So, Angels, have fun paying a much smaller Matthews $55 million over the next five years. Also mentioned in the case are (surprise) Jose Canseco, and Evander Holyfield. What, they didn't have drug testing on "Dancing With the Stars"?
To paraphrase "Dogma," does this mean Sally Hemmings was part-Jewish?
Here's something to get excited about: HBO is preparing a seven-hour mini-series adaptation of the Iraq war book "Generation Kill"- and it will be written and executive-produced by "Wire" co-creators David Simon and Edward Burns. Should be excellent, though no word on whether it'll be produced before or after "Wire" season 5.
UPDATE: After becoming a Blogosphere-wide laughingstock, the Green Bay paper has decided to change the headline above. For the story about two longtime friends who had started a tool company, they went with the headline "Long-time fishing Buddies Get Down to Business With S&M Tool."
Armond White on David Fincher's "Zodiac":
"Problem is: Fincher’s technique distracts from a resolved mystery or narrative closure; it encourages apathy that suggests resolution and absolution are impossible. Zodiac’s ending is a shocking let-down, not because it’s gruesome but because it nullifies itself. This time, Fincher puts everybody’s head in a box. Toschi and Graysmith’s decades-long pursuit becomes a dead goose chase."Critical reaction to "Zodiac" so far has been almost uniformly positive (89% on the Tomatometer), but I didn't care for it. It felt less like the great "Seven" than a really, really long episode of "CSI" or "Criminal Minds"- one in which they don't even solve the mystery at the end. Also, it's too long by about 45 minutes.
News Item: Vikings release Brad Johnson
It's not a surprise and it had to be done. Johnson is like many, many quarterbacks in the NFL: He's shown flashes of brilliance in his career, and also flashes of mediocrity, with a season seldom going by in which he doesn't show both. In other words, there's a reason he's been with five different teams.
As a middling QB, Johnson is no different at all from Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Rex Grossman, Trent Dilfer and (yes) both A.J. Feeley and Jeff Garcia. The Vikings, in choosing a QB for '07, would be wise to avoid all of the above.
Sorry folks- the site was down for most of the day today due to a domain name registration error. We're all good now though; watch for more posts soon.
From an E! news story on a madam who claims to have serviced many in Hollywood:
"According to a former Hollywood madam, Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis have more in common than mediocre acting skills and starring roles in Armageddon.Hey, Willis wasn't so bad on "Moonlighting," or in "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable." I'm curious who else was on the client list. Now that Al Gore is a huge movie star...
An ethnic paper in California called AsianWeek is in trouble for running a column in a recent issue titled "Why I Hate Blacks." The author of the piece, Kenneth Eng, is a self-described "Asian supremecist" who writes under the title "God of the Universe," and had previously written pieces titled "Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us" and "Why I Hate Asians."
Gee, who would've thought people in San Francisco would complain about that?
Yes, of course! People who cover wars and elections and other things that have an effect on the world and history and life and death- they're just sanctimonious shits! Screw 'em! Gibson actually chides Anderson Cooper for covering the war instead of Anna Nicole, as though such a decision is worth mockery. At least when Anderson covers a war, it's one that actually exists.
I remember a similar argument during the Laci Peterson nonsense, when one of the Fox bimbos (I forget which) suggested that anyone who complained about excessive coverage of such tabloid stuff was "elitist."
Hasn't the last six years taught us that anti-intellectualism for anti-intellectualism's sake is a path to morally bankrupt disaster?
My newest North Star column, on the very different television media reactions to the Anna Nicole and Scooter Libby trials, is available here. And, my first published E-Gear.com story, on a new version of the Sony Blu-ray DVD player, is right here.
Here's a funny line from Peter King's column today, about receiver prospect Calvin Johnson:
"Would you have any problem playing in a colder climate, like a Minnesota?''To be fair, that isn't as dumb a question as King thinks it is. Even though Minnesota players play in a dome, they still have to live in Minnesota, which is quite a lot colder than, say, Atlanta, where Johnson played his college ball. This was an issue for another Georgia Tech alum who ended up in the Twin Cities, Stephon Marbury, who played at the very indoor Target Center but still complained often of the cold, eventually forcing a trade to that noted tropical hotbed, New Jersey.
--Reporter's question to Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson during Johnson's press conference at the Combine Saturday afternoon.
The Vikings have played in a dome since 1982.
There also remains a chance, however unlikely, that the Vikes will actually someday build an outdoor stadium. But at the rate they're going, if they draft Johnson (which I hope they do, by the way), the new place will be ready around the time he retires.
How perfect is that, Bruce for the halftime show? I'm just shocked it hasn't happened already.
If you don't mind, we interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging for a few words of personal update:
I departed the Trend Leader in early January, as myself and a few others fell victim to the concurrent, well-publicized layoffs at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Trend's corporate sibling. I greatly enjoyed my time at the paper, as I made lots of good friends, did tons of interesting work, and got to interview everyone from Kevin Bacon to Ed Rendell to George Takei. But, the newspaper business being what is, I always sort of knew that layoffs were a matter of when, not if.
Thankfully, the Trend kept me on as film critic on a freelance basis, so I've been working on that as well as my North Star column and various other side projects, while throwing myself into my job search. I've also been trying to do a lot more blogging, as you may have noticed the recent uptick in posts.
Anyway, after an especially tumultuous job search that included all sorts of possibilities materializing and disappearing at all times, I'm happy to report that I've accepted a position as an Associate Editor with North American Publishing Co. I'll be working specifically for the Consumer Technology Publishing Group, publisher of E-Gear, Dealerscope, and Custom Retailer magazines, as well as various newsletters and blogs covering consumer technology.
I'm incredibly excited about this opportunity, as I'm looking forward to working in a fascinating field with a respected company, right in Center City Philadelphia. Much of my work will have an online component, which I'll be sure to link to here. I'll also continue to the do weekly movie reviews for the Trend, as well as the North Star column, and a few other things that I'm working on too.
The blog might slow down a bit for a week or two, but you can expect to still see at least a post or two every day. With the five-year anniversary of the blog coming up in May, I think it's about time for some sort of redesign. But with the my wedding scheduled for that month and now the new job, I'm guessing it won't happen until summer.
The Oscars, you could say, are like pizza, and sex- even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. But this year's telecast tested the patience of just about everyone, even an extreme film buff such as myself.
Unfortunately, due to the East Coast snow storm, the power went off in my house at about quarter to midnight, causing me to miss the presentation of Actor, Actress, Director and Picture. Yes, the greatest filmmaker of his generation finally wins an Oscar after 30 years – as does his movie- and I miss it. Dammit! Still, the right film won Best Picture, and that hadn’t happened in quite awhile.
First of all: way too long, and way too much filler. They have to cut off every winner after less than 30 seconds, but they still find the time for pointless filler like those shadow-interpretive dance displays (can we please ban interpretive dance from the Oscars, forever?) I know the show usually goes long, but 50 minutes past the scheduled end time, finishing up at 12:20 on the East Coast? It was like a World Series game.
My thoughts on Ellen DeGeneres as Oscar host are similar to my thoughts on her in general: She's very likable, and very admirable, but not very funny. That monologue was just one dud after another, and the rest of her material throughout the show wasn't much better. Yeesh. I vote for going back to Billy Crystal or Jon Stewart next year. Seinfeld or Conan would work too.
A few more thoughts:
- I liked that "choir" doing the sound effects, although it would've been cheaper and easier to just bring in Winslow from "Police Academy."
- Al Gore is now the only man on Earth who has delievered acceptance speeches at both a Democratic convention and the Oscars. It was inevitable he would win, though I could've done without the "energy facts" in the background during Melissa Etheridge's song. Is it ever anything other than condescending when a political argument involves a plea to "wake up"?
- That Celine Dion song had some familiar opening lyrics. But when will Savage Garden win an honorary Oscar?
- Shocking that Eddie Murphy lost Best Supporting Actor to Alan Arkin. Even more shocking? They found a cursing-free clip to show of Mark Wahlberg in "The Departed."
- Next biggest shock: "Pan's Labyrinth" winning Best Cinematography over "Children of Men." If there was one movie that deserved one award this year, it was that.
- What, no Anna Nicole in the death montage? She was in "Naked Gun 33 1/3," co-starring with Leslie Nielson and O.J.
Ben the Professor, from The Gold Seat, on the Twins' pitching woes:
The 2007 Twins starting pitching staff will likely determine if the Twins make the playoffs or not in the increasingly competitive AL Central. Boof Bonser, Matt Garza, Carlos Silva, Scott Baker, Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson are likely the 6 pitchers realistically competing for 4 starting spots. If I had to guess right now I would say that Bonser will step into the #2 spot behind Santana, followed by Carlos Silva (#3), Sidney Ponson (#4), and Matt Garza (#5). This means that much of our hope lies in the arm of a man with a Ricky Williams legal history, Pat Williams belly and Serena Willams rack--Sidney Ponson.In the Sporting News' preseason power rankings, they have the Twins #1, which is totally ridiculous considering how unsettled their pitching is. I'm guessing the season will start off like the last couple- a horrible April and May, until they get rid of the ineffective veterans and play the kids. Ponson is clearly the Tony Batista of '07.
Leinenkugel's, the Wisconsin-based beer that I always drink whenever I'm back in Minnesota, is now becoming available on the East Coast for the first time.
This is exciting; now they just need to expand Yuengling to the Midwest. Though, being able to just say "Lager," and having the bartender know that you mean Yuengling, is one of my favorite things about Philadelphia.
Really, is that the best they could do? I know the "Six Feet Under" finale was brilliant and all that, but must every series finale from now on copy the flashforward-montage-through-the-future-set-to-music? At least "The Sopranos" won't go that route- at least, I hope not.
"The O.C." was once a great show, and a significant show, but I can't remember the last time a show flamed out so quickly, and ended with such a whimper. Alan Sepinwall has more; I also noticed the parallel to the "I choose me" episode of 90210.
They'll most likely be handing it to their old movie brat pal Martin Scorsese. It's all enough to make me want to re-read "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls."
"I found Crash simplistic and pedantic. I worried it might give out at any moment under the weight of its own contrivances. (Really. I thought the screen was going to fall down off the wall of the theater.) By the end of the film I thought it worked better as a drinking game than a feature: Be the first to guess the ironic twist in each scene and watch your friends do a jello shot. Actually, it would be more in line with the spirit of Crash if your Mexican friends drank martinis, your black friends drank Jose Cuervo, and your white friends drank malt liquor..."-Noam Scheiber, on TNR's excellent Oscar Wild! blog, which every American should read in full before Oscar night.
Tonight, I finally saw this year's "Crash"- "Babel." It's not quite a bad movie, just one that's ridiculously undeserving of the accolades it's gotten. It's just one long parade of misery and tragedy, with nothing but its one, very obvious idea ("we'll all connected- so why can't understand each other?!?") holding it all together. I didn't care for Iñárritu's trademark tragedy-as-pornography gimmick much more in either "Amores Perros" or "21 Grams."
How a film like that is any way deserving of being the Best Picture frontrunner is beyond me; I can think of about 30 other movies from '06 that deserve it more. But the kicker is, you can't even call "Babel" overrated, because it seems like half the people who've seen it absolutely hated it.
UPDATE: Some appreciated thoughts on "Flags of Our Fathers" as well, from Harry Chotiner.
UPDATE II: And speaking of TNR... it's going biweekly! I'll reserve comment until I actually see the new edition.
Bill Simmons decided to write a column about the do-nothing NBA trade deadline, and assigned each team a letter grade. The twist? He graded on kind of a tough curve.
Simmons gives his own team, the Celtics, an F. But don't worry, they're still in the top half of the league. The Sixers, for instance, get an "F-minus-minus," while the Hawks, Knicks and Kings all get an "F-minus-minus-minus-minus" from the Sports Guy. The Bulls and Nets, as well as my T-Wolves, are granted an "F-infinity-minus," while the the Clippers get a "G," which I guess is worse than an F. The Cavs, meanwhile, get the worst grade: a Z-infinity-minus. Man, imagine if they'd really screwed up.
Yes, Portland got a C-, for the fourth-best mark in the league. And you thought the actual NBA was a celebration of mediocrity.
The Minneapolis musician and friend of this blog, Dan Israel, has a guest post on the Star Tribune's "Cribsheet" blog, featuring lyrics and a download of an excellent song he wrote for his son, Isaac. Check them both out here.
Crazy Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said today that she'd like to "clarify" statements she made about a "secret plan" by Iran to partition Iraq and turn it into a "terrorist haven." This may in fact be true, but no other credible commentator on foreign affairs seems to know about it.
And people were worried about Keith Ellison being in Congress? (Explanation of the subject title here.)
News Item: Titans' GM says Pacman Jones may not return
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack dropped out of the presidential race today, once again bringing up that ancient, unanswerable philosophical question: If a candidate drops out of the race in February of 2007, did he really "run for president in 2008"?
And speaking of non-favored candidates, there was a bit of a slip on Bill O'Reilly's show last night. Billo was going on about how there's now a "war within the Democratic Party" (isn't there always one?) between Hillary and Obama, and when putting forward who is on which side, Mr. O listed Bill Richardson as being on Hillary's side. Which must come as news to Richardson, as since he is running for president himself, he's presumably on his own side.
It's this one from last year, by USS Mariner, which has in fact been included in the 2007 Best American Sportswriting compilation.
More trouble for notorious NFL criminal Pacman Jones- which gives me an idea for my upcoming bachelor party:
"LAS VEGAS -- Police seized $81,020 in cash belonging to Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, money they said sparked a melee and a triple shooting at a strip club over the weekend, court documents show.Yes, that's right, he brought more than 80 grand of his own money into a strip club in Vegas, but... it was just for decoration! How could anything possibly have gone wrong? I guess all the strippers were competing over who gets to be Ms. Pacman.
Jones was showering more than 40 strippers onstage at Minxx Gentlemen's Club & Lounge early Monday with the cash "intended as a visual effect," according to a search warrant. But a scuffle broke out when the Houston promoter who hired the strippers told them to pick the money up.
I'd imagine this will probably come up in the NFL rookie seminar at the combine.
Spitz is joined in this year's induction class by, among others, the late Howard Cossell and broadcaster Bonnie Bernstein. I thought it would be funny if they inducted Eckstein by mistake, but no.
The JSHOF, by the way, is located at the Suffolk JCC, in Commack, Long Island, New York. And no, that's not where Jewish Sports was invented.
News Item: NBC May Give Jimmy Fallon Late-Night Show
If you want a guy who can't stop giggling, even though nothing he does is ever that funny, Jimmy's your man. Funny that he's squaring off for the job against Carson Daly, the guy he used to imitate on SNL ("Hi, I'm Carson Daly, and I'm a massive tool.")
When you watch an adult video, it's important to be mindful of the volume, in order to avoid tragedies like this:
OCONOMOWOC, Wis. - A man said he broke into an apartment with a cavalry sword because he thought he heard a woman being raped, but the sound actually was from a pornographic movie his upstairs neighbor was watching.Oconomowoc, by the way, is the site of OSRUI, the Reform Jewish summer camp that I attended for many years. But no word on whether the swordsman, or the other guy, had any connection to the camp.
“Now I feel stupid,” said James Van Iveren, who has been charged in the case. “This really is nothing, nothing but a mistake.”
Fox News just cut away from live coverage of the Anna Nicole paternity hearing to show breaking news footage of... Kevin Federline, arriving in a separate courtroom himself. No news about, say, the war in Iraq or anything like that, and I don't think I've heard the Scooter Libby trial as much as mentioned on FNC since it started.
Even though the story was published more than a month ago, word began to slowly trickle out late yesterday about a comment presidential candidate John Edwards supposedly made to a group of Hollywood machers at a fundraiser in late January. The story, published in Variety by Peter Bart, says:
John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the "I" word -- Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.Now, a few things are kind of odd about this. One, there's no direct quote. Two, the piece was published January 19, and in the ensuing month not a single person at the gathering has said a word to any other reporter or media outlet. Three, that would seem like an odd thing to say to a gang of Hollywood Jews who, liberal as they are, are likely as Zionist as can be. And four, it's coming from Peter Bart who, awhile an exemplary Hollywood observer, may not have the greatest knowledge of the nuances of Mideast debate.
Edwards, nearly instantly, issued a statement that he does not consider Israel a threat to world peace, and never said anything of the kind either. Did Edwards say it? It's possible. But until I hear a tape, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's still not my candidate, though.
You hear a lot about the "NFL coaching tree," but it wasn't until now that you've actually been able to see it.
The conservative commentator's thoughts on the Tim Hardaway thing really must be seen to be believed.
Apparently not content to write two anti-Hillary books this year like he does every other year, Dick Morris' next book will be called "Outrage: How Liberals, Congress, Unions, Drug Companies, Big Oil, Banks, Lobbyists, Corporations, the United Nations, the World Bank, the INS, the TSA, and the Democratic Party Are Ripping Us Off... And What To Do About It."
Yes, it's the entire Fox News ethos, boiled down to only about 40 words. Call it the political book version of that one Fiona Apple album.
You'd think, after last year's election, at least some of that "outrage" would be directed more at the Republican side, but then Dick's never been good at seeing what's right in front of his nose. I'm just wondering how he neglected to include either of the Clintons in his super-long title.
When I saw those "muscles" on Sly in "Rocky Balboa," especially that "thing" on his arm, I figured something must be afoot. Will Stallone be the Jose Canseco of Hollywood? Frank Stallone can stand in for Ozzie.
This gem, from Bobby Trendy, has almost made the dozens of hours of Anna Nicole coverage worth it:
A misty and poetic Bobby asked that we tell the world and Anna (er, ok?) that he wants to "Thank Anna for making me famous. When you think of Anna, think of red, white and pink hearts. She was love as she taught love. She was the breadwinner and supported four people by baring her breasts and genitals for men and women. She was an entertainer who will be missed."There are many, many men who may be the father of Anna's child, but I think we can safely scratch Bobby off the list.
Scott Keith, on last Monday's "24" surprise (SPOILERS INCLUDED):
"Oh man, President Logan is back, and he’s got a BEARD. I have no idea why it would be a bad thing, but it can only mean more bad things ahead. Is the beard working for the Russians? Is the third nuke hidden in it? Did it secretly conceive Jack’s half-brother with Mama Bauer 30 years ago and only now is the terrifying secret revealed? WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR, BEARD?"This so-so season can only be improved by the return of Gregory Itzin's ex-President Logan, probably the best villain in the show's history. I'm just wondering how they're going to explain Logan's avoidance of treason charges.
George Takei takes on Tim Hardaway, on the rapidly improving (and recently extended) "Jimmy Kimmel Live":
No, they don't really. But this one does:
A New York man accused of trying to help terrorists in Afghanistan has donated some $15,000 to the House Republicans' campaign committee over three years.I look forward to the two-hour Sean Hannity special "exposing" this.
Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari pleaded not guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to charges that include terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and money laundering.
From April 2002 until August 2004, the man also known as "Michael Mixon" gave donations ranging from $500 to $5,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to Federal Election Commission reports
In his thousands-of-words-long All-Star Game recap, Bill Simmons gives the best analysis yet of the Amaechi/Hardaway flap:
[Thumbs down] to Tim Hardaway, who committed career suicide and earned a spot in the "Surreal Life: The Bigots!" house with Michael Richards, John Rocker and Isaiah Washington, then had the gall to pull the old "I didn't mean it" routine three days later. Not only were gay people insulted, not only was anyone with an IQ over 75 insulted, not only did this triple the odds for a second John Amaechi book, not only did every columnist write the same anti-Hardaway column for three straight days, but nobody's talking about the real victims here -- anyone who ever splurged for $300 on Hardaway's throwback Warriors jersey. Might as well set that thing on fire.Simmons also ponders whether David Stern is "the most popular Jewish senior citizen on the planet," now that Rodney Dangerfield is dead. But what about Jackie Mason? Jerry Stiller? Al Goldstein?
News Item: XM, Sirius to merge
Baseball and Howard Stern, together at last. I'm in no more rush to sign up now than I was before, but maybe next time I buy a car or something, I will.
According to a book review in Ha'aretz, President Bush has a specific revenge fantasy in mind, should we ever catch Bin Laden:
Speaking of George Bush, with whom Sharon developed a very close relationship, Uri Dan recalls that Sharon's delicacy made him reluctant to repeat what the president had told him when they discussed Osama bin Laden. Finally he relented. And here is what the leader of the Western world, valiant warrior in the battle of cultures, promised to do to bin Laden if he caught him: "I will screw him in the ass!"Shhh! Don't tell his base!
News Item: Brandeis Defunded by Rich Likudniks
The rich Kadima members, though, are still in the 'deis' corner.
I look at the Amaechi thing, and the not-so-great reactions by the NBA community, in this week's North Star column. You can read also read all the old columns on the same page.
Steve Rushin, my inspiration as a Minnesota-born, East Coast-dwelling sports fanatic writer named Steve who's married to a woman named Rebecca, has reportedly left Sports Illustrated. His column was always a bit up and down, but vastly superior to the same-human-interest-tripe-every-week stylings of Rick Reilly. And, you can tell he always left his heart in Minnesota even though he hasn't lived there in decades. No word on Rushin's next move; maybe he'll start writing a blog.
I mean, Anna Nicole was nothing but a cultural footnote, known primarily for marrying a 90-year-old billionaire and then starring on a midlevel reality show. Britney was, literally, the #1 star in popular music for a period of several years, while cultivating an image that was the complete opposite of reality. Who'd have thought Federline would emerge from the divorce looking better?
News Item: Michael Irvin no longer with ESPN
I suppose they figured that Parcells and Schottenheimer are available, so they should open up a spot on the Sunday show. Can they get rid of Salisbury too, while they're at it?
Attention Twins fans, celebrating Pitchers and Catchers this week: a flashback to 1987 and the classic "Berenguer Boogie" music video. It stars Juan Berenguer, doing a "Super Bowl Shuffle"-like routine. He was the star Twins reliever from '87 who didn't subsequently rob a jewelry store.
I've been reading tons and tons of books over the past few months, and I thought I'd share my impressions of some of them here:
"The Audacity of Hope," by Barack Obama: The second book from the senator and presidential candidate is more than a mere campaign book- for one thing, by all accounts the candidate actually wrote it. Obama lays out his views on the major questions in American political life, and he is clearly a man after my own heart: he tries to see all sides of everything, and most of the time comes out on the left-of-center (but not far left) side. The only drawback? I keep hearing his first book is much better.
"Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas": Klosterman's fourth collection of funny personal and pop culture essays is also his best. Borrowing a tactic from his friend Bill Simmons, Klosterman adds footnotes to some of his old writings, which works especially in a piece where he reviews the bar band scene in his then-hometown of Fargo, one that had me laughing so hard I woke up Becca. In another laugh, the book opens with a profile of Britney Spears in which Chuck shares that only three people alive (including Justin Timberlake, and her gynocologist) have seen her without pants. Since the publication of the book, alas, that fraternity has gotten much larger.
"Third and a Mile: The Trials and Triumph of the Black Quarterback," by William C. Rhoden": Not nearly as incendiary, and thus much better than, his previous book ("Forty Million Dollar Slaves"), the new oral history by New York Times columnist Rhoden presents a look back at all the men who attempted to play quarterback in the National Football League, in the days when most collegiate QBs were told to play more "athletic" positions such as wide receiver. It also revisits such past embarrassments as the Limbaugh/McNabb incident and "how long have you been a black quarterback?" In an age when about a fourth of Philadelphia Eagles fans hate McNabb for no apparent reason, this book is both appreciated and necessary.
The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How To Get It Back," by Andrew Sullivan: After seeing it plugged nonstop on Sullivan's blog for about six months, I figured I ought to finally read the book. In his first book purely about politics (the other three were about gay issues), Sullivan lays out his problem with Bush-era conservatism, and why we're better off returning to a small-government, secular, "conservatism of doubt." Andrew is an eloquent and engaging writer as always, but what he's arguing for really has no history or precedent in the U.S. and besides, in reading it I sort of felt like I was reading an intermural conservative debate that I have no connection with.
"Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City's Movies," by Irv Slifkin. Slifkin, known around town as "Movie Irv," surveys all the major motion pictures set in the City of Brotherly Love, also listing all the city locations glimpsed. Slifkin knows his stuff and there's a lot of local color, but unfortunately, typos everywhere. On a personal note, Irv was sitting next to me during last year's Kevin Bacon interview, and I recognize quite a few of Kevin's responses in his interview that's included in the book.
"Black Like You: Insult and Imitation in American Popular Culture," by John Strausbaugh: The author of "Rock 'Til You Drop," who edited New York Press back when it was really, really good, surveys the history of blackface in this stimulating book. While recognizing the gravity of the form, Strausbaugh also challenges dumb-assed academic thinking on the subject, which is always refreshing to see. I would have liked to see, though, more analysis of more recent cultural phenomena, such as "Chappelle's Show."
"Consider the Lobster and Other Essays," by David Foster Wallace: The footnote-happy humorist contributes hilarious essays on various subjects, including the porn industry, conservative talk radio and, of course, lobsters, in his most recent collection. You'd think the footnotes would be a nuisance, especially in the talk radio essay (when there's more footnote text than standard), but it's never really a problem.
"The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists," by Glen Macnow and Big Daddy Graham. Macnow and Graham, both nighttime hosts on WIP, make lists of everything honorable and dishonorable in the history of Philly sports, with help from some local guests including Phillies announcer Harry Kalas and actress Maria Bello. I had the pleasure of recently meeting Macnow, who is far and away 610's smartest host, and much like on the radio he very much raises the level of discussion above where it normally is. His and Graham's book is also a useful historical primer for non-natives such as myself.
The next few on the shelf: William Gavin's "The Ernesto "Che" Guevara School for Wayward Girls," Dave Hollander's "52 Weeks," Sam Harris' "The End of Faith," and Daniel Jones' "The Bastard on the Couch."
News Item: Mariano Rivera, Yankees at contract impasse
You know, Rivera would look awfully good in a Red Sox uniform, and they do need a closer... and as we all know, the Sox wouldn't have won the ALCS in '04 without his help in Game 4.
UPDATE: And in more great Yankees news, team general partner and Steinbrenner son-in-law/designated successor Steve Swindal has been arrested on DUI charges, apparently continuing the Yankee tradition of spring training drunkenness that dates back to Billy Martin.
News Item (or, Girl, You Know It's True:) Milli Vanilli biopic about to begin production
"Alas, the best Factory Girl can muster is Oliver Stone on a budget, complete with shrill overacting, sloppy pacing, constantly changing film stock, distracting celebrity cameos, messy psychodrama, and bleary stylistic overload. The film confirms that the only thing worse than Oliver Stone excess is faux-Oliver Stone excess."-Nathan Rabin, the AV Club. He also compares the portrayal of Edie Sedgwick to that of Anna Nicole Smith which, in retrospect, makes me like the movie even less.
Camille Paglia's wildly outrageous column has returned to Salon, about five years after she left. So now, she's once again the only reason to visit that site. The biggest surprise in the first column:
Radio remains central for me. (As a denizen of the Web, I've been watching less and less TV.) The looming bankruptcy of Air America proves yet again how liberals, despite their control of Hollywood, have oddly failed to master radio as an entertainment medium. So I'm stuck with sports radio (luridly operatic in Philadelphia) and conservative talk shows, with their assertive hosts and slice-of-life callers.That's right- Camille Paglia- lesbian, feminist, academic- listens to WIP! I want her to call in to Angelo Cataldi and give her opinions on Donovan McNabb mom, Andy Reid's sons, Jeff Garcia's girlfriend, and the Wingettes.
It would be one thing if he said he didn't want a gay teammate; several other players have said that, and it's probably a majority opinion in the NBA. But dragging out the "hate"? Now not even the Christians will back him. Nobody thought of Tim Hardaway for a long time. Now they have, and it's not good for him.
The best blog on Philly.com is no more, as Daniel Rubin will discontinue Blinq in order to become an Inquirer columnist. Good luck to Dan, and may he know that I'm looking forward to his Inky work a lot more than Michael Smerconish's.
To be fair, Foye has admitted wrongdoing, and his gas station arrest had nothing to with drunk driving, porn DVDs, etc.
"The networks were using what I called D-roll -- endlessly looping footage of Anna Nicole spilling out of her dress or striking provocative poses. I'm not saying her death isn't a story, but the tabloid excess here has been amazing. This is a stripper who got breast implants, posed for Playboy, married an old rich guy, got into a legal fight for his money after he died, and had a truly awful E! reality show -- and too many journalists are treating her as some kind of cultural icon. Embarrassing."-Howard Kurtz, on the ridiculous Anna Nicole overkill. "The Daily Show" ran a great, great montage last night, showing a clip of Lou Dobbs vowing to not discuss Anna Nicole in a teaser for his show, cut directly to Wolf Blitzer standing in front of four large screens with different pictures of Anna herself.
Probably the best move for everyone involved.
While I'm not going to use the J-word, I have noticed that "24" this year has been repeating itself quite a lot from years past. The villains with multiple WMDs spread throughout the season? The plot against the president by aides thinking he isn't tough enough on terror? The possibly evil vice president? Now, I know there are scenarios that are impossible to avoid when dealing with terrorist-related plotting, but even as the show has grown more and more prestigious, it's borrowed from itself more and more.
Don McKee in the Inquirer on Sunday had a really, really weird observation:
Not since Terry Bradshaw led the Steelers to their fourth Supe in six years after the 1980 season had a quarterback with a multi-syllable first name started for the winning team.Guess that's bad news for Tarvaris, huh?
But Peyton Manning managed to end the run of all those Toms, Troys and Trents.
Starting in 1981, the winning quarterbacks have been:
Jim Plunkett, Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Plunkett again, Montana again, Jim McMahon, Phil Simms, Doug Williams, Montana twice more in succession, Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Troy Aikman twice, Steve Young, Aikman again, Brett Favre, John Elway twice, Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer, Tom Brady, Brad Johnson, Brady twice more and Ben Roethlisberger.
News Item: Baseball league established in Israel
Former major leaguers Ken Holtzman, Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky will manage in the new league; former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette will be the league's director of baseball operations. One of those things is not like the others...
I look at last week's silly bloggers/Edwards/Catholic League dustup, in my latest North Star Writers Group column.
"As Quentin Tarantino and Tony Bennett announce the nominees for "Record of the Year," we see a shot of a smiling Paris Hilton in the crowd. Good God, can that girl do anything to end her own career? Sex tapes, racial slurs, drugs, hateful personality, no discernable talent at all ... and she's still chugging along. Are we sure she's not Satan? Let's chop her head off and see if it grows back."- Bill Simmons, from his entirely sports-free Grammy diary. I watched about a half hour of the Grammys; who would've guessed, back in 1996, that the '07 Grammys would feature Al Gore and Queen Latifah performing together?
Merkin Valdez, one of the organization's top pitching prospects, will miss the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.Baseball's best named-after-a-pubic-wig player will have to wait until '08 to make an impact.
"My final analysis is 300 the most ass-ruling movie I’ve seen this year, and will probably be the King of 2007 unless someone makes a movie where a pair of sentient boobs fights a werewolf."- Neill Cumpston, of "Ain't It Cool," in a review that probably says a lot more about the reviewer than it does about the movie.
There's an excellent new Minnesota sports blog called The Gold Seat. And if you're a Minnesota fan, you probably know why it has that name.
I'm really, really glad, in my single days, that I never came across this girl.
This Sports Illustrated piece by S.L. Price on the present-day New York Knicks is really a thing of beauty that must be read in full to be believed. Among other achievements, it makes James Dolan look, probably accurately, like one of the five most loathsome men on Earth.
"Norbit is remarkably consistent in its incompetence, in its tireless recycling of ugly jokes from Murphy's other drag artifacts, in its race-baiting and body-loathing. It's such a disquieting, dreadful, reckless thing that the fact that it seems like it's all set in a Neverland in which an angry mob chasing a trio of black men isn't meant to evoke a good old-fashioned lynching is more the point than beside the point. Norbit isn't farce--it's a thoughtless, cancerous, viral, irresponsible pollution whose existence speaks ill of the society that produced it and of any society that would endorse or defend it. It's not the end of civilization, just symptomatic of how easy it is to get laughs on the backs of the disenfranchised."-Walter Chaw, of Film Freak Central, on the most-offensive, worst-looking film in recent memory.
Because nothing makes a fringe political movement look better than physically attacking a 78-year-old Noble Prize winner. Idiot.
Star Tribune: Minnesota Monthly Names Putz editor.
Only one man can stop the Mooninites:
UPDATE: Just like President Logan, the president of Cartoon Network has resigned.
...but I'm sure he'll pop up on Larry King at some point in the next five days.
Yes, Anna Nicole Smith died today, at the young but not-very-surprising age of 39. She passes on as the only former Playboy playmate ever to be the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case. Surprisingly, she was outlived by John Paul Stevens.
I feel the same way about Anna Nicole as I do about Barbaro: yes, it's sad that she's dead, but I don't really understand why her passing merits three straight hours of coverage on CNN, during a war.
Part I: Howard Eskin vs. Terrell Owens
News Item: Michael Savage may run for president
Savage, who long ago turned against Bush for being too liberal, is so batshit insane that he's actually hilarious, and I hope he runs, if only for entertainment's sake.
On the Edwards/blog scandal, which I'm sure 95% of you haven't even heard about:
If John Edwards can’t stand up to a two bit thug like Bill Donohue, how is he supposed to stand up to Iran or North Korea?No politican should ever have any response to Donohue's complaints other than "go fuck yourself."
"Forget all that blabber about whether or not there’s real sex in Factory Girl. If Sienna Miller and Hayden Christensen really go all the way—their murky love scene makes that seem unlikely—it would be the most elegant thing about this misguided biopic. For all the appreciable intentions of director George Hickenlooper, you can get a better feel for the sad demise of Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick from the clips available on YouTube."-Eric Kohn of New York Press on "Factory Girl," which I saw this morning. Yes, it's yet another mediocre indie biopic about an ancillary member of Andy Warhol's entourage, also featuring Christensen doing an underwhelming impression of "Bob Dylan," who is never named or credited in the film for obvious legal reasons. Sienna Miller, though, was pretty impressive, and I also really liked Guy Pearce's Warhol.
Just like every other '60s/'70s-set biopic, the third act is consumed almost entirely by drugs, bad haircuts, and screaming. Miller, incidentally, by the end is almost a dead ringer for "Cabaret"-era Liza Minnelli.
The news of John Amaechi's coming out was officially announced today; his "Outside the Lines" interview will air next Tuesday.
An interesting sidebar: also this week, a settlement was announced in the lawsuit filed by former Penn State womens' basketball player Jen Harris, who alleged that the school's coach, Rene Portland, had long enforced a "no lesbians" policy, which had hastened Harris' departure from the team. Such a policy would seem to be a recipe for utter disaster in womens' basketball, kind of like if an NBA team had a "no black players" rule, but that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, the kicker: Where did Amaechi play his college ball? You guessed it, Penn State.
There were two prominent Philly-area indictments yesterday- and the one that is considerably less important got a lot less attention.
Britt Reid, the 21-year-old son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, was arraigned Tuesday on drug and weapons charges stemming from a road rage incident in which he allegedly pointed a gun at a motorist. Various guns and drug paraphenelia were found in his car; the same day, in a separate incident, Reid's other son Garrett hit a woman with his car and later admitted to using heroin.
This has been a HUGE story in Philly, with the usual Reid-haters speaking up about how he's a hypocrite to demand discipline from his players when not receiving it from his sons; for this, Reid has been accused of being everything from a bad coach to a bad father, with some even speculating that the incidents will bring about the end of his tenure as Eagles coach.
Meanwhile, State Senator and South Philly political boss Vince Fumo received a federal indictment on Tuesday, including 139 separate counts of fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Among numerous other misdeeds, Fumo is accused of illegally funneling more than $2 million toward his personal use, and of using a charity he founded as his personal piggy bank.
Fumo is also accused of using public and charity employees to do housework at each of his five residences, including
"a mansion in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia; a beach-block home in Margate, N.J; a bayside condo in Ventnor, N.J.; a 100-acre farm outside Harrisburg; and a multi-million-dollar house in Florida."Which is part of the problem right there- how exactly is a career politician rich enough to have five residences? Some of his constituents, predictably, are already making excuses.
...and not an anti-Semite, according to Slate's "Are You A Liberal Anti-Semite?" quiz.
Big NBA news: the league is about to have its first-ever openly gay former player. John Amaechi, a former center with the Magic and Jazz, will come out of the closet in a new book called "Man in the Middle," and in an ESPN interview on Feb. 13.
The Golden State Warriors got an unexpected ovation as their team bus arrived in Indianapolis on Monday- because throngs of Indy fans mistook the bus for that of the returning world champion Colts. Not only was it the first and probably last time it's happened to the Warriors, but Lt. Frank Drebin knows how they feel.
I'm late to this, but Will Bunch of Attytood has posted a very funny anti-Wing Bowl rant. My favorite part (and something I've noticed myself):
Is there anything that makes for worse radio in the morning than the audio of some glutton devouring a bunch of cow tongue or sausage muffins or cheesesteaks, and a bunch of guys in the studio shouting, "Oh wow, you gotta see this," or "Oh wow, looks like he's gonna puke!"Yea, it really gets away from the WIP morning show's other Great Radio staple the rest of the year: leering interviews with strippers.
Call me a sports geek, or call me crazy, but the reason I listen to WIP (a lot..the other 10 months of the year) is to hear people talk about trading Jon Lieber for a set-up man, or whether the Sixers need to draft a center or a power forward. The comedian Martin Mull once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. True, but dancing about architecture would be more entertaining than PEOPLE EATING ON THE RADIO!
The Carter/Brandeis war continues, with the university president's wife now weighing in. Shulamit Reinharz, a sociology professor at the 'deis, appeared to mock Carter's Christian faith in a piece in the Jewish Advocate.
So how will the rest of the sociology department react? She insulted Christianity (that's good!), but she also criticized Carter's book (that's bad!)
Invalidating yet another of my predictions for '07, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is running for president. I've long been a Rudy fan, as he made my former city much more liveable, even before the sterling leadership he showed on 9/11. However, I cannot support him for president, mostly because the last six years have likely put me off the Republicans for at least a decade.
I find it funny that Rudy was called a fascist by many liberals when he was mayor, yet his problem in the Republican primaries is that he's "not conservative enough." Get ready to see those pictures of him in drag on SNL to start appearing in ads; in six months, we'll probably all have memorized all the details of all three of his marriages.
Regardless, the presidential race is certainly going to be more entertaining with Rudy in the race. And if he gets out of the primaries, we'll finally get that Hillary/Rudy election we never got in 2000.
I know I've had an urge to watch the midnight re-runs on Cartoon Network ever since it happened. On the day of the scare, I flipped back and forth between MSNBC's coverage of the events, and "Aqua Teen" itself.
At first, I groaned at the Philip-Bauer-is-evil plot twist, thinking it was just one twist too many in an episode that had already had several. But then, James Cromwell spoke, and instantly turned into his character from "L.A. Confidential," an all-time great creepy villain in probably the best crime movie of the past 15 years. It's almost enough to make up for Cromwell being noticably a foot taller than every other character on the show.
Rick Moranis -yes, the actor- makes a New York Times op-ed page appearance this morning. I already like him more than Maureen Dowd. Check out his website- complete with a wicked "this is our country" parody, from Rick "Cougar" Moranis!
Sacha Zimmerman of TNR, on the Coke/Grand Theft Auto ad:
"In a strange twist, Coke has made an anti-Grand Theft Auto ad. Styled to resemble the infamous and violent video game, the Coke commercial seems to reward a Coke drinker for fighting crime, bringing a smile to people's faces, and being nice to the homeless. Why, the Coke drinker didn't even beat up the gay guy in the pink Corvette! He gave him a Coke! How wonderfully progressive. So the next time you feel like smackin' some hos, just grab a Coke and spread some love. A few commercials later, Coke returns--this time to celebrate Black History month. "Especially today." Get it--'cause the Super Bowl coaches are black. So today is more important than the rest of Black History month. In fact, I'd say Black History month is all downhill from here."
Howard Eskin does a TV sportscast- in 1988:
Sports was quite different back then.
For a look at how America has turned against the war in Iraq- and the anti-war movement had just about nothing to do with it- turn to this week's North Star column.
So finally, the Indianapolis Colts are world champions. It's Indy's first pro sports title since the Pacers won the ABA almost 40 years ago, and it's also the first championship ever for Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, and GM Bill Polian. I'm really happy for Dungy- and kind of bitter, since the Vikings could've hired him after the '01 season but decided Mike Tice was a better bet. And Manning has finally shut up that large contingent of the sports fan public that believes lack of a championship is a perfectly good reason to hate someone.
Just two months 'til the NFL Draft...
1. Robert Goulet appears and messes with your stuff. Just hilariously random, and almost as funny as Will Ferrell's Goulet impression. And with Ricardo Montalbon also appearing in an ad, it was an excellent year for former "Naked Gun" villains.
2. Letterman and Oprah. Who knew? Much, much better than the last time Dave tried to use Oprah as a punchline.
3. The Coca-Cola/Grand Theft Auto hybrid. Whoever came up with that is a genius.
4. Jay-Z vs. Don Shula. I totally want to play that virtual reality football/chess game they had. But what are the odds that Shula had heard of Jay-Z before they filmed this?
5. The Bud Light slaps. As usual, Bud had eight different ads, and only one or two of them were actually funny.
I was also happy, of course, about the complete and total lack of "this is our country."
UPDATE: This New York Times writer apparently thinks all the ads were really about Iraq, even though, really, none of them were.
Now that they've gotten over it, can the rest of Philly maybe do the same?
Now Mayor Menino of Boston wants to ban Boston screenings of the "Aqua Teen" movie, only because his police and counterterror operatives were too stupid to tell that a picture of a cartoon character wasn't a bomb. But it'll still run as scheduled in all of the cities in which no one noticed anything awry.
Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser will live-blog the Super Bowl (and commercials) on Sunday. That is, unless Tony falls asleep at halftime.
I caught the premiere last night of Comedy Central's "The Sarah Silverman Program," and let's just say I was less than impressed.
Yes, I've long been a Sarah fan, thought her "Aristocrats" scene was brilliant, and I've enjoyed her stand-up before. But I've started to notice that her schtick consists of exactly one joke: she's a cute, innocent-looking Jewish girl who says shockingly inappropriate, ribald, and racist things. That's it. That's about all she's done for ten years. It was funny at first, but I think at some point Sarah's gotta develop a second pitch.
The new show is supposed to be along the lines of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but it reminded me more of "Strangers With Candy"- which, as longtime readers know, I hate with every fiber of my being. I'm apparently in the minority though; the show's got a Metacritic score of 68%.
This ad for MSNBC nails the network's appeal totally, while mocking the humorless right-wing-ness of Fox and the geriatric-ness of CNN. Good move- I guess NBC can do something right, after all.
Still though, it's hard to forgive the network for, perhaps, the most dubious "Breaking News" alert ever tonight on "Hardball": "BREAKING NEWS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar endorses Obama for president."
Tomorrow night will feature a fight, on ESPN2, between super middleweights Curtis Stevens and Yusaf Mack. I wonder- was I the only one who read that and thought that Cat Stevens was fighting Yusaf Islam?
ESPN.com is now allowing blog comments, for the first time ever. Deadspin collected some of the best ones, many of which were deleted, from throughout the first day.
UPDATE: The Onion does Bill Simmons too.
Robert Weintraub, of Slate:
"[Joe] Buck, the voice of Fox baseball and football, is the definition of occupational mediocrity... The son of legendary St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, Joe is a charter member of the sportscasting legacy society, at the mike more because of his last name than his overwhelming talent. Like another beneficiary of nepotism whose last name is four letters long and starts with "B," Joe evinces smugness in the face of extraordinarily low approval ratings. Check out this Holiday Inn commercial in which a bunch of worshipful dudes corner him at the hotel bar. These are the sportscaster equivalent of Bush campaign rallies, where only supporters were allowed in, and anyone wearing an opposition T-shirt got kicked out."Glad I'm not the only one who noticed the Bush/Buck parallel.
Yes, he's in way too many commercials, and no, he hasn't yet won a Super Bowl. But is lack of a championship really reason to hate someone? I'd like to ask the McNabb haters the same question. Again, Manning doesn't get in trouble with the law or sabotage his team or throw teammates under the bus. His only crime is overexposure and the lack of a ring.
There's no doubt that, statistics-wise, Manning is the best quarterback of his generation. And while he has historically failed in the playoffs, he's 3-0 so far this year, and don't forget- Jordan blew it throughout his whole early career too.
I agree totally with Harvey Silverglate in the Boston Phoenix, who writes that the Aqua Teen terror false alarm was the fault of dim police and counterterrorism officers who couldn't differentiate a friggin' picture of a cartoon character from a bomb.
"I attach no blame (get that – NO blame at all) to the advertisers and performance artists. After all, the same campaign in a number of other cities did not spark panic. (And, besides, the damned things were up two weeks before the first report spurred a panic. How safe does that make you feel?)And no, it wasn't a "hoax." A hoax would have meant they actually wanted it to look like terrorism, when obviously they didn't. I also love this Boston Herald editorial blaming it on Ted Turner- apparently unaware that Ted left Turner Broadcasting several years ago.
This could be seen as a serious threat only by the people to whom we have delegated the job of protecting us in the Age of Terror. From the CIA director right down to the local city or town anti-terror squad, we’re in sorry shape. Maybe watching Cartoon Network should be part of the training henceforth. Or maybe just hire a few younger folk."
Philadelphia Weekly notices something I did last year at the event: Due to numerous sponsorships, Wing Bowl is a huge boon for Philadelphia strip clubs.
News Item: Al Franken to run for Senate in Minnesota
My feeling on it is that Minnesota would be better served by someone who has actually, you know, been in state politics for awhile. Also, I don't love that Franken has as much as said that he's running primarily to get revenge on Norm Coleman for the Wellstone memorial fiasco. My prediction? He loses the primary to someone with more electoral experience.
"People complain about athletes who are selfish, who are thugs, who get into legal trouble, who are bad role models. McNabb is a perfect example of the kind of person fans say they want an athlete to be, yet he has been the target of some of the strangest criticism, and critics, in memory.- Phil Sheridan, in the Inquirer, after yesterday's series of McNabb interviews. Yes, in most cities people criticize athletes for choking in the clutch, for not giving effort, for getting in trouble with the law, or for being bad teammates. In Philly, people criticize McNabb for... smiling too much.
Every time the Eagles lose a game, I still get e-mail that starts, "Rush was right." No matter what numbers McNabb puts up, no matter how many games he wins, there remains this seething resentment from some quarters.
Oh, and by the way, Rush Limbaugh was dead wrong. So were the geniuses who stirred up Ricky Williams mania before the 1999 draft and who clamored for A.J. Feeley when McNabb went through a slump during the 2003 season. McNabb is not perfect, but he just happens to be one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Whatever agenda prevents some people from seeing that - whether it's race or the need to drive up the Arbitron ratings or something else - is their problem. Unfortunately, it becomes McNabb's problem and therefore the Eagles' problem."