June 30, 2006

Weinkauf Award Nominee

"Why does Jack brag about not listening to listeners? For the same reason that Andrew Card once proudly said that the president thinks of the United States as a nation of 10-year-olds and himself as the father. Jack sells radio the same way Bush sells politics. Jack is the Decider."
-Greg Milner, in Slate, comparing the president to the "Jack-FM" radio format. It is, actually, a rather funny piece.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Bit of a Reach...

A few of them, actually. The fifth-rate right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel, who would be Ann Coulter if Coulter didn't know how to rile up audiences enough to become famous, went on Michael Smerconish's radio show this morning to share all of the reasons why conservatives should not go see "Superman Returns."

I saw the movie, I liked it, and thought it was about 100% apolitical. I myself generally don't like it when movies get all political, and I found nothing objectionable in the film. Schlussel, however, is a bit different from me.

In the interview (based on this review she wrote), Schlussel listed the following objections to the "Superman" film:

- Perry White refers to "truth, justice, and... all that stuff," as opposed to "...and the American way."

- Lois Lane is a single mother, who is not only not married to the father of her child, but was sleeping with more than one man at the time of his conception! So in saying that a movie is inappropriate for kids, Schlussel referred to Lois as "a slut," more than once, on morning drivetime radio.

- In an even bigger howler, Schlussel also argued that it's bad to depict Lois Lane as a single mother, because "I'm sure no single mother has ever won the Pulitzer Prize." Then she criticized Lois for "going off to interview all of these people [as a journalist]" instead of caring for her child.

- Probably most ridiculously of all, Schlussel complained that Superman is fighting Lex Luthor, instead of al-Qaeda. Yes, she really did say that.

I'm sure after that, she made some reference to Bryan Singer (and possibly Superman himself) being gay, but I mercifully pulled up to Starbucks right then.

Once again, Schlussel is a wannabe Ann Coulter/Michelle Malkin, just throwing every "outrageous," "conservative" opinion out there to see what sticks, can cause controversy, and bring her fame. And since most of you have probably never heard of her, you can see how well she's done at it.

Smerconish, incidentally, appeared as panelist on "Hardball" yesterday, and was wearing a "Texas tuxedo"- a very nice jacket, shirt and tie, with jeans. I'm not sure, but my guess is that Michael took the train down to DC for the appearance without bringing a change of clothes, thinking he'd be sitting behind a desk, but then discovered upon arriving that he was in a chair instead.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:52 AM | Comments (4)

Labrum, Labia, Whatever...

And you thought things couldn't get worse for Kerry Wood...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:08 AM | Comments (1)

More Great T-Wolves News

Well, the goodwill from the drafting of Randy Foye lasted exactly one day, after today's news that Minnesota Timberwolves center Eddie Griffin was busted for drunken driving after getting into an accident, but cops let him off. The man Griffin hit with his car is suing, and there's even videotape. But no, that's not even the most embarrassing part, according to the Star Tribune:

The suit alleges that Griffin was watching a pornographic DVD in his SUV and masturbating when he crashed about 2:30 a.m. on March 30.
This is especially embarrassing, considering that the team had a player, Malik Sealy, actually get killed by a drunk driver just a few years ago.

So he was drunk AND masturbating AND watching porn AND he offered to buy the victim a new car ("but not a Bentley") if he kept quiet. Shouldn't he be playing for the Vikings instead?

UPDATE: WCCO has the surveillance video. Also, there's an interview with the Minneapolis police chief, who vows that any wrongdoing in this case will be dealt with. The chief's name? Dolan. There's something about that last name that just turns anything it touches, NBA-related, to shit.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 07:04 AM | Comments (1)

Banana Slugs in Mourning

News Item: Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz Dies in Apparent Suicide

Posted by Stephen Silver at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2006

NBA Draft Notes

All in all, a fun draft, with lots of trades, and plenty of movement. A few comments:

- Either the ESPN bosses are very much aware of Sports Guy, or they were otherwise informed of the draft's reputation for silly cliches, because there was considerably less of the usual words we hear over and over again from the men at the table("upside," "long," "wingspan," "motor," "bigplayability," etc.) than in any other year. Most have been an edict from on high. As opposed to last year, when literally every one of the first 15 picks was described as "long" by Jay Bilas.

- I had enough trouble telling Brandon Roy and Randy Foye apart, even before they were traded for each other. I even had a Simmons-esque moment, trying to explain the situation to my dad on the phone, and having him not understand me. I was happy to see the Wolves get Roy, and was hoping they'd keep him, but then Foye's not so bad either. We'll just have to see.

- It was Portland's "president/interim general manager" who made all six of their trades last night. If they knew they were going to be so active in the market, why didn't they, uh, hire a general manager before the draft?

- I still can't believe Kevin Pittsnoggle went undrafted. That's probably only because West Virginia doesn't have an NBA team.

- Anyway, here's the annual Bill Simmons draft diary, his tenth. Enjoy.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:02 AM | Comments (2)

Eckstein Award Nominee

To the Florida Marlins organization, who in late May decided to celebrate Jewish Heritage Day by giving out free t-shirts with the name and jersey number of first baseman Mike Jacobs. Jacobs, however, isn't Jewish.

The gaffe might have been more embarrassing for the team if anyone actually went to any of their games.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2006

Onion Story of the Year

"Alan Colmes' Death Goes Unreported On Hannity & Colmes." Like you'd be surprised if that happened...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

Paradise, Lucky 7

ESPN: Santana throws 7 shutout innings, Twins win 7th straight.

Joe Mauer is now batting .392, and .484 in the month of June. Not a .484 on-base-percentage- that's his batting average.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:45 PM | Comments (2)

Dear Leader

Been wondering what the paper I edit, the Trend Leader, looks like? Our website is still not up, but in the meantime you can visit this blog, which posted a JPEG of a recent cover story I wrote about a local chorus group's visit to China. I even managed to work an old Vulcan proverb into the lede.

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

The Other Superman Returns

Matt Zoller Seitz is back writing at New York Press, following the sad passing of his wife. He's one of the best voices on film out there, and it's great to see him back.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

Is the Daily Planet Biased?

The USA Today gets to the heart of the matter. Because as we all know, whether or not Superman has a liberal bias is MUCH more important than whether or not he saves the world.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

The Movies I've Seen Most

Slate asks a bunch of celebrities what movies they've seen the most times. Three stand out for me: "The Wizard of Oz," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," and "Pulp Fiction." Only slightly behind are "Clerks," "Star Wars," and "It's a Wonderful Life."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

One More Question On The Brett Myers Story

Why is everyone in Philly so much more angry at Dave Montgomery than they are at Brett Myers? Montgomery and the other owners may have blown the situation, sure, but Dave's not the one who beat his wife.

Yes, I know people are livid at Montgomery for all the mismanagement over the years. But if I had to choose either him or Carl Pohlad to own my team, I'm picking Monty, about a hundred times out of a hundred.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

"Superman Returns"

I saw it tonight, and yes, it's very good. A little too long and slowly paced, and Lex Luthor's evil plan made little sense, but aside from that Bryan Singer did a great job. Great action, some dynamite moments, and the look of the film was splendid too. Not quite as good as "Spider-man 2"- the superhero gold standard of the last 25 years- but definitely in the next tier.

I kept hearing for months that Singer had put all sorts of gay imagery and thematics into the film, but I saw none of that. Apparently, the studio made him replace all of it with Christ imagery.

Just a couple of questions: Why did Superman "go back to Krypton" at the beginning to search for survivors? Wasn't he worried about, uh, Kryptonite? And after all these years, why is Jimmy Olsen still just a cub reporter?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

Exit Myers

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers, who was arrested last Thursday and charged with assaulting his wife on the streets of Boston, has announced a leave of absence from the team that will last through the All-Star Break. Probably a good idea, though it should have been announced last Friday, as opposed to today.

The Phils unquestionably flubbed the ball in not disciplining Myers immediately or coming out forcefully enough against domestic violence. But the past few days of fan hysteria have made two things very clear: That Myers almost certainly cannot continue to pitch in Philadelphia for much longer, and that by this point, a lot of the fans are just using the Myers thing as a club with which to beat up on an organization that they despised even before this happened.

But finally, I'm with Jayson Stark on this: "The Phillies don't always deserve the treatment they get in Philadelphia. But not this time. Whatever the price they wind up paying for Brett-gate, they've earned it all."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2006

Get Well, Old Hickory

The legendary baseball analyst Peter Gammons suffered a brain aneurysm this morning and underwent several hours of surgery tonight. Details are scarce, but we do know that Gammons is in intensive care and will be for several days.

I'm watching "SportsCenter" right now, and not only did the Gammons story not lead the telecast, but it wasn't mentioned until 10 minutes into it. But the producers did find the time to show the Bill Buckner clip, and also have a five-minute discussion of Roger Clemens' mechanics. Disgraceful. It's not like he's their colleague, or a legend, or anything like that.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

This Upsets Me Much More Than the NYT Bank Records Flap

This New York Times op-ed is one of the more dishonest things I've seen written from the left side in quite some time. In it, Clark Kent Ervin (is he Superman?) argues that the recent arrest of eight terror suspects in Miami should caution us to not stereotype "Arabs as terrorists." Because none of the eight men were Arabs.

But all eight of them were radical Islamists. And that's why Ervin's argument is dishonest. Almost no one has ever argued that there is something about being Arab that makes people become terrorists. Many, many, people have argued, however, that there is something about being a radical Islamist that makes people terrorists. The lesson of this case, therefore, is that we must be watchful and confrontational towards radical Islam. Not, as Ervin writes, that "it's not always Arabs."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:48 PM | Comments (5)

Quote of the Day

From Gawker:

Jesus lives and saves us all: Star Jones is reportedly announcing her departure from The View, preferring instead to continue her rapid shrinking in the privacy of her own home. If we’re lucky, her on-air farewell will be the exact opposite of Katie Couric’s: hilarious and laced with blood.
Star is a medical marvel: no matter how much weight she loses, her head stays the same size.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

The AL Central is a Cruel, Cruel Beast

After tonight's win over the Dodgers, the Twins have won five straight and 15 of their last 17- and in that time, have picked up only a half a game on first-place Detroit, and a game and a half on wild-card leader Chicago. Those Twins- they can't win even when they win. Then again, I guess it's payoff for all those years that the rest of the division sucked.

And now, just in the last three days two different national columnists (Stark, Rosenthal) and one local one (Souhan) have weighed in with just about the same column on what they'll do with Torii Hunter. I say, trade him at the deadline. It'll be painful, yes, but you don't give a long-term deal to a 30-year-old with declining offensive numbers, just so he can play in the new ballpark. Try to get a good young pitcher and third baseman in return.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:40 AM | Comments (2)

Even More Embarrassing Than His Last Drug Arrest

News Item: Rush Limbaugh Detained At Airport With Non-Prescribed Bottle of Viagra.

Rush had better hope this doesn't violate his recent plea agreement. He'll almost certainly go on the air tomorrow to call it an "outrageous" invasion of his privacy and blame the Democrats for it, while we all know he'd be chortling about it for weeks if the same thing happened to a Kennedy.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:20 AM | Comments (2)

June 26, 2006

Fire! Cosby! (Clap Clap ClapClapClap)

News Item: MSNBC To Drop Some Talk Shows, In Favor of Live Reports.

In other words, see you later, Rita Cosby, Tucker Carlson, and Joe Scarborough. None of you will be missed in the slightest.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

A Managerial Meltdown

A minor-league baseball manager named Joe Mikulik had a meltdown for the ages the other night, one that truly has to be seen to be believed (video is included in the link).

Like any great artist, Mikulik incorporated "homages" to many of the greats before him: Like Lloyd McClendon, he picked up a base and carried it away. Like Lou Piniella, he later threw the base into the outfield. Like Billy Martin, he kicked dirt on the umpire. And like David Ortiz that one time, he returned to the dugout and threw multiple bats onto the field. Just a tour de force all around.

As coaching meltdowns go, this one is up there with the Jim Mora "diddly poo" rant, Hal McRae throwing the phone at a reporter, and Lee Elia's "playground of the fucking cocksuckers" speech.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

A Liberal vs. Michael Moore

I really, really can't wait to read this book. Right now I'm reading Peter Beinart's similar "The Good Fight" and while it's every bit as good as I expected, it's taking me quite a long time to read. More on here when I finish it.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

Missing the Real Story

Some left-wing blogs are upset because the Bush Administration has nominated Warren Bell, a longtime TV producer and contributor to the conservative magazine National Review, to the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm sort of with them, but not because of Bell's politics: it's because he is a writer and co-producer of "According to Jim," one of the worst television shows ever foisted upon the American public. Come on, we don't need people like that in government. Next time there's a Democratic president, they'd better give a similar post to someone like Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

Well, He's Already Got the Jersey...

Report: Sixers Talk to Celtics About Iverson

A trade to the Celtics would allow A.I. to practice- I'm talking 'bout practice- in Waltham.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2006

In Beantown

Just returned from a weekend in Boston with the fiancee, visiting friends of mine, relatives of hers, and making my first visit to Fenway in almost a decade. A few notes on the weekend:

- We got the news on the way up that Phils pitcher Brett Myers had been arrested Thursday night for hitting his wife, Kim, on a public street corner in Boston. However, Myers went ahead and made his scheduled start for the Phils on Saturday, and the organization's only comment was to say that they deferred to the courts on the matter.

Now I defend the Phillies a lot. But they really flubbed the ball on this one. I'm not saying they should have released Myers outright, but he should have at least been suspended, and the organization undoubtedly should have condemned his actions in the strongest way possible. No, he hasn't been convicted, but there were numerous witnesses to the altercation, leaving little doubt as to what happened. Might this ruin Myers in Philly, the way Warren Moon's similar arrest ruined him in Minnesota? That remains to be seen.

And finally, the biggest surprise was that when a player in the Sox-Phils series was arrested after a late night incident on Boylston Street, it was someone other than David Wells.

- In nightlife news, we hit the Waltham strip for dinner on Friday, and while Moody Street has been fixed up quite a bit over the years, it's still got its old Cracktham charms, such as Jim Leyritz's favorite costume shop.

Becca, both of whose sisters went to BU, seemed to have at least one drinking story about every single bar or liquor store in Allston and Brighton. Sunset Grille, though, was an excellent choice for dinner.

- I left the ballpark Saturday more convinced than ever that Fenway is the undisputed, #1, very best place on Earth to watch a baseball game. And it's only gotten better, as since my last visit they've spruced the place up a bit, and added new, non-trough-style urinals to the mens' rooms.

Most of all, the attitude has changed. I attribute that, I suppose, to the fact that they won a championship, and have been continuously good for six or seven years. That old hostility- the one I see in Philly just about every day- is all gone. The numerous fans in Philly gear weren't hasseled in the slightest, and I didn't even hear a single "Yankees Suck" chant. The only player in the park who was booed was... Brett Myers, who very much deserved it. He was jeered lustily every time he approached or left the mound.

As for the game itself, the Sox won a 5-3 thriller in ten innings, in a game that took nearly five hours. I called the ending about an hour in advance- David Ortiz hit a two-run walk-off homer off of Tom Gordon to win it. That Jonathan Papelbon is something- two-plus innings of shutout ball for the win.

- And speaking of baseball, the Twins swept the Cubs over the weekend and have now won 14 of their last 16. Don'cha know. Anyone else remember '87, when they won 15 straight to start June?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:46 PM | Comments (2)

Donna Martin Commiserates

News Item: TV legend, 90210 creator Aaron Spelling dies.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

Finally, Someone Said It

Frank Fitzpatrick, in the Inquirer, in a column that got him ripped to shreds on talk radio Friday:

We want so badly for [a championship] to happen that we pour all our passions into our teams, often without reason.

When they fail, we get frustrated. We get disappointed.

But where Philly fans differ from others, however, is that we can go from disappointment to bloodthirsty rage in 4.3 seconds. It's like one of those Incredible Hulk transformations: One minute, we are rational people; an instant later, we're a race of mean-spirited idiots...

Somehow we've decided that hitting .300 with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases is not enough. We'd rather focus on the flaws. Had Willie Mays been a Phillie, rest assured that someone here would have vilified him as a showboating hot dog because he made basket catches.

All-star credentials mean nothing. We'd rather have a guy who hits .265 but runs into walls... Maybe the fact that we think we know what makes a champion explains why the Phillies have been called that only once in 124 seasons.

You can almost smell the pungent vitriol in the air every time Bobby Abreu misplays a fly ball, or David Bell strikes out, or Arthur Rhodes walks another batter. Then we wonder why these 2006 Phillies are 18-23 at home.

Justifiable criticism becomes mean-spirited character assassination. We don't logically discuss strengths and shortcomings on talk radio. We'd rather vilify. We boo and curse at the ballpark..

Yes, exactly. Exactly. Can it be a coincidence that the town with the longest championship drought also has the most mean-spirited fans?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:23 PM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2006

Rocket Down

News Item: Twins Defeat Astros in Clemens' Return.

Yes, the Twins have won their eighth game out of their last nine, behind another standout performance from Francisco Liriano, a man half Clemens' age. But hey, Clemens is more important, so I suppose it made sense that they talked about him and only him for the entire first 15 minutes of "SportsCenter."

I'm happy the Twins were on national TV for the second time in as many weeks, but I really wish they wouldn't keep subjecting us to Joe Morgan. Why was he calling Clemens by his first name the whole game?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:55 AM | Comments (0)

All That Glitters Isn't Gold

The NFL has decided to banish the playing of Gary Glitter's glam-rock anthem "Rock 'n' Roll, Part II," also known as the "duh duh duh, HEY!, duh duh duh duh" song. The decision came after Glitter was once again convicted, in a Vietnamese court, of child-molestation charges.

It's a double-standard against has-beens, I tell ya: no such ban has ever been put into effect for songs by Michael Jackson, or R. Kelly.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:51 AM | Comments (3)

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes (and this may be a column subject soon), I sense fans want the manager to do what they can't do -- punish the players for not being good enough or coming up big in certain situations... It's all about players, especially pitching. My main point isn't that Manuel deserves a lifetime gig, but that the focus MUST be on the players where it belongs.
- Phil Sheridan, once again making sense in his Philadelphia Inquirer Q&A forum. The latest rumor is that the Phillies will fire Charlie Manuel and replace him with... Dallas Green, currently a special assistant to the team. That would sort of blow a hole in the idea that Manuel is "old and out of touch," considering that the 72-year-old Green is ten years older than the current manager. But he did manage the Phils to their only World Series win, just 26 years ago.

Nothing brings out the talk-radio idiots like a Phillies cold streak. I heard two all-timers this week, both on Howard Eskin's show: A caller Wednesday recommended, in all serious, that the Phils fire Manuel and hire... a buddy of his, who currently manages in a rec league in South Jersey. "But, he's really good!" Then, Thursday, one of the day's 50 or so Bobby Abreu bashers suggested that the Phils try to package Abreu and David Bell to the Yankees for... A-Rod. I thought Eskin's head would explode when he heard that one.

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

June 22, 2006

No, Not The Masturbating Bear

Ever wanted to see Conan O'Brien fighting a bear? Look no further (Via LilB).

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

The Wrathful, Vengeful New York Post

Say this about the Post: they don't take criticism lying down. A day after the explosive revelation that the soon-to-be-ex-wife of Giants defensive end Michael Strahan had accused the star of living an "alternative lifestyle" with a male friend, the Post reported on negative comments Strahan made about their paper- and doesn't exactly make him look flattering either.

Yesterday, Strahan went on Wendy Williams' radio show and denied the allegation. But the Post leads not with that but rather with Strahan's vow to "never get married again." The story later specifies that Strahan had said " I don't think I would marry another woman again."

But that's not all. The story not only makes Strahan sound like a deadbeat dad- revealing that he rarely has contact with his two kids by his first wife, and could not recall the birthdays of his kids with his second wife. Then it sort of subtly hints at the gay question once again at the end. The Post:

After his radio show call, Strahan, wearing a long-sleeved white T-shirt and shorts, jogged from his Greenwich Village apartment to the nearby apartment of Smith's twin brother, Dana, a fashion executive, and the two continued on to the Crunch gym on Christopher Street.
That's right: the paper wants to make sure we know that the allegedly gay player went to the gym, with a fashion executive, on the gayest street in town. But they're not implying that he's gay, or anything like that.

Also in the story, Strahan said of the Post, "the New York Post always seems to know things that myself or only Jean would know . . . Only The Post would say that I didn't know the kids' birthday, the Daily News wouldn't." The Post story then revealed that Strahan had in fact admitted in open court to not knowing the birthday.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

There We Go, That's More Accurate

News Item: Guillen Apologizes For Calling Mariotti a Fag, Calls Him a "Piece of Shit" Instead

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

I'm So, So, Sorry, Knicks Fans

News Item: Knicks Fire Larry Brown, Name Isiah Thomas Coach.

You thought last year was an embarrassing, soul-crunching disaster? That was nothing. "Hey, so what if Thomas has been the worst GM in the history of the league? Let's give him a promotion!"

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:55 AM | Comments (2)

Is Sid Gay?

Headline for today's Sid Hartman column in the Star Tribune: "Morneau Hard-Working, Healthy and Hot." That sounds like the headline Maxim would use for a story about Jessica Alba.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:31 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2006

Fat Is Where It's At

While I'm getting ready to start a Gleeman-length diet to get in shape for my wedding, I was still gladdened by this New York Observer cover story on how flabby guys are what's in this summer, citing Vince Vaughn and Jack Black as examples, as well as men on the streets themselves, who are delightfully chubby along with their size-zero girlfriends.

I see how it is... I'm a big guy my whole life, then I get engaged, and a week later big guys suddenly become the it thing. Where was this trend when I was in college?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:16 PM | Comments (2)

Why Call Him Gay, When There Are So Many Other Things To Loathe About the Man?

News Item: White Sox manager Guillen calls columnist Jay Mariotti homosexual slur.

Considering that, last year, Guillen reportedly greeted an old friend by calling him both "a homosexual" and "a child molester," I don't believe he meant any harm to Jay. Which is too bad, because Mariotti really sucks.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:02 PM | Comments (2)

Vote For Volkoff

From Gib over at CrosBlog, I am made aware that Nikolai Volkoff, one half of the famed 1980s WWF tag team The Bolsheviks, is running for a seat in the Baltimore County House of Delegates, as a Republican. Volkoff, as Gib points out, is best known for teaming with Boris Zhukov as the Bolsheviks and then, when the three Baltic republics broke off from the USSR, suddenly becoming "Lithuanian," turning on his partner, and becoming a good guy.

Volkoff is not actually Lithuanian, or Russian, but rather was born in Yugoslavia. Check out his campaign website, which looks like a hacked LiveJournal page. I wish him luck, though the people of Baltimore County might be wise to consider how well it went when Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Movie/Wrestling Critic Quote of the Week

"A gritty, edgy, lo-fi product becomes an underground sensation in the early 1990's. Then, thanks to video distribution, the product suddenly has enough fans in enough different places to be labeled a "cult hit." In an attempt to parlay that status into even more success, the product makes a few increasingly-concerted attempts to break through into the mainstream. However, those attempts necessitate that the product be softened around the edges a bit, causing it to lose some of the charm that made it a hit in the first place. Stabs at full-fledged mainstream acceptance never quite live up to expectations, and right after the turn of the century, the franchise hung up its boots, presumably forever. At least: until somebody got the bright idea to do a big-budget revival of the one-time cult hit here in the Year of Our Lord 2006.

Am I talking about ECW or Kevin Smith movies? Doesn't matter, since all of a sudden, I'm going to think myself massively clever for realizing how freakishly identical their stories are."

-Rick Scaia, drawing almost a perfect parallel. Though I must say, I already saw "Clerks II," and it was much, much more impressive to me than what I've seen so far out of the "new" ECW.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

Good, Someone Else Said It

"Why it's okay to hate it: Forget about one of the best two or three movies ever made: This film isn't even one of the top three King adaptations: It falls a few stops short of the high standard set by Carrie, The Shining, and The Dead Zone. King's story about troubled men finding friendship and, well, redemption behind bars comes off as a dignified throwback to classic Hollywood, but its bland austerity often turns the drama to stone. In the hands of director Frank Darabont, the brutality of prison life looks faintly like nostalgia."
-Noel Murray, in The Onion AV Club, coming out as the second American (after me) who doesn't think "The Shawshank Redemption" is all that special. The rest of the piece is worth reading, too.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:27 PM | Comments (1)

Quote of the Day

"The guy who wore a Yankees cap and a Cowboys jersey to that place? That took balls, man. That being said, I didn't see a single fight, even thought the locals were a little less receptive to this NY invasion than, say, Baltimore. But really, who can Philly even try to rag on? Among cities with teams in all four major sports leagues, Philly has suffered the longest without a championship (Sixers in 1982). Those fans chanting "Yankees suck!" is like the folks at Ask Jeeves busting on Google."
-Paul Katcher, a Yankee fan, on his initial visit to Citizen's Bank Park for the Phils-Yankees game last night. He did have a good time, however. And that Sixers title was in '83.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

The Heat Is On

The Miami Heat won their first-ever NBA championship last night, outlasting Dallas in Game 6 and bringing first titles to such stars as MVP Dwyane Wade, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, and Antoine Walker, while giving additional rings to Shaquille O'Neal and coach Pat Riley. The two people I feel worst for today: Stan Van Gundy (obviously), and Mark Cuban. I don't normally believe in the "SI cover jinx," but when the owner of a team is on the cover with the question "is the world ready for Mark Cuban, NBA champ?," and then his team loses four in a row, then something is most certainly afoot. Either that, or the world was not ready after all.

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

June 20, 2006

The Lewis Black Special

Another classic. Not quite as great as the amazing "Live on Broadway" show of two years ago, but still an all-time top-fiver among HBO specials. I still don't know how Black was the first to come up with the "Democrats losing to Bush is like a normal person losing the Special Olympics" joke. If you haven't seen this yet, do.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:35 AM | Comments (1)

He is 64

Yes, the man who wrote "When I'm Sixty Four," Paul McCartney, turned 64 on Monday. His wife, Heather, apparently didn't "still need" him, since they separated last month, but Paul can still afford plenty of vacations on the Isle of Wight.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:33 AM | Comments (1)

And You Thought It Didn't Happen There

News Item: Unruly Twins Fans Cited For Disorderly Conduct.

This comes after I introduced my dad to Philly sports culture, with a weekend of sports radio and a visit to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phils lose to Tampa Bay on Saturday. Like me last year, he assumed upon hearing the talk show callers that the Phils must be in last place (they're in second), and that the team must be 10 or 15 games under .500 (they were two under after Saturday, but have since won twice).

Still, the Fire Charlie Manuel movement is in full swing. I've never heard a home crowd cheer so loudly for the ejection of their own manager as I did Saturday.

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

Quote of the Day

"I will admit one thing from the start. When I read Noam Chomsky, the voice I hear is that of Chloe, the terrier-like computer geek in 24. This is not without reason. I met Chomsky once at a New Statesman lunch and that nagging, bullying, wheedling voice has stuck with me since."
-Peter Beaumont, in London's Observer, making a valid comparison while tearing the noxious Chomsky apart. But Chomsky isn't nearly as cool as Chloe, and I trust her a lot more with our national security than i do Noam.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

The Story of Wally

As I prepare to visit Fenway for the first time in years next Saturday, I recommend you check out this side-splitting history of the Sox' mascot, Wally the Green Monster, over at Deadspin. I haven't laughed so hard in quite some time as I did at the idea that Wally actually "lived in the wall" for a half century, but then "came out" onto the field.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2006

Tying the Knot

When I started dating Becca just shy of two years ago, I was sure to contact the Twins Geek, John Bonnes, who like me is a Minnesota native and fan, while his wife (like Becca) is from Philadelphia and an unabashed backer of the Eagles, Phillies, etc. John's advice to me? "Get through a whole Flyers season before you propose."

Now, the NHL was in lockout last year, so that bought me some time. But the season began as scheduled last fall, and the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs about a month ago. So in the clear, finally, I asked Becca to marry me on Monday, and she said yes. We're planning a wedding for next May, here in Philadelphia.

Don't expect this to suddenly become a "groomblog," but I will share whatever interesting stories come out of the process, such as my attempts to get Becca to walk down the aisle to the "She's Your Queen" song from "Coming to America."

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:04 PM | Comments (13)

Notes on "South Park"

This may be old, for all I know, but check out the MPAA notes on "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut," which have been leaked.

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


They're alive! The Twins tonight completed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox, winning 5-3 on a fine pitching performance from the heretofore horrid Carlos Silva, and Jason Kubel's third homer of the series. The Twinkies are now just three games under .500, and have certainly come a long way from that 33-1 three-game sweep by Detroit back in April.

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

"No One On Their Death Bed Ever Wished They'd Gotten a Few More No-Show Jobs"

Tony Soprano's words to Phil in the season finale came back to me when I read about a recently-busted scheme by a trash magnate/minor league hockey owner to circumvent his league's salary cap by giving several players no-show construction jobs. Team owner James Galante, of Connecticut, was indicted as part of a far-reaching takedown of mob influence in that state's waste management industry.

If baseball had a salary cap, you just know Steinbrenner would try something like that, wouldn't he?

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

The Best Commercial Currently on TV

This one, for the Volkswagen Jetta, in which a white guy is introduced to this Asian girlfriend's parents, when the girl's father suggests that he go for a hike. He misunderstands, and says "YOU take a hike! Not all Jetta owners enjoy hiking, CRAIG!"

A hilarious riff on matter-of-fact racial stereotypes, shifting the burden directly to the audience by commercial's end. And all brought to you by a company with a creepy Nazi pedigree.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

'Real' Trouble

Apparently there are already problems on the set of "The Real World: Denver":

THE cast and crew of "The Real World: Denver" are already stirring up trouble with the locals.

Following reports that at least two female cast members were recently physically ejected from bars for allegedly becoming reckless drunks, a "Real World" production assistant called a Denver Post reporter a "stalker" and "sick" while he was covering the show.

On the bright side, the fact that cast members were kicked out of a bar for being drunk does not sound appreciably different from any of the previous 18 seasons of the series.

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

Lawyer of the Year

You'd think it would be difficult to represent that guy in New Orleans who embezzled Katrina relief money to pay for a sex change operation. But then, you've never met lawyer Craig Washington. His defense of client Michael James Green, who stands accused of bilking the federal government out of $36,000 by stealing 18 different Social Security numbers, was to not even concede that Green has had a sex change:

Washington said his client will plead not guilty. He wouldn't comment on whether Green got a sex-change operation, but had an interesting description of Green.

"It's kind of hard to tell, when you really get down to it, men from women nowadays," he said.

"I've seen a lot of men that look like women. I've seen a lot of women that look like men. He's a nice-looking, very intelligent, very articulate human being."

That certainly puts Washington in contention for the Chutzpah Award.

Meanwhile, his client- according to the New York Post, once accused a Texas prison guard of forcing him to perform oral sex. The case fell apart when Green gave authorities a semen sample, which turned out to not be semen.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

Drinking With Sal

Phillies backup catcher Sal Fasano has become a huge fan favorite this year, due mostly to his Italian heritage and his fun, Fu Manchu look. But some revelations in an article in this week's Philadelphia City Paper should make him more popular than ever among Philly's Joe Sixpack types. When he played in the Royals organization early in his career,

Fasano gained the reputation as a full-moon carouser, and it was well-deserved. Every night after games, Fasano would drink a case of beer and a fifth of Southern Comfort. Every night.

"There aren't many places to go in minor league towns," says Fasano. "So I'd be sitting around a bar, talking to people, and all of a sudden I'd look up and see it was 2 o'clock and I'd downed 30 beers."

Damn. Make that the Joe Thirty-Pack types. We've all heard the urban legend (since debunked) that Wade Boggs once drank 64 beers on a cross-country flight, but that was only one day. Fasano later found the Lord and gave up drinking, which is good because otherwise, the Phils would still be stuck with Mike Lieberthal behind the plate 4 days a week.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

When I Write a Book, I Hope He Calls Me Blind

President Bush, the other day, mistakenly made a joke about reporter Peter Wallsten wearing sunglasses during a press conference- not knowing, to his embarrassment, that Wallsten is legally blind. Not only did Wallsten say he wasn't offended, but it's done wonders for his book sales:

"[Wallsten] has a book coming out later this summer, and in 24 hours it had moved from about 500,000th on Amazon’s preorder list to 2,500th."
Reminds me of those long-held rumors that Bush once waved to Stevie Wonder. Though I'm not sure that ever did anything to help Stevie's album sales.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:46 PM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2006

Quote of the Day

From the great Overheard in New York, which I read for 45 minutes tonight, and let's just say it brought back memories:

Woman: Who do you think would win a fight between Ann Coulter and Maureen Dowd?
Man: A fight?
Woman: Yeah, you know, a death match.
Man: I'm gonna go with Ann Coulter.
Woman: You think? They both wear long, spikey heels. They could put each other's eyes out pretty fast.
Man: But Ann Coulter would be like, "Rock on, I'm in a death cage!" And Maureen Dowd would be like, "Wait, what am I doing in a death cage?"
I think I'd root for a screwjob finish.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

Everybody Loves Hitler

The news today, it seems, was more all-Hitler-all-the-time than The History Channel. For instance:

- Two students on Long Island are in trouble for using quotes from "Mein Kampf" as their senior yearbook captions, something that apparently got past the student yearbook editors. On the shock/offensiveness scale, this ranks somewhere between Brandeis' "rhymes with tigger" incident, and the guy in my high school senior class who, in the senior video, made a horribly tasteless joke about the local kid who had been killed a few months earlier when he stuck his head out the window of a double-decker bus on the way home from a Bar Mitzvah.

- A Wisconsin native, borrowing a page from the famed University of North Dakota hockey booster/Nazi collector Ralph Englestad, has decided to build a shrine to the Fuhrer on his property in rural Wisconsin. Ted Junker, an 87-year-old farmer, claims to be a former German soldier but town officials refer to him as a "mixed-up old man." Someone should introduce him to the Metrodome/swastika guy.

- Also in the Badger State, the Wisconsin State Journal reported this week that self-storage companies are on the rise. In fact, Wisconsin has an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 self-storage companies, according to president of the Wisconsin Self Storage Association, whose name is Peter Hitler.

- And finally, I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and noticed that someone working in the store had put the copies of Ann Coulter's new book right alongside a new biography of Hitler. I took a cell phone picture and decided, after much temptation, to not run the photo in this week's edition of my newspaper.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:41 PM | Comments (3)

Three Words: Sell the Cubs!

News Item: Controlling Family Calls For Breakup of Tribune Co.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

Uh, How'd This Happen?

News Item: Minnesota Wild Hire Boston Globe's Red Sox Beat Writer As Head of Personnel.

Huh? I know who Chris Snow is, and I've read his Globe stuff often. But interesting that he's crossing cities, sports, and professions, and also that he's only 24. I'd had no idea. But hey, if he can become a front office guru for the Wild, I guess Bill Simmons' dream of becoming GM of the Celtics is not that far-fetched after all.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Way to Go, Keith!

Looks like Keith Olbermann isn't getting along much better with his colleagues at MSNBC than he was with the ESPN gang. According to Lloyd Grove in the NYDN:

Olbermann, whose "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" airs weeknights at 8, apparently has precious little respect for Cosby, whose "Rita Cosby: Live & Direct" airs at 10 p.m.

"Rita's nice," Olbermann wrote to a fan from his MSNBC E-mail account, "but dumber than a suitcase of rocks."

Ouch. But true. It would be nice if the channel would get rid of Cosby and her awful, all-bikini-murder-all-the-time show, but the recent hiring of Dan Abrams to run the network probably doesn't bode well in that regard.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

Comments Are Back

Finally got 'em working again, it was some file that got flagged wrong in my directory. All good now. Comment away!

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:14 AM | Comments (1)

A Few Brief Movie Reviews

"Nacho Libre": Not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination whatsoever, but at least it was a risky misfire that tried to do something and failed at it, rather than take no risks and venture nothing like most movies do these days. It has the same director, writer, cinematographer, and general cinematic sensibility as "Napoleon Dynamite," but the biggest reason that movie worked and this one doesn't is that 'Napoleon' created a great, totally original and unique character, while 'Nacho' is merely the usual Jack Black character, but with an atrocious Mexican accent.

Yes, it's always a problem in a movie about a Mexican priest who becomes a wrestler when the lead actor isn't the slightest bit convincing as a Mexican, as a priest, or as a wrestler.

"Cars": A great, great movie, and I really don't understand the critical consensus that it's the weakest Pixar film. I say it's better than everything but "The Incredibles" and "Toy Story 2." Great animation, memorable characters, and tons of heart, but I still can't get over the brilliance of that first racing scene, when we first see that the cheering crowd is all... cars themselves. And I say that as someone who absolutely hates NASCAR. See this immediately.

"Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic." I'm with Bill on this one- not particularly funny or memorable, and I say this as someone who has always liked Sarah Silverman. Now maybe I'm underwhelmed because I've seen her standup act before and therefore I'd already heard all of the "shocking" jokes. But what's the point of doing a concert version of a standup routine if the crowd is dead for most of the show? Not to mention that none of the musical or sketch bits worked at all either. There were more laughs in her five-minute segment in "The Aristocrats" than all of "Jesus is Magic" put together.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

Game of the Year?

What a game in the American League tonight between my two favorite teams, the Twins and Red Sox (sorry, Phillies). Two of the best pitchers in baseball, Johan Santana and Curt Schilling, started for the respective teams, and both dominated, with Johan striking out 13 in 8 innings and both pitchers giving up one run through 8. And after the Twins failed to score after threatening Boston's invincible closer, Jonathan Papelbon, the game went into extra innings.

It stayed that way into the 12th, as the Sox scored a run in the top of the inning when the Boston runner was called safe at first in what would have been an inning-ending double play. But the Twins came back in the bottom of the 12th to win it on a grand slam by Jason Kubel. And all this on the day that David Ortiz appeared on the cover of SI, talking about how he's been motivated in recent years by the way the Twins released him without compensation after the 2002 season.

What a weird, weird year the Twins are having. Yes, they're way out of the AL Central race, with the back end of their rotation utterly imploding and just about every one of their offseason acquisitions failing completely. And they're giving hundreds of at-bats to the likes of Juan Castro, Tony Batista*, and Rondell White.

But look on the bright side: the team's young nucleus is starting to show up and play, with Joe Mauer hitting in the .380s to become the talk of the league, Justin Morneau finally showing a power stroke, Michael Cuddyer having a career year, and Francisco Lirano giving them a second dominant starter to go with Santana. And on top of that, the new stadium is finally on the way as well. I look forward to going to my first home Twins game in about three years when I visit home next month.

And finally, speaking of the Twins, the team's foremost blogger, Aaron Gleeman, got his 2 millionth hit yesterday. Congrats, Aaron!

*Batista was designated for assignment after last night's game. At last, progress!

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

June 13, 2006

Still No Comments...

Comments still aren't working. I have no idea what could be wrong, but I'll try to get it taken care of in the next few days. Bear with me...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:24 PM | Comments (3)

The Car Is The Thing On the Road...

Amid a discussion of what he does or does not do for transportation on the Sabbath, Ben tells the story of our drive up to Maine for a Phish concert three years ago. Ah, those were the days...

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fat Nick

TNR's Leon Wieseltier, in writing about the absurdity of those who don't believe the fanatical president of Iran really wishes to "wipe Israel off the map," ties it to a recent tabloid trial in New York:

Indeed, even as this discussion about the benign meanings of malign words was taking place about Tehran, it was taking place also about Queens. Yes, Queens--Howard Beach in particular, where a local fiend called Fat Nick Minucci was on trial for assaulting a black man. Fat Nick had no nuclear centrifuges, he had only a baseball bat. When he approached his victim, he called him a "nigger," but his lawyers insisted that he meant nothing negative by the term. "A form of benign address," as the Times reported the judgment of an expert witness; or "nigger" in the good sense. The jury did not fall for the socio-linguistic extenuation, and it found Fat Nick guilty of a hate crime. It heard "nigger" only in the bad sense. And we hear "wipe" and "off the map" and "out of time" only in the bad sense. If we cannot make the world less perilous, we can at least make it less stupid.
I vote for immediate U.N. sanctions, if not a full-scale invasion, of Fat Nick.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

The Worst Celebrity Bike Crash Since Bob Dylan's

News Item: Steelers' Roethlisberger Injured in Motorcycle Accident.

They're saying he'll probably be okay and may even be ready to start the season. But man, I was just in Pittsburgh on Saturday, and Big Ben was interviewed on WIP this morning, about two hours before the crash. If I were making his dough, I'd stay off the bike until retirement or later, especially without a helmet.

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

Clerks II

I saw it today at a preview screening, in preparation for a possible interview with Kevin Smith. And I was pleasantly surprised. Not groundbreaking, and it doesn't have the great backstory that the original did, but I still laughed a lot. It's easily Smith's best effort since "Chasing Amy."

In speaking with Smith I'm continuing my crusade to interview every star in Hollywood named Kevin. All I've got left are Spacey, Costner, Kline, James, Pollak, and Nealon. I'm not counting Kevin Federline, because he's not a star.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

Louie, Louie

I know it's gotten savage reviews, but I thought the new HBO sitcom "Lucky Louie" was downright hilarious. I laughed about twice as much as I did at the "Entourage" premiere, even though much of the material was lifted from creator Louis C.K.'s standup act. I'm not sure the show will catch on- it can best be described as "Comedy for people who didn't think 'Married... With Children' was cynical enough," but I still loved it.

Missed the Lewis Black special, but I'll try to catch it this week.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

No Comment

My comments seem to not be working or loading for some reason. I've got a call in to Hosting Matters tech support on that, and hope to have it fixed ASAP.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:04 PM | Comments (1)

Finally, a Reason to Like the Black Eyed Peas

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

The Black Eyed Peas performed in Tel Aviv.
Around 20,000 people attended Saturday night’s concert by the American rap group, which one commentator hailed as signaling the end of a de facto embargo on Israel by foreign artists who were afraid of Palestinian terrorism or disapproved of the Jewish state’s security policies.

“Judging by the packed audience at Bloomfield Stadium, one might have thought this was a celebration for the end of the second intifada,” wrote Amos Harel of Ha’aretz.

Is this enough to forgive them for "My Humps"? No, of course not.

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

Quote of the Day

"The problem with Coulter is that she is a form of camp, is she not? The minute you take her seriously, you lose grip on her reality. She's not a social or political commentator. She's a drag queen impersonating a fascist. I don't even begin to believe she actually believes this stuff. It's post-modern performance-art. I think of Coulter in that sense as more at home on the pomo-left than the Christianist right (which is why the joke, ultimately, is on the Republicans who like her). Devoid of sincerity, detached from any value but performance, juggling rhetoric for its own sake, she is Stanley Fish's model student. Half the time, I tend to think that a Hannity or O'Reilly or Malkin actually believes their own rhetoric. With Coulter, I don't believe it for a second. And so her vileness cannot be taken seriously. She is worse than vile. She is just empty."
-Andrew Sullivan, on Coultergeist. Yes, I've always suspected this myself. And that stupid "9/11 widows" comment is clearly meant to get her in the news for a few days, so it's worked.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

May His 72 Virgins Be Hideously Ugly Virgins

News Item: Al Qaeda's al-Zarqawi is Killed in Iraq.

If you're sad about this, than I'm sorry, there's something wrong with you.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Tenta Dead

The longtime professional wrestler John Tenta, who was best known for wrestling under the name Earthquake for the WWF in the early-to-mid '90s, has died at the age of 42, after a long battle with cancer. As Earthquake, Tenta once put Hulk Hogan out of action for several months, and was later known for crushing Jake "The Snake" Roberts' snake in the ring.

In his post-WWF career, Tenta wrestled everywhere under many names- so many, in fact, that this site claims to be an alpabetical "Complete Guide to Every Wrestler Ever," and simply lists one of Tenta's nicknames under each letter of the alphabet.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

Film Critic Quote of the Week

"[The Break Up" is] like watching the "we were on a break" episode of Friends stretched to feature length, and without the blessed relief of commercial breaks or the promise of Seinfeld around the corner.
-Keith Phipps, in the AV Club. To think, I was actually looking forward to this movie, and here I am still making fun of it two weeks after I saw it.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

Highlights From My Interview With Kevin Bacon

Yes, I had the chance on Monday to speak with the renowned actor, who was in town to discuss his new film, "Loverboy," which he directed and also appears in.

A few notes from the roundtable interview at Philadelphia's Ritz Carlton:

- Bacon, of course, is a Philadelphia native, and his father Edmund Bacon was the city planner in the 1960s and '70s. He said he grew up just blocks away from where we were interviewing him, and couldn't believe how much the area has improved.

- He doesn't really have a favorite role, and when he finishes a film, he said that he immediately starts thinking about the next one- until a year later, when it's time to promote it. Bacon also said that he often sees his own movies while flipping channels, and usually flips right past.

- Bacon directed his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, in "Loverboy," and the entire first act of the film consists of Sedgwick having sex with a succession of strange men. Asked if it was awkward for Bacon to direct these scenes, he replied that it was probably even more awkward for the actors.

- The actor said he heard about Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for the first time in the mid-'90s, has met the creators, and said he would like to somehow harness the popularity of the game for some charitable purpose. Bacon said the most impressive permutation of the game was when someone connected him to John Wilkes Booth in less than six steps.

- Surprisingly, Bacon did not, at any point in the interview, mention his band, the Bacon Brothers.

- And finally, Bacon said he now regularly works with people who were born after he got into the business. I then mentioned that I happened to have been born on July 28, 1978- the day Bacon's first movie, "Animal House," was released.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 02:23 AM | Comments (2)

I'm Just Mad About Safran

If you're looking for something to add to your Netflix queue, you can do a lot worse than "Everything Is Illuminated," the screen version of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel that came and went in a blink from movie screens last summer. (No, I haven't read the book).

Directed by actor Liev Schreiber, it's a well-made, well-told, very Jewish story, combining light-hearted comedy with unspeakable tragedy (it is partly about the Holocaust, after all). And on top of that, an excellent soundtrack comprised almost entirely of Klezmer music. Considering that I haven't yet liked a summer blockbuster this year, 'Illuminated' came as a breath of fresh air.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:57 AM | Comments (1)

The Sixers Suck

Yes, 6/6/'06 is over, and no, the world didn't end, the anti-Christ didn't come, and nothing particularly bad happened (aside from the type of bad stuff that happens every day anyway.) Good. I'm glad we don't have to go through this crap again for 100 more years.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:51 AM | Comments (2)


News Item: Pitcher Jason Grimsley Has House Raided, Is Accused of Distributing HGH

Knowing that Grimsley is the same guy who, in 1994, crawled through an air vent into the umpires' room to steal a corked bat belonging to teammate Albert Belle and replace it with a "clean" bat, it's not a huge surprise to hear that he's breaking the rules of baseball. No word on whether Grimsley's steroids, like Belle's faux bat, were inadvertently autographed by Paul Sorrento.

At any rate, this could become a huge story, as Grimsley has reportedly already named names. That will likely knock the bat thing out of the first line of Grimsley's obituary.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2006

Yes!... Oops Headline of the Year

Star Tribune: "Mason: Owens will miss entire 2006 season"

When I read that I rejoiced, but then took me a second, and I realized that there is no one named "Mason" currently associated with the Dallas Cowboys, and therefore it's not T.O. who will be missing the entire 2006 season. Actually, it's Brandon Owens, a defensive back for the University of Minnesota football team. Terrell Owens, as of now, remains scheduled to play the entire season.

We can all still hope, though.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

"Sopranos" Finale Thoughts

For once, the conventional wisdom is exactly right: Sunday's "Sopranos" finale was quite a disappointment, easily the most anticlimactic finale in the series' history. It finished a season which didn't really have any overarching theme or arc to speak of. True, it's still better than almost anything else on TV. But Season Six just failed to measure up to the expectations created by its two-year hiatus, especially following the brilliant previous season.

No, I'm not about to complain because no one got whacked in the finale, or even that no loose ends were tied up (I'm actually glad they never found the Russian). But the finale, very weakly paced, just had no narrative momentum to speak of. Why do we need more Christopher drug stuff? Are we supposed to believe that AJ, despite six years of evidence to the contrary, is ready to be a responsible adult? Why no panic from Tony and Carm that AJ brought home a Dominican girl- especially one with a kid? (Though I did like the "at least she's Catholic" line).

The hospital scene with Tony and Phil was a bright spot, with Tony filling Carmela's role from the coma scenes of the second and third episodes. And Agent Harris warning Tony may have been key for next year- could this mean Tony will flip, or will Harris become a mob-protector, like the Boston FBI with Whitey Bulger?

I see that with the Christmas scene at the end, they were going for the same vibe as the last scene of Season 1, with Tony's family driving in the rain to Artie's restaurant- and as if to drive home the point, Tony mentioned that night to Artie a few episodes ago. But that episode had the brilliant juxtaposition between the whacking of Mikey and Junior's other guys, Tony chasing Livia with a pillow, and then the sweet family scene. In Sunday's episode, though, it just came across as perfunctory and awkward.

I am, of course, looking forward to the final eight episodes in January, as I have confidence in David Chase to bring the series to a close in a worthy and satisfying way, whackings or not. But this doesn't keep me from being a tad underwhelmed by this year's batch of episodes.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:14 AM | Comments (2)

The Clemens Conspiracy?

With Roger Clemens announcing his return to the Astros, we're now getting rumors that Clemens' skipping of the first few months of the season were in fact due to a top-secret steroid suspension, following in the footsteps of that urban legend that Michael Jordan's first retirement was really a double-secret, 18-month gambling suspension.

Let's see here: for this theory to be true, baseball would have had to conspire with the Astros- by convincing them not to offer Clemens salary arbitration- as well as all of the other teams in the bidding for his services. And in the high-profile negotiation, all of the teams would have had to bid against each other for his services without anyone leaking any information- a scenario that would require, for instance, the Yankees and Red Sox to cooperate with each other.

This conspiracy would require the knowledge of at least a couple of hundred people, none of whom felt the need to blab to Peter Gammons or the "Game of Shadows" authors- all while baseball's steroid history was both under investigation from an independent panel and under fire from Congress. Sorry, I don't buy it.

Another Houston-based sports conspiracy theory makes a little more sense, but I still don't quite believe it. (I thought of it on my own, but this guy had the same idea):

Just days after the Houston Texans shocked the world by taking Mario Williams with the #1 pick in the NFL draft and letting presumptive #1 Reggie Bush go to the Saints, Houston GM Charley Casserly announced that he was leaving the organization in order to take a job in the NFL's executive office. Might Casserly have secretly agreed to the NFL job prior to the draft and, as a favor to the commissioner, found a way to route Bush to New Orleans, a city and team that very much need a resurgence in order to remain viable?

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:03 AM | Comments (3)

Quote of the Day

"This horrible story from Haditha powerfully underscores the liberal vision, which is this. We are not angels: without sufficient moral and legal restrictions, and under conditions of extreme stress, Americans can be as barbaric as anyone. What's makes us an exceptional nation with the capacity to lead and inspire the world is our very recognition of that fact. We are capable of Hadithas and My Lais, so is everyone. But few societies are capable of acknowledging what happened, bringing the killers to justice, and instituting changes that make it less likely to happen again. That's how we show we are different from the jihadists. We don't just assert it. We prove it. That's the liberal version of American exceptionalism, and it's what we need right now in response to this horror."
-Peter Beinart, on the Huffington Post, talking some sense in this difficult time. Beinart's new book, "The Good Fight," is the next one off my shelf, and I can't wait to read it.

With Haditha, as with Abu Ghraib and the torture revelations and everything else before it, we're experiencing the exact same through-the-looking-glass right-wing spin: Sure, American troops may very well have slaughtered dozens of innocent civilians and then covered it up- but the real tragedy is that the media gave it too much attention! They're the real bad guys!

The companion to this nonsense is the idea that criticism of a possible massacre of civilians somehow adds up to a denunciation of the troops as a whole. It's an extremely simple distinction, that I can imagine any intelligent adult could make, but purposeful dishonesty has created this myth out of thin air. Sen. Dick Durbin specifically denounced those who committed abuses at Abu Ghraib- which the righty spin machine somehow turned into "Durbin compared the troops to Nazis!"

Meanwhile, for the left-wing version of war on terror lunacy that ignores any and all facts, check out the comments to Beinart's HuffPo post.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

Against Aniston, Cont'd

From an excellent NYT piece by Caryn James on Jennifer Aniston's very uneven film career:

Ms. Aniston needed this hit, because "The Break-Up" follows a terrible professional run. In the last year she has appeared in two high-profile movies — the disappointing thriller "Derailed" and the stink-bomb comedy "Rumor Has It" — and the smaller "Friends With Money," in which she was the least convincing member of an ensemble.

"The characters in these films are wildly different, but Ms. Aniston's performance isn't. She projects the same high-maintenance Jennifer Aniston style — the trademark sleek hair, the natural-looking makeup, the body so toned you wonder how many hours a day a person can spend with a trainer — whether she's supposed to be a con woman posing as an executive in "Derailed," an obituary writer for The New York Times in "Rumor Has It" (trust me, no one here looks like that), or a woman so demoralized she quits her teaching job to clean houses in "Friends With Money.""

James also questions whether audiences can connect with Aniston the way they do with Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts. But no matter how many cold-fish performances Aniston gives, she'll never, ever, be as loathsome to me as Roberts is.

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

RIP, Eric Gregg

Former baseball umpire Eric Gregg, who enjoyed an unlikely second career as a local celebrity and man-about-town in his hometown of Philadelphia, has died at the age of 55. I'll always remember Gregg as the ump during one of the many brawls enjoyed by the 1986 Mets, and I once saw him in person (though did not meet him) at the most recent Wing Bowl. He sounds like he was a great guy who will be very much missed.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:33 AM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2006

Movie Critic Quote of the Week

"| In the '70s a friend of mine once ducked into a Times Square grind house to catch Martin Scorsese's "Boxcar Bertha," which was showing on a double bill. The blaxploitation flick that preceded it was just ending, and when the lights came up, my friend realized that he and his buddy were the only white people in the theater. When the lights went down again and "Boxcar Bertha" began, two enthusiastic and vocal moviegoers, shouting to each other from opposite ends of the theater, kept up a lively running argument. Suddenly, their attention shifted to the screen. In a scene featuring a nude Barbara Hershey walking away from the camera, one of these unabashed truth tellers announced, to the actress's image and to everyone within earshot, "She ain't got no ass! White women ain't got no ass!"

If only that woman had been around to see the nude Jennifer Aniston slink away from the camera in Peyton Reed's "The Break-Up." Aniston has a fine figure for those silky, tubular red-carpet evening dresses, and she looks great in those low-slung trousers that rest so fetchingly just below the navel. But watching her in that nude scene, from what should have been a choice angle, I suddenly realized why I've never been able to whip up either gentle admiration for the actress or active dislike: With Aniston, there's just nothing to hang on to, either literally or figuratively. Her love handles, if they exist at all, are recessive."

- Stephanie Zacharek, in Salon.

I saw it Tuesday; what a horrible movie. There are a few funny moments in argument scenes, but "The Break-Up" suffers from the "every good scene was in the trailer" syndrome more than any movie in recent memory. Horrible script, horrible acting, and about 15 different pointless cameos by actors who are only in the movie because of Vaughn. And while it's good to see Vaughn and Favreau back on screen together again, the film goes back to that well way too many times.

And that Aniston nude scene is a lot more creepy than sexy. Who told her it's attractive to be able to see each individual rib cage muscle?

Anyway, the other critics seem to agree with me; I'm yet to read a positive review.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 04:49 PM | Comments (1)

It's Time To Play The Game

I'm interviewing Kevin Bacon in Philadelphia next Monday. If anyone has ideas for questions about his life, career, movies, music, "Will & Grace" appearances, or the Kevin Bacon Game, please leave them in the comment box.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 01:05 PM | Comments (3)

June 01, 2006

The Taheri Affair

There's a relatively major journalistic ethical scandal going on right now, but since involves errors made by a right-wing journalist instead of a lefty or neutral one, I'm yet to see a great deal of outrage about it in the blogosphere.

Amir Taheri, an Iranian exile and columnist for the National Post in Canada and the New York Post in the U.S., wrote two weeks ago that Iran's parliament had passed a law requiring religious minorities to wear identifying clothing- and require Jews to wear yellow badges. This latter provision has special significance, of course, because Jews in Nazi Germany were required to do the same thing.

Judging by the insane, apocalyptic rhetoric favored by Iran's current president, the story certainly sounded plausible- but that, of course, doesn't make it true. The story fell apart within days, as it became clear that no such law had passed. The National Post went on to retract the story the following week.

Shameful? Of course. The Iranian regime has done enough horrible, evil things that are true, that those of us who believe they need to be confronted don't need false stories to bolster our argument.

But look at this blog post, by my pal Judith from KesherTalk. She defends Taheri, calling him "a respected and knowledgeable pundit on the Middle East," and pointing out that Taheri and others "still claim that this is being discussed and considered by the Iranian regime." And a commenter points out that "of COURSE the story is both believable and makes sense," and that "I'm inclined to believe the worst about Iran until proven otherwise, not the other way around."

Please. The story wasn't true. Believing that it could be true isn't the same as it actually being true. "Being discussed and considered" is not the same thing has "having passed," which is what Taheri reported. And as for "believing the worst... until proven otherwise," that's not how journalism works. The reporter has the burden of proof in proving their story is accurate, not the other way around.

A false story is a false story, and newspapers tend not to retract major scoops unless they absolutely have to. And I fail to see how the behavior of Taheri and his defenders is any different from that of Rather, Mapes, and Co.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)

And You Thought The McCain Commencement Speech Was Offensive

News Item: "NY Democrat Apologizes For Saying Bush Should Be 'Shot Between the Eyes'"

When I saw "NY Democrat" I assumed it must be Charles Barron*, but no- it's Alan Hevesi, the generally mild-mannered state comptroller, who said -during a commencement speech at Queens College- that Sen. Charles Schumer has had some success with "putting a bullet between the president's eyes." Expect this to come up, again and again, if Hevesi runs for any other office.

*Should've known it wasn't Barron. Because if he had said that, I couldn't imagine him apologizing.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 03:44 PM | Comments (3)

Quote of the Day

"The press can’t win. When The Times publishes a piece like its domestic spying exposé, the paper is criticized by the left for sitting on the piece for over a year, and excoriated by the right for being unpatriotic in a time of war. The polarization of American politics has grown so severe that partisan critics now blame the media for failing to bring down their political enemies. Unless bloggers on both sides of the aisle understand that it’s not the job of the press to do their political bidding, the media better get used to being a punching bag."
-Gabriel Sherman, in a New York Observer book review. Yes, it's hard out there for a journalist.
Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

Another Crazy Trade Rumor

Another baseball trade scenario made the rounds yesterday, but was debunked almost as soon as it was reported. The three-way trade has the Marlins sending Dontrelle Willis to the Phillies, with Pat Burrell going from Philly to the Yankees, and both New York and Philly sending numerous prospects down to Florida. The trade sounds a bit unlikely for quite a few reasons:

First of all, the Marlins don't really need to trade Willis. He's their biggest gate attraction- if there can be such a thing in the perpetually empty cesspool they call their stadium- and he's three years away from free agency and not making that much money. I'm sure they'd jump at the chance should a package of can't-miss prospects come along, but the Yankees and Phillies put together don't have anything like that.

It's also hard to believe, meanwhile, that the Yankees -who need pitching in the worst way- would involve themselves in a trade involving Willis and not end up with the pitcher themselves.

None of the reports listed actual prospects, but in such a trade with Philly the Marlins would probably ask for Cole Hamels, who the Phillies really should designate as untouchable. And besides, I can't imagine the Marlins would decide, if given the choice, to trade Willis to a divisional rival. Even though the rumor originated in the New York Daily News, it sounds to me like Philly-fan wishful thinking.

Posted by Stephen Silver at 12:30 AM | Comments (1)