question- why do bands release self-titled albums in the middle of their careers?

Pearl Jam has now done it, Blink-182 and Liz Phair did it a few years ago, and Seal did it twice (confusing lots of record-store clerks with two albums in a row with the same title). It's not strange at all for a band to self-title their debut- though I always found it a bit uncreative- but now we've got people doing it after they're already established. Why, even my friend Dan Israel named his most recent album -his 7th- after himself.

Speaking of Dan, he's recorded a song based on the super-popular upcoming film "Snakes on a Plane." You can hear it here, on his MySpace page.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

It's Always a Big Deal When Someone Mentioned in "We Didn't Start the Fire" Dies

News Item: Floyd Patterson dead at 71.

71 is old for a boxer to live. I assumed Patterson had died years ago.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

The So-Called "Philly Horse"

People in Philadelphia are excited because for the third straight year, there is a horse with Philly ties making a run at the Triple Crown. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby last weekend, following in the footsteps of Afleet Alex last year and Smarty Jones the year before.

Except, is Barbaro really a "Philly horse"? Not really, according to an item in the Philadelphia Inquirer. While the horse's owners and trainer live in Chester County, Barbaro himself was born in Kentucky and spent most of his life in Florida. The horse has never set foot- er, hoof- in Philadelphia. Then again, neither did 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, who was also controlled by Philly-based owners, wasn't really from Philly either, although '04 Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones was legitimately from Philly.

That's right- Philly is so desperate for a title that the fans are even willing to grab hold of a competitor- a horse- who isn't even really from Philly.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:37 PM | Comments (3)

May 10, 2006

To The Conference

All three new Minnesota stadiums- for the Twins, Vikings, and Gophers football- have passed the state Senate, setting up a showdown in a conference committee. Honestly, I'd be happy with just the Twins, but if they want to build the other two, I'm all for that as well.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

Mayor Booker

In a wonderful development, Newark has elected Cory Booker as its new mayor, replacing the loathsome race-baiting hack Sharpe James. Booker really has a chance to restore this once-great city to its former glory, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him rise even further in politics as the years go on.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

"W is at 31 percent; JFK is at 26 percent. Don't even think about it, Mr Senator. One more thought. Can you imagine how battered a president Kerry would have been by now? He'd be stuck with Bush's Iraq mess; he'd be constantly told he's Neville Chamberlain on Iran for doing exactly what Bush has been doing; he'd be ruthlessly attacked by the Hannity right over Teresa, immigration, gays, and any other cultural issue they could exploit. And the GOP would have escaped the responsibility for their fiscal insanity, while Kerry took lumps for raising taxes. As a matter of principle, I do not regret endorsing Kerry. My decision was based on the manifest incompetence and unconservatism of Bush. But in the sweep of history, it is fitting that Bush, for the first time in his entire life, actually face the consequences of his own recklessness."
-Andrew Sullivan, echoing my thoughts exactly.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:31 AM | Comments (1)

May 08, 2006

Turning Four

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the start of this blog. That's right, I've been blogging for longer than I was in college. Thanks so much to everyone who's been reading and interacting for all that time.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:39 PM | Comments (7)

Barry, Barry Hostile

Last night I went to the Phillies-Giants game at Citizen's Bank Park and it was about what you'd expect- three hours of non-stop Barry Bonds abuse. Fans carried foam syringes, carried anti-Bonds signs, and booed him every time he came to the plate or out to his position in left field (where we were sitting). They even booed through Bonds' 713th career homer -leaving him one shy of Babe Ruth- although it didn't put a damper on the Phils' 9-5 win, their eighth victory in a row.

But the few poor SOBs who came to the stadium in Bonds jerseys got it even worse, though; after all, no one tried to do actual physical violence to the real Barry. One 300-pound guy, wearing a Bonds Pirates jersey, taunted Phils fans from the concourse until a fan attempted to shove aside a 70-year-old secuity guard to get at him. Other highlights were the "Bonds did it with beer and hot dogs" banner, and two drunken idiots in front of us, who had this two-man heckle:

Guy #1: Now we know why Bonds plays in San Francisco!
(Seven-second pause)
Guy #2: 'Cause he's gay!!!!!
I think Barry's ex-mistress- the one who ratted him out to the BALCO grand jury and to the "Game of Shadows" authors- may dispute that.

I think the best of the night, though, was when we were walking back to the car, and an obviously drunk fan in an SUV stopped at a nearby red light and started screaming, "YEA! WE WON EIGHT STRAIGHT GAMES WITH THE WORST MANAGER IN BASEBALL! WOO HOO!!!!" And the traffic cop next to us laughingly made fun of the guy for being drunk, as opposed to arresting him.

Anyway, the events of the weekend, in which the Phils swept the Giants but Barry got all the attention, have led to lots of righteous indignation in Philly, since all of the national news stories have made fun of how the notoriously hostile fans in the City of Brotherly Love were certain to be especially tough on Bonds. And they were. The Mean Philly Fans thing is a sterotype, but it's a stereotype because it's true.

An ingenious WIP caller on Saturday made my point for me. First he complained about how Philly fans are unfairly stereotyped as hostile, negative hooligans. Then, on his next point, he complained that Mike Schmidt (a first-ballot Hall of Famer) was never all that good, and never helped the Phillies win a game with any of his home runs. Then he concluded by talking about how much he loves taking his kids to the circus at Wachovia Center.

"What," I wanted to ask him, "do you go to the circus and boo the elephants?"

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:38 PM | Comments (4)

Quote of the Day

"Most ridiculous is the claim that Colbert is the last true journalist, the one who did the others' job for them. The job Colbert had that night was the venerable, safe one of court jester, who gets paid to say things that would get others beheaded. How on Earth can anyone claim Bush has been exempt from journalistic criticism? The man's approval rating is 32 percent. How do you think millions of Americans went from supportive to critical? Reading Noam Chomsky?"
- Chris Satullo, making sense as always, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2006

Tony Soprano and Richard Codey

A posting from (I can't find the link; it was e-mailed to me) sheds some light on last week's "Sopranos" episode:

For those who are wondering how a State Assemblyman from Newark can get a police department in Morris County to drop attempted murder charges, the geography is easy. Ronald Zellman, the corrupt fictional legislator from the North Ward, could have had a legislative district that extended from Newark to South Orange, West Orange, Livingston and into East Hanover, where Tony Soprano picked up his son. The district could easily go from West Orange through Verona into North Caldwell -- Tony Soprano's hometown. This map, of course, would mean that Senate President Richard Codey is Zellman's running mate. Perhaps Jon Corzine was relieved that some fictional Governor of New Jersey didn't bail A.J. Soprano out of jail.
I had always wondered how Zellman, a white Jew, had been elected an Assemblyman in Newark. Helps to have mob ties, I suppose.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2006

Bonds at the Bank

I'll be at Citizen's Bank Park Sunday night, sitting in left field, to possibly see Barry Bonds tie or pass Babe Ruth's 714 home runs. Should Bonds choose to try something new and hit the ball to left instead of to right, I might have a chance of catching the ball and if I do, I assure you, I won't throw it back.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

The Yankees Are Numbered

Paul Katcher has a great list of what your numbered Yankees jersey says about you. My personal favorites:

#1 Billy Martin: You remember exactly where you were when Aaron Boone dusted off the 2003 Red Sux — in the men's room, pissing out your 12th beer.

#9 Roger Maris: You long for the day when Mark McGwire cries on 60 Minutes.

#15 Thurman Munson: There's a 99.999% chance you have a mustache. You're around 45 and haven't worn a suit since your best friend got married in 1989.

#19 Aaron Boone: Wow, you really hate the Red Sux. This one was clearly bought between 12:16 a.m. on October 16, 2003, and when he blew out his knee in the offseason. A great one to wear at Fenway, obviously.

#45 Carl Pavano: You're Carl Pavano's mother.

#69 Your Own Name: You're a complete assclown.

Though I'd actually say that last one applies to every Yankee fan. Hee hee hee.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:23 PM | Comments (2)

May 04, 2006

A Bunch of Great Guys

I had a great time last night covering the Great Guy Dinner, an annual fundraiser put on by Philadelphia's chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer, which raised nearly $90,000 for cancer research. I got to meet several of the local college basketball coaches, including Phil Martelli of St. Joe's (who ribbed me about getting something wrong in a previous story I wrote), and Fran Dunphy of Penn. Also got to chat with Anthony Gargano of WIP for a bit. But perhaps the highlight of the event was the comedy routine by radio personality Joe Conklin, who did a 20-minute set where he did impressions of seemingly every major Philly sports figure of the past 20 years. If Harry Kalas ever retires, I'm sure Conklin could sit in as him and no one would notice the difference.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

Throw It Back?

The Giants (and Barry Bonds) make their only visit of the year to Citizen's Bank Park and the Phillies this weekend, with the added drama that Bonds is just two home runs away from tying Babe Ruth for second all time with 714.

Now we know Philly fans aren't going to exactly give Bonds an easy time, with likely booing and steroid chants and even a Howard Eskin-led campaign for everyone in the stadium to get up and walk out when Bonds comes to the plate. But that brings up a question: what if Bonds ties or passes Ruth's mark? Normally, when an opposing player hits a home run in Philly, the fan catching it either chooses to throw it back or is ashamed into doing so. If a fan catches #715, should he still toss the ball back, even though it could be worth thousands of dollars?

Can't tell you what I would do. But I certainly would boo. And ask Bonds, repeatedly, "did I fuckin' stutter?"

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:12 PM | Comments (2)

The Politics of Rey-Rey

Interesting piece on the New Republic's website yesterday about Mexican-American pro wrestler Rey Mysterio, Jr., and how his rise is an interesting counterpart to the current debate about immigration.

Yes, Mysterio is a great immigrant success story, reaching the top of his profession in just a few short years. But author Elspeth Reeve left out one key detail: when Mysterio first came to the U.S. as a wrestler for WCW, he wore a mask, as is customary in wrestling south of the border. At one point in WCW he stopped wearing the mask (because WCW management thought he was good-looking and had star appeal). But when Mysterio came to the WWF/WWE, he started wearing the mask again. Perhaps an example of success despite counter-assimilation? Though at least Rey continues to speak English.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:07 PM | Comments (2)

It's Lerner

After four shameful years, Major League Baseball's embarrassing stewardship of the Montreal/Washington franchise is finally over, after Ted Lerner's group was named owners of the Washington Nationals yesterday. And even better, ground was broken on the new stadium in Southeast DC. I'd just love to see a new owner and stadium groundbreaking for the Twins too, hopefully in the next year.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2006

The Colbert Speech

This seems to suddenly be the #1 topic of debate in the Blogosphere. I finally watched it, and... there are three assertions people make about Stephen Colbert's Correspondents Dinner speech: that it wasn't funny, that it was "bravely speaking truth to power," and that it was disrespectful of the president. And I don't really agree with any of the three.

It wasn't the greatest or funniest speech I've ever heard, but it had quite a few funny lines, which is usually enough. But nothing groundbreaking, and nothing I haven't heard a thousand times before. Which really makes this whole "no one's ever stood up to Bush before!" idea so laughable. What was Colbert supposed to be afraid of? That he'll be sent to Gitmo? And if you're so sensitive to criticism of Bush that what Colbert said was an "outrage," then I'm sorry, you need to get a life. And realize that much worse things have been said about the president.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

Foley is Not Good

The Minnesota Vikings apparently are on the verge of firing director of player personnel Fran Foley, who held the position for only about three months and just supervised his first NFL draft only three days ago.

Foley did have an alleged resume-falsification problem, the same thing that felled Reggie Fowler's bid to buy the team last year. But apparently the team also had a problem with Foley's performance running the draft, during which the Vikes reached, big time, for two of the three players they took. In Foley's defense, though, unlike the previous regime he at least made the picks on time.

This decision seems to fit with owner Zygi Wilf's general, post-Smootgate zero-tolerance policy towards any malfeasance whatsoever. But when was the last time a GM was fired, before the season, for screwing up one draft? Matt Millen still hasn't been fired from Detroit, and he's screwed up like five drafts.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

When They Said "He'll Learn From Kobe," This Isn't What They Meant

News Item: Kwame Brown Under Investigation For Sexual Assault

If true, this presumably marks the first time in sports history that a player has raped a woman during a playoff series. Though I suppose focus on basketball has never been Brown's forte.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2006

Two Passings

I neglected to mention over the weekend while I was in Minnesota the passing of Harvey Ratner, a prominent businessman in the Twin Cities for many decades and one of the men who brought the NBA back to Minnesota as the original co-owner of the Timberwolves. Ratner, who along with Marv Wolfenson formed the partnership known universally as "Harv and Marv," made his money from real estate and also owned the Northwest chain of health clubs, which I grew up going to.

Ratner also was an old friend of my grandfather's, and the former director of my old summer camp -a man I've known since I was 5 years old- is married to Ratner's daughter.

And when I got back to Philly I read the incredibly sad news that Jennifer Dawson, the wife of New York Press film critic and blogger Matt Zoller Seitz, had passed away last Thursday. I didn't know her, but from what I've read from Matt's commenters she sounds like a wonderful woman, who will be greatly missed. Here's her obit in the Star Ledger.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

Say It Ain't So, Bucco!

News Item: Actor Who Plays Artie on 'Sopranos' Arrested For Drugs, DWI

My favorite part is that the New York Post runs with this on the front page, but instead of a picture of the actor, they run one of Jessica Alba. Because she's just that much nicer to look at that Artie's bald head.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:50 PM | Comments (1)

Truth Is Stranger Than Brandeis

Here we go: which of these is a real headline from the The Justice (Brandeis' student newspaper), and which one did I make up? (answer after the jump):

- "Why a Brandeis Prof. is tricking flies into being bisexual"

- "Alum resigns campaign manager post in Wikipedia debacle"

- "Prince not worthy of addressing grads"*

- "Brandeis a testament to those murdered by Nazis"

- "Every person at Brandeis is a feminist"

- Letter: "Brandeis' classes are 'too Jewish,' not the University"

- Letter: "Womens' Month Unfair to Women"

- Letter: '"'Jewish article' unintelligent and extremely flawed"

- Letter: "Cartoonist is 'heroic' in his mockery of Old Navy"

Answer: It's the womens' month one. But I'll bet you had to look.

*- The "prince not worthy" headline is in reference to Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, who admittedly is an extremely suspect choice to speak at Brandeis commencement. It is not a reference to Prince himself, who I would say is very worthy.

Among the other honorary degree recipients? You guessed it, Tony Kushner. I assumed they must have honored him years ago.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:47 PM | Comments (4)

Hijacking "24"

Man, I remember after 9/11 when it was considered inappropriate to even show people on an airplane because it might remind people of the attacks. Only the passage of time- and "24"- have changed things. Who could have imagined an episode of an action series where not only is there an airplane hijacking, but the person doing the hijacking is the hero and has the sympathies of the audience? They even included a passenger attempting a Flight 93-style charge, only unsuccessfully.

This was a major, major risk for the producers of the show to take, but I think they pulled it off (though not quite as well as "United 93" did). And at least the episode had some comic relief, with Chloe repeatedly tazering the would-be bar lothario. That's why she rules.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

A Marxist of the Frost Variety

In a New York Times op-ed suggesting the Democrats use "Had Enough?" as an all-purpose anti-Republican slogan in November, former congressman Tim Roemer throws in this paragraph:

In January, President Bush's adviser Karl Rove outlined the issues he believes will lead Republican candidates to victory in November: national security, the economy and taxes, and the courts. Democrats cannot allow Republicans to define the terms of the debate. Instead, they should take a page from history and from a different Karl.
He's talking about Karl Frost, a 1940s strategist who helped the Republicans win Congress in 1946. But when I first read that I assumed the "other Karl" was Karl Marx. Because way too many Democrats for my liking, alas, think relying on that Karl is the path back to power.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

All Bets Are Off

Congratulations are in order for the "Help Me Win This Bet" guy. He beat his goal of 2 million hits, as of this writing, about 15 times over. Does that mean he gets 15 threesomes?

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

May 01, 2006

Back From "Minny"

Becca and I just returned from an excellent weekend back in Minnesota, marred only by airline trouble, literally nonstop rain for the entire three days, and the Twins being outscored 33-1 in a three-game series against Detroit. At least they're finally getting a stadium. I hope.

We went to the wedding of my old friend Charlie "GC" Peterson and his new bride Jen, which was an excellent time, and were also able to see most of my other friends and family. We'll be back Labor Day weekend for another wedding, and hopefully better weather and more than one run by the Twins.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Brokeback Sopranos

After watching last night's "Sopranos" episode- on HBO On Demand at 1 AM since I got home from the airport at midnight- I can already predict the outraged reaction from a certain segment of the show's fanbase: "We don't watch Sopranos to see men kissing each other- we watch it to see people get whacked! I'm canceling my HBO!"

Vito's flirtation with the Morgan Spurlock-lookalike dinerkeeper was awkward, but ultimately it worked, although I'm quite glad that after he took his shirt off, Vito didn't follow suit. And it's a funny juxtaposition with what Tony told Dr. Melfi a few weeks ago: "You can't turn on the TV these days without seeing that!" Indeed, there's been a lot this year of David Chase answering his show's critics through plotlines and one-liners.

The other major thread of the episode involved AJ, and while he's been a kiss of death for many an episode, this one was especially poignant, as he makes a clumsy attempt on Uncle Junior's life (there's no way Tony's son would be let into such a facility, but nonetheless...) The conversation in the parking lot between AJ and Tony may have been the season's best scene, getting back to Tony's speech to Jackie Jr. (early in Season 3) that he doesn't want the mob life for his son, just as Jackie's father didn't for Jackie. And juxtapose Tony's counseling AJ not to kill Junior with the first episode of Season 4, when Tony gave Christopher the name of the man who killed his father.

A few other notes:

- Not sure where the Julianna Marguiles plotline is going, but it's good to see her on TV again. It was smart of "Sopranos" to wade into the gentrification wars too, especially with Patsy Parisi lamenting that Starbucksification makes it harder to shake down local businesses. Usually the reduction in crime is one of the upsides of a "neighborhood changing," but not for the mob, I suppose. And it makes me wonder if Starbucks and corporations like it really do have specific anti-protection racket policies.

- The scene where Julianna visits Tony at the Bing was groundbreaking, in that it featured the first attractive Bada Bing stripper in the show's entire six-season run. Usually, they're downright homely.

- Lots of weird film technique in this episode, especially those weird dissolves from the street outside the pork store to the street of Vito in New Hampshire, and of Tony with Melfi to Melfi with her therapist. Alan Sepinwall noticed this too:

"Even the individual scenes were closely linked to each other through editing. We cut from Tony and Carm in bed in Caldwell to Vito in bed in Dartford; from Vito walking down the main street of Dartford to an identical shot of two women walking past Satriale's; from Melfi giving advice to Tony to an identical shot of Melfi seeing Dr. Kupferberg.

There is one big picture here, and if we can't see it all yet, we will."

- Also, have I mentioned that I'm glad we have the pork store once again as a location? It was all but absent in the past few seasons.

Just four more episodes; back with more next week.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:16 PM | Comments (1)

The Draft

I only watched a bit of the NFL draft this weekend, as we were running around the Twin Cities for most of the weekend. I enjoy the draft, but I wish there were a bit less time between picks, and that recent poll- which found that 60% of fans are more excited this month about the draft than the NBA or NHL playoffs or the baseball season- is just mind-boggling to me.

The Vikings seemed to have a good draft, as I hear good things about Chad Greenway, and they were able to get a quarterback at the end of the second round. As for the Eagles, they were able to get two very good linemen, but I still expect their fanbase to go apeshit because they weren't able to trade for Javon Walker. Then again, you can never tell anything by draft day until they, you know, play the games.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

This Decision Makes Me Really Not Want to Watch a Show I Don't Watch Anyway

Rosie O'Donnell to Join "The View."

I didn't think they could possibly find a panelist more grating than Star Jones, but somehow they managed.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:51 PM | Comments (1)

A Bleg

My dad was telling me that when he tries to open Google on his computer at home, it automatically redirects to the French version. And no matter how many times he switches it, it keeps coming back to French next time he opens it. Any idea why that happened/how to fix it? Is it a spyware thing?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:34 PM | Comments (1)

Dougie's Going Deep, Again

News Item: Red Sox reacquire catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Should gladden the hearts of anyone who is a fan of the Red Sox, or of this.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)