Not living in New York anymore, I read the Post a lot less, so I'd forgotten just how insufferable Phil Mushnick was. But nearly as bad as the I-hate-everything sanctimony is the end-of-column attempts at humor. Such as yesterday's:
Show Biz Joke of the Year:I think that joke is older than I am. Showbiz joke of what year? 1984?
Man walks into a psychiatrist's office. "Doc," he says, "I can't stop singing the song, 'Delilah.'"
"Hmmm," says the shrink, "sounds as if you're suffering from Tom Jones Syndrome."
"Is that rare?" the patient asks.
"It's not unusual," replies the doctor.
In my last North Star column of the year, I make predictions for the year to come.
Some anti-Knicks humor:
I'll be up in NYC this weekend and I'm going to Knicks-Bulls Sunday, so I'm looking forward to joining the Fire Isiah chants.
News Item: Big Dig Project Finally Finished
If you're from Boston, what did you think would happen first- a Red Sox championship, a Patriots undefeated season, or the completion of the Big Dig? How about all three in the same four-month period?
News Item: Jim Leyritz Charged With Vehicular Homicide
Wow- he and Joe Girardi were the catching tandem on the '96 team. Now, Girardi's the manager, and Leyritz is going to jail.
In a year of celebrity racial scandals, this one's probably the most absurd. Obviously, Smith wasn't praising Hitler, and obviously, in stating that he believes "everyone is basically good," Will was paraphrasing that other notorious Hitler sympathizer, Anne Frank.
The stupidest thing of all is that no one was really offended- that is, unless you consider the Jewish Defense League "somebody." The most shocking thing of all here is that Meir Kahane's old group is even still around. I'm guessing at this point it must consist of two or three guys in an apartment in Brooklyn somewhere.
As for "I am Legend," there was one aspect I found totally unbelievable and unconvincing- how could the female scientist have possibly not heard of Bob Marley? I mean, didn't she go to college, and live in a dorm?
A true hero is dead, and it's very, very sad. It's especially eerie if you saw "Charlie Wilson's War"- the Pakistani president, according to the Julia Roberts character "didn't kill Bhutto"; that Bhutto was Benazir's father, and yes, he did kill him.
I published 20 predictions for 2007 in my year-end North Star column last year; let's take a look at how I did:
-The first year of the Democratic-controlled Congress will be marked mostly by rampant gridlock and partisanship, with next to no major pieces of legislation emerging.
RIGHT. Not that that was the hardest thing in the world to predict.
-There will be an assassination attempt made on a major American political figure, with a controversy to follow about whether YouTube can legally host the footage.
RIGHT on the first part, WRONG on the second- the attempt on Dick Cheney's life in Afghanistan sure counts, though he wasn't exactly standing near the guy who tried to kill him.
- Hillary Clinton will shock everyone by announcing that she’s not running for president and Al Gore will step into the void. However, Barack Obama will remain the Democratic frontrunner into 2008, after Bill Clinton endorses him over his own former vice president.
WRONG, WRONG, PROBABLY WRONG (depending on which poll you believe), and WRONG
- The question of who emerges as the conservative Republican alternative to John McCain will remain unresolved as the year ends, with Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich all enjoying brief honeymoons as the favorite of the right-wing blogger and activist crowds, before being deemed insufficiently anti-immigration and/or anti-gay. Early on, Rudy Giuliani will decide not to run, instead endorsing McCain.
RIGHT about the uncertainty, WRONG about Rudy not running, Gingrich running, and Brownback having a honeymoon.
- Scooter Libby’s trial, as well as various hearings held in Congress, will result in numerous shocking revelations about Bush Administration wrongdoing over the past six years. However, Democrats will choose not to pursue impeachment and Libby will be acquitted.
RIGHT about the revelations, RIGHT about no impeachment, WRONG about the acquittal (should've said commutation.)
- Barry Bonds will be indicted on perjury and obstruction charges, leading to a suspension from baseball that prevents him from breaking Hank Aaron’s career home run record during 2007. New revelations about steroids in sports will continue to roll in, including the exposure of at least one major star who had never previously been mentioned in connection with performance-enhancing drugs.
RIGHT about the indictment, the revelations, and the major stars, WRONG about Bonds not breaking the record.
- While reconstruction in New Orleans remains sluggish, the city will get a temporary morale boost when the Saints defeat the San Diego Chargers to win Super Bowl XLI. In addition, New Orleans is awarded a future Super Bowl.
WRONG about both Super Bowls, but right about the sluggishness.
- In America’s other tragic crater, 2007 will finally see the start of some development at Ground Zero.
RIGHT, but just barely.
- A significant breakthrough will be made in the fight against AIDS.
WRONG (as far as I know.)
- Saddam Hussein’s death, while welcome, will do nothing whatsoever to pacify the situation in Iraq, which will remain a disaster, despite “changes in course” and late 2007 will see the start of a phased U.S. withdrawal.
WRONG, and WRONG.
- In spite of the previous item, or perhaps because of it, President Bush’s approval rating will never again exceed 40 percent.
- The U.S. will once again enjoy an entire year with no domestic terror attacks, although several cities around the world will not be so lucky. Osama Bin Laden will not be captured, but rumors of his death will spread multiple times.
RIGHT, and RIGHT.
- Fidel Castro will die, but the transition to liberal democracy in Cuba will be less than instantaneous.
- The newspaper industry in the United States will continue to suffer, with even more venerable papers going on the block. The New York Times Co. will sell the Boston Globe to a group led by Jack Welch, while the Tribune Co. will be dissolved, with David Geffen and Ron Burkle teaming up to buy The Los Angeles Times, a private equity firm purchasing the Chicago Tribune, and a group led by Jerry Colangelo purchasing the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field for over $1 billion.
RIGHT about the suffering and Tribune Co. sale, but WRONG about who bought it.
- The Cubs, however, will still fail to win the World Series.
- Ehud Olmert’s Kadima government in Israel will fall by the end of the year, but neither Labor nor Likud will be able to form a stable government either.
- Gordon Brown will replace Tony Blair as British prime minister after Blair’s resignation, but conventional wisdom will soon emerge that Brown will lose the next election to David Cameron and the Tories.
- “Dreamgirls” wins the Academy Award for Best Picture, with Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson both taking acting prizes and “Listen” winning for Best Original Song. Martin Scorsese, however, finally takes the Best Director statue for “The Departed.”
WRONG, except for Hudson's win and Scorsese's Best Director.
- David Letterman will announce definitive plans to retire in 2010, with Jon Stewart named as his successor.
- And news organizations, finally, will stop running pictures and footage of Paris Hilton.
WRONG, though she did lose her inheritance.
From Yahoo Sports' list of the Top 40 Sports Figures of 2007, here's the Charlie Weis entry (attributed to "The Wizard of Odds"):
"He lost the Sugar Bowl, he lost the trial, he lost to Navy, then he lost his team. The only thing he didn't lose was weight."
Choire Sicha, who I guess is still the editor of Gawker:
"There's such a glaring omission on nearly all the "best of 2007" movies lists. Why will no one understand that Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" was one of the bestest, smartest, coolest, entertainingest movies of the year? Because it so was. (If it weren't for that darned "No Country For Old Men," it might have been the best.)"It made my top ten, if it makes Choire feel any better.
Speaking of which, the IndieWire poll- which used to be the Village Voice poll- came out over the holiday, and "There Will Be Blood" is the winner, followed by "Zodiac" and "No Country For Old Men." I was pleasantly surprised to see "Southland Tales" at #18; "Grindhouse" was #30.
I wasn't sure about this one from what I've heard so far, but the trailer looks promising:
The more use the movie makes of Will Arnett, the happier I'll probably be with it.
Matt Zoller Seitz, reviewing "National Treasure 2" in the New York Times:
To acquire the cleverly named Book of Secrets, Ben plots to kidnap the current president (Bruce Greenwood) and blah, blah, blah purple monkey dishwasher.I'm telling you, MZS should have the first chair at the NYT, not the fourth.
Like its predecessor, “National Treasure,” this sequel amounts to a bunch of crossword puzzle answers stitched together with explosions, chases and displays of intuitive reasoning that the “Twin Peaks” F.B.I. agent Dale Cooper would reject as too right-brained.
You'd best be careful:
I look at the excellent "Charlie Wilson's War," in this week's North Star column.
The Eagles won yesterday, beating New Orleans in convincing fashion on yet another excellent performance by Donovan McNabb. But with the team already elminated from playoff contention, most Eagles fans are talking about something else- the article, out this week, in Philadelphia magazine in which Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy, speak out about their sons' drug and legal troubles.
I haven't read the piece yet (it's not yet publicly available in its entirety), but the big bombshell in it is that the Reids have been dealing with their sons' troubles for several years- "through Super Bowls and championships"- and not only this year, when they first became public. Therefore, the idea that the team's struggles this year are due to his being distracted must be false.
To that, I suppose, the negative Philly fan would react that first of all, "Super Bowls and championships" is inaccurate, since Reid as coach has reached only one Super Bowl, and won no championships, unless we're talking about divisional and conference championships. And besides- maybe Reid's distractions related to his sons played a part in those playoff losses!
But the worst argument I've heard yet came from a female reporter at Reid's press conference (I don't know who it was, as I only heard the radio highlight.) She asked why Reid had chosen the upscale Philadelphia magazine for his first interview on the subject, as opposed to, say, one of the local newspapers. Because after all, the reporter said, "my blue-collar father" doesn't read that magazine, and would therefore be excluded.
Now, there's often a lot of faux-populism, and class-resentment, directed at Philadelphia sports teams, by both fans and media alike. Usually it's along the lines of, "Jeffrey Lurie owns four houses- why can't he sign a better wide receiver?," even though the person making the argument is usually a columnist or radio host making well over six figures.
Both Lurie and the Phillies owners are often accused of being "out of touch with the blue collar fan base," as though that wouldn't be true of anyone with enough money to own an NFL or MLB team. I suppose they would prefer a poor person own the local football team- he might not be able to make payroll, but hey, at least he's authentic.
If our reporter's blue-collar father doesn't read Philadelphia magazine, it's not like there's a class-based barrier to entry. It has a newsstand price of 3 or 4 bucks, and I'd imagine the Reid story will be posted to the web in its entirely, for free, within a week or two. Or maybe his daughter can just lend him her copy.
You can criticize Andy Reid, fairly, for many things. But which magazine he chose for his soul-bearing interview should be towards the bottom of the list.
Christopher Hitchens, on Mitt Romney's ridiculous "freedom requires religion" speech:
Yes, well the rape-and-lynch-women-for-trying-to-be-funny-about-Mohammed community is entirely religious. The suicide-bombing community is not absolutely 100 percent religious, but it is pretty nearly 100 percent religious. The child-abuse and child-sexual-mutilation-of-genitals community is pretty exclusively religious. The "You must tell children they're going to Hell for minor infractions, to terrify them when they're little" community, which I believe to be child abuse, is exclusively religious. The "Bribe people with Heaven" community—that's not moral either—is exclusively religious. One could go on and on. Scientology is a religion. Now, secularism, I'm sorry, just isn't like that.I don't agree with Hitch on either the all-religion-is-bad argument, or the Hannukah-is-evil argument. But I'm with him in denying the idea that all faith must be good.
News Item: Phillies sign outfielder So Taguchi
Everyone wanted to keep Iguchi, so I suppose Taguchi is a decent consolation prize, especially since he'll be a fifth or sixth outfielder.
The award goes to Jewhan Edwards, who I learn from a recent Sid Hartman column is a standout defense line prospect, from Philadelphia, who has committed to the University of Minnesota. He may have the word "Jew" right there in his name, but no, he's not a Jew.
I'm sorry, but that's just insane. I've followed Silva for his whole Twins career and, solid as he may be, giving him more than $10 million a year is just nuts. The only thing crazier would be if a team gave that much to Kyle Lohse- and you just know someone will.
As the Phils, I like the Geoff Jenkins signing, as he should form a fairly decent right-field platoon with Jayson Werth. I'm not worried that they won't score enough runs- they led the league last year, and if you have three superstars in your infield, getting by with an outfield of Burrell, Victorino, and Werth/Jenkins shouldn't be so bad. Even without the scrappiness/gutsiness/playsthegametherightwayness of Aaron Rowand.
Flash Warner. with Festivus thoughts on Beyonce's "Upgrade" ad:
Every time I see Beyonce Knowles gyrating, foot shuffling, and fierce walking through your spots (which is every 3 minutes), I beg the nearest person to choke me out.It really is starting to be a problem, for those of us who watch football for 12 hours every Sunday, that we have to see the SAME DAMN COMMERCIALS, again and again.
This Upgrade commercial is the most baffling and preposterous ad of all time. I don't know if it's Beyonce's bizarre Axl Rose-like foot shuffle and scallywag, her horrendous speaking ability or the way she rolls over to reveal a gold "UPGRADE" chain in her mouth that was no doubt purchased from a bubble gum machine outside Wal-Mart. The whole spot is truly astonishing in its hideousness. I'm almost inclined to believe it was funded by the cable industry to put you out of business. If so, is Beyonce in on the joke? Likely not; she's too busy 1-click ordering boomerangs off amazon.com.
"Lemme lemme lemme upgradejya-gradejya." Upgrade, indeed. The only thing you're upgrading me to is suicide watch, DirecTV. 2 enthusiastic thumbs down.
The "commentary" is the best part of all.
Jason Reitman's comedy is Roger Ebert's pick for best movie of the year, which is a good choice- much better than "Monster's Ball," "Million Dollar Baby," "Crash," and "Minority Report," all of which took Roger's top spot in recent years.
I review the excellent "Charlie Wilson's War" in the Trend this week.
Here, a Beatles cover band sings "Stairway to Heaven," in the style of early Beatles:
News Item 1: Tom Tancredo drops out of presidential race
News Item 2: Cynthia McKinney enters presidential race
I think Cynthia was motivated by Alycia Lane to re-enter public life.
Good to know I'm not the only one who really loved Richard Kelly's totally bonkers film.
News Item: Papelbon says his dog ate World Series ball
It's a double standard, I tell you- Michael Vick goes to jail for torturing dogs, but no one seems to mind that Papelbon feeds baseballs to his?
Lots of screenings lately; here's a brief roundup. My Top Ten (and Bottom Ten) lists should be up on New Years' Day or so, along with the shameful events list.
- Sweeney Todd. It's hard to imagine a more perfect pairing of director and source material as this show with Tim Burton. Sondheim's score shines, Burton's staging works, especially in a staggering opening credit sequence, and Johnny Depp is right at home with both the acting and the singing in the title role (Helena Bonham Carter, not so much.) Also loved Sacha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman in smaller roles. Hard to believe there hasn't been a proper Hollywood adaptation of a Sondheim show since, well, ever. Grade: A.
- Charlie Wilson's War. Rare has a movie ever been up my alley more than this one: the true story of a hawkish liberal who defeated the communists in Afghanistan, warned about the aftermath, and (alas) wasn't listened to. It's pretty much the only "political" film of the year that actually has something to say that we're not already used to hearing, and it's also well-acted and well-filmed at every turn. And in several office scenes, Aaron Sorkin's script makes it feel like Tom Hanks is guest-starring on "The West Wing." One of the best of the year. Grade: A.
- Walk Hard. Honestly, I'm quite disappointed. Haven't we been told all year that Judd Apatow can do no wrong? There are some funny moments- especially at the beginning and the end- and the songs are uniformly excellent. But "Walk Hard" ultimately amounts to a slightly higher-brow version of "Scary Movie" and its sadly numerous series of sequels and spin-offs, with almost every joke either very obvious or very very obvious. In scene after scene, we're supposed to laugh just because it kinda sorta resembles a scene from "Walk the Line" or "Ray." John C. Reilly's performance owes considerably more influence to Will Ferrell than to any of the stars of the above movies, and the sequence with the Beatles is cringe-inducing, especially since Jack Black's impression of McCartney is sub-Jimmy Fallon level. But Reilly, in one scene in the '70s, looks so uncannily like Hacksaw Jim Duggan that it had to have been intentional.
A speech by Eddie Vedder towards the end is probably the funniest thing in the movie. But I call that the "Dodgeball/Lance Armstrong Rule"- if the best moment in a movie is a celebrity cameo, the movie can't really be all that good. Grade: C.
- Juno. I've already talked about this movie, but it's great, and everyone should see it ASAP. To compare it to "Little Miss Sunshine" is an insult to "Juno." Having seen it twice, I can safely call "Juno" the third-best movie ever set in Minnesota, after "Fargo" and "Purple Rain," and it's got the best final shot of any film since "Rushmore." Grade: A.
- The Great Debaters. Saw this one last night; it's essentially a sports movie in which the sport is collegiate debate. The true, very inspiring story about a debate team at an all-black college in Texas that debated Harvard in 1935, the movie works in just about every way, except that we know exactly what's coming at pretty much all times. If you've seen "Remember the Titans" or "Glory Road," they may as well just edited the script to make it about debate instead of football or basketball.
The performances by the kids are all great, especially 17-year-old Denzel Whitaker (who is related to neither Denzel Washington or Forest Whitaker, even though both are in the movie), and actress Jurnee Smollett. The performance by Denzel Washington, who also directed, is sort of bizarre- just a lot of yelling and speechifying, the total opposite of his "American Gangster" turn. Still, I recommend the movie, and not just because Oprah said to. Grade: B
That the Donovan McNabb/Pam Oliver controversy is still going strong three days later is a testament to just how obsessed Philadelphia is, and will likely to continue to be, with What Donovan Says.
Most have interpreted it as one of them has to be lying and the other has to be telling the truth, to the point where I really think those people selling the "TO Swallows" t-shirts in the parking lot should instead hawk "I believe Donovan" and "I believe Pam Oliver" buttons. But what probably happened was a simple misunderstanding- McNabb said something that he thought was off the record, Oliver had another understanding of that, and thus we have the last three days.
The best moment of all of this, though? This morning on the Sports Radio 950 morning show, the hosts were discussing the situation, and specifically an interview Oliver had given to Jody MacDonald, also of 950, yesterday afternoon. While discussing it, Glenn Foley talked about how Oliver was actually Donovan's friend, had been to his home, and had even eaten McNabb's mother's collared greens.
Upon hearing that last part, Michael Bradley had a moment of instant, Imus-inspired horror, thinking Foley was making a racial joke and that they'd all be fired. He said "whoa whoa whoa"... until Foley filled him in that Oliver, in the interview with MacDonald, had in fact told the collared greens story herself.
News Item: Time Names Vladimir Putin Person of the Year
There's a campaign going on in Philadelphia that actually involves mass vitriol aimed at someone other than John Street, Donovan McNabb or Alycia Lane. It's called "Shut the Duck Up," and it's a campaign against the loud quacking sound made by the Duck Boats tours that roam Philly.
I'm sort of agnostic on the whole matter- I remember fondly the Boston version of the boats taking the Red Sox along the Charles River after they won the World Series in 2004, something that the Philly boats may, someday, do on the Schuykill. And on our wedding day, during the pictures, the duck tour drove by and waved at us. But still, I've never taken the tour, and I'd prefer it continue, but with the noise at a minimum.
I definitely have to go with the moment on Sports Radio 950's morning show today, when a collar told the hosts that he knows Philly wants McNabb to leave, because he saw a poll that said 60 percent of local fans wanted Donovan gone.
Where was the poll conducted, the hosts asked?
TradeMcNabb.com*, the caller answered.
One of the hosts, I believe Michael Bradley, had to explain that web-based polls tend not to be so scientific. And, that people who are naturally predisposed to favor a McNabb trade would tend to be mathematically over-represented in the sample size at a site called TradeMcNabb.com.
Another reason to love the 950 morning show- it's got the greatest Web site URL in town- BigScoopDeez.com. Co-host Glenn Foley (the ex-Jets quarterback) wanted it to be BigScoop.Deez, but was informed that ".deez" is not a valid country suffix.
*An alternate URL to TradeMcNabb.com would be ImReadyForMyTeamToSuckForTheNext5Years.com. And attention, Houston Astros fans: The FireEdWade.com domain name is available!
The Vikings, while not looking quite as strong as in recent weeks, nevertheless took care of business on Monday Night Football last night, defeating the Bears at the Dome, behind two touchdowns from Adrian Peterson, two win their fifth straight. Purple Jesus' showing also clinched me third place in my fantasy league's final standings.
In winning, the Vikings moved closer to a playoff spot and singlehandedly eliminated four teams: the Bears themselves, the Lions, the Cardinals... and the Eagles. Sorry, Philly. The Vikes play nationally again, next Sunday night, against Todd Collins and the barely-alive Washington Redskins.
The Alycia Lane scandal officially got weird today, as it it wasn't already. The slap-happy Philly TV anchor has been given early vacation from her station, and was already edited out of an already-taped holiday special.
Even more strangely, word has gotten out that immediately after getting out of jail, Lane decided to call up Gov. Ed Rendell, in order to "give her side of the story" about what had happened. On Sunday night, when Lane called, Rendell was presumably immersed in important state business- namely, making his weekly appearance on "Eagles Post-Game Live."
Alycia also reportedly rang up State Sen. Vince Fumo but he is, alas, facing much bigger legal issues than she likely ever will.
The story officially entered the twilight zone last night when Bill O'Reilly did a segment about it, asked whether there is a "feminist angle," and then took Lane's side, arguing that her assaulting of a New York City police officer wasn't that big a deal. Bet Billo wouldn't feel that way if Alycia were an illegal alien...
This is instantly classic:
He'll never ever be invited onto Fox News again, clearly. You can't tug on Hannity's hairpiece- or call him a fascist- and expect to ever return.
This is great news, although it likely only happened because after taking a bath on "Golden Compass," New Line had to make this movie in order to remain solvent.
The Philadelphia Eagles pulled off a shocking victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, beating their hated rivals 10-6, in Dallas, while totally shutting down both Tony Romo and Terrell Owens and becoming just the second team to beat the Cowboys this (after the Patriots.)
So there's been a convincing victory, on the road, over the team's most hated rival. So you'd think people in Philly would be pretty happy this morning, right? Yea, right. Once again, they're up in arms about Something Donovan Said. During the game, Fox Sports' Pam Oliver- becoming the first sideline reporter of the season to actually break a news story- said that she had gotten the impression from talking to McNabb that his days in Philly are numbered, and adding that "My knee is not an issue. The next place I go, I will win, and also that he will keep a smile on his face for as long he’s in an Eagles uniform.”
Angelo Cataldi this morning was, literally, screaming (as usual) that he couldn't enjoy a victory over the Cowboys because, I quote directly, "this is so annoying." But really, he should be happy- Cataldi will finally get his wish, of Donovan being gone. Maybe they can bring in Ricky Williams to replace him.
My other favorite media reaction: In a discussion on Comcast Sports Net's Postgame Live, Ray Didinger went through the usual litany of talking points about how McNabb shouldn't bitch so much because quarterbacks everywhere get booed, even Ron Jaworski got booed in Philly. And besides, John Elway got booed in Denver. At which point panelist and ex-Eagle Vaughn Hebron interjected that in three seasons playing with Elway with the Broncos, he never heard Elway booed, ever. Funny, I didn't remember that ever happening either.
Look- if you look at his numbers, McNabb's not having such a bad year. He beat the second-best team in the league Sunday and looked much better than Tony Romo while doing it. And with him, right now, injury and all, the Eagles have a better quarterback situation than more than half the teams in the league. I have no doubt whatsoever that if McNabb goes to another team next year he'll absolutely dominate, with a year more of rehab time, and the added advantage of no longer playing in a city where 50 percent of the fan base hates his guts for no discernible reason.
I look at the 2008 election- as 2008 approaches- in this week's North Star column.
Philadelphia news anchor and local tabloid mainstay Alycia Lane was arrested Saturday night in Manhattan, on charges that she both slugged a female police officer and called her a "fucking dyke."
With her high-profile romances, most recently with radio DJ Chris Booker, and occasional scandals- most recently involving bikini photos she sent to NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen- Lane may be Philly's most notorious celebrity who isn't an athlete or politician. Her latest antics are likely to get her in trouble with both the police officers' union and gay/lesbian activists, two groups not known for being on the same side of many things, and are especially bad timing concerning the recent spate of police shootings in Philly.
As I've mentioned before, Alycia's station, CBS3 (KYW) shares an office building with yours truly, though I've never seen her or co-anchor Larry Mendte around the building. With a likely suspension or firing to come, I can't imagine that'll change anytime soon.
And yes, "I am a reporter, you fucking dyke!" is the Philadelphia catchphrase of the year. Either that, or "your house is a drug emporium."
Have any questions about the Mitchell Report? Shysterball is the place to go for an in-depth, very entertaining analysis from a lawyer's point of view. My favorite part:
John Rocker, p. 253:Maybe his spokeswoman was Kimberly Etheridge.
Rocker initially denied the [Applied Pharmacy] allegations, but his spokesperson later reportedly said that Rocker had been prescribed human growth hormone in connection with shoulder surgery.
John Rocker has a spokesman? Where was she back in December 1999 when Jeff Pearlman was asking him about the freaks on the 7 train?
I thoroughly enjoyed this exchange between Jim Cramer and Ron Paul:
Is it really true that college kids these days are "excited about the Fed"? I want to know what college that was, so I know not to send my kids there.
It was ten years ago tomorrow, somewhat unbelievably. And next May, it'll be ten since Phil Hartman.
News Item: U2 's new album to be "trance-influenced"
Normally I'm cool with whatever Bono does, but if this represents a return to the "Zooropa"/"Pop" sound, no amount of saving the world will make up for it.
From an e-mailer to Bill Simmons in today's Clemens-tastic mailbag:
Why can't Hank Steinbrenner's nickname be "Kim Hank-il?" The parallel is perfect. Bad hair, chain smoker, evil empire inherited from equally twisted father who is to be remembered only positively under pain of death. Father, while crazy and a brute, knew how to run a dictatorship. Son determined to show how smart he is and simultaneously drive empire into the ground. Lives in a world where everyone bows to his whim, no matter how stupid. Subjects suffer under reign but spout rhetoric of greatness. TV is state owned and operated. And, YES, I am a Yankee fan.Thankfully, the Yankees don't have nukes. Not yet, anyway.
Detroit Free Press (via Regret the Error):
In a news story Friday (”Spectrum holds Condom Olympics to educate on safe sex,” page 3), it was incorrectly stated due to a reporting error that health and wellness educator Beth Grampetro and Tim Hegan, an ORL area director, said Fruit Roll-Ups are adequate protection against STDs. No health officials said or advocated this use at the Condom Olympics. The Daily Free Press apologizes for the confusion.Good to know.
I've now skimmed the Mitchell Report and read most of the press accounts. I can put the players named in the following categories:
Like, Duh: Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Lenny Dykstra, everyone already named due to suspensions and the BALCO and Signature investigations.
Always Assumed, Now Confirmed: Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Eric Gagne
Good Job, GMs Who Acquired/Re-signed Them in the Last Few Weeks: Miguel Tejada, Paul Lo Duca, Andy Pettitte, Matt Herges, Eric Gagne
The Steroids Must Not Have Worked: David Bell, Ozzie Canseco, Rondell White (Twins era), Larry Bigbie, Eric Gagne (post-Red Sox trade), Fernando Vina (bet he started right after Albert Belle ran him over that time.)
Now It All Makes Sense: Chuck Knoblaunch (!), Todd Hundley, Kevin Brown, Denny Neagle, Brian Roberts, John Rocker, Eric Gagne,
What A Great Story, Now We Know Why: Rick Ankiel, Jack Cust
Who Knew?: Mo Vaughn, David Justice, Todd Pratt, Matt Williams, F.P. Santangelo
Surprisingly Missing Names: Pudge Rodriguez, Brady Anderson, Nomar Garciaparra, Dante Bichette, Albert Belle, Rob Dibble
People I'm Really Glad Weren't Named: A-Rod, Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Kirby Puckett
Deadspin has more highlights. And how stupid does someone have to be to pay for their steroids by check? Writing a letter to the supplier on Dodger Stadium stationery is kind of a no-no as well. KSK, meanwhile, has The Other Mitchell Report.
Quite a day. Call it the Starr Report, minus the pornography.
Watch Bill Simmons try to hit a half-court shot at halftime of a Clippers game.
1. Funny that Bill only looks an inch or so shorter than Elgin Baylor.
2. How'd he get through the whole four minutes without mentioning that Steve Sanders did the same thing on a 90210 episode? (It's on YouTube, of course) And...
3. Did he suddenly go grey like in the last few months? I guess that's what having two kids in rapid succession does to you.
UPDATE: Keeping with the 90210 theme, ESPN's Roger Cossack mistakenly referred to Jason Grimsley as "Jason Priestley" when talking about the Mitchell Report.
Aaron Rowand's a good player. He helped the Phillies a lot the last two years. But the fact is, he was about the Phils' fifth-most important offensive player last year (and instantly becomes the Giants' best hitter, which says a lot about them.) I know none of that is supposed to matter, because Rowand is "gutsy," and "scrappy" and "has a motor" and is "a lunchpail guy," and every other one of those cliches that fans use when they really like someone but can't articulate why.
The non-contending Giants were crazy to guarantee him five years and $60 million, and will probably be trying to trade Rowand (along with Zito) within two years. But the Phils would've been even crazier to top that offer. It's not because they're "cheap," it's because they're smart.
Judging by this MLBTR thread, Phillies fans and White Sox fans are upset that their teams didn't sign Rowand, while Giants fans are upset that their team did sign him.
As always with Tim Burton's films, they're great. And the rest of the movie is just as good, if you like them. It's not like Burton's Willy Wonka remake, where the credits were awesome and it was all downhill from there.
And it was a Muslim who jumped to the aid of the Jew. Maybe we can all get along, after all.
News Item: Twins sign SS Adam Everett to one-year deal
He's a defensive whiz, yes, but can't hit a lick. Even after getting rid of Jason Tyner, they have way too many of those. They don't need a shortstop back in a Santana deal now- just a third baseman, second baseman, one more outfielder and a pitcher or two. Shouldn't be too hard.
Reuben Frank, a Philly/South Jersey radio and newspaper guy, has a piece on SI.com about how Brad Childress has followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Andy Reid.
It's sort of ironic- until about a month ago my take was that Childress was trying to do everything Reid did in Philly, only in Minnesota, except it wasn't working, because he wasn't as good at it as Reid, and the fans and media in Minnesota were so radically different from those in Philly that they were more likely to treat their coach as an interloping ass than respect him.
Now, Frank parallels Reid's first two years in Philly with the Childress' in Minnesota:
It started with an unknown rookie head coach replacing somebody who'd taken the team to the playoffs just a couple of years earlier. There were popular players released. There was a veteran quarterback struggling on the field but quietly teaching the rookie the offense. There was a very good defense, an offensive line anchored by the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history and some promising young players finding their way.Where the analogy breaks down: the Eagles had five or six good years; the Vikings have had about one good month. And while T-Jack has looked better in recent weeks, let's not start [expletive] each other's [expletives] quite yet. He's nowhere near what Donovan was even as a second-year player.
There were a bunch of losses and a furious fan base who didn't yet understand the long-range plan. And there was a savage local media that wanted to run the new coach out of town.
Then there was a second season that began with little fanfare. There was an owner who didn't question the coach, even as the losses piled up.
Then there was a win. And another. And another. And then there was a playoff run.
Out of nowhere, there was a very good football team.
Still- four straight championship games would be nice. Might even get them that stadium.
New York Post (who else?) on Ike Turner's death: "IKE 'BEATS' TINA TO DEATH"
I never thought the buildings were that bad. And the new ones put in since I left- the new student center known as the "Green Monster"- are much better.
Hard to disagree with #1- Drexel, which I drive through all the time. Maybe this is why the "Bonnie and Clyde" case is getting so much attention...
A note to "controversial" female celebrities going on shock-jock morning shows and giving "clues" about famous people you've slept with- they're going to figure you out eventually.
According to the blog The Big Lead, comic Lisa Lampanelli appeared on Howard Stern the other day and described an athlete she recently bedded as a Chicago Bears player who "has tattoos, isn’t a starter but isn’t on the practice squad, is black, and had an injured ankle at one point this year." Through the ingenuity of the sports blogosphere, it was figured out within hours that the Bear in question was one of two or three players (Trumaine McBride, Kevin Payne or Josh Gattis.)
The porn star/former gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey wasn't so lucky. Appearing on Philly's Kidd Chris Show earlier this week, she mentioned having slept with an NBA player who is from Philly, but has since died. And, also from Big Lead, I learn that Mary went on Stern last year and talked about having slept with "a tall Minnesota Timberwolves player who flew her into town more than once." Come on Mary- if you're going to do "blind items," either make it more of a mystery, or just come right out and say "I had sex with Eddie Griffin."
Kidd Chris, meanwhile is making the adjustment to mornings quite well- see some of their recent YouTubes for visual evidence- but they've really got to lose the hourly sports updates from perennial local radio idiot "Vinnie the Crumb." Vinnie's schtick- coming up with silly nicknames for all the teams and players- was really cutting-edge back when Chris Berman started doing it in 1982, and his attempts at raunchiness tend to be more gag-worthy than funny. Raunchy humor about sports can work- I can think of a couple of blogs that do it quite well- just not when Vinnie does it. I guess there's a reason he's been fired from every station in town.
This is pretty damning, and would be bad enough even if there weren't numerous other good reasons to despise Dane Cook.
My review of "The Kite Runner" is online at the Trend site. Based on what I've seen so far, December's going to be a hell of a movie month- I already told you about the great "Juno," and I can say here that "Charlie Wilson's War" and "Sweeney Todd" both meet and exceed expectations, to the point where they'll both likely be in my top five for the year.
The Mitchell Report comes out tomorrow and, a la the Starr Report back in '98, will be released on MLB.com at 2 PM. I've already cleared my schedule...
Interesting that Miguel Tejada was traded from the Orioles to the Astros today, since he's a fairly even bet to be named. Good job, Ed Wade!
Just three points to make about this Jennifer Love Hewitt business:
1. Yes, she's still hot, and if she's getting called fat on the basis of closeup bikini pictures of the back of her thighs, then our culture is even more severely fucked up than I realized.
2. When my editor at North Star e-mailed me about the "Hewitt butt shots," I assumed, erroneously, that he was referring to Hugh Hewitt. And...
3. I was wondering what this guy's take on the whole thing was, but then I realized Pauly Shore has apparently taken over the blog.
The trailer for the Wachowski Bros' "Speed Racer" is online and, wow:
Six Words: Stephen Colbert/"The Wire" fan fiction. Oh my lord.
Rich Hofmann, recycling comments that I'm totally sick of:
"BASED UPON a careful analysis of current e-mail traffic, as well as an assiduous tabulation of radio talk-show callers' comments, approximately 90 percent of the complaints concerning a certain Philadelphia football team fit into one of three areas: that the people who run things are stupid, or they are cheap, or that they care less about winning than the fans do."I've all but shunned WIP in the past six weeks, because I'm so damn sick of 20 people an hour demanding that the Eagles run the ball more and get better receivers. What possesses someone to call in and make the same point that thousands of other people have already made?
This guy from the AV Club doesn't like those commercials with the singing FreeCreditReport.com guy. It might be a totally fraudulent product, but I do sort of like the ads. Much better than the "I'm thinking of a number..." guy. Join in the debate in the comments.
But from the thread I learn of this, which may be the most loathsome TV commercial in history:
I mean, does that make anyone- fat or skinny- stand up and say "yea, I'll sign up!"
News Item: Bears to Start Kyle Orton vs. Vikings
Proof positive: Wal*Mart is evil. They've removed the DVD of "Superbad" from its shelves. Because of the raunchy dialogue? The underage drinking? The hundreds of crude drawings of dicks? Oh no. It's the fake ID:
Walmart has pulled copies of the Superbad DVD that contained a promotional "McLovin" Hawaii license after Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann objected to the item. The "license" appears to be made with a lenticular lens, and when viewed at different angles shows either Fogell or his ever-sexy alter-ego, "McLovin."I mean, huh? Obviously, it's a big problem in the country for people to make fake IDs with ridiculous names, and of course no one will ever make one now that the movie's been pulled from one store. What nonsense.
On North Star this week, I write about last week's stunning revelations on the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And on E-Gear, Michael Bay has a conspiracy theory about the Blu-ray/HD DVD format war. "Pearl Harbor" sucked- and it's available on Blu-ray!
Remember a month ago, when we all thought the Vikings were nothing without Adrian Peterson? They've now won four straight games, two of which had Peterson out with an injury, and a third, yesterday's, when the Vikes crushed the 49ers 27-7, even though Purple Jesus rushed for just three yards on 14 carries. (Peterson's performance, alas, led to the elimination of my fantasy team, which lost the semi-final game this week.)
The Vikings, almost unbelievably, are now in playoff position in the NFC, and it appears the NFC playoff picture is just about set with three weeks left. Not included in that picture? The Eagles, who I saw lose to the Giants 16-13 at the Linc.
I could rehash everything bad that happened, but I'll just say this: At halftime, I saw a guy in an Eagles jersey straggling nondescriptly down the concourse while periodically vomiting on himself. As the aisle opened from people wanting to get out of his path, he was given a free path into the mens' room- but not before getting a not-so-trivial amount of vomit onto the Giants jersey of the guy in front of me. I'd say Mr. Yak got more offense in on the Giants than his favorite team did on Sunday.
Granted, they were #1-ranked in Division III. But our athletic victories are few and far between, so we take them where we can get them.
This is the funniest thing I've read in the New Yorker in recent memory.
My McNabb-to-the-Vikings dream is looking pretty dead, for two reasons: Tarvaris Jackson is looking like he may actually be able to play after all, and Joe Banner said last night on Howard Eskin's show that he "can't envision" McNabb (and Andy Reid) not returning to the Eagles in 2008.
It may, of course, be bullshit postering; McNabb, for all we know, could demand a trade, or the team could balk at paying his huge roster bonus after the season, leading to an ultimatum from the QB. But the fact is, if the Eagles let McNabb go it's going to be awhile before the Eagles are good again. Kevin Kolb won't be ready for '08, and A.J. Feeley won't be ready, ever.
See above link for further confirmation of the two Philly dailies' apparent policy of never, ever using Eskin's name, and see also this funny graphic from Pro Football Talk.
Here’s the objective measure: When was the last time that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer and me all focused on the same subject and all agreed on the merits?Let's see- how about every fucking day of the past 15 years?
Mitt Romney's candidacy is just astonishing to me. He probably has the most impressive resume of anyone running in either party, but he is so transparently, obviously full of shit that that alone will likely keep him from the nomination.
I'm also amused by this description of White Sox GM Kenny Williams as "baseball's Hugh Hewitt." Who does that make Ozzie Guillen? Michael Savage?
Is it just me, or is this one of the more mean-spirited NYT pieces of recent years? This is the sort of thing that totally would've gotten Rodriguez to leave New York if it weren't for that whole $300 million contract offer.
More PR trouble for Microsoft. Makes me glad I never believed in Santa.
This post is the funniest thing I've read in weeks. But does this mean King is cheating on Brett Favre?
Scroll down for more "Priceless Pep Talks."
There was always something sort of off about that place...
No, despite about 50,000 different trade scenarios in the past four days, Johan Santana is still a Twin. But apparently the Mets are making a big push, making it possible that my idea for a re-enactment of the Frank Viola trade may happen yet. They're even talking about Aaron Heilman as the Rick Aguilera figure, coming to the Twins to close.
Yes, there may in fact be an "Arrested Development" movie. Here's Bateman on it:
I like Filmdrunk's rationale for why the movie should happen:
Arrested Development is probably the best show of all time, and since everyone on it (Bateman, Michael Cera, Will Arnett) is kind of a big deal now – except David Cross, who must have a thousand-dollar-a-day coke habit to be taking part in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie – a movie would make sense.
I don't normally care to get involved in the MSM vs. Blogger wars because I get enough hyperbole and senseless argument from my day job. Everyone involved in this stuff spends so much time talking past one another and employs so much overheated rhetoric that the debate, such as it is, rarely rises above ridiculously cheap theater. Note to newspaper men: most bloggers aren't reporting news, and when they do, their credibility is being judged just as much as yours is. If the info is bad, the market will make them pay. If it is good, they're doing a good job, right? Note to bloggers: this is not 1789 and ESPN and the sports page of your local daily are not the Bastille. Please get over yourselves.When Smith's forthcoming lawsuit against the Inquirer goes to trial, I really hope Brian Tierney's lawyers read his quote, verbatim. They should mention this, too.
To baseball junkies like me, the baseball winter meetings are the closest thing to crack addiction that I'll ever experience. I've been refreshing MLBtraderumors.com about every two minutes for the last three days, and more often than not, there's been something new posted each time.
And that Tigers/Marlins trade? WTF? It's always a great move, when pushing for a new stadium, to trade your only two recognizable players. This puts Detroit in the front seat of the AL Central for at least a couple of years, although it's going to something of an adjustment for Dontrelle Willis to pitch in front of actual live paying customers at home, something he hasn't done in years. And besides, whatever the Phillies do, they're sure to finish ahead of the Marlins in each of the next few seasons.
Still no word on Santana; I know they have to trade him but there's something sort of unseemly about the Red Sox hoarding all the talent, especially if they're following up a World Series win by trading for the best pitcher in baseball and not even touching their core. Plus, if they complete the trade without giving up Lester, the Sox will have SEVEN starting pitchers (Santana, Beckett, DiceK, Schilling, Wakefield, Bucholz and Lester), all of them above average. Today is the day the Sox become the Yankees, that is, if that day didn't already happen five or six years ago.
The Sixers fired Billy King as president/GM this morning, in a move only surprising for how long it took to happen. Several years of abject failure, including no hopes any success whatsoever for several more years, will tend to do that to a man. I'm just wondering why Kevin McHale and Isiah Thomas still have their jobs.
Speaking of the Sixers and Wolves, I guessed correctly that the meeting between the worst teams in each of the two conferences wouldn't exactly be a big drawing card, and that all sorts of season ticket holders would be looking to dump their tickets when the teams play next week. So we got some awesome seats for practically nothing, thanks to the miracle that is StubHub.
The sports media's all-encompassing love affair with Brett Favre continues, as he was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year for the first time on Tuesday.
There were two major athletic achievements in 2007 that stood out above all others: Barry Bonds' breaking of the career home run record, and the Patriots' 12-0 start. But both, of course, are tainted by cheating. I would've guessed SI would go with either Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, or a combination of both; of course Roger Federer deserves it more than anyone, but SI tends not to give non-Americans the award.
The Hater weighs in. And the implied endorsement of shit-eating appears to be the least of the movie's worries.
News Item: Nominations sought for "Word of the Year."
So I guess it's a kick-ass offense, after all.
The Vikings, it appears, are for real, winning their third game in a row by routing Detroit Sunday and bringing their record to 6-6. Tarvaris Jackson, almost unimaginably, looked good on the field, Aundre Allison returned a kick more than 100 yards for a touchdown, and Sidney Rice looks, again, like a find at wide receiver.
Also, in what can only be called a "good move," the Vikings and state legislative allieswill not pursue a new stadium until 2009. After the bridge collapse, approval was practically impossible anyway.
Here's what's crazy: When the Twins' new park opens in 2010, the Twin Cities will have seven venues for seven teams: The Dome for the Vikings, the new stadium for the Twins, Target Center for the Wolves, Xcel Energy Center for the Wild, TCF Bank Stadium for Gopher football, Williams Arena for Gopher basketball and Mariucci Arena for Gopher hockey. For a mid-level market, that's a lot of damn arenas.
On North Star (re-design alert!) I look at the media coverage of Sean Taylor's death, which, as with most things, is NOT a bigger story than the death itself.
E-Gear also has new forums; so have fun in there.
Every Eagles fan who talked themselves into A.J. Feeley has a lot to answer for after Sunday's game, when lifelong backup reverted to his normally sucky self in a loss to Seattle. Feeley threw four interceptions, including on the first and last plays from scrimmage of the game, as the Eagles fell to 5-7, their playoff hopes hanging by a thread. I was there, along with Becca, Bill and his wife Christie, and aside from the loss and the blizzard-like weather conditions, it was a fine afternoon.
Yes, I know everyone in Philly spent the entire last week raving about the offense "runs better" with Feeley, because he's "more accurate" than McNabb, and because the players "trust him more." But then Feeley blew it by having the sort of game that would likely get Donovan run out of town with the same stats. I said this last year (when he was up against Jeff Garcia), and I'll say it again now: Feeley has had one good month in his career (for the Eagles in 2003), and had done not much of anything since. He can have a good game every now and again, but he's about one-fiftieth of the quarterback Donovan McNabb is. You can call him "scrappy" and "gutsy" and use all those other meaningless words just for players you can't think of a rational reason to like, but that doesn't change the simply fact that Feeley sucks, always has, and likely always will.
Speaking of Donovan, who may or may not be back next week, Phil Sheridan (as usual) had the best take in the Inquirer Sunday:
"The problem here isn't McNabb; it's the rest of the team. The problem isn't that McNabb isn't a good enough leader; it's that he's on a team without enough good followers. The rest of the Eagles know that McNabb will absorb a disproportionate amount of criticism and blame when things go wrong. He is the lightning rod that keeps the rest of them from taking any direct hits from the fans and reporters. That's true to an extent for most quarterbacks, but not to the absurd degree it is here, where McNabb gets ripped for his facial expressions, where and when he stands on the sideline, what his mother writes on a blog and so on, ad nauseam.
In his case, literally ad nauseam."
First and foremost, it's good that... an evil, genocidal regime doesn't have nuclear weapons. It's also good that we caught this before we, you know, invaded them, and not after. But then again, should we believe this estimate when all the others were so off?
My favorite baseball team is about to trade the greatest pitcher in the game, and probably the greatest in franchise history. So why am I happy? I don't know, I guess because I have the realization that the Twins find themselves leveraging for their own advantage the greatest power in the game- namely, the Yankees' and Red Sox' hatred for each other. Although, "the collective ego of the Steinbrenners" would've been an acceptable answer too.
I have no idea what's going to happen now, which team Santana will end up on, or whether whatever he's heard so far about situation is merely true or false leaks. I don't even have an opinion on which rumored package I'd rather have, except to say that getting pitching back would be preferable, and that having a guy named "Melky" in my life for the next several years sounds like fun. It's good to see that Bill Smith isn't afraid to make a big move, and that the team has a chance to be good next year, and great when the new park opens in '10.
I don't agree with a word of this piece, but I admit it is damn entertaining. Hitch will almost certainly be left out of the next edition of Sandler's Hanukkah song.
How about some screenwriter, after the strikes ends, comes up with a "300"-like action adventure about the Macabees? I know I'd see it.