Baseball's back! And the Twins got off to a great start, beating the Angels 3-2 on national television, with Carlos Gomez all over the field all night. All in Torii Hunter's return to the Dome, just hours after Johan Santana had a dominant debut with the Mets.
The Washington Nationals had won two games before the Twins even took the field- first their stadium-opening victory Sunday night over the Braves, and then today the Nats beat the Phillies this afternoon after Philly bullpen blew it.
One down, 161 to go...
- The "Doogie Howser" homage. Absolutely perfect, especially with the music and the early-'90s-vintage computer. The only thing better would be if he'd told the woman he'd become a doctor at age 14.
- The revelation that Robin "giggles when she lies." You know who else does that? Hillary Clinton.
- The inclusion of "One Shining Moment," and,
- The TedMosbyisaJerk.com website, especially for the song.
It's really hard to disagree with anything in this Dick Polman Inquirer column. Can we all just agree that what the candidates themselves say and think is a lot more important than what their surrogates say? James Carville calling Bill Richardson "Judas"- and then writing a whole op-ed to defend it- was a real jump-the-shark moment.
He's certainly much more politically engaged than DMX.
Tiger Woods' awesome new Gatorade commercial:
I'm still trying to master Earth-bound golf, but the moon version looks like lots of fun.
It being opening day, I talk about why I still love baseball, despite Barry, BALCO, Clemens, and all that other crap, in this week's North Star column. Why do I feel that way? To quote Marlo Stanfield, the game is the game.
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Mariners
AL Wild Card: Tigers
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Diamondbacks
NL Wild Card: Cubs
NLDS: Phillies over Cubs, D-Backs over Reds
NLCS: Phillies over D-Backs
ALDS: Red Sox over Tigers, Indians over Mariners
ALCS: Indians over Red Sox
World Series: Indians over Phillies
From the Pew Research Center:
In particular, white Democrats who hold unfavorable views of Obama are much more likely than those who have favorable opinions of him to say that equal rights for minorities have been pushed too far; they also are more likely to disapprove of interracial dating, and are more concerned about the threat that immigrants may pose to American values. In addition, nearly a quarter of white Democrats (23%) who hold a negative view of Obama believe he is a Muslim.Still, nice of Hillary to knock down the Barack-is-a-Muslim canard when she had a chance. Oh, wait...
From YouTube, a Tarantino montage:
Makes me remember just how effin' great "Death Proof" was.
My review of "21" is online at the Trend site. It was quite good, but I still don't understand how most of the characters went from Asian to white in the book-to-movie transition.
This parody by Kissing Suzy Kolber of Mike Florio's ProFootballTalk.com is pretty hilarious.
Like most NFL fans, I read PFT pretty much everyday, but it's necessary to take everything on there with a grain of salt. The biggest problem with that Florio, rather than merely being a blogger, is trying to be a reporter too, yet he doesn't have the reporting chops to know when a source is bullshitting him, which appears to be several times daily.
Also, I've noticed that just about everything Florio writes about the Eagles is 100 percent in line with whatever the WIP conventional wisdom happens to be that week. And then there's his hectoring, superior tone, his stupid nicknames for everyone, the shameless hawking of Sprint...
And here I was wondering why Hillary had retained Jeff Gilooly as a top campaign adviser.
Blogger, journalist and "Wire" writer David Mills, on Obama/Wright:
I love white people. I do. And it hurts my heart to see some of them in such anguish during this election cycle.Then Mills posts a YouTube of white America's greatest hero, Wladimir Klitchko.
From having to endure 15 seconds’ worth of the fiery preachments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to being confronted in the media with a phrase like “typical white person”... let’s face it: it has never been harder to be white in America.
On the positive side, y’all still own everything worth owning. So it balances out.
Too bad it'll take four years, at least, for them to dig themselves out. The question is, who's the new coach? Rick Carlisle? Mark Jackson? Herb Williams? Patrick Ewing?
Days after his interview with Barack Obama that became, thanks to the "typical white person" comment, a national controversy that lasted days, Angelo Cataldi has written about the kerfuffle in his Philly Metro column. Referring to a CNN producer who refused to put sidekick Al Morganti on the air after Morganti said he "didn’t think it was a big deal at all," Cataldi writes this:
I learned I’m probably not much better than these media leeches seeking the daily blood of controversy. In many ways, I do the same thing. I come up with a strong opinion, and then I look for facts that will support the bias — discounting contradictory evidence.Facts? Who cares about facts? That admission should not be a surprise to anyone who's ever heard Cataldi's show.
The biggest surprise there, though, is that Angelo went to the Columbia School of Journalism. Say what?
The local parody newspaper the Philadelphia Turkey had the best take: Chastened Obama Pledges to 'Only Bitch About Joe Banner' in Future WIP Calls
The Village Voice today laid off film critic Nathan Lee, which is a shame, because- as you may have noticed from his frequent 'Film Critic Quote of the Week" mentions- he's one of my favorites. Anyone with the balls to name "Southland Tales" the best movie of 2007 surely deserves a staff job somewhere.
In a special North Star column, I look at the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, now less than a month away.
At last, someone takes Fox News to task for wasting two hours on a molehill non-scandal- and it's their own Sunday news anchor!
And yes, I say it again: they're debating an Angelo Cataldi show segment.
From the AV Club's Inventory list of "17 amusingly misguided eco-friendly entertainments":
Similar to Paul Thomas Anderson's epic capitalist fable There Will Be Blood, only dumber and cuter, the '90s teen sitcom Saved By The Bell explored how wanton greed and blatant disregard for the harmful side effects of oil prospecting can wreck the souls of men, as well as blond boys who talk to the camera. Saved By The Bell's oil episode begins, in the series' usual inexplicable fashion, with irrepressible preppie Zack Morris making friends with a duck named Becky he has accidentally hit with a baseball behind the high school. Just as Daniel Plainview's son H.W. comes to represent all the inner good the father eventually betrays, Becky is a metaphor for Zack's kinder, gentler side, which is soon poisoned by dreams of vast wealth after Slater discovers oil in the football field. In spite of the efforts of the muckraking Jessie Spano, whose Upton Sinclair-esque newsletter No Oil In Bayside is ignored by the 10-person student body, oil companies come in to drill the field. Tragically, there's a spill, and Becky is killed. Zack Morris—and the audience—learn a sad, valuable lesson: If you discover oil in the football field behind your high school, keep it a secret. Otherwise, your beloved duck friend will die.I also love the description of Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" video as "a solemn parade of human misery and ecological disasters, intercut with Jackson wandering soulfully through a post-apocalyptic hellscape in a series of vaguely messianic poses. It's as subtle, nuanced, and even-handed as a "God Hates Fags" protest."
My take on Wright Week is online at the North Star page. I'll have another column on this in a few days, where I look at the WIP angle.
News Item: Twins, Joe Nathan agree to 3-year extension
It's good to see, following the departures of Santana and Hunter, that the Twins aren't completely in fire-sale mode, now that Morneau, Cuddyer, and Nathan- as well as all of the young pitchers and young hitters- are under contract for the foreseeable future, and into the life of the new stadium.
This is pretty humorous, as Hillary is pretty definitively caught in a lie:
Dan Gross says there are "rumors" of a big shakeup at WIP:
Some rumored changes at WIPNot good at all, if this is true. Macnow's probably the station's best host, and should continue to have his own show (even if it is pre-empted or postponed throughout the winter due to Sixers and Flyers games.) Ike Reese is very good on the radio, especially for someone who just started doing it less than a year ago, but I wouldn't say he's ready for four hours a night alone. Why not leave Macnow where he is, and pair Ike, or maybe Hugh Douglas, with Gargano, at least for now?
There are hardcore rumors at 610 WIP that nighttime host Glen Macnow will move to middays to cohost with Anthony Gargano. Steve Martorano, who's currently paired with Gargano, is said to be leaving the station for a job outside of radio.
Former Eagle Ike Reese, a frequent WIP guest and longtime friend of the station, is rumored to be taking over Macnow's 7 to 11 p.m. slot. Station manager Marc Rayfield did not reply to e-mails.
Remember when Pat Buchanan wrote a column arguing that the U.S. was wrong to enter World War II, a column that made no mention at all of "Jews," "Holocaust," "Auschwitz," or "concentration camp"? Well, now he's turned the whole thing into a book, due in May.
How this Jew-hating dolt remains among the ranks of respectable pundits remains a mystery. But what isn't a mystery is that death comes in the night on little cats' feet.
Yes, it's Stuart Scott doing a Stephen A. Smith impression on SportsCenter:
Luckily, this didn't cause ESPN to collapse into a wormhole.
Leon Wieseltier, in a piece in TNR called "Oybama," on Barack and the Jews:
"With the exception of George H.W. Bush, I have heard every president in my lifetime lauded by American Jews as "the best friend Israel ever had," and I have heard every one of them, even Ronald Reagan, denounced as a pawn of the peace process. This Jewish need to believe in the friendship of the highest power in the land is a survival of the political mentality of medieval Jewry, with its preference for "vertical alliances" over any reliance upon the goodwill of the local population--a highly anomalous survival in the American case, in which horizontal alliances, at every level of politics, are a regular feature of Jewish existence. But the reassuring truth is that every president in my lifetime has pursued more or less the same policy toward Israel, according to which Israeli security is to be regarded (in Obama's fine word) as "sacrosanct," and a Palestinian state is to be created out of the occupied territories, and Israeli settlement of the territories is to be discouraged, and a concord of pro-American Arab states is to be encouraged, and so on--in sum, partition, a special relationship, peace, a regional alliance. There have been tonal differences, to be sure, and all these elements may finally not go together--but this is the tradition, and I do not imagine that Obama will deviate from it, or Clinton, or McCain. September 11 drew the United States into a new and deep and justified engagement with the Arab world, and American Jews will have to accustom themselves to this historical complication--but hold the kaddish, because in American presidential politics now there is not an enemy in sight."This is so plainly obvious that I'm surprised it's not pointed out more often.
From a commenter on Matt Yglesias' blog:
"Obama leads Hillary 21 to 10 in a game of football. Hillary is driving with 2 seconds left on the clock. Hillary throws a Hail Mary pass and Obama is called for pass interference. Because the game can not end on a penalty, Hillary gets one last snap with no time left on the clock. Even if Hillary scores the touchdown and converts a two-point conversion, she cannot win the game. The only way for her to win is if Obama runs on the field and kills one of the referees, forfeiting the game."Brilliant. Even if it is horseracism.
News Item: James Dolan considering purchase of Newsday
Because if you think the way he's run the Knicks was a disaster, wait until he gets his hands on a newspaper. What would be the equivalent of naming Isiah Thomas GM/coach? Naming Stephen Glass editor-in-chief?
I HATE this, mostly because I LOVE Commerce's design. The wood, the red-and-blue color scheme... I never thought I'd love the way a bank looks so much. And now it's all gone.
10,000 Takes gives us our periodical look at the "Big Board" of the year's biggest Minnesota sports stories; so far, about two of them are positive.
Jon Stewart gives the best Iraq anniversary tribute I can imagine:
Howard Eskin spent his entire show today going apeshit about Barack Obama's interview with the Angelo Cataldi morning show, and particularly one line, where Obama referred to his white grandmother "a typical white person." This, Eskin believes, was totally out of line, since Obama is black and doesn't have the right to talk that way about white people. The King also apparently believes this was a worse offense than anything Jeremiah Wright said.
When a caller suggested that, uh, Obama is both black and white, and was referring to his own grandmother, Eskin objected to this very notion altogether, yelling that Obama is "black," and therefore can't decide he's also white just when it's convenient. Even a five-minute perusal of "Dreams From My Father" might have cleared things up for Howard, who seems to do an all-politics show once a month or so despite hardly ever mentioning politics at any other time.
Since he bashes Bush and Cheney mercilessly during most of these segments, I had assumed Eskin must be a liberal Democrat, but he's also called Obama a "fraud" (the preferred insult for, oh, just about anyone among 610 personalities.) Then again, maybe he was in a bad mood because of his longtime enemy Allen Iverson's return to town. Or because Cataldi, with whom Eskin has long feuded, got the Obama interview and he didn't. Or maybe because of the news that Mike Missanelli is returning to Philly to compete head-to-head against him.
More Sully on Obama:
"But while I do believe these are legitimate questions, I also believe that what the candidate says and believes and his own public record are far more important than the views of those with whom he associates. When you have a man like Obama who has a long, impassioned, searingly honest record on race and his long attempt to overcome it, it seems to me that that should be our primary focus."That's in response to a reader who had compared the Wright quotes with the newsletters, recently unearthed, that were published under Ron Paul's name and contained all sorts of racist and anti-Semitic stuff. The difference, of course, is that the newsletters were... published under Ron Paul's name. Even if it an aide wrote them, they were still called "The Ron Paul Report."
I'd say Allen Iverson's return to Philadelphia last night worked out pretty perfectly for Philly, wouldn't you? Not only did the Sixers win the game, in an exciting thriller, but the crowd behaved itself and cheered Iverson, and AI himself showed maturity, making peace with the city, his ex-teammates, and even ex-coach Mo Cheeks, with whom he notably feuded.
The strangest thing of all? As of today, the Sixers are at .500, while the Nuggets are 12 games over .500. But due to the out-of-whack strengths of the conferences, the Sixers are in position to make the playoffs as the 7th seed in the East (and just a game behind #5 Washington), while the Nuggets would be a 9th seed, and out of the playoffs, were the season to end today.
In a meeting of the minds between one of my favorite Americans and one of my least-favorite, Barack Obama was interviewed this morning on Angelo Cataldi's morning show on WIP. The interview was generally uneventful, with the hosts mostly lobbing softballs.
The appearance is getting some national profile, as it's seen as an attempt by Obama to get on the good side of working class white males, who form the bulk of the WIP morning audience.
Then again, I figured Barack could only remind both the hosts and listeners of their nemesis, Donovan McNabb, as both men are,
1. from the South Side of Chicago,
2. controversial when they really shouldn't be,
3. too black for some people and not black enough for others, and
4. strongly disliked by Rush Limbaugh.
And speaking of Philly sports radio, Sports Radio 950 will now be re-branded as 950 ESPN, with most local programming (minus Jody MacDonald) being jettisoned. Supposedly Mike Missanelli will be returning to town as well.
Saw "Drillbit Taylor" last night. Please don't make the same mistake I did.
It's like an abject lesson in how to screw up a Hollywood comedy. Nothing about it works- not the premise, not the gags, not the acting, not the characters. It's like someone saw "Superbad" and decided, "hey, it would be better if we took out all the raunch, and all the humor, made all the characters unlikable, and toss in this homeless army deserter who fights bullies, but not really!" Ugh. People were worried that people would have trouble laughing at Owen Wilson after his suicide attempt, but I consider that about the 45th-most problematic thing about the movie.
With this and "Walk Hard," it's now been two duds in a row from the previously unstoppable Apatow factory, though to be fair Judd neither wrote nor directed it.
But even more unfortunate was the trailer for Mike Myers' new film, "The Love Guru," which seems to consist entirely of tired ethnic jokes and rehashes of bits that were already in all three "Austin Powers" movies. Did "Wayne's World" really come from the same mind as this garbage?
The Onion does a really great job with this.
When you own an NBA team that's one of the worst in the league, can't draw for crap, and can pretty much directly trace its misfortune to years and years of bad decisions from management, it's always a swell idea to rip the best player in franchise history. To a man who showed impeccable loyalty to the organization for years longer than any other league superstar would have, and who has since moved on to lead his new team to the best record in the NBA.
Just sell the team already, Glen. Please. How big a disaster can things be in Minnesota when the best owner in town is Zygi Wilf?
My review of the year's most unintentionally hilarious movie so far, "Never Back Down," is online at the Trend site. It's unclear if they actually wrote a new script or simply cut-and-pasted the "Karate Kid" screenplay and changed the sport and all the names.
Get him a body bag, yeah!
In considering these, keep in mind that I did not watch a complete college basketball game this year until about last week.
First-round winners: UNC, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Winthrop, Oklahoma, Louisville, Southern Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Kent State, Clemon, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Memphis, Oregon, Temple, Pitt, Marquette, Stanford, St. Mary's, Texas, UCLA, Texas A&M, Drake, UConn, Baylor, Georgia, Arizona, Duke
Sweet 16: UNC, Notre Dame, Louisville, Tennessee, Kansas, Clemson, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Memphis, Pitt, Marquette, Texas, UCLA, Drake, Baylor, Duke
Elite Eight: UNC, Tennessee, Kansas, Wisconsin, Pitt, Texas, UCLA, Duke
Final Four: Tennessee, Kansas, Texas, UCLA
Championship Game: Kansas-UCLA
LilB pointed me earlier today to a piece in the New York Post about Spitzer's hooker and her legal options, and it quoted a curiously named jurist:
"If she's made that much money in that short amount of time, that would certainly make her ineligible for taxpayer-supported legal fees," defense attorney Steve Zissou said.Yes, that's right: there's a lawyer out there who shares a name with the Bill Murray's protagonist in the 2003 Wes Anderson film "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou." Zissou is also the attorney of record for NFL star Travis Henry, who last year was accused of fathering nine children by nine different women; no word on whether or not there's a disgraced oceanograper out there whose name is Royal Tenenbaum.
Here's a 2005 profile of Zissou the lawyer; here's my favorite part:
"When I found out it was part of the title, I was a little annoyed. It's a unique name, and I really didn't want to share it," says Zissou, 49, but he observes he had few legal options because Anderson's film wasn't directly about him.And yes, his law practice is called Steve Zissou and Associates; not Team Zissou. Though I hear he's the guy to call to file suit if a shark kills your friend.
"They could have made a movie about a New York lawyer who was an anti-Semitic terrorist pedophile, and I still couldn't do anything about it," Zissou says. "If it's about the real Steve Zissou, then maybe you have a shot, but then you have to prove damages."
No, not the presidential candidate. I'm talking about Gary Hart the wrestling manager, who passed on yesterday at the age of 66. Hart managed bad guys in the NWA, World Class and finally WCCW, and backed Terry Funk during his legendary feud with Ric Flair in the late '80s.
I'm of two minds on this. I generally like Mike and Mike, it's produced by my old friend Scott Shapiro, and it'll be good to still have a sports alternative in the morning to the Idiot Brigade on 610. But I really, really enjoyed the Michael Bradley/Glenn Foley show. There was intelligence there, and actual discussion of sports that didn't involve the usual talking points, the tiresome agendas, and the disgusting, non-stop ogling of female interns so common down the dial. And BigScoopDeez.com will be missed.
This is mildly amusing, as "Juno" gets a Jewish makeover and becomes "Jewno":
The biggest surprise of all: The 92nd Street Y has a YouTube channel! What about the 375th Street Y?
Right down the street this morning at the National Constitution Center, Obama gave this speech:
Great speech. I know the stuff about Wright will get all the attention, but parts of this speech were truly groundbreaking. Especially the "racial stalemate" part- it's really hard to disagree with any part of that, and when was the last time an American politician talked about racism against blacks, resentment among working-class whites, and Bill Cosby-type talk all in one speech?
The full transcript is here; this is my favorite part:
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.I'll be doing some kind of column on this next week, and I'm also hoping to be at the presidential debate, also at the Constitution Center, next month.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”
David Simon explains the true point of the newspaper storyline: that the Sun missed every major story of the season. He says most of the critics didn't notice this, but I certainly did, especially the part when Gus decided against including Omar's death in the paper.
And speaking of Simon and Baltimore-based cop shows, I've suddenly become addicted to "Homicide: Life on the Street," DVRing a couple episodes a week of the WGN re-runs. What a great show, even if some of the early '90s musical and camera cues are instantly dated. And I also love that so many of the suspects have names like "Krist Novoselic" and "Layne Staley."
In reviewing the English-language version of Michael Haneke's "Funny Games," New York magazine's David Edelstein revisits the original:
"I watched to the end, removed the DVD from the player, and snapped it over my knee. Then, with a pair of scissors, I cut the halves into quarters, walked the pieces to the kitchen garbage can, and shoved them under the debris of the previous night’s dinner. It only hit me later that my melodramatic response would have delighted the director. It takes a special kind of talent to drive a critic who enjoys zombie cannibal pictures to cry, “Unclean!”If Naomi feels she hasn't been sufficiently, uh, pleasured onscreen, I'm all for a "Mulholland Drive" remake, and I don't care what language it's in.
Naomi Watts produced this remake, apparently concluding that she hadn’t yet been sufficiently violated onscreen. King Kong, after all, turned out to be a softy—now she’s in the hairy paw of a giant ape artiste."
Actually, I did sort of see that one coming.
Though I'm sure the inevitable June headline- "Colon to Have Surgery"- will be even more painful, in more than one sense.
A few observers have already pointed out, rightly, that Stuff White People Like isn't about white people in general, but rather about a very specific demographic sliver of left-leaning, city-dwelling white folk--in other words, people like me... Which might be why, even as an admitted yoga-practicing, public-radio-listening, Wrigley Field-visiting, Wes Anderson-movie-watching, Arrested Development-championing white dude--i.e. someone squarely in the targets of Stuff White People Like--I don't feel even mildly chastened about yoga, NPR, Wes Anderson, or Arrested Development after reading this blog.WhiteWhine is much funnier anyway.
I analyze the Spitzer situation in this week's North Star column.
Here's what SNL had to offer, a bit that I would've liked a lot more if my college comedy troupe hadn't done nearly the same sketch ten years ago:
This idea unfortunately can't really happen, since Spitzer is almost certain to be disbarred.
I'm legitimately shocked that PoliticsNJ.com hasn't collapsed from the extra traffic yet.
With "How I Met Your Mother" returning tonight, now's as good a time as any to jump on the bandwagon. And just because Britney's going to be on. Here's a dictionary:
There's some new research on the eternal "when was the first-ever baseball game played." The bad news for Hoboken is that the standard theory that the first-ever game was played in Hoboken in 1846 appears to not be true. The good news? The real first game apparently happened three years earlier- also in Hoboken.
Just a guess: if everyone in Mexico weighed 800 pounds, there would be much less illegal immigration.
Minnesota's sports teams having been so clutch lately, and the Gopher basketball this year has been no exception, as they lost in the semi-finals of the Big Ten tournament and didn't make the NCAAs. But in the game before that, this last-second moment happened:
The shot has been called "Laettner-esque," by those at ESPN, who apparently forgot that in the Twin Cities, "Laettner-esque" is not a complement.
On the question of Obama's pastor, it's hard to disagree with any of this:
It's nutty, offensive and paranoid stuff. And it is perfectly legitimate for reporters and voters to ask questions. It is not much nuttier than Falwell and Robertson, however. And I don't think it's racist to understand that the black church has a different cultural style in its preaching and activism style that helps add some dimension to Wright's record. If you read Obama's books and listen to him speak about his church, it's clear that he was not drawn by Wright's more inflammatory and offensive language. His engagement with the Church was an attempt to connect with the life and feelings of a black urban class he had never truly belonged to and whom he intended to represent. We can forget what an outsider Obama was when he first came to Chicago.Don't forget, of course, that a great deal of the policies pursued in the past seven years have sprung from the minds of members of the clergy every bit as nutty as Wright.
I've gotta say, during this campaign with his non-stop Hillary-bashing, Sullivan's been more entertaining than ever.
News Item: Phillies send OF T.J. Bohn to minors
Bohn went to St. Louis Park High School with me and was two years behind; his mother was on the school board with my father. He had a cup of coffee with Seattle a few years ago; I had no idea until today, though, that he was known as "Thor."
News Item: Jesse Ventura Mulls '08 Presidential Run
News Item: Kyle Lohse signs with Cardinals
Expected to be one of the top free agent pitchers, the ex-Twin and ex-Phillie got to halfway through spring training unsigned.
Some in Philly are upset that the Phils didn't pony up $5 million or so to get Lohse in their rotation, and I'm sure I'll hear the same thing again next time Adam Eaton or Kris Benson or Chad Durbin gets knocked around in a start. But please. Had they actually signed Lohse, these same people four months from now would be wining about how Pat Gillick could be so stupid as to waste $5 million on Kyle Lohse.
The Boston Globe has more.
I posted awhile back about the Sons of Ben, a fan club for Philadelphia's forthcoming MLS soccer team. They had been profiled in the British newspaper the Guardian by Steven Wells, a writer for Philadelphia Weekly, and now Wells has penned a cover story in that paper itself. This paragraph appears halfway through:
But the prospect of Philly soccer fans clearly has some people terrified. Under the headline “THE WORST PHILLY SPORTS FANS OF ALL,” self-styled “journalist and columnist” Stephen J. Silver blogged that the “preemptive fan club” Sons of Ben “already have quite a reputation already for hooliganism.”Now clearly, I got the "hooligan" part wrong, so for that I apologize to the Sons of Ben and to Wells. But lest you feel I've been outed as a cowering soccer-hater, I wouldn't say I'm "terrified" at all, in fact I'm quite excited for the arrival of soccer in Philly, and certainly plan to attend games.
Nonsense—unless by hooliganism you mean getting under the skin of fans from other cities. The SOB have already proven hilariously adept at doing just that.
Keith Olbermann turns the Special Comment machine on a Democrat for the first time:
If she becomes president and he keeps doing it, I'll really be impressed. But the biggest surprise of all is that Geraldine Ferraro is playing a key role in the 2008 presidential race. What year is this again? I guess Sinbad's appearance is an even bigger upset.
And while we're talking about the campaign and race: It spent several days in my to-read pile, but I felt I had to recommend this Nicholas Kristof column. Great, great stuff.
News Item: CW Network to Revive "Beverly Hills 90210"
But how can the show continue, if Donna Martin already graduated?
Jeffrey Goldberg, from Slate's end-of-season "Wire" roundup:
I think David Chase is Dostoevsky, and David Simon is Dickens (and Larry David is a nitrous oxide Kafka and David Cassidy is Tom Wolfe and David Milch is … who, exactly?The key to creating a great TV series: have the word "David" in your name. But who's David Lynch?
I review the "Into the Wild" DVD at the North Star site; I liked it a lot, but would have even more if not for the overuse of pretentious voice-over and a few too many weird directorial tics. Everything else was good though, especially Hal Holbrook's performance and the Eddie Vedder songs.
Then there's "College Road Trip," which I review at the Trend; the less said about that one, the better. Ditto for the MMA epic "Never Back Down," which I saw last night; it stole absolutely everything from "Karate Kid," even the vast amounts of unintentional hilarity.
This cartoon from Salon is just too weird not to link to, as they mock a recent "McLaughlin Group" exchange, which featured John McLaughlin telling Pat Buchanan that John McCain could die before the election, because "Death comes in, at night, on cat’s paws." Then, Andrew W.K. gets involved:
If more people under the age of 70 still watched McLaughlin, "Death comes in the night on cats' paws" would already be a catchphrase by now. WRONG!
There have been some doozies so far- from Ed Rendell arguing that it's harder to beat "uncommitted" than an opponent to the Richard Cohen/Farrakhan op-ed to Rep. Steve King arguing that terrorists must love Obama because Barack is "an Arabic name."* But I really do believe there's no bigger reach yet in the campaign than Orlando Patterson's "the 3 A.M. ad was racist" op-ed in the NYT yesterday.
I am, of course, an Obama supporter, and I'd be the first to admit that all sorts of coded -and not-so-coded- racial appeals have been used against him in this campaign, by the Clintons and others. I also never got why everyone thought "3 A.M." was such a brilliant ad. But comparing it to "Birth of a Nation"? Really? When the ad has absolutely no racial connotation whatsoever? If this were the "hands" ad or Willie Horton, that would be one thing. But that Patterson saw that in the ad says a lot more about Patterson than it does about the ad.
*Yes, he said this on Philly's WPHT last night. He also cautioned against voting against Obama because- yes, he really said this- when he types Obama's name on his computer, the spell-checker asks if he meant to type "Osama."
The Spitzer story- and the fact that he happens to have a new show debuting tonight- were enough to lure Lewis Black back to "The Daily Show":
I'll have more Spitzer resignation thoughts in the weekend's North Star column.
I was shocked to log on to iTunes yesterday and see that the #1 song is... "Hallelujah," by Jeff Buckley. How'd that happen, 14 years after its release and 11 years after Buckley's death? Two words: "American Idol."
The song was written by Leonard Cohen and covered by everyone from Imogen Heap to Rufus Wainwright to Bon Jovi- it was even in "Shrek"!- but Buckley's version is my favorite, and I'm glad to see it getting such recognition.
From today's Philadelphia Inquirer, in a piece about haunted Vietnam veterans:
Many were Vietnam veterans who, according to former program director Steve Silver, himself a Vietnam veteran, hadn't ever dealt with the trauma they carried home from war. They were now in their 50s and 60s, often with histories of alcoholism, lost marriages and failed careers.As I'm neither a Vietnam war veteran, nor in my 50s or 60s, this is of course not me. And no, I'm not going to falsely claim veterans' benefits in his name.
Yea, this Spitzer thing is kind of a big deal to the New York Post:
That's right- 11 pages of coverage, including a he-must-resign editorial and an Andrea Peyser column arguing -like every other Peyser column of the past 10 years- that the guy who did a bad thing is bad. If Maureen Dowd were conservative and 50 percent dumber, she'd be Andrea Peyser.
Btw, my favorite David Paterson nugget: He's the defendant in a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by a photographer, who is white, who was fired and replaced in his position by a black man. Paterson's defense? He had no idea of either man's race, because he's blind since birth.
Here's the montage from the final episode of "The Wire":
I've had "Body of an American" in my head non-stop since Sunday. Next time I leave a job, I'd better get a mock wake, like McNulty did.
See this video as three brilliant journalists discuss the show; see also creator David Simon's "exit interview" with Alan Sepinwall.
UPDATE: Where was Simon Sunday night, as the finale was airing? That's right- a Pogues concert.
What, the Cards didn't want to trade a 24-year-old near-superstar receiver for Lito Sheppard and a second rounder? Why the hell not? Meanwhile, us Vikings fans won't be getting our former ball boy back either.
He's back! Merkin Valdez, the San Francisco Giants pitching prospect known for having a first name that is a euphenism for "pubic hair wig," is making a comeback and now looks like a good bet to make the Giants' opening roster. Valdez came up with the Giants in 2004 and has been mostly injured in the years since.
I probably would've voted for Ciresi, if I still lived in Minnesota, but Franken-Coleman should be a hell of a race that will get lots of national attention. And yes, today, Al Franken is considerably more likely to become the first Jewish president than is Eliot Spitzer.
I thought this sort of thing died out after the Mets and Padres both gave Garth Brooks spring training at-bats a few years ago, but I guess the Yanks felt like they had to give Billy a 60th-birthday present. But still, I'd like it even more if Billy switched jobs with Bill Kristol and guest-edited the Weekly Standard for a week. That way, maybe they'd actually call Bush a failed president in print. Oh, wait...
Meanwhile, Shysterball is a genius: he figured out that if the Yanks replaced Hideki Matsui in the lineup with Crystal, their average age would only increase by about three years. But their cumulative porn collection would get much smaller.
The greatest television show of the decade ended its run last night with a tour-de-force 93-minute episode that left very few loose ends, ended most of its story arcs in a satisfactory way, and felt true to itself all the way through.
The best parts? (Spoilers, of course). The mock "wake" for McNulty, the Jimmy/Templeton confrontation, and the closing montage. My only complaints? There's no way the Sun editors would allow Templeton to accept a Pulitzer for writing that was clearly cooked, since doing so would mean the end of their careers. Also, a bit too much of the [character]-is-the-new-[character], although Michael-as-Omar was inspired.
So yes, it was much, much better than the "Sopranos" finale, though not as good as "Six Feet Under"'s bow. "The Wire" was a much better series, however.
More on the White House press conference that we'll be seeing in lots of Democratic commercials this fall, in this week's North Star column.
Also, a day-job story from last week: Do iPods cause crime?
News Item: Spitzer linked to prostitution ring
I've got a feeling the New York Post is going to have quite a bit of fun with this story. What do you think?
UPDATE: Were Spitzer to resign, he would be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Paterson who, like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Clayton Bixby, is both African-American and blind.
This is pretty humorous, as Bill O'Reilly compares dozens of people to Nazis:
In about 90 percent of those instances, BillO is referring to... blog commenters.
I was out of town the last three days so I haven't had a chance to comment on Samantha Power's resignation from the Obama campaign. First of all, what's so bad about calling someone a "monster"? It wasn't like she used a racial slur, or the c-word or something. Second, does it help Obama's bonafides on Israel that one of his advisors thought to not be sufficiently pro-Israel is no longer with the campaign and wouldn't be in the administration? Third, despite my disagreement with her on Israel, I'm a Power fan- I saw her speak several years ago and came away very impressed, and it's good to see people like her getting involved in presidential politics. Fourth, if she had only said "off the record" before the quote instead of after, none of this would have happened. And finally, Power has one of the great nicknames in American history: "The Genocide Chick."
In Minnesota over the weekend, I caught the Twins-Yankees spring game on TV, and was treated to the Twins being no-hit for 7 innings, behind contributions from several of the players (Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Tabata) often mentioned in Santana trade talks, before finally losing.
I know it's just the spring- and it was GREAT to see baseball again- but if Sunday was any indication than it's going to be a long season.
This is a good move, if you ask me. Not only would the new show almost certainly not come close to living up to the success of either "Seinfeld" or "Curb," but Jerry betrayed himself during last fall's "Bee Movie" tour as such an unlikable guy that a reality or reality-like show would almost certainly make him look terrible. Seinfeld should stay comfortable in retirement and let the reruns speak for themselves.
No, I have no idea whether or not Suzy Kolber is a lesbian. I cannot confirm nor deny nor add any further insight, and for that I apologize. I do wish, however, to congratulate Suzy on the recent birth of her child.
The coveted McNabb endorsement remains at large.
Clay Davis commentates on the "Wire" finale not being available early on demand:
The background commentary is my favorite part.
UPDATE: In a podcast here, Matt Zoller Seitz, Alan Sepinwall and Andrew Johnston debate whether "Wire," "Sopranos" or "Deadwood" is the greatest TV show of all time, and they note that all three were created by men named "David." And if one "Wire" podcast a day wasn't enough, here's Bill Simmons interviewing longtime ESPN persona-non-grata Jason Whitlock.
News Item: Couple names twin sons "Brett" and "Favre"
Yes, Hillary won Ohio and Texas (and Rhode Island), and the election will continue. That's the bad news.
The good news? The delegate math still favors Obama, Tuesday wasn't that big a deal delegates-wise, and the Clintonites are making themselves look ridiculous by pushing the Michigan-Florida thing.
Also? Pennsylvania primary! Speaking selfishly, not only will my vote count, but I'll get to enjoy a hard-fought seven-week contest right in my back yard, with the whole nation watching, and every ad airing on every show I watch. Candidates will be appearing locally regularly, and I'm sure there'll be at least one debate in Philadelphia.
Bring it on. I can't wait to hear more analysis about Rendell's "Pennyslvania's not ready for a black man" quote.
News Item: Bush endorses McCain in White House ceremony
Mark my words: Today will be for the McCain campaign what the "Mission Accomplished" incident was for Bush's presidency. Get ready for "Bush-McCain," the 2008 sequel to the 1996 hit "Dole-Gingrich." Not that the analogy extends to Clinton winning...
On the way tonight to see the eggregious Martin Lawrence comedy "College Road Trip" (I know... but I have to review something every week) I heard Glen Macnow say that he was having Mayor Michael Nutter on his show that night... to talk about "The Wire." Macnow? Nutter? "Wire"? Together? I came extremely close to sending Becca into the movie and just sitting in the car for two hours listening to it.
I can't possibly be the first person to notice this, but just days after Jeff Healey dies, Patrick Swayze announces he has cancer. At least Sam Elliott's still alive.
I review the especially insipid comedy "Semi-Pro" in the Trend this week.
News Item: Mob beats up Yankee fan in bar near Harvard
How do you like them apples?
After years of hinting one way or the other, Brett Favre finally made it official and announced his retirement today. I know I'm a Vikings fan and I'm supposed to hate all things Packer, and I did love that Favre never seemed to be able to win in the Metrodome. It may be hard to root for a man loved and worshiped by those who wear blocks of cheese on their heads. But over the years I gained a grudging respect for the man and the way he played the game- especially in his excellent final year.
So wow, with Tavaris Jackson, Jon Kitna, Rex Grossman and Aaron Rodgers, the NFC North might be the worst-quarterbacked division in recent NFL history.
UPDATE: Awful Announcing compares ESPN's coverage of Favre's retirement to "like a president had died."
Spoiler warning for all this, of course.
So the show ends for good on Sunday, after a pair of especially plot-filled but still heart-wrenching episodes. The season, while still the best thing on TV, didn't start as well as most, but it's certainly paying off as we near the end. I don't have much to add in terms of evaluation, if that's what you want visit the Big Three recappers: Sepinwall, House Next Door, and Tim Goodman. Comment sections at all three places are well-worth reading as well.
The 90-minute series finale is Sunday. I have NOT seen it yet, but here's where I see it going:
- It seems pretty clear that since everyone will soon know the wiretap on Marlo was illegal, Marlo and his entire crew will go free. And once the McNulty serial killer lie unravels, that will also jeopardize every single case that he handed out overtime on, since his name will be on the paperwork. Faced with jail, Jimmy gets drunk and drives his car into the harbor, probably while listening to the Pogues.
- While McNulty goes down, Lester's name is kept out of the whole thing and he remains clean. He also, with the help of Clay Davis, manages to knock down Levy the Evil Jewish Lawyer.
- However, once Marlo gets out of jail his stature is diminished on the streets because he never stood up to Omar. Also, the Greeks refuse to work with him any longer. (Marlo's jailhouse rant in the ninth episode- "My name is my name!"- was just priceless. Remember, at the end of Season 2, Vondas says "they know my name, but my name is not my name.")
- Michael dies. There's really no way around this one.
- Carcetti's run for governor- already pretty weak considering he's only spent two years as mayor of Baltimore during which not a single good thing has happened to the city- falls apart when the serial killer lie is revealed. After he's told off by either Norman, his wife, or both, Tommy decides to actually be mayor for a change.
- Something with Daniels' file leaks, preventing him from becoming commissioner; Rawls keeps the job. No one ever discovers Rawls' gay bar habit.
- At the Sun, Gus' pleas to stop Scott from further fabricating fall on deaf ears. He leaves the paper, but Scott stays.
- The courthouse leak turns out to be Judge Phelan.
- And finally, two Philly events this week that I have to miss because I'm going out of town. A local comedy troupe will be putting on a sketch show Wednesday called "Way Down in the Hole: A Comedy Tribute to The Wire." I don't know how something as bleak as "The Wire" could be that funny- a guy on PhillyBlog suggested that they should next do "A Comedy Tribute to Darfur." And Sunday night, Mayor Michael Nutter will be hosting a City Hall screening of the finale, along with several actors from the show. Just the fact that Nutter watches the show, and gets it, says a lot about what kind of mayor he'll be.
Now there's a mashup, from Slate:
I just hope it doesn't lead to more plagiarism charges...
Yesterday's failed negotiation between the Eagles and Randy Moss led to a great story on the Web site of Philly journalist and radio personality GCobb.
Cobb writes that he was driving to the Wachovia Center studios of Comcast Sports Net to appear on "Daily News Live" while listening to Howard Eskin, the WIP radio personality/daily recitor of Eagles management talking points. Cobb, early in the afternoon, heard Eskin repeatedly tell his audience that Cobb had reported on his website that the Eagles had offered Moss $27 million, and pooh-poohed the report by his radio colleague, saying, according to Cobb, that "the Eagles would never offer a wide receiver that type of money... you can't justify giving that type of money to a wide receiver."
When Cobb arrived at the studios, he went on the air and broke the story that coach Andy Reid and Moss had been on the phone for over an hour and that the discussions had been much more than, as Eskin described them "just a formality."
By the time Cobb got back to the car Eskin had done a complete 180 and was now applauding the Eagles for having made such an offer that was more than what New England put on the table. In other words, exactly what he had said the Eagles would never do about an hour earlier.
I agree with Cobb's conclusion:
You can't argue that Howard isn't a staple in the Philadelphia sports community, but at the same time, you can't argue against his being a voice for the Eagles.
In the same show, he had given a million reasons why it was justifiable that the Birds should refuse to give big money to a wide receiver. In the same show, he had to tell us that the Eagles had done exactly what he told us that they shouldn't do.
Come on, doesn't the federal government have more important things to worry about than Sizzurp?
Doesn't that make as much sense as saying that JFK were alive today, he'd be a Reagan Republican? You can attribute just about any political philosophy you want to someone who's either fictional or dead.
Cole Hamels is the latest Phillie to bitch about his contract, leading to fears from fans that he'll bail as a free agent when he's eligible for free agency in five years. I agree with what the700Level.com says:
"MLB salary structuring and renewal is a complicated (although not very) process, and it's easy for us fans to become frustrated when we see a top player like Hamels making so much less than an absolute trainwreck like Adam Eaton. It's a process that sometimes doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's not without precedent, and until it's officially changed, we'll continue to read these stories and be frustrated. As fans, we'll almost always side with shelling out that "little extra" to keep the young talent in town, because (1) it's not our money, and (2) nothing is scarier than the thought of that talent leaving for greener pastures after years of strained relations. I'd rather this post have been about a young star happy with his new Phillies contract, but the fact that it's not is more of a reflection on the status quo of Major League Baseball than that of the Phillies organization, which we know is far from perfect."There are a couple parts of the reaction to this that I disagree with: Lots of fans are complaining about how unfair it is that players can't get paid market value and end up with less than $1 million a year before they're arbitration-eligible. But what's so unfair about that? Why shouldn't players have to pay their dues, and not get huge money right out of the gate? And also, why are the Phillies so at fault for not meeting Hamels' askng price? Is it these fans' position that every player's every salary demand should be met at all times?
And I can't be the only one, as I explore in this week's North Star column.
Yes, I'm thrilled the Vikings signed Bernard Berrian. He may not be a #1, but I feel better about the depth if it's him and Sidney Rice next to each other, with Wade and Allison next. Now the guy actually throwing it to them is more of a question...
As for the Eagles, they opened the pocketbook for Asante Samuel, the consensus Best Player in Free Agency, and did so on the first day of free agency. The next day, they signed defensive end Chris Clemons, who had eight sacks coming off the bench for the Raiders last year. On talk radio over the weekend, I heard the following arguments made:
- Even though they got Samuel, the Eagles still haven't signed a wide receiver, and because they don't have a "sense of urgency" to do so, Donovan McNabb is sure to demand a trade.
- Samuel isn't that much better than Lito Sheppard, so why give him that much money?
- Samuel can't really be that good, he only seemed that way because with the Patriots he knew all the plays in advance. And (my personal favorite):
- Now that Samuel is in the fold, the Eagles should offer to trade Sheppard and McNabb to the Patriots for Tom Brady. I think that guy was kidding, but really, who knows.
The FireJoeMorgan crew opens up:
The most vexing and confusing aspect of modern baseball analysis -- and the primary reason we created this site -- is the sniveling distaste for the book Moneyball. As you are all aware, Moneyball is a mathematics textbook designed to prove how dumb baseball is, co-authored by A's General Manager Billy Beane and a computer who hates baseball. The main arguments in the book are: (1) baseball is stupid, (2) hot dogs taste bad, (3) the National Anthem is a piece of shit, and instead of singing it at the beginning of baseball games, the Iron Sheik should sing an Iranian folk song, (4) America sux, and (5) bald eagles should be replaced by some Russian bird you can only find in the most communist parts of the Ural Mountains. (The book takes place in 1974.)
The famed Canadian singer/guitarist, who was blind since his youth and patented the putting-the-guitar-on-the-table method of strumming, died over the weekend of cancer at the age of 41.
Healey's band, the Jeff Healey Band, had its biggest hit with "Angel Eyes" in 1988.
Jonathan Mahler, author of the "Bronx is Burning" book, has a dynamite piece in this week's NYT "Play" section about the Steinbrenner brothers and their takeover of the Yankees. My favorite part is the start:
Hank Steinbrenner was driving like he owned the place. “This thing’s got no pickup,” he said, gunning my midsize Hyundai down Steinbrenner Drive in Tampa, Fla. We had just finished lunch on a January afternoon at a Steinbrenner family favorite, an Italian restaurant called Iavarone’s, and were on our way back to his new office at Legends Field in my rental car, which Hank had insisted on driving. As we approached the ballpark, he steered the car up onto the curb, drove it on the main walkway, between the Yankees merchandise store and a small memorial park devoted to Yankee immortals, and came to a stop just a few feet from the tinted-glass door marked “Executive Offices.” “This is where I usually park,” Hank said, stepping out of the Hyundai and tossing me the keys.With insanity like that at the helm, the next ten years should be a Yankee-hater's dream!
SNL and Smigel this week parody Obama's attempts to distance himself from Sharpton and Jackson:
But will this be brought up in the next presidential debate?
Another giveway, another melee in Union Square:
A video-sharing Web site set out to celebrate Leap Day by handing out prizes worth up to $29 outside Union Square Park but wound up triggering a melee.It's the most disastrous Union Square publicity stunt since the time the World's Largest Ice Pop melted down and blocked traffic for hours.
As the clock ticked toward the Friday event's scheduled time - 2:29 p.m. - people shouting "Make it rain!" and "Give me my money!" trampled one another and mobbed the costumed representatives of CashTomato.com
Some people wrested bags of cash-stuffed envelopes and other items from the CashTomato workers, said Jason Buzi, who identified himself as the company's senior vice president. "It turned out to be a lot of aggressive people," he said. "Maybe next time, I would plan this better."
Mike Freeman of CBS Sports, on NFL Draft prospect Darren McFadden, who is accused of having fathered four illegitimate children before the age of 21:
McFadden will still be drafted high because NFL teams are ho's. They'll talk about how they care about character, but they would sell their souls for talent. Sell them cheap, too. In fact, ho's have higher standards.
So it would serve NFL teams right -- and there is no bigger ho in sports than Bill Parcells, owner of the top pick -- if one of them took McFadden high in the draft and the running back later copulated himself out of football.