The Cards are about to complete the worst end-of-season collapse in baseball history. Yea, it's the media's fault. I guess they should've just ignored it.
"Why on earth would a good liberal/progressive/moderate/Democrat be less than thrilled when a giant like Frank Rich is kind enough to give us a book?... As a political writer, Rich is a marginal crackpot — just this side of a flat-out shelled nut. And yes — he's done gigantic harm to liberal interests over the course of the past dozen years. And yet, sensitive liberals cry and complain when someone dares to notice the problem. Why would a Democrat dislike Rich's work? Frankly, because he has read it."-Blogger Bob Somerby, sounding off against Rich, who is truly a special kind of bad writer, even when I agree with him.
During a Comcast Sportsnet segment tonight on the T.O. fallout (isn't there always some sort of T.O. fallout?), the reporter interviewed Jets running back Kevan Barlow, a teammate of Owens' in San Francisco, for reaction. Barlow said that he wished Owens well, because he always found T.O. to be "a great guy."
Yes, this is the same Kevan Barlow who, after being traded from the Niners last month, said that San Fran coach Mike Nolan is both "like a dictator" and "like Hitler."
So, let's review: Terrell Owens = Great guy. Mike Nolan = Hitler. Though if you believe Owens, the only person in that formulation who has ever attempted suicide is... Hitler.
Everyone's favorite Kazakh TV personality visited Washington yesterday, in connection with the state visit of Kazakh president Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, as well as his upcoming feature film (Borat's, not Nursultan's).
I got the press release about this e-mailed to me yesterday morning; had I had more than 24 hours notive, I may very well have made the trip down to DC for that, and for the delayed-five-hours-by-rain Phillies/Nats game.
Which when everyone, including Gleeman, had conceded the AL Central to Detroit, the Twins charged back tonight to tie the division again, hitting a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth, before Jason Bartlett won it in the 10th on a Gene Larkin-like bases-loaded single to center.
The Tigers lost earlier in the day, in order to facilitate the tie. However, the tie isn't really a tie, since Detroit wins the tiebreaker, so the Twins will have to make up one more game in order to claim their fourth division title in five years.
Best of all? Brad Radke returned to make the final regular-season start of his career, pitching five innings of three-hit ball, and giving up only a single (unearned) run. With him, and not Carlos Silva, in the playoff rotation, the Twins' chances of winning at least one series raise about 1000%.
And that vaunted Yankees lineup we're supposed to be afraid of? They almost got no-hit, at home, by Baltimore.
Oh, there are so many, after one of the wildest days in sports/news media history. We've now clearly reached the Terri Schiavo phase of the T.O. suicide/overdose case, in which everyone feels the need to supply an exact medical diagnosis, despite no inside information, medical knowledge, or any expertise whatsoever.
My hunch? In that press conference, T.O. didn't look to me like someone who had tried to kill himself less than 24 hours before. But he didn't sound honest, either. My guess? He was doing something untoward with the painkiller drugs, whether it's an addiction or simply overdependence. When, in the press conference, he mentioned "Romo," it took me a minute to realize he was referring to backup QB Tony Romo, and not Bill Romanowski. The latter Romo would certainly be the man to approach in regards to obtaining pills, possibly even from his own personal tacklebox.
At any rate, a few unanswered questions that remain, 24 hours after the Overdose That Shook the World:
- If Owens is now popping more pain pills than is generally recommended to heal a minor hand injury during Week 3 of the regular season, how many was he stuffing in his mouth in order to play in the Super Bowl two years ago, post-ankle surgery?
- What was T.O.'s young, attractive, female "publicist" doing at his house late at night? And, what ever happened to his "fiance," the one with the last name "Terrell"?
- Speaking of the soon-to-be-out-of-work PR "professional," what kind of publicist chews gum during a nationally televised press conference?
- And where was Rosenhaus? Did he decide, after last year, that perhaps having him at his side for Owens' bimonthly public apologies wasn't helping? Then again, maybe he was off with his other client.
- Was anyone really surprised when T.O.'s other "agent," Dan Le Batard, wrote an ESPN.com piece called "I Believe T.O?" I am shocked- shocked! This would be like Sean Hannity writing a book called "I Believe Dick Cheney."
- When Bill Parcells went before the cameras, admitted to the press corps that he had no idea what was going on with the Owens story, got testy, and then walked out, isn't that an indication that Jerry Jones has kept him significantly out of the loop? Parcells said he hadn't heard anything was wrong until mid-morning today. I heard something was wrong from reading the AP wire at around midnight last night. It doesn't bode well for the Cowboys if I'm more in the loop than Parcells is.
- And, now that it appears Owens will return to football as though nothing happened, how much crazier does this situation make the Eagles-Cowboys game on October 8? I can predict the litany already: Fans throw aspirin bottles at Owens, tell him to kill himself, chant "OD, OD, OD, OD," and probably worse. National media is OUTRAGED at behavior. Philly fans are OUTRAGED that they're singled out when other cities are (cough) worse. Of course, they'll be even more OUTRAGED after the game if the Eagles lose, at which point a couple dozen lunatics will suggest to WIP that hey, despite it all, they should've kept Owens instead of McNabb after all.
Like they wouldn't cheer at the Linc if Owens suffered any kind of injury. I know I would.
The right-wing radio talker Jay Severin, who is every bit as entertaining as he is batshit insane, has announced that he will cease his nationwide talk show, known as "Jay Severin Has Issues," in order to appear exclusively on WTKK in Boston.
Severin, among other misdeeds, has: Referred to Pat Buchanan as "my personal and political hero"; spread on the air an obviously false internet meme that suggested Al Gore didn't know who Osama Bin Laden was; advocated invading and occupying Mexico "and making English their official language;" lied about winning a Pulitzer Prize; and left Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show under mysterious circumstances. Other than that, though? Great guy.
My favorite moment of the all-too-brief Syndicated Severin Era? Probably the time the Kidd Chris-affiliated Cream Team bombarded him with five prank phone calls in a row. I don't think Jay ever recovered.
I'm sure more exciting stuff than that happened, but Severin's show has been pre-empted most nights in Philly by baseball games (and by Sinatra on Fridays).
From Bill Simmons' mailbag column this week, after Bill was asked if he would accept, if offered, the GM job with the Sixers:
"Running an NBA team is my dream job. And I'd have a built-in competitive advantage, being one of the only GMs with any semblance of common sense. I think I'd have a 95 percent chance of succeeding as long as I didn't suffer a head injury. Plus, the chance to become a lifelong hero in a city as bitter as Philly would be too enticing to pass up. It would be like dating a girl who had just had 39 consecutive horrible boyfriends over the past 10 years. How could you lose?"That bitter city almost had a reason to be bitter again tonight, after the Phils beat Washington in 13 innings to avoid a third straight loss, and keep the Dodgers' wild card lead at 1.
What a weird game. It was horribly played by both sides, at bat, in the field, and on the mound, and most strangely of all, half the crowd or more seemed to be Phillies fans, and the Nats fans lookd like they all went home after the 9th. One Philly sportswriter noticed today that earlier in the series, Pat Burrell had achieved the rare feat of being booed for striking out in another team's stadium. (After Thursday, the Phils will finish the regular season in Florida, where there are expected to be next to no fans of either team in the stands).
In other news, the Twins and Tigers both lost, keeping the gap at 1- and the Twins really need to drop Carlos Silva from the postseason roster before he ruins the season completely.
The biggest surprise? I wouldn't have thought that Dustin Diamond had slept with two different women in the last ten years, much less at the same time.
News Item: Vikings Sign Drew Henson to Practice Squad
He's already washed out of two different sports, and couldn't even get on the depth chart in Dallas, but Henson was a pretty good QB at Michigan- good enough, in fact, to keep Tom Brady on the bench. And, the Vikes have had success with reclamation-project quarterbacks before. It can't hurt to give him a shot.
From New York Press' sports-debate duo of C.J. Sullivan and Brandeis alum Dave Hollander, as they tackle Tony Kornheiser and "Monday Night Football":
SULLIVAN: Yes, he was flat the first week. He needs to come out swinging like Cosell in the future. Do you remember one of Cosell's first games, when he got drunk and threw up on Don Meredith's boots and had to leave the booth at halftime? At least Kornheiser hasn't done that, yet.Yes, mine too. But it would probably lead to his firing from ESPN and the end of PTI, which would officially give me no more reasons to ever watch the Worldwide Leader.
Kornheiser needs to bitchslap that chuckle head Joe Theismann and carve out his own niche. Given his track record, he probably will... the game needs a wild civilian, and Kornheiser is football's best hope.
HOLLANDER: Kornheiser would regain my full respect if he got blotto and puked on Theismann.
Terrell Owens now claims he did not attempt suicide, blaming his blackout last night on a combination of pain medication and supplements, plus a misunderstanding between his female companion/publicist and police.
This followed a crazy incident earlier in the afternoon in whcih Bill Parcells called a press conference, told reporters absolutely nothing, threatened multiple times to leave the room if they kept asking questions, and then finally left.
First of all, great job, publicist. And you thought TO was poorly served by Rosenhaus, as his agent? Even Tom Cruise had better PR representation.
Luckily, this whole thing broke out in the middle of Bill Simmons' four-hour-long ESPN.com chat, and his readers came up with some dynamite material. My favorite parts:
- " T.O.: Totally Overdosed"
- "Please tell me Chad Johnson's newest TD celebration will be to act like he's taking pills and having a siezure."
- "Over/Under: The amount of pill bottles throw on field by Philly fans: 30,000."
And finally, anyone who's been to a Philly sporting event in the last year has seen those guys selling T-shirts that are variations on "TO Sucks, Rosenhaus swallows," and/or "Dallas Sucks, TO Swallows." How long before someone comes up with a version that uses the latter, plus the word "pills"?
UPDATE: Best line of the day, from LilB: "Was TO's suicide attempt 'black on black crime'?"
Corey Haim & Corey Feldman's reality show a goOh my lord. That and the Christies' show should pull Simmons out of the depression caused by the Red Sox missing the playoffs and the Patriots looking even more mediocre.
A&E has ordered 13 episodes of "The Coreys: Return of the Lost Boys," which will capture the '80s teen hearthrobs as one (Feldman) tries to go back into acting while the other (Haim) battles homelessness.
I know it's going to be completely forgotten about now that the TO suicide attempt has replaced it in the headlines, but the return of the league to New Orleans- along with the Saints' return as a contender- has been the best story of the young NFL season. Monday night was a great moment, with the crowd going crazy for the return of football, and ESPN even handling things somewhat respectfully.
But if you listen to one of the diarists over at the Daily Kos (and I'm by no means suggesting that you do), the game was part of an ongoing, clandestine conspiracy by the Worldwide Leader to help Republicans and hurt Democrats:
"For several years, ESPN has been manufacturing fake cheers and fake boos for politicians. It's a very simple rule. If you are a Democrat not named Joe Lieberman, ESPN will play a tape of boos previously recorded and insert them into the audio after the Democrat is announced. If you are a Republican and ESPN is expecting boos, ESPN will play a pre-recorded tape of cheers unrelated to the Republican.Where to even start with this nonsense? Our author shares nothing of what us journalists and others in the legal profession refer to as "evidence," so we must take his argument apart circumstantially.
I've witnessed for years former ESPN commentator like Chris Myers call home runs to right field "a Rush Limbaugh shot, right and fair." I've seen in studio college football analysts gush over Ann Coulter. I've listened to ESPN constantly hype individuals who are well known figures in the Religious Right. I've heard a basketball commentator call Jerry Falwell a good man during a basketball game.
I have no problem with these political views being uttered during a political broadcast. I do have a problem with hearing it during a sports show from the host. (They did hire Rush Limbaugh for goodness sakes!)
When John Kerry was shown on screen at a Red Sox game in 2004, ESPN played a tape of boos. It was NOT the crowd reaction. I knew the tape was fake by that quick click that transitions from live to pre-recorded. ESPN has done this stunt of playing fake cheers and fake boos time and time again. Last night, during Monday Night Football, ESPN did it again. I heard that same click.
It started with right winger Mike Tirico announcing George Bush Sr. to the crowd. Instantaneously you could hear an echo of cheers and not a single boo from the audio. But if you listen carefully to the audio, that audio was not live. ESPN shut off the sound of the Superdome crowd for a few seconds and played this audio of fake cheers. About ten seconds later ESPN had to shut their fake tape off and go to the NFL official on the field for the coin toss. That's when you could hear the REAL crowd noise."
I can't tell if "Dave From Queens" (as the author calls himself) is arguing that ESPN played fake crowd noise in the stadium, or if it was merely piped in to the audience at home. If the former is true, the Saints organization itself would have had to do it, instead of just the network broadcasting the game. and if the latter is true, wouldn't that be a pretty easy thing for people there to determine? Wouldn't, oh, one of the couple of hundred reporters who were at the stadium have noticed that something was up?
Dave appears unaware, and even his commenters point out, that Saints fans regularly yell "Deuce" when their captain Deuce McAllister is on the field, which often sounds like "Boo" (McAllister was on the field for the coin toss), so perhaps that was alleged boo that he thought he heard. The "click" was the sound that is made, on every single sports broadcast, when the director switches from booth audio to the ref's microphone and the on-field audio.
This is also the first I've heard of the accusation that the anti-Kerry booing in 2004 was faked. Would Dave like to share some substantiation of that, as well?
It's possible that Saints' fans aren't big fans of Bush 41. True, his son handled Hurricane Katrina less than admirably, and his wife made that awful comment about how living in the Astrodome was "working out well for them." But Bush the elder, along with President Clinton, has raised millions of dollars for Katrina relief. And, since it was the pregame of the first game back in New Orleans and they were excited for it to start- might that be why they didn't all boo?
A few other howlers here: I've never heard any words out of his mouth, or anyone else's, that suggest in any way that Mike Tirico is a "right-winger." I've never heard Chris Myers- who left ESPN eight years ago, by the way- use that Limbaugh-based home run call. If they've been "constantly hyping" religious-right figures, I have no idea when that was or who it was, nor have I ever heard any college analyst "gush" over Ann Coulter, and I watch ESPN quite a lot. And yes they hired Rush Limbaugh- and then they fired him (deservedly) a month later.
Not to mention, why was Spike Lee- certainly no Republican apologist- allowed to appear in the broadcast booth, along with outspoken liberal Tony Kornheiser? And beyond that, why would ESPN give a low-rated, five-day-a-week show to Stephen A. Smith, who is clearly very much not a Republican?
As anyone who read this blog knows, I'm no apologist for ESPN. In fact, I rip the network constantly. But purposely manipulating crowd noise for partisan political purposes is obviously one charge to which they can safely plead innocense.
There was a fascinating piece by Alan Schwarz in yesterday's New York Times about Silas Simmons, a Negro Leagues legend of the early 20th century who was recently found to be living in a Florida nursing home. Simmons will celebrate a birthday next month- his 111th.
Simmons, born in 1895 and now living in his third century, played for the Homestead Greys and several other Negro League teams, and while baseball historians knew who he was, they had no idea until a couple of months ago that he was still alive. This has led several of those historians to Simmons' nursing home room, where they've heard him tell stories about baseball decades prior to Jackie Robinson.
We were all charmed by Buck O'Neil, the 94-year-old legend who starred in Ken Burns' "Baseball" and spoke at this past summer's Hall of Fame induction. Simmons is 17 years older than O'Neil. He also plans to attend an upcoming reunion of Negro Leaguers- even though most those attending are in their 70s and 80s, and Simmons never knew any of them.
I have no idea what the story is, but the AP is reporting right now that Terrell Owens has been taken to a Dallas-area emergency room. Expect to here more, a lot, throughout the day Wednesday, whatever it is that happened.
UPDATE: In probably the biggest holy-shit sports moment of the year, reports out of Dallas now say that Owens in fact attempted suicide by intentionally overdosing on pain medication. I'll leave to the actual news outlets investigating the matter to update exactly what's going on, but meanwhile, a few quick thoughts:
- Such a thing, a superstar athlete attempting suicide while still an active player, appears completely unprecedented in American sports. The only other I can think of is Dimitrius Underwood, the defensive lineman who the Vikings drafted in the first round in 1999, before he went AWOL during training camp, and later attempted suicide on two different occasions. There was also Barret Robbins' pre-Super Bowl meltdown in 2002, but I'm not sure that counts as a suicide attempt. I might be forgetting someone else, and of course a few other athletes (Donnie Moore, most notably) have killed themselves after retiring.
- The other biggest surprise is that Owens, whose reputation as the world's most narcissistic athlete certainly precedes him, has never in the past shown a hint of depression. Although it is certainly possible that the narcissism was in fact meant to mask deeper demons. Today is certainly not the first time "Terrell Owens" and "mental illness" have appeared in the same sentence.
- The suicide attempt likely means that Owens will not play football for awhile, and certainly not for the much-ballyhooed showdown between the Eagles and Cowboys in Philly on October 8. If the idea is to preserve Owens' mental stability and psychological well-being, having him go onto the field as the most reviled former athlete in a city's history probably isn't the greatest idea.
- Everyone's going to say now that "we can't make fun of TO anymore," and that his status as pro sports' #2 punching bag (after Barry Bonds) will now be in jeopardy. That's probably true for most people, but don't count the Philly fans out yet. There are worse lines they've crossed before.
- Big gaffe this morning on Philly's SportsTalk 950. First, nationally syndicated host Tony Bruno (who I'm normally a big fan of) trashed the reports of a suicide attempt, calling them implausible and criticizing a Dallas radio station of running with the story before it had been confirmed. When it WAS confirmed, Bruno continued to bash them, for being a mere radio station, when they had in fact gotten the story right. Then, even worse, SportsTalk 950 ran a commercial for a promotional contest they'd been running in which listeners were to guess which day Owens would have a major falling out with the Cowboys. The contest? "When Will TO Blow Up?" Don't expect to here that promo ever again.
- And finally, how long until someone finds a way to blame TO's suicide attempt on Donovan McNabb?
"We didn’t work together. But, yeah, there’s a big dropoff from being associated with Ralph, Hunter and Bill than being linked to someone doing a bad Nat X impersonation. It pissed me off that the dude tried to call himself the next Ralph Wiley and stated some [bleep] about carrying Ralph’s legacy. Ralph was one of my best friends. I hate to go all Lloyd Bentsen, but Scoop Jackson is no Ralph Wiley. Ralph was a grown-ass man who didn’t bojangle for anybody. Scoop is a clown. And the publishing of his fake ghetto posturing is an insult to black intelligence, and it interferes with intelligent discussion of important racial issues."- Jason Whitlock, in an interview with the blog The Big Lead. These comments, as well as his ripping of Mike Lupica, have now, outrageously, gotten Whitlock fired from on-air ESPN appearances.
I've never been much of a Whitlock fan, but he's certainly in the right here, and it was wrong for the Leader to give him his walking papers.
I look at the return of Jim McGreevey, in this week's North Star column.
"Whatever you may think of its arguments, this spot is quite a departure for the ONDCP. Finally, an admission that using pot isn't necessarily calamitous. It's possible we're seeing this about-face only because previous scare-tactic ads were recently proved to increase drug use. But either way, I applaud the new, more truthful strategy... Recent PSAs have suggested that drug use leads to: 1) Shooting your friend in the head, 2) running over a little girl on her bike, and 3) helping the terrorists."-Seth Stevenson, in Slate, praising "Pete's Couch," the first honest anti-drug commercial in history. Or at least, the first since "I learned it from watching you!"
I remember one time when I was at Brandeis, in '97 I think, when Counting Crows, They Might Be Giants, and Adam Sandler all performed concerts within a few days of each other. But according to this week's Justice, the 'deis isn't aiming quite so high anymore. They will host five bands over two days, with Flogging Molly* headlining, and Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think, Bedouin Soundclash and Zox.
Come on 'deis, can't you do better than that?
*Reminds me of a story I forgot to tell here. When Becca and I were in Chicago last month, we saw a couple in our hotel elevator who had a small baby. The father was wearing a Flogging Molly t-shirt, while at the same time holding his daughter, whose name was... Molly. There's something hugely wrong with that picture, like if someone's favorite movie was "Boxing Helena," and they named their daughter Helena.
It took a major comeback after their catastrophic April and May, but the Minnesota Twins have returned to the playoffs after missing last year, clinching at least the wild card after defeating Kansas City tonight. They're also still in it in the AL Central, and are just a game behind Detroit with all of their remaining games at home.
Also nice to see the defending champion White Sox eliminated, with a 13-1 loss to a team they'll likely finish behind next year, the Cleveland Indians.
But, but... where the hell was the crowd? I know it's the Royals, but just 17,000 for the clincher? Say what? That homer by Morneau went into an almost-empty center field.
It's going to be an exciting post-season, for sure. But first, get ready for Brad Radke's farewell game. And if that works out, he'll be the Curt Schilling of '06.
Newsday: Baby Dies in Mother's Vomit
I don't think this "worst thing ever" can ever be topped. Can it?
With the Minnesota Twins on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, Patrick Reusse chimes in with a magnificent column on how this year's Twins are in so many ways informed by the legacy of the late Kirby Puckett.
"Run to first. Kirby Puckett, a Hall of Famer, did so on every ground ball.Yes, the Twins' hot streak really did begin with a seven-game winning streak that brought their record to 34-34.
Catch the ball, make the right throw. Kirby Puckett tried to do that on every play.
Be a teammate. Kirby Puckett was the all-timer.
The message was simple: If it was good enough for Kirby Puckett, it's good enough for you.
That was passed on to new Twins by Kelly through championships and during those long post-1992 seasons, when the goal was for a bad team not to add to its embarrassment with poor effort. It has been passed along by Gardenhire for five seasons with upgraded expectations.
This was a team that for two months seemed on a retreat to the losing of the previous decade, but it was turned around with a remade infield, and with a now-injured pitching phenom, and with a daily commitment to run, to catch, to throw and to be a teammate.
In this Year of 34, most every Twin wearing the number on his sleeve has done his utmost to deserve it."
Now, it comes out that she plagiarized hundreds of words in her book from the New York Times. What does this woman have to do to get fired? Actually kill a suspect with her bare hands, instead of just making them commit suicide?
Think it's hard being A-Rod? It's a hundred times harder being Nick Punto. Batgirl brilliantly parodies last week's SI cover story.
Robert Weintraub, in Slate, laments the death of the great ESPN highlight show "NFL Primetime:"
"What's become of Chris Berman and his running mate Tom Jackson? Their postgame highlights rundown now begins just after midnight Sunday. What was once a seamless hour has been shattered into a half-dozen segments within SportsCenter and retitled The Blitz. While the highlights packages are still strong, The Blitz is indistinguishable from the NFL analysis and debates that crop up every 90 seconds on your average SportsCenter. Even worse, the guys appear after Sean "I never spouted an opinion I couldn't contradict" Salisbury has punditized the game into submission, making Berman and Jackson feel secondary."Another great thing about Primetime? The background music. Luckily, they kept it for the "Blitz" segment, and I have it all my iPod anyway.
At a news conference following blowhard Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's speech to the UN yesterday, the oil-hoarding socialist expressed regret that he never got to meet Noam Chomsky, before the noted MIT linguist's death. But unfortunately for Hugo -and, for that matter, for the rest of humanity- Chomsky is still alive and well.
Chavez is a charlatan and a simpleton, and I give credit to Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel for standing up to him. See, we're not all dictator-appeasing terrorist-coddlers.
New York Post: Meshuga Rabbis Meet Mahmoud
"Why yes, sir! Of course you can wipe us off the map."
After finally, last night, reading Tom Verducci's everybody-hates-A-Rod piece in Sports Illustrated, I can say the following:
- A-Rod may be a loathsome crybaby, but I do sort of feel sorry for him. That the fans of the Yankees have turned completely against one of the best players in the game, just because his 30 homers and 100 RBIs "aren't enough," just goes to show that Yankees fans are every bit as unfair and hateful as Philly fans.
- That said, shouldn't he be media-savvy enough to know that saying stuff like "they only hate me because I'm good looking" doesn't sound very good?
- I knew A-Rod and Jeter would feud eventually. There's so much bad blood, they haven't even gotten to the question yet of which of them is the prettiest.
- How the hell did Jason Giambi become a moral authority on anything? He's the guy, don't forget, who's stealing millions of dollars based on his steroid-inflated stats. And my heart just bleeds for him, that he might miss some time with a wrist injury.
- I just hope this sparks lots of dissension in the clubhouse, leading the Yanks to a calamitous ALCS upset by the Twins. We can all dream, can't we?
Here's another brilliant "Daily Show" segment, in which Bleu Copas- an Arabic translator who was thrown out of the military for being gay- definitively demonstrates the folly of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
Best line: "I know I'd rather die in a terrorist attack than suffer through an uncomfortable shower with a gay."
The trailer for the year's most horrifying reality show is online here. The only silver lining I can see is that every couple on reality TV seems to have broken up in the last couple of years, so maybe Doug will find his way out and be a free man again. Though, I still stick by my original prediction that the Christies' marriage will end with one of them murdering the other.
I've never had to do this before, but due to a week-old flamewar among three commenters, I've decided to close comments on the "Fire Nancy Grace" post below. This happened because for some reason, this blog comes up #3 on Google in a search for the phrase "Fire Nancy Grace," behind only two different versions of FireNancyGrace.com.
For the record, I agree with the commenters who think Nancy sucks, and disagree with those who say she doesn't. We've seen her, this week, continue to flog the Duckett case, even though her commentary has become deeply compromised after she inserted herself into the story- by possibly causing the suicide of one of the participants.
David Edelstein in New York magazine, on "All the King's Men":
"Willie tosses away his prepared text and finds his true voice. He tells the hicks that he’s a hick, too, and that hicks have to stand up for themselves because no one else will. And sensing that something momentous is happening, the people begin to stream toward Willie, climbing the fences to get a better view, their smudged faces upturned. And all I could think was, How can they hear a fucking word? It’s not the Louisiana accent. (Presumably that wouldn’t be an obstacle to Louisianans.) It’s that Penn is never happier than when he can mumble and brood and get all inward... By the time the sequence ended, I thought I’d seen five of the stupidest minutes in an American movie since Lady in the Water."- I saw the movie tonight- big, big disappointment. A long boring mess of nothing, the film consists of little more than Penn's mumbling, scenary-chewing, mostly unintelligible perfomance, intercut periodically with "intrigue," involving the Jude Law character, that isn't intriguing at all.
Also ruining things are shoddily bad character development, James Horner's intrusive score, and director Steve Zaillian's endless repetitions of certain scenes and lines, as though we need them to understand the plot (remember the endless close-ups on glasses of water in Zaillian's "A Civil Action"?) And repeated references to evil oil barons are meant to remind us that, in case we missed it, the movie is Really About Bush.
Has a cast this great ever been assembled for a movie this bad? Penn, Law, Anthony Hopkins, James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson... I can't think of any other movie with that pedigree that fell so flat. Can you? There must be a reason they kept this one on the shelf for a whole year.
What a great night last night for the two baseball teams I follow closest. The Twins beat the Red Sox 8-2, behind a three-run homer by the not-so-injured-after-all Torii Hunter, and strong pitching from Boof Bonser. The win put the Twinkies in a tie for first place in the AL Central for about 40 minutes, until the Tigers defeated the White Sox to move back up by a half a game. It appears to be all over for Chicago, leaving it to the Twins and Tigers to battle for the division win, home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and a way to avoid the Yankees until the ALCS.
The Phillies, meanwhile, finally gained a tie for the NL Wild Card lead, beating the Cubs on a complete game gem by Brett Myers- you know, the guy everyone said Philly would never root for again. The Phils are hitting on all cylinders in their third major hot streak of the season, actually getting good starting pitching for the first time in memory, and if they can get by the Dodgers/Padres, they have an opportunity to make things interesting in the very weak NL playoffs. It might even be enough to get Philly to stop worrying about the Eagles for a day or two.
As for Red Sox fans, my condolences. Luckily, there's David Ortiz's 50th homer- and that '04 championship DVD- to fall back on. You also get to sit back and watch the ongoing A-Rod meltdown unfold at your leisure.
Being an editor and also a general assignment reporter for a newspaper can be fun. You can, on the same day, ask a question of the governor of Pennsylvania, and then go to a press screening of "Jackass, Number Two," and be legitimately on the company clock for both. That describes my day on Tuesday.
I went to a lunch, featuring Gov. Rendell as the speaker, at a local chamber of commerce. I can't share that many details before the story is published in next week's paper, but I can tell you that Rendell spoke mostly about specific policy stuff, and not very much about the upcoming election, not even mentioning the names of President Bush or his opponent, Lynn Swann. I got to ask him a question, and asked if, as a former DNC chairman, he has an opinion on the reported feud between current DNC chairman Howard Dean and DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel. He replied that he has no idea, because he's generally out of the loop on such things.
He also took multiple questions about the Eagles.
As for "Jackass," it was more graphic and disgusting than anything previously put out by the group, with much more nudity- and bodily-fluid-based humor than on the TV show or the first movie (it's called "number two," it turns out, for a reason). But you know what? I laughed. A lot. So much that I hurt by the end. It's the second funniest movie of the year, after "Ricky Bobby," though I expect "Borat" to surpass both.
HBO has announced that it's canceling "Lucky Louie," the sitcom starring and created by Louis CK that aired for just one season this past summer.
I know most people hated this show, and I agree that it was very hit-or-miss a lot of the time, never quite reaching the heights of CK's brilliant stand-up, on which it was based. But I thought it was both quite funny, and told a lot of uncomfortable truths about marriage and family life. It also got much better as its season went along. I could have seen it growing a lot in future years, and I could see it finding an audience on DVD (even "The Comeback," the worst show in the history of HBO, has become a second-chance DVD hit).
Then again, HBO earned enough karma points for a decade earlier this month when they renewed "The Wire," so I'm in no position to really complain.
I finally caught the premiere of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" last night and must say that I really liked it. Good cast, good characters, good premise, and it left me wanting to see more.
However, I must agree with two points raised in Todd VanDerWerff's review over at the invaluable blog House Next Door: Yes, it's sort of silly that just about every plot point in the pilot seems based on something that happened to Aaron Sorkin real life.
And more importantly, Judd Hirsch's "Network"-like monologue on the evils of television was both unoriginal and out-of-date. Not only have people been making that same argument for decades, but — in the age of "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "24," "Deadwood," "The Shield," Stewart and Colbert, and numerous other works of genius currently on the air, not all TV is "Fear Factor" anymore. In fact, there's probably more quality television on the air right now than at any time in the history of the medium.
Still, it's good to have Sorkin and all those actors back, and I'll continue watching the show.
As for the real thing, "Saturday Night Live" has fired Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz, and Finesse Mitchell, and installed Seth Myers as both head writer and co-anchor of "Weekend Update" along with Amy Poehler. After one of its worst seasons ever, SNL was clearly in need of a streamlining, so it's good to see, even if all three of the departed actors were funny at various times. Myers is a top talent, and the teaming of him and Poehler should be an improvement over the disastrous Tina Fey/Poehler tandem of the last couple of years.
I don't know that we needed any more testimony to prove the proposition that legendary Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman is a mean-spirited jerk who should've retired several decades ago. But we've got it anyway, from C.J. Spang, a student reporter for the Minnesota Daily, who had a not-so-nice encounter with the 86-year-old Sid.
Hartman, Spang writes, has a reputation for "referring to young journalists as 'punk kids,'" though in Sid's case I'd imagine a "young journalist" is someone in their 50s. Spang's encounter with Hartman came when he was hanging out at the University of Minnesota athletic office, interviewing two officials, when Sid happened by:
"He walked by and got to the door, only to turn and look toward the three of us.What a big man Sid is, feeling the need to belittle a 20ish college student for no reason at all. I would have stood up to him, but luckily Spang did something even better- he wrote about the incident in print, and in an online posting that was linked by the widely-read-by-media-types Romanesko blog.
"You can do better than that," he said to the other two people in the room while gesturing to me. "This guy's a nothing."
And, with that, he walked out the door."
It's not, however, like the incident will be news to anyone who's ever seen Sid at a sporting event or press conference.
On Slate today, Nu Wong: The world's first penis transplant
(The recipient was Chinese, you see. Either Saletan, or whichever editor at Slate writes the headlines, is a genius.)
"Let's not mince words here. The biggest bottom feeder on all of television is Nancy Grace. Notwithstanding the fact that no one in his or her right mind should go on this show — and obviously Miss Duckett was not in her right mind.-Neal Gabler, on Fox News Watch.
Nancy Grace trades decency for ratings. Yes, I'm sure her producers sit around and say, This will be great television. You grill this woman who lost her son — just grill her. Just keep on attacking her. Just keep on attacking her.
It is disgusting. It is disgusting. And if CNN had any decency, they'd pull the plug on this woman."
"A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.- Sam Harris, a leftist atheist and author of the book "The End of Faith," in the Los Angeles Times. An excellent piece, although my only quibble is that he says "liberals" when what he really means is "far leftists." Almost everyone I know who calls himself "liberal" knows exactly what's going on in regards to the Islamists.
This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims. But we are absolutely at war with those who believe that death in defense of the faith is the highest possible good, that cartoonists should be killed for caricaturing the prophet and that any Muslim who loses his faith should be butchered for apostasy...
There are books, films and conferences organized around this [9/11 conspiracy] phantasmagoria, and they offer an unusually clear view of the debilitating dogma that lurks at the heart of liberalism: Western power is utterly malevolent, while the powerless people of the Earth can be counted on to embrace reason and tolerance, if only given sufficient economic opportunities.
I don't know how many more engineers and architects need to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings or saw the heads off of journalists before this fantasy will dissipate."
I praise the Euston Manifesto in this week's North Star column. We've had a few small-newspaper pickups so far, which should only increase with time.
Hungary is in a political crisis after a tape surfaced earlier this week of the prime minister admitting that he and his administration had lied, repeatedly, about the health of the country's economy. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, in a speech sprinkled with obsenities, told his cabinet the Dr. Seussian admission that "we lied throughout the past one-and-a-half or two years. We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening and also at night."
The admission has led to riots, with opposition forces attacking both government buildings and the offices of the state-owned television network, which is called MTV. But it was no day at Laguna Beach for the protestors- the rebellion was eventually put down, and the PM has vowed not to resign.
Peter Gammons will return to ESPN on Wednesday night to report from the Twins-Red Sox game at Fenway, the network announced this morning. The Hall of Fame sportswriter suffered a brain aneurysm in June and had been recovering since. Wonderful news.
UPDATE: And he's back writing, too. Not only does he thank his doctors, but then comes back and writes an old-fashioned notes column! It's so, so great to have him back.
News Item: Hockey goon Tie Domi to retire.
What other careers are available to a guy like Tie? Bounty hunter? Hitman? Cable news/legal affairs host?
The weird story of Carl Pavano and the Yankees just got weirder. The pitcher, who signed a lucrative free agent deal before last season but hasn't pitched in the majors in over a year due to several injuries, got in hot water a few weeks ago when it was revealed he was in a car accident and didn't tell the team about it. Now, we learn this:
Despite the fact that the police's accident report shows there was no passenger in the oft-injured hurler's car, a curvaceous beauty queen was indeed riding shotgun.Pavano, who dated Alyssa Milano, is known as something of a ladies man. What he's not known for is being any good at all, as he parlayed one good year with the Marlins into big free agent moolah.
Through his lawyer, the driver whose Solid Waste Authority 18-wheeler Pavano hit, Ernest DeLaura, 47, of Port St. Lucie, confirmed there was a woman — but a friend of Pavano's immediately came to the scene to whisk her away.
She was identified as Internet pinup Gia Allemand, 22, a former Miss South Beach and Miss American Teen. When reached by Page Two, Allemand declined to say what she and Pavano were doing when the Porsche Carrera was totaled at about 11:25 a.m. on the rain-slicked Jog Road, just miles south of Pavano's home at Ironhorse.
There has to be some story behind this, which sounds like a bizarre hybrid of Chappaquiddick and Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities." Why was the model whisked away? Still, it's not nearly as embarrassing as the Scott Saurbeck incident.
Strike a blow for due process of law- and against driving talk show guests to suicide- by signing the petition over at FireNancyGrace.com.
I was on hand this afternoon in Philly for the Eagles-Giants game, uh, yikes. The Eagles got off to a great start, getting ahead 24-7, before spending the entire second half pissing the game away, until the Giants tied it in the final minute, and won with a touchdown in overtime, by a score of 30-24.
Now, we all know everybody loves to overreact to individual games, which is how everyone can call the Iggles a Super Bowl team after they beat the Texans in Week 1. No, they're not dead in the water after a loss like this. But no, it didn't look good at all.
All the usual anti-Andy Reid talking points will be recycled this week: Too much running and not enough passing; bad playcalling and even worse clock management; and (worst of all) use of the "prevent" defense (has that ever worked?) Points all taken.
But keep in mind: it's only Week 2. And the offense and defense both looked just as good as in Week 1, with Stallworth, Brown, and Westbrook scoring a TD each (just like in the Texans game) and the defense notching 8 sacks. But the team made some costly miscues, and the defense clearly got tired after being on the field the entire second half.
This week will be full-fledged panic mode in Philly, of course. But luckily, the Iggles have a gimme next week against San Fran, and should also be able to beat New Orleans the week after- all heading into TO's visit back to town on October 8. The season is still young, Philly. Still young.
As for the game-going experience, it was my first time ever tailgating at an NFL game- lots of fun, and another thing I was always deprived up growing up in a city with a downtown dome. And the Fox crew was there live, and I saw the backs of Joe Buck and Terry Bradshaw's heads. Which reminds me of Sports Guy's take on the situation:
"First, Fox decided to replace James Brown as its studio guy with Joe Buck, who's also its lead play-by-play guy, so it has to go on location for every studio show now -- meaning that it's a lot of added expense every week, plus extra money for Buck, plus they quintupled the odds of technical difficulties during the show, plus the studio guys can't watch games on 10 plasmas in a cozy Green Room anymore (instead, they're in a customized trailer watching everything on tiny little screens). All so Joe Buck could host the pregame show over Curt Menefee. Which raises the question: Was there one person who was on the fence about which Sunday studio show to watch, heard that Fox hired Buck, then said to himself, "Well, my choice has been made, I'm now a Fox guy?" This seems like a colossal waste of money to me. Maybe I'm crazy."No, you're not crazy.
Oh, and one more thing: The Vikings are 2-0. The Raiders (with Randy Moss) are 0-2. The Dolphins (with Daunte Culpepper) are also 0-2. Maybe they know what they're doing, after all.
Think we'd seen the last of Doug and Jackie Christie? Fear not: not only is Doug planning an NBA comeback this year, but the couple's long-gestating reality series, called "Committed: The Christies," will finally debut October 5, on a channel called "BET J." I'm not certain if I have that channel, but if so, the show has enough trainwreck potential to make "Flavor of Love" look like "Little House on the Prairie."
"Why is there a major-league baseball team in Miami? Watching the Phillies play there recently in front of an ocean of empty seats brought back bad memories of the late '90s at Veterans Stadium. There are two sports in Miami: football and crime."-Don McKee, in the Inquirer. Yea, they've gotta get that team out of there, pronto. I think there were more people on the field than in the crowd for their series against the Phillies last week.
Now that all four heavyweight championships are held by fighters born in the former Soviet Union, it seems likely that a heavyweight title fight may soon be held in Russia, with new champ Oleg Maskaev talking about such a fight taking place in Moscow next January.
But, will it be for no money? Will the all-Russian crowd inexplicably start rooting for the American? Will that American then make an inspiring, "if I can change" speech? Did I forget any other silly "Rocky IV" references?
"The Last Kiss" is a seriocomic pity party for 30-year-old men who are terrified of maturity, and I suppose it'll strike some guys out there as God's own truth. To others, the film may just seem intensely irritating, for its unexamined fear of women, for its refusal to draw real dramatic blood, and for its unholy use of Coldplay songs."-Ty Burr, the Boston Globe.
I agree totally, and I say that as a big "Garden State" fan. And I had Jacinda Barrett and Rachel Bilson fighting over me, I certainly wouldn't be as morose as Zach Braff was in the movie.
Much better? "The Black Dahlia," despite a convoluted plot and an ending that makes no sense. Like few movies this year, it's made enough of an impression that I've still thought about it days later, and Hilary Swank is a revelation as the femme fatale (yes, you read that right). She's introduced in a lesbian cabaret while k.d. lang sings "Love For Sale" (Yes, you read that right, too).
I declare my 100% wholehearted support of this, and implore my readers to do the same.
What a difference 24 hours makes for the Twins. This time last night, they had lost to Oakland and lost a game in both the division and wild card races, and Francisco Liriano looked like he might be facing Tommy John surgery, meaning "see you in 2008."
But this morning we got news that Liriano's MRI showed no structural damage- he's still out for the season, and the cause of the injury is mysterious, but he's not looking at the year off. Meanwhile, the Twins went out tonight and beat Cleveland 9-4, both scoring lots of runs and coming through in the clutch. They're now just one game behind Detroit for the Central lead, and 2 ahead of the White Sox for the wild card.
How about two good days in a row? Is that asking for too much?
Amid the news of "The Wire"'s renewel for a fifth season, creator David Simon tells the Inquirer's Gail Shister that he thinks the reason the show isn't more popular is because most of the cast is black.
"A lot of people who see this many black faces staring back at them think, 'That's not my story. That's somebody else's story,' " Simon says. "Unfortunately, I think there are limits to human empathy."There's some truce to what Simon is saying, of course, but I'd put that lower on the list as explanations for the lack of popularity, behind the show's extreme complexity. It's an incredibly difficult show to jump into in the middle, which might explain why I can count the number of people I know who watch it on one hand.
But this brings up something interesting about Simon. Every time I see an interview with him, he comes across as your typical left-wing entertainment industry figure- spouting hard-left-sounding political rhetoric at virtually every turn. But unlike most like him, his work itself is distinguished by its remarkable subtlety- rather than bash the audience over the head with his conclusions, he shades them remarkably, to the point where it's not altogether clear what political argument the show is making. And for that, Simon deserves great credit.
The former Texas governor, always one of my favorite people in politics, passed away yesterday at the age of 73. Both a true original and one of the last of her kind, Richards even taught a class at Brandeis one semester that I've always regreted not taking. The last Democratic governor of the Lone Star State, Richards will be greatly missed.
Just a few months after Los Angeles Magazine published a lengthy piece on why everyone in LA hates T.J. Simers, Chicago Magazine has come forward with a lengthy report of its own, on why everyone in Chicago hates Jay Mariotti. I look forward to future pieces in Boston Magazine on Bob Ryan, Texas Monthly on Tim Cowlishaw, and various other profiles in national magazines on why everyone in every city hates "Around the Horn."
I saw on SportsCenter tonight that the parents Reggie Bush did indeed receive illegal cash from agents attempting to sign their son, which may result in legal trouble for the Bushes and/or sanctions against USC. The source of ESPN's information? "A Yahoo Sports investigation."
Say what? Yahoo! Sports has reporters, and does investigations? All this time I just assumed they ran only AP stories and syndicated columnists. Yet here it is- labeled a Yahoo! Sports exclusive. They even switched up their color scheme, like ESPN.com does for their occasional "serious piece."
Probably the best 57 seconds of "The Daily Show" this year. And even better, nobody committed suicide as a result.
"WHY resort to torture when "Talk Show with Spike Feresten" is available?-Adam Buckman, in the New York Post. Coming in '07: "Waterboarding, With Star Jones."
This show is so excruciating that playing tapes of it for prisoners at Guatanamo would probably loosen their lips faster than thumb screws."
Shit, shit, and shit. But don't forget, they have been winning consistently for the last month without him. And with Detroit slumping and Chicago facing a brutal schedule, the Twins are still better than an even bet to make the playoffs.
UPDATE: Gleeman's throwing around the dreaded three-word phrase: "Tommy John surgery." Yikes. How about next time we don't let him pitch in the WBC, all right?
Everybody's favorite helmet-haired cable news monster strikes again, and this time, it's fatal:
Two weeks after telling police that her son had been snatched from his crib, Melinda Duckett found herself reeling in an interview with TV's famously prosecutorial Nancy Grace. Before it was over, Grace was pounding her desk and loudly demanding to know: "Where were you? Why aren't you telling us where you were that day?"If Duckett turns out to be guilty, I'll eat my words. But if not, Grace should be fired immediately from both CourtTV and CNN. Then maybe she'll be sued for wrongful death- and I suspect at that point she won't have quite the contempt for defense lawyers that she has up 'til now.
A day after the taping, Duckett, 21, shot herself to death, deepening the mystery of what happened to the boy.
A quick look around the nation:
- No surprises in New York, as Hillary Clinton moved on to the general Senate election with no trouble at all, and Eliot Spitzer defeated Thomas Suozzi in the gubernatorial primary to continue his march towards becoming the first Jewish president of the United States. Come on, he has as good a chance as anyone.
- Keith Ellison, who I wrote about in my column the other week, won the Fifth District Democratic Congressional primary in Minnesota, and will face only token Republican opposition in the fall. I have mixed feelings- it's good to see Minnesota finally elect an African-American to Congress, and I've heard from multiple sources that Ellison isn't nearly the liberal boogeyman he's been made out to be. But he's way way (way) to my left, and is likely to be much more controversial in his first year than predecessor Martin Sabo was in all 30 years in Congress put together. Expect to hear about this guy quite a lot in the next couple of years.
- Adrian Fenty won the Democratic primary for mayor of Washington, D.C. I didn't even know this race was going on until the day before yesterday, so I don't have much comment, except to say that I'm glad the DC voters didn't do something foolish like elect Marion Barry again. (Barry, by the way, was ticketed by the Secret Service last weekend for running a red light, and officers smelled alcohol on his breath).
- And Lincoln Chafee won in Rhode Island. Nobody likes this guy- Republicans think he's a traitor, and Democrats think he must be a fascist just because of the "R" by his name. But the Rhode Island voters must see something in him.
I tuned in last night to see what the results were for the various primary elections held yesterday around the country. I saw nothing of the kind; CNN was instead airing an hour-long discussion about the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son between Larry King, TRIMSPA CEO Alex Goen, "a top Bahamian police official," and (I'm not kidding) Joanie "Chyna" Laurer. The first thing I heard:
KING: How much weight has she lost?I mean, what the fuck? On an election night, during a WAR, we get a whole hour on Anna Nicole Smith's son, featuring a bunch of peripheral figures? And speculation about how much weight she might gain or lose, the day after her son passed away? And, Supreme Court case notwithstanding, since when was Anna Nicole Smith some major American cultural figure?
GOEN: Well, you know, 69-plus pounds but it's quite a bit more than the 69 pounds.
KING: And she's so into this that she'll come down quickly after the pregnancy too then?
GOEN: Well, I mean I don't know. You know I'm sure she will, I mean no question about it. She gets incredibly good results with the product but, you know, there's absolutely no guarantees but we're confident that she will.
If you're gonna indict the media for something, screw that "liberal bias" nonsense; this is about a hundred times more loathsome.
Great, great, GREAT news, for the show which I now believe can safely be called the best currently on television.
Speaking of which, HBO is doing something bizarre this season: they're making each episode available on demand six days before its actual premiere, so you can watch each new installment on Monday. I've sworn both weeks that I'd wait until Sunday night, but I broke down before both and watched them.
"Two reasons why this is baffling: [New Packers coach Mike] McCarthy was offensive coordinator for the 49ers who, last I checked, really sucked on offense last year. And what's a team in Wisconsin doing hiring a guy named McCarthy?"- This blog, 1/12/'06
"Maybe I'm the last one to figure this out, but it just dawned on me that we have ourselves a McCarthy era in the NFL, and just like the other McCarthy, Wisconsin is involved. Senator Joe, who rose to infamy in the 1950s for a Communist witch hunt, was from Wisconsin. Head coach Mike currently hails from Green Bay."-Don Banks, SI.com, yesterday.
"We'd be a kindler, gentler nation. The sun would shine brighter. Sweet breezes would waft over us. The smell of hot dogs would permeate the air. Cracker Jacks would fall from the sky and Wally the Beer Man would be governor."- University of Minnesota professor Karal Ann Marling, as quoted in a Doug Grow column in the Star Tribune, on what it would be like if baseball were more popular than football. Minneapolis, like Philly, is a city in which I'd like to see baseball get a wee bit more attention than it does, vis a vis football.
And yes, I can see with 100% certainty that Wally the Beer Man would've been a much better governor than Jesse Ventura was.
With their victory over Florida last night, the Mets finally brought the Atlanta Braves' run of 14 straight division titles to an end, as Atlanta was eliminated from contention for the NL East title. So after all these years of picking against Atlanta at the start of the season, I'm finally right.
So the final scorecard for the Braves: 14 division titles, and 1 (one) world championship. That, and they still can't fill their stadium.
When I saw the headline I assumed Todd Sauerbrun must be involved, but nope, the punters are from the University of Northern Colorado. Had it been the University of Colorado, it probably would've been one punter raping the other.
My thoughts on the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11 are in this week's North Star column.
I'm saving comment on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks for my North Star column, to be published tomorrow. Today, after all, is the birthday of my bride-to-be. But, rather than coming up with fire-breathing political denunciations, I'd like it if everyone could spend today remembering those who lost their lives that day. May their memory be a blessing.
"It felt more like 2003 or 2004, as another road stadium echoed with so many "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles" chants, it was almost like being at a Phillies game."-Phil Sheridan, on the Eagles' convincing victory yesterday over the Houston Texans. I know it wasn't exactly against a strong opponent, but the Iggles looked like a Super Bowl team on Sunday. And yes, that bothers me like few other things on the planet when they do the "Eagles" chant at Phillies games. Especially when the Phillies are winning.
After taking three of four from Detroit this weekend, the Minnesota Twins find themselves leading by a game and a half in the wild card race, and trailing the Tigers by just two games for the AL Central lead. It's a shocking turn of events for a team that was double-digit games behind for much of the first half of the season, and was outscored 33-1 in a three-game series by the Tigers earlier this year.
And in even better news, the Twins get back Francisco Liriano this week, and may even have Brad Radke back by the end of the season, so he can close out his career by pitching the Twins into the playoffs. Most unbelievable of all may be that the Twins not only stayed in the race, but moved ahead while two of their pitchers were injured, having to start three rookies in their rotation for the last few weeks. And in another surprise, it looks as though Boof Bonser is actually turning into a legitimate major league starter.
Even though they're a rival of my Twins, I was sort of looking forward to seeing the Tigers make the playoffs this year. Their fans have suffered enough over the years and they deserve a playoff run. So if two teams from the Central can make it, I vote for the Twins and Tigers. Screw the White Sox.
And in other Minnesota sports news, the minor league St. Paul Saints got into a postgame barroom brawl with members of the rival Fort Worth Cats in St. Paul last night. You'd think that sort of thing would happen more often, wouldn't you?
As the only critic in America who didn't like "Little Miss Sunshine," I'm afraid to say I also strongly disliked another recent critical darling, "Friends With Money."
The film stars Jennifer Aniston as a maid, who finds herself continually jealous of her three much-richer friends, who include the impossibly whiny Joan Cusack and Catherine Keener, and Frances McDormand as the most shabbily dressed "fashion designer" I've ever seen. It should go without saying, of course, that all of the male characters in the movie are either feckless, despicable, or both.
"Friends With Money" is the latest in the revival of what used to be called "social problem films," in which a fiction film makes itself about a certain problem, and everything in it in subservient to discussion of that problem. "Crash" is a recent example, as is director Nicole Holofcener's film before this one, the body-image-themed "Lovely and Amazing." I don't like films like this because they go way too far towards spelling out absolutely everything, and eliminating any signs of subtlety whatsoever.
Ironic that Jennifer Aniston would make a movie called "Friends With Money," when she probably got about 1/50th the paycheck to make it than she did per episode of "Friends." It should've been called "Friends Without Money."
And speaking of "Little Miss Sunshine," did anyone else notice that the creepy beauty pageant host at the end was an absolute dead ringer for Rick Santorum? That had to have been intentional.
The premiere was excellent. I wasn't even aware until Saturday that it had been available on demand for the entire week previous, so I watched it then and then again last night. Like with "The Sopranos," you really can't judge the show by individual episodes, but the show is off to an excellent start, despite the lack of Stringer Bell. And after watching the entire third season in the last week, it sucks having to wait all the way until next Sunday to watch the next one.
Your sources for 'Wire' info: House Next Door, as well as Matthew Yglesias' weekly "Wire Thread." And if you have trouble following the show (and really, who doesn't?), here's a nifty organizational chart of the cast.
They've got a new stadium, new running back and new quarterback, and may actually be good this year for the first time in memory. But unfortunately, their mascot has joined the worst band on Earth.
Matt Labash is a genius. Read his latest bit of brilliance here, for all you could ever want to know about the Battle of Piscataway.
"A long-shelved, not-screened-for-critics, high-concept science-fiction comedy that's being released in a handful of cities with all the fanfare of a CIA black-ops mission, Idiocracy gives viewers many reasons to be suspicious... Idiocracy's dumb-ass dystopia suggests a world designed by Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, a world where the entire populace skirts the fine line separating mildly retarded from really fucking stupid, and where anyone displaying any sign of intelligence is derided as a fag."-Nathan Rabin, the Onion AV Club. Mike Judge's new film sounds truly brilliant, and it's mind-boggling to me that it's being summarily buried by its own studio.
It starts tonight, with the Steelers-Dolphins game. I haven't been this excited for an NFL season in a long time, as the league really seems to be on top of the world right now. Anyway, my predictions:
NFC North: Bears
NFC South: Panthers
NFC West: Rams
NFC East: Eagles
NFC Wild Cards: Seahawks, Giants
AFC North: Bengals
AFC South: Colts
AFC West: Broncos
AFC East: Dolphins
AFC Wild Cards: Patriots, Browns
NFC Championship: Panthers over Eagles
AFC Championship: Colts over Dolphins
Super Bowl XLI: Colts over Panthers
VIKINGS: 8-8. But next year, they make their move. I just hope it isn't to L.A.
Congrats to my fellow Minnesotan Aaron Gleeman, who announced yesterday that he has agreed to join NBCSports.com, as a baseball and football writer. NBC's trying to compete with ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, and Sportsline, and if adding Aaron is any indication, they're off to an excellent start.
From Slate's Tim Noah, we learn of what should be one of the more controversial political books of 2007:
Dinesh D'Souza, the Rishwain Research Scholar at Stanford's Hoover Institution, will this January publish "The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility For 9/11"... D'Souza's book, we are told, "uncovers the links between the spread of American pop culture, leftist ideas, and secular values, and the rise of anti-Americanism throughout the world."D'Souza's argument is merely a right-wing version of the self-hating left-wing argument that "they hate us, because there's something wrong with us." What he seems to be advocating, in fact, is appeasement of the terrorists. If we give them what they want- less decadence, less sexual freedom, more modesty- they'll leave us alone. And by blaming the left for the terrorists' anger at America, he also contradicts the general righty talking point of the day that the left and the terrorists are really one and the same. How this is any more right than the left-wing version of appeasement, I fail to see.
So in writing this book, D'Souza has combined the most loathsome post-9/11 reactions imagine from both the left and the right. Can't wait to read it!
News Item: Paris Hilton Arrested For DUI.
Paris had better be careful, or else this sort of thing might adversely affect her reputation.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago, as you may remember, that Cleveland Indians pitcher Tom Mastny was reported as having been born in Indonesia, when other reports placed his birthplace as Indiana. Then, other reporters said one was a mistake, and the other is true.
The final verdict (according to Ketih Law): Mastny was raised in Indiana by Indiana parents, but born in Indonesia, because of having "American parents who wanted to travel the world." Not sure they ever made it to India, though, he is playing for the Indians.
A few quick takes on news events that I missed while I was away:
DEATH OF A CROCODILE HUNTER: Yes, I was sorry to hear that Steve Irwin passed away, even though I was never that big a fan. My first thought is that I feel sorry for his wife- not only was he probably uninsurable, but she probably can't sue the stringray. Secondly, the "Russell Crowe, Finding 'Round the World" episode of "South Park" probably can't ever be broadcast again.
DIRTY BIRDY: Bert Blyleven is in trouble for accidentally cursing on the air during a Twins-Yankees telecast last weekend. I am shocked, shocked! that profanity escaped Bert's lips. And now they want to suspend him? They're lucky Bert didn't show his ass on the air.
"MASTURBATING MAN FREQUENTS TENNIS COURTS, EVADES POLICE": When I saw this e-mail subject line I just assumed it must be a FARK thread from LilB, or something, but nope, it's actually the front page headline from the latest issue of the Brandeis student newspaper. Come to think of it, LilB was up in Waltham last week...
LEE SIEGEL SUSPENDED FROM TNR; BLOG CANCELED: Yes, Lee was nabbed playing the old "make up a fake name and praise your own blog posts in the comments" trick. I always thought he was the worst writer on the magazine by a significant margin, so no I won't miss him.
EAGLES CUT TODD PINKSTON; VIKINGS PICK HIM UP: I think Todd will benefit from no longer playing in a city in which every single fan thinks he's the anti-Christ. But I'm not expecting too much from him, or the Vikings. Though they made things up to me when they cut another ex-Eagle, Mike McMahon. Seriously- getting rid of him might have made a difference of 3 or 4 wins this year.
TOM CRUISE SIGNS PRODUCTION DEAL WITH DAN SNYDER'S COMPANY: Signing over-the-hill stars just because they're big names has been Snyder's calling card ever since he bought the Redskins, so I don't see why his movie venture should be any different, or go any better. Call Cruise the new Deion Sanders.
THE SETH MNOOKIN BOOK: I liked it a lot, and it really got the root of what's wrong with the Sox this year. Yes, it's clear that Theo was right and Larry was wrong, which makes it weird that everyone thinks Mnookin is an apologist for the owners. My only beef was that Mnookin made it very clear who his favorites (and not-favorites) are. He really made Dan Shaughnessy look like a bastard- not that that's hard to do.
What a sad debacle this Red Sox season has been. I guess all the injuries and hospitalizations add credence to the theory that the Sox made a deal with the devil to win in '04- and I thought that even before traded prospect Anibal Sanchez threw a no-hitter tonight.
ROBERT CHRISTGAU FIRED FROM VILLAGE VOICE: He's obviously been slipping as a critic for a couple of decades, adding to the absurdity of a man in his 60s reviewing young rock bands for a living. But Christgau's contributions to the world of music criticism cannot possibly be overstated, and he'll be missed. I still love the Pazz & Jop poll every year.
"THE WIRE" RETURNS: I absolutely can't wait for Sunday, and I've been watching the last season all week to catch up. The odd thing is, I don't know a single person who also watches it, so I can never talk about it with anyone. Luckily, there's House Next Door, which is posting long essays about individual characters all this week. Gracias.
When I was home in Minnesota last weekend, I noticed that my Aunt Ethel had gotten a letter from the White House. She's celebrating her 100th birthday next week (like my fiancee and my grandfather, she's a 9/11 baby), and apparently it's a custom for the president to send congratulatory wishes to anyone who turns 100. It's gotta take a long time; according to this, there are currently over 55,000 centurians in the United States.
An anti-Christopher Columbus battle rap, courtesy of the sensational music artist known as Fat Baby Leg.
You can see more at his MySpace page.
"If the playoffs started today, the defending World Series champions would be watching from home. But so would everyone else because if the playoffs started today it would be a complete surprise and none of the teams would be able to get travel plans organized in time."- D.J. Gallo, on ESPN.com. But what about the teams who would be opening the playoffs at home, and are at home right now? I'm not talking about the White Sox, though, because yes, if the playoffs started today they would indeed be out, as they will be when the playoffs start a month from now.
"Another reason to love [the Eagles]: After hitting rock bottom last winter, Philly seems to be in the middle of an under-the-radar resurgence, between Ryan Howard putting the Phillies on his back, the success of "Invincible" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Billy King somehow avoiding a mindless Iverson trade (although there's still time), the upcoming Rocky movie, the hysterical M. Night Shyamalan book … I mean, all we're missing is the reunion of D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince at this point. I'm feeling good things ahead for the Eagles. Can't explain it.)"-Bill Simmons, previewing the NFL. Though if, as he predicts, the Eagles lose the Super Bowl again, expect to see calls for McNabb to be run out of town on a rail.
All I'd been hearing for over a month was that "Little Miss Sunshine" was one of the year's best movies, so we saw it last week after arriving a couple hours early in Cincinnati. And... what a disappointment.
I liked the first half or so, it had some legitimately funny moments, and I liked Alan Arkin as the randy grandfather. But I failed to see what was so brilliant or groundbreaking about the film. It was just another movie with a bunch of misfits thrown together, with uncomfortable weirdness substituting for profundity. Does anyone have an explanation for why this was a good movie? If so, I'd love to hear it.
And... we're back. After eight days and more than 2,600 miles, Becca and I returned this evening from our epic road trip to Minnesota, by way of Cincinnati, Chicago, and Wisconsin. We had lots of fun and saw lots of cows, and after all those hours the wedding is still on, which is probably the best news.
I won't do the whole Simmons running diary thing, but rather some Peter King-like Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Notes. A few tales from the road:
- We made it straight from Philly to Cincinnati in just eight hours, with just about no traffic. Funny how they're in neighboring states, but couldn't be more different. We also briefly crossed into West Virginia, so I can now cross that off the list of states I've never been to.
Anyway, we thankfully got to have Graeter's ice cream (the best in the U.S., if you ask me), visit our friends who recently moved to the area, and walk around a bit on the waterfront near Great American Ballpark.
- We stopped in downtown Indianapolis briefly, and I can't tell if it's an extremely underwhelming city, or if the bad weather just made it seem that way. Can anyone who's been there enlighten me?
- Indiana and Ohio really need to get into the game, and start accepting EZ-Pass, like Illinois does. Or they could emulate Wisconsin, and just stop having tolls altogether.
- Weirdest moment of the trip: We were listening to the radio while driving through Ohio, we heard a news update about the awful murder of Marcus Fiesel, a three-year-old disabled child who died after his foster parents left him in a closet. The kicker- the newscaster delivering the update had a voice identical to that of Bullwinkle. So I could think of was "Gee Rocky, a child was murdered!"
- After that we arrived in Chicago, which has always been one of my favorite cities. I've loved it ever since I first visited with my dad when I was eight years old, and I made it back to visit friends numerous times in high school and college. But aside from a couple of airport layovers, I hadn't made it back since '99.
It was great to be back. We walked around everywhere, had great pizza and hot dogs, hit a dynamite blues club, and looked down on the city from the Hancock tower. Not to mention the Untouchables Gangster Tour, which I recommend for anyone who visits Chitown.
We also made it to both Chicago ballparks. I was much less impressed with U.S. Cellular Field- no matter how much they remodel it, it just doesn't have the alive spirit that all the new parks do. Like most of the crowd, I was also following the scoreboard and the Twins-Royals game, but for different reasons. Unfortunately for me, the Sox won and the Twins (but they have since made up the ground).
Wrigley is a magical place to see a game, although it was sort of hard to care much about a sloppily played Cubs-Pirates game in September. I was just glad the game wasn't rained out, after it rained on the entire drive there.
- In addition to both Chicago parks, we walked/drove by an inordinately large number of sporting venues over the course of the trip: both Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati; Soldier Field and Allstate Arena in Chicago; Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Miller Park in Milwaukee; the Target Center, Metrodome, and XCel Energy Center in the Twin Cities; Notre Dame Stadium; and Fifth Third Field, the home park of the Toledo Mud Hens.
- It was also great to have a chance to drive through Wisconsin again, as I used to several times a year. I had also forgotten about the Bong Recreation Area south of Milwaukee, which always gave me a chuckle. I hear the sign is stolen quite often.
- Nice to see family and friends again back in Minnesota. We were in town for a wedding, as well as the rehearsal dinner and bachelor party. But thankfully we got to spend some time in the Cities and see some people while there.
The wedding was of this blog's frequent commenter, Jeff S., to his girlfriend of ten years, Rose. Only in America can a Jewish boy marry a Filipino girl, after which they head to Africa on their honeymoon.
We made it back tonight, after stopping the night in Toledo (at the worst hotel I've ever been to, by far). But we're glad to be home. Back to work tomorrow.
Another fascinating thing going on in Minnesota right now is the Democratic primary in the fifth Congressional district, which is scheduled for a week from today. It's the subject of my North Star column for this week.
From Goofball.com (Via reader Pop-pop):
A journalist assigned to the Jerusalem bureau has an apartment overlooking the Western Wall. Every day when she looks out, she sees an old bearded Jewish man praying vigorously. Certain he would be a good interview subject, the journalist goes down to the Wall and introduces herself to the old man. She asks, "You come every day to the Wall. Sir, how long have you done that and what are you praying for?"
The old man replies, "I have come here to pray every day for 25 years. In the morning I pray for world peace and for the brotherhood of man. I go home have a cup of tea, and I come back and pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth. And very, very important, I pray for peace and understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians."
The journalist is impressed. "How does it make you feel to come here every day for 25 years and pray for these wonderful things?" she asks.
The old man replies, calmly, "Like I'm talking to a fucking wall."