Check out this excellent look at what it means to be a film critic, by former critic turned "Crunchy Con," Rod Dreher. Best part:
"I'll never forget how staggered I was to watch an audience filled with most of the major film critics in North America giving a film festival standing ovation to that sicko Todd Solondz' film "Happiness," which, among other things, featured a grown man's attempt to drug and anally rape a child played for comedy. (I seem to recall that some reviews later appreciatively noted the skill with which the director manipulated the viewer into rooting for the rapist to succeed.)"I must not be like most critics, because I hated that film, too.
What an amazing speech by an amazing man, today in Cooperstown. The 94-year-old Negro Leagues legend Buck O'Neil, who was inexplicably left out of this year's 17-person Negro Leagues Hall of Fame class, nonetheless gave the opening remarks at the ceremony- looking great for his age- and delivered a moving and eloquent speech. It can be heard in its entirety on the Hall of Fame website.
And it's still hard to believe that it's been five years since I sat on that same lawn and saw Kirby Puckett go into the Hall. It's even harder to believe that he's gone.
All in one shot, he's done more to embarrass himself more in one night than Tom Cruise has in the last two years put together.
What has to happen for the Michael Medveds of the world to be convinced Mel's not a fan of the Jews? Does he have to go into a Jewish center and shoot people?
After a year in which in which he was, at various times, rumored to be traded for such players as Manny Ramirez, Mark Prior, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Lowe, Mark Mulder and who knows who else, outfielder Bobby Abreu has finally been traded by the Phillies. He's headed to the Yankees, along with Cory Lidle, for a relief pitcher and three prospects.
The reaction in Philly before the trade? "Abreu sucks! Trade him!" The reaction in Philly after the trade? "How'd they get so little for him?" That, and, "what happened at Eagles training camp today?"
What started as a deposition turns into a near-brawl (via YouTube):
My favorite is this Volokh Conspiracy thread, in which lawyer/readers share that they've all had that happen a few times a year.
Today's my 28th birthday, and looking back and forward I must say I have much to be happy about. I'm blessed enough to be getting married to a wonderful woman, I have great friends and a wonderful family (my own and in-laws), and I'm finally doing what I've always wanted to be doing, career-wise (And I have an announcement in that regard that I'll be making early next week).
I'll be marking a year in Philadelphia next Tuesday, and I can safely say it's one of the best moves I've ever made. Thanks to everyone reading for making the past year so special for me.
During an interview with Donovan McNabb on Howard Eskin's WIP show on Wednesday, who should call in but Charles Barkley. Sir Charles proceeded to chide the Philadelphia fans for their rough treatment of McNabb, who has done just about nothing but succeed in his short amount of time in town. Because if anyone knows what it's like to be a superstar athlete who's mistreated by ungrateful Philadelphia fans, it's Charles.
I can't find the transcript anywhere, but the interview is available in podcast form here. Barkley called up just in time; right beforehand Eskin had been saying that McNabb looked "sexy" prior to his recent weight loss.
I saw it tonight, and the verdict is that aside from a handful of really horrible directorial missteps, it's an excellent and powerful film. The terrorism footage, before and during, is harrowing, and it really captured the few-days-after-9/11-in-New-York feeling perfectly. The third act of the film, especially, is exemplary. And no, there's nothing objectionable in it politically, except for a montage of reactions from around the world to the attacks (where were the cheering Palestinians?)
Things I didn't like: a ludicrous scene where Jesus appears to the two trapped cops, and another in which Nicholas Cage and Maria Bello have a pretend-conversation while he's trapped. There's also horrible musical choices throughout (especially that awful "female wail" motif that I was hoping had died with "Kingdom of Heaven.") That, and nearly every main actor's New York accent appears and disappears virtually at will (Maggie Gyllenhaal especially).
By the way, the planned Q&A with Oliver Stone never materialized, but Maria Bello was at the screening, as was the real-life cop played by Cage in the movie.
The world's two most prominent opponents of Rick Santorum appear to have clashed.
Dan Savage, author of Savage Love and the man who forever made the Pennsylvania senator's name synonymous with a certain frothy mixture, attempted to direct a campaign contribution towards Bob Casey, Santorum's opponent in this year's Senate race. But the Casey campaign said "thanks, but no thanks"- apparently not wishing to be associated with someone as ribald as Savage. Dan was told to redirect his $2100 contribution to Philadelphians Against Santorum, a grassroots organization.
This comes a day after I heard a negative radio ad by Santorum accusing Casey of- you guessed it- running a negative campaign.
Philadelphia Daily News: Moats Hurts One of Two Knees
And if you guessed that the minor injury on the third day of training camp to the Eagles' fourth-string running back is a bigger story in Philly right now than Chase Utley's 26-game hitting streak... well, you guessed right.
The Onion AV Club's always excellent Inventory featue this week features a great list of "Truly Sexy Sex Scenes." It's great for two reasons: because it includes all the ones I instantly thought of ("Mulholland Drive," "A History of Violence," "Out of Sight," "Y Tu Mama Tambien") and because it points out that there really are hardly any really sexy sex scenes anymore in true mainstream film.
And speaking of that "History of Violence" scene, I'm going to a screening tonight of the "World Trade Center" movie, and on hand for a Q&A afterward will be Oliver Stone and Maria Bello. At first, I didn't even want to go if Maria wasn't going to wear her cheerleader uniform.
This baseball column in the Palm Beach Post lists the current active leaders in a statistical category called "Pitcher Abuse Points," which denote how much pitchers have been left too late in games to throw too many pitches. The leaders:
Livan Hernandez (Nationals) is first, Jason Schmidt (Giants) is second, Barry Zito (A's) is sixth and Dontrelle Willis (Marlins) is seventh. Rounding out the Top 10 are Aaron Harang, Carlos Zambrano and John Smoltz at Nos. 3-5 with Bronson Arroyo, Curt Schilling and Brett Myers at Nos. 8-10.Yes, Brett Myers is in the Top 10 for Pitcher Abuse Points. How apropos.
The Minnesota Twins, after beating the White Sox 7-4 this afternoon to complete a road sweep, have taken over a share of the AL wild card lead. As a fellow Twins fan pointed out to me at a bar last night, this team is so well-built for the future, that they could contend for the rest of the decade. And no, they don't need to make a trade, though a "shoutout" to Matt Garza in Triple-A may be in order.
I can't wait for Powerline to attack the Strib for "invading Mr. Coleman's privacy" in writing about this- when if this happened to a Kennedy, they'd keep writing about it for weeks.
There's a new book out, by William C. Rhoden of "The Sports Reporters" and the New York Times, which examines issues of race and sports and has the rather incendiary title "Forty Million Dollar Slaves." It sounds like it could be an interesting book, if you're willing to go along with the comparison of multi-millionaire athletes -who have the power to change teams, retire, and get their coaches fired- to "slaves." It's also a bit absurd that Rhoden argues against the integration of Major League Baseball, pointing out that it destroyed the Negro Leagues and black ownership of teams. Like I said, it sounds provocative, and I may read it.
But what I can't let stand is this absurd review of the book in last Sunday's New York Times. In it, Warren Goldstein (a professor at the University of Hartford) endorses the book almost completely, before closing with this paragraph:
Read this book, and the next time you hear Barry Bonds booed or think about Commissioner Bud Selig’s steroids “investigation” or talk about the N.B.A.’s “image problem,” you may squirm more than a little. Good.Excuse me? Anyone who believes that Barry Bonds is being booed because he's black has no conception of reality or truth whatsoever. He took steroids, he lied about it under oath, and his career for the last seven years has been a fraud. I booed Bonds a few months ago, I didn't squirm for a second, and I'd do it again, even after reading Rhoden's book.
"Let me just say I wish fans, readers and listeners would apply the same degree of critical thinking to what they hear on the radio as the radio hosts seem to be applying to everyone else. These people have the most blatant and obvious agendas imaginable -- stirring fans up translates into calls and ratings, while informing and enlightening do not -- and they often try to disguise that by accusing everyone else of having agendas."-Phil Sheridan, the smartest sports voice in Philly, in his Q&A forum. No, there's nothing wrong with agreeing with Bill Giles about "the idiots on WIP."
"You know those Bibles they make for kids? The ones with the simple stories and colorful artwork that leaves out all of the complex and adult themes that you’d have to commit hours of time to explaining away? Well, if someone sat down to make a similar version of the Communist Manifesto, it would look a hell of a lot like The Ant Bully."-Massawyrm, from Ain't It Cool News. Uh, no, I won't be seeing that one.
"It's a bit tougher to accept the filmmaker's appearance in Scoop as a professional magician named Splendini, who specializes in "dematerializing" women by means of a double-paneled box. Here is Allen as stammering self-parody; a pent-up bundle of tics and quirks so irritating that, halfway through, you may feel like ending the misery (his and yours) by clamping an ether-soaked rag over that long-beloved old face."-Bill Gallo of the Village Voice, slamming the awful new Woody Allen film. The worst part, of course, is Allen's performance. Why does he keep putting his 70-year-old self in movie plots involving 20-somethings? But at least he doesn't make Scarlett Johannson his love interest.
I guess this sort of puts a crimp in the oft-professed theory that "everyone called the boy bands fags back then, but they got more action from girls than the rock stars ever did."
If you ask me, this makes me want to see the movie even more.
Esther, shockingly, seems to have not yet addressed this.
I spent an entire lunch last week explaining the entire history of the Arab/Israeli conflict to my co-workers, but I really should've just shown them this picture and saved myself some time.
UPDATE: Oops, try here instead.
ESPN announced today that they've fired longtime "Baseball Tonight" analyst Harold Reynolds, effective immediately. Reasons why were not immediately disclosed, but Deadspin reports that it was for sexual harassment reasons.
It's still unknown whether or not Reynolds deserved the axe, but in the meantime, here's a brief list of ESPN employees that I would have preferred to see fired rather than Reynolds: Stephen A. Smith, Sean Salisbury, Skip Bayless, Woody Paige, Scoop Jackson, Jason Whitlock, Dan LeBatard, Jay Mariotti, Michael Irvin, Joe Theismann, Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, Joe Morgan, Jeff Brantley, John Kruk, Mike and Mike, both Sklar Brothers, and Jim Rome.
Jeff S. passes on word of a funny Star Tribune gaffe, as the story about Twins prospect Matt Garza throwing a shutout gets the headline "Garza Throws a Timely Shoutout." As in, a shoutout to his homies that he's ready to get called up to the majors along the ONE GAME OUT OF THE WILD CARD LEAD Twins.
Not quite as awful as the Inquirer's recent report of "an Act of Wear" in Israel, but pretty funny nonetheless.
News Item: Jockey Apologizes For Headbutting Horse
Makes me wonder if the guy was a fan of this blog.
And you thought the Tribune Company was known for unsavory/ineffective business practices?
Here's Jim Emerson of the Chicago Sun-Times, pinch-hitting for Ebert in slamming the embarrassing "Lady in the Water":
"Let me quote from Night's children's book tie-in that Explains It All for You: "Tartutic. They have one name, but there are three of them. They look like monkeys." (See? I got that part right.) "They are like guards sent to punish the scrunts when they break the rules. They climb down from the trees and out of the bushes and snatch the scrunts away." Wait for it.So you can make up rules whenever you want and they don't have to not contradict each other? Sounds like a cinematic version of Calvinball.
I'm not anywhere near done yet, and neither is Shyamalan. As the book further explains: "There is more to tell of course, like why a scrunt might break the rule and try to attack a narf on the night the Great Eatlon comes... because there is a reason."
OK, stop. No. No, there is not a reason. All these convoluted "rules" -- including rules about what happens when somebody breaks the rules -- are as arbitrary as they are frivolous."
Months after being given up for dead after their slow start, the Minnesota Twins are now just two games out of a playoff spot, after winning tonight's series opener against the White Sox in Chicago.
The White Sox, in turn, are supposedly about to get Alfonso Soriano, as ESPN.com reported early this afternoon that they were "extremely close" to a deal with Washington for the slugger. However, the deal still hasn't been made 8 hours later, so supposedly it wasn't as "extremely close" as they thought.
The Twins' winning pitcher, meanwhile, was Brad Radke, who was apparently unaffected by a minor media kerfuffle earlier this week. Sid Hartman reported Sunday that Radke does indeed plan to retire after the season. The story also included the tidbit that Radke and his wife are building a house in Florida, and that their current house, on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, is "infected with mold."
Hartman's column Monday, however, included the correction- thanks to e-mail from Mrs. Radke- that it is in fact the Radkes' house in Florida that has the mold, not the one in Minnesota that they're presumably trying to sell. Way to go, Sid, probably singlehandedly knocking down the value of their home by tens of thousands of dollars.
One paragraph jumped out at me in Bill Simmons' long piece about picking an English Premier League team to root for. Simmons was talking about Tottenham Hotspur, the team he ended up choosing, and he wrote:
As a reader explains, "Way back in the day, other English teams' fans would derisively jeer Tottenham fans, stereotyping them as Jews and calling them just about every anti-Semitic name you could call someone. So, the Hotspurs fans just turned the jeers around, proudly proclaiming themselves a 'Jew Army' and -- despite the fact that most weren't even Jewish -- embraced the imagery wholeheartedly. Just to spit in the face of the racist idiots who misidentified them in the first place."I think I'm going to have to adopt them as my team, too. And in the meantime, I think the Hotspurs are needed right about now in Northern Israel.
Yes, the middle-aged rockers have written an open letter to Luke Wilson, accusing his brother of steeling the plot of "You, Me, and Dupree" from them. News to Walter and Donald- if you'd seen that movie, you wouldn't quite be in such a rush to take credit for it.
The biggest surprise, to me, about the Kevin Smith/Joel Siegel feud: who ever heard of Seigal not liking a movie? I thought he was primarily known for praising the worst of the worst.
BTW, here's my brief review of "Clerks II," for those of you who just got to it this weekend.
David Brooks, on a debate between pundits Jeffrey Goldberg and Reuel Gerecht over Mideast policy:
When it was Goldberg’s turn, his first observation was that sometimes fevers break the disease but sometimes they kill the patient. The only difference, he said, between the terrorists and the “moderate” Islamic supremacists that Gerecht would empower is that the terrorists want to kill all Americans and all Jews whereas the moderates only want to kill all the Jews.
I know this is going to be spun as yet another case of the Phillies ignoring what their fans really want and getting rid of a fan favorite, but really Sal wasn't all that good a player, and Chris Coste is playing his old role with much more success. Not to mention, the Eagles have begun training camp, so most people in Philly stopped paying attention to baseball weeks ago.
Anyone catch that car chase in Houston on Friday? A 50-something guy robbed a dry cleaner and then fled in a white pickup truck (shades of O.J.), after which he led police on a chase for over two hours, and the whole thing was shown on CNN Headline News. (It's not like there's a war going on in the Middle East, or anything like that).
Anyway, Kenneth Ray Pool maneuvered all over highways, streets, and dirt roads, sometimes into oncoming traffic, and at one point he even drove through a golf course. He eventually drove into a creek, at which point Becca and I left our hotel to attend Bill's wedding. I later read that he had surrendered.
The lastest trade rumor concerning Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu now involves a whole lot more. A New York Post story today had Abreu, Pat Burrell, David Bell and Tom Gordon going to the New York Yankees for - get this - Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and a player to be named.I mean, don't be ridiculous. There's no way the Yankees would ever take back Tom Gordon.
A-Rod, for what it's worth, has already said he would veto the alleged "trade."
That's right, he never existed. And won't be missed, either.
I'm a suburban white male who is "well-educated, gainfully employed and blogs fully clothed." This survey says I'm right in the correct demographic.
There's an interesting blog post over at Classical Values about George Harleigh, a retired political scientist from Southern Illinois University who is also described as a veteran of the Nixon and Reagan administrations but an outspoken opponent of President Bush. He's been quoted in literally hundreds of websites and newspaper articles- but, does he really exist?
Calls by the blogger to SIU, and searches of Lexus-Nexis for published material by him, find no mention of Harleigh, and he's not mentioned on Google anywhere other than in providing quotes to blogs. Anyone ever heard of this guy, and have any evidence that exists or did exist? I'm figuring either he's real and everyone's wrong, or someone just made him up and his same few quotes have been recycled again and again for years, or there's some guy out there claiming to be a disgruntled former Nixon/Reagan aide.
Via Deadspin, we learn of a piece in the Chicago Sports Review about how to plan your wedding date so that it doesn't conflict with anything, sports-wise. As my intended and I are both big sports fans, this is certainly something that could have been an issue.
We're getting married in mid-May next year. College and pro Football will be long over, as will the NFL draft. March Madness? Also over. Baseball will be in the first few weeks of the season, and the NBA and NHL will both be well into the playoffs by then, although I can't imagine the Wolves, Wild, Sixers, or Flyers will still be alive at that point.
My only concern? The once-every-three-years Twins-Phillies interleague series is scheduled for '07, and hopefully it won't be part of the pre-Memorial Day series of games. Because if it's our wedding weekend, I won't be able to march into Citizen's Bank Park in full Twins garb, which I've been looking forward to doing for quite a while now.
And do it to a techno beat. With tubes. Massive, massive tubes.
"Such a policy [as Israel's] violates international law and is un-American and un-Christian."- Lifelong Jew-hater Pat Buchanan, taking a predictable stance on the current Mideast events. Since he was last seen questioning whether America was right to enter World War II, it's really time to stop paying attention to this loathsome assclown.
Here's a takedown of his column.
"By the way, I don't actually believe Peyton Manning is gay. I believe he masturbates to game film while shouting out dummy calls to his right hand. I also believe he calls his penis "Jeff Saturday". He's gridirosexual."-The great "Kissing Suzy Kolber," making a list of the most-likely-to-be-gay NFL players while also making fun of those creepy commercials with the "miniature" Peyton Manning and Kevin Garnett.
No, I'm not talking about that seat-burn he used to get during the Tour de France every year.
First of all, Lance is in trouble with Richard Sandomir of the New York Times for telling a poor-taste "anal-sex joke" while hosting the ESPYs last week. (Sandomir, however, doesn't say what the joke is. And since I purposely skipped the ESPYs, I can't say either.*)
Meanwhile, Armstrong is also "facing a wave of Gallic outrage," according to the Times of London, because he referred to France's soccer team as -wait for it- "assholes."
*The joke, according to the transcript, was Armstrong asking actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who was in "Brokeback Mountain,"
"JAKE, WHY ARE YOU SITTING IN THE FRONT? I THOUGHT YOU LIKED IT IN THE REAR. (LAUGHTER) THE REAR OF THE THEATER YOU SICK PEOPLE, COME ON!"Not so much offensive, as just plain not particularly funny.
Philadelphia Weekly ran a truly bizarre cover story last week, a heavy-throated attack on local radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, illustrated with a photo of the back of Smerconish's bald head, and the question "Is Michael Smerconish Ready to Stop Being a Right-Wing Asswipe?"
Now, certain positions of Smerconish certainly deserve a level of skeptism, if not derision, and head-on character assassination can be very funny, especially coming in the alternative press. But Steven Wells' article whiffs, big time, probably because it's so bizarre and mean-spirited.
Wells' main point seems to be that he's dumbfounded that someone like Smerconish could grow up in the era of punk rock, yet somehow become a Reagan conservative rather than adopting a more punk-inflected lifestyle and politics. And in arguing this Wells makes a common alt-weekly mistake, in boiling down everything in life to simply "punk" vs. "anti-punk." Isn't Wells aware that Reagan's heyday lasted much longer, and had quite a few more supporters, than '70s punk ever did?
The author also seems unable to grasp why in the world someone would have politics different from his, and also sees "hope," at article's end, that since Smerconish has occasionally taken more moderate positions, he is getting ready to suddenly become a leftist. This betrays a certain ignorance both about how politics work (not everyone is down-the-line left or right), and how talk radio works (the host sometimes has to surprise, and challenge, his audience).
And worst of all, despite reading Michael's book, listening to his radio show for weeks, and watching all of his recent TV appearanes, Wells makes no mention at all of either Smerconish's mind-boggling recent interview with Debbie Schlussel, or his appearance the day before on MSNBC in a "Texas tuxedo."
How do we know football season's coming up? Because once again, we're getting a new idiocy from Terrell Owens every single day.
Owens, who is to the NFL what Hezbollah is to international politics, earlier this week claimed that he was misquoted in his own autobiography, a charge just as ridiculous as it is unoriginal (Charles Barkley claimed the same thing, in the same town, 15 years ago). Then today, T.O. blamed "the media" for portraying him as a selfish bastard. Yea, it's all the media's fault. How dare they report the truth.
Would I be a bad person if I secretly wished for Owens to suffer a career-ending injury on the first play of the pre-season?
First Sacha Baron Cohen's brilliant turn in "Talladega Nights," and now this.
Are you ready for Hatebeak? Yes, it's a death metal band, in which the lead singer... is a parrot! Check out some of their mp3s on the site, and also the truly brilliant promotional copy, which describes Hatebeak as "a beak in the ass of all things sacred," and also alleges that "the pecking order has been re-established." The bird even has a MySpace page, with over 1,100 friends.
David Edelstein of New York Magazine on the awful-looking "Lady in the Water":
"In the absence of a neurological disorder, a filmmaker who boasts about hearing voices is either scamming the congregation or has come to believe that the universe revolves around him. Given the twerpy messianism of Lady in the Water, it’s pretty clear that M. Night Shyamalan regards himself as a sacred vessel. His new movie is like Splash reworked by a grandiose Sunday-school teacher."Yea, M. Night's self-promotion is getting to be a bit much. Especially the part where he puts out a book the day before the movie's released, all about what a misunderstood genius he is.
Yes, at this point it is safe to say that the right-wing blogosphere has gone nuts. (Not that the Kos idiots are much better, but we're not talking about them right now). First, Malkin and Co. pretended as though an innocuous New York Times style section piece was actually a murder plot against Cheney and Rumsfeld. Other righty bloggers regularly take it as a given that the New York Times and the rest of "MSM" are "on the side of the terrorists."
Now, we have a post by Paul Mirengoff of Power Line who is, yes, comparing the Democrats to Goebbels. Because it's only those crazy leftists who compare Bush to Hitler. In the post, Mirengoff cherry-picks a couple of quotes from Democrats blaming Bush for the current MidEast war- and then suddenly equates that with (drumroll please) Nazi Germany. Because as we all know, criticizing the president is exactly like defending a genocidal and fascist regime...
"In terms of the style of its propaganda, this is a party in which Joseph Goebbels would feel at home."Since the Democratic Party has, you know, Jews and blacks and Hispanics in it, I'd imagine that Goebbels perhaps wouldn't quite exactly "feel at home."
President Bush is in some trouble after a camera caught him telling Tony Blair that "See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."
Blame him? Nah. I think it's the smartest thing Bush has said since he took office. If only he'd referred to the head of Hezbollah as a "major league asshole."
But, but... I thought Ahmadinejad liked Hitler. And that he believed there was no Holocaust. And that genocide against Jews ("wipe Israel off the map") was something he was in favor of. But then, what do I know?
For the record: I am 100% in favor of what Israel is currently doing. Charles Krauthammer has already written exactly what I feel, so go and read that. But I would like to see things settle down relatively soon.
Daniel Rubin of Philly.com has an excellent roundup of this strange turn of events.
Jonathan Last: "It hurts because it's true. Every last world."
George Steinbrenner: "I like Bobby Abreu. Everybody likes Bobby Abreu."
George is apparently just senile enough these days to avoid tampering charges.
News Item: Frontman Cuomo Says Weezer Breaking Up.
Damn, that's awful, they were one of my favorite bands. But I'd imagine Rivers Cuomo has a very good solo album or two in him.
On WIP this morning, Anthony Gargano and Steve Martorano were talking about Chris Webber's complaints that he was made the "scapegoat" for the Fan Appreciation Night debacle, when both he and Allen Iverson skipped the game. "We shouldn't be worried about this guy," Gargano said, "we should be worried about Barbaro."
Such an unfair comparison. Because at this point, Barbaro's knees are in much better shape than Webber's.
"Even the healthiest attitude toward same-sex relationships will not prepare an audience for You, Me and Dupree, a mainstream comedy which clings to a love triangle constructed between one woman and two men, and owes as much to Brokeback Mountain as it does to There's Something About Mary."-Sean O'Connell, on FilmCritic.com. Yea, I caught that too. The movie had a few funny gags here and there, but ultimately it just didn't work. Also, a likely career-worst performance from Michael Douglas.
A much better film? "Talladega Nights," with Will Ferrell, which I saw tonight. Everyone who loved "Anchorman" will love this too, I assure you- it's the same hilarious, anarchic spirit, and is likely to inspire one of the most-read "Memorable Quotes" sections on IMDB. But the highlight was unquestionably Sacha Baron Cohen's turn as a gay French NASCAR driver, a performance I don't think I stopped laughing at from beginning to end. It's Cohen's fourth great character.
And no, you don't have to like NASCAR to like the movie (I certainly don't). And even after seeing it, I'm still not sure if they were making fun of NASCAR/Southern culture, or paying homage to it.
No, I'm not particularly upset about Kenneth Lay's death, but I am pretty steamed about reports from his funeral. Andrew Sullivan:
In the funeral for corporate thief and crook, Ken Lay, we have a spectacular display of what is wrong with contemporary Republicanism. We have the famiglia paying their respects to a loyal money-man - Bush senior, Baker, Mosbacher. And we have the exoneration of malfeasance by the Christianist doctrine that if you're on our side, you can do no wrong. Ken Lay up there with Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr? And the amazing thing is that this is sincere. Christianist spiritual hubris - fused with political and financial power - is phariseeism remade.I prefer the "News of the Weird"-popularized British eulogy, in which Canon Michael Dittmer called 52-year-old Fred Clark "a very disagreeable man with little
News Item: Pitt, Jolie To Star in Daniel Pearl Biopic
Does this mean they can't adopt their next kid from Pakistan?
Apologies... this blog was dark for the last 24 hours or so, but now it's working again and so are comments. We'll be back with more momentarily.
My prediction that the rise of Danica Patrick would spur a return of '70s-era women-can't-drive jokes never really came true, but fellow driver Ed Carpenter did the next-best (or worst) thing yesterday, making a tasteless joke about how Danica will succeed in her upcoming NASCAR run, "especially if you catch her at the right time of the month."
Normally Carpenter would be in lots of trouble for such a thing, and I could see him losing sponsorship. But then again, the IRL isn't exactly in the same PC throes as the other major sports, and all Carpenter was doing was recycling the 25-year-old Robin Williams joke about how if there were a woman president, "there would never be any wars. Just every 28 days, some severe negotiations."
Comments are once again on the fritz, but I'm hoping they'll be fixed again, and this time for good, by the end of the day on Thursday.
Yes, the paper I work for is better than this one. I swear.
Has a blog post ever made you want to stand up and applaud? It doesn't happen for me often, but then there's this fake "interview" with Bears quarterback Brian Griese, by the brilliantly named and even more brilliantly written football blog Kissing Suzy Kolber.
Bit of a howler in Thomas Boswell's column yesterday, in which he interviewed several old-school managers in regards to Ozzie Guillen and his sometimes-volatile behavior. I just couldn't believe what came out of Tommy LaSorda's mouth:
Lasorda, the former Dodgers manager here for the festivities, made it clear that many managers in his time were characters while still knowing the values and standards of the larger society around them.Would this be the same Tommy LaSorda who disowned his gay son, and never acknowledged that he died of AIDS? And he's ripping Guillen's treatment of the press, when he's the guy who did the famous Dave Kingman tirade?
"It's what Ozzie said that's putting him in hot water," Lasorda said when asked about Guillen's recent slur. "You never heard me say anything like that to anybody. You never heard any of those [Hall of Fame] managers say anything like that.
But hey, he never called a reporter a fag, so he's all good.
Funny bit from Page Six on CNBC anchor Joe Kernan, who I'm guessing fell victim to a since-fired, "Entourage"-loving summer intern:
Monday afternoon, while doing a roundup of the weekend's box office, Kernan said: "Disney was the big winner . . . 'Pirates' plunders the box office, making $132 million in its first three days at the box office. The previous three-day record was 'Aquaman' at $120-plus, which beat out the 115 million which was set back by 'Spider-Man' back in May of '02.' " Unfortunately, there has been no "Aquaman" movie - except in episodes of HBO's "Entourage."At least he didn't tell the entire country to go fuck themselves.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has referred to the Hezbollah kidnappings of two Israeli soldiers as an "act of war," but Philly.com appears to have missed something in the translation, calling the declaration, in a front page headline, an "act of wear."
UPDATE: It's been fixed. But it took like a half hour.
"What's happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition. Whether you agree with him or not, he is transparently the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men. But over the past few years he has been subjected to a vituperation campaign that only experts in moral manias and mob psychology are really fit to explain. I can't reproduce the typical assaults that have been directed at him over the Internet, because they are so laced with profanity and ugliness, but they are ginned up by ideological masseurs who salve their followers' psychic wounds by arousing their rage at objects of mutual hate."-David Brooks, writing in TimesSelect.
I really don't know which horse to back in the Lieberman/Lamont war. On the one hand, I've never been a huge fan of Lieberman's, since I find him a sanctimonious and unlikable personality, going all the way back to his support for movie censorship. That sort of stuff has turned me off big time, especially since on most of the issues I'm a natural supporter of his.
But on the other hand, Lamont looked unprepared and totally in over his head in their televised debate last week. And even more importantly, a Lieberman loss would not only give power to the Daily Kos community- something which would not be good for the Democratic party at all- but it would send the message that centrists and liberal hawks are not welcome in what should be an inclusive, big-tent party. This entire fight, after all, has exposed a huge rift in the party at a time when the Republicans are especially weak. And that rift, which has only widened since September 11, must be repaired before the Dems can assume power again.
But all this, of course, is for the voters of Connecticut to decide.
News Item: Baseball Signs 7-Year Deal To Remain on Fox.
Those of us who have suffered through the last several years of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver mangling important baseball telecasts got some bad news today, as we learned the World Series and one of the two League Championship Series will remain on Fox through 2013 (the other LCS package is still up for bid; TBS will air the first round exclusively). This is too bad- I was really hoping I'd get to hear Bob Costas call another World Series this decade.
But on the bright side, the Atlanta Braves are now not only not winners, but they're also no longer America's Team, as TBS has dropped their longstanding telecasts of their games. Not a big surprise, since the team is no longer owned by AOL/Time Warner/Turner.
Well, a feel a little bit better about the T-Wolves for next year, after today's signing of free agent point guard Mike James to a four-year deal.
True, I'm conscious of John Hollinger's recent discovery that the teams who signed 20 of the last 35 free agent contracts of more than $15 million per year would likely give away the player if they could. And I know NBA players practically always play well in their free agent year (as James did) before sulking and sucking post-contract. And yes, I am aware that the Wolves are still stuck with Marko Jaric for four more years, and Mark Blount for three more, and their starting center is still Eddie "The Masturbating Bear" Griffin.
But they didn't trade Garnett. And a backcourt of James and Randy Foye makes me feel much better than the mediocrities the Wolves trotted out last year.
My man Paul Katcher has a funny piece on ESPN.com's Page 2, expanding on an earlier blog post he wrote on what your sports jersey says about you. And yes, I would certainly take umbrage at anyone who appeared in my sight wearing a David Ortiz Twins jersey.
Paul's piece also represents a promotion from his previous appearances on the now-defunct Page 3.
The former professional wrestler Rick Steiner, known as the Dog-faced Gremlin and as part of the Steiner Brothers tag team, has decided to take his act into the political arena, running for another term on a school board in Georgia.
But in a development that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers him as one of the dimmer wrestlers in history, Steiner has had to pursue a write-in candidacy, because he mistakenly filed for office under his real name, Robert Rechsteiner, rather than his ring name, Rick Steiner. Let me say, I'd vote for either Ron Simmons or Butch Reed over Rick.
This trend of ex-pro wrestlers going into politics sure is weird, but it's still vastly preferable to the much bigger trend of ex-pro wrestlers dying in their 40s.
This is the 5000th post in the history of this blog. Thanks so much, everyone, for reading all of 'em.
When it was announced the other day that LeBron James' contract extension with Cleveland was fewer years than originally announced, the story was broken on ESPN.com, by Stephen A. Smith.
In breaking that story, shouldn't Smith maybe have disclosed that particular business relationship?
No, I didn't write this story, but apparently there is a Steve Silver working on the sports desk at the Washington Times. And even better, I was made aware of this by my West Coast contact, who is also named Steve Silver. I'm sure, if he were alive, the "Beach Blanket Babylon" guy would be involved too.
There's a great piece by Ben McGrath in this week's New Yorker about the NYC radio station Hot 97 and the various feuds and shootings that have taken place therein in recent years. The best part is the story of former DJ Star:
Star was fired from Hot 97 in 2003, after more than a dozen suspensions. (He referred to the station’s general manager, Mayo, as “Benson,” and to his bosses at Emmis as “the big Jew engine.”) He then promised to visit “doomsday” on his old employer, and was eventually hired by the competition, Power 105. In the preceding week, that doomsday plan had taken the form of berating his ex-colleague Envy, whose given name is Raashaun Casey, and his family, in spectacularly vile fashion, vowing, Mike Tyson style, not only to come after the Caseys’ child but to eat her; he made reference to spreading mayonnaise on her rear, as a dressing. He’d also indicated that he wished to “tinkle” and “skeet” on the girl (“your seed”), who is four, and offered five hundred dollars to any listener who could tell him which preschool she attended.Wow. Especially the Ayn Rand part. The Objectivists respond here.
Hot 97 had not sat idly by. Star’s defense—other than his sworn allegiance to an Ayn Rand-inspired philosophy he calls “objective hate”—was that Envy’s on-air partner, Miss Jones, had spent the same first few days of May calling Star an “alcoholic,” a “faggot,” a “spermless dwarf,” and the son of a white prostitute “who got knocked up by the blackest, blackest, blackest nigger—and then the coochie must not have been that good because he left her.” Jones, who is black, invoked her own child—a one-year-old son—for the purpose of comparing penis sizes with Star; they were, she said, “about the same.”
The 71-year-old Phillies co-owner did an interview with the Inquirer's Todd Zolecki tonight that has the WIP folks going absolutely apeshit, thereby proving his point for him:
"Too many people believe the talk shows are the pulse of the public, and I don't happen to believe that at all. There are crazy people that call in and the announcers create a perception, but I don't believe it. I just don't think the public... I know so many people that are dyed in the wool Phillies fans who love the team, win, lose or draw... I think negative talk shows are negative to the performance of all things. I really do. I really feel that way. Somebody said since Liberty Place 1 and 2 have gone above William Penn's hat that nobody has won a championship in Philadelphia. I think talk shows are an issue with some of the players. The players listen to it and hear about it. I don't think it's a positive influence on winning any game, whether it be hockey or basketball or baseball or whatever."Yes. exactly.
On the question of why Philadelphia has gone 23 years, the longest of any city with all four sports, without winning a championship, the sports radio host/caller consensus is the following: The players suck, the coaches suck, the owners suck, the executives suck, and the media sucks. But the fans can do no wrong whatsoever.
I'm not saying the players and owners and everybody else don't bare some, if not most, responsibility for the long drought. But can it possibly be a coincidence that the city with the most hostile fans in the country has also gone the longest without a championship? Don't you think maybe getting told they suck all the time isn't good for the local teams?
And yes, Giles is right that the angry talk show callers don't represent the fans as a whole. Clearly, those who call into talk radio are those who feel the strongest, and feel the most negative (no one ever called WIP to say "Gee, Ryan Howard did great tonight!") That's the nature of the medium. I learned this, after two weeks of hearing callers vow to never again attend a Phillies game, when I went to a game last week and the crowds were at about pre-Myers levels.
And finally, if fans are ripping players and owners constantly, why the hell shouldn't players or owners be able to rip them back? Why is that such an outrage?
I'm guessing Giles was talking out of school in this regard, since he was forced out as majority owner years ago, and his comments probably aren't the viewpoint that the ownership group wants out there. But regardless, I'm still glad he said it.
UPDATE: I posted this before reading the entire interview. While I stand by what I said about Giles' comments on the Philadelphia fans, it should go without saying that I do not agree with his contention that Brett Myers didn't really hit his wife, and do agree that Giles deserves to be put through the wringer for saying such a thing.
But it's still brilliant. Great, great material last night on "The Lost Episodes," especially Dave's revenge on his enemies, and the Tupac Shakur "I wrote this song years ago" bit. Even if the show really is over, I can't wait for the other two episodes.
In the past week, there have been dozens and dozens of stories written about Francisco Liriano being snubbed from the All-Star Game. But guess what- he's now made the team anyway, as an injury replacement. I'd prefer to complain about his not being in the rotation the first two months of the season.
Strange, isn't it, that the news of "Pee Wee's Playhouse" returning on Adult Swim should coincide with the 15th anniversary of Paul Reubens' arrest for indecent exposure, which is coming up later this month.
I guess if a public-masturbation arrest didn't end Pee Wee's career, it probably won't end Eddie Griffin's, either.
The meaning is clear: Journalists - who thrive and matter in free societies, but are prosecuted and vanish in authoritarian ones - do not want Islamofascism to triumph.-The Editorial page of my corporate overlords over at the Philadelphia Inquirer, yesterday.
The controversy is not really about that, but this: how best to ensure that America endures as a nation upholding liberty and free speech.
Should we have a government of secrets, surveillance and fear-mongering, one that Vladimir Putin could love? Or a government that tells its citizens most of what it is up to and stands ready to be held accountable for its deeds, one James Madison would applaud?...
Can't just blame "liberal media" bias, not when Fox News is No. 1 and Ann Coulter tops best-seller lists. So, up the ante: "Bill Keller is a traitor."
This is false. This is mean. This is reckless and over the line.
It should be denounced by any American who prizes the First Amendment and the ideals of civil, democratic discourse.
News Item: Al-Qaeda Tried to Attack PATH Train
Since I took the PATH almost every day for about three years, this is a bit disconcerting. Then again, I did refer to the train as the "PATH of the righteous man" because it was, on one day in 2001, beset on one side by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
"If you think the Philly media had trouble handling AI, just wait until you see what happens in Boston, a city that leads the country in "middle-aged white sportswriters and radio hosts who are openly threatened by cornrows, tattoos, chest-pounding and general belligerence with the media... Here's a prediction: Within the next 15 years, Philadelphia becomes the first city to ban professional sports for an entire calendar year to preserve everyone's collective safety. We're really getting to that danger point. Hooligans, rioting, you name it"-Bill Simmons, on the possibility of Allen Iverson being traded to the Celtics, probably for not nearly enough.
I can't wait for the Eagles to report to training camp in three weeks, so 15 people a day can irately call WIP and complain about Donovan McNabb sitting the wrong way on the bench during practice.
"'M giving "Strangers With Candy" one star for every laugh it gave me [zero]. The Amy Sedaris comedy based on the failed TV show isn't the least funny film of the year - but for that it should send a thank-you note to "United 93...' The point of the movie is to take down white trash, but can trash be taken any lower than it already is? Sedaris and crew are doing not satire but manic caricature, trying to bring life to feeble punch lines by screaming them. This movie is worse than flying from JFK to Singapore in the middle seat between two chatty Scientologists. It's worse than do-it-yourself rhinoplasty. It's even worse than college improv."-Kyle Smith in the New York Post, taking down 'Strangers,' which is easily the worst movie I've seen this year. I guess I just don't get it- it's like the humor was coming from another universe or something.
Yes, the city of Seattle has begun a program to provide free, permanent, government-financed housing for homeless local drunks, in which case they are allowed to drink to their hearts' content. They also "do not have to promise to drink less, attend Alcoholics Anonymous or go to church." Can't imagine what could possibly go wrong there.
So many things wrong with this. Why would the city spend public money to allow problem alcoholics to keep drinking? Why not encourage them to stop drinking? And what do you tell homeless people who aren't alcoholics? That they're out of luck, and can't get an apartment unless they start? And the worst part of all:
Influential Bush administration officials have come to support this project, including the on-site drinking. John Meyers, director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's regional office here, said he blanched when he learned that his agency had pledged $2 million for it. He now calls 1811 Eastlake "a glorious experiment."That tells us a lot, doesn't it?
Last week it was announced that two WWE superstars, Rob Van Dam and Sabu, had been arrested for drug possession after a routine traffic stop in Ohio. Since Van Dam's entire gimmick is that he's a stoner, and that his best-known catchphrase is "RVD 4:20," the entire episode isn't much of a surprise.
The two have thus been suspended under the WWE's "wellness program," a drug-testing regime so laughable that it makes baseball's system look totalitarian by comparison. Under the policy, wrestlers are trusted for drugs each year, and they are only suspended if they have more drugs in their system than they did the previous test. No, that's not a joke. I'd like to see Congress have hearings on that.
Anyway, the "wellness program" apparently doesn't include punishments for drug arrests, as RVD was suspended and Sabu was fined, and RVD was forced to abdicate both the WWE and ECW championship belts in separate matches earlier this week.
"Pop music is a lot like Halloween: It gives women an excuse to pretend they're sluts."-Nick Catucci, in the Village Voice, considering the new Nelly Furtado album, and asking whether Nelly has chosen to don "the assless chaps of conformity."
Is there any greater July 4 gift imaginable than a 19-1 Yankee loss to Cleveland, on George Steinbrenner's birthday? Not exactly a replay of Dave Righetti's no-hitter in '83. Though still not quite as enjoyable as the Yankees' 22-0 loss, also to Cleveland, back in 2004.
News Item: Enron's Kenneth Lay Dies at 64.
It's really unfortunate that this vile, swindling gonnif never served a day in prison, and even more unfortunate that he died at his vacation home in Colorado. After he was accused, and convicted, of perpetuating massive fraud, why the hell was Lay allowed to keep his home? I don't remember the same courtesy being extended to Johnny Sack.
They won tonight, their 11th in a row, and their 19th out of their last 20. They've never had a run like this, even in '87 and '91.
Glenn Greenwald has a great post on how an innocuous New York Times travel section piece on Cheney and Rumsfeld's summer homes has half the conservative blogosphere thinking the NYT is trying to murder them. Just hilarious stuff.
"Thank You For Smoking," "United 93," "Cars," "Inside Man," "Lucky Number Slevin," "Superman Returns."
I renew my annual objection to the furor over "All-Star snubs," which is presently underway after Mark Redman made the AL team over Francisco Liriano. I say this is really no big deal, for three reasons:
1. The All-Star Game isn't that big a deal.
2. Nobody ever remembers, even a day later, who did or didn't make it, and
3. Every year, most of the players who are "snubbed" end up making the team anyway, since so many All-Stars always drop out due to injury or lack of interest. Every year, this happens, and every year, everyone forgets. Enough already.
That was the impression when I read this morning's Philly.com headline:
While I was wondering why in God's name anyone would try to bring crack aboard the space shuttle, I realized it meant "A crack," not "crack." Not as bad as the AP's labrium/labia screwup of last week, but pretty embarrassing nonetheless.