Simba, Rocky, Newman from "Seinfeld" all make appearances in the best "Daily Show" segment of the year:
The best thing about John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate? Mitt Romney will be nowhere near the levers of executive power at any time in the foreseeable future. Even though running against Guy Smiley may have been fun, we can all be thankful for that.
The pick strikes me as highly risky, mostly because it eliminates the GOP's ability to play the inexperience card against Obama. She has, after all, been in office for only two years, and has even less foreign policy experience than Obama. Sure, the pick may help the GOP pick off a few of the disaffected Hillary voters, but I've got a feeling that demographic is small, and getting smaller all the time.
Still, Palin seems like an impressive individual, and certainly has a compelling personal story. The next two months will tell...
Sam Adams of the AV Club, on Disaster Movie:
The flood of scattershot references is so witless, it makes Family Guy look like Jonathan Swift. When the well runs dry (which, needless to say, is often), the movie falls back on fight scenes. Think the idea of Juno roundhouse-kicking Sex And The City's Carrie Bradshaw is a hoot and a half? You've come to the right place.And on top of that, the studio is getting slammed by some for releasing "Disaster Movie" on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Oops.
Esquire has a fun list of what it calls the 20 Best Steaks in America. I've eaten five of them, oddly enough, even though I've only been a steak aficionado for a couple of years.
Just a couple of quibbles: both Arthur's in Hoboken and Manny's Steakhouse in Minneapolis belong both on the list and near the top, and Pat's Steaks doesn't even belong on a list of the 20 best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, much less the best steaks in the country.
Chris Matthews' post-speech interview with Jesse Jackson, during which Matthews praised Jesse for having "been so generous and kind to this young man, and so giving to something even more hopeful than yourself, that I salute you, sir."
Well, except for the part where he went on national television and (literally) threatened to cut his nuts off. Very generous, except for that.
CJR has an amusing look at the reporters hanging around the convention in Denver, most of whom had no reason to be there and did nothing. But man, I wish I had been one of those reporters.
Wow, is all I can say. I'll have more to say tomorrow, but I defer to Andrew Sullivan:
He took every assault on him and turned them around. He showed not just that he understood the experience of many middle class Americans, but that he understood how the Republicans have succeeded in smearing him. And he didn't shrink from the personal charges; he rebutted them. Whoever else this was, it was not Adlai Stevenson. It was not Jimmy Carter. And it was less afraid and less calculating than Bill Clinton.Disastrous as this convention looked on the first night, it turned out quite well for the Democrats, I'd say.
Above all, he took on national security - face on, full-throttle, enraged, as we should all be, at how disastrously American power has been handled these past eight years. He owned this issue in a way that no Democrat has owned it since Kennedy. That's a transformative event. To my mind, it is vital that both parties get to own the war on Jihadist terror and that we escape this awful Rove-Morris trap that poisons the discourse into narrow and petty partisan abuse of patriotism. Obama did this tonight. We are in his debt.
America's most-loathed sportswriter, Jay Mariotti, up and quit the Chicago Sun-Times the other day. His erstwhile colleague, Roger Ebert, meanwhile, has laid the smack down. Good for you, Rog.
I especially like the second half, where two correspondents reenact both the actor fights and the primary itself.
The final season starts Tuesday; here's a Vic Mackey primer.
Good job by Bill Clinton, who built on Hillary's speech while answering all the criticisms, namely that Hillary never said Obama was ready to lead. Say what you will about Bill and his behavior during this campaign, but the man sure can give a speech. But the question of whether or not they're full of shit remains very much open.
Where the hell was that John Kerry in 2004? He gave a tough, critical, authoritative speech, of the sort that certainly would've helped at the previous Democratic convention. I would've preferred, say, five other people give speeches like it, but what can you do? Also not so great that the networks ignored more than half of it.
Biden was all right, not great. The introduction by his son and the biographical stuff was wonderful, but he did a lot of tripping over words, and didn't do as good a job slamming McCain as Kerry did. I'm still glad he's the veep- although Schweitzer certainly made a good retroactive argument for himself in his speech- but he'll need to do better than this from here on out.
It's the crowd, and the entire on-air crew, vs. Mike Murphy:
I like David Wilhelm's joke that Murphy's grade of Bush's presidency, a C, is "some serious grade inflation."
I've gotta say, as a Democrat, none of the alleged finalists really scare me. Mitt Romney is a transparent fraud who not only adds to McCain's how-many-houses problem and has dozens of anti-McCain quotes on the record, but the Mormon thing will likely do something to depress base turnout. Lieberman has that handicap of not actually being a Republican, not to mention a surprisingly liberal voting record; I'd just love to see the party torn apart by a pro-choice pick of him or Tom Ridge who- if memory serves me- was generally considered a failure at running homeland security. As for Kay Bailey Hutchison, wouldn't her and McCain side by side look like somebody's grandparents?
Tim Pawlenty, even though he'd be crushed Bentsen/Quayle-style in a debate with Biden, is clearly the best choice, and McCain would be nuts to pick any of the above clowns instead of him.
Chris Orr has a good point on this:
For the moment, McCain has to some degree the best of both worlds: a strong pro-life record to peddle to conservatives, and the widespread sense among liberals and moderates--vividly demonstrated by clueless Clintonite-turned- McCainiac Debra Bartoshevich--that he's kinda sorta pro-choice, or at least ambivalent on the subject. (George W. Bush rode a similar strategy of courting conservatives through targeted appeals and surrogates, while maintaining a broader image of moderation, straight to the White House in 2000). What McCain presumably wants, then, is for the subject of abortion to come up as little as possible: The more he's forced to talk about it, the more he'll inevitably upset this delicate balance.
If he picks a pro-choice running mate, however, he'll have to talk about abortion a lot. There will be protests by pro-lifers and demands that he declare, loudly and repeatedly, his commitment to the pro-life cause in general and to placing anti-Roe justices on the Supreme Court in particular. He will have to make abundantly, emphatically clear that he, and not his pro-choice veep, will be making any and all executive decisions regarding abortion. He will be forced, in short, to dynamite his calculated ambivalence.
This was awesome:
Of the 50+ people on MSNBC's convention coverage, Todd knows what he's talking about the most. But who will come to blows next? I'm rooting for someone to take a swing at Buchanan.
CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel goes way over the top in this column bashing Philly fans, conflating the very loud, VERY local minority of idiots for the entire city. But it's hard to disagree with this part:
Look, Philly fans, you can't have it both ways. If you're going to dish it, you have to be able to take it. Flick a player in the nose all you want, but when one of them flicks you back, you have to smirk and let him know it didn't hurt. Otherwise, you're nothing but a schoolyard bully -- strong because you have all that size, but weak as soon as someone fights back.The fans didn't seem to mind Rollins' big mouth last night when he went 5-for-7 with three RBIs.
Sure, this is an argument that neither Rollins nor any other athlete can ever win. But it's going to keep flaring up repeatedly, for as long as the booing continues.
News Item: Chunky Soup discontinues NFL "mom" ads
One less reason to irrationally hate Donovan McNabb...
My review of the new film "Elegy" is online at the Trend's site.
I've got a feeling that scenario would be a lot more fun than whatever actually happens.
Then Mitt Romney, obviously, is Edina. Who gets to be St. Louis Park? (don't say Al Franken.)
The Times of London has a great piece on a topic that didn't get much play on NBC's coverage- namely, that the Olympic athletes all get laid. A lot. Mostly, but not entirely, with each other.
Most athletes, though, wait to get it on until after their competition is over. The piece adds that “The swimmers finished earlier in the week and it was like there was an eruption.” Yea, I had a feeling that the 8 gold medals weren't the only records Michael Phelps broke in Beijing.
Rick Hertzberg, in the New Yorker, eviscerating Jerome Corsi's anti-Obama book:
On the other hand, the proposition that Obama vacationed in Hawaii is at least factually true. The same cannot be said for the contents of “The Obama Nation,” by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D., which, thanks to bulk purchases, has been the No. 1 New York Times best-seller for three weeks. The tired pun of the book’s title is a rare instance of hard-right truth in labelling. On a foundation of small, medium-sized, and extra-large falsehoods, “The Obama Nation” erects a superstructure of innuendo, guilt by (often nonexistent) association, baseless speculation, and sinister-sounding but irrelevant digression. The result is an example of what used to be known, in the glory days of ideologically driven totalitarianism, as the Big Lie—in this case, a fabricated, alternate-universe Barack Obama, who, we are told or invited to infer, is a corrupt, enraged, anti-American, drug-dealing, anti-Israel, pseudo-Christian radical leftist, black militant, plagiarist, and liar, trained as a Muslim and mentored by a menagerie of Marxists, Communists, crypto-Communists, and terrorists.
This has be the coolest thing I've seen all week. I wonder if Steve Buscemi would buy it.
The Phillies fell behind 7-0 to the Mets tonight through 3 and a half innings. At that point I texted two Met-fan friends to ask if they trusted the Mets' bullpen with that lead. They both said no.
The Phils proceeded to score 1 run in the fourth, 4 in the fifth, and one each in the 8th and 9th until a based-loaded single in the bottom of the 13th won the game, 8-7, to put the Phils all alone in first place.
The game started at the same time as MSNBC's election coverage; it ended more than an hour after Hillary finished her speech. But don't worry Mets fans; Santana goes tomorrow.
Hillary did well, I admit it. While you can't convince me she didn't have her fingers crossed the entire time, she seemed sincere, and was totally, refreshingly unequivical about the need to elect Obama. Now, hopefully, the "feud" and the "influence" of the PUMAs can cease to be Topic A of the convention.
Still though, as a Minnesotan, I was offended by her comparison of Bush and McCain to "the Twin Cities."
The rest of the night, with one exception, was underwhelming. Mark Warner just about put me to sleep- it sounded like everyone in the crowd was talking over it- while Bob Casey was, as usual, less than impressive as a speaker. But hey, nice of everyone- including James Carville, who was there- to keep perpetuating the myth that Casey Sr. was barred from the 1992 convention for being pro-life.
Especially embarrassing? This attempt at a "four more months!" catchphrase. Didn't anyone notice that four months from now, it'll be December, and Dubya will still have a month to go in office?
The one excellent speech, though, was given by Brian Schweitzer, on energy. This is why some, led by Nate Silver, pushed for him to be the veep pick. Why couldn't he give the keynote?
UPDATE: Had any doubt just how much Olbermann and Matthews hate each other? Here's more:
Before going any further with my election coverage, I just want to express my sympathy for Michelle Malkin, who was "attacked" (read: "yelled at") by some anarchists in Denver earlier this week.
It's all of a piece with Malkin's general business model: Be as nasty, vicious and personal towards all political opponents, all the time, and completely unapologetic about it, but then fall to pieces, play the victim card, and claim to be "under attack" whenever anyone turns even a fraction of the same thing back on you. It's quite a racket if you can get it.
The guy interviewing her, Alex Jones, may be a 9/11 truther nut in his own right, but he's only the second-biggest extremist in the conversation.
You know what's bothering me about the convention so far? That weird "One" commercial with Matt Damon mouthing the words of, I gather, the wives of several different presidential candidates.
Not as bad as that "We All Have AIDS" bullshit of a few years ago, but pretty strange regardless.
News Item: Technorati buys BlogCritics
Congrats to BC boss Eric Olsen, who was kind enough to publish me back when just about no one else did.
Up until the Ted Kennedy tribute, I was underwhelmed. Nancy Pelosi is no great shakes as a speaker (as opposed to as a Speaker), I'm not really sure what the point of Jimmy Carter coming out was if he wasn't speaking, and overall the night just seemed to have no direction or theme. But it was great to see Kennedy address the convention one more time.
As for Michelle Obama? She was enthralling, coming across as both likable and authoritative. Plus, she didn't use the word "whitey" once!
One big pet peeve, with the coverage: why the hell did 90 percent of the discussion have to be about Hillary Clinton? I get it, everyone wanted there to be a contested convention, but just because there's not doesn't mean the idea of a couple dozen PUMA idiots crashing the convention hall must monopolize the discussion. Then again, I guess that's the problem when you have 35 different people on your various discussion panels, as MSNBC does.
Not sure if this is official or tentative or whatever, but according to Amazon Bill Simmons' long-gestating basketball book will be called "The Best Basketball Book Ever Written." There's no summary or cover art or anything, but May 5, 2009, is the scheduled release date.
Andrew Sullivan on the Michelle Obama speech:
It hits you, doesn't it? I'm watching all the usual biography for a first lady and president and listening to her brother and realizing: black Americans - proud, unapologetic, culturally mainstream African-Americans - are now running this show. I knew this was coming. But watching it, even in these tiny ways, is striking.
How great that is; and how long a time it has been coming. Whatever happens in this crazy election season, this matters... One of the best, most moving, intimate, rousing, humble, and beautiful speeches I've heard from a convention platform. Maybe she should be running for president. You don't need any commentary from me. This was a home-run. And sincere. Thank God that in the end, the truth struggles out there. Just look at her mother's face.
Jonathan Chait, knocking down all the "Obama is the Messiah" bullshit:
Next, there is Obama's declaration that "we are the ones we've been waiting for." The point, which he has made many times, is that voters should take responsibility themselves for enacting change, and thus that his supporters should not treat him as a savior. Obama-as-cult-leader screeds insist upon reading the meaning as the exact reverse. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, "in the words of his own slogan, 'we are the ones we've been waiting for,' which, translating the royal 'we,' means: 'I am the one we've been waiting for.'" As a pundit, I'm intrigued by this technique of taking a word out of your subject's statement and substituting its opposite. Did you know that McCain's slogan, "Country first," could be translated via the Krauthammer method into "Country last"? Why does John McCain hate America?He also goes into the inconvenient fact that the GOP's Reagan cult is both a lot more durable and a lot more creepy.
As I make clear in this week's North Star column, I love the choice of Biden. Love it.
Who ever do I root for here?
So what's Fox's point here? That you shouldn't vote for the Democrats because of these crazy people- who are there to protest the Democrats?
Here's his column today on what the Phillies would do, if they were run by the people who run the Eagles:
Jimmy Rollins is unhappy here? How about dealing him to the Giants, a last place club going nowhere with elderly Hall of Fame lock Omar Vizquel at shortstop. How about a certain centerfielder coming back and bringing righthander Matt Cain with him?Bill, Bill, Bill... the Giants would never trade a pitcher of Cain's caliber for a veteran shortstop, nor would the Phillies ever in their right minds take Aaron Rowand's contract back. Howard-to-the-AL could happen, but not for 2 years or so. As for Burrell, he's going to have more than 30 homers and 100 RBIs this year- there's no way in hell he would take only three years and $30 million- I expect some team to offer him 5 years and 55-60.
Ryan Howard's financial team stalking a score too rich for the Teflonics watery blue blood? There has to be an American League team that wouldn't mind turning the No. 4 hole over to a slugger who not only would provide 45-140 numbers but would air-condition the ballpark with his hurricane-force hacks.
Pat Burrell is having a career season. But as much as he loves it here, he's not going to settle for a year-to-year deal. You can just see Monty, wallowing in appreciation for the way Pat has battled through adversity and actually earned his $14 million this year. Here, big guy. Here are 3 more years - $30 million, OK?
How can someone cover baseball for that many decades and know so little about how trades work?
News Item: Twins acquire Eddie Guardado
Sure, he's about done. But aside from the nostalgia value, Eddie sure marks an improvement for the Twins' biggest weakness this year, which has been bullpen depth.
And there are already full-length articles about his hair.
Bloggers have started to notice it, especially now that the Dems have named the author of the "a noun, a verb and 9/11" on the ticket: the McCain campaign is using the POW card to get out of any criticism leveled at it whatsoever, regardless of the subject matter. Will Bunch has more.
I'm wondering what's taking Obama so long. But regardless, I agree with David Brooks- Biden, please!
Nathan Rabin on "Hamlet 2":
Andrew Fleming's Hamlet 2 takes aim at any number of barn-door-sized satirical targets, including deluded actors, closeted teen homosexuals, Grease, Jesus, high-school theater, unnecessary sequels, alcoholics, hallucinogens, and musicals, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in laughs.I saw this last night. I laughed a lot, but the movie was way too all over the place to actually hold together.
I wish this show were real, because I would totally watch it.
Philly native Jonathan Last writes about Daniel Snyder's destruction of sports talk radio in Washington, as he has bought all local stations and purged them of voices critical of his Redskins team. Last suggests at the end that "maybe I'll call in to let [WIP] know about Snyder's destruction of sports talk radio in Washington. That's the kind of hate they can get behind in Philly."
Maybe Jeffrey Lurie will get the same idea, buy WIP, and fire every commentator hostile to the Eagles. Which would be pretty much everyone but Howard Eskin, right?
Slate takes the gloves off.
Great observation by Shysterball, on last night's Phils-Nats game:
I'm beginning to think that the Nats have been secretly hired by Major League Baseball to be professional wrestling-style "jobbers" a la Iron Mike Sharpe or S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones. Sure, they look like a baseball team -- they have the uniform and know a few moves and things -- but ultimately their job is to "sell" the moves of the big stars. Really good jobbers -- guys who could make marginal wrestlers who were nonetheless pegged for stardom look good -- were highly respected behind the scenes. I'm talking about the guys who would give a few extra twitches following Hulk Hogan's leg drops. The guys who would pretend that Ric Flair's big chops across the chest actually hurt. In baseball, it would be the guys who make Brett Myers look like a top quality Major League pitcher.One quibble- Hulk Hogan, who was way too big a star to ever appear on "WWF Superstars" or "Wrestling Challenge," never fought jobbers. They were beneath him, I guess.
Well, not really, but ESPN does plan to re-introduce a version of its erstwhile Sunday night NFL show.
I look at the middling comedy "The Rocker" in the Trend, and the much better drama "My Blueberry Nights" on the North Star site. And no, I didn't only like the latter due to my longtime crushes on Norah Jones, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman.
As always, my Rotten Tomatoes reviews are collected here.
A caller to Howard Eskin on Tuesday started off by thanking Howard for telling him about a certain breakfast place at the Jersey Shore that he had mentioned on the air, and kept talking about how much he enjoyed the "creepies." Weird, I thought, that such a place would be called "Creepy's," or have such a thing on the menu. After awhile, Eskin figured out that the caller was talking about crepes, and just didn't know the correct pronunciation. He tried "crepp-ess" first.
When a call starts like that, you just know his sports point is going to be stellar. However, Eskin cut the guy off after he mistakenly referred to Eagle-turned-WIP host Hugh Douglas as "Hugh Downs."
Give the guy credit, though- in the hour I listened yesterday, he was the only caller on either sports station to not bitch about Jimmy Rollins.
Considering the building where the event is taking place, XCel Energy Center, was pretty much built because of Coleman's quest for hockey while he was mayor of St. Paul, then yea... he should probably be there. What's everyone else's excuse?
Jon K of The Good Phight, on the Rollins situation:
While driving this evening, I was having my ears bled out by listening to WIP who always caters to the lowest common demoninator fan and justifying it by calling it passion. The host, whom I won't bother mentioning, was taking calls and defending the town for booing Jimmy Rollins. One guy called up and said that he booed Burrell relentlessly for the past 2 years (really?) but voted for him as an All-Star cause he finally is playing like he should, also booed Jimmy during all 4 At Bats and will continue to do so until Jimmy apologizes to [him] via the media. Are you freakin kidding me?Here's what I don't get. Philly fans pride themselves on being tough. Critical. "Holding others to a high standard." So why do they fall to pieces every time anyone hurls even the most minor criticism their way? You can tell Pat Burrell he sucks every day between 2004 and 2007 and that's your right as a fan, but if one national broadcaster mentions the booing-Santa-Claus incident, that's somehow monumentally offensive?
There seems to be an obvious disconnect with the fans (and radio people) who advocate booing. On one hand, they say it should invigorate the player, showing him that he isn't playing up to snuff (and an argument was seriously made that it pushed the Phillies to the 80 WS). On the other hand, it was argued, that the players should have thick skin and not let it bother them to the point that they lash out in the media. Well, which is it? It appears that they want to have their cake and eat it too. The players SHOULD listen, but only if it makes them "play" harder. The most ridiculous comment was that the fans of this city just want to see effort. Um, excuse me? WTF? Seriously?
If there's one thing Rollins was wrong about, though, it was calling Philly fans frontrunners. I'd say the opposite is true- they act like they're losing even when they're winning. The Eagles have been to four NFC championship games this decade and the Phils are defending NL East champs who have been in first place most of this year. Listen to any three-hour block of WIP, and you'd think each team was the absolute laughingstock of their respective sports.
Will Bunch takes a stab, which I find pretty convincing. I mean, were cash- and staff-strapped newspapers supposed to stake out Edwards, months after he dropped out of the race, to see whether or not he was screwing around on his wife? Best part:
What's the solution? Maybe there should be a news organization that makes the sex life of politicians its No. 1 priority, so that other reporters can be left alone to do real journalism. Oh, wait, there already is such a publication! It's called the National Enquirer. They spend thousands on their tawdry probes, and when they're done, the traditional media can judge whether the findings are actually newsworthy (as they were with Edwards) or not. In other words, for better or worse, that is exactly the system we have in place now.Of course, if the prism through which he see everything is to scream "liberal bias! liberal bias!," you're less likely to be impressed with Bunch's take.
In a bizarre and often uncomfortable way, that system seems to actually work.
He's also ten behind Sal Fasano, that's not even counting the SoCo.
News Item: MSNBC Gives Rachel Maddow 9 p.m. show
Maddow's excellent on TV- I especially enjoy her odd-couple debates with Pat Buchanan- and I don't doubt the show will be a success, although I am a bit wary about MSNBC going down-the-line left, just as a mirror to Fox. MSNBC, at least, actually hires females who aren't Barbie-lookalike blonds.
Is Maddow the first openly gay host of a primetime cable news show? I suppose that depends on whether you consider Anderson Cooper "openly gay." I'm just glad it was her and not Rosie O'Donnell, who was also rumored at one point to be getting an MSNBC show.
James Lileks, on "Mad Men" vs. "The Sopranos":
His wife is the flip of Carmella – as the years pass, frankly, I’d prefer the rich-girl sulk ‘n’ snit to having Carm spit out venom and toss a plate. Sterling and Cooper are the bosses – you could even say that crazy old Cooper is the Uncle June of the show, but again, he’s the flip side, all strange smiles and Zen-flavored Randian calm. The guys in the office are the crew, but unlike the mobsters slouching around the back of the Bing cursing and eating and preening, they’re clever sorts - young, anxious, cavalier, full of themselves but aware of their position in the organization, and their interchangibility. Really, if the fact that they don’t dese-dem-dose their dialogue while contemplating the finer points of stealing cigarettes from a truck makes them less interesting, then we’re a bit too steeped in the romance of the gangster.For more, see "What Would Don Draper Do?"
News Item: Russell Crowe may play Bill Hicks in biopic
I preview the conventions in this week's North Star column, and look over recent electronics retail crime in Dealerscope. And on E-Gear, you may have read a charming story in your local paper, or seen it on your local news, about senior citizens playing the Nintendo Wii in their nursing home. It's kind of a tired story by now, in fact.
I just returned from three lovely days in my original home state- always great to go in the summer instead of winter- as Minnesota gears up for the Republican convention. Got to see the family, eat some good food, and spend some time outside. When I walked into Fuddrucker's on Thursday night and the Replacements were playing, I knew I was back home.
I also got to see the Twins play at the Metrodome for the first time in several years, and we were treated to an exciting win over Seattle (game 2 of a three-game sweep.) Always fun when your team goes up 5-0, gives up a six-run inning to go down 6-5, and then win it in the 9th on a sacrifice fly. I love this team, but the bullpen worries me.
Also exciting? I saw the beginnings of the new Twins ballpark, rising near the Target Center. Can't wait.
In preparation for the convention, David Carr wrote one of those "36 Hours in..." pieces in the Times last week about the Twin Cities. Not mentioned were any of the North Minneapolis crack dens that Carr used to frequent.
From the Delaware County Times (via Philadelphia Will Do):
CHESTER - Tonight's scheduled "Peace on the Streets Jam" had to be canceled after the headlining performer was arrested on drug and weapons charges last week, according to Chester officials.
With Hillary Clinton as Apollo!
This is the one where he wins.
Fagistan. It's not even close. And NOT safe for work. Unless your boss doesn't object to swimming being referred to as "Dolphinfucking."
Remember when Entertainment Weekly used to do Warner Bros' bidding, giving major treatment to all their blockbusters? Apparently not anymore, because EW put the forthcoming "Harry Poter" movie on the cover of its Fall Movie Preview edition that went out on Friday- just hours before Warner pushed the movie back to next summer. Oops.
You have heard about a new spam/virus e-mail technique that involves a purported "CNN Top Ten." I got another version of it in my work spam e-mail today, and while I chose not to open it, I admired just how creative some of the headlines were:
msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Obama is gay. Watch the Proof.That last one's my favorite. And it's probably been true at some point.
msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: NASA to use Space Shuttles to Kill Birds
msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Army Relent On Shooting Live Pigs In Training Exercise - Will Shoot Illegal Immigrants Instead
msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Ufos Sighted Over Uk
BREAKING NEWS: Angelina Jolie Pregnancy. 'it Was All A Hoax!'
msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Naked Janet Jackson Video Goes Online msnbc.com -
BREAKING NEWS: John Mccain Selects Laura Bush As His Vice
msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Gay Bishop Was A Wrestling Pro
News Item: Lindsay Lohan to convert to Judaism
Bob Cesca, on the Obama "elitist" smear:
"Drive down (or have your driver take you) to the nearest Wal-Mart. Line up 100 people and ask them whether they can relate to a man who owns eight houses and whose wife is a gazillionaire, or if they can relate to a man who represents the American melting pot -- a man who just recently paid off his student loans -- a man who was raised by a single mother -- a man who is (shock horror!) still happily married to his only wife."How dare he go to good schools and have such success at a young age. There must be something wrong with him.
Dana Stevens, on "Tropic Thunder":
At any rate, never has a role so cannily taken advantage of Cruise's compact, thumblike body shape—that is, his physical resemblance to a penis. As Les Grossman, he's a literal and figurative dick, and it's the role of a lifetime.I've never seen a penis that looks like Tom Cruise. Have you?
When the Twins, in 2003, traded Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart, Aaron Gleeman ripped the deal, though it eventually, at least in the short term, turned out pretty well for the Twins. Now, with the Twins having re-signed Kielty- and the Blue Jays having just released Stewart- Aaron revisits the trade.
I'm going to my first Metrodome Twins game in about five years on Saturday; I really think Joe Mauer wasn't on the team yet last time I went.
After being bashed by the Philadelphia fans for most of this year, Jimmy Rollins bashed back, last night on the I-can't-believe-it's-still-on-the-air "Best Damn Sports Show Period":
Taped in Los Angeles, Rollins was asked if Philadelphia warrants its reputation as a tough sports town.Rollins has violated the long-term bargain among Philadelphia athletes that they have to ignore the vicious negativity and rampant pessimism among the fan base and pretend that it's all about the fans being "passionate." True, Rollins' timing isn't so great, considering he's having his worst season. But... no one who's honest could possibly deny that he's right.
"It can be, yeah," Rollins said. "There are times, like, it's one of those cities ... I might catch some flack for saying this, but, you know, they're front-runners. When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you."
UPDATE: Rich Hofmann agrees with me.
There's an article this week on PhillyBurbs.com by Kevin Cooney that represents everything I can't stand about both reflexive prejudices by sportswriters and even more reflexive pessimism by Phils fans in general.
Cooney writes that we shouldn't get "blinded by the numbers," and then proceeds to fill his column with... numbers. Then he rips the Phils for being "too reliant on the home run," while bashing national sportswriters- you know, the ones who notice that the team is in first place and has been all year- for not understanding the team as well as the locals do. Here's my favorite part:
Entering Friday, they were last in the National League in sacrifice flies. In contrast, the Mets and Marlins are second and third in the NL in that category.Let me get this straight: the Phils don't get enough sacrifice flies or sacrifice bunts or hit for enough average- but they're still second in the league in runs. What do sacrifice bunts and flies lead to? Runs. What do the Phils get just enough of? Runs.
The Phils were tied for ninth in the NL at sacrifice bunts with 44 — 15 behind the Mets, who were second in that category.
For as wonderful as everyone believes this offense to be, the Phillies are ninth in the NL in batting average. While they are second in the NL in runs scored, they also as likely to get shut out as score in double digits.
So in other words, the Phils aren't winning enough - even though they're in first place- because they're not nearly good enough at several offensives stats that don't matter- even though they're second in the league at the offensive stat that matters most- runs.
From a JTA Election post on the possibility of a Jewish Congressman in the 50th state: A “Frozen Chosen” congressman in Alaska?
Even though it's us Minnesota Jews who long claimed the "Frozen Chosen" mantle- and we've elected plenty of Jews to Congress- I guess the Alaskans can have their fun too.
I had assumed Obama was unlikely to have a Billy Carter/Roger Clinton problem, but apparently not.
No, it's not Gopher football. It's nutjob Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann:
"[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet," Bachmann told the right-wing news site OneNewsNow. "We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that."
We had a lovely baby shower at work Tuesday for my co-worker Stephanie. A few days ago, only about two miles away, there was another, not-so-lovely shower:
Whitaker, 28, said she and her daughter had been at an outdoor baby shower in North Philadelphia when a narcotics officer rushed into the yard, igniting a police "riot" that injured at least six people, including two little kids and women who were maced, struck with batons and pushed to the ground, according to witnesses... Police have said that the officers were chasing a drug suspect who ran through the yard where the baby shower was being held, but those at the celebration said that the suspect had not cut through the yard and that police had mistakenly arrested a relative who had just arrived at the shower with a gift in hand.Apparently it was a unit of the Philly PD known as the "Strike Force," though apparently not so different from the Strike Team.
As brilliant a parody you'll ever see of anti-Obama blog hysteria.
The slogan on Greyhound's most recent ad campaign: "There's a reason you've never heard of 'bus rage.' " A clever line, extolling the alleged laid-back nature of bus travel. Two problems. 1) I myself have experienced "bus rage"—every single time I've ridden a bus. 2) The ads went up just in time for the occurrence of what must be the absolute worst case of bus rage in history—an incident in Canada in which a Greyhound passenger beheaded his seatmate with a knife and then began "hacking off pieces of the victim's body and eating them." If you hadn't heard of bus rage before, you have now!If Seth were an ad exec, he could do what Pete did on "Mad Men" and try to get Greyhound's account, since his father had been killed in a similar bus-rage incident.
Well, it's creative, I'll give them that.
Donovan McNabb gave an interview with ESPN.com in which he reflected on his feud with Terrell Owens, said the Eagles are "at the top of the NFC," said he's prepared to eventually to a new team if necessary, and reassured fans that injuries may have actually made him a better player.
Everything he said was totally innocuous and uncontroversial, but I bet tomorrow WIP will be ablaze with outrage over McNabb's shocking, indefensible comments, which further prove that the Eagles will never win with him at quarterback.
I like Bruce Reed's idea:
My dream ad would show the robot Wall-E methodically stacking pressed blocks of discarded dollar bills to form giant structures, which turn out to be the Bird's Nest stadium, the Water Cube aquatic center, and the CCTV tower. The script would go something like this:
"Sponsor" (60 seconds)
Voiceover: "Ever wonder what Washington has done with your tax dollars? This Olympics is your chance to find out. For the last 8 years, the Bush administration has been paying China billions of dollars in interest on the trillions it borrowed for tax breaks, pork, and special privileges you never got. That money helped create thousands of businesses and millions of jobs—in China. So as you enjoy the games, keep an eye on your tax dollars at work. The way our economy's going, it's tough to pay your bills. But take heart: You already paid China's."
Tagline: "America's Taxpayers. Proud Sponsors of the Beijing Olympics."
When I saw "Tropic Thunder" last week, I assumed its most controversial aspect would be the fact that Robert Downey, Jr., spends most of the movie in blackface. Or maybe some would see Tom Cruise's foul-mouthed studio exec as some sort of anti-Semitic caricature.
But apparently the boycott threats are coming from another direction- the mentally handicapped. Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics and also a columnist, took to the pages of the Washington Post Monday to call for filmgoers to "join me in shutting this movie out of our lives and our pocketbooks."
The offense? Ben Stiller in the movie plays an actor who, in an earlier flop movie, had starred as "Simple Jack," a mentally handicapped farm worker. Stiller and Downey have one dialogue scene in which Downey explains that if he wants to win an Oscar, Stiller ought to play a character- like Raymond from "Rain Main," or Forrest Gump- who isn't "all the way retarded."
Shriver admits in the piece that he hasn't seen the film, though if he had, he would know that the target of the film's satire is clearly the vapidity of Hollywood actors themselves, rather than the mentally handicapped. It's hard to tell someone who's offended not to be, but in this case I would argue that the outrage is misplaced.
My full review of the film will be up later this week; I found it very very funny when it was on, but far from consistent in its delivery of laughs.
I look into the John Edwards mess in this week's North Star column.
Sick of everyone in Philly whining about a Phillies team that is in first place and has been for most of the season? The Good Phight has a must-read post pointing out the logical holes in most of the idiocy that's been spouted lately:
Take a freakin pill you effin whiners. Your team is LEADING the NL East by 2 games, has the SECOND best run differential in the NL, has the THIRD best record and has a solid 60% chance of making the playoffs. All people do around here is complain. Maybe we have found out the reason why the Phillies have the WORST homefield advantage in all of baseball since 2004. The fans here can really suck.The Phils have been in first place for more than 60 days this season. Last year, when they won the division, their first day in first place was the last Friday of the regular season.
I wrote a similar post, defending the team against every conceivable whine, a few weeks ago.
Nate Silver, on the contradictions of the anti-Obama attacks:
How can someone being portrayed as "the biggest celebrity in the world" also be painted as radical and out of the mainstream? Either Obama is like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton: a fluffy, substanceless, mass-consumed but empty celebrity-for-celebrity’s sake, or he is an unfamiliar and dangerous other with a hidden anti-American agenda.Easy. If he can be both a Christian black separatist and a Muslim, Obama can easily become both a big celebrity and a dangerous far-left radical.
It’s hard to reconcile the two. By trumpeting Obama's popularity, McCain is calling him – by definition – a safe, easily digestible consumer product, broadly acceptable in the mainstream. Thus, McCain boxes himself into a corner when he wants to make the argument not to elect Obama because he’s so far outside the mainstream.
The problem with trying to thread the needle and have it both ways by making both messages stick simultaneously is that if Obama is a dangerous other with a secret America-hating agenda, it’s hard to call him vapid. You can’t be sharp enough to be cunning sleeper and also be an empty airhead.
Adam Serwer of the American Prospect, on that congressional race in Tennessee in which one of Rep. Steve Cohen's opponents ran anti-white and anti-Semitic TV ads against him:
Fox's Hannity and Colmes invited the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson onto the show to say what white right-wing pundits would feel less comfortable saying. Peterson blamed the entire black community of the 9th District, declaring that “most blacks” in Memphis are “so racist that they don't even realize that white Americans have moved on, and so whenever there is a campaign like this, such as this, they always use racism in order to intimidate white Americans.” Hours later, the virulently racist black community of Memphis strapped on their black berets and, clutching copies of Soul on Ice, handed Cohen a landslide win with 79 percent of the vote to Tinker’s 19 percent. She got a larger share of the vote in 2006, running against 13 other people."Hannity and Colmes," of course, only talks about "racism" when it's white people who are the victim. Damn those double standards.
The host wants to talk about John Edwards. His guest wants to talk about the Russia/Georgia situation. The host changes the subject back. Five different times:
Yes, NBC has brought back the great old NBA-on-NBC music- written, that's right, by John Tesh- for its Olympic basketball coverage. I saw it last night and was thrilled.
I always enjoyed Bernie's work, whether it was his stand-up, his self-titled TV show, or his movie roles, especially the underrated baseball comedy "Mr. 3000" and the "Ocean's 11" movies. He went way too young at age 50, a fascinating life cut short way too soon.
Young as I am, I came to Hayes through his role as Chef on "South Park," especially in the early seasons when he sang a song in just about every episode. But I later gained an appreciation for his music, especially "Theme From Shaft." He also went way too young, at 65.
News Item: Invisibility cloak is close to reality
At last, he admits it. I sure am glad he didn't get the nomination- not that I wasn't anyway.
Jeff Jarvis, on the Philadelphia Inquirer's new policy of holding stories for the print edition and not putting them online during the day:
Let me make this very clear to Inquirer ownership and management:No, I don't know what they're thinking, either.
You are killing the paper. You might as well just burn the place down. You’re setting a match to it. This is insane. Even the slowest, most curmudgeonly, most backward in your dying, suffering industry would not be this stupid anymore. They know that the internet is the present and the future and the paper is the past. Protecting the past is no strategy for the future. It is suicide. It is murder. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
And my message to staff, the few of them left:
Get the hell out now! Get away from these fools or you’ll get it on you.
Slate has a great piece about an alt-weekly in Texas that apparently only runs only plagiarized material- and has for years. Bizarre and hilarious.
Paul Krugman is on fire today:
Now, I don’t mean that G.O.P. politicians are, on average, any dumber than their Democratic counterparts. And I certainly don’t mean to question the often frightening smarts of Republican political operatives.If they think they can ride this tire-gauge bullshit to an election victory, these people are crazy.
What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”
So much for Tampa- Brett Favre has been traded to the Jets. While Brett is in no way whatsoever a "New York guy," he'll still be both wearing green and playing in cold weather, so it shouldn't be that much of an adjustment- plus, he'll be able to come over to Peter King's house for barbeques. However, there's no New York Post in Wisconsin.
It never would have been right for Favre to come to the Vikings. So we'll try our luck with Tarvaris, and if that doesn't work out, we'll welcome Donovan McNabb in '09. Chad Pennington to the Vikings? Please. No.
He played well in an impossible situation in San Francisco -- following two Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks -- but never got any respect, getting shitcanned for a succession of truly awful QBs. He stepped into a tough situation in Philadelphia -- replacing an injured franchise player midway through the year -- and did nothing but save the season. He saved Jon Gruden's job in Tampa Bay with his Pro Bowl play and got rewarded with a training-camp attempt to acquire one of the most ill-fitting QBs imaginable for Tampa Bay's playbook. He even married a Playboy centerfold and still has to hear people say he's gay. That dude gets no respect.Garcia, though, at least had the good sense to get out of Philly before everyone turned on him. Because he only stayed one year, everyone in town will love him forever.
I agree with Nate Silver (as I do on most things): Obama should support the "Gang of 10" compromise.
Could be good. Risky, but could be good.
This would be the best TV news of the day, if it weren't for both Bunk Moreland and Lester Freamon joining David Simon's New Orleans show.
So now it's looking- barring unforeseen changes of mind- like Brett Favre is heading to Tampa. One reason to be happy: myself and all the Vikings fans won't have to spend the whole season agonizing over whether or not we should be cheering him. One reason not to be happy: now we can spend the whole season agonizing because Tarvaris Jackson IS our quarterback.
I review "Pineapple Express" in the Trend this week.
I don't think it's all that funny, but you may disagree:
No, she's not "hot," and no, a woman being dumb isn't funny all by itself. I do like this take though, from an Andrew Sullivan reader:
Watching the Hilton video, a few questions came to mind. First, why is that Paris Hilton’s fake ad includes more substantive talk about energy policy than John McCain’s real ad? Second, if writers helped Hilton with her script, and writers helped McCain with his script, why is it that Hilton seems to have a better grasp on policy details than McCain does? Shouldn’t that be, you know, the other way around? And third, why is it that a 27-year-old heiress/reality-show star can read a teleprompter better than the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?
Did Bob Herbert really go on MSNBC to insist that the "celebrity" ad deliberately juxtaposed its shots of Britney and Paris Hilton with gratuitous phallic symbols - per Herbert, the Washington Monument and the Leaning Tower of Pisa; per reality, the Victory Column in Berlin, where Obama was giving his speech - in order to hammer home its miscegenation theme? Why yes, apparently he did. Did Timothy Noah really pen a column for Slate arguing that a fluff piece for the Journal about Obama's skinniness "can't avoid being interpreted as a coded discussion of race," and calling for a journalistic moratorium on discussions of Obama's personal appearance? Why yes, apparently he did. Do Herbert, Noah et. al. really think that they're helping Obama by putting this sort of hysterical nonsense into circulation? Apparently so.Don't get me wrong, I'm the guy who usually defends Obama. But come on.
David Poland, on "Tropic Thunder":
"How easy it to imagine Caddyshack remade with Nick Nolte as Carl (the Bull Murray role), Downey in the Chevy Chase role, Stiller in the Ted Knight role, and Jack Black as The Rodney? Easy!I liked the movie a lot more than he did, but he makes several good points, including that "Tropic Thunder" "looks like it was shot on the old M*A*S*H* television sets."
But if Stiller was directing, the Baby Ruth in the pool would be melting like diarrhea, the sex scene in the pool would somehow feature Downey taking The Girl from behind and getting a cramp and then farting and then shitting himself, the gopher would chew on Carl’s balls, the girls on “Rodney’s” boat would be naked and passing around dildos, and when the caddy kid almost gets caught with in the “Ted Knight” house and the girl, he would somehow get his penis slammed in a window.
Would that be funnier?"
Ever wonder where the next baseball team to threaten to relocate may end up? Answer: probably nowhere. Maury Brown has written a top-ten list of best relocation options, and #1, for instance, is Northern New Jersey.
Problems with that scenario: there isn't really any city in the region that would make sense to put the stadium (ask Devils fans how they feel about driving to Newark)... the current NJ_exclusive teams, the Nets and Devils, still can't fill their much-smaller buildings, and they've been established for decades... almost everyone in that area is either a Yankees or Mets fan, or is a transplant who likes some other team... and that's the BEST option.
The NYT's Manohla Dargis, on "Pineapple Express":
In the tradition of Cheech & Chong, Abbott and Costello, Hope and Crosby, Ricky and Lucy, Martin and Lewis, Rowan and Martin, Smothers and Smothers, Sanford and son, Spicoli and Hand, Bert and Ernie, Riggs and Murtaugh, cops and robbers, dumb and dumber, right brain and left, peanut butter and jelly, bong hit, roach clip and Snoop Doggy Dogg comes “Pineapple Express,” a stoner comedy that partakes of a gentle indie vibe before hitting the hard stuff for a major Shane Black-style blowup and meltdown.Is she saying that Bert and Ernie were stoners? Or that they're gay? I'm so confused...
I review a new book about talk radio in my latest North Star column.
His New York Times piece from the weekend on Philadelphia sports culture is pretty much dead-on:
Never have I lived in a place where doom is greeted with such gusto, a legacy not only of repeated sports failure over the past quarter century, but a legacy of the city’s inferiority because of its being in a strangle sandwich between New York and Washington. If you listen to the sports talk-radio shows here, callers are much more animated, much more alive, much more into the spirit of the thing when the Phillies or the Eagles or the Sixers or the Flyers have lost. Listen to these same shows when the teams have won and the callers are flat, dispirited, as if something sacred — the very right to feel depressed — has been taken from them.I'm telling you, had you listened to the last month of WIP, you'd get the impression that the Phillies are in last place, as opposed to first.
Francisco Liriano's successful comeback, which lifted the team into first place, was only the second most-awesome thing that happened to the Twins over the weekend. There was also this:
The players all put on their game uniforms and lined up in front of the left-field wall for pictures when broadcaster Bert Blyleven walked out for his annual duty -- getting the players to smile for the camera. As he does every year, a practice dating back to his playing days in Cleveland, Blyleven unhitched his belt, turned around, and dropped his pants, a moonshot that never fails to get a big laugh, even for the veterans who know it’s coming. (I remember Torii Hunter joking last year that he had been a Twin so long, he had seen the hair on Blyleven's butt turn gray.)If Bert ever actually gets in the Hall of Fame, will be drop trou in Cooperstown? Will the plaque be of his ass instead of his face?
An ad agency reinvents the wheel. Or, er, the sign:
I liked it better in "Mad Men"'s day.
A near-brawl, a managerial ejection, debris raining on the field, a fan/manager shouting match- can you say "Minnesota"? That's what happened in last night's Twins-Sox game at the Dome:
The game was stopped for several minutes when fans threw hats and baseballs onto the turf and had the White Sox running for the shelter of the dugout... Marty Foster tossed him in the seventh for arguing a called strike on Denard Span, and fans responded by tossing dozens of hats, and several baseballs, onto the field.My favorite quote, from one of the "Baseball Tonight" guys last night: "Every time Ozzie takes his team off the field, they score a bunch of runs right afterward." You mean, he's done it before?
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen quickly pulled his players off the field, and the public address announcer warned the announced crowd of 31,493 that the Twins were risking a forfeit if the behavior continued...
Yes, Gib, I denounce the throwing of debris. But you know that call on Span was bullshit. And Obama's a shoo-in to carry Minnesota by double-digits, Franken's negative coattails notwithstanding.
I agree with Shyster's take:
This is Minnesota? I was led to believe that Minnesota was a land full of polite and respectful Midwesterners. Of lutefisk, Lake Wobegon, and "Minnesota nice." I would have expected Twins fans to demonstrate an icy yet smiling, passive-aggressiveness towards the umpires of this game, not to throw stuff on the field.They should've thrown lutefisk on the field. That would've been awesome.
Yes, it was last August 1. MinnPost has a great story about it.
I give you "What Would Don Draper Do"?
I concur with every word of Tom's post about the Phillies' lack of a deadline trade:
The 4 PM non-waiver trade deadline passed today without the Phillies making a move. Naturally for this town, the front office will be lambasted in all corners of the media over the next few days, and while it would have been nice to improve the club, there are a plethora of legitimate reasons why that didn't happen... The way some will talk over the airwaves next few days, you'll think they think the goal in April of every team is to make the biggest deal of all on July 31st, rather than winning the most games.You'd think the people doing the complaining would have noticed the team's, you know, five-game winning streak.
So they solved the anthrax case! I didn't see that one coming. Apparently, he did it to test his own vaccine against it. How very villain-in-"12 Monkeys" of him.
I had assumed that there had been a couple dozen already, but my alma mater Brandeis University will have its first-ever Olympian in Beijing next week. Its fencer Tim Morehouse, who graduated the same year as me. I never knew him, but I do remember the Justice writing about him a few times.
Nobel Prize winner. Yes. Pulitzer Prize recipient. Yup. Elected leader of a national government. That, too. Internationally prominent doctors, lawyers, scientists, politicians, journalists, educators, and business people. Yes, yes, and yes.
While Brandeis alumni have distinguished themselves in a variety of fields since the University’s founding sixty years ago, later this month Tim Morehouse ’00 will achieve a Brandeis first – the world-ranked fencer will represent the United States at the Summer Olympic Games