I consider just how dumb Sheryl Crow is for suggesting we limit daily uses of toilet paper- and why that's no argument for global warming denialism- in this week's North Star Writers Group column. Meanwhile, on E-Gear, Nintendo is finally doing something about that Wii shortage- and also, Wal*Mart has NOT agreed to purchase millions of HD DVD players from China for discount sale in the U.S. The whole thing was a false rumor that started with a mistranslated Chinese press release, and just escalated from there.
"This is HBO, of course, and HBO is allowed to portray characters taking shits on shower floors, but I think it was Akira Kurosawa who said, "Just because you can show someone taking a shit on the shower floor doesn't mean you have to show someone taking a shit on a shower floor." (It sounds better in Japanese.)"-Jeffrey Goldberg, on Slate's TV Club, reviewing last night's "Sopranos." I couldn't agree more, though I did enjoy the episode, as I love how the season is slowly devolving to the point where we know no good ends are coming for any of the characters. But that shower scene was just NOT necessary.
Remember two weeks ago, when I asked whether Charlie Manuel, Alberto Gonzales, or Paul Wolfowitz would resign/be fired first? As of today, all three men remain in place. But, I think we can place Ehud Olmert in line ahead of all of them.
A classic GQ piece about Ted Kennedy's carousing from the early '90s, written by the late Michael Kelly, was re-published this week on GQ's Web site. TNR's blog linked to one of the juicy parts over the weekend, about the night Ted and current presidential candidate Chris Dodd went out drinking:
It is after midnight and Kennedy and Dodd are just finishing up a long dinner in a private room on the first floor of the restaurant's annex. They are drunk. Their dates, two very young blondes, leave the table to go to the bathroom. (The dates are drunk, too. "They'd always get their girls very, very drunk," says a former Brasserie waitress.) Betty Loh, who served the foursome, also leaves the room. Raymond Campet, the co-owner of La Brasserie, tells Gaviglio [a waitress] the senators want to see her.Commenters to the blog entry ripped blogger James Kirchick for failing to disclose that the story refers not to the present day but to events taking place in 1989. Which really should have been obvious- after all, Ted hasn't weighed 225 pounds for at least a couple of decades.
As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd's lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.
News Item: DC Madam Names Dick Morris as a Client
She gets really turned on, I heard, when he tells old stories about Hillary.
I watched nearly the entire first day, including the six-hour first round, and while I can't explain why exactly the draft is fascinating, I was glued to the TV the whole time. A few thoughts:
- The Vikings had their first good day in quite awhile. Adrian Peterson's going to be quite a pro, and to top it off, he's in a state where about 500,000 people have his same last name. He's going to be a gamebreaker, and would be even more valuable if his team had any quarterback or receivers to speak of.
- Randy Moss to the Patriots- something just doesn't sound right there. He'd better keep his shit together, because Belichick isn't going to let slacking off slide the way Mike Tice and Art Shell did. But what a horrible investment that turned out to be for the Raiders- they trade the 7th overall pick and a starting linebacker for Moss, and then two years later trade him for a mere 4th rounder.
- Shocking, I know, but no one in Philly is happy about the Eagles' draft, in which they traded out of the first round and used their first second rounder on quarterback-of-the-future Kevin Kolb. The disconnect comes from national journalists and analysts (including Mel Kiper) believing that the Eagles are a loaded team with few holes that is an obvious Super Bowl contender, while everyone in Philly thinks that the team is in disarray and full of glaring weaknesses. True, they could have used a linebacker or safety with those picks, but I don't think picking Kolb is going to keep them out of the playoffs.
- Worst luck of anyone: Brady Quinn. Not only does he drop out of the top 5 into the 20s, but he STILL has to play for Cleveland.
- However, there's one thing everyone should know about the draft: Like William Goldman said, Nobody Knows Anything. You can't grade today's draft today; you can only grade it in five years.
This was the best commercial of Draft Day, for sure:
And it's even funnier if you know Wally the Green Monster's backstory.
News Item: Dolan Family Interested in Buying Yankees
Seeing the mess the Dolans have made of the Knicks, I for one would love to see them do the same to the Yankees. Maybe they'll even put the baseball equivalent of Isiah Thomas (Chuck LeMar?) in charge of player personnel, and after he loses 100 games, name him manager and then give him a multi-year extension.
Unfortunately, the facts that Steinbrenner shows no signs of wanting to sell- and that Charles Dolan's own brother, Larry, already owns the Indians- make the Cablevision Yankees a mere pipe dream, for now. But we can all hope and dream, can't we?
There's a very peculiar lawsuit being adjudicated right now in Minnesota concerning what used to be two of wrestling's Big Three.
World Wrestling Entertainment is suing a man in Minnesota named Dale Gagner, who they claim is selling unauthorized material -and staging wrestling events- bearing the likeness of the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the defunct wrestling league that operated out of Minnesota for years but folded in 1990. Its tape library and other trademarks were sold to the WWE in 2003.
Gagner, according to the suit, allegedly dropped the "r" from his last name in order to create the impression that he was related to AWA founder Verne Gagne and his son, Greg Gagne, while selling the memorabilia.
What an odd thing to do- of all the celebrities one could pretend to be related to, why the hell would someone pick Verne Gagne? Especially when the actual Verne Gagne wasn't able to keep the AWA promotion going in Minnesota himself?
Greg Gagne's wrestling career in Minnesota, incidentally, coincided with the Twins career of the shortstop whose name was also Greg Gagne (though pronounced GAG-nee, rather than GON-ya.) But to the best of everyone's knowledge, the wrestler never sued the shortstop, and Dale Gagner never impersonated either of them (nor did he steal the identity of Dave Gagner, a North Star of the late '80s.)
Because it's just about to go down the crapper:
A former employee of the New York Mets has pleaded guilty to distributing steroids and human growth hormone to dozens of major league players between 1995 and 2005, several media outlets are reporting.The three scariest words: "Agreed to cooperate." Be very afraid.
According to court documents obtained by The Washington Post and other newspapers, Kirk J. Radomski admitted to supplying drugs to players throughout the league and laundering the proceeds of those sales.
The Post and San Jose Mercury News are reporting that Radomski has agreed to cooperate with Major League Baseball's investigation into steroids led by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
Christopher Orr, on all this haircut nonsense:
Thank goodness our president isn't the kind of man who would spend $400 on a haircut. Why, I imagine he washes his face in a frying pan and combs his hair with a wagon wheel. Except, of course when (like John Edwards) he's running for president, and finds it necessary to plunk down $275 (in 2000 dollars) for a little prettifying. And what's this about his wearing makeup? Is he some kind of cross-dresser? No wait, wrong GOP tough guy.
This really is one of the dumbest stories of the year: Of course the blood on the sock was real, of course Gary Thorne probably misunderstood the entire thing (he was probably thinking about hockey at the time), and Thorne was probably just mad that Mirabelli stuffed him in a locker and pissed on him.
But, this fun anti-media rant from Schilling, who folds in every journalist and media member he doesn't like, makes it all worth it. But does this all hurt Thorne's credibility? I'd say no, because play-by-play guys aren't journalists.
Get ready for Brandeis University's annual commencement speaker controversy, now in its 20th consecutive year- and this year, it doubles as about the fifth "controversial speaker" scandal of the last six months.
The choice is Thomas Friedman, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and Brandeis alum, who briefly returned to school last year to teach. He's just about a perfect choice: He's brilliant, he's well-known and well-respected, he's got the 'deis pedigree, and he's known for speaking very well about important things.
Why's he controversial? Well, far leftists have long treated Friedman with disdain because he's not a sufficiently leftist, while ultra-Zionists have never trusted him much either, for not being sufficiently Zionist. And pretty much everyone on campus is one or the other. Oh well, better him than John Glenn or Peter Lynch.
Interestingly, the school's first choice for the address was another all-world journalist: David Halberstam. But Halberstam is, alas, no longer available.
Other honorary degree recipients include author Joyce Carol Oates, vocalist Marilyn Horne, and (argh) architect Daniel Libeskind.
No, the folksy, elderly Phillies manager, and the smug, shark-like, fictional Hollywood agent don't have much in common. But I did notice one crucial similarity, in reading this Slate piece about last week's "Entourage":
"Ari worried that he had lost his ruthlessness and so consulted with his marriage counselor, interrupting her at her golf club: "I want my edge back. I need my anger and I need it now!" And then, erupting with rage at his shrink, he had his anger back, and he was at a crossroads. Ari looked into his soul or the absence thereof, made a choice, and went back to office."Ari lost his anger, got angry about losing his anger, and in the process, got his anger back. Isn't that exactly what happened with Charlie? Howard Eskin screamed at him about not having enough anger, he showed his anger, and as a result, his team has won five straight games? Howard Eskin, though, is certainly no one's idea of a therapist.
ALOTT5MA updates us on "The Real World: Denver," making me wish I'd actually been watching it.
And along those lines, Bushwick Bill's Wikipedia entry has to be the funniest I've ever read. Even if 90 percent of it isn't true.
The titanic struggle between two people I don't particularly care for!:
The Bush Administration and Microsoft really should have an evil-off.
I really, really hope Hollywood goes to the barricades on this, and fights it tooth and nail. Like the Virginia Tech massacre happened because of "The Shield" or "24."
And more misplaced panic: College students- drinking alcohol! How shocking!
HICKMAN, Kentucky (AP) -- Officials released a prisoner from a state facility after receiving a phony fax that ordered the man be freed, and didn't catch the mistake for nearly two weeks.Law enforcement, hard at work.
Timothy Rouse, 19, is charged with beating an elderly western Kentucky man and was at the Kentucky Correctional & Psychiatric Center in La Grange for a mental evaluation. He was released from that facility on April 6 after officials received the fake court order.
It contained grammatical errors, was not typed on letterhead and was faxed from a local grocery store. The fax falsely claimed that the Kentucky Supreme Court "demanded" Rouse be released.
Why Michelle Malkin is taken seriously by anyone?
That's just wrong on many, many levels. But still, it's good to see that Sigler looks good again; she was an emaciated skeleton during the "first half" of Season 6. She's like Bret Saberhagen was on the '80s, when he only pitched well in odd-numbered years.
UPDATE: Congratulations, Lou Dobbs- he's an illegal alien! (I know you had your fingers crossed.)
Rudy Giuliani yesterday accepted the endorsement of Florida businessman- and do-nothing former Eagles owner - Norman Braman. I had no idea Braman was even still alive, but knowing that Rudy has his backing isn't likely to swing many Eagles Nation votes his way. What, he couldn't get Rich Kotite's endorsement too?
News Item: Rosie O'Donnell to Leave "The View"
This is maybe the 50th-most important thing that happened today, but to Fox, it's their V-J Day.
News Item: Batman movie set catches fire
You may not be a message board person- and I'm certainly not one- but North Star Writers Group has set up just such a forum, and it went live tonight. Take a look, for discussions of my columns and those of all the other talented contributors.
More than a million hi-def DVDs were sold in the first quarter, with Blu-ray accounting for about 70% of them. Also, BlackBerry's parent company will soon make their technology available on non-BlackBerry devices. Is "BlackBerry" still a verb when it's coming from a non-BlackBerry phone?
That panic about the Phillies? Uh, yea, might want to reconsider that... the Phils won their fourth straight game tonight over Washington, and the team has been getting strong starting pitching, timely hitting, and even the bullpen hasn't been that bad. Though no matter how the team looks in September, we're going to be hearing about how they could have won a few more games in April...
Still, good to see Philadelphia- the team and city that did the absolute most to prolong segregation in the game and make things horribly difficult for Jackie Robinson- honor Jackie with a makeup pregame ceremony on Monday. What would the 1947 Phillies say if they came back, "Field of Dreams"-style, and saw the Phils honoring Jackie, and all wearing #42?
But regardless, I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed how apropos it was that the last two teams to integrate, the Phillies and Red Sox, both held their Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies a week late.
Reihan Salam had an understandable reaction when he discovered that the beautiful journalist Ariel Levy has gotten married... to a woman. It's a tasteful, respectful reaction, albeit one right out of the Weezer song "Pink Triangle."
By the way, if you haven't read Levy's book "Female Chauvinist Pigs," you really ought to.
From a dialogue between master baseball writers Joe Posnanski and Mike Vaccaro, on Joe's blog:
Posnanski: What do you think: Should Hank Aaron be there when Barry breaks his record?They're reacting to this, the worst sports column of this or probably any year. And that includes everything that anyone wrote about Imus, or Duke lacrosse.
Vaccaro: Hell no. That's like being there for your wife who cheated on you when her second husband wins the lottery.
America lost one of its greatest journalists last night when David Halberstam was killed in a car accident in California. The author of about 20 books (I'm guessing I read about half of them), Halberstam wrote on such diverse topics as the war in Vietnam, politics, baseball, and firemen. My favorite of them were "Summer of '49," and "Playing For Keeps," the only truly great biography of Michael Jordan. Halberstam was 73, and will be greatly missed.
The noted African-American albino comedian Victor Varnado, who I used to see performing stand-up and improv in Minneapolis ten or more years ago, is profiled in this week's Village Voice, following the City Pages' recent piece on blind Albino rapper Brother Ali. The latest from Victor? He's still doing stand-up- and he recently directed a movie starring Charlie Murphy!
The Onion AV Club collects 15 great Kurt Vonnegut quotes. Sort of makes me feel bad that I've never read any of his books, and my only exposure to him was a debate over the Iraq war that he participated in, in which he gave a rambling opening statement and then clammed up for the rest of the night.
From Cinematical, on the upcoming "Simpsons" movie:
"I thought it was a joke. Friends, it is not a joke. I don't really know how else to say it: Bart Simpson's yellow genitalia will be on display for all to see in the upcoming Simpsons movie."Yikes. the word "yellow" should never, ever be followed with the word "genitalia." It would be the creepiest phrase of the year, if it hadn't been for Stephen A. Smith's recent reference to the Duke lacrosse accuser being "penetrated vaginally with penises."
I look at the Virginia Tech shootings, and how the blame-everything ethos of the post-Columbine days is repeating itself, in this week's North Star column. As for a similar, though much more Swiftian take on the same thing, see Prose Before Ho's.
On Friday I finally caught the big-screen version of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" and... count me as disappointed. Sure, there were plenty of laughs, and the opening sequence (parodying talking-candy ads) was quite inspired. But the movie seemed like it was more interested in being randomly surreal than in being funny, which I'm sure the stoner audience appreciated greatly, though not so much the rest of us (I've seen every episode of the show, but barely understood anything in the movie.) Unlike the "South Park" movie, a total home run which took the show's brilliance to the big screen and at the same time to a new level, the "Aqua Teen" creators couldn't similarly step up.
But I did see one brilliant comedy last week: "Knocked Up," the follow-up to "40-Year-Old Virgin" by director Judd Apatow, which is coming out around June 1. Beating out "Blades of Glory" as the year's funniest movie so far, "Knocked Up" is really two movies: the one where schlub Seth Rogen gets goddess Katherine Heigl pregnant, and the one where Rogen hangs out with his stoner layabout friends (played entirely by "Freaks and Geeks"/"Undeclared" alumni.) Movie 1 gets a B+, while Movie B gets an A+, as the boys trade insults and movie quotes, sounding exactly like my friends. After all, I'm the guy whose bachelor party the other weekend was filled with about 10 hours of "Simpsons," "South Park," "Family Guy," and various movie quotes.
The best moment of the movie? Definitely Rogen's speech about how Spielberg's "Munich" was a great film because it's about the Jews kicking everyone's ass, as opposed to the other way around. Imagine if Tony Kushner saw this movie and heard that line...
You'll be able to follow the NFL Draft on your cell phone this year, and Nintendo took the top two spots in a survey of the best-selling gaming consoles. Also, something called the Buttkicker. Meanwhile, The Onion unfortunately scooped us on this story.
I'm not going to comment fully right away on Sunday's "Sopranos," because I know a lot of my readers don't watch it on Sunday nights. But I can already predict the discourse on this week's episode: the presence of a young Asian man who's mentally ill, and ultimately violent, is going to remind everyone of Seung-Hui Cho. Then everyone else, who made the exact same connection, is going to argue that that conclusion is in fact racist.
Meanwhile, the whackers should be happy: that's three whackings in three episodes, plus the non-whack death of a major character. It's not quite up to the standards of the last season of "Oz" (more than 20 deaths in eight episodes), but something nonetheless.
Today, the world says goodbye to a man who did two noteworthy things: Presided over the end of communism in Russia, and showed that just because a man is a dysfunctional alcoholic doesn't mean he can't also be the head of state of the world's largest nation.
I had to check this one with multiple sources to make sure it wasn't a parody. Nope, it's real:
"COPPERAS COVE – History will be made today when Copperas Cove resident Bill Thomas and his wife, Georgia, present President George W. Bush with a Purple Heart at the Oval Office.Other than the fact that a president being criticized by his people is nothing at all like being shot at in combat, or the fact that the president never actually got anywhere near combat, then yes, he's totally deserving of a Purple Heart. But it would have been more appropriate if they'd given him a Purple Heart Band-Aid.
Thomas said he and his wife came up with the unprecedented idea to present the president with the Purple Heart over breakfast one morning a few months ago as they discussed the verbal attacks, both foreign and domestic, the commander in chief has withstood during his time in office.
"We feel like emotional wounds and scars are as hard to carry as physical wounds," Thomas said."
There's yet another juicy wrinkle (on top of the Imus one, the speeding one, and the no-seatbelt one) to Jon Corzine's car accident the other week: the driver was supposedly confronted about an affair at the worst possible time:
"New Jersey State Police are investigating an allegation that the trooper who was driving Gov. Corzine's SUV two weeks ago when it crashed going 91 m.p.h. may have been distracted by e-mails sent to his mobile phone or BlackBerry.Wow. Just think. If Rutgers loses in the semi-finals of the NCAA tournament, Imus never calls them "nappy-headed ho's," he doesn't get fired, there's no meeting, Corzine stays home, and the driver's affair is handled without anyone else in the car. The ripples continue.
A Berkeley Heights police sergeant was quoted in the Star-Ledger of Newark yesterday saying he sent an e-mail shortly before the crash to Trooper Robert Rasinski, confronting him over having a two-year affair with his wife, Susan. He said he enclosed a family photo as an attachment."
Matthew Yglesias- soon moving to the Atlantic- on how silly the whole "limousine liberal" fallacy is:
"One should note that there's a trap here designed to make it impossible, in practice, for anyone to advocate effectively on behalf of working class Americans. It's simply not possible, given the way the American political system works, for a person to be in a position to run for president without having achieved high socioeconomic status. A person will, in that position, be condemned by the press as a hypocrite if he acts like someone with money, and condemned by the press as a phony if he acts like someone without money (indeed, Edwards even got in trouble earlier for acting like a working class person who got rich and bought a tastelessly large house). Meanwhile, someone like George W. Bush who eschews the interests of working class Americans in favor culturalist posturing can get a free pass on sailing in Kennebunkport, and a free pass on phony working class affectations. No real person can uniformly avoid these "errors" -- it's the media dynamic that needs to change."Isn't it better to be a rich person who cares about the poor than a rich person who doesn't care about the poor?
Thus, the Philly persecution complex rushes into overdrive. Wait until the Eagles play the Saints next year.
So after the Timberwolves ended their third straight season out of the playoffs, there's apparently... much discontent on the team! According to Sid Hartman, several players on the squad are unhappy- and might not want to return!
If only it were that simple. Thanks to GM For Life Kevin McHale's years of mismanagement, and the league's awful salary cap/guaranteed contracts structure, they've got about six bad contracts that they're stuck with for years in the future. Another Strib columnist, Patrick Reusse, gets to the bottom of the problem:
The guess is here that the conversations actually went more like this:Well, the upshot is, the Wolves did bad enough this year that they get to keep their own draft pick (rather than give it to the Clippers), and finished with the 6th-worst record, which gives them a shot at Oden/Durant, not to mention the likelihood of getting a very good player. Good thing they have Forbes magazine's Best Executive in Sports to make the pick.
McHale to rival GM: "We have Mark Blount with three years and $22 million remaining on his contract, Troy Hudson with three years and $19 million remaining, Marko Jaric with four years and $27 million remaining, Mike James with three years and $18 million remaining, Trenton Hassell with three years and $13 million remaining, Mark Madsen with three years and $7.9 million remaining and Justin Reed with two years and $3 million remaining.
"Which one of these noble veterans could I interest you in?"
Rival GM to McHale: "Have you gone completely out of your mind, Kevin? You have roughly $110 million worth of Charmin-like softness, bad rap music, unreliability, bricklaying, overrated defense, towel waving and wasted energy, and you want me to take some of this off your hands?
"Don't' call me again and mention any of those names, or I'm going to file a grievance against you with the commissioner's office for reverse tampering."
Circuit City and Napster join forces on a digital music downloading service that no one with access to iTunes would ever even think about using. Plus, that Google phone idea may not be so dead after all.
Who gets fired first- Charlie Manuel, Alberto Gonzales, or Paul Wolfowitz? And if so, in what order?
News Item: Kevin McHale to return as Timberwolves' VP
Other than the fact that he's missed the playoffs three years in a row with a future Hall of Famer, and that he hasn't made a good trade or free agent signing since before the invasion of Iraq, McHale's done a heckuva job. I realize Glen Taylor is a rich, rich man, but it appears he trusts Forbes magazine way more than he should.
The AP also said that a fan was kicked out of the Target Center the other night for holding up a "Fire McHale" sign. To get kicked out of a sporting venue in Philly, he'd have had to do that, plus drink 35 beers, urinate on those around him, shout multiple racial slurs, and assault a mascot.
"If you think McCain is old and crazy now, just wait until his second term!"-Isaac Chotiner of TNR, after McCain sang "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann" at a rally in front of 500 people. And yes, I realize that in the next couple of years we may have to, in fact, bomb Iran, and I wouldn't necessarily oppose such a thing were it to happen. It's just not exactly something that's good to joke about at a campaign rally.
That comes from Kenny Heller, "New York's Most Obnoxious Lawyer," and the subject of a very entertaining Village Voice cover story this week. Read it all for the life story of the only man ever disbarred in New York "just for being an asshole."
It's finally on YouTube:
The new stadium, meanwhile, looks pretty cool. Too bad it'll probably never be built.
Sean Burns on "Hot Fuzz":
"Director Edgar Wright has really done his homework here, using just the right syncopated crash-cuts, bombastic hero-worship camera angles and comically overblown explosions. (The editing itself is the best joke in the movie.) After seeing Hot Fuzz, I doubt it'll be possible to keep a straight face during a Michael Bay movie again—assuming you could ever do so in the first place... Viewing Hot Fuzz in the wake of Grindhouse, I'm beginning to think it might be truly revolutionary if all these gifted young filmmakers get together and, assuming an original idea is out of the question, at least start paying homage to better movies."I saw this last week and liked it a lot- but why does every comedy have to loose steam and become all-plot in its second half? The third act of "Hot Fuzz" felt like it lasted an hour.
Philebrity, on Charlie Manuel vs. Howard Eskin:
"So what does Manuel do? He shoots the messenger. Sure, it’s Howard Eskin, but you know what? Getting mad at Howard Eskin is like arguing on the Internet: Even if you win, you’re still retarded."
The BlackBerry system crashes completely for ten hours- the first time in months I've regretted not having one. Also, the Comcast/wild Fandango site joins the Fox/NBC content site. It's been called the "YouTube Killer"; one of my co-workers opined yesterday that they hope the first one killed is Lonelygirl15. And finally, Microsoft is sponsoring a "Project Greenlight"-like contest.
Also, the North Star column is now available on Google News, and my piece about the Stoudt's Brewery has been published in PhillyEdge.
In what's clearly the most entertaining Philadelphia sports story of the new year, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel got into an altercation last night with local sports radio host Howard Eskin. It began during the post-game press conference after the Phillies' 8-1 loss to the Mets, when Eskin asked if a clubhouse tirade might help the Phils to improve on their 3-9 start- and a tirade was exactly what Eskin got:
Manuel blew his top in his office, letting loose with a profane tirade and challenging WIP-AM talk show host Howard Eskin, a longtime critic of Manuel, to a fight. Later, in the team clubhouse, he had to be restrained from going after Eskin by two Phillies coaches.You know, Charlie's reputation is that he's not tough enough, especially compared to his two-fisted predecessor, Larry Bowa. But this is Charlie's second near-fight in three years, after he nearly came to blows on the field last year with team official Dallas Green (At the time I dubbed the fight, between the then-62-year-old Manuel and the 72-year-old Green, "Age in the Cage.")
Manuel's not the best manager in the world, and I'm the first to admit that. But I've always maintained that he's better than most Philly fans give him credit for- they have had winning records the last two years, after all- and Philly fans' impressions of him have a lot more to do with the way he looks and talks than anything having to do with his performance as manager. And all this time, he's had no tougher critic than Eskin, who has referred to Manuel multiple times as the worst manager in the history of the game.
Either Charlie's getting passionate will spur the Phils to play harder for him (I seem to remember his fight with Green leading to a winning streak), or this will be his version of Rick Pitino's "negativity sucks" speech, and he'll be out the door by the end of April. I'd bet on the latter. Should make an interesting broadcast for Eskin today; the last two weeks were all-Imus, all the time, while yesterday's show was all about gun control.
But of course, the part of all is that SportsCenter tonight will do what they always do when there's a coaching meltdown: They'll air the highlight reel of Jim Mora, Hal McRae, Lee Elia, Chaney/Calipari, and all the others.
Another interesting observation- both Marcus Hayes and Sam Donnellon of the Daily News write up the incident without mentioning Eskin by name, referring to him several times only as "a local radio personality," the way they dance around the names of Middle Eastern countries on "24." Has Eskin, who briefly wrote a DN column in the '80s, been blacklisted by the paper? Maybe they have a Star Tribune/"Cleveland Baseball Team" thing going.
And finally, I agree with Tom:
If ever there was a time to question Charlie Manuel's judgment, it was last evening. He should have punched Eskin in the nose.
"Now that Mike and the Dog are covering Don Imus' morning shift on WFAN and keeping their afternoon shift, Mike is downing roughly 435 Diet Cokes per day. He could switch from soda to straight cocaine and his body wouldn't notice at this point. Can't they find a new morning guy? If Mike ends up keeling over, make sure we add that to Imus' injury/death total along with the New Jersey governor, his wife's book tour and every sports fan who punched themselves in the face because they were forced to listen to this debate for two weeks instead of actual sports."Seven hours a day of Mike and the Mad Dog? I don't know that I could put up with seven minutes.
Virginia Gov. Tim Keane, quoted yesterday about the "gun control wars" breaking out already:
" Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said he wasn't interested in arguments about gun control.And that goes for video games, Marilyn Manson, and every politician, too.
"People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them," Kaine said at a Tuesday evening news conference.
"To those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say: Take that elsewhere. Let this community deal with grieving individuals and be sensitive to those needs."
Here's Tim Edson, a columnist for the Virginia Tech student newspaper, on yesterday's tragedy:
While the true toll of this outrage is just beginning to become clear, some in the media, as well as in the Virginia Tech community have unfortunately been undeterred from letting the recriminations fly. Anger is understandable; in fact, outrage is more than justifiable given that someone would so carelessly and savagely take innocent lives. At this time, however, pointing fingers and casting blame isn't only wrong, it's disrespectful to the victims, families, friends, and everyone else so grievously affected by these horrific events.Using the 30 victims as mere props to make a political point is one of the more loathsome tactics imaginable, but we're already seeing it, and you know we'll be seeing a lot more of it in the coming months.
We need to remember that the real villain in all this is the mass murderer responsible.
Another story from Blacksburg yesterday: One of the dead was a 76-year-old professor of engineering named Liviu Librescu, an Israeli who survived both the Holocaust and Communist Romania, only to perish in the shooting. However, Librescu was said to have barricaded the doors of the classroom, an action that likely saved many other lives.
Presidential candidate Tommy Thompson the other day pulled a Joseph Biden- or is it a Michael Ray Richardson? Thompson told a Jewish group that he's making money in the private sector, which is "sort of part of the Jewish tradition." (Strike One) Thompson attempted to apologize, stating that he did not mean to "infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things." (Strike Two) Then Thompson tried to apologize again, sharing that as governor of Wisconsin he had purchased Israel bonds and supported the Anti-Defamation League- but in Little Carmine-like malapropisms, referred to them respectively as "Jewish Bonds" and the "Jewish Defense League." (Strike Three, candidate's out.)
Is Thompson an anti-Semite? I'm sure he's not. He's just tone-deaf as hell, and probably had no business whatsoever running for president even before this happened. And come on- he served in the Bush Administration! Didn't Wolfowitz, Feith, and the rest of the Jewish conspiracy teach him all the correct Jewish terminology?
(Warren Beatty, by the way, foresaw all this a decade ago in "Bulworth.")
Another controversial commentator has been fired from his regular media perch at a cable news channel. But this guy, shall we say, doesn't quite have the profile, or the significance, of Don Imus.
It's Malik Shabazz, general counsel of something called the "New Black Panther Party," who for the last several years has been regularly invited on to Fox News (and only Fox News) to spout Marxist doctrine and 9/11 conspiracy theories involving the Jews. A self-parody in the tradition of Chris Rock's "Nat X" character, Shabazz is often trotted on to FNC to act as a human straw man, but if you're not a Fox watcher, you've probably never heard of him, mostly because he and his group have, essentially, no influence or significance whatsoever.
The other night, Michelle Malkin (sitting in for Bill O'Reilly) had on Shabazz as a guest, in a rare exchange in which Princess Internment was not the more extreme participant. Anyway, Shabazz went on to call Malkin a "political prostitute" and to argue that the Duke lacrosse players were guilty.
Anyway, Fox is going to need to find a new bogeyman who they can tie unconvincingly to the Democratic and African-American leadership, because O'Reilly said last night that Shabazz has been banned from his show. And really, WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?
One drunken Red Sox fan throws a pizza at another, after he misses a foul ball- and the broadcast continues to analyze the situation for the rest of the game:
Gotta love Patriots' Day- not to mention, the Fenway tradition of everyone drinking for an entire long rain delay before the game starts. It's the funniest thing to happen on a NESN broadcast since the Denis Leary incident.
Here's Lisa Schwarzbaum, in EW, on why you shouldn't see "Perfect Stranger":
"Did you know that people in Internet chat rooms are not always who they say they are? Really, it's true! I learned this in Perfect Stranger, a crappy thriller gussied up with a chrome-plated veneer... Perfect Stranger is spam — not only commercially generated, but irritating in the faith that buyers will be as dumb about Internet-based thrillers as the sellers are. My advice is to delete without opening.Another problem with the movie? A complete lack of Balki.
In a column that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer last month, Alfred Lubrano went into the usual girls-are-out-of-control refrain, until taking it in a surprising direction:
Unfortunately, when it comes to sex, girls are not exercising power; they are subjugating themselves to male needs, simply servicing guys who give little back.At Brandeis? Of all places? Say what? In four years I never saw that happen. Not once.
It's not without consequence. In places like Brandeis University, young women are reporting that they're drinking more, and that they're confused and aching, referring to themselves as whores, saying they feel empty.
I'm going to reserve comments on this past "Sopranos" episode until I've had the chance to watch it again, but I've gotta say- if Vincent Curatola doesn't win an Emmy for his performance, there is truly no justice in the world. Other than Edie Falco in that season finale where Tony and Carm yelled at each other for 90 minutes, it's the best single-episode turn in the show's history.
Sunday's tributes to Jackie Robinson, especially the one at Dodger Stadium, were wonderful, and it's unfortunate that they were rained out at six different ballparks on Sunday. Anyway, two of America's best sports columnists, Michael Wilbon and John Smallwood, both had excellent takes on the Jackie anniversary. Both are well worth reading, even though they say many of the same things.
There was a major shooting today at Virginia Tech, in which around 30 people are confirmed dead, twice the number killed in 1999's Columbine massacre. It's a horrible tragedy that I can expect we'll be hearing about for several months.
Details are still sketchy on what exactly happened. But in terms of reaction, we can now expect this to be Columbine all over again, in which everyone in America blames the incident entirely on their most convenient political enemies.
Therefore, in the next couple of weeks you can expect to hear the shootings blamed on each of the following: George Bush, Bill Clinton, the war in Iraq, the NRA, the South's long-held gun culture, gun control advocates, video games, heavy metal music, goth culture, Marilyn Manson, Michael Vick, Marcus Vick, rap music, Al Sharpton, Don Imus, Rosie O'Donnell, and steroids. And I'm sure that's only about half the list.
I tend to think it makes more sense to blame the person who pulled the trigger, but that's just me.
I wade into the muck of the Imus story, by asking ten questions and answering them, in this week's North Star column.
Meanwhile, on E-Gear, those Michigan Democratic legislators have abandoned that curious plan to use $38 million in public funds to buy iPods for every public school student. The lawmakers claim the proposal was "misconstrued" and really had nothing to do with iPods; but the comment in question consisted of a legislator holding up an iPod and saying "we want this in the hands of every student in the state of Michigan.”
And Circuit City and Best Buy are each sued in California- the former for age discrimination (its "fire everyone qualified" strategy ensnared some older people) and the latter for sexual harassment after a Geek Squad employee taped a woman showering. The plaintiffs' attorney in both matters? You guessed it, Gloria Allred. Apparently, she's not too busy representing the Michael Richards comedy club patrons.
I'll also have a new piece in PhillyEdge, probably this week.
Apparently, Borat Sagdiev is the new editor of Pravda. Here's their take on the Imus controversy, which dwarfs all the dumb, dumb things people have claimed stateside:
In a clear sign of its intent to reign in dissident American media personalities, and their growing influence in American culture, US War Leaders this past week launched an unprecedented attack upon one of their most politically 'connected', and legendary, radio hosts named Don Imus after his threats to release information relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks upon that country.Who knew Al Sharpton was a "U.S. war leader"?
That doesn't raise any ethical red flags or anything like that. How about calling the sports page the "Philadelphia Eagles Sports Section"? Like it isn't pretty much that already.
I've been silent on the whole Sanjaya thing, mostly because I don't watch "American Idol" and don't really care about it. But I did think this bit, in a Time magazine article, was funny:
But what does the American public think of the unlikely Idol star? Of all of the searches for Sanjaya over the last four weeks, 41% were searching on variations of his name, "Sanjaya," or "Sanjaya Malakar," and various misspellings. At least 2.9% searched for information on Sanjaya's sister, who didn't make the cut on the show. The next most popular search topic regarded questions about Sanjaya's sexual orientation, with searches such as "Sanjaya Malakar gay," "Sanjaya gay" and "is Sanjaya gay?" What's missing are searches related to Sanjaya's musical selection or talent.But I bet a higher percentage of Simon Cowell searches ask the same question.
"There's this huge block of people out there, primarily reasonably prosperous middle-aged middle class white men, who in all genuineness seem to believe that what went down there is emblematic of broad-based social problem. They see the Imus controversy through the same lens -- the lens that makes them think the issue here is Al Sharpton or hip-hop. It's a mentality that believes -- deeply and sincerely -- that the middle-aged white dude just can't get a fair shake in this country. Not in this day and age. What with the Sharptons and the feminist bloggers and all. Next thing you know, there'll probably be dudes marrying dudes, and women and black folk running for president!
And, well, I just don't know what to say to a mentality like that. I certainly think that lots and lots of people in this country -- including, naturally, lots of middle-aged people and lots of white people and lots of male people -- do, in fact, have a hard time getting a fair shake in the contemporary United States. But the idea that middle-aged white men as a class are being persecuted, well, well, not so much."
UPDATE: One his commenters has another interesting point:
"There is that element at work, but there's another that I like to call INARB-- I'm Not A Racist, But... this is sort of a variation of a concern troll. It's someone who will loudly proclaim that they aren't a racist (a probably aren't), and that they are dedicated to eliminating racism in our society-- but in absolutely any public matter involving race, denies that racism is at play. If you think about it, the political media is littered with them. The move is always to spend five seconds gesturing to racial equality and racial justice, and the remainder of the segment explaining why, in fact, racism didn't occur; or why the real problem is the black leadership establishment; or why politically correct taboos are tearing our country apart; or why the real problem is affirmative action and the "culture of poverty"; or why Al Sharpton is an asshole. The actual act of racism (real or alleged) is always marginalized, while qualifications and excuses for the act are emphasized."We've all seen a lot of that with Imus, for sure.
Things are looking really great for the Democrats right now. There's only one man (no, not John Kerry) who can blow it all for them, in November 2008 and all the time in between. And his name is Michael Moore. Yes, always a great political move to praise communism in comparison to your own country.
Yes, he's a great sportscaster with a knack for reading highlights, and yes, that show is really just collecting big names at this point. But... didn't they learn anything from the ESPN/Rush Limbaugh experiment? How long before Keith says something "controversial" and turns off half the audience?
Local talk radio reacted by- you guessed it- calling the team owners cheap, because they asked for their money back. Oh, please. There's probably an accountant or secretary somewhere who's going to get fired, but I wouldn't read much more into this than that.
My friend Ben Dreyfus has announced the return of his famous "Automatic For the People" Kabbalat Shabbat, during which he takes Jewish liturgy and sets it to the songs from REM's seminal 1992 album. If you're in New York April 27, be there.
Radley Balko, with some fascinating observations:
The reason why the narrative for most of the last century has been that of noble, left-wing ACLU and NAACP lawyers coming to the aid of black people wrongly accused by racist white people is because for most of the last century, that's the way it has actually happened. Over and over and over. And I'm not just talking about the Jim Crow era. See Tulia. Or Hearne. Or the dozens of people freed by the liberal lawyers at the Innocence Project.
And let's not go overboard in heaping praise on the Duke players' more conservative defenders. [Glenn] Reynolds is an honest-to-goodness civil libertarian. So I don't include him in this. But to hear law-and-order right-wingers like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, or the Powerline crew scream about prosecutoral excess, the rights of the accused, and political opportunism on the part of a prosecutor these past few months really strained all credulity. Yes. I'd love to think their interest in this case was motivated solely by their sense of justice. But come on. Does anyone not think the race and class of the accused, the race and class of the accuser, and the politics of feminism and anti-feminism had something to do with their sudden embrace of and familiarity with NACDL talking points?"
Fagistan, on the Imus brouhaha:
"Part of the ridiculousness of our new Age of Apologius is that insults directed at particular people are somehow inflated to apply to everyone in the world. Sure, when Mel Gibson accuses the "Jews" of starting "every war in history," he's clearly attacking an entire race of people. But when Isaiah Washington calls T.R. Knight a faggot, well, I'm sorry, he's just calling T.R. Knight a faggot. Why should he apologize to me? Or to HRC or NGLTF or Elton John or half the Republican House caucus?"
Two rival films, within a year of each other, both about a gay icon? It worked for Capote. And now, two major gay directors- Gus Van Sant and Bryan Singer- are prepping rival biopics of Harvey Milk, according to Aint It Cool.
Milk was a city supervisor in San Francisco in the 1970s and America's first-ever openly gay public official; he was later assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in 1978. Milk was already the subject of a pretty terrific documentary in 1984, "The Times of Harvey Milk"; I can only hope that both directors play up the "Twinkie Defense" part of the story, which originated in this case but was barely mentioned in the doc.
I became of this crime against humanity (or at least, against the greatest TV program of the decade) from Andy Vineberg of the Bucks County Courier Times, and I officially have nothing to add:
Late-arriving fans of HBO's “The Wire” (such as myself) hoping to catch up on past seasons on BET can forget about it.How dare they. They wouldn't cut out 20 minutes of "106th and Park."
The cable channel recently aired the standout drama's first season in its entirety. The muted profanity and nonstop commercials were annoying, but you could almost tolerate them because the hour-long program was aired over 90 minutes, meaning no content was trimmed.
For the second season, however, which debuted last Thursday and continues tonight at 10, BET is only devoting an hour of airtime per episode. But no less commercials. Which means about 20 minutes of content is cut from each episode.
No thanks. Such slicing and dicing would make almost any show unwatchable. But on a program as detailed as “The Wire,” when every line, every nuance matters, it's unthinkable.
Rent, buy or borrow past seasons on DVD. Or hope HBO gets around to repeating them. Just don't try to follow the series on BET. Not Season 2 at least.
It can't be done.
The Philadelphia Daily News has discovered that caches of old weapons and ammunition are all over the place at City Hall, including in one room with over 800 rounds of ammunition (but no fire alarm.) The Fire Department, until checking earlier this week, had no idea of the existence of the stash, which in the event of a fire would likely cause massive explosions that could endanger the lives of the more than 1000 employees at City Hall.
Becca and I were at City Hall the other night to get our marriage license, and were shocked at how awful the building looks- it's over 100 years old, but has clearly been in disrepair for at least half that time. Come on, politicians- can't you set aside a few thousand out of what you steal each year to give the building a makeover?
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was injured tonight in an auto accident on the Garden State Parkway, after an out-of-control truck struck his state police vehicle. The governor was not seriously injured, but appears to have suffered a broken leg and several broken ribs; it's certainly a much less mysterious situation than the last time a New Jersey governor broke his leg.
And where was Corzine going in the car? You guessed it- to the meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers womens' basketball team. The meeting, alas, proceeded without the governor's participation.
Something I just noticed: Gary Matthews- the former Major Leaguer, father of suspected HGH purchaser Gary Matthews, Jr., and new color commentator for the Phillies- has almost the exact same speaking voice as Robert Novak. It's uncanny. They may not look alike, but they sound virtually the same. Sarge may be getting rotten reviews from Phils fans, but at least he never named Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.
Here it is: I like it. Reminds me a lot of Citizen's Bank Park here in Philly. But like the Cit, it looks TINY. It'll be a major, major hitters park, although it might give a Morneau a shot at 500 home runs.
Groundbreaking is set for next month; if you'd told me back in 1997 that they would start building the Twins' ballpark the same month as my wedding, let's just say I'd have been very, very scared.
It's too bad Johan Santana probably won't ever pitch there. At least, not without a Yankees or Angels uniform.
UPDATE: Or, maybe he will...
Meanwhile, on Dealerscope, Vonage's CEO resigns, and the company may go out of business. That's right- the end of that ubiquitous "Woo Hoo" commercial may be nigh. If only Chevy would go bankrupt, maybe it would put an end to "This is Our Country."
Matthew Yglesias, talking more Imus sense:
"I don't really see the comparison between Don Imus talking about "nappy headed hos" and hip-hop artists rapping about "bitches" and "hos". I don't see US Senators and major political journalists doing guest appearances on rap albums and praising misogynistic rappers as praiseworthy sources of information on weighty topics. Indeed, quite the reverse. Politicians generally enjoy hanging out with celebrities (enjoy it a bit too much for their own good) with shy away from rappers for precisely this reason."But what about Ludacris' boast that "by the time you figure out why your record ain't spinnin/I'm in the strip club smokin, with President Clinton"?
News Item: Drew Bledsoe retires from football
So Rudy Giuliani was asked about the current prices of milk and bread, and whiffed badly on both of them, guessing way too high. And really, who cares? Does this mean he's out of touch with the common man who buys his own groceries? Possibly. Or more likely, it means his wife buys them. Or, he doesn't look at the pricing of each individual item and just gets rung up at the end. Or, he goes to D'Agostino's, or some other wildly overpriced NYC supermarket.
This is a presidential election, not "The Price is Right." If you're gonna knock Rudy, there are other, better reasons.
The Boston Phoenix has released its annual list of America's most unsexy men. Donadl Trump wins, followed by Azamat from "Borat," Flavor Flav, Karl Rove, Howard K. Stern, and Don Imus. But the highlight is when they refer to Alan Colmes as having "all the intellectual authority of a Nazi collaborator. But he made the list because he looks like Rocky Dennis, Cher’s son in Mask."
Comedy Central will introduce a new "court show" called "The Root of All Evil," starring Lewis Black as the "judge":
Black will play a judge presiding over cases pitting political figures, celebrities and pop culture concepts accused of being "the root of all evil."That really could work, especially if it tosses in a lot of "activist judges" jokes. Although, the syndicated "Moral Court" show, with Larry Elder, sort of got to the idea first a few years ago.
The recently filmed pilot included the cases of Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney and chick flicks vs. video games. Guest comedians serve as attorneys for each side, with Black rendering a verdict. Greg Giraldo and Paul F. Tompkins were among the comedians featured in the pilot.
News Item: Comcast Buys Fandango
You know what that means: Mr. Fandango works for Comcast.
One BILLION dollars. That’s how much George Steinbrenner has spent to NOT win a championship over the last six years. By comparison, if you added up every payroll dollar the Twins franchise has spent in their history, it wouldn’t equal $1 billion. Not the Twins team, mind you – the Twins franchise - which includes the Washington Senators run starting in 1900.If we could afford a better fifth starter than Sidney Ponson, we'd have won one of those games this week, I'm telling you. (And yes, I know Sidney was briefly the Yanks' fifth starter last year. But we should've learned from that.) Meanwhile, in a shocker, A-Rod is playing like... the best player in baseball. Who would've thought?
UPDATE: Oops, spoke too soon... the Twins won Wednesday night, behind lights-out pitching by... Ramon Ortiz?
As I mentioned before, I much enjoyed the episode. They were clearly treading water in the "first half" of the season, having to stall for time and spend about three times too much time with Stoned Chris, Gay Vito, and Carmela in France, and the first episode is a return to form.
I love when they really put across Tony's psychological cruelty, in getting his revenge on Bobby for winning the fight -which, as a brawl between two fat drunken New Jersey natives, reminding me a lot of my Hoboken days. But is it really possible that Bobby had been a mobster for that long without having ever killed anyone?
Anyway, we'll apparently be seeing more of the cast next week, as well as more action. As for the "how will it end" question, I'm starting to become a convert to the Carmela-shoots-Tony scenario.
The City Pages this week profiles a rising new musical star: Brother Ali, a Wisconsin-born rapper living in Minneapolis who is a blind Muslim albino- and is coy about his actual race (the story implies that he's black.)* This gentleman's career certainly bears watching; and here we thought Victor Varnado's title as "Most Famous African-American Albino in Minneapolis" was safe forever.
And speaking of Imus, I think we have a new Dumbest Thing Said About This Yet: Philadelphia City Councilman Juan Ramos has introduced a resolution calling for a boycott of Don Imus until he resigns or is fired, even though- suspension or no suspension- Imus' show does not air on the radio in Philadelphia. That'll make him knuckle under!
Much smarter stuff on Imus today, meanwhile, from Michael Wilbon.
*Apparently, I misinterpreted this part; the author of the piece comments below that Ali is in fact Caucasian by birth, but "doesn't identify as white."
Here's columnist Thomas Sowell, who has apparently never watched Fox News Channel ("You'll be outraged by our next story!") or listened to talk radio, on why the left seems to have a monopoly on anger:
"Can you remember seeing a Republican expressing outrage?Yea, that's the problem with the right these days. Not enough outrage. Because it's not like the constant fomenting of anger in their audience is the primary objective of conservative media itself. Even if you're a conservative true believer, you must admit that much of the Rove/Ailes strategy consists of keeping people angry and harnessing that anger for electoral/ratings victory.
Democrats express outrage 24/7. Ted Kennedy alone has expressed more outrage than the entire Republican Party.
Democrats can lie their way around the world before Republicans can manage to mumble the truth.
The case for conservatism cannot be too hard to articulate. Talk radio is dominated by articulate conservative talk show hosts.
Here's an awesome YouTube compilation of the best botched moves in wrestling history. And no, Owen Hart's death is not included.
All those predictions throughout the Spring of a triumphant Phillies season? Uh, yea, not looking so good...
The Phils have started the season 1-6, after yesterday's loss to the Mets, during which they gave up an 8-run eighth inning, failed to score in one bases-loaded-nobody-out situation, and got only one run in another. The team's situational heading has been abysmal, the bullpen even worse than advertised, and not even Ryan Howard has done much.
Things look real bad, of course, and it's hard to imagine Charlie Manuel lasting another week or two if things continue the way they are. Of course, considering all the talent on hand in the bullpen and rotation, there's really no way the Phils are actually this bad (as opposed to Washington, who really are.) They'll turn the corner eventually. Tom of Balls, Sticks, and Stuff, who I had the pleasure of sharing a beer with last night, has more on the team's dire straits.
As for my other hometown team, I think it would be a really swell idea if Sidney Ponson never put on a Minny uniform ever again. He gave up five runs in the first two innings in last night's nationally-televised loss to the Yankees, during which- much to ESPN's chagrin, and mine- Johan Santana did not pitch.
The Twins are off to a good start, don't get me wrong, but I've got a feeling this rotation decision is going to cost them. Putting a mediocrity like Ponson in the rotation when a talent like Matt Garza is available would be the dumbest sports decision of the month, if it weren't for the Doc Rivers contract extension.
At least things are looking good on the ballpark front, just in time for a preview of the April snow-outs we'll be getting semi-yearly.
I guess the villains will be Fred Phelps-types, which is probably only because he can't take revenge on his previous tormentor, William Donohue, by making him the villain of his movie ("South Park" already did it.)
Cinematical also reports on a new film, called "The Friday Night Knitting Club," in which Mike Binder will direct Julia Roberts. Based on those three facts, this really sounds to me like the least enticing movie in the history of American cinema.
So apparently the rock star, who is also part-owner of the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul, got angry during last night's game and gave a double middle-fingered salute to the officials. After the game, however, he apologized profusely, explaining that he misunderstood the call, and that he has nothing but the utmost respect for the officiating crew, as well as the other team.
Now JBJ happens to be my soon-to-be-wife's all-time favorite musician/cultural figure, so on this matter I tread very carefully. There are two things wrong with this story: One, Bon Jovi is a rock star, and being a rock star should mean you should be able to do much, much worse things than give the finger without having to apologize. Two, it's only the Arena Football League. It's a fun game to go to, sure, but not really quite getting worked up over. Not even Philly fans get all that angry at the games.
News Item: Pacman Jones suspended for 2007 season
"Making it rain" has never been so costly. It's certainly made me re-think my bachelor party plans...
I liked it. A lot. And I'll have more later.
On E-Gear, I look at a sort of bizarre plan by a Michigan state legislator to buy an iPod for every public school student in the state.
And in the latest North Star column, I question why Rosie O'Donnell's rantings are considered a Def-Con 5-level outrage by the folks at Fox. In big news for our little group, our columns will be available on Google News starting sometime this week.
Deadspin on this latest Imus scandal:
"Does WFAN have an ombudsman? Because someone needs to tell the network to place Don Imus in a block of ice and shove him toward Greenland, where he can be unfrozen sometime in the future when they figure out a cure for old."Should Imus be fired? Maybe, maybe not. It seems like he says really, really dumb stuff pretty regularly. But then again, you can similar racial slurs on Stern, and other such shows, just about every day, and they don't end up getting fired.
News Item: 50 Cent Likens His Lawyers to the "Jew Unit"
After dropping hint after hint that he may be on the way out the door sooner rather than later, Bill Simmons has signed a four-year deal to stay with ESPN. The deal will allow the Simmons the opportunity to "develop shows" for the network, most likely documentaries. His long-rumored takeover of ESPN9 will have to wait for the next contract.
Nathan Lee, of the Village Voice, on Grindhouse:
"I've got a theory about Grindhouse, and it goes like this: At some point during the brainstorming/beer-bonging process by which Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino developed their multimillion-dollar ersatz-exploitation double feature, the boys finished off the super nachos, sparked up a spliff, and said "Dude, let's just motherfucking bring it." From whence proceeded a checklist of must-haves: zombie hordes and one-legged go-go dancers, hot rods and hot pants, evil doctors and exploding pustules, trash-talking identical-twin babysitters, castration, decapitation, dismemberment, diminutive Mexican badasses, customized motorcycles, Kurt Russell, Osama bin Laden, Fu Manchu, tasty sausage, jive-ass stuntwomen, outrageous car wrecks, buckets of blood, geysers of gore, mountains of weaponry, explosions bigger than God (Tarantino: "How big?" Rodriguez: "Retarded big")—and of course titties, lots and lots of titties."This was one movie that made me really excited to see the deleted scenes/material. Especially of the Eli Roth fake trailer.
In the most shocking mascot-related scandal since Pirate Parrot procured drugs for several Pittsburgh players in 1984, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees mascot, a green, Oscar-like creature known as "The Grump," has been arrested for, you guessed it, soliciting sex from a minor. And apparently, he used the Grumpmobile to do it:
Hastings told police he had access to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees van because he is the Grump and attends special appearances mainly at functions involving kids.Not even the Phillie Phanatic, on his worst day...
Some little kids square off in a Pee Wee rumble:
It's a comedy rule: chase scenes on skates are always funny, whether it's these kids, or the Two Wills (Ferrell and Arnett) in "Blades of Glory."
News Item: One-Man New Jersey KKK Disbands
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think the idea of a one-legged stripper with a machine gun for a leg is cool, and those who think it's disgusting. If you're like me and part of the former group, "Grindhouse" will be, I assure you, your favorite movie of the year so far. I saw it last night, and there was so much awesomeness that I'm only now beginning to understand, process, and categorize it.
When I first heard about "Grindhouse," I assumed it was another in the "From Dusk 'Til Dawn"/"Four Rooms" 'minor Tarantino/Rodriguez" line. But boy was I pleasantly surprised.
The Rodriguez part is very good, the Tarantino part is GREAT, and the trailers in between may be the funniest thing I've seen all year. But the best part about "Grindhouse," is the return of the old Tarantino. He has that authority back, and he really feels like the guy again who made "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction." "Grindhouse," especially the "Death Proof" part, has everything that was great about early QT: Great actors. Great characters, Great dialogue. Obscure movie references. Back-from-seeming-career-death/obscurity actors, and inexplicable close-ups of female feet.And all that other good stuff.
I'm usually exhausted after a three-hour movie. After "Grindhouse," I felt like I'd just had a great meal- and wanted to immediately go back to the same restaurant again the next night. QT, and to a lesser degree Rodriguez, are the reason many, many film buffs of my generation are film buffs. This movie serves to remind us why.
UPDATE: And speaking of Rodriguez, this is awesome.
The baseball/DirecTV thing gets resolved, to everyone's satisfaction, it appears. And, to everyone's surprise, it was John Kerry's Congressional hearings that did the trick. Kerry gets results- first time for everything, I know.
And speaking of tech, Slate has an excellent roundup of the next generation of smart phones.
The blog, by the way, was down for much of today, but if you're reading this now, it isn't anymore.
Good. That was the best thing about it. That, and the fact that the gag of the Jesus character dying and coming back to life on certain holidays still works, even after all these years.
The "24"/Hillary parody last week? That was more hit-or-miss. On the "24" stuff, I loved the ripping off of the exact music, and Kyle-as-Chloe. But the Hillary part left me cold- like with the weak Oprah/Towelie episode last year, the constant vagina jokes just came across as desperate. But the episode redeemed itself by introducing "Hildog" into the lexicon- I plan on calling her that for the next year and a half.
From Iain Levison's must-read essay on Philly's half-assed recent history of "urban renewal":
"In City Hall’s defense, work has often been stalled because fear of gentrification has prompted activists in some devastated communities, specifically Strawberry Mansion and Mantua, to protest neighborhood improvements. When neighborhoods get gentrified, the working poor get shoved aside, because property values increase and they can no longer afford to live in their own homes. This was averted in Northern Liberties because the properties went up in value very slowly, having first been rented to what real estate agents call “artists” before becoming fully gentrified. (“Artists,” apparently, is a generic real estate term for white people who don’t mind having black neighbors. If there were really that many artists, we’d have a gallery opening every nine hours.)"Not that I don't love it, but maybe someday I'll understand this city. It'll be awhile though, I'm afraid.
From David Weigel of Reason.com, in reaction to a Larry Kudlow column suggesting that Dick Cheney run for president, because he is so "experienced":
I like this definition of "experienced" and its complete disconnect from whether Cheney has been successful. If Cheney flirts with 10,000 women and gets rebuffed or slapped by 9,900 of them, he would be the most experienced lover of all time.Ugh, bad mental image. Good thing it's just an analogy.
According to this totally non-scientific survey, a lot of 100-year-olds are embracing video games, iPods, and other such things. The price of the Sony PSP is going down, while Apple and EMI will begin selling digital music without copyright protection.
When the press conference was held the other morning on that last thing, rumors were rampant that Apple and EMI were announcing something else: that Beatles music was finally becoming available on iTunes. But no, it wasn't that. Not that I care; I've owned the entire Beatles catalogue since high school.
"Sopranos" mania is running wild, brother. Meanwhile, here's Alan Sepinwall, on what was up last year:
Last season started off like it was going to be one of the plottier years to date. From Junior shooting Tony through the wedding of Johnny Sack's daughter and Vito's flight from New Jersey, there was a sense that events were building towards the kind of epic climax the writers usually shy away from. And then, shortly after Vito started flirting with Johnny Cakes, everything slowed down. We got our first Artie episode since season four, Christopher fell off the wagon three different times, and the budding war between New York and New Jersey ended before it could start thanks to Phil Leotardo's coronary.Yea, last season was a bit slow, and the Vito stuff could've been two episodes, instead of five. But still... it's better than about 95% of what's out there.
You can explain some of that abrupt change of momentum by what was happening behind the scenes. The first half of the season was mostly written under the assumption that these would be the final 12 episodes of the series, the second half after Chase agreed to extend things for one last year. While there were some gems in those later episodes, you could definitely sense the writers trying to run in place until it was time to resume the march towards Chase's planned conclusion.
Christopher Isenberg of No Mas, who once interviewed the man himself, takes the plunge:
Now because he has the temerity to say that Jews are good lawyers, Jews are industrious people, Jews use their wits to get ahead in a world where they are more often hated than loved, we are going to excommunicate him from basketball like he’s Tim Hardaway or Al Campanis. It’s not right.
Craig Finn, of the Minnesota-based band The Hold Steady, appears to be the only major rock star who roots for the Twins. (Well, besides Dan Israel.) And now, THS has recorded a cover of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for Metrodome use.
If you haven't yet read Jeffrey Goldberg's recent New Yorker piece about Wal-Mart and its spin machine please, drop whatever you're reading and do it right now. The people quoted make Bruce Toll and his for-profit methadone clinics sound charitable by comparison. My favorite part was the leaked internal memo in which one of the execs suggests that to save health care costs, Wal-Mart simply stop hiring unhealthy people altogether.
And speaking of too-soon-canceled shows out on DVD: As you may have discovered from occasional references on the blog this week, I've jumped into "Arrested Development" with both feet. What unparalleled genius it was. I'm not sure I want to live in a country in which "According to Jim" lasts seven seasons and "Arrested Development" only three.
This video shows what the box office hit "300" was really about:
There's an amazing new book out about an amazing man, named Buck O'Neil. It's called "The Soul of Baseball," it's written by Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star, and every baseball fan should read it this spring.
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Tigers
AL West: Rangers
AL Wild Card: Yankees
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Diamondbacks
NL Wild Card: Cubs
First Round: Tigers over Yankees, Red Sox over Rangers; Phillies over Cubs, Cardinals over D-Backs.
Second Round: Red Sox over Tigers, Phillies over Cardinals
World Series: Red Sox over Phillies
The announcer, who was the Twins' radio play-by-play man starting in 1962 and continuing until the present, died today at the age of 83.
Carneal, who won the Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award in 1996, was one of the last of old-guard announcers associated with the same team for decades (Bob Uecker, Vin Scully, and Harry Kalas, I believe, are the only others remaining.) He announced every significant game in franchise history, including both World Series wins.
With the deaths of PA announcer Bob Casey, Kirby Puckett, and now Carneal, the Twins have lost three franchise icons in as many years.
"The Sopranos" final season begins. Here's a useful primer on everything that's come before: