Philadelphia Weekly's Sean Burns, on one of the summer's most contentious movie debates:
"The Internet is also on fire regarding that other Independence Day blockbuster, Michael Bay’s Transformers. This makes me sad for so many reasons. First of all, it’s heartbreaking to witness so many young men of legal voting age spending so much time and effort trying to figure out if Bay’s addition of painted flames on Optimus Prime represents some sort of betrayal of the sacred source material. Furthermore, this is Michael Bay we’re talking about, a filmmaker so egregiously and consistently awful and evil, he’s like Ed Wood reborn as a drunken, date-raping, frat-boy bully. Finally, I never figured out this whole Transformers thing to begin with: So there’s a robot truck fighting a robot handgun, but the pistol is bigger than the 18-wheeler?"Yes, yes, yes, and yes. The movie sounds like a lot less than meets the eye. But if it's a hit, could a $200 million big-screen treatment of "Go-Bots" be far behind?
For movies this weekend: See "Knocked Up." Please. It's brilliant. Not quite so brilliant? "Mr. Brooks," which I caught last night, which is an incredibly goofy mess of a movie that's a little weird to work as a thriller, but a little too serious to work as camp. About five extra subplots, and the long-awaited dramatic debut of Dane Cook, don't help much either, and neither does a horrible, totally insulting ending. Mitigating factors include a dream cast (Kevin Costner! William Hurt! Demi Moore!) if the movie had been made in 1988, and the return of Reiko Aylesworth (Michelle from "24"!), who's in two brief scenes.
Here's a stab: You know the capuccino machine that Paulie gave Tony? It's bugged/equipped with a camera, meaning Paulie is a rat. My reasons for thinking this:
1. It's been mentioned multiple times in multiple episodes, making me think maybe it'll be important at the end.
2. The FBI already tried to bug Tony's house, but then Meadow moved the lamp. And as John Street could tell you, the feds love to bug their targets.
3. The episode when he and Tony drove to Florida, Paulie talked like he was wearing a wire, asking specific questions about that body they found in the house.
I'm not saying for certain, but it's just an idea. When this show ends in two weeks, I'll be prostate with grief.
When our bus stopped at a gas station on the way to Normandy, behind the counter they had a French-language DVD of "Brokeback Mountain" for sale. Like you'd ever see that in a rural gas station in, say, Indiana.
I didn't think the season could get any better for Yankee-haters, what with the sub-.500 record, the injuries, the Torre-must-go ideas, and the double-digit deficit to the Red Sox. But, then this happened:
A petite stripper at the Hustler Club said A-Rod "likes the she-male, muscular type. They brought me up to the champagne room one time. I spun around once and that was it. I'm not his type."It was bad enough when the Post showed a front-page photo of A-Rod entering a hotel with a buxom blond who is not his wife. But now a stripper, bitter than Mr. 252 million didn't think she was cute, is spreading all sorts of vicious stuff. And you thought A-Rod was uncomfortable in New York before...
She said A-Rod often brought his wife to the club "and she's very pretty. I'd rather dance for her any day."
A-Rod also regularly hangs out at other strip clubs in New York, such as HeadQuarters and Rick's Cabaret
I didn't get a picture of "Galerie Kevorkian," but this guy did. Apparently, it's where your art goes to die.
To say I didn't have much exposure to the news during our Paris trip is an understatement. We had only sporadic internet access, only the International Herald Tribune and Guardian for newspapers, and but three English cable channels- CNN International, Sky News, and BBC World. The latter two, unfortunately, seemed concerned exclusively with that missing girl in Portugal, showing that the other side of the Atlantic is just as concerned with superficial missing-white-girl stories as we are here.
Anyway, some scattered thoughts on a few things that have happened in the last ten days or so.
- I see Paul Wolfowitz won the resignation sweepstakes. Ehud Olmert, Alberto Gonzales, and Charlie Manuel all kept their jobs, somehow, in the meantime.
- So no more Rosie O'Donnell on "The View," huh? Good thing she's still on Fox News more than the president.
- No, I was not on the TB guy's flight from France. He came back at least a week before I did. But thanks so much for the concern, everyone.
- Matthew Yglesias' takedown of Bob Shrum's new book- great stuff. Why in the world would anyone read a book by Shrum with any title other than "How to Lose an Election"?
- "The Sopranos"- harrowing episode. Although I thought I'd have two to watch when I got back. Like I said- it's all gloom and doom, and I love it. And "Entourage" was priceless too- much like the Ari-between-two-shuls bit, I'm surprised it took them this long to give us "Yair Marx," the billionaire investor who may work for the Mossad, Hezbollah, or both.
- David Brooks' column on the rise of the "quasi-religious" was the smartest thing I've seen written about religion in quite some time, as the term really does apply to myself and most of the people I know. We're a force, I tell you!
- I'm less concerned about Lindsay Lohan's alcoholism, drug addiction, car accidents, or loss of her acting talent than I am with the fact that she's slowly, over the last four years, turned orange. She must go to the same tanning salon as Hulk Hogan.
- I'm very sad that Bat-girl, one of the very best, is giving up her Twins blog. It says a lot, though, that many of the players were fans of it.
- The NBA lottery was won by... Portland and Seattle? Huh? The league must LOVE that, almost as much as Bill Simmons. Though I praise Bill not only for avoiding suicide, but for knocking Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale as "the NBA's version of Bush/Rumsfield." That's ridiculous. At least Bush and Rumsfeld won one war. The Wolves continued their unblemished record of never, a single time, moving up in the lottery.
- Why wasn't I invited to this party?
- Jeff Buckley died ten years ago today. Absolutely shocking. If you don't own the "Grace" album, get on iTunes and buy it right now. Seriously.
- And finally, my favorite story of the entire week. It involved a riot in a gay pride parade in Moscow, with a surprise guest:
Religious orthodox protesters and skinheads hurled eggs and stones - injuring Mr Tatchell in the eye. They also attacked Richard Fairbrass, the gay singer from the pop group Right Said Fred.The items of note from that, in order from how little they surprise me to how much they do:
1. The frontman of Right Said Fred (of "I'm Too Sexy" fame) is gay.
2. He's hanging out in Moscow.
3. Much like "Hootie," "Milli," and "Vanilli," "Right Said Fred" is an actual group, and not a solo artist whose first name is "Fred."
4. The singer from Right Said Fred is enough of a figure of consequence in the gay community that he's a main attraction at a gay pride parade in a major world capital. I guess Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Scissor Sisters, and Clay Aiken all said no.
A few stories I've written in my first two days back at work:
- After the DirecTV thing blew up in their face, baseball is now going after... the Slingbox?
- The Microsoft Surface- pretty damn cool. It's a computer that looks like a coffee table. And if you don't have a coffee table- it becomes a coffee table!
- LG may battle the upcoming iPhone with a new product called the Prada- there's a "devil wears" joke in there somewhere.
- A baby died as a result of an explosion that may have an involved a faulty Xbox chord, so his family is suing Microsoft and Wal*Mart. But... the suit alleges that the Xbox 360 was to blame, which may be difficult since the product wasn't even introduced until nearly a year after the child's death. I'd imagine the lawyers for Microsoft and Wal*Mart might mention that at trial.
- AOL used to be at the forefront of everything with the internet. Now, they're just introducing knockoffs of YouTube and Myspace.
Rebecca and my wedding was an amazing time for all, going off without a hitch, and we were so glad everything came together. And best of all, I get a new wife out of it!
It was also wonderful to see so many readers of the blog, including several people I've either met because they're readers, or from reading their blogs. Since yesterday, we've gotten full reels of pictures from about ten different people, and that's before the official photography.
We're back now (see below for honeymoon stories); I'll be getting caught up on all my reading and doing news-based blogging starting tomorrow.
Yes, we're back from France, and Rebecca and I had a wonderful time. We wanted to go somewhere romantic, of course, and somewhere neither of us had been, so Paris seemed ideal (other than a quick stop in Amsterdam when I was 16, I'd never been to Europe at all.) So France it was.
The funny thing about a honeymoon: You're not really thinking about it in advance, because you're thinking about the wedding until like the day before. We had lots of ideas of stuff to do, despite not a whole lot of advance planning other than flights and hotel.
To answer the first two questions: Yes, we did have a bidet in our hotel room, and yes, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese really is called a "Royale with Cheese" (actually, "Royal," perhaps renamed in honor of Segolene.) But no, we didn't partake of either. That's the funny thing about Europe, the little differences.
And no, we didn't get any trouble at all for being either American or Jewish, which was my biggest concern about the trip. However, everyone seemed to know we were American the second they saw us -None of that "pretending to be Canadian" bullshit for us- and the last names "Silver" and "Goldenberg" didn't exactly hide our Semitism either. But nope, no trouble; not a single Frenchman accosted us on the Champs Elysees and blamed us personally for Bush's election or the war in Iraq. . My old pal John Pagano used to call the French "baguette-swinging Jew-haters," but I saw not much of either.
A few other observations, with photos hopefully to follow by the end of the week:
- I mostly loved the food, especially the croissants, the crepes, and those French hot dog things with the cheese. But a couple of restaurant pet peeves- no water, unless you order it? And even then, no ice? After an 80-degree day, I really needed that. As for the opposite extreme: the coffee just sucks. You get one little cup, it's weak, and the milk is warm. Real bad- and such small portions.
- We took a day trip to Normandy, and it was just amazing- more on that in the next North Star column. In Paris proper, all the viewers along the river were beautiful, as well as of the Eiffel Tower from across the river.
- Every time I heard that "European" siren sound, I got the Clash's "White Riot" in my head. This happened about five times a day throughout the trip.
- Was my enjoyment of Versailles improved upon or lessened by the Sofia Coppola "Marie Antoinette" movie? I still can't decide. But I can say the Hall of Mirrors is really not all that impressive. Other movies I need to see again soon as a result of the trip: "Last Tango in Paris," "Before Sunset," "Amelie," the whole damn French New Wave canon, the "Sopranos" episode where Carmela goes to France, and (of course) "Saving Private Ryan."
- Drivers in Paris are delightfully, hilariously insane. Those pulling into parking spaces will think nothing of ramming into both the car behind them and the one in front of them. And going in reverse, quickly, for an entire block on a one-way street? No problem! Probably the funniest thing I saw on the whole trip.
- With nothing left to do on the last day, we headed out to EuroDisney. Yea, yea, I know what a joke the place is. But neither of us had been to a Disney park in about 15 years, so it was fun. The unquestioned highlight? A multimedia live show called Animagique, featuring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck drawing cartoons on eisels, until Donald jumps into the film vault and spends the rest of the show jumping between the universes of different Disney movies. If you've ever wondered what an acid trip would look like from Donald Duck's point of view, I highly recommend it.
Yes, we're married and back from France. Regularly-scheduled blogging will resume later today.
Becca and I are getting married tomorrow, and on Sunday are heading off to our honeymoon in France. I'll be taking a break from blogging until we return on Memorial Day, although I am sure there will be plenty of stories (and pictures) to be posted then. In the meantime, look for a new North Star column on Monday, and please continue to follow my colleagues' work on E-Gear.
I have never seen a no hitter or a perfect game in person, and after last night, I still haven't. But I did see a hell of an exciting game, as the Phillies defeated the Brewers for the third straight night, to complete their climb up to .500.
Cole Hamels took a perfect game into the 7th inning before walking Rickie Weeks and giving up a homer to J.J. Hardy. It still energized a sellout crowd, there for Ryan Howard Bobble Figure Night (but not, alas, for Ryan Howard himself.)
Your interest piqued by Hamels? Here's more facts about Cole. As always, it's funnier if you substitute Bill Brasky's name for the pitcher's.
The other highlight of the night was that Becca and I, three days before our wedding, got to banter with the Phillie Phanatic, who joined us (and our parents) at our seats. We tried to invite him to the wedding, but I don't think he heard us. My mom: "who's that Sesame Street guy?"
I was going to write my next column as an anti-obit of Jerry Falwell. But honestly, I don't know that I can top Christopher Hitchens:
The discovery of the carcass of Jerry Falwell on the floor of an obscure office in Virginia has almost zero significance, except perhaps for two categories of the species labeled "credulous idiot." The first such category consists of those who expected Falwell (and themselves) to be bodily raptured out of the biosphere and assumed into the heavens, leaving pilotless planes and driverless trucks and taxis to crash with their innocent victims as collateral damage... The second such category is of slightly more importance, because it consists of the editors, producers, publicists, and a host of other media riffraff who allowed Falwell to prove, almost every week, that there is no vileness that cannot be freely uttered by a man whose name is prefaced with the word Reverend. Try this: Call a TV station and tell them that you know the Antichrist is already on earth and is an adult Jewish male. See how far you get. Then try the same thing and add that you are the Rev. Jim-Bob Vermin. "Why, Reverend, come right on the show!" What a fool Don Imus was. If he had paid the paltry few bucks to make himself a certified clergyman, he could be jeering and sneering to the present hour.No, Falwell won't be missed.
UPDATE: Hitch vs. Hannity, and Ralph Reed:
Nothing better than Hitch mentioning Jack Abramoff every time Reed tried to speak.
News Item: Jenna Jameson Endorses Hillary Clinton
Philadelphia did the right thing yesterday in making Michael Nutter the Democratic nominee for mayor. With only token Republican opposition, and Sam Katz not running, Nutter has a clear path to the mayor's office, which is a wonderful thing for this city.
Here's the ad that pretty much won Nutter the election:
In other election news: Philadelphia will now be Street-free, as both the mayor's son and brother lost the at-large city council race. Also, Seamus McCaffrey, formerly of the "Eagles Court," was elected to the state Supreme Court, while418 people cast their mayoral vote for homeless man Jesus White.
Opie and Anthony are suspended from XM after a bit on their show featuring rape fantasies about Condi Rice. Also, Amazon will soon offer DRM-free music downloads. And on Dealerscope, Walter Mondale, the greatest living Minnesotan*, has resigned as chairman of the Panasonic Foundation.
*Well, it's either him, Paul Westerberg, the Coen Brothers, or Kent Hrbek.
Here's a news story that just plain makes no sense at all. Maxim has released their annual Hot 100 list of America's 100 hottest women, and #1 is... Lindsay Lohan? What?
Lindsay Lohan is, clearly, not hot. She hasn't been hot for three to four years. She had an extremely brief window, around the time of "Mean Girls," when she was very hot. But soon after, she turned into the stick-thin, chain-smoking, drug-addled, disgusting mess that she is today and likely will continue to be until her inevitable Anna Nicole-like death, which no one doubts is any more than a year or two away.
If someone's the hottest woman alive, the first thing you think when you hear her name has to be "wow, she's amazingly hot." Jessica Alba, maybe. Or Catherine Zeta-Jones. Or Beyonce or Scarlett Johansson. But no one since about 2004 has had that thought when thinking of Lohan- the only thought they've had is, "ugh, she's disgusting."
"Instead of finally making the madcap cable-industry comedy he seems destined for, Larry The Cable Guy has instead addressed the issue of our time: war, and what is it good for? Like Paths Of Glory, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon, Delta Farce is a difficult, harrowing work offering little relief or humor. Unlike those movies, though, Delta Farce is supposed to be funny. While a movie about applying the "don't ask, don't tell" policy to the cognitively disabled might sound hilarious on paper, Larry and his cohorts do not exactly git it done."-Steven Hyden of the AV Club, reviewing "Delta Farce," unquestionably the worst-looking movie of the year. Whose idea was it to base an entire movie around the two-least funny things - the war in Iraq and Larry the Cable Guy- of the current decade? Will the sequel be about cancer and 9/11?
He had trouble fencing it, alas, because there isn't much of a bulk secondary market for Skittles. Call him the Omar Little of multicolored candies.
Now, I realize that Shawn and Marlon were sort of young when their own brother, Keenan Ivory Wayans, made the genre's definitive work, "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." But that doesn't mean they have to bring their notoriously laugh-free comedic sensibility to the exact same subject 20 years later.
The Hold Steady frontman writes for the Guardian about his experiences at Valley View Junior High in Edina, outside Minneapolis, in 1984. Life was hell, basically, until he discovered The Replacements. Despite growing up in Minnesota, I somehow missed out on the 'mats until years later. Soul Asylum was more of my time.
Salon.com: Tinky Winky Says Goodbye to Jerry Falwell
Jeffrey Goldberg had an interesting observation on the Slate "Sopranos" roundup:
Your delicate introduction of the Chris Albrecht saga leads me to note the uncanny way in which The Sopranos is, in some mystical way, presaging actual events. Christopher goes off the wagon and shoots J.T.; Chris Albrecht, the man who oversaw the success of The Sopranos, goes off the wagon and allegedly chokes his girlfriend; Tony and Christopher have a terrible SUV crash in an episode filmed months ago; the governor of New Jersey has a terrible SUV crash, albeit one that didn't end with the deadly Soprano Nose Pinch; an angry, bullied, and alienated Asian-American turns on Uncle Junior in an episode filmed well before the Virginia Tech massacre; Tony Soprano becomes suspicious of a group of New Jersey "Arabians"; shortly after, the FBI arrests a bunch of Albanians for plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, which is in, yes, New Jersey.Goldberg also points out that the "two Jasons" are spectacularly awful people, as "the third generation is when the rot [of the mob] truly sets in." That should be totally obvious to anyone who's ever seen "Growing Up Gotti."
Sunday's episode has probably been the most thought-provoking of the series' entire run, if what I've been reading on the three best TV blogs is any indication. To answer two questions without spoiling much: Yes, Tony was yelling "I Get It!," and not "I Did It!," at the end. And yes, it was weird that both "Sopranos" and "Entourage" ended Sunday's episode with a character screaming to the heavens while standing in the mountains (or canyon).
News Item: Jerry Falwell Dies in Virginia
I could go off on a long rant about what a foul, awful man he was, but that's not necessary. All I will say is, Falwell worked tirelessly for his entire career to create an America in which Christianity was the law, sex and free expression were curtailed, and gays were entirely marginalized. If that America ever emerges, I'm very glad Falwell never lived to see it.
Some other bloggers, alas, aren't as nice as me.
I mock WIP a lot around here, but I must give credit where credit is due. They've got a great thing going on right now with Best of the Nest. It's a "tournament," played out on the radio, among six of the best Eagles teams of all time.
They played the games on WhatIfSports.com, and this week they're acting them out on WIP during Glen Macnow's show, with Joe Conklin doing all the voices of the announcers and players. Conklin's quite a talent, when he's not reduced to doing witless bits on the station's brain-dead morning show.
I thought this sounded silly when I first heard about it- what, MORE Eagles content when it's not even football season?- but I listened to the first "game" (between the 1980 and 1995 teams) last night and it was really, really well done. (Here's the "recap," in the Daily News.) My favorite part of the narration was that trainer Otho Davis was running back and forth between the two sidelines, since he was the trainer for both the '80 and '95 Eagles.
I look at tomorrow's Philly mayoral election in this week's North Star column. The column was written before today's revelation that campaign workers (probably for Tom Knox) distributed "Knox is the only real Catholic" fliers outside churches yesterday.
With the news that Brett Favre asked for a trade from the Packers, WIP yesterday decided to start a trade rumor out of whole cloth: McNabb to the Packers for Favre and a #1 draft pick. Never mind that such a scenario has never been discussed, never been contemplated, and each team has about ten different reasons not to do it. It's still a "trade rumor," and was still discussed for the whole afternoon yesterday. But hey, it's not like it's baseball season right now, or anything like that.
Yes, yes, I know people are sick of McNabb's whining all the time, and getting injured what seems like every year. But he's the best QB the Eagles have ever had, and I just know he's got another run in him. And also, behold this, the greatest legal document of all time. Filed by Pacman Jones' attorneys at Greenberg Taurig (yes, Jack Abramoff's old firm!), it details every single arrest of an NFL player in the last five years. Donovan McNabb is not on that list; on it, however, are about 250 people who are much more worthy of our derision and contempt than Donovan is.
(The list, by the way, has very few Eagles on it, other than Dhani Jones, for his infamous arrest for dancing on South Beach.)
Holy bloody hell. Literally. Very great, and very weird, episode that really showed the David Lynch influence on Chase that I've often read about. I won't go fully into spoilers, but let me refer to "A Nice Place to Visit," a "Twilight Zone" episode referenced by Carlo in the first gambling addiction episode, which I think is important to what happened last night:
Carlo, in Tony's doghouse for his failure to run the Family construction business as profitably as Vito, mentions an old "Twilight Zone" episode featuring a thug named Valentine. Tony cuts him off, but Carlo's apparently referring to "A Nice Place to Visit," an episode about Rocky Valentine, who dies during a robbery and wakes up in an afterlife where his every wish is granted. Every woman wants him, everybody thinks he's wonderful and every bet he makes is a winner. Eventually, Rocky grows so tired of what he assumes to be Heaven that he asks to go to "the other place," only to be told, "This is the other place."Vegas is hell, in other words. While Costa Mesa was merely purgatory. (Kudos to TV critic Alan Sepinwall, who first noticed this.)
Matt Zoller Seitz's thoughts are also must-read, as always.
During the Twins' glorious, nationally-televised 16-4 win over the Tigers last night, announcer Jon Miller stupidly decided to engage his broadcast partner, Joe Morgan, about the latter's favorite subject, blogs.
Asked by Miller if he ever reads Buster Olney's blog on ESPN.com, Morgan replied that no, he doesn't have time to read blogs, mostly because he's too busy on the golf course. I don't know what's worse- that Morgan said that, or that Miller doesn't know his own partner's infamous opinions on the subject.
Olney gets up every day, reads about 40 newspaper sports sections, and links to every single relevant story that's about baseball. His news aggregation model might be the best on the entire Internet, to the point where I brought his name up in a web strategy meeting at my office. And it's not like he's an amateur-in-his-pajamas type blogger. Buster's been a top journalist for about two decades, and the stuff he links to is... old media, newspaper stuff. Morgan wouldn't have any interest in that.
As for the Twinkies, they've been looking a bit weak in the lineup lately, so it was good to see them show some pop. I just wish they could've spread it out over the whole series. And in other good Twins news- no more Sidney Ponson!
News Item: World Series to Start on Wednesday This Year
Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad. I LOVE that the World Series starts on a Saturday night, and if it reaches 6th and 7th games, they're on Saturday and Sunday. There was nothing at all wrong with that system and who the hell knows why they didn't keep it. Won't putting the games on weeknights, when they'll end after midnight on the East Coast, make all the kids miss the end because they'll already be sleeping?
The other rationale, ESPN.com says, is that "a Wednesday start will allow baseball to avoid playing on Friday, which is TV's second-least watched night after Saturday." Which is wonderful, especially considered that the games AREN'T PLAYED ON FRIDAY NOW.
"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," possibly the most underachieving series in the history of television, was officially canceled on Friday. It could've been so good, but just collapsed under the weight of everything it was trying to accomplish.
"Studio 60" will be replaced in its timeslot on NBC by a show called "Journeyman," which is about "a man who travels back in time to fix the lives of people in trouble." "Journeyman" is also known by its alternate title, "The Exact Same Fucking Thing as 'Quantum Leap.'"
Q: Any chance that the U.S. pulling out of Iraq could have Ewing Theory implications? You know, we pull out and suddenly and inexplicably democracy flourishes and everyone gets along? --Jeff, PhiladelphiaThat really is the exact theory of the "we're fueling the insurgency" argument, but I would liken Iraq and us to the the Knicks and Ewing around 2002- they're pretty much screwed with us or without us.
See, also, Bill's thoughts on the five least believable parts of "Mr. Holland's Opus."
Without a doubt, the Hamas Mickey Mouse wins the award for this year. Jon Stewart had the best line about it- the reason the show's not funny is because they don't have any Jews on their writing staff.
But still, Hamas Mickey isn't nearly as scary to me as "Kippi," the enormous porcupine who was the Big Bird stand-in on the Israeli version of Sesame Street. That thing gave me nightmares when they made us watch it in Hebrew school. At least Kippi wasn't a front for a terrorist organization, though.
Paul Katcher helpfully differentiates. Because if there's one thing I hate more than the Yankees, it's Turtle from "Entourage."
The hapless current Philly mayor can't even raise shady 527 money right:
"Mayor Street tried to raise money for the group that's behind an ad attacking Michael Nutter, the front-runner in Tuesday's mayoral primary... Shawn Fordham, a paid consultant to the "527" group and a top adviser to Street, said yesterday that the mayor had made at least three telephone calls "a few days ago," soliciting money for the group, known as One Step Closer.In some cities, when the mayor calls, people listen. Not here, though.
Street's spokesman, Joe Grace, confirmed that Street had made the fund-raising calls - though Fordham said no one Street had contacted agreed to donate...
Philadelphia Will Do also comments on Philly.com and its talking, floating Michael Nutter.
The other thing I don't get about this is how Paris fired her publicist. Considered that he made a worldwide celebrity out of someone who's never accomplished a single thing, ever, in her life, you'd think Paris had the best publicist alive.
News Item: Oral Sex Could Be More Dangerous Than Cigars
I wrote on E-Gear today about the Circuit City clerk who alerted the feds to the Fort Dix terror plot, because he was perceptive enough to notice that the videotape he'd been asked to copy consisted of Arab-looking men shooting assault rifles and talking about "jihad." This discovery, in early 2006, kicked off a 16-month investigation leading to Monday's arrests.
Circuit City confirmed, to us and many other media outlets, this morning that the employee was one of theirs, but would not reveal his name, nor whether or not he is still with the company. And as Philadelphia Will Do and others pointed out, it's probably not too likely that the guy is still working at the store, because Circuit City fired virtually all of their experienced employees a few months ago.
The heroic employee has yet to emerge from the woodwork, but I'm guessing the fact that he prevented the deaths of dozens of U.S. soldiers would probably be enough to get him his job back.
Michael Nutter has a clean sweep: He's been endorsed for mayor by the Inquirer, the Daily News, Philadelphia Magazine, the City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, the Northeast Times, the flying pigs hovering above N. Broad Street, and even SteveSilver.net. When you go to Philly.com, Mike himself pops up!
You know what to do, Philly.
The noted author/blogger Seth Mnookin had an excellent piece in the Boston Globe's magazine over the weekend about the issues of former athletes suffering brain damage, and how much responsibility the teams have to prevent such things. And in the piece, Mnookin addressed a question I've always pondered myself: When players are using steroids and/or other performance-enhancing drugs, how much do the team doctors know?
“You think it’s the doctors who are covering this up because it’s what the teams want?" asks a local team doctor. “You’re out of your mind. If you so much as hint to a player that you want to talk about the risks of, say, HGH [human growth hormone], you’re risking a lawsuit. You’ll have the union up your ass. You’ll have the player’s agent saying the team is just trying to find a way to knock down his value for his next contract. Eventually you throw up your hands. If a patient fights that much against [as little] as being educated, well, fine."Makes me wonder even further about that strength and conditioning coach that the Yankees fired after their injury-plagued first month- and how in the world any team, in this day and age, would call such an official the "director of performance enhancement."
'How about a Saudi commission on how 15 of its citizens came to be among the 9/11 hijackers? Or a Lebanese commission on how Hezbollah has been able to operate as a quasi-independent armed entity within the state? Or an Iranian commission on how the hopes of its 1979 revolution led only to another form of dictatorship? When those commissions convene, the Middle East will move forward."- Roger Cohen, in a New York Times guest column.
Today marks the five-year anniversary of the start of this blog, which initially debuted on May 8, 2002. Yep, that's five years, with no hiatuses to speak of. Thanks, so much, for reading my inane ramblings for all this time.
Were I not getting married in ten days, and in the middle of buying a house, I would probably be doing a lot more to commemorate the occasion. But I do, in fact, plan to launch some sort of redesign during the summer.
"The Sopranos" had its best episode of the year last night. Just enough plot, just enough action, and just enough of the season's overarching theme, namely, "we're all doomed, we're just not sure how." My two favorite parts of the episode? Christopher constantly bringing up Adriana, and Carmela reading Fred Barnes' Bush book in bed. The latter made me laugh for about five minutes straight.
Meanwhile, "24" last night featured its first good episode in about ten weeks. I'd seen collapses like "24"'s this year, but usually they're not this quick. Last night saw hints of more mediocrity- not one, but two couples had to discuss their relationship problems during a hostage crisis- but then the last 25 minutes were a return to the exciting, nerve-wracking "24" we all remember. And since the show has access this season to one of the best villain actors alive (James Cromwell), it was nice that they, you know, actually used him again. They'd wasted him more in the last two months than "Spider-man 3" did.
And finally, this weekend also saw the best "Entourage" of the year. But how did it take until Season 4 for them to play the "Ari runs back and forth between two synagogues to close a deal" card?
Let today's arrest of the terrorists for attempting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix be a lesson: If you're the sort of person who likes to shoot guns, and talk about jihad and "Allah hu al-Akhbar" while doing so, you might not want to videotape the proceedings. But if you must, it might not be so wise to, say, take said videotape to an electronics store and ask to have it transferred to DVD. Because people at those stores tend to have phones, and those phones tend to be capable of reaching the local office of the FBI.
And yes, the ringleader's name was "Dritan Duka." Parker and Stone, ahead of the curve yet again.
But man, is the news catching up with "The Sopranos" this year, or what? First there was the pseudo-Cho in the hospital with Uncle Junior, and now we've got other Arab gun nuts/possible terrorists in New Jersey. Next thing you know, driving your car around on other people's lawns is going to become the Next Big Thing.
Did I mention how awesome it is that Paris Hilton is going to prison for 45 days? Because if I didn't, it is, indeed, awesome. I just hope she doesn't have anything important to do in those 45 days that she'll have to hastily reschedule.
This whole situation, meanwhile, has inspired one of the best T-shirts ever.
Jon Stewart covers last week's presidential debate, and follows John McCain following Bin Laden into the Gates of Hell- also known as Philadelphia. And closer to the gates of hell, there was yet another debate, among the Philly mayoral candidates, in which Chaka Fattah essentially accused Michael Nutter of not being black enough. That, and Bob Brady said that Tom Knox, in his $1 per year former job as deputy mayor of Philadelphia, was "grossly overpaid."
News Item: Yankees ban alcohol in clubhouse
In reaction to the news that Jim McGreevey may become an Episcopal priest (which is just too weird to even comment on), Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell joked this week that he may decide after leaving office to become a rabbi. Which makes sense- not only would the job not interfere with his sportscasting career, but unlike Jim, Ed won't have to change religions OR sexual orientations.
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" will go off the air following this fall's final season, Cheryl Hines confirms in a Boston Globe interview. Much as I love the show, after last year's subpar season, it's probably time.
As part of a massive layoff/buyout program that will subtract 145 people from its staff, including 50 from the newsroom, the Star Tribune announced today that blogosphere hero James Lileks will lose his weekly column (Lileks has been re-assigned to a general reporter position.)
I'm a bit more upset about the massive layoffs than the Lileks part, if only because James has a rather lucrative career as an author to fall back on, and I'm guessing the 50 on their way out probably don't. Also, enjoyable as Lileks' blog is, I've never considered his Strib column to be anywhere near as witty or entertaining.
The two biggest villains in this whole thing? First is Sid Hartman, who probably could've saved ten people's jobs if he retired himself. And second is new Strib publisher Par Ridder, scion of the always-evil Ridder publishing empire, who stands accused of stealing industrial secrets from the Pioneer Press and bringing them with him to the Strib. Been wondering where he got the name "Par"? With the given name Paul Anthony Ridder, he's in the rich-jerk tradition of using his first name as his initials, kind of like Jeb Bush, and Gob Bluth.
Best case scenario? The 145 firings will lead to an extremely modest circulation jump six months from now, and the Strib can celebrate with an 8-page special section about how no one expected it.
Matt Zoller Seitz, on "Spider-man 3":
"I'll accept a world where a super-villain can instigate a crane accident that just happens to imperil a young woman who just happens to attend the same science class as our hero. For that matter, I'll accept that a meteorite containing parasitic black goo that amplifies a person's dark tendencies would just happen to land a few yards from Peter and Mary Jane when they're canoodling in Central Park, and that the same good would just happen to land on Brock later, and that Peter's uncle's murder -- which was definitively established as the work of one crook in the original film -- turns out to have been the work of a duo, one of whom is Flint Marko. But I can't accept that the same protagonist who, in the climax of Spider-Man 2, calmly convinced a homicidally depressed Harry Osborn to shelve his grudge long enough to help save Mary Jane, would suddenly start behaving as if the world were just a big TV show that he could drift in and out of with no big repercussions. (If Spider-Man's vanity resulted in multiple civilian deaths, and made him into a public pariah again -- well, that would be a different story, and likely a more unsettling one than Sony would be willing to green-light.)Yea, all the false endings, false deaths, and Harry's-good-no-he's-evil-no-he's-good was just a bit too much for me.
I follow last week's GOP presidential debate, minute by minute, in this week's North Star column. And on E-Gear, Apple vows to get more environmentally friendly, an at-home winery is closer to widespread release, and the people who stole those cell phones still haven't been caught. Apparently, the security guard on duty was caught washing his car as the robbery was taking place.
Kissing Suzy Kolber tells us what really went down when he talked to Andy Reid. Actually, probably not really.
I'm sure the 80 people the Philadelphia Inquirer laid off earlier this year really enjoyed this feature today. Because it wasn't like they couldn't have sold ads, and made money, instead of wasting four pages on congratulating themselves on a minor circulation boost.
Some thoughts on some recent films:
- "Spider-man 3": Following the second film, one of the top movies of '04 and one of the better comic book movies ever, the third Spidey flick is quite a disappointment.
There are some top-flight action sequences, sure, but having three different villains is remiscent of the Joel Schumacher-era "Batman" pictures, the "evil Spidey" thing is just cringe-inducing, especially in the jazz club song-and-dance number, and the ending is a mess. Maybe having the hero forgive the villain is satisfying in some universe, but not in this one.
- "Waitress": This indie comedy, starring Keri Russell and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, is as good as advertised. The characters are real, the scenes well-directed, and it actually gets better as it goes on. One of the best of the year, and everyone should see it.
- "Lucky You": This one sat on the shelf for more than two years, and for good reason: It's a crushing bore, made to capitalize on the poker fad and left to die in theaters (against "Spider-man") once it petered out. The poker scenes are pretty good, but everything else in the movie fails, especially the part about the star (Eric Bana) being a professional gambler even though he's not that good at gambling. Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall, meanwhile, return as the exact same characters they played in their five previous movies.
Well, now we can add Houston to the list of cities that will hate Roger Clemens forever. The soon-to-be-45-year-old pitcher announced today that he's returning to the Yankees, who were probably mortified about having to essentially drag people in off the street to start games for them so far this year.
With Carl Pavano facing Tommy John surgery, and Phil Hughes also hurting, the Yanks must've felt they needed to meet Roger's asking price. I would've rather seen him finish up with the Red Sox, but this was probably inevitable.
The Inquirer's Phil Sheridan, on how Philly's reaction to Donovan McNabb's, uh, non-reaction should make Kevin Kolb very, very afraid:
If everything goes just right for Kolb in the NFL, he'll be fortunate to have a career anywhere near as good as the one McNabb is having. The odds are against him; nothing personal, it's just the cold reality that more young quarterbacks fail in the NFL than succeed. So if he overcomes those odds, if he has a certifiably brilliant career here, if he conducts himself with class, stays out of trouble and gives back to the community - if he does all that, he can look forward to being ridiculed and scorned.Those people would all be all over McNabb if he'd said anything in reaction, but instead, they're all over him for... not reacting.
Kolb can avoid that fate, of course. It is simple.
All he has to do is complete every pass, win every game, hoist a Lombardi trophy at the end of every season, wear the correct facial expression at all times, get along with every teammate no matter how horrible, never accept a single endorsement that might irritate a single Eagles fan, and be sure his parents, wife and agent never express a single thought of their own.
That, or Philadelphia could change. Which do you think is more likely?
Ever wonder why Philly fans are so pissed off all the time? Here's a montage that explains why:
Whoever sat there and put this together must be the biggest masochist alive.
Like I said a few weeks ago, Philadelphia's City Hall is a disgusting, festering cesspool, greatly in need of a major cleaning up that is years, if not decades, overdue. Also, the building itself is sort of dirty.
I don't know what's creepier: the fact that former CIA director George Tenet and porn legend Ron Jeremy were high school classmates, or Jeremy's appearance at the time. You thought he was funny-looking now?
Ross Douthat, on his new Atlantic blog, expressing sentiments I've long held myself:
"Can we please retire the phrase "jump the shark"? It started as a specific term for a specific moment in the life cycle of a television show - the point of no return, the moment when a show is lost to its downhill slide - and has gradually turned into a general term thrown out to describe any episode, or series of episodes, that isn't up to snuff. So this season of Lost, which has been generally mediocre and went through a stretch of truly terrible episodes, first sparked debates about whether the show had gone shark-jumping, and then - once things got a little better - about whether it was possible to "un-jump the shark", which is like debating whether you can return from the, um, point of no return."How many times did "The West Wing" jump and un-jump? What about "Six Feet Under"?
"Faithful" was a good book, don't get me wrong. But Mnookin's would've been a better movie, and so would have Simmons'
This is a real, real ugly story, and may very well lead to the QB going to jail (the doghouse?) At the very least, he'll lose most (or all) of his endorsement deals. PETA, meanwhile, has called for Vick's immediate release. Are they willing to pay the $25 million cap hit?
If I didn't already support Michael Nutter's Philadelphia mayoral candidacy, I do now, after viewing this classic political ad- especially it's Monty Pythonesque conclusion:
Nutter can't possibly win, though. Those ideas are all way, way too sensible.
A whole lot of new stuff today:
- Sony has announced a new ad campaign, in conjunction with its recent Playstation price drop. The first ad, already on YouTube, is a touchstone in the genre of urinal-based humor (though nothing compared to this.) It's also a bit creepy, especially for something marketed to "13-to-17-year-olds."
- My colleague David Thomas writes about how the HD DVD code got broken, and posted on Digg.
- And, in a story that's coming tomorrow, there was an "Ocean's Eleven"-like heist of over $1.5 million in cell phones, of a distribution house called Reagan Wireless. (Sorry, Karol.) Among the haul was over 1,000 phones from the ill-fated ESPN Mobile venture. Deadspin had the best line on that:
"No word yet on suspects, but if you see any shady characters watching dated sports highlights at slow speeds before becoming frustrated and chucking the thing in the trash, call your local CrimeStoppers."
Thomas Sowell of National Review, yesterday:
"When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup."Imagine what Hannity would say if a Democrat ever wrote that. But believe it or not, it's not even the dumbest thing Sowell has written this year; last month, he asked if we could "remember seeing a Republican expressing outrage."
There will be a rally for Barack Obama in Philly on May 22, at the Electric Factory, and some of the people behind the great "A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago" blog are behind it. We will, alas, be on our honeymoon that week.
The illegal immigration debate is contentious all over America- but not THIS contentious:
Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants.Are we sure we want to give Utah that extra Congressional seat? (Via Reason online.)
The group was unable to take official action because not enough members stuck around long enough to vote, despite the pleadings of party officials. The convention was held at Canyon View Junior High School.
Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.
In a speech at the convention, Larsen told those gathered that illegal immigrants "hate American people" and "are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won't do."
Illegal aliens are in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order -- and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.
At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."
Republican officials then allowed speakers to defend and refute the resolution. One speaker, who was identified as "Joe," said illegal immigrants were Marxist and under the influence of the devil. Another, who declined to give her name to the Daily Herald, said illegal immigrants should not be allowed because "they are not going to become Republicans and stop flying the flag upside down. ... If they want to be Americans, they should learn to speak English and fly their flag like we do."
For the second time in the last year, a Philadelphia news anchor has made Page Six- and once again, it's Alycia Lane. The KYW co-anchor is alleged to have sent racy e-mails- complete with bikini shots- to NFL Network anchor and former ESPN personality Rich Eisen- but the e-mails (and bikini shots) were subsequently intercepted by Eisen's wife, Suzy Schuster. I guess they share an e-mail account.
The e-mails later found their way onto Page Six (no, the bikini shots weren't published); like with the Alec Baldwin voice mail, there isn't really any doubt as to who leaked them. Lane, by the way, works for channel 3, which is located in the same office building as my company. I sort of thought leaving New York would prevent me from ever again sharing an elevator with someone who'd been on Page Six that day, but I guess I was wrong.
(Lane's previous Page Six appearance came when she was caught flirting with the prince of Monoco while covering a reception last year.)
I think maybe Donovan McNabb needs to sit down with his parents one of these days and tell them to, you know, never talk to the media ever again. Reporters called Sam McNabb, the Eagles quarterback's father, last night, and he broke the family's silence on the Eagles' pick of quarterback Kevin Kolb:
"I'm not concerned about [the decision to spend the first pick on Kolb]," Sam McNabb told the Daily News. "My son works for the Philadelphia Eagles right now and when he doesn't any longer, there are 31 other NFL teams he can play for."Yes, he's being honest, and yes, what he said is self-evidently true. But when the McNabbs talk like this, it just feeds Philly's obsession with everything they say and do- and no one more so than the town's legions of McNabb-bashers. You'd think they'd be cheering the drafting of their nemesis' eventual replacement, but I guess not.
I see two scenarios: McNabb stays one more year, at which point the team cuts bait with him and trades him to a QB-needy team (the Vikings? Please? Please?). Or, Kolb plays one or two games this year, making everyone in the league think he's a future star, and he turns into Matt Schaub, leading the Eagles to trade him for a boatload of draft picks. I like the second option better (well, except for the Vikings part), but that's just me.
Blender has a great list of songs that you had no idea were covers. Did you know They Might Be Giants didn't actually write "Istanbul (Not Constantinople))"? I was shocked. But I did think it was common knowledge that Leonard Cohen (and not Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and whoever else) originally did "Hallelujah."
There's another big scandal going on back at my alma mater, and this time, for once, we get to check off the box next to Scenario B ("racial slurs published in student publication), rather than Scenario A ("controversial on-campus speaker.") But regardless, I'm sure it'll all lead to Scenario C ("Candlelight vigil.")
Here's the story (from the Justice): The campus humor magazine, Gravity, ran a fake advertisement in its recent issue pushing a fake product called the "BlackJerry," which used a photo of a black man dressed in minstrel-like style. It was an incredibly ill-considered and unfunny bit, which the people responsible for should have known better than to publish.
The most shocking thing about all this? Gravity still exists. When I was at Brandeis I wrote for it a few times, but it never had a staff of more than 7 or 8 people, and the students behind it (the founders, I believe) were all university tech support employees who filled each issue with lots of pro-tech support jokes.
Indeed, it doesn't sound like the staff has gotten much bigger; the Justice story says that while the editor has resigned as a result of the controversy, he will remain on staff, because "the magazine would not have enough people without him."