Rebecca and are moving into our new house tomorrow, so I'll be Internet-less for the next three or four days. Stay tuned Monday for thoughts on the NBA draft, the likely trade of Kevin Garnett, and whatever else should happen to take place over the weekend.
- They announced what the iPhone's going to cost per month.
- The first mass shipments of the iPhone arrived in the U.S. last weekend.
No, I'm not getting one. It's worth waiting until the second addition. And besides, we're buying a house on Friday- one big purchase per day is enough.
Roger Ebert has returned with his first new Movie Answer Man column in over a year, as he continues his recovery from cancer surgery. As someone who once appeared in the column, I'm pleased to welcome Roger back.
Tim Marchman, putting the Benoit thing in perspective, vis a vis baseball and steroids:
"Baseball has to start doing a better job of educating the public about steroids, because no one else is going to do it. Right now, many people believe that steroids drove Benoit to strangle his own child — a belief so self-evidently simplistic and ridiculous that it allows WWE to point to its pathetic drug policy and ignore the real issues at play, which involve not only Benoit's own private demons, but a brutal, dehumanizing schedule, work that requires a level of physical punishment the body just can't handle, drug abuse as a near condition of employment, and a string of dozens and dozens of deaths about which no one has cared...This thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder- Greta Van Susteran's guest last night on Fox? Bret "Hitman" Hart, whom Greta had clearly never heard of prior to the interview. Plus: Wrestling fans vs. Nancy Grace! But you can't blame them, after Nancy suggested on the air that Benoit may have snapped because "he was demoted from the Four Horsemen to Raw." It's of a piece with Grace's usual MO of being simultaneously strident and vicious, even when she has no idea of which she speaks.
Baseball has every right to unapologetically point out that no matter how deep the steroid crisis in the game is, it has only affected competition — something that's not the case in, say, bodybuilding, prowrestling, and even football, which have seen violence, suicide, mental illness and all sorts of early deaths connected to steroids"
And finally, Benoit's crimes would have certainly catapulted him to the top of Matt Taibbi's Sports Crime Leaderboard, but alas, the deceased are presumably excluded, and wrestling isn't a sport.
Because this, from the Poconos, sounds like lots of fun:
Stroudsburg Area Regional Police are investigating complaints of a private golf outing featuring lap dance stations, threesomes and naked women at the Cherry Valley Golf Course on Monday.I first heard about this on sports radio, so I just assumed some local team had done an Al-and-Alma's, only on dry land. But nope; Fred Smoot was nowhere near Stroudsburg that day.
Neighbors called police after Dave Gold, 20, and a 17-year-old female were denied access to the road shared by the golf course and the home of Gold's friend, Will Croasdale, 19.
Gold said an employee of the course told him a private golf tournament was taking place, and the road was closed.
When Gold argued, he said he was first told by the employee "I'll kick your ass," followed by "I'll break your neck."
With its hilarious, list-dominated Web site, Cracked has emerged from its past life as a Mad magazine knockoff to become both of the moment, and very, very funny. Here's their latest classic list, of the 25 most ridiculous band names. Here they are on Toad the Wet Sprocket:
The story: The band named themselves after a comment in an Eric Idle monologue on a Monty Python album. This, then, is the musical equivalent of the A/V club nerds who recited the "Knights Who Say Nee" sketch over and over.And while we're on the subject of funny-but-true lists, here's the Onion AV Club on "Ten Directors You Didn't Know You Hated"- 10 men who not only suck, but are so subtle about sucking that you probably don't even know their names!
Why it's ridiculous: Look, just because your band's name is intentionally ridiculous doesn't mean it doesn't count. It's like wearing a Care Bears T-shirt ironically. Yes, you know it's a joke, but at the end of the day, you're a grown man, you're wearing a Care Bears shirt and, we're sorry, you need to be ashamed of yourself. In the same vein, you can talk all you want about the cred naming your band after a Python gag gets you, but it doesn't change the words, or how stupid they sound. Now, Owl Stretching Time: There's a name for a band.
You'd think the youthful drug use of political candidates would have seized to be something that people give a crap about by now, but apparently that's not the case in Minnesota, where according to the Strib, Senate candidates Norm Coleman, Mike Ciresi, and Al Franken were all asked about it yesterday.
This came about when a "marijuana activist" who was a former Coleman classmate wrote a letter stating that the now-Senator once "stood atop a building during a protest and smoked marijuana." Now, everyone knows that Coleman was a left-leaning hippie in his youth, so none of this is surprising. But Franken has now also admitted that he used cocaine and LSD back when he wrote for "Saturday Night Live" in the '70s, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about SNL in those days, or about the comedy-writing profession in general.
Al [Franken] and [writing partner Tom Davis] had bought their first-ever cocaine, and they had it all out on the desk. First time they were ever able to buy any. As apprentice writers, their pay was, I think, $325 a week. So they have the cocaine on the desk, and they're like literally staring at it. I'm off in the distance. I'm in a tough place because I'm supposedly the executive, but I decided it wasn't my job to play the policeman.That last joke in "Animal House" suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Suddenly this figure comes roaring through the room. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he had a straw in his hand. He gets to the table, and he has half of that stuff up his nose by the time they knew who it was: Belushi. They didn't know whether to be thrilled that Belushi had just done this to their coke or be absolutely decimated, because that represented about half of the money they had in the world at that time.
A great sidebar to the Phillies' win over the Reds on Tuesday, as Philadelphia Will Do pointed out: Carlos Ruiz stole home.
If you have to wonder why that's significant, then you're probably not from Philadelphia. When Philly fans hear "Phillies-Reds," "Ruiz," and "stole home," they think of Chico Ruiz, the Reds infielder of the 1960s who, on September 21, 1964, stole home against the Phillies, an event that precipitated Philly's historic collapse that year, which included a ten-game losing streak. It even led to the firing of manager Gene Mauch, who went on to lose the World Series the following year as manager of the Twins.
So how about that: 43 years later, in another game between the Reds and Phillies, a guy named Ruiz just happens to steal home. Does this mean the curse has been broken? Probably not; the Reds beat the Phils last night. I'll be at the rubber game tonight.
The latest dog controversy is happening right now in New Jersey- and it involves reiteration of an old story:
Pete Georgoutsos was thrilled to learn that his beloved brindle mastiff, a hefty 120-pound dog named Spartacus, had been found hours after a burglar broke into his vehicle and released the dog in Queens last month.If only, when they came to get the dog, all the other dogs had just said "I am Spartacus," none of this would've happened.
But his elation was short-lived. Within hours he was told that the return of his pet from a Brooklyn animal shelter would be no easy task. Spartacus would have to be neutered, the city told him. A 2000 city ordinance designed to reduce the number of stray, abandoned and unwanted cats and dogs on city streets mandated the procedure.
Sean Burns of Philadelphia Weekly, articulating exactly how I feel about Mr. Sicko:
A buddy recently quipped that in another lifetime George W. Bush and Michael Moore probably would’ve been great friends. This sounds outlandish at first, but chew on it for a little while.I haven't seen "Sicko" yet, but damn "Live Free or Die Hard" was a lot of fun.
Both are millionaires who strive to pass themselves off as “regular folks”—there’s not much difference between Moore’s carefully cultivated blue-jeans-and-ball-cap getup and our president’s Crawford brush-clearing regalia. Both Moore and Bush address the American people in the condescending tone one might take with a developmentally delayed child, and there’s never a crisis in our complex modern age that can’t be resolved with a simple declarative sentence. Neither gentleman has much interest in gray areas.
Speaking as someone who sees the world as an endlessly complicated and terrifying place, I personally find such reductive black-and-white worldviews profoundly unhelpful, no matter which side of the aisle they come from. I know I’m violating the unspoken agreement among good liberal-minded folks, as we’re all apparently supposed to gloss over the unsavory aspects of Michael Moore’s methods and demagoguery, at best admitting that his shenanigans and distortions aren’t any worse than what Rush Limbaugh does on the airwaves every day.
This may be true, but I don’t like Limbaugh either. Shouldn’t we be aspiring to something better and more substantive?
Scott Keith articulates the way many of us now feel:
This has gone beyond the point where I can even wrap my head around the situation any longer. It’s like there’s this guy who was basically a hero to me, who everyone I’ve talked to that knew him always said what a great guy he was, who never let me down as a performer…then suddenly he’s dead. And so’s his family. And it’s like “Oh, shit, that’s awful, I feel so sorry for him.” And then you find out that he killed his family and then himself. And then you find out that he not only killed them, he killed them in what can only be called a gruesome and ritualistic manner. And ironically, when the WWE is getting more mainstream press off him than at any time before, they suddenly erase him from history, too and distance themselves as fast as possible so that we all know that they’re the victim here.
We've all wanted to tell Ann Coulter to suck it. But someone finally did. Elizabeth Edwards. Check it out below:
One of my favorite blogs, The American Scene, has re-launched, with new co-bloggers! Check it out.
The death of Chris Benoit seemed 24 hours ago like the WWE's equal of what Dale Earnhardt's death was to NASCAR. Now, it looks like it's wrestling's O.J. Simpson case.
It's now been confirmed that Benoit, one of the world's most popular and respected wrestlers, murdered his wife Nancy and seven-year-old son Daniel, before taking his own life on Monday.
This has become a national story, with such bizarre asides as Bill Apter being quoted by Fox News, and steroids being raised as a possible factor in the murders. This may also hurt wrestling quite a bit- we all know about the dozens and dozens of deaths connected to the "sport" over the years; this is only the most prominent, and certainly the most grisly.
Indeed, the tribute show the WWE aired for Benoit last night was pitched as though he was a great guy who had been struck down through no fault of his own; the WWE must now do a total 180 on its treatment of the tragedy. Jonathan Last suspects the tribute aired last night will "disappear down the WWE memory hole pretty quickly," as things in their operation often do. Last also suggests they probably burned the tape right after it aired.
WWE has now pulled all merchandise related to Benoit, and his bio on the website now redirects to the update page related to his death.
Meanwhile, the Internet's best wrestling writer, Rick Scaia, has more on this sad, shocking day.
It now seems almost certain that Kevin Garnett is on his way out of Minnesota. It's sad, and I'll miss him, but if done right, the trade could actually get the Wolves in contention sooner. Unfortunately, in the Kevin McHale era, there's a very big "if done right."
All I can say is, that proposed (by Chad Ford) deal with the Lakers, Indiana, and Boston, in which the Lakers get KG, the Celtics get Jermaine O'Neal, and the Wolves get... Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, and a couple of mid-level draft picks should NOT happen. McHale would be hung from effigy on Hennepin Ave. if it did. But luckily, it's probably fiction; the pro-Lakers Blog GetGarnett.com pointed out that the Wolves/Pacers/Celtics/Lakers scenario would include three non-LA teams which have 1980s Celtics as their GMs (Bird, McHale, and Ainge), all of whom would seemingly not to want to help the Lakers.
I expect we'll find out more on draft night (Thursday), although with Wolves owner Glen Taylor leaving on his honeymoon, this could be dragged out for weeks.
Jonathan Chait, on our John Cazale-like president:
The most fun detail in the Washington Post's series about Dick Cheney is that President Bush calls Alberto Gonzales "Fredo." One might wonder why he appointed as Attorney general someone he regards as a hapless ne'er do well. One theory is that we wanted a doormat.So Sonny = Jeb and Bush 41 = Don Vito, so I guess that means Solozzo is Saddam. Why didn't Maureen Dowd write this column eight years ago? I guess Dubya, after leaving office, should avoid fishing boats.
But here's another theory. Until 1994, George W. Bush was anything but a success. Through his family connections he had been given backing for a series of business ventures, all of which failed. His one skill seemed to be glad-handing, and so this was put to use as "owner" -- he actually put up just a token sum of money -- for the Texas Rangers, where he slapped backs and chatted up fans. His younger brother, Jeb, was considered the family's bright light and the son most likely to run for the presidency.
In other words, until 1994 (when Jeb lost a race for Governor and George W. won), George W. Bush was Fredo. No wonder he's so sympathetic to Gonzales.
Former NBA star Shawn Kemp, who has all but completely disappeared from the public eye in recent years aside from frequent appearances in "lots of illegitimate children" jokes, has resurfaced- as part of the Jessie Davis murder investigation. In reference to defendant Bobby Cutts and his alleged treatment of Nikki Giavasis, one of this three baby-mamas, the AP (via Randball) reports:
Susan Hulit Burns, Taylor’s court-appointed guardian, said she was bothered by how often Giavasis switched apartments and daycare providers, questioning the effect on Taylor. She said she was also bothered that Cutts “conceived a child during his separation” from his wife, according to a June 2006 court filing. In 1998, Cutts was accused of breaking into Giavasis’ home while she was inside with former NBA player Shawn Kemp of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cutts pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation.What are the odds of Shawn Kemp randomly popping up in a story about someone else having lots of illegitimate children?
From Peter May's Boston Globe basketball column Sunday, one of the funniest paragraphs of the year:
There were a couple of coaching moves with Celtic ties in the Continental Basketball Association last week. Kenny Anderson was hired to coach the Atlanta Krunk, who have a decided musical bent to them in that their principal owner is Freedom Williams, a Grammy winner.I don't know what's craziest about this- that there's a professional basketball team called the "Krunk," that longtime NBA malcontent Anderson is their head coach, that Freedom Williams- the frontman of C&C Music Factory!- is the owner, or that the CBA still exists.
I repeat myself: if today's NHL were just 5 percent more like "Slap Shot," I'd like it a lot more than I do.
Geoffrey Weatcroft, writing in Slate, on the latest ire directed at
Sal Bass Salman Rushdie:
"The eruption of the Satanic Verses affair on St. Valentine's Day 1989 caught everyone by surprise, and indeed, as with the Danish cartoon affair, it was really factitious. It would never have happened if some zealot hadn't scoured a work of literary fiction previously unheard of in Tehran and thereby inflamed the passions of scores of millions who had not read it, and would never read it or any other novel."Meanwhile Hitch, also writing on Slate, cautions against appeasing "Rage Boy."
The shocking news was reported this afternoon that pro wrestler Chris Benoit has died at the age of 40. Benoit was found in his Atlanta-area home, along with his wife (one-time WCW valet Nancy "Woman" Sullivan) and their young son. Police are still investigating the cause of death for all three; they have not ruled out homicide, but have said the deaths were not caused by gunshot wounds.
Benoit, a native of Canada, started in the Calgary-based Stampede territory, and later competed in ECW, WCW, and finally WWE. He was always popular among fans who favored the more technical, "workrate"-oriented, non-Hulk Hogan-like style of wrestling, a group that became much larger with the advent of the Internet. By 2005, he and fellow fan favorite Eddie Guerrero (also now deceased) won the two world titles at Wrestlemania.
When I first heard about Benoit's death, I wasn't sure it was legit, since the WWE recently did that ill-advised bit in which Vince McMahon "died" in a car explosion. But several newspapers and Georgia police have confirmed it. And indeed, tonight's episode of "Raw," which was supposed to be a "memorial service" for McMahon, is instead airing several old Benoit matches.
As you may have noticed, there have been a whole lot of wrestling deaths in recent years. But Benoit may be the saddest and most shocking of all. He will be greatly missed.
Andrew Sullivan calls the feud between Michelle Malkin and Rosie O'Donnell "The Internet equivalent of the Iran-Iraq war." Does this mean American will be fighting both of them at once in 15 years?
I look at why Michael Bloomberg probably won't be president, in this week's North Star column.
You'd think a dating service trying to compete with eHarmony would sort of be subtle about the fact that it lets gays participate and it's rival doesn't. Chemistry.com takes the opposite tack, to hilarious effect:
Also see its Web site- with columns by both Wendy Shalit and Dan Savage! It's like JDate, only much better in every way!
But was he really?
I like Sports Radio 950, I really do. As Philly's "other" sports radio station, it offers a refreshing counter to some of the excesses of the non-Macnow, non-Jolovitz portions of WIP. Jody MacDonald, in the afternoons, is the anti-Eskin; even the new morning show - co-starring former Jets QB Glenn Foley- is a marked improvement over the festival of idiocy that is the morning show on 610.
But I tuned into 950 on Saturday afternoon, and what I heard was worse than anything Eskin or Cataldi has spouted all year. I was only in the car for about 20 minutes, but in that time the host (not sure of his name), made three points, all of them totally, transparently, obviously wrong.
First, he had callers try to guess about something, which had happened 35 years previously to that day, which had ruined sports forever, and continues to ruin them to this day. People guessed- the DH? Artificial turf? But the answer was actually the passage of Title IX. Now, whatever you feel about Title IX, it wasn't even the worst thing to emerge from the Nixon White House on January 23, 1972- that would be the "Smoking Gun" conversation between Tricky Dick and Bob Haldeman, which also happened that day.
Secondly, our brilliant host tussled with a caller who argued, in line with everything the Eagles have said, as well as with common sense, that quarterback and top draft pick Kevin Kolb would not see any regular-season game action this year. Our host disagreed, arguing that, because Donovan McNabb played in several games when he was a rookie in 1999, ergo, Kolb must do the same as a rookie in 2007, because under Andy Reid, "that's how it's done." When the caller said that the team now has both McNabb and A.J. Feeley, the host didn't let up, swearing to us that since McNabb played as a rookie, Kolb must too. Nevermind that in '99, the Eagles were in rebuilding mode, and now, they're playoff contenders at the least. That's how it's done.
And finally, perhaps worst of all, the host went off on a rant about the National League and its inferiority to the American League. After a brief digression about how outrageous it is that one league has the DH and the other doesn't (why?), the host stated that the reason the NL is so far behind the AL is because the NL has two more teams, and therefore, there are "50 players who would be minor leaguers, who are instead on NL rosters." Uh, no. Not really. When baseball added two teams in '98, there was one expansion team in each league. And I'm no math expert, but wouldn't you think an extra two teams would mean those "50 minor leaguers" get spread evenly among all 30 teams, as opposed to only allocated to the National League?
This is the sort of stuff that FireJoeMorgan would've been all over, if they covered Philly sports radio. And you thought political talk radio was laughably ill-informed.
I was sorry to hear yesterday about the death of former major league closer Rod "Shooter" Beck, one of the great characters of the game who is gone way too soon at 38. I have two lasting memories of Beck: the first came in '98 (the Sosa/McGwire season), when I went to my first-ever game at Wrigley Field and saw Beck notch one of his 51 saves that year, I believe of a Kerry Wood victory. The second is this:
In 2003, when Beck was trying to make a comeback with the Cubs and was assigned to their Triple-A Iowa team, he lived in a motor home beyond the center-field fence and invited fans to have a postgame beer.How awesome is that? He really did live in a van down by the river. Beck will be missed.
Is debunked here, as both shoddily researched and ultimately meaningless. I mean, who cares who journalists donate to, as long as they're not the ones getting paid off? And besides, the survey's sample size is so small that it really concludes nothing.
Bill O'Reilly's show is a surreal-enough experience just on a typical night. But last Thursday, he aired what may be the most bizarre segment in the history of the Factor. At least, the most bizarre since the night during the 2000 campaign when did a hard-hitting interview with a European "nude model" who he described as "one of Al Gore's biggest supporters."
Back to that Thursday segment (I can't find a YouTube, but here's the transcript.) Leading with the "cavuto mark" of "Did the Media Ignore Violent Incidents in Three Cities?", the segment had as its guests the left-leaning African American radio host Opio Sokoni, and the right-leaning author Tammy Bruce.
Starting with the question of whether the media turns a blind eye when black people commit violent crimes (see any Philadelphia newspaper in the past five years for a quick answer: no.) Bruce argued that the violence taking place at Juneteenth parades in three major cities should have been more widely covered, while Sokoni argued that "there are no small amount of negative media images against African-Americans."
But then the conversation took a weird turn, with the combatants abruptly switching sides: Sokoni argued that we don't hear nearly enough about what goes on at gay pride parades- such incidents as "people exposing themselves to children." Then Bruce, the conservative who is also openly lesbian, immediately turned around and denied that she's ever seen anyone expose themselves to children at a gay pride event, adding that "I think I've been to a few more [parades] than you or your other guest." At which point Sokoni, the supposed leftist, responded that if we're going to talk about violence in the black community, "we're not supposed to talk about pedophilia in the gay community? Not supposed to talk about pedophilia?"
Sokoni then, apropos of nothing, started screaming "Turn off Channel Zero!," which is, we learn from Google, the title of a documentary Sokoni directed which is aimed at addressing Viacom's negative images of African-Americans, through MTV, VH1, and BET. The film stars Professor Griff, the guy who was kicked out of Public Enemy in 1989 for saying "Jews are responsible for the majority of the wickedness in the world." I look forward to a right-wing Jew coming on O'Reilly's show to debate Sokoni on the issues of the day, until the conversation abruptly reverses field halfway through the segment.
Radar Online: "Jerry Seinfeld Apologizes For Bee-Rape Joke"
Bradford R. Pilcher, writing in American Jewish Life magazine, has written a long and excellent essay arguing that Jews should support the Red Sox and reject the Yankees. The reasons involve a century of history, Moe Berg, Theo Epstein, and (most of all) the Denis Leary "eat your heart out Mel Gibson" incident. I agree with the essay, but does this change things at all?
This commercial has been banned by several networks; I finally saw it last night when O'Reilly was screaming about it, and I actually think it's sort of funny:
My only questions are, how does the woman know the guy has a condom? Is it generally an accepted practice to go up to a woman in a bar and tell her you have condoms? And the biggest question of all- if one of the pigs had brought a condom, would the woman have gone home with him?
Maxim gives us the ten hottest "Sopranos" mistresses- Johnny Cakes included!
Too bad next time he pitches in Queens, it'll probably be in a Mets uniform.
And speaking of the Twins, recently retired PR man Tom Mee- an employee since the team came north in 1961, tells some great stories in this Pioneer Press profile. When I was down at the Jersey Shore the other weekend, I went into Dino's to pick up sandwiches, while wearing a Twins hat. The guy at the counter shouted, "hey, Harmon Killebrew, what'd you order?"
My magazine, E-Gear, is now on Myspace. Please be its friend.
News Item: DeNiro, Scorsese to Team Up on New Mob Film
The Bobby + Marty + gangsters formula has tended to work fairly well in the past, no?
It's online right here. Andrew Sullivan calls it "porn for neocons," but are there really that many neocons anymore? I'm sure it'll be also be the highest-selling issue among Jewish liberals ever, at least since the Natalie Portman one.
Bob Ford got in a sly dig at fellow Inquirer columnist Michael Smerconish in his column yesterday, structured as a "quiz" about the Phillies:
The best part about listening to the Phils' radio broadcast is:Phillies' radio broadcasts are on local talk station "The Big Talker," 1210, WPHT; by day, the station broadcasts wall-to-wall right-wing talk shows, starting with Smerconish in the morning. Though, I suppose it's theoretically possible that Ford gets up after 9, and the dig is actually directed at Glenn Beck.
a. Larry Andersen.
b. Scott Franzke.
c. Jim Jackson.
d. Starting your car the next morning with the radio still on and learning about the secret liberal plot to sell pornography to school children and send the proceeds to aid illegal immigrants.
This "Sopranos," starring Pirate Parrot, is funnier than the Hillary version for two reasons: Because mascots are always better than non-mascots, and because like Tony Soprano, Pirate Parrot really does have a history as a criminal mastermind.
Matt at ALOTT5MA did, and here's what he said:
* Isn't this really just Alanis Morissette with a country beat, some pedal steel, and a little fiddle, with a little less sexuality and quite a bit more violence?So does that mean Tony Romo has nothing to worry about if he cheats?
* The lyrics seem to imply that the singer can "shoot a combo" in pool and can shoot whiskey. Am I the only one that has difficulty picturing Underwood doing either of these things? (Related--is Underwood in a position to be condemning someone for being a "bleach blonde tramp?")
* How does digging your "key into the side of his pretty little 4 wheel drive" lead to "carv[ing your] name into his leather seats?" Did Miss Underwood break into the car?
With the Palestinians fighting... the other Palestinians, for a change, Israel is now facing lots of other conflicts. Hezbollah, for instance. And Iran, with their nuclear ambitions and genocidal threats and all. Or those British professors, who decided with all the wars and killing and suffering in the world, that it was Israel who it was worth singling out with a boycott. Now, Israel's fighting another front- the enemies of Maxim.
The mens' magazine, in its July issue, will feature "Women of the Israeli Defense Forces," an idea anyone who's been to Israel can instantly recognize as ingenious- I'm just shocked it took them this many years to come up with it. The spread is in conjunction with a new campaign by Israel's tourism ministry, an attempt to draw Americans to the country by highlighting the, uh, scenery.
Members of the Knesset are outraged, with one female legislator calling the campaign "pornographic"; I'd imagine the religious parties aren't so happy with the effort either.
I'm with Arye Mekel, Israel's consul-general in New York:
"The pictures aren't anything you wouldn't see at a pool or a beach. Israel is always mentioned in the context of wars and violence. We want to show there is a normal life. Among the beautiful things we have are our women. We came there from 120 countries. Anytime you have a mix from any continents, you get very beautiful people. We don't see having beautiful women as a problem."The Palestinians are fighting over which group of fanatics will represent them; the Israelis are fighting over whether or not it's okay to have an ad campaign with hotties. I'd say Israel's had bigger problems in the past.
The final "Sopranos" scene gets the full Zapruder treatment here. I think, at this point, it is perfectly okay to stop believing.
UPDATE: This is clever, I admit- but are we supposed to think that Bill and Hillary are the heads of a crime family, and that one of them is about to be indicted? Those impeachment trials are there to be won...
Kyle Smith of the Post has seen "Sicko"; I'm not so sure I want to:
"MICHAEL Moore’s latest documentary, “Sicko,” is an urgent bipartisan plea. Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, Yankees and Red Sox can surely all agree, says Moore, that our health-care system ought to be run by Fidel Castro.
The silliness of Moore’s oeuvre is so self-evident that being able to spot it is not liberal or conservative, either; it’s a basic intelligence test, like the ability to match square peg with square hole. His documentaries are political slapstick that could have been made by a third Farrelly brother or a fourth Stooge. I will pay him the honor of treating him with his own meds."
What they're thinking with this, I can only imagine. Must mean they decided to back him and fire Ron Washington. But still- Jon Daniels getting an extension would be like if a certain former Rangers owner, despite his worse-than-Daniels performance, somehow got another term in his job. Oh, wait...
Somehow, having watched her on about ten different versions of "Real World Challenge," I never even suspected this. But I can say this: if Coral were to replace Rosie on "The View," I would totally watch it.
How bad does Jim Carrey's new movie sound? This bad:
Funnyman Jim Carrey is set to shock his fanbase with his next movie role as a family man who gets sent to prison only to fall in love with his cellmate.Yes, that's right- he's remaking "Let's Go to Prison"! Even though it wasn't that good. And Will Arnett, these days, is about ten times funnier than Carrey.
Carrey, best known for comedies including The Mask and Dumb & Dumber, will star as real-life police officer-turned-crook Steven Russell in I Love You Phillip Morris.
Matt Taibbi has written a piece for Adbusters, from the left, about how the left, essentially, sucks. As with just about all things Taibbi, I agree with much of it and vehemently disagree with much else.- I'm not nearly as ashamed of being liberal as he is, and it appears from the last year's events that liberalism in America is on the ascendance. But regardless, there's no arguing with this:
We all know where this stuff comes from. Anyone who’s ever been to a lefty political meeting knows the deal – the problem is the “spirit of inclusiveness” stretched to the limits of absurdity. The post-sixties dogma that everyone’s viewpoint is legitimate, everyone‘s choice about anything (lifestyle, gender, ethnicity, even class) is valid, that’s now so totally ingrained that at every single meeting, every time some yutz gets up and starts rambling about anything, no matter how ridiculous, no one ever tells him to shut the fuck up. Next thing you know, you’ve got guys on stilts wearing mime makeup and Cat-in-the-Hat striped top-hats leading a half-million people at an anti-war rally. Why is that guy there? Because no one told him that war is a matter of life and death and that he should leave his fucking stilts at home.Worth a read for sure.
Chad Ford: T-Wolves listening to offers for Garnett
I'm still against it, but I've gotta say: Ford's suggested scenario of Garnett to the Celtics for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and #5 pick is certainly tempting, if the Celtics are willing to take a bad contract or two off Minny's hands. Simmons would love that too.
When I heard about the latest Pacman Jones incident (drive-by shooting outside strip club), I certainly had the same thoughts as our friends at The Big Lead:
There is a new nationwide police procedure that was recently enacted: if there’s a shooting in your city, and Pacman Jones is within a 25-mile radius, the suspended Tennessee Titans defensive back must be questioned. If the incident took place in the vicinity of a strip club, Jones must submit a DNA sample. Over the weekend, Pacman spent some downtime at a strip club … and the night ended with bullets flying out of his SUV in the direction of another vehicle.A post below, they also noticed Tiger Woods' prominent nipples on U.S. Open Sunday. Because I know you did too.
And even worse, Prince's equally obese father, Cecil, on Opening Day in 1996 had his first career stolen base (out of two), also against the Twins, when the throw from catcher Greg Myers deflected off the heel of shortstop Pat Meares (Meares! Stahoviak! Coomer! It's mid-'90s Twins Baseball, only on Fox 29!) Perhaps that connection (coming on Fathers' Day!) will get the Fielder men talking to each other again.
Prince Fielder is listed as weighing 260 pounds in the above article; to borrow an old Bill James joke about his father, that leaves unanswered the question of what Prince would weigh if he put his other foot on the scale.
I look at "Knocked Up"'s position on "something that rhymes with schmashmortion," in my latest North Star column.
Sony is bringing back the Walkman- as an iPhone-like device that can hold 800 songs and is also a phone. Also, Blockbuster backs the Blu-ray format, Apple may introduce a movie download service, and that PS3 price cut may happen after all.
When I first heard Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were adapting the memoir by Daniel Pearl's widow, Mariane, I was pretty damn skeptical. Would it be more third-world navel-gazing, in the tradition of Pitt's "Babel" or Jolie's "Beyond Borders," and just another self-indulgent star vehicle? And -worst of all- would Pitt be playing Daniel Pearl himself?
I saw "A Mighty Heart" last week and I must say my fears were unfounded about all of the above. It's a serious film that treats its topic with the utmost respect, and on top of that its a harrowing and very suspenseful tale, even though we know how it turns out in the end. It works as history, as character study, and as procedural, and best of all, it's got no grand "political" statements to make.
Dan Futterman is uncanny as Daniel Pearl, and Jolie gives her best screen performance to date as his wife, and they're supported by a standout international cast. No, they don't show the footage of Pearl being beheaded, and that's a decision that's going to be controversial, but I think it's understandable.
See "A Mighty Heart" when it comes out Friday. Other than "The 25th Hour" it's the best movie yet about the post-9/11 moment.
If you signed that, than I'm sorry, there's something very wrong with you.
No, it's not ALL gay jokes...
The latest shocking wrestling death is that of "Sensational" Sherri Martel, a womens' wrestler and manager of the 1980s who was perhaps best known for managing both "Macho Man" Randy Savage and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. She was 49 years old, and cause of death is thus far unknown.
As if it wasn't a dumb enough idea before, this news makes the decision on Monday's wrestling broadcast to "whack" Vince McMahon by having him "die" via a "car bomb" look even stupider and in poorer taste than it did already. Not that they shouldn't have seen this coming, since the ratio of someone associated with wrestling dying is roughly one every two weeks.
This blog has put together a wonderful YouTube tribute to one of the greatest sitcom characters ever, "Arrested Development"'s GOB Bluth.
The tradition in my wife's family is that almost every child gets an Old Testament name (it's filled with Rebeccas, Hannahs, Miriams, Davids, Rachels, etc.) I think when the time comes I'll suggest Gob/Job.
No, but due to equal time laws and residual checks, Elisabeth Rohm's income will fall by 75 percent if Fred Thompson runs for president.
- I don't care how much time passes since '91- I still get a huge smile on my face every time the Twins play the Braves, and beat them. They played a 15-inning game in June of 2002, which felt like Game 8, and now they've won two in a row of this year's series. (UPDATE: Make it three! And just like Gene Larkin, it's won with a walk-off single.)
This Twins team is clearly flawed- there's not nearly enough offense- and Cleveland and Detroit look like the class of the AL Central this year. But, I'm encouraged by the young pitching, especially from Kevin Slowey. Now they just need to get Matt Garza up in the majors, get another bat or two, and sign Johan Santana for the next ten years. Shouldn't be too hard, should it?
- The Wolves yesterday traded Mike James for Juwan Howard, in a trade that would have excited me a lot more about ten years ago. They're a team that had 12 players, about nine of whom were guards, so I guess "getting bigger' was a priority this offseason. Getting rid of their six remaining bad contracts should be the next one.
As you may have noticed, I'm barely paying any attention to basketball anymore. Bill Simmons admitted in yesterday's column that he's a lot more excited about the offseason than about the current NBA Finals; I thought I was the only one!
- The team that makes the most sense for Daunte Culpepper is, of course, the Vikings, who are the league's most quarterback-needy team by a wide margin. But he won't go there, of course, likely because of the bad memories of 2005- a career-worst season (before last year, of course), tearing three knee ligaments at the same time, and that whole boat thing. It's a shame, too- and if his career ends, McNabb will be the last QB standing from the first round of '99.
I guess this was inevitable: a "Godfather"/"Sopranos" finale mashup:
Meanwhile, if you're still disappointed by the finale, here's a look, by Ken Levine, at what would've happened had "Sopranos" been a network show.
I love Baseball Prospectus. They come up with theories on the game of baseball that are beyond genius, and have made me look at the games in ways I never have before. They're great, and I'm glad they're there. But, in their "Player Card" stats page system, they really need to not use URLs based on the first five letters of the player's first name, and the first two of his last name. Especially if he's Jewish, like Kevin Youkilis.
(Hat tip to Fire Joe Morgan, for noticing this.)
The Forward lets us know that "Knocked Up" star Seth Rogen was a member of the Jewish youth movement Habonim Dror- and so was Sacha Baron Cohen. And speaking of Rogen- in honor of his best scene in "40-Year-Old Virgin," a certain bumper sticker is finally available.
XM has a deal to exclusively broadcast the BIg 12, giving them, essentially, a monopoly over college football, to go with their upcoming monopoly over satellite radio. Also, HD Radio will be put into MINI Coopers, and Apple is looking at launching a movie download/rental service.
And finally, Target had to nix an e-mail survey that tried to get in customers' heads by asking them several disturbing questions. Among them: whether they fear their lover will leave them, or whether or not they "could disappear from the face of the earth and no one would notice."
David Weigel makes some interesting points that I somehow missed:
BTW, a lot of ends were left untied, obviously, but I like that A.J. is mobbed up, working his way up a mafia-owned film company on the way to running some mafia-owned clubs. He was never going to become another Tony. He’s the Jersey crew’s version of Little Carmine. And Meadow is going to become the Sopranos universe version of Tom Hagen. Tony didn’t just pass on his putrid genes…Better that than "Tony Soprano vs. the Vatican."
As to the google blog searches I’ve done, revealing that some fans wonder if there’ll be a movie - uh, why? The crew is fucking dead. Do you want a new Godfather III with George Hamilton as the “new Silvio”?
Still, it seems like the conventional wisdom on the finale has shifted 180 degrees since Sunday, from "what a disappointment" all the way to "if you think about it, that's really brilliant."
I shocked to hear yesterday that Frankie Abernathy, a cast member from the San Diego season of "The Real World," had passed away from cystic fibrosis at the age of 25.
She was always one of the more fascinating "Real Worlders" in history, probably she was (as she described) "so punk rock," and actually had tattoos, piercings, and a punk/counterculture outlook that was completely absent on the show both before and since. She was also, as everyone remembers, someone who was afraid of big boats, which sort of caused a problem since the cast that season was assigned to work on a big boat.
Frankie is only the second fatality among "Real World" cast members, after Pedro Zamora, who died of AIDS in 1992.
And here you didn't think there'd be a story this year involving the undergarments of a Philly local news personality that would top the the Alycia Lane incident...
I told you yesterday about the recent scandal involving Danny Ozark, a local comic and frequent guest on the Kidd Chris Show, who found himself last week at the home of local news reporter Lu Ann Cahn, after he was invited by a female acquaintance who was house-sitting for Cahn. While there Ozark, an admitted crossdressing and kinky-sex enthusiast, rifled through Cahn's underwear drawer, and later joked about it on the air with Kidd Chris.
Well, Cahn has obtained her revenge, using all the resources available to her as a TV reporter in the task. She got back at her underwear assailant by producing a segment for the news broadcast in which she herself "broke" into Ozark's apartment -by convincing the comic's elderly father to let her in- and filmed his bedroom, which is covered with empty soda cans and dust. Pretty embarrassing, especially since Ozark is 40 years old, still lives at home, and his room looks like that of a typical 15-year-old.
Cahn's segment is a journalistic failure for several reasons. One, she's made herself part of the story. Two, she got the story by tricking what looks to be a 70-year-old man. And three, she leaves out the story's two most interesting angles: That Ozark borrowed his name from the ex-Phillies manager (where's the comment from his namesake?), and Ozark's, uh, rather unconventional sexual tastes. (Where's the comment from his dad?) She doesn't even bother to riff through Ozark's underwear drawer- which itself is likely to contain even girlier stuff than Cahn's does. And finally, the news segment gave this embarrassing-to-Cahn story about five times the exposure it would have had otherwise.
Here's the piece itself; here's another with Cahn talking about it. Looks to me like a botched attempt at one of those hyper-condescending local news segments, like the old Arnold Diaz "Shame on You!" segments on WCBS in New York.
"I’ve learned one thing in listening to all the debates and reading about all these people running for office, and the one fact I’ve learned, I can’t get out of my mind, is that Rudy Giuliani has been married more times than Mitt Romney’s been hunting."-Harry Reid, in a quote possibly stolen from James Carville, via SameFacts.com.
Remember Ed Jew, the wonderfully named, gentile Chinese-American who was elected last year to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors? Yea, it appears his political career was a short one. Jew turned himself in to authorities yesterday, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of unlawfully accepting cash, falsifying his residence, and numerous other crimes.
I didn't think it was possible for a sitting elected official to be simultaneously accused of as many crimes as Bernard Kerik was, but apparently both Vince Fumo and Ed Jew have now surpassed him.
Lots of great headlines on the matter: "Newsom has authority to remove, replace Jew"; "Jew's lawyer rips local probe as 'politically driven'", and "Immigrants’ eviction part of Jew's track record."
After lots of thinking -and LOTs of reading- here's more thoughts on the "Sopranos" finale.
- Was I disappointed about the ending at first? You betcha. But the more I've thought about it, the more I realize it probably worked better than a conventional shootout ending would have. All the whacking fans would've loved a "True Romance"-like shootout in the restaurant, but that wouldn't be true to the spirit of the show.
- A few theories I've heard to indicate Tony did in fact get shot: There's a long real-life tradition of mobsters getting gunned down in restaurants in front of their families... the guy sitting at the bar was wearing a Members Only jacket; the episode where Junior shot Tony was titled "Members Only"...
supposedly there's some clue in the credits that one of the people there had the last name "Leotardo" (nope, that one's not true)... in the first episode of the season, on the boat, Tony tells Bobby that when you get whacked, "everything just goes black"... if Tony did in fact die, that means they went with the "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" ending- that movie, you may remember, concluded with dozens of guns being pulled on the heroes, but a freeze frame ended the film before they actually died.
- But here's the thing: We don't know. And we'll never know. And that's the point. This e-mail, which had been making the rounds, is totally wrong on multiple levels. No, those weren't the same two black guys who shot Tony in Season 1; unless you think all black people look alike.
- I'm also loving seeing the OUTRAGE from "Sopranos" fans, who crashed HBO's website, are calling the cable company in anger, and even threatening to cancel their HBO. Mostly, it's the same idiots who for the entire run of the season have screamed bloody murder every time a whole episode went by without anyone getting whacked. And you've gotta love the absurdity of canceling HBO to protest a series that will never air another new episode, HBO or no HBO. Reminds me of the people who tried to organize a boycott of baseball during the strike, even though there was no baseball to be boycotted.
- I loved the juxtaposition between the vanishing Little Italy (which, aside from one block, is all Chinatown now), and the houses being built around the Johnny Sack/Janice house. And Janice ends up a bitter widow, just like her mom- it would've been too unsubtle for her to say "I wish the Lord would take me now."
- Even though Uncle Junior stopped being an interesting character sometime around the second season, that last scene with him and Tony was just perfect.
- You know who liked the episode more than anyone? Journey!
- Theories on the cat: It's either the reincarnation of Christopher, of Adriana, or of Big Pussy. Probably Chris, but who really knows?
- Meadow can't possibly believe her own bullshit, can she? Does she really think the reason her father got led away in handcuffs all those times is because he's Italian, and not because he's, you know, actually a criminal? Either she's really dumb, or in a state of Carmela-like denial (I'm guessing the latter.)
- At the same time, AJ turns into Tony- right down to the blond girlfriend, bathrobe, leggy therapist, and the near-death-experience-in-an-SUV-curing-depression (remember Tony getting shot in the "Tiny Tears" episode in Season 1, and suddenly feeling better?) But I don't buy for a second that AJ went in the space of two minutes from spouting Chomsky talking points to wanting to fight in Afghanistan. The only American I can think of who went from adamantly opposing a war to inexplicably deciding to fight in it was John Kerry.
- Agent Harris exclaiming "we're gonna win this thing" apparently was lifted from something some FBI agent once actually said. But was "we" supposed to refer to the Soprano side in the mob war, or to the FBI, "winning" their war on organized crime now that Phil is dead?
- It's official- nothing good ever happens in an SUV on "Sopranos." There was Tony's aforementioned shooting in Season 1, the car accidents with both Adriana and Christopher, Christopher shooting the SUV, and now AJ's exploding SUV and Phil's running over his head.
- Alan Sepinwall has the first post-show interview with David Chase.
- While you're still piecing everything together, TVTattle has all of the relevant links on the finale, pro and con. Meanwhile, I still have to go and watch it again.
The lesson from this story in the Philadelphia Daily News: be careful who you hire to house-sit.
NBC-10's Lu Ann Cahn returned from a Florida vacation to learn that not only had a stranger rifled through her underwear drawer, but he'd made fun of her lingerie on the radio.I know all about Ozark; the local comedian appears frequently on Kidd Chris to tell the latest stories from his rather unconventional lifestyle, which includes much drug use and romps with trannies; stealing a TV anchor's panties was likely one of his timer stunts.
Danny Ozark, a regular guest on 94.1 FREE FM's Kidd Chris Show, was on the radio show Wednesday and while sharing stories about sex and drugs, he revealed that at the June 2 Phillies game he met a girl who was house-sitting for Cahn, a longtime NBC-10 investigative reporter. She invited Ozark and another comic to join her at Cahn's Montgomery County home.
Once there, Ozark and his pal rummaged through Cahn's underwear and, Ozark, who admitted, "I'm just a freak," said he hoped to try some on, but he could tell it wouldn't fit him.
But the Daily News left out the best part of the story: Ozark, whose real name is Peter Goldman, uses "Danny Ozark" as his stage name in honor of the Phillies manager of the 1970s whose name also was Danny Ozark. The baseball Ozark is still kicking at age 84, so Danny the comic may very well have to worry about a Chi Rodriguez/"To Wong Foo"-style lawsuit. But fortunately for the tranny-lover, the other guy's name isn't really Danny Ozark either; he was born Daniel Leonard Ozrechowski.
I was beyond sad to hear this afternoon that Jeff Erlanger had passed away over the weekend at the age of 36.
Jeff, a native of Madison, Wisconsin and a quadriplegic since not long after birth, was a camp counselor of mine at OSRUI in Wisconsin for a couple of years in the early '90s, doing a job that I would later learn was difficult enough even for the able-bodied. When he was a child, Jeff once appeared on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and ended up speaking at Mr. Rogers' memorial service in 2003. He later ran for Madison's city council and was active in a wide variety of community organizations, including Madison's Commission on People With Disabilities. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz issued a statement about Jeff's passing on Monday.
From my experience with Jeff at camp, I can tell you he had enough energy and enthusiasm for a whole staff of counselors. He will most certainly be missed by all who knew him.
Wow. I almost feel like I can't comment on Sunday's "Sopranos" series finale until I've watched it a second time and read the recaps from all of my favorite bloggers. But I can say this: I unquestionably loved the whole episode until the last two minutes, and even the last two minutes I'm not quite sure about. I do know David Chase has never been about giving the audience exactly what it wants, or doing everything predictably, and I suppose this just took that attitude to the logical extreme. And no, I'm not disappointed that he didn't go with any of my proposed endings, although there was a hint of the Whitey Bulger ending in the Agent Harris/Phil subplot.
No, there will not be a movie. No, the DVD will not have all the answers to what happened in that diner. And yes, there may be clues as to how it ended (that whole "you never see it coming" conversation between Tony and Bobby). But clues aren't absolute.
Here's my new North Star column, about the end of the series. I'll be back with more commentary tomorrow; in the meantime, don't stop/believing.
So let me get this straight- we have the military technology to turn people gay- yet we can't trust gay people to implement it? Wouldn't they know better than anyone how to do it? Does this mean The Nude Bomb is a reality as well?
There haven't been a lot of heartwarming stories associated with the NFL lately, or with the MInnesota Vikings for, oh, several years. But here's one: Orlando Thomas, who was a defensive back for the Vikings in the late '90s, is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. In a great Star Tribune piece, Mark Craig talks to Thomas and many of those around him, and finds a man who has "never had a bad day," and proudly remembers his days as a Viking, specifically his interactions with the Minnesota fans. Read this story; you'll be glad you did.
I'm heading down into the swamps (well, the Southern swamps) of Jersey; will be back Sunday for the Last Sopranos Ever. I'll be sure to comment once it's over, but in the meantime, in case you missed it, check out my favorite potential scenarios for the last episode.
As you can probably tell from the lack of commentary lately, I'm already sick of the presidential election, and we don't even vote for another 17 months. Part of the problem has been the awful debates so far- I watched one each with the Democrats and Republicans, and that's about all I could take.
The debate format certainly could use a tweak, and Michael Currie Schaffer has some ideas on TNR's website: namely, "learning from Wrestlemania." Schaffer's idea is bipartisan debates during the primaries, one I certainly like. What's the point of not even letting the two parties interact until it's already general election time? Not only would it be more exciting, but it would force that fraud Mitt Romney to pretend to be a centrist to one audience one week, and a hardcore conservative to another the next week. A preview of his presidency, if you will.
But even better than Wrestlemania, I propose the debates shift to a Royal Rumble-like format: We start with two men at the podiums, and every two minutes, another candidate enters the debate (preferably with theme music.) When a candidate is thoroughly out-argued, he is "eliminated" and has to leave the stage. This continues until only one candidate is left, and he's proclaimed the "winner" of the debate. (No, there won't be any actual wrestling, at least not outside the Alabama legislature.)
This would make things so much more fun, and actually force the candidates to argue persuasively, instead of giving bullshit answers that have nothing to do with the question. (No, Mayor Giuliani, there's really no reason to mention 9/11 or Reagan when the question is about ethanol subsidies.) And if it goes REALLY well, maybe in 2012 they can let the last guy standing actually be president.
So on Tuesday night, on the eve of their series against the Mets, my wife (a Phillies fan) asked me if I'd heard what Cole Hamels said. No, I hadn't, and she told me that Hamels, in a TV interview, had said the Phils could (and would) sweep the Mets. Isn't this the type of swagger that the fans always want from the Phils, I asked? No, she said, because there's no way in hell that they would, and would probably get swept themselves.
Earlier that day, a co-worker of mine- also, of course, a Phillies fan- was on the phone with a buddy of his in New York, trying to make a bet about the upcoming series. He was betting, of course, against his own team, believing the Mets would sweep the Phils.
So what happened? You guessed it, the Phillies swept the Mets at Shea, getting strong starting pitching, bullpen help, and clutch hitting, three things that have been sorely missing all season. Even perennial whipping boy Pat Burrell had two crucial late hits on Thursday. And even though you'd think from the talk radio airwaves that the Phils must be the worst team in baseball, they're now two games over .500 and just five back of the first-place Mets, with two thirds of the season to go. Is there any reason not to think, with a few tweaks, that this team could make the playoffs?
Baseball appears to be backing off that ill-advised threat to sue the makers of the Slingbox; meanwhile, the NHL has reached an agreement with the company. I think at this point, the Slingbox has more supporters in the U.S. than hockey does. Also, Sony's cutting jobs in its gaming unit, Qualcomm may have just been sued out of existence, and San Diego's football stadium along with it, and XM/Sirius has hired former GOP honcho Ed Gillespie's lobbying firm.
It's great enough that it's two guys playing the lead and rhythm parts on a single guitar- but the 90210 theme? That's just awesome.
I haven't been blogging much about "The Shield," probably because I'm fairly certain just about no one who reads this blog watches the show (but it's still likely more watched in my readership than "The Wire" is.)
Anyway, somehow the show has managed to get better every season for the past four or so- the Glenn Close year was great, the Forrest Whitaker season even better, and this past year- with former allies Vic and Shane gunning for each other- was the best yet. It actually seems like creator Shawn Ryan actually planned out, years in advance, exactly how the show would end, and how to build for that in the best way possible.
I noticed something during the season that I'm sure no one else did- a story arc involving hyper-ambitious pol David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) was lifted almost directly from the little-seen Kevin Smith-produced comedy "Vulgar"- starring Dante from "Clerks" as a clown- which was so awful that LilB and I have taken to calling it "that movie that we did not see." But "The Shield" arc was almost the same thing: A man suffers a rape at the hand of violent thugs, he's traumatized afterward, and years later, when he's begun to put it behind him, photos emerge of the rape itself, which are used against the victim for blackmail purposes.
I'm sure that Ryan and the writers didn't steal this, mostly because -like LilB and me- "Vulgar" was a movie that they did not see. But one thing is for sure- "The Shield" had a great year. In fact, the returns of that show and "The Sopranos" really put across, around March, just how bad "24" has gotten.
Roger's back! And he's reviewing "Ocean's Thirteen":
"I know full well I'm expected to Suspend My Disbelief. Unfortunately, my disbelief is very heavy, and during "Ocean's Thirteen," the suspension cable snapped. I think that was when they decided to manufacture a fake earthquake to scare all the high-rollers on opening night. How did they plan to do this? Why, by digging under the casino with one of the giant tunnel boring machines used to dig the Chunnel between England and France.My verdict: Better than the loathsome second movie, but not as good as the first. And Ellen Barkin, in her "comeback" role, looks like she paid a plastic surgeon to turn her into Cameron Diaz.
Yes, you can buy your own. There were originally 11. One sold on eBay for around $7 million. A boring machine, I find, weighs about 600 tons. How easy do you think it would be for a handful of Vegas slicksters to buy such a machine, transport it to America, move it cross-country, and use it to drill a tunnel under the Strip (which never sleeps), all the while removing untold tons of earth, rock and sand without being noticed? And without causing earthquakes in all the other casinos they bored under?"
Once again, the great Sean Burns, on the not-so-great "Mr. Brooks":
"Earl’s latest slip-up just so happens to be caught on camera by a jittery pervert amateur photographer, played here in a stroke of casting genius by jittery pervert amateur comedian Dane Cook. Instead of heading straight to the cops with the evidence, Cook’s overenergetic shutterbug goes the blackmail route, demanding a voyeuristic ride-along during Costner’s next ritual execution.
I dare you to find a single line delivered by Cook that isn’t riddled with some sort of manic hambone affectation, just like his alleged comedy routines. In fact, the best gag comes from Mr. Brooks pitting Cook’s frenetic, exhausting mugging against Costner’s laid-back socio-pathy and Hurt’s wry malignancy.
If anything, this movie seems designed to prove the strange, unseemly notion that even bloodthirsty serial killers are more enjoyable company than bad MySpace comedians."
HBO may be losing most of its good series ("Sopranos," "Curb," "The Wire"), but between this, the also Hanks-produced World War II film, and the Simon/Burns "Generation Kill," they're certainly cornering the market on 10-hour miniseries.
So the other night I was at Old Navy, looking for some shirts, when the Fresh Prince's classic "Summertime" came on over the loudspeaker. Always nice to hear that one, especially in the summer, especially in Philly.
But then I noticed something odd: It got to the line "it's like the summer's a natural aphrodisiac"- and the word "aphrodisiac" was bleeped out! What the hell is that about? I don't remember it being one of the "seven dirty words." Are they that afraid kids will hear that and ask Mommy what it means?
Congrats to Will Smith- finally, for the first time, he's done something "bad."
News Item: New NBC Head Says "I Hate the Blog World"
The final "Sopranos" ever is in just five days, and everyone's speculating on how, exactly, the series will come to a close. Here are a few suggestions:
The "Goodfellas" ending: Tony and Carmela, fearing death, turn state's evidence and disappear into the witness protection program. (Odds of happening: Next to nil. Most of the show's fans would be outraged, they already nearly went the "ordinary schnook" route with Christopher, and besides, there's almost no one left for them to testify against.)
The "Scarface" ending: Tony stays holed up in his safehouse, with Phil and dozens of hitmen coming after him, until he finally goes down, guns blazing. (Odds of happening: 15:1. Would be cool, but not exactly original.)
The "Godfather, Part III" ending: A hitman tries to kill Tony, but misses and instead hits Meadow. (Odds of happening: Nil. If you created a mob masterpiece and didn't want it to end badly, would you in any way emulate Godfather III?)
The Whitey Bulger ending: Tony kills Phil; the FBI, led by Agent Harris, is so grateful that they tacitly let Tony slide, and he is able to flee to an undisclosed location without ever being punished. (Odds of happening: 7:1.)
The "Cleaver" ending: Christopher comes back from the dead to kill Tony. (Odds of happening: not good, but the likelihood of it happening in a dream sequence is actually quite high.)
"The Departed"/Hamlet ending: Everyone dies. (Odds of happening: 2:1. The show's always been both very Shakespearean and Scorsesean, so...)
"The Firm" ending: Caught between getting killed by Phil's crew and getting squeezed by the FBI, Tony chooses the third option, and goes on the run. (Odds of happening: 3:1, sort of mitigated by Sydney Pollack, who directed the movie version of "The Firm," being on the show this year. Though the ending of the movie, in which Tom Cruise asserts attorney/client privilege to keep the Mafia guys from killing him, doesn't sound like it would work on "Sopranos.")
The "Dallas" ending: The fifth and sixth seasons were all a dream, Adriana and Christopher are still alive, no one knows Vito is gay, and Tony and Carmela are still separated. The Devil talks Tony into committing suicide. (Odds of happening: 5.2 billion:1.)
The "Seinfeld" ending: Tony goes on trial, and everyone he ever wronged testifies about what an asshole he is. He goes to jail, for a lot more than a year. (Odds of happening: None, but it would probably work better than it did for Seinfeld.)
"The Usual Suspects" ending: In a surprise twist in the last minute of the episode, we find out Artie Bucco was the criminal mastermind all along, and Tony was just a patsy. As was Patsy. (Odds of happening: None, but it would be pretty damn awesome.)
The "Newhart" ending: Tony wakes up and finds out the whole Mafia thing was just a dream; he's really Kevin Finnerty. (Odds of happening: 15:1.)
The "Six Feet Under" ending: As an emo song plays, we flash forward in the future to see the deaths of every one of the characters- except that no one dies of natural causes, and everyone gets whacked. AJ lives to be 102. (Odds of happening: 0.)
The "Scooby Doo" ending: After he's captured by Tony, Phil Leotardo's face is torn off, revealing that he's really... Mikey Palmice, who didn't really die in Season 1! He blames the Sopranos' previously unseen "meddling dog." (Odds of happening: incomplete.)
What I really think: I'm not going to venture a full guess as to How It All Ends, but we're going to see at least a couple of things: Some resolution of the FBI's long investigation of Tony/the thing with the Two Arabs, and a return of some sort to the House in Costa Mesa, from Tony's coma dream sequence. Also, Livia will be involved, somehow, even if it's just her voice.
What we're NOT going to see: the Russian, or Melfi's rapist.
Finally, via YouTube, some clues as to what the hell Eddie Vedder was talking about in "Yellow Ledbetter"
The only song I can think of where the guitar part is so damn good that it doesn't matter that the lyrics are complete gibberish.
"During my time covering the majors for Sports Illustrated, I came to know -- and like -- Sheffield. He's a nice guy who plays hard and, I truly believe, wants badly to win. But for his myriad strengths as a ballplayer, Sheffield is the ultimate dangerous moron of our times. Throughout his seven-team, 20-year career, Sheffield has had an unprecedented run of compiling big numbers, expressing his delight over being in City X -- then whining about finances, feeling unappreciated, pissing off teammates, pissing off coaches, pissing off owners and pissing off fans."-Jeff Pearlman, in his increasingly must-read column on Page 2. If you haven't read Pearlman's Barry Bonds bio, I highly recommend it- he interviewed about 500 people who know Bonds, and about 495 of them concluded that he's the biggest asshole they've ever met.
How stupid was Sheffield's "you can't control me" speech? For Gary, "controlled" means having the Yankees pick up his $13 million option instead of letting him be a free agent, and then trading him. We should all be so controlled.
Finally, via TNR, some clues as to why John Edwards is "uncomfortable" around gay people: apparently, a gay classmate of his wife's once expressed interest in "snaking" him.
And all this time, I thought it was John's resemblance to Jack from "Will and Grace."
News Item: Larry David, Wife Laurie Separate
Perhaps the separation will inspire Larry to make the upcoming final season of 'Curb' even more cynical than before. But in the meantime, I hope Laurie enjoys her one-fourth of the "Seinfeld" fortune.
One of my favorite news stories of the year, from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Not long after entrusting millions to a Kentucky oilman, the investors started asking questions: Where was the oil? Where was their money? And where was the oilman?I wonder if Dick Cheney's daughters thought like that, when they were 16.
They think they got at least some answers when they turned on an episode of “My Super Sweet 16,” an MTV reality show about spoiled rich kids and their outrageously opulent birthday parties.
To their astonishment, the investors saw oilman Gary Milby on television giving his daughter a private helicopter ride, a new BMW and a shopping spree.
The cameras followed Milby to his oil fields where his daughter, Ariel, exclaimed, “I love oil! Oil means shoes and cars and purses!” Pointing to one of the drills, Milby told his daughter, “This one here will make over 20 barrels a day.”
And just think- now that they're airing a "Real World:Las Vegas" reunion season, 'Sweet 16' is only the second most-loathsome show on MTV!
First off, in this week's North Star column, I talk about my recent visit to the cemetery at Normandy, something I recommend for every American.
On E-Gear, meanwhile, the iPhone has a release date: June 29, which also happens to be the settlement date for our new house. So theoretically, we could buy a house and a phone on the same day, they'd both cost about the same. Also, price of the new Blu-ray player has been cut by $100 to just $499, while my boss reviews "Apocalypto."
Let me just say: anyone who ever complained about "not enough whackings" on "The Sopranos" must have been forever mollified by Sunday's episode (SPOILERS!) "The Blue Comet" was probably the most nerve-wracking episode in the history of the series. It's set up at the beginning that Tony's guys are gunning for Phil's guys (and vice versa), and for the rest of the episode there was that sense that men with guns were around every corner.
Notice just how many small children, or teenagers, have been left without fathers on the show: Ralphie's son, Bobby's kids, Christopher's daughter, Tony B's twin sons, Vito's kids, Pussy's kids... kind of puts Tony's comment that "they never hit families" in perspective.
How's it going to end? Who the hell knows. I remember from Peter Biskind's great "The Godfather Companion" book that there were about five potential endings for "Godfather Part III," and they were pretty much the same as what's under consideration for Tony: Michael gets assassinated, Michael commits suicide, Michael's daughter gets killed instead of him, etc.
If I had to guess, I'd imagine the "Tony stays alive, miserable, to contemplate his crimes" scenario. Though I'm sure they'll be a dream sequence or two in the finale.
No, hell did not freeze over this morning, but Donovan McNabb did appear on 610 WIP's morning show.
To say the show has had a contentious relationship with the quarterback (and the Eagles in general) over the years is to put it mildly. Host Angelo Cataldi led a group of 30 ruffians up to New York for the 1999 draft in which they booed McNabb's selection, and the show has spent the seven years pushing the "McNabb is overrated/he choked in the Super Bowl/if he hasn't won a championship, he sucks" line generally favored by the dumbest five percent of Eagle fans.
The Cataldi/McNabb detente began a few months ago when Donovan and his wife ran into Cataldi, co-host Rhea Hughes, and their respective spouses at an area restaurant, and McNabb had a bottle of wine sent to the WIP personalities' table. Apparently this led to enough of a thawing in relations that #5 included the morning show on his latest media tour today.
I heard most of the interview and it went off without incident, answering questions and acting in good humor, as they went over every topic - T.O., the last two minutes of the Super Bowl, Chunky Soup, Donovan's mom, etc.- that's been hashed over on the station every day for nearly the past decade. A subsequent McNabb interview on the city's other sports-talk outlet, Sports Radio 950, went even more smoothly.
WIP was in even better form the previous day, though. The Phillies beat the Giants 9-8 on Sunday, on a walk-off homer by Shane Victorino, on what happened to be Shane Victorino Day. It was wild, up-and-down game, marked by non-stop rain, a three-run homer by Ryan Howard, a booed Barry Bonds grounding out in his only at bat, Danny DeVito throwing out the first pitch, and finally Victorino's homer. The win got the Phils to .500, and while they've clearly got lots of problems, you'd think people would be happy about such an exciting win.
Nope. As soon as the game was over, 610 took about ten calls in a row of the Phillies suck/Manuel sucks/we-should-all-boycott-the-games variety. None of these people found it fit to mention that the team they root for had just won the friggin' game.
Here's a purported deleted scene from "Knocked Up" that's almost as funny as the "Be Like Eric Bana" speech:
The "just the tip" reference is pretty damn funny too.
My former NYPress editor, Tim Marchman, unloads in the New York Sun on both A-Rod and the New York press' treatment of the current scandal. But then he buries the lede:
Whether squiring around strippers or showing his face at sex clubs, Rodriguez was doing so in confidence that the press would uphold the unwritten pact that has heretofore prevented anyone from writing about such activities, just as no one writes about the supposed bisexuality of one prominent Yankee or the rumors that one respected former Yankee has a backup wife.Wow, first an unnamed New York strip club ratted out Pacman Jones to the NFL, and now this. Athletes might have to stop going to nudie bars altogether, and instead stick to boat cruises exclusively.
My guesses: The bisexual prominent Yankee? Gotta be Jeter. The "respected former Yankee" with a "backup wife"? Not many of them are "respected," so it's gotta be Paul O'Neill. Or Leyritz.