So yes, it's official: Kevin Garnett is a Celtic. He's a great player, a future Hall of Famer, and the only Wolves player whose jersey I've ever bought. I'm going to miss him, of course. But I do know that the Wolves weren't going anywhere in their current state, and that a nuking of the roster was necessary.
There is something that bothers me though, in the reaction to the trade from local and national media, which represents the absolute worst impulses of anti-small market prejudice and "East Coast bias." It's the idea that KG was finally "rescued" from Minnesota, where he has "wasted his career," and now he'll be in the "spotlight." Because after all, he "owed it to himself" to get out of such a "backwater." Now, he's finally on the East Coast, where "basketball matters," and where he can finally be "relevant."
Please. We've been hearing this for years from big city sportswriters absolutely bewildered that KG wouldn't want to beg out of the Twin Cities at the earliest opportunity to go to a "real city" (i.e., their city.) Numerous Chicago columnists, especially the Tribune's Sam Smith, have been the worst offenders, believing that they deserve Garnett in their city because, after all, "he's from Chicago" (no, he's from South Carolina, and spent one year of high school in Chicago, but what's the difference?) Laughing at Sam Smith has been one of the better aspects of this generally sad day (he whines here.)
Listen: KG stayed in Minnesota years longer than most superstars would have, even signing two separate long-term extensions. Any other superstar of his stature would've bailed out years ago, likely demanding a trade in the most public manner possible, refusing to report to training camp, or simply leaving as a free agent. Garnett never did that. Why? Perhaps, loyalty. Perhaps - and I know this was a shocker- he was actually happy in Minnesota. Maybe he likes his house. Maybe his wife likes living there. Maybe he enjoyed being the greatest player in the history of a franchise. Maybe, just because a bunch of middle-aged newspaper columnists in New York, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere see Minnesota as an uncultured backwater doesn't mean he believes it is too. And maybe it wasn't such a tragedy against the sanctity of the game of basketball that Kevin Garnett played the first 12 years of his career there.
So Garnett will go to Boston, and I wish him well. But I don't see how his career should somehow be cheapened because he spent the bulk of it on a non-"marquee" team. Does Tim Duncan's career have less legitimately because he played all of it in San Antonio, as opposed to Boston or New York or LA?
UPDATE: And Boston got Eric Gagne too! He's the third most valuable acquisition of the day, after Kevin Garnett and the Wall Street Journal.
In the second death of a major European director in as many days, Michelangelo Antonioni died this morning at the age of 94. He directed an all-time great film- 1966's "Blow Up," as well as inspiring perhaps the funniest moment of my five years in New York.
What a week for celebrity deaths- already Antonioni, Bergman, Bill Walsh, Tom Snyder, Bill Robinson... Who's next? My money's on Amy Winehouse.
News Item: Led Zeppelin may reunite for tour in 2008
Now granted, these are very much unconfirmed reports. Plus, we're looking at $200 a ticket, minimum. Plus, the drummer's dead. Plus, they may be a bit rusty, since they last toured during the Carter Administration. But still, it's Led Zeppelin. How often does one of your favorite bands go on tour for the first time since you were two years old?
This guy in Turkey apparently got beat out for a parking space, so he decided to go Jackie Chan on a whole big group of people:
As Turkish videos of brawls following car accidents go, this one's one of my favorites.
News Item: FBI, IRS search home of Sen. Ted Stevens
It took two agencies, because... it's a massive, massive search.
The only thing better would be if Michael Vick were involved somehow. They've probably already got the crooked-ref thing covered.
The Boston papers, and ESPN, are reporting that Kevin Garnett is heading to the Celtics. The deal, according to the Boston Herald, would give the Celtics KG in exchange for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes and Theo Ratliff (who, two years ago, changed his name to "Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract.") The Wolves will also get a #1 pick.
Can it be a "good trade for both teams" if it's consummated by two of the worst GMs in the league? Perhaps it can, or perhaps it can't. The deal, if finished, would give the Wolves an actual young core (Jefferson, Green, Gomes, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, Rashard McCants, Craig Smith), while it gives Boston a veteran nucleus (KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen), along with a handful of young players, and no depth whatsoever. Could work for Celts, but it also sounds an awful lot like the Iverson + Webber + table scraps version of the Sixers two years ago, and all know how that turned out.
I do like that the Wolves are rebuilding, and besides, throughout sports history 6-for-1 deals have generally favored the team getting the big package (for Minnesota examples, see "Walker, Herschel" and "Viola, Frank.") My biggest complaint about the deal from the Wolves' standpoint, aside from the fact that they lose the best player in franchise history, is that they dump no bad contracts- they're still stuck with Marko Jaric, Troy Hudson and Mark Blount. Also, doesn't this leave them with twice as many players as will fit on an NBA roster? Aside from that, I suppose this is the best they could probably manage. Can't wait to see the resulting Bill Simmons column.
I go through some ideas for improving the presidential debate formats, in this week's North Star column.
News Item: Ingmar Bergman Dies
Matthew Yglesias, with the last word on TNR's Scott Thomas non-scandal:
What does have significance is this genre of right-wing press criticism. Basically, a story comes out that conservative bloggers don't like, someone -- without evidence -- proclaims it bogus. Then all kinds of people who may or may not know what they're talking about put forward theories about why X or Y must be false. Then those theories are all uncritically endorsed by key conservative bloggers.This story has absolutely nothing to do with accuracy (or nepotism) and absolutely everything to do with the idea- heresy to the Hewitts and Malkisn of the world- that a soldier might actually think the war is going less than perfectly.
Then if it turns out that any of the dozens of claims made by the blog swarm end up vindicated, the horde proclaims "advantage: blogosphere" and decides that all war-related news reporting it doesn't approve of must be made up. It's as if you had a guy batting .134 who hit a home run once, years ago, and fancies himself a slugger.
Screw you Barry, and you too, A-Rod. I'm most impressed by Jason Tyner of the Twins, who finally hit his first major league homer last night in Cleveland. Tyner had more than 1,200 at-bats, spread over 6 years. He thought he'd hit one back in April, but it deflected off the top of the Hefty Bag in Right at the Metrodome and was ruled a double.
How come Joe Mauer doesn't know that most of "Fargo" was set in Minnesota?
Don't you want to just punch Scott Van Pelt every time you see him?
"Right now, there are 600 Titleists that I got at the driving range in the trunk of my car. Why don't we drive out to Rockaway and hit 'em...into the ocean?"
Might want to keep it on the course...
They're paying $125 a shot... for nude corpses. Hope that's not a spoiler.
The AV Club's The Hater, on the many similarities between the new "comedy" "Who's Your Caddy" and its obvious inspiration, "Caddyshack 2":
And now for the differences spotted. The Caddyshack II trailer does not contain the following:Still, even though Who's Your Caddy? looks to be even more pointless and unfunny than the pointless, unfunny sequel it's ripping off, Big Boi of Outkast is very convincing as a black Jackie Mason.Even though I'm now a bit of a golfer, there's no way I'd ever see either of those movies.
--The tagline, "It's the street versus the elite."
--Trapped In The Closet-caliber midget jokes—featuring the midget from Trapped In The Closet!
--Jokes about hip-hop and rappers that are probably leftovers from a roast of Sir Mix-A-Lot in 1996
--So many 'splosions!
--A foghorn fart as characterization.
Lots of format war news: Target is now carrying Blu-ray, Microsoft dropped the price of the HD DVD Xbox add-on, and Samsung's coming out with a Dual HD player. Also, FujiFilm's got some new cameras, and my editor Grant blogs about "Web Things That Should Exist In the Real World." I'm all about the virtual search engage and "clear cache."
Mr. Truthiness wades into the Billo/Kos mire:
I'm a film critic, so I really should be doing a roundup every Friday. But regardless, some thoughts on recent motion pictures:
-The Simpsons Movie: Saw it last night, loved it, would see it again. Not QUITE the home run the "South Park" movie was, but pretty consistently hilarious nonetheless. Nearly all the gags worked, the plot was funny, and -like Andrew Johnston on House Next Door, I loved being able to experience "Simpsons" with a large, enthusiastic audience. Also, stay for the closing credits, there's good stuff there.
-Stardust: This one's been getting practically no buzz, but I saw it the other night and really, really enjoyed it (no, I haven't read the Neil Gaiman book, but the entire audience at the screening was obviously nerds who have, and I could tell they all loved it.) Very "Princess Bride"-like, although the cheese never overcame everything that was working. Also good performances- especially by Robert DeNiro (as you've certainly never seen him) and leading man Charlie Cox, who's like a more talented, less irritating Orlando Bloom. Go see this one when it comes out in mid-August.
-Hairspray: I loved about 95% of this movie. Excellent songs, very good staging, dynamite performance by newcomer Nikki Blonsky in the lead role. But John Travolta just didn't work, at all. He didn't look right, or sound right, and the whole he-should-dance-in-every-movie-because-of-"Grease"-and-"Saturday Night Fever" joke is starting to get old. Actually, it was starting to get old a decade ago. Why Harvey Fierstein couldn't play the part onscreen, I can't understand.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Having read none of the books and missed the last two movies, my Harry Potter knowledge isn't quite up to par. But I did like the newest film, even if I barely understood it.
Yes, I realize I liked all four of those (and the one I saw the week before that, "Rescue Dawn," was great too. But other than "Knocked Up" and "Die Hard," everything else I saw this summer was a disappointment- and I'm looking in your direction, Optimus Prime.
This certainly goes in the "Life Imitates the Onion" file.
LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner, earlier this year, began living as a woman and is now known as Christine Daniels. After the change, Penner/Daniels has remained a working sportswriter, and San Bernardino Sun sports columnist Paul Oberjuerge saw her at the David Beckham debut, and said some not-so-nice things:
none of us had actually seen Mike ... uh, Christine ... since the announcement. Aside from her friends in the biz.Ouch. But do you know what's more unsettling than that? Rick Reilly's SI column from last month, in which he described meeting Daniels, who had been his old friend back when she was Penner. It's actually a very sweet piece, until we sort of get the hint that Reilly would very much like to be more than friends with his old friend.
We were at the Beckham introductory thing at Home Depot Center ... and were heading upstairs for the small-scale interviews in the suites ... when I spotted a very large woman ahead of me ... and it struck me, "Whoa. That's Mike Penner. Christine."
Anyway, I feel bad for the guy/girl. From what little I've seen of the blog he/she is doing, she (I'm gonna try to stick with the female thing now) seems quite happy. Buoyant, even. Massively relieved to be living as a woman. And that's fine.
I hate to be judgmental about these things, but Christine is not an attractive woman. Which probably isn't a surprise when you're 50 and have spent your in-the-world life as a fairly drab guy. Who has a fairly prominent Adam's apple (not all of us do) ... Who also isn't exactly petite. Maybe 6-1, 200?
The "South Park" parody practically writes itself.
Peter Suderman, on the recent dustup between Bruce Willis and Michael Bay, occasioned when Willis said that if Bay had directed the recent "Die Hard" sequel, "it would have sucked," after which Bay suggested a challenge:
Yeah, why don't we do that? Cause I saw both of those movies, and the action in Die Hard was relatively original, coherent, and thrilling, and the action in Transformers was, let's see… a brain-deadening robo-mess. Now look, I enjoyed the hell out of Transformers, but other than the quality of the effects, it's awful—just awful—by pretty much every imaginable aesthetic metric, and the action, especially, was almost aggressively incomprehensible.I really, really loved "The Rock," and still quote it frequently, but Bay really hasn't made a watchable movie since.
From the Star Tribune:
On Saturday, Philadelphia assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was in attendance when Twins prospect Kevin Slowey, currently with Class AAA Rochester, faced Ottawa. The Phillies might set club records for offense this season, but they badly need pitching. Pat Burrell (.249, 12 home runs and 46 RBI) could be available, but he's making over $13 million this season and Philadelphia would have to eat most of that salary.Please, please please don't let the Twins trade Slowey- a rookie pitcher making no money having shown flashes of brilliance- for Pat Burrell, who makes a lot of money for, well, very little brilliance. Now, if the Phils took, say, Ramon Ortiz back, and agreed to pay, say, 80% of Pat's salary, that I might be okay with...
Congress, doing more excellent work:
US Senate Commerce Committee today passed a bill that would allow FCC to fine broadcasters for slip of the tongue expletives, negating a ruling by federal appeals court in New York that commission's policy on 'fleeting expletives' is arbitrary and capricious.Because who cares about war, violence, famine, or disease. The real problem for children in this country is... bad words! What a bunch of fucking bullshit.
The Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act introduced by Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) would effectively overturn the court decision on the Fox Television Stations v. FCC in which the court ruled: "We find the FCC's new policy sanctioning 'fleeting expletives' is arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act for failing to articulate a reasoned basis for its change in policy."
Bob Costas ran a well-done interview with BALCO chemist Patrick Arnold on his HBO show this week, during which Arnold pretty much confirmed that Bonds must have known that he was using steroids. How'd the slugger react? Like this:
Bonds called Costas, "a little, midget man who absolutely knows jack [bleep] about baseball. Never played the game before. You can tell Bob Costas what I called him.Which is worse- this, or Gary Sheffield claiming his use of the Cream and the Clear doesn't count as steroid use because "steroids is something you shoot in your butt"?
"I can't wait to see him face to face someday."
News Item: Disney Bans All Smoking From Its Movies
And that even includes RAVs (Russians, Arabs, Villains.) At least, until they invent the, you know, whatever device.
New Wes Anderson movie. "The Darjeeling Limited." Coming out this fall. Oh yes. Anderson is four-for-four so far- and I've liked "The Life Aquatic" 50 percent more every time I've watched it- I await this more eagerly than any other movie this fall.
HBO's "Big Love" has followed up its very good first season with a very great second one, and as a reward HBO has renewed it for a third year- and, it will move back to Sundays for its final two episodes of the season. This will take place after the season (and probably series) finale of "John From Cincinnati" in early August.
For more on the non-stop intrigue of the Henrickson clan, make sure you're reading Todd VanDerWerff's weekly recaps on The House Next Door.
KSK has an essential pre-season guide to naming your fantasy football team. I used to do this as a regular feature, but I can't compete with the mighty Kolber-kissers.
I think this year I'll finally go for The Strike Team. Imagine what Vic Mackey and Co. could do to Michael Vick...
Former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer- the Lindsay Lohan of his day- was busted for DUI once again this week, according to WCCO (via 10000 Takes.):
"Officers said Kramer smelled of alcohol and was stumbling. An officer also reported Kramer called him "coach" and said Kramer claimed he once played for the Minnesota Vikings."Unlike his former teammate, Keith Millard, Kramer is not believed to have taunted police by proclaiming "my arms are more powerful than your guns."
Gotta love minor league baseball- a lot more than we love the Atlanta Falcons. Darren Rovell says:
The minor league baseball independent Long Beach Armada is hosting "Michael Vick Animal Awareness Day" on Sunday. Any fan who trades in his or her Michael Vick T-shirt or jersey will get free admission to the game and a donation will be made in their name to a non-profit that helps "inspire a better understanding of dogs." Those shirts and jerseys will be destroyed in some manner, the team says. Fans can also bring their dogs to the game, will be provided a special entrance to the ballpark and sit in a special section of the ballpark.Too soon for Vick jokes? Nah, not soon enough.
Monday's story: Best Buy hires a new executive with the express purpose of building the brand among women, and jump-starting sales to the female audience.
Tuesday's story: The Star Tribune publishes an investigative piece detailing a rise in complaints that Best Buy Geek Squad employees have been peering at, and sometimes copying, photos and other files from the hard drives of customers- while quoting a former employee as saying that "any attractive young woman who drops off her computer with the Geek Squad should assume that her photos will be looked at."
Have fun handling that, new executive.
Also, Panasonic introduces three new cameras- and a new TV for Mayor Bloomberg, XM will offer a la carte pricing, and TiVo introduced a $300 HD box, which has not a single essential feature that I'm not already getting from my $12/month Comcast DVR.
"If he were not here, your team would be under .500. They would be a laughing stock. Jerry Crasnick and Buster Olney would be snatching up book deals that deal with the night George Steinbrenner murdered Gene Michael in a rage after Enrique Wilson hit into a game-ending 1-2-3-2 triple play to end a 1-0 loss to the Royals.In a just world, Ken Tremendous would have a column in a New York paper and a regular chair on "The Sports Reporters," while Mike Lupica would be writing a mildly popular sports blog.
Never won here?! You people are boneheads. You are all boneheads. And when you and your ilk have driven ARod to Anaheim next year, and you can't get Miguel Cabrera, and suddenly you are relying on a bunch of 35 year-olds and Melky Cabrera for your offense, and your team sucks, don't come crying to me... I hate the Yankees. And all I do is defend their players against their own media and fans. What is wrong with this picture?"
The University of Minnesota is under fire because it pursued a donation towards the construction of its new football stadium from the notorious former owner of a Minneapolis strip club.
Robert Sabes, a local businessman and philanthropist who the Strib describes as "colorful but reclusive," was asked to donate $1 million in order to help build TCF Bank Stadium, the new outdoor stadium that the Gophers will move into in 2009. Sabes' family's foundation is listed as a $1 million contributor to the effort- which has had trouble raising the $86 million in private money it needs- even though Sabes for years owned Schieks Palace Royale, a famed gentlemens' club in downtown Minneapolis.
If you're Jewish and you're from Minneapolis, and the name sounds familiar, that's probably because of the Sabes Jewish Community Center (that's where my high school rec-league basketball games were, not to mention my grandfather's 80th birthday party.) That's the same family, showing that even in the land of Minnesota-nice, owning strip clubs and casinos and being one of the leading contributors to Jewish philanthropy are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Now, if only we could get Sabes to revive Shinders...
So now that EA Sports' Madden game has exclusive licensing rights for current NFL players, other gaming companies looking to make football games have to either use fictitious players, or those of the past. One game, All Pro Football 2K8, goes for the latter option, using superstars from the game's history. One of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, is O.J. Simpson.
Here's the game's trailer. See if you can spot something odd in the last few seconds:
Yikes. 2K Sports may as well just sign over the royalty check to Fred Goldman right now, just to get it over with.
(Via Kissing Suzy Kolber.)
I never saw anything like this in three years living there, and it's real sad to see. Then again, Hoboken's got a major Frat Idiot Problem, and has for years, so I suppose this sort of thing isn't that surprising. The last time a beatdown in Hoboken made news, it was a Penn State quarterback doing the beating.
When a deadly multiple shooting occurred Saturday night in a bar on 62nd Street near Reedland in Kingsessing, the patrons were watching a televised light-heavyweight boxing match between Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. The fight's weight classification was incorrectly listed in yesterday's Daily News.The guy's still dead, though. And no, they weren't arguing about James Brown's height.
H/T to Philadelphia Will Do.
Why am I not excited about the Vikings this year? Deadspin has 22 (possibly apocryphal) reasons why. Warning: very, very much not safe for work.
This San Francisco Chronicle op-ed likens O'Reilly's recent, discredited, "Lesbian Gangs" story to "the Weekly World News on airplane glue and Anal Eze."
I look at the dustup between Bill O'Reilly and his slightly less loathsome adversary, the Daily Kos, in this week's North Star column. Roger L. Simon has another great take on this, comparing the two sides to "flying monkeys." And also, according to Radar, O'Reilly supports "the killing of Mexicans by wild beasts."
This would've been much better:
Chris Satullo, talking sense as usual on the Inquirer editorial page:
Our political discourse has a bad case of the "butwhatabouts."
It's a reflex of partisanship, a way to muffle news that looks bad for your team.
Here's how it works: When embarrassing news breaks, swiftly begin harping on an earlier, superficially similar incident that involved bad behavior by the other team.
The goal is not to illuminate or place in context, but to obscure and evade.
To this end, insist (with scant regard to the facts) that the earlier sin was much, much worse, but was treated much more leniently - by the courts, or the biased jackals of the media, or both.
Not even the Weekly World News has managed to stay afloat...
An economist reviews "The Wire." Enough to tide me over until it starts again in early '08.
What sports columnist used that phrase in his Michael Vick column? See if you can guess...
Sports Illustrated executive editor Charlie Leerhsen, urging the cancellation of everyone's least-favorite ESPN segment:
By giving credit for buzzed-about affairs, it unfairly penalizes the competent adulterer. Still, if not halted, it will leave us with dangerous information. I compare this to the moment, last November, when Britney Spears' limo door opened, but she hadn't switched to the right quite yet. We are on the verge of knowledge that some of us may be able to handle."Leerhsen, by the way, once interviewed me for a job with US Weekly. Had I gotten it, I may have in fact been there for the aforementioned Britney Spears moment.
My friend Michael Totten is reporting live from Baghdad on his blog. Intriguing stuff, as always.
Back in 2004, when that whole Ron Artest vs. Detroit rumble happened in Auburn Hills, certain self-rightous sports writers (i.e., Mike Lupica) likened the incident to "David Stern's Black Sox scandal." Bullshit, Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilley said at the time, "this was his Disco Demolition Night."
Now, alas, the NBA now has a Black Sox Scandal after all. The FBI is investigating allegations that an NBA referee bet on games, including those in which he was the ref, and put himself in position to affect the outcome. The ref was named as Tim Donaghy by ESPN.
And you thought the Vick and Pacman sagas were embarrassing to football? At least they happened off the field...
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" may be American as can be (and Chicagoan as can be), but that doesn't mean the Australians don't get it. This guy certainly does. I hadn't been aware that Broderick actually dated his on-screen sister Jennifer Grey; between that and his now-wife, I think we can say Matthew's got really, really bizarre taste in women.
Right after Chris Benoit died, one of my commenters suggested that I put together a book proposal about all the deaths in wrestling, and why they're Vince McMahon's fault, and just sort of blow the lid off the whole sleazy operation. I replied that that sounded interesting, but that after a few weeks everyone would be sick of the topic and besides, I had no contacts to speak of in the wrestling industry. Better leave the project to someone with experience writing about the business.
Looks like exactly that's happening: Scott Keith says on his blog today that he's working on a book on the "Hart Family Curse," which will of course heavily draw on Benoit's death. "Someone had to cash in," he said.
Emmy Nominations for "My Dick in a Box": 1
Emmy Nominations for "The Wire": 0
Matthew Yglesias, pointing out something I've noticed:
". For years now it's been a staple of press analysis of politics that, in essence, all news -- or at a minimum, all terrorism-related news -- is good news for Republicans. Events or reports that make the threat seem less severe demonstrate how awesome Bush's leadership has been. Events or reports that make the threat seem more severe demonstrate how badly we need Bush's leadership"I hope Hewitt reads that post, so his head explodes.
Did Jessica Biel, along with Stuart Scott, accidentally out Dwyane Wade? All while promoting a movie about firemen pretending to be gay...
That Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales can't write anything without mentioning "Seinfeld"? Christopher Orr did.
I turned on WIP yesterday afternoon, looking to hear some Phillies talk, before the station goes into all-Eagles, all-the-time mode in about two weeks. And Howard Eskin said he was broadcasting from the "Tastykakes Studio." Where's that, I wondered? A remote at some bar or bakery? A one-time broadcast from the Tastykakes factory?
Oh no. Starting yesterday, the actual WIP studio, in Bala Cynwyd, will henceforth be known as "Tastykake Studios.”
Now, I preface: I love Tastykakes, they're great. A true Philadelphia institution. But as the name of the studio for a hard-hitting sports talk radio station? Not so much. I'm not so certain it's consistent with the image that WIP wishes to project. Could you imagine a football team's stadium being called "Tastykakes Field"? Not quite as bad as the Pink Taco Stadium proposal, but not quite great either.
Now, if it were the Yuengling Studios, that I could get behind...
Christopher Hitchens, on the recent conviction of press baron Conrad Black:
I am writing this from the San Francisco Bay Area, where all summer a local politician named Ed Jew has been in trouble over his filing of an allegedly bogus claim of residency. The headlines on the case invariably give his full name (he is of Asian descent), as in last Saturday's "City Attorney Toughens Case Against Ed Jew." But the headlines about Conrad Black have very often said "Black Convicted." Is this discrimination on a subtle level? Or should Mr. Jew be glad that he has such a short first name?I guess he missed "Immigrants’ eviction part of Jew's track record," "Jew to Plead Not Guilty," and "Newsom has authority to remove, replace Jew."
WYSP's "Kidd Chris Show" yesterday did an instant-classic bit, in the tradition of the "Phil Hendrie Show," in which the hosts brought on a fictional guest, a "Janus Fraley" who is head of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The man playing the part of "Fraley" argued that because women cause so many car accidents due to putting on make-up and being bad drivers generally, he was supporting a new state law to require higher insurance premiums for females, as well as periodic mandatory driving tests.
This led to dozens of calls by angry women, not noticing the put-on, with "Fraley" egging them on with both an insulting, hectoring tone, and occasionally making "woman driver" jokes.
Listening to this podcast interview between Jake Tapper and Hugh Hewitt, all I could think was- Hugh Hewitt sounded an awful lot like Janus Fraley. Except, of course, that Hewitt is real. At least, I think he is.
Yes, the Phillies have lost their 10,000th game; at this point, I'm just glad it's over, because I was getting sick of hearing about the story. We also keep hearing that they've "lost more than any other team"; but the Phills have been the losingest time in pro sports for decades; hitting the 10,000 mark is nothing new.
A catharsis, remember, is what we're after here. We'd like to see 10,000 losses represent not just another Philadelphia debacle, but a cleansing. An inspiration. An impetus to seek better times through the miracle of positivity.I've often expounded on this myself: Ditch that whole "culture of negativity" and maybe- just maybe- a championship might someday come.
And why not? All that booing, all that negativity, all that wallowing in the misery -- what has that accomplished, when you get right down to it? Not a whole lot -- outside of more booing, negativity and misery. So why not try it the other way? What does anyone have to lose?
Just as the 2004 World Series freed Red Sox Nation of its demons, why can't 10,000 losses be The Benchmark That Sets Philadelphians Free?
It can be done.
"To be sure this occasion is forever preserved in Philly history, the mantra, 'City of Brotherly Love,' will be no more," Glanville decrees. "It will be replaced with 'The City of Ten Thousand' -- representing the day that Philadelphia forgave every loss in its sport history. And the day the 10,000th loss was recorded, from now to eternity, will be a celebration of love, prosperity and amnesia."
Love? We can handle that. Prosperity? Can't turn our backs on prosperity. But amnesia? Hoo boy. That won't be easy, not without the destruction of miles and miles of videotape. But face it. That booing act has gotten older than Julio Franco. So I'm urging all Philadelphians to repeat after Doug Glanville: It can be done.
At least until the next blown save, anyway.
Jonathan Chait has the best line:
Perhaps this actually explains the McCain campaign's fundraising failures. Have they been relying on a strategy of demanding contributions from unemployed deadbeats who they mistakenly believe are wealthy Republicans?
The latest fun reality show concept:
Several former TV stars will participate in a new reality show in which they will perform the job they pretended to do on their former shows.It would only watch this show if it also had Alan Alda really going to war, Scott Bakula really traveling through time and leaping into other people's bodies, and Harry Hamlin really being a lawyer.
Back to the Grind, which will debut next month in the US, will have WKRP in Cincinnati's Loni Anderson working in a radio station, Hanging with Mr. Cooper's Mark Curry coaching a high school basketball team, and The Jeffersons' Sherman Hemsley working in the dry-cleaning business.
Other stars who have signed up for the show include Night Court's Harry Anderson, CHiPs' Erik Estrada, Good Times' Jimmie Walker, and St. Elsewhere's Ed Begley, Jr.
How can Harry Anderson be a judge when he isn't one? I could see Bull being a bailiff, but...
This list of political donations to presidential candidates by Hollywood types is funny for two seasons: Because the most prominent donor to Dennis Kucinich is the actress who played Rosario on "Will & Grace," while the biggest name on Rudy Giuliani's side is the guy who played Paulie Walnuts. What, does he think Rudy will make him a captain?
UPDATE: Sam Brownback's getting money from unexpected sources, too.
I look at what went wrong with the McCain candidacy in my newest North Star column. And on E-Gear, the Playstation 3 price cut was apparently just a pretext for eliminating the older version of it.
Does anyone like this stupid, totally pointless ESPN segment? I like what Newsweek's Devin Gordon has to say:
- Throughout July, ESPN's award-winning flagship news hour "SportsCenter" is devoting a chunk of every broadcast to a segment called "Who's Now." It's an elimination tournament, purely theoretical, to determine which current athlete is the most "now"—although two weeks into the competition, it's still anyone's guess what exactly "now" means. A panel of experts, including ex-NFL diva Keyshawn Johnson, debate whether, say, the NBA's Dwyane Wade or snowboarder Shaun White is more "now." Viewers vote online, and the winner moves on to face Tiger Woods in the next round. And so on. Everything about the segment is so artificial, from concept to execution, that watching it is like chewing Styrofoam.A FireJoeMorgan correspondent has another idea:
"I have an idea for what to do after "Who's Now?" is over. It's called "what time is it?" A panel of ESPN experts would sit around and argue about what time it was. They would never agree because the time would always be changing. People could vote on-line and the it would all depend on when they voted.Since they'd run that segment about 15 times a day, everyone would be right!
At the end you would have some idea of what time it was."
All the excitement about retiring umpire Bruce Froemming- whether during the All-Star Game telecast or in a fawning op-ed by Fay Vincent in the NYT- seemed to ignore the pesky little matter of Froemming having once referred to a female baseball executive as a "stupid Jew bitch." Thankfully, Jon Heyman noticed:
Enough with the tributes for Bruce Froemming, who was lucky to keep his job after calling MLB exec Cathy Davis by an anti-Semitic name on a conference call in 2003. Froemming's defense at the time, as New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick pointed out Sunday, was that those words were not meant to be heard by anyone but Froemming's wife. Froemming was a below-average ump who was kept around far too long.Yet Joe Torre gets called racist, for no apparent good reason...
UPDATE: For some reason, BruceFroemming.com is a rabidly anti-Froemming website.
Since that whole "two-state solution" idea for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hasn't seemed to be working so hot for the last 15 years or so, some people now have some other ideas. The JTA enumerates some of them, but don't worry, none of them involve one of the peoples conquering the other or anything.
The "lesbian gangs" story may have been both generally offensive and completely bogus, but hey, at least it was current.
He's got enough money to live probably anywhere in the world, and he chooses the country that was subject of "The Killing Fields"? But still, I suppose the "bursting through the door" trick works anywhere.
The story says Richards "has quit stand-up comedy"; I'm sure there was all sorts of demand for bookings prior to that announcement.
In a development that marks quite a reversal of several millennia of history, Jewish culture is apparently now hip in Poland- among non-Jews. It might have helped us a bit if that trend had emerged in, say, 1937, but hey, we'll take it when we can get it. But still, this sort of reminds me of those Mexican kids in LA who, apropos of nothing, totally love Morrissey.
UPDATE: Speaking of Morrissey, he's in the news today! I guess he objected to meat-eating on the set of Letterman.
The only surprise is that it was so few counts. For more on James' corruption, and ruining of a once-great city, see the great documentary "Street Fight."
Apparently, a rat had been helping the pastry chef make the cupcakes.
There are four- count 'em, four- stories/pictures/videos of the iPhone, so check it out. Also, Sony cut the Blu-ray price (after saying they wouldn't); they put in solar panels at AT&T Park in San Francisco for the All-Star Game (hopefully one will block Barry Bonds' 756th homer), and the WWE and Harman International are fighting over the trademark to JBL. I actually called the WWE's press office last week for this story, and while they wouldn't comment, I'm sure they were relieved to finally get a phone call that wasn't about Chris Benoit.
And speaking of which, the oddest spectacle of the Benoit death has been the nightly appearances on cable news shows by obscure pro wrestlers of the past. Sean Hannity vs. the Ultimate Warrior! Larry King vs. John Cena! And here, Alan Colmes and Rich Lowry take on The Mountie, The Genius, and Superstar Billy Graham:
In another life, Nancy Grace would've made quite a great heel valet.
News Item: Dan Patrick to Leave ESPN
Other than Berman, he's about the last guy left from when I first started watching ESPN in '95 or so. Am I the only one rooting for him to land at MSNBC, and start anchoring every election night with Olbermann?
I look at the man trying to become the fourth consecutive Jew to hold the same Minnesota Senate seat, Al Franken, in this week's North Star column. My high school pal James recently ran into the candidate and was sure to regale him with stories of our attempts to write SNL-style sketch comedy back then.
So the Twins, after weeks and weeks of not being able to score runs, played a double header against the White Sox Friday and... won the first game 20-14, and the second game 12-0. Jason Kubel had seven RBIs in the first game, Justin Morneau hit three homers in the second, and the team scored more runs in a doubleheader than any team since the Red Sox in 1939.
But of course, the excitement was short-lived; the Twins lost to the Sox both on Saturday and Sunday, and finish the first half firmly ensconced in third place. The Phils, at least, avoided their 10,000th loss by winning on Sunday- and saving the asses of the Rockies' grounds crew, to boot!
I knew that "lesbian gangs" story sounded fishy...
Radley Balko has more: "I, for one, welcome our new vicious lesbian overlords."
News Item: ESPN Banned From Covering All-Star Game
Apparently, they interfered with TBS' "selection show." And hear I thought no sports league was willing to stand up to the dreaded four-letter.
"Grindhouse," "Knocked Up," "A Mighty Heart," "Waitress," "Ratatouille," "Breach," "300"
Gotta love Cracked.com- this is from their list of the 9 Superhero Powers that Are More Trouble Than They're Worth:
ShrinkingHey, it seems to work for Wee-man.
Like "super-breath," this just looks damned silly. Let's take the Atom, probably the most famous of all the shrinking superfellas. He can shrink to subatomic size, shoot along transmissions over phone lines, ride on top of birds... all pretty neat things to do, right? But at the end of the day, you're still a wee little man running around the ankles of friends and foes alike, and let's face it, you're just not going to look cool and get the ladies by being six inches tall. Well, unless you're willing to "go spelunking," but even then, we don't want to hear about it, pervert.
I'm not sure Pacman Jones has arrived in Vegas for questioning yet, or if they're waiting until tomorrow.
Situations like this were becoming way, way, too common.
Jonathan Last encapsulates everything I feel about "Transformers":
Overall, the movie is a mess. A glorious, amazing mess. I don't think I could recapitulate the plot for you because it made almost no sense. Enormous chunks of the story are either preposterous, contradictory, or completely unnecessary. Of the three main groups of humans the story follows, you could have cut one of them out entirely (the plucky NSA analysts) and missed absolutely nothing.Yet, I liked it less than he did. Clearly, the Transformers themselves looked awesome, and the effects were something to behold. Shia was good, and John Turturro stole all of his scenes.
Many of the action sequences are basically incomprehensible. Also, the dialogue is laughable more often than not. And Michael Bay has grounded the movie so deeply in the present--jokes about Armageddon, references to eBay--that there is little chance of it holding up a decade from now the way, say, Jurassic Park does.
But other than that- it failed on just about every level. The plot was nonsense, the action sequences were impossible to follow, the characters (whether human or robot) total cyphers, and the humor fell flat just about all across the board. Oh, and no one in the film- not the soldiers, not the news anchors, and not even the secretary of defense- knows how to correctly pronounce "Qatar."
It's really too bad; with a halfway-decent script and a non-imbecile director, this could have been an all-time-great action movie.
I once again ask: Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?
News Item: Wife of Wayne Brady Files For Divorce
Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver (no relation) has put together a ranking, top to bottom, of the NFL's owners. You can't argue with #1 (Robert Kraft), #32 (Cincinnati's Mike Brown), or the placement of Zygi Wilf (23rd, which is still about 9 spots ahead of where Red McCombs belongs).
The Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie is #6, which sounds pretty sensible to me, although I don't understand how he ranks behind Washington's Daniel Snyder (#5 on the list, despite about 40 bad contracts and 1 playoff victory this decade.)
Eagles fans, of course, despise Lurie almost to a man, believing against all available evidence that he's not a good owner. The knock is that he's "out of touch" with the town's blue-collar fans (which is probably an inevitable hazard for anyone rich enough to own an NFL team) and that he's "not committed to winning," which is sort of funny considering that the team has done little but win in the past eight years, after floundering for two decades prior to his purchase of the team.
Then again, Silver's list seems just a wee bit too heavily weighted towards owners who are media-friendly, i.e., Michael Silver-friendly.
I was sad to hear this morning about the death of James Capozzola, a Philadelphia native and one of the very first prominent political bloggers at the old Rittenhouse Review site. Capozzola, a sometime political candidate, succumbed to an undisclosed illness last night at the age of 44.
I never met Jim, but I do have one very endearing memory of him. More than 4 years ago, my best friend Lil B went to a bloggers' gathering in Philly, met Capozzola, and later described him on his blog as looking like a "40-ish Italian hipster." Capozzola later gleefully reproduced this exchange on his high-traffic blog.
Meanwhile, a long-defunct right-wing blog called Babylonian Musings decided to criticize Capozzola because of his decision to "give prominent display to some sycophantic third-rate blogger refer to him as a "40-ish Italian hipster.'"
I'm happy to say that that "sycophantic third rate blogger" was the best man in my wedding, and that that "40-ish Italian hipster" was an early pioneer of the blogosphere who will very much be missed.
"The logic of this investigation may well propel us to a point where (1) Lawmakers get involved and attempt to clean up the industry and/or the publicly-held WWE comes under enormous pressure to get rid of its majority owners (the McMahon family). At this point, I'd say that both outcomes are possible, and maybe even likely. And judging from the WWE's behavior in recent days, I suspect that they have a similar read of the situation."Then there's this weird Wikipedia story. Who the hell knows what the deal is with that.
UPDATE: Five words: Ultimate Warrior on "Hannity and Colmes." Tonight. The fact that he's batshit-insane might normally dissuade the show from booking such a guest, but then again this is the same program that hosts Ann Coulter roughly once a week.
UPDATE II: I guess technically it's six words, but I wasn't counting the "and." At any rate, in a development that should shock no one who has followed his career, Warrior no-showed the Fox interview. Which means we got THREE segments of both Mark Fuhrman and Debra Marshall (the ex-wife of both Steve McMichael and Stone Cold Steve Austin.)
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is my new journalistic hero: She not only refused to read a story about Paris Hilton, but actually threatened to burn the actual copy on the air! (She later compromised by running it through a shredder):
You know what probably bothers Mika even more than the Paris stuff? That Joe Scarborough can't talk to her for more than ten seconds without making some reference to her father (former National Security Adviser Zbigniew.)
It certainly had a good run, but I think after "Age of Love," Plastic Ellen Barkin in "Ocean's Thirteen," and last night's especially stomach-churning episode of "Entourage," we can now declare the "cougar" fad officially dead. It was still new and refreshing when "Wedding Crashers" and "How I Met Your Mother" tackled it (both with Jane Seymour, btw), but now it's run its course.
UPDATE: More on that "Entourage" here; I'm glad I'm not the only one who was that disgusted. Also, apparently all the Manchester United footage was years-old, so now all the soccer snobs are mad at them too.
Despite a few complaints, most people seem happy with the iPhone. Also, the Nintendo Wii has been opened up to independent game developers. And finally, my boss Grant attends an HD DVD press conference with Michael Imperioli (Christopher from "The Sopranos"), who is the format's national spokesman. When he called to ask if I had any questions for the erstwhile Chris-ta-fah, I reminded Grant not to pinch or otherwise touch his nose.
Even better is the reason: it's due to my overuse of the words "death," "gay," "cocaine," "dick," and "sex."
Too bad it's an athlete in the wrong sport...
A makeup artist who once worked on the set of ESPN's unwatchable, now-defunct morning show, "Cold Pizza," has filed a sexual harassment suit against the network, as well as several individuals. The most disturbing accusations are against perennial network dweeb Woody Paige:
The lawsuit accuses Paige of grabbing Ragone's butt at least three times - in one case so hard that the makeup artist went airborne.Yikes. Will this mean the end of Woody's on-air career? We can only hope.
"Paige grabbed her butt so forcefully, Ragone, quite startled, was propelled forward and into the air," says the suit, which also accuses Paige of repeatedly rubbing the makeup artist's back and thighs and stroking her hair.
Whether or not the accusations are true, I can state that the phrases "ESPN" and "sexual harassment" have been far from mutually exclusive over the years. And, Woody Paige is apparently no stranger to it either.
What with one of the biggest names in the "sport" having murdered his wife, young son, and self last week, most recent thoughts of pro wrestling haven't been so positive. I finally had a good one, though, when reading the current issue of Sports Illustrated (the "Where Are They Now?" edition, with the Hanson Brothers on the cover). In a piece about former pro athletes who have opened restaurants, we get this:
Abdullah the Butcher's House of Ribs and Chinese Food: Who could resist a restaurant owned by a 350-pound former pro wrestling champ called the Butcher (nee Larry Shreve), who carried a fork in the ring and had a finishing move dubbed the "Sudanese Meat Cleaver"? But beware: When a critic tried using utensils, the cigar-chomping Abdullah growled, "eat like a man!"Would you buy Chinese-barbeque fushion from a "Sudanese madman" who looks like this? I know I would, if I'm ever in Atlanta.
Style: Chinese-barbeque fushion
Abdullah Recommends: The Rib Family Special (four vegetables, slab of rids, buffalo wings) for $26.99. "I can't describe the sauce! You might steal it!"
Critics say: "The moist, saucy ribs and fall-off-the-bones smoked chicken are worth going to the mat for."