I didn't do it on my blog, but I did in this week's North Star column.
Yes, you can too can do a mind-numbing interview with Sarah Palin, with the Palin Answer Generator!
I watched "Baby Mama" last night; this was much, much funnier:
The Philadelphia Phillies- a team I've heard from their own fans throughout the season is "horrible," "not-well-run," "doesn't know how to win," and "isn't committed to winning,"- clinched its second consecutive NL East title Saturday, and won again Sunday for a season win total of 92. But if you throw out the last two years, the Phils haven't been to the playoffs since 1993! They suck!
In round 1, the Phils will play a team that, literally, hasn't made the playoffs since 1982, the Milwaukee Brewers. Luckily for the Phils, though, Brew Crew ace C.C. Sabathia will only probably get one start in the five-game series, and with Ben Sheets struggling the rest of the Milwaukee rotation doesn't exactly strike fear in Phillie hearts.
The Brewers' win coincided with yet another collapse by the New York Mets, who closed out Shea Stadium by losing 4-2 to the Marlins. So yes, the year after the Johan Santana trade, the Mets did not make the playoffs but the Twins still may.
The Twins end the regular season with a half-game lead, with the White Sox set to play a makeup game Monday against what's sure to be a highly motivated Detroit Tigers team. Hated ex-Phillie Freddy Garcia will start the game for Detroit; I'll be rooting for Tigers victory, since if the Sox win that leads to a one-game playoff on Tuesday, which is Rosh Hashanah, and I won't be able to watch. Funny, considering that Game 1 of the ALCS in 1987 was on Rosh Hashanah- and last Rosh Hashanah, Terry Ryan resigned as Twins GM.
There's only one October. Now with 100% less Dane Cook!
The fine actor, and one of the biggest movie stars of the 20th century, passed away on Friday. I long enjoyed Newman's movies, especially "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Sting," and "Slap Shot," one of the all-time great sports movies. I'm also partial to the criminally underrated 2003 Sam Mendes film "Road to Perdition," which was Newman's final major role. He will be missed.
I may not agree with what Sam Harris has to see about religion, but he's dead on about Sarah Palin in Newsweek this week:
What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance... There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.It's a tremendous relief to me that America seems to be catching on to what a ridiculous fraud Palin's candidacy is.
I don't know if it's the economic crisis, the debate, or the increasing obviousness of Palin's obliviousness, but Obama now has a more than 80 percent chance of winning the election, Nate Silver says. Bradley Effect or no, I like that number.
A note to Southwest Airlines: That commercial with the airline ticket agent with two faces? It's really creepy and disturbing, and makes me never want to fly Southwest, ever. And just seeing it once in awhile was bad enough; watching football at a sports bar today, I saw it seven straight times on seven different TVs.
Pull it. Now.
I call a virtual tie, with perhaps a slight lead to Obama. No major, major gaffes, and no knockout blows delivered. I'll have more complete thoughts in a North Star column at the end of the weekend, but a few notes:
- Obama may have won without actually winning, in the sense that he sounded authoritative when talking about the issues. Clearly, he has a good grasp of this stuff, and those questioning his experience may very well have been convinced. Obama also got more comfortable as the night went on, and overall performed much better than in most of the primary debates.
- I appreciated the complete lack of Jeremiah Wright/William Ayers/flag pin questions, although Obama was wearing a flag lapel pin and McCain was not. So thanks, Jim Lehrer.
- Great question by Lehrer on how the two candidates would adjust their spending plans as a result of the current economic crisis. So great, in fact, that neither candidate answered it and Lehrer asked it three more times. On Time #3, McCain proposed a spending freeze, which he didn't mention the first two times, nor any other time in the campaign up to this point. I think maybe he made it up on the spot.
- I don't understand how McCain can gin up outrage over $3 million for a study of bear DNA, while saying he may very well support the $700 billion bailout. One one of those numbers is just a wee bit bigger than the other.
- I was surprised that Israel/Palestine was not a major topic of the debate; I'm guessing it was scheduled to be but got pushed either due to time constraints or because of the inclusion of the economy stuff. But I was glad that Obama made sure to call Israel our "stalwart ally." Did you hear that, old Jews in Florida? He called ISRAEL our STALWART ALLY.
- The vice presidential debate next Thursday has a chance to shatter Bill Simmons' Unintentional Comedy Scale. It'll either be totally hilarious or totally horrifying, and probably both.
As the first debate approaches, just one thing we know for sure: After it's over, Hugh Hewitt will say McCain won. Guaranteed.
The only thing that could keep Hewitt from saying that would be if McCain fell and cracked his head open on the podium, but even then, Hugh would likely say that such an accident had "humanized" McCain, and that Obama's reaction showed him unfit to lead.
UPDATE: Gee, how'd I know:
Debate Summary: A Strong McCain Win: "Senator Obama Doesn't Understand..."
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 10:30 PM
As expected, McCain shines and Obama is on the defensive throughout. The good news for Obama is that more than 30 minutes were not on the specifics of foreign policy. But Obama stumbled badly on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. McCain simply knows this stuff, and Obama again and again betrays that he does not.
I have to talk about "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," which I saw last night and instantly fell in love with. It's in the tradition of "American Graffiti" and "Dazed in Confused"- a night-in-the-life tale about young people about to set off for college. This time it's set in New York City, with Michael Cera as the hero and Kat Dennings (Catherine Keener's daughter in "40-Year-Old Virgin") as the heroine.
On top of all the movie's other virtues- it's funny, with great music, and a whole lot of memorable moments- 'Nick and Norah' reminded me greatly of so many nights from my New York years, of rampaging around the city with a huge group of friends before grabbing a train back to New Jersey at the sun rises. Dennings even looks just like a girlfriend I had in high school...
The movie comes out a week from today; I certainly plan on seeing it again.
Obama's win-percentage lead widens... Let the debates begin!
The Twins beat the White Sox in ten innings last night to complete their sweep and move out a half-game ahead of the White Sox. The Twins came back from a 6-1 deficit to win in the 10th inning.
This sets up a crazy final weekend of the season, with the Twins playing Kansas City and the White Sox battling Cleveland, while in the NL the Mets and Brewers are tied for the wild card with the Phillies a game ahead of both. Can't wait to spend all day Sunday in a sports bar watching both the NFL and baseball; I've got a feeling I'll be happier on sunday about the Twins than the Vikings.
How crazy would it be if, the year after the Santana trade, the Mets didn't make the playoffs but the Twins did?
"No quit in relentless Twins" -MLB.com
"No quit in these Twins"- Yahoo Sports
Listening to Palin talk about the economy reminds me of when I tried to give my teacher an oral book report without having read the book.
But hey, you don't have to know anything, so long as you don't blink.
This is pretty hilarious. Can we safely say the wheels have come off the Express now?
Yes, you too can have a GPS with the voice of the car from "Knight Rider." Just like Hasselhoff.
I wholeheartedly support the Great Schlep:
My grandmother is more liberal than I am, and lives nowhere near Florida, so I'm not too worried.
Dana Stevens, on "Choke":
Thank God we have another film about the fantasies, hang-ups, unintentional cruelties, and eventual redemption of a fucked-up straight white guy. For a moment there, I had almost forgotten to keep such dudes at the forefront of my concerns. But when Chuck Palahniuk... is on the premises, self-destructive, Oedipally fixated slackers everywhere can rest safe in the knowledge that at last they have a voice in pop culture.But I thought Palahniuk was openly gay...
"Choke" is pretty bad, but it does have one absolutely perfect scene, a right-out-of-Savage-Love "rape fantasy" that goes awry.
I review the underwhelming "Ghost Town" in the Trend this week.
Last night, I managed to dodge the hot dog bomb and enter Citizen's Bank Park, just in time to see the Phillies lose to Atlanta in a blowout. It was the second time the Phils had lost this year with me in the house; last year, when I went to about 10 games, they were undefeated, although overall they've equaled last year's win total of 89.
Luckily, the Phils' night wasn't a total loss, as the Mets managed to blow their game against the Cubs, getting man-on-third-with-nobody-out in three straight innings but managing to score in only one them. The Phils' magic number is now three; the Mets have responded by turning to an old friend, Voltron.
Tomorrow morning, the Chicago White Sox will suspend their campaign for the AL Central title and return to Chicago after a nice continental breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We have spoken to the Minnesota Twins and informed them of our decision and have asked them to join us.There really are many more Twins/Obama parallels than I realized...
I am calling on the Commissioner of Baseball to convene a meeting with the leadership from both leagues, including the Twins and White Sox. It is time for both teams to come together to solve this problem.
We must meet as Americans, not as Twins or White Sox, and we must meet until this crisis in our testicular fortitude and timely hitting is resolved. I am directing my front office to work with the Twins' front office and the Major League Baseball Scheduling Office to delay Thursday night's game against the Twins until we have taken action to address this crisis.
McCain wants it postponed. I say let it go on. No, I won't use the standard hack argument ("If McCain can't handle a debate during a financial crisis, how will he handle Bin Laden???") It's not like McCain is going to solve the crisis all by himself- and besides, it's not like he's spent much time in the Senate this year up to this point.
I was actually looking forward to watching the debate, and writing a column on it. Go to Ole Miss, John! Because Obama can't lose if he's debating himself.
On the North Star site, I review the awful direct-to-DVD "Onion" movie. On E-Gear, I discuss the unveiling of the first Google phone, and on Dealerscope I look into how the 2nd and 3rd-richest members of Congress both have ties to the electronics industry. Apparently there's more money in that than being a Rockefeller or Kennedy, or marrying a beer heiress.
- The Twins pulled within a game and a half of the White Sox, beating Chicago at the Dome 9-3, leaving open the possibility that the Twins could end the series with an AL Central lead.
- The NL East is also a game and a half apart, as the Phillies lost and Mets won. I'll be at Citizen's Bank Park tonight for Philly-Atlanta; rooting against the Braves is something I'll never, ever get sick of.
- The Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday, for their first October-less non-strike season since 1993. My heart truly bleeds for their heartbroken, long-suffering fans. Fans of the Brewers, who haven't made the playoffs since 1982 and appear set to blow it yet again, are just going to have to deal with it.
News Item: Detroit Lions fire Matt Millen
Gee, seven years, a 31-84 record, one playoff game, and constant demands from fans for his ouster? Why in the world would they fire him? Yes, in his tenure as GM, Millen got more contract extensions than playoff appearances. I remember Michael Wilbon going on PTI and saying something along the lines of "I like Matt Millen, but this isn't working out." That was in 2003, I believe. Now that his career as a shitty executive is over, Millen can go back to being a shitty broadcaster.
News Item: Clay Aiken announces he's gay
I was pretty young at the time- is this more surprising than when Liberace came out, or less? What about George Michael?
Jonathan Chait, in a great piece about the McCain camp's dishonesty throughout the campaign:
McCain's proposal of joint town halls was salutary, but it wasn't an act of charity--the obvious purpose was to draw Obama into a forum where McCain excels. Even if McCain did make the offer out of a pure-hearted desire to lift the public discourse, Obama's refusal hardly justifies embarking upon a sustained campaign of slander. McCain's rationale is a bit like saying your rejection from law school forced you to turn to a life of crime.
Dream analysis from Sadly, No:
OK, so I just had a dream where Barack Obama said something along the lines of “We shouldn’t be feeding Coca-Cola to our kids for breakfast in our public schools” and the wingnutosphere went into a full freak-out mode. Confederate Yankee, Ace and Jules Crittenden each conducted scientific “studies” purporting to show that Coke was too the most healthy drink ever concocted (basically, they amounted to Mr. Yankee snorting a whole two-liter bottle of Coke through his nostrils and writing “I ain’t dead yet, Obammy! Whatcher fancy books say ’bout that!”). Michelle Malkin linked to them and added a “snort” and then said, “Hey Barry, stop telling our kids to drink your fancy arugula juice!” The Ole Perfesser “heh-indeeded” like crazy and said something like, “Well, I’m not sure whether Coke is healthy for you or not, but Obama will regret insulting the millions of Coke-drinking Americans. Heh!” And then by the next day, Howie Kurtz had devoted his entire Media Notes column to covering “Soda Gate.”I still wish I'd dreamt the whole "lipstick on a pig" thing.
And you know what the goddamn saddest part about this dream was?
Right after waking up, I went online to see if it had actually happened.
I need to stop reading right-wing blogs.
A great commentary by Campbell Brown on CNN:
I would say she HAS wilted, and that's the reason McCain won't let her near the media, but other than that, good stuff.
Who's throwing out the first pitch of their first playoff game? How about nobody?
Now that the Devil is in their past and heavenly October baseball is in their future, the Rays have a problem.How about having the Devil do it? Or maybe Jon Lovitz in costume as the Devil?
"We don't have anyone to throw out the ball for our first playoff game," Tampa Bay President Matt Silverman said. "MLB asked us who it'd be. We realized nobody in the history of the franchise had done anything to be worthy of the honor."
Nobody's even close. Not after Tampa Bay finished last in the American League East in nine of its previous 10 seasons. Not after playing in its Tropicana Field dungeon, a domed park that looks like a garbage can with its lid on crooked. Not after exorcising the "Devil" from its name this season and, apparently, erasing all of its past.
Central Command has a base in Tampa, so the Rays dream of fetching Gen. David Petraeus to throw out the first pitch. If not, as God is my witness, their second choice is Dick Vitale. That is their celebrity list. Who knew the Rays had a fan?
Daniel Larison, on why it's stupid to make voting decisions based on your contempt for random extremists on the other side:
We all know that this is a ridiculous way to respond. It makes your loyalties hostage to the most idiotic of your opponents, and it compels you to ignore your interests and any semblance of independent thought... If we voted our interests and paid no mind to the kinds of people who would be outraged by the victory of one candidate or another, we would quickly realize that neither party represents us and serves mainly as a rallying point for our undefined grievances against other people, most of whom we have never met.The crazy protesters in college annoyed me enough that I almost turned against liberalism for awhile in the early '00s. Luckily, the rank ineptitude of the Bush folks sent me right back before long.
A pretty entertaining mashup:
What, they couldn't work in a little bit of "they are who we thought they were"?
The best Maureen Dowd column of the year is, is in all the great ones, not actually written by Maureen Dowd. She handed it over to "West Wing" creator/ex-boyfriend Aaron Sorkin for an imagined conversation between Barack Obama and former President Bartlet:
BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.How obvious is it that Sorkin would really, really love to still be running that show right now?
I write on the Constitution Center's Mikhail Gorbachev event last week, in this week's North Star column.
But I did see that "Mad Men" won Best Drama, and my favorite Emmy tradition, the Best Comedy Writing clipoff:
The Conan clip was the best, but glad to see Colbert get the win.
Obama's winning percentage just keeps increasing, according to Nate Silver's model.
Jonathan Chait, on the deflating of the Palin bubble:
Even though Palin took ten times the national per capita average in earmarked spending, in this regard she still rates somewhat below average by the standards of the petro-kleptocracy of the state from which she hails. Yet this defense raises the question of why Ted Kennedy never thought to run for president on the slogan "He Never Took a Drink In His Life," and then, when challenged, point out that other members of his family are less sober than he.It's a good column and he makes a good point, but who are we kidding: Chait is a member of the elite media and he's viciously attacking Sarah Palin, so his opinion doesn't count.
- Hey, did you hear last night was the final game at Yankee Stadium? I think it was maybe mentioned once or twice in the last few days. Seriously, the way ESPN covered that game you would think the president or the Pope had died. Or that Brett Favre had retired again. I look forward to the same breathless coverage next September, when the Twins play their final game at the Metrodome.
- You know what I think is a much bigger story? The Yankees aren't making the playoffs, but the Tampa Bay Rays are.
- The Twins enter the final week two and a half back of the White Sox, and the two teams play three at the Dome starting Tuesday. I'm not especially optimistic- if you have five young starters who have never thrown this many innings, it's not a recipe for success. Then again, stranger things have happened.
- The Phillies took two of three from the Marlins over the weekend and now lead the NL East by a game and a half, although even if the Mets go ahead the Phils remain comfortably ahead of the Brewers for the Wild Card spot. The Phils' recent hot streak continues their streak of finishing well in all four of Charlie Manuel's seasons as manager, although I expect to hear for all of next year about how "the Phillies always choke down the stretch."
- I would like to see the Milwaukee Brewers make the playoffs. While the Yankees fans whine and whine about not making the playoffs for the first time since 1993, the Brewers haven't made it at all since 1982! Haven't their fans suffered enough?
- The Vikings won a game! Really! Gus Frerotte had a game that was completely average in every way, but average is much much better than Tarvaris Jackson, so they beat Carolina.
- What's stranger- that the Patriots got crushed by the Dolphins in New England, or that the Colts are a Tarvaris meltdown away from being 0-3?
- The Eagles' defense dominated against the Steelers on Sunday, sacking Ben Roethlisberger eight times, while the offense kicked ass in the first quarter before slowing down following injuries to McNabb and Westbrook (both are likely to play next week.) McNabb broke the team record for career touchdown passes, and after a week in which everyone questioned whether Brian Dawkins was done, he had seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
- At this point, the people who still think Donovan McNabb sucks are very much like the people who still think the Rosenbergs were innocent. They were pretty much dead-wrong all along, but each new bit of evidence just makes them look even more wrong.
- And yes, that silly stat about how the Eagles have never, under Andy Reid, beaten an AFC team that went on to make the playoffs is now no longer operative. Assuming, of course, that the Steelers make the playoffs.
- Damn, the NFC East is good. The Giants and Cowboys are both undefeated, with the Eagles and Redskins 2-1 and having only lost to the Cowboys and Giants, respectively.
- My fantasy team, the Silver Surfers, is likely to fall to 2-1 this week, after a Sunday night game in which none of my players (Tony Romo, T.O. Donald Driver, Packers defense) performed up to par. I accepted a trade earlier this week of T.O. and Selvin Young for Marion Barber, thinking that having Romo and Owens together would offset the loss of Barber's production, but then Marion went out and had a career game, in which TO did nothing but Dallas nonetheless ran roughshod over the Packer D. Luckily, Michael Turner kept me in it with another three-touchdown day.
Amelie Gillette, on the latest Microsoft commercial:
After breaking up the comedy duo of Seinfeld & Gates, Microsoft today debuted a new ad campaign meant to undercut the Apple propaganda that all PC users are John Hodgman. Apparently, Microsoft was very hurt by the stereotype that all of their customers are lovably dorky humor writers who are waged in a constant battle against smugness in the form of Drew Barrymore's ex-boyfriend. So they enlisted a whole array of new stereotypes (and three thoroughly unlikeable celebrities) to represent the PC nation in their new ads... Wow. So if you use a PC, you're in the company of French rap sensation Tony Parker, the make-up in the shape of Eva Longoria, Pharrell, some homeless guy with a beard, a scuba diver with an annoying sense of humor, the inspiration for The Love Guru (Deepak Chopra), and a number of people with really fun accents. This makes you want to buy a computer how?Still better than the old ads, however.
Also, it would have been simpler for Deepak Chopra to just say, "I'm a PC, and I will gradually wear down your patience with verbal slingshot after verbal slingshot filled with bullshit."
Shysterball is a brilliant, brilliant writer, if I haven't made that clear previously.
Via Philadelphia Will Do, one of the funniest 20-second local news promos ever:
For the latest on what idiots have been robbing electronics stores- and leaving their porn there- nationwide, see my latest Week in Electronics Retail Crime roundup at Dealerscope.com.
Yesterday, Nate Silver's "winning percentage" stat had a 55% chance of McCain winning the election. Today? Obama has a 61.2% chance of winning. I like the second number better.
Who would've guessed, the day the Twins and Rays made the Matt Garza/Delmon Young trade last November, that when the two teams squared off on the second-to-last weekend of the season, both would still be in the playoff hunt and two of the games would be nationally televised?
Come on Twinkies, let's do this thing! Scoring six in the top of the ninth last night was a good start.
After two consecutive excellent games, I don't know why we have to, but...
I heard on the radio, after the Dallas game, that "a Hall of Fame quarterback would've won that game," which is an argument that has quite a few holes in it. Namely, that all sorts of Hall of Fame QBs, such as Jim Kelly and John Elway and the sainted Brett Favre, have lost multiple big games. Or that the quarterback that DID win the game, Tony Romo, is certainly no Hall of Famer, at least not yet.
Rich Hofmann has a good column today discussing this:
THE LAST TIME Donovan McNabb brought the Eagles back to win a game in the fourth quarter was not in the Paleozoic Era. It was last November at Washington. You remember - a screen pass to Brian Westbrook, a couple of big blocks downfield by Shawn Andrews and Jon Runyan and, 57 yards later, the go-ahead touchdown.But, but... I thought he always blew it in big games!
You see, McNabb has done it.
This year, last year and the year before, there have been six games in which McNabb found himself in the same position as on Monday night in Dallas: trailing by one score (that is, by eight points or less) and with possession of the ball in the fourth quarter.
Six times. And in three of those six games, he has left the field for the final time with the lead. That is a fine percentage, much better than the league average - not Tom Brady or John Elway, for sure, but really not bad at all.
And, so, another non-issue bites the dust.
I knew it looked familiar!
The Phillies last night beat the Braves for their seventh straight win, putting themselves a half game up on the Mets and further cementing their playoff status. They swept the Braves to go 9-for-9 on the season in Turner Field. There's nothing I love more than the silencing of those Tomahawk-chopping, not-selling-out-World-Series-game schmucks in Atlanta.
Everyone wanted them to go out and get a big-time starting pitcher- an A.J. Burnett, or Erik Bedard- but it turned out they had one all along in Brett Myers, who has been dominant since returning from the minors. (Bedard, meanwhile, is about to have surgery and may miss next year.) ESPN now gives the Phils a 91.8% chance of making the playoffs.
Yeah, Family Guy’s just not a show I like. It’s funny, when we did that [Family Guy parody] show, it was more to point out that the similarities between our two shows is that they’re animated, and it stops there. They feel like very different shows. Family Guy, to comedy people, it’s kind of what that band the Offspring is to real punk rockers.
This is pretty spot-on:
I like how he briefly turns into Cookie Monster a couple of times.
The world's most overrated sports venue will close its doors this week. I never found the place all that special myself; despite all the history, it's no Fenway or Wrigley- and the game-going experience is much better at all the new ballparks. I wholeheartedly agree with Kevin Baker:
The Yankees are pretending that, with a final, unimportant game this Sunday, they’re leaving the house that Ruth built: the majestic stadium that opened back when Harding was president. Wrong. That park died in 1973. In its place is a typical seventies improvisation, gritty, rickety, and ugly, something not built for the ages but just good enough to get us through the bad times.
Yes, it's the Hochuli blog. Great stuff, if muscular NFL-ref humor is your thing.
Tonight I attended the ceremony in which Mikhail Gorbachev received the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center. I'll have more on this in the North Star column next week, but first a few observations:
- Gorbachev visited Minneapolis/St. Paul in 1990, when I was 12 years old, which I remember being the biggest Twin Cities frenzy of my entire childhood that didn't involve a World Series or Super Bowl. Philly didn't quite have the same buzz today, but then Gorby has been out of office for awhile.
- Bush 41 introduced Gorbachev, while Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter spoke as well. The fact that Gorby has trashed Dubya all over the world appearently hasn't affected his friendship with the president's father.
- I went to the press conference with Gorbachev before the ceremony, and while I didn't get to ask a question- between translations from English to Russian and back, and the longwindedness of his answers, it took Gorby a half hour to answer five questions- I've now officially spent more time in the proximity of world leaders than Sarah Palin has.
- No, I didn't ask about "Rocky IV," nor did anyone else. But there was indeed Rocky vs. Ivan Drago footage in the special film about the history of the Cold War shown during the ceremony. They know their Philly audience, I guess.
Indeed, the former leader of the Soviet Union standing in front of an American flag while an American audience cheered reminded me an awful lot of an American heavyweight champion standing in a Russian ring being cheered by a Russian audience. But Gorby made no mention of that film's role in the peaceful end of the Cold War, nor did the phrase "if I can change, you can change, we all can change!" appear anywhere in his remarks.
- Apparently Yakov Smirnoff was there. I don't even have a joke. I bet he does, though.
- The event was sort of marred by a microphone mishap in which Gorbachev (in Russian) and his translator (in English) couldn't be heard over each other. The translator, by the way, is a dead ringer for G. Gordon Liddy.
- Bruce Hornsby got up at the end and sang "The Way It Is," though I could tell some in the press area recognized the tune more from the 2Pac song that sampled it.
Microsoft has pulled the plug, apparently. Because spending $300 million on a nonsensical ad campaign that has convinced zero people to switch to Windows was just bound to work.
New ads, featuring various Microsoft users as well as celebrities including Eva Longoria and Pharell Williams, started running this week. The company says the Jerry/Bill campaign was just "phase one," but Seinfeld will not be appearing again, at least for now.
But still, the original campaign lasted just two weeks. Even the Ron Silver "His Father is the District Attorney!" show lasted longer than that.
It was the right move, and really the only move. Frerotte's no superstar, but he's a solid QB and I can see him leading them places. Thus ends the era of the Vikes' worst starting quarterback since Sean Salisbury.
I review the awful Pacino/DeNiro collaboration "Righteous Kill" in the Trend this week.
Colbert makes fun of a physicist who can't tell the difference between "Star Wars" and "Star Trek"
John Glenn made the exact same mistake during a Brandeis commencement address in 1999- and he's been to space!
America's greatest magazine writer, Gary Smith, is profiled today in the New York Times.
Most of them, anyway. Dan Kennedy investigates.
I analyze how McCain's leadership on the Senate Commerce Committee caused the BlackBerry to be invented- in Canada- in this E-Gear story.
What a game in Dallas last night, as the Eagles and Cowboys combined for 78 points and traded the lead numerous times, before the Cowboys finally pulled out the victory, 41-37.
While they didn't win, the Eagles showed again that they're for real. They scored 37 points, McNabb looked great once again, and they hung with Dallas, a Super Bowl favorite, for the entire game, in Dallas.
The only truly embarrassing thing was when DeSean Jackson blew an easy touchdown by spiking the ball before he crossed the goal line. It ended up not mattering, though, since Brian Westbrook crossed the goal line on the following the play. If Jackson goes on to have a great career, no one will remember this. If he doesn't, EVERYONE will remember this.
Since I have both Romo and Barber on my fantasy team, I was hoping for a shootout that the Eagles would win; I got 50 percent of my wish.
Penny Arcade agrees with me about the Gates/Seinfeld ads.
So yes, an impression of two women by two actresses, is "sexist"? Wow, imagine the reaction on the right if Obama ever called something racist, something he has barely done throughout the campaign. "Race card! Race card!" "Duke lacrosse! Duke lacrosse!"
Ezra Klein has a great idea:
I've always thought that the next frontier in vanity industries should be commissioned biographies. Someone should set up a company employing out-of-work, or in-school, writers, and charge $30-$40,000 for beautifully bound, broadly positive, built-to-order biographies. They can even include some pictures. That way, you not only live forever, but get to control your story after you're gone. It's the perfect gift for the man who has everything but literal immortality.If there were actually a market for this, I'd totally do it. Let me know if you're interested in having me ghostwrite for you.
Jason Zengerle, on Obama doing a Streissand fundraiser:
I do find it a little distressing that Obama has fallen back on the shopworn Democratic presidential campaign habit of having Barbara Streisand headline a fundraiser. Once upon a time, you could go to an Obama event and hear quality musical acts like Wilco, Arcade Fire, and Superchunk. Now you get Babs?! That's not the change you can believe in (or dance to).A vote for Obama is a vote for Superchunk at the White House.
For the Eagles-Cowboys game Monday, a local strip club in Philly held "Pacman Jones Night." I hope they remembered the metal detectors...
I discuss the nonsensical "Lipstick on a Pig" controversy in this week's North Star column.
I got back last night from a weekend in Baltimore, a city I had never before spent much time in but instantly fell in love with.
Now, most of what I know about Balmer comes from "The Wire" and "Homicide: Life on the Street," two shows that, while among my all-time favorites, tend to depict Baltimore as a cesspool of corruption, crime, and murder. But it's actually a very beautiful, idiosyncratic city, and I'm not only talking about the Inner Harbor and Fells Point. Although, we did take a wrong turn off the highway, and I'm pretty sure we drove by Marlo Stanfield's rim shop...
We caught the end of the first game and almost of the second of the Twins' doubleheader sweep of the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday, in which the Twinkies scored 12 runs in each game and briefly took over a share of first place in the Central. Unlike most cities in which people actually go to games, the Orioles let anyone with tickets to either game stay for both. In fact, there were so many Twins fans in the house that it felt like a home game- I even saw "Circle Me Bert" signs.
It was doubleheader-mania in baseball this weekend, leading to such oddities as the Phillies erasing a four-game deficit in the wild card standings by sweeping Milwaukee- just as Carlos Zambrano was finishing a no-hitter- in the Brewers' stadium. Just two more weeks of the season; I just hope everyone gets to play all their games.
Another highlight of the trip? We got to see the headquarters building from "Homicide"- as well as the bar the cops used to go to.
I was shocked to hear over the weekend that David Foster Wallace had been found dead, in an apparent suicide, in California on Friday. A brilliant journalist and novelist who could convey more in a footnote (which he used constantly) than most writers can in a complete sentence, Wallace will be very much missed. If you haven't read "Consider the Lobster," please do- it's his most essential work.
Jeff Bercovici of Portfolio, on the Seinfeld/Gates disaster:
The more I see of Microsoft's new ad campaign starring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, the more I wonder: What were they thinking?The second ad isn't much better, but it does have the guy who played the newspaper managing editor on the last season of "The Wire" as the dad.
A lot of critics have noted that the ads fail to present any positive argument for Windows. But that's not my problem with them. Nor is it their lack of originality... Nor is it even that they're just not very funny. No, what drops my jaw is that no one at Microsoft or its ad agency (Crispin Porter & Bogusky) considered the significance of Seinfeld-as-metaphor. A towering presence during the 1990s, increasingly irrelevant since then...remind you of any software giants you can think of?
News Item: New Twins Stadium to Be Called Target Field
Better that than Land O' Lakes Stadium, which was rumored, and would've caused everyone to call it either "LOL" or "The Butter Field."
When baseball stadiums close, they usually find a way to sell off artifacts, especially seats. My old roommate in Hoboken even had some from Veterans' Stadium in our living room. With Shea Stadium closing, the Mets are doing the same thing- but they're also auctioning off the two foul poles.
The NYT's Jim Luttrell asks the obvious question: What in the world would someone do with a 100-foot-tall foul pole? I mean, you can't just stick in your back yard, can you?
A commenter on Shysterball, though, had the best idea:
I have a GIANT stripper living in my back yard. She'd love it.
News Item: Best Buy to buy Napster
It would've been more valuable ten years ago, I'm guessing.
Great stuff from the season premiere:
Unfortunately, the rest of the show was virtually laugh-free; Michael Phelps may be an all-time great Olympian, but he's not nearly as good at reading cue-cards.
That was just brutal. The Vikings lost to the Colts today, blowing a 15-point, all-field goal lead and losing 18-15. They squandered an excellent Adrian Peterson performance, failing to capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities and therefore falling to 0-2.
If the Vikes have a convincing explanation for why Tarvaris Jackson is sitll their quarterback, I'd love to hear it. Let the Gus Frerotte Era begin! (Again!)
We're heading to Baltimore this weekend to see friends, and also see the Twins play at the Orioles, in my first Camden Yards visit since 1992. I'd go visit some of my favorite "Wire" locations, although I'm guessing most of them aren't very safe. However, I am going to suggest to my friend that we go drinking by the railroad tracks.
The Palin interview with Charles Gibson shows, once and for all, that she has no business anywhere near the White House. Because the average undergrad who has taken a semester of Intro to International Relations likely knows more about foreign policy than she does.
James Fallows has the best analysis:
What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the "Bush Doctrine" exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years...It's one thing to be for or against the Bush Doctrine. But Palin, clearly, had never heard of the Bush Doctrine. And she could be president of the United States within the year...
Sarah Palin did not know this issue, or any part of it. The view she actually expressed -- an endorsement of "preemptive" action -- was fine on its own merits. But it is not the stated doctrine of the Bush Administration, it is not the policy her running mate has endorsed, and it is not the concept under which her own son is going off to Iraq.
UPDATE: I agree wholeheartedly with Conor Clarke:
Let me take the bait and make a plea for good old-fashioned elitism: It's not "about time" for an average American to occupy the White House (or the Naval Observatory), and the notion that some ossified and preening elite lords over Washington is silly.
Everyone is an elitist. We want elite doctors to treat our cuts and cancers. We want elite lawyers and accountants to smooth over our divorces and taxes. And we (some of us, anyway) want our elite soldiers to invade foreign countries. And we don't apologize for these preferences. In most contexts, "elite" is just another word for "merit."
So why don't many of us want elite politicians? The reverse snobs usually argue that Everywoman politicians are better at understanding everyone's problems. But even if this claim is true (and I'm pretty sure it isn't) it remains suspiciously unextended to all other aspects of social life. We don't think the lawyers who have been dragged through a messy divorce are more capable of handling a client's. Why?
The Eagles and Cowboys, both coming off convincing Week 1 wins, are set to square off Monday night in Texas, and as always in this situation, the talk in the sports bars and sports pages and talk radio lines of Philadelphia returns to the Donovan McNabb/Terrell Owens questions. Owens himself, of course, felt the need to rub salt in the wound and discuss the situation again, ensuring a week's worth of incendiary stories.
Mike Missanelli, on his show the other day, came out and admitted, as he has often, "I still miss T.O." So of course, what followed was two hours of more and more rehashing of the Owens/Eagles divorce, whether it was T.O. or McNabb's fault, what the team should have done, what Donovan should have done, why this proves the Eagles will never ever win with Donovan and/or T.O, etc.
People- get over it! It's been three years! Much, much has happened since! It's over, T.O.'s never coming back, so move forward. And I love that the same people who chide McNabb for still "holding a grudge" over being booed at the draft in 1999 are still years away from letting go of the T.O. thing.
And yes, Rick Reilly is an idiot. Of course Philly is an Eagles town first, last and always. Last year, when the Eagles held a training camp battle between punters, more people in town cared about that than they did about the Phillies being in a pennant race.
Saw "Burn After Reading" last night, and while it wasn't great or transcendent by any means, I laughed a lot and very much enjoyed it overall. The scenes with J.K. Simmons were my favorite part- aside from a certain machine in Clooney's basement- and I'm finally at the point where Simmons has been in enough movies that I can see him without having flashbacks to him raping Beecher on "Oz." Clooney's usually awful at broad comedy- see "Leatherheads," or better yet don't- but his performance here is so over the top that I actually loved it.
My ranking of the 13 Coen Brothers movies:
2. "The Big Lebowski"
3. "No Country For Old Men"
4. "Raising Arizona"
5. "O Brother Where Art Thou"
6. "Blood Simple"
7. "Miller's Crossing"
8. "Burn After Reading"
9. "The Hudsucker Proxy"
10. "The Man Who Wasn't There"
11. "Barton Fink"
12. "The Ladykillers"
13. "Intolerable Cruelty"
Notes: There's very little distance between, say, #6 and #11. And even #11 is better than #1 in most directors' filmographies.
In one of the more embarrassing high school videos in recent history, the Boston Red Sox screen the finale of "Dirty Dancing," with Jonathan Papelbon in the Swayze role and a male friend in drag as Baby:
As long as Paps is going through the Swayze canon, next he can do the SNL "Chippendales" sketch, with David Ortiz in the Chris Farley role.
This Adrian Peterson/Ragnar commercial was pretty impressive (watch in full here, under "more features"):
Also good to see the Vikes' secondary mascot (middle), the guy who looks like a cartoon Hulk Hogan.
Paul Krugman, who's been really, really good lately, on recent McCain/Palin bullshit:
Did you hear about how Barack Obama wants to have sex education in kindergarten, and called Sarah Palin a pig? Did you hear about how Ms. Palin told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” when it wanted to buy Alaska a Bridge to Nowhere?I still say the ad claiming Obama is personally to blame for high gas prices was worse than any of the above, but that's just me.
These stories have two things in common: they’re all claims recently made by the McCain campaign — and they’re all out-and-out lies.
Dishonesty is nothing new in politics. I spent much of 2000 — my first year at The Times — trying to alert readers to the blatant dishonesty of the Bush campaign’s claims about taxes, spending and Social Security.
But I can’t think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign’s lies in 2000 were artful — you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again.
Not only was there a shout-out in last week's episode to the Port Huron Statement, but both House Next Door and Sepinwall reacted with the same "Big Lebowski" reference! And speaking of the Dude, there's a great piece on Slate today on the "prescient politics" of the Coens' 1998 masterpiece:
Walter, with his bellowing, Old Testament righteousness and his deeply entrenched militarism, is an American type that barely registered on the pop-culture landscape 10 years ago. He's a neocon.The biggest difference between Walter and most neocons, of course, is that he actually served in a war. Still, I would hate to be in a bowling league with Richard Perle, Doug Feith or Paul Wolfowitz.
If that seems like a stretch, consider the traits Walter exhibits over the course of the film: faith in American military might (the Gulf War, he says, "is gonna be a piece of cake"; in the original script, he calls it "a fucking cakewalk"); nostalgia for the Cold War ("Charlie," he says, referring to the Viet Cong, was a "worthy fuckin' adversary"); strong support for the state of Israel (to judge from his reverent paraphrase of Theodor Herzl: "If you will it, Dude, it is no dream"); and even, perhaps, past affiliation with the left (he refers knowingly to Lenin's given name and admits to having "dabbled in pacifism").
Who cares about Seinfeld and Gates? Give me Peyton Manning vs. The San Diego Chicken:
Phil Villarreal of the Daily Star on the very, very weak "Righteous Kill":
So this is what it’s all come down to for two of the greatest actors — a cop thriller with all the edge of a butter stick... The novelty of seeing De Niro and Pacino together onscreen — they were never together in “The Godfather: Part II” shared only one sequence in “Heat” — almost is worth the price of admission. But halfway through the rancid story you realize it would have been more interesting to watch a video of the men waiting in line together at the [DMV]If a grade schooler tried to make a remake of "Serpico," it would look a lot like this movie. And yes, I know Max Fisher did exactly that in "Rushmore," but this is even worse. How little buzz does this movie have? It comes out tomorrow, and as of last night there was not a single review yet on Rotten Tomatoes.
Cracked, on "commandments" of Facebook:
The other day I got a notification on Facebook letting me know that someone had “bought” me. Then someone else challenged me to a “race” where this crappy little car came up, I hit “Go!,” and a message popped up that said “YOU LOST THE RACE.” Then another notification popped up informing me that someone had “thrown a sheep” at me, asking if I’d like to install some sort of app to “throw a sheep” back at them. Then another notification popped up, but instead of clicking it I closed my laptop, walked down to the nearest highway overpass, and proceeded to get as drunk as a human being possibly can without dying.
There are thousands of apps available on Facebook, and although there are a few worth checking out, about 99.9% of them suck. A reasonably intelligent person should be able to tell the difference. If you can’t figure out which is which, maybe Facebook isn’t the place for you.
News Item: Lynda Carter slams Sarah Palin
Since she played the governor of Vermont in "Super Troopers," Carter is clearly qualified to make such judgments.
Curt Schilling has always been one of the more outspoken athletes when it comes to politics, and while I don't agree with him, I always figured he knew what he was talking about. Until yesterday, that is, when #38 ran this reader e-mail on his blog:
“For everybody reading this, I can’t believe nobody pounds home the most obvious facts. First, last and forever, The US Congress has been controlled by Democrats for almost the entire Bush 43 Presidency. The President couldn’t even get a simple up or down vote on Federal judges for how long?As, well, anyone who pays even the barest attention to politics knows, that statement is incorrect, and Congress was in fact controlled by the Republicans for the entire time between Bush taking office in 2001 and the start of 2007, save for the brief period in 2001-2003 when the Democrats got the Senate back by 51-49 majority.
Schilling apologized and corrected, but come on. This isn't an intricate debate over, say, whether and when Sarah Palin supported or opposed the Bridge to Nowhere. This is the question of which party was in control of Congress for six years. Shouldn't someone who professes to be outspoken at least know that much?
Joe Klein,on McCain:
Back in 2000, after John McCain lost his mostly honorable campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, he went about apologizing to journalists--including me--for his most obvious mis-step: his support for keeping the confederate flag on the state house.Klein's new column is also well worth reading. But what am I thinking? Joe Klein's a member of the elite media, and his opinion is invalid because he hates all of you.
Now he is responsible for one of the sleaziest ads I've ever seen in presidential politics, so sleazy that I won't abet its spread by linking to it, but here's the McClatchy fact check.
I just can't wait for the moment when John McCain--contrite and suddenly honorable again in victory or defeat--talks about how things got a little out of control in the passion of the moment. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.
The Onion has the scoop.
I wonder what this guy thinks about it.
News Item: Ric Flair assaulted by daughter's boyfriend
Normally it would be shocking and wrong to beat up a 60-year-old man, but seeing as how he's a 14-time World champion...
More about my namesake lobbyist, in a TNR blog post about Obama "pulling his punches" about Palin's lobbyist connections:
The shot the Obama campaign doesn't take here has to do with the Washington lobbyist Palin hired for Wasila. His name is Steven Silver and, as the saying goes, he "has ties" to Jack Abramoff.I for one hope Obama doesn't take that tack. I don't want my name dragged through the mud like that.
Are those ties extensive? As this article from TPMMuckraker makes clear, probably not: It looks like Silver did some work for Abramoff's lobbying firm and had one meeting with Abramoff. But if the McCain campaign can do an ad about Obama sending an army of political hitmen after Palin based on an apparently bogus John Fund blog post, then the Obama campaign can certainly send out a press release release that accuses Palin of hiring "a Washington lobbyist with ties to convicted felon Jack Abramoff." Indeed, the hypothetical Obama press release would be more factually sound than the very real McCain ad.
I review the wild documentary "Man on Wire," on the Trend site. I went to no screenings the last three weeks (due to the conventions, as well as a whole bunch of not-screened-for-critics releases), but I start back this week with "Righteous Kill" (tonight) and "Burn After Reading" (tomorrow).
Tuesday night in Lebanon, Va., Obama -- talking about McCain's attempts to paint himself as an agent of change on various issues -- said "you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig."Fake outrage: It's how Republicans win.
Palin last week had joked that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick, and many members of the audience took Obama's comment as an allusion to Palin's remarks. (Though not as Obama calling the governor a pig.)
The McCain campaign immediately -- falsely and flatly -- asserted that Obama had called Palin a pig. Wednesday morning the McCain campaign launched a web video repeating the false claim.
"What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country," Obama said. "They seize on an innocent remark, try to take it out of context, throw up an outrageous ad, because they know that it’s catnip for the media."
I suppose I don't really need to participate, though, since my grandmother is more liberal than I am.
We had the following conversation about last night's Phillies-Marlins game (which I missed, while watching the Vikings-Packers abomination):
Me: Did the Phillies win?
Me: Who pitched?
Her: Blanton, he pitched five innings.
Me: Did he eat them?
He's pretty unhappy, as you could guess. But as only Simmons can, he analogizes the whole thing to "Varsity Blues,"* and states that he was almost as upset about Jane, the hot new secretary on "Mad Men," almost getting fired on the same day as the injury. I myself was more upset about Jane than Brady- although I think the "Entourage" season premiere was worse than the performance of any team in Week 1, including the Rams.
*He also points out that the teacher in "Varsity Blues," who turned out to be a stripper, looks just like Sarah Palin. Of course she does. And congrats to Sports Guy for joining the Anti-Palin MSM Conspiracy just for writing that. Enjoy the hate mail, Bill!
FunnyorDie fills us in:
My favorite part is the clip of Bullwinkle when mooseburgers are mentioned. Is this election now Rocky vs. Bullwinkle?
He's not fired, apparently, just taking a day or two off. That's good.
UPDATE: An Yglesias commenter:
The only thing we know for sure is that Sarah Palin did not abort him. And this is why she should be Vice President of the United States.
News Item: Kim Jong-Il said to be seriously ill.
I just hope he doesn't end up being succeeded by someone even crazier.
Who needs Olbermann and Matthews when you've got this?
Here's my take on it on E-Gear.
The AV Club commenters have some fun with "Entourage":
- Did you guys ever see the one where one of the main characters wants to buy something really expensive and outlandish, but then it turns out that someone else wants to buy it, so they end up paying way more than the fucking thing's worth, but it was totally worth it because they got something that no one else can have? That one episode rocked. Oh, wait, did I say one episode? I meant 20 episodes.I agree with the last one the most.
- Right, and it had that one scene where they are walking and walking and engaging in witty banter where they put each other down a lot but ultimately show their love for each other? And then some hot girls show up and the fat kid doesn't get laid but thats ok because he has some killer bud? That one? yeah, I saw it.
- I don't know if I saw that one. I saw the one that involved wish fulfillment for boys. Oh! and the one where a character has to make a choice between two unbelievably awesome options. Like making a movie or fucking one's way through a Mexican beach town.
- I liked the episode when they got some really cool cars to drive to the exclusive club where they had 10 or so hot girls come on to them and then they drove aforementioned cool cars back to a great house or boat or houseboat then had great sex and smoked weed with the aforementioned hot girls. Oh, and they talked about it the next day. That was probably my favorite.
- And the episode that mretrain decribes, there's a hot chick working at the place where the really expensive, but not available item is. And at the end of the epsiode Vince is having sex with that chick.
- I preferred the subplot where Eric and Ari run all over town and have cell phone conversations trying to get a movie made, but a financing difficulties and Vince's fickleness keep sidelining all their efforts until the very end, when they celebrate some small victory with a toast and a semi-obscure pop song.
- Did you see that one episode of The Wire where the police couldn't do real policework because the brass and politicians were only concerned with stats, and one drug dealer got busted only to see a more ruthless one take his place, and Michael was conflicted about something, and Herc was dumb, and the more things changed the more they stayed the same? The Wire is the best show of all-time.
Ugh. I don't want to talk about it.
Except to say this: Don't think of Tarvaris Jackson's game-ending interception as a choke. Think of it as a homage to Brett Favre.
Andrew Sullivan has not posted to his blog since 1:48 this afternoon, by far the longest he's gone without a new post, aside from vacations, in the nearly eight years he's been blogging.
What's going on? Who knows. What I do know is that Andrew's been going especially wild lately with anti-McCain and anti-Palin stuff, and was one of the few mainstream media types who actually went with the Trig's-not-her-baby rumor (albeit skeptically). Have the magazine's owners stepped in somehow, ala MSNBC with Matthews and Olbermann? I don't know, but I expect we'll hear something in the next day or two.
In response to today's bizarre events- United Airlines' stock dropped more than 70 percent on bogus bankruptcy rumors, caused when the Florida Sun-Sentinel accidentally posted a story from six years ago- Matt Yglesias has an idea:
here we see perhaps a model to maintain the financial viability of newspapers. Any organization that spends enough money to garner a reputation as a credible news source could then turn around and tank a company’s stock with a bogus story. Then you buy shares up on the cheap, and make big bucks as the stock recovers. Of course, the bulk of your stories still need to pass as credible, semi-accurate journalism — you can’t just run this trick every day — but there’s a lot of money to be made here.That would be illegal, I'm guessing, but aside from that it's a good idea.
I'm sure the Sun-Sentinel's mistake is going to be chalked up as another example of the reckless perfidy of MSM, but I'm guessing what happpened was something went haywire on some remote server and a story ended up in the wrong place. Happens all the time.
1. Brett Favre
2. Brett Favre
3. Brett Favre
4. Tom Brady
5. Brett Favre
6. Brett Favre
7. Aaron Rodgers, vis a vis Brett Favre
8. Brett Favre
9. Brett Favre
10. All Vikings players (tie)
Wagner's made plenty of enemies in both Philly and New York (I don't know that Houston has any problem with him, but I could be wrong.) Expect the Mets to get Huston Street to close for them next year, provided he agrees to change the pronunciation of his first name to "HOW-ston."
I bet whoever the rabbi is in that town doesn't even make $50k. He could quit his job and get a raise.
I review the GOP convention in this week's North Star column.
I was at Lincoln Financial Field this afternoon to see the Philadelphia Eagles pretty much put to rest every worry their fans had about them for the entire offseason, at least for a day, defeating the Rams 38-3.
All I heard all offseason was that the Eagles needed to go out and get a "big time receiver." Then, the team's top two receivers (Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown) went down with injuries.
So what happened in the first game? Three different receivers had more than 100 yards receiving, including rookie DeSean Jackson, and even such unheralded names as Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett were all over the field and the stat sheet.
What else happened? Donovan McNabb was nearly flawless, the offensive line protected him, the defense shut down the Rams' run and pass offenses, and even the special teams performed well.
An only-in-Philly moment: With the Eagles up 38-0 in the fourth quarter, the Rams got the ball and made two straight long completions. Yes, there was booing.
However, I was surprised to see people at an Eagles game checking the Phillies' game on their phones and even cheering when the Phils-Mets score was shown on the scoreboard. Never seen anything like that before; usually it's people at Phillies games doing "E-A-G-L-E-S" chants.
With Tom Brady going down with a likely season-ending injury- and the Colts not looking great against the Bears- the league is suddenly wide open. It's going to be quite a season.
I can understand not having Olbermann in the chair, that makes sense. But Matthews has been the main MSNBC political anchor for years, and I think pulling him too is sort of an overreaction.
The Insult Comic Dog visits the Republican convention (the Ann Coulter joke is the best part):
No interaction, though, with Ron Silver this time.
"I've been asking... how white Philadelphia can be ready for a black president, when they're not even ready for a black quarterback?" - Stephen Silver, North Star column, March 25
"A black president? Half of Pennsylvania isn't ready for a black quarterback" -Bill Maher, "Real Time," Sept. 5
The long-awaited, $300 million ad campaign for Microsoft featuring Jerry Seinfeld debuted last night, and I guess I'd say "bizarre" and "surreal" are the first two words to come to mind, and "what the fuck?" are the next three:
I don't care how "chewy" Windows gets. The next computer I get will be a Mac.
Bill O'Reilly had Barack Obama on his show last night, in a heavily-anticipated first appearance on the "Factor" for the Democratic nominee for president.
Now, O'Reilly has been going on for months about Obama not having yet appeared on the show. In the past, he has stated numerous times that the reason Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election was that he never went on the Factor. So, once he got Obama to come on the show I assumed the interview would take up the full hour, and likely earn a high rating leading into the McCain speech.
Apparently not. O'Reilly has instead chopped the interview into multiple segments to run over several days, the first of which began about 40 minutes into the show. I know this is Fox and all, but come on- why not run the interview all at once?
As for the interview itself, I thought Obama handled O'Reilly much better than most people do, although they did spend the majority of the 20 minutes interrupting each other. Then again, O'Reilly's long-anticipated interviews tend to fizzle- remember when he went on Colbert?
Ann and Nancy Wilson are Democrats,apparently:
Rock group Heart is furious with John McCain for bucking a request to stop playing their 1977 hit, "Barracuda," and is puzzled by the use of a song about "soulless" executives as the theme for his running mate, Sarah Palin.Whoever wrote that horrible, horrible "Raising McCain" country song, though, apparently isn't sorry.
"I feel completely [expletive'd] over," the band's Nancy Wilson told EW on Thursday night after their song was played following McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. According to TMZ -- which broke the scandal, the band has filed a cease and desist order.
I go into why, ultimately, John McCain will regret picking Sarah Palin, in a special North Star column.
A few notes on McCain and the rest of the RNC's final night:
I found McCain's speech the opposite of Palin's: the substance was there, and it times the words themselves were even admirable. But the execution was a mess.
McCain has never been such a great speaker, and tonight was no exception. He didn't have the audience with him until the very end, and even then he talked over the applause and could barely be heard- Public Speaking 101 says never, never do that. Other than that he was generally plodding and uninspiring, tripping over words and having trouble with the Teleprompter.
- And the green screen! It's back! I thought using it the first time was McCain's most mocked decision of the campaign, but then that was like two campaign shake-ups ago.
- The part in which he promised to draw on his experience, and discussed his hatred for war, was undoubtedly the strongest. But what was that "I will fight for you" stuff? Did McCain hire Bob Shrum, to recycle lines from Al Gore's 2000 campaign? (As someone rooting for Obama, I'm all for his opponent using Shrum.)
- This was the McCain of 2000-2004, emphasizing bipartisanship, respect for opponents, distancing himself from George Bush, and various other virtues formerly associated with McCain that have barely been mentioned at all throughout the week.
- I find it hilarious that the same convention audience that's been chanting "Drill Baby Drill!" for four days is cheering McCain for saying he'll go after the oil companies.
- Once again, what ever happened to that idea, after the hurricane, of a "subdued" convention, with no parties or funny hats or balloons? Did you see the end? A lot of fucking balloons, some of which engulfed Andrea Mitchell.
- Protesters interrupted the speech twice. What the hell is the point? Is anyone going to make their voting decision based on whether or not a couple of yahoos successfully broke into the arena?
- It's quite obvious that the Republican base would rather have Sarah Palin as their presidential nominee than John McCain. In fact, she captured and inspired them a hell of a lot more than anyone who ran on the Republican primaries.
- What the hell was up with that "9/11 tribute"? It had just about nothing to do with honoring the victims and everything to do with telling everyone "be very fucking afraid." Olbermann's been way, way over the top the last two weeks, but it's hard to disagree with what he said afterward.
- Lindsey Graham: NOT a good speaker, especially not when he's in ultra-snide mode, as he was tonight. It also didn't help that his entire speech was about slamming Obama for not believing the surge worked. About five minutes before Graham spoke, I heard Barack tell O'Reilly that "the surge worked beyond our wildest dreams."
- Nice of Joe Gibbs to address the RNC, rather than attend or even watch the team with which he is synonymous, the Washington Redskins, open the NFL season.
- Chris Matthews asked if Bush went along with, what he's wondering as he watches at home. Bush, I'm almost certain, watched the football game.
News Item: Daunte Culpepper retires from NFL
Daunte had an excellent run for several years as the Vikings' starting quarterback, but it all came to an extremely abrupt end with his weak start in '05, leading up to an injury in which he tore three knee ligaments. He was never the same after that, and wound up his career with the Dolphins and then the Raiders.
Culpepper may in fact be the best Vikes QB of my lifetime (none of the '80s or '90s guys, other than Gannon, stayed for more than a year or two), and I honestly feel horrible about the way his career turned out. After all, in 2004- just four years ago- he threw for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns, in one of the best seasons by the quarterback in league history.
And yes, with Culpepper gone Donovan McNabb is now the only one of the five first-round quarterbacks from the '99 draft remaining in the league.
Go Roger Simon:
On behalf of the media, I would like to say we are sorry.Rachel Sklar has additional thoughts.
On behalf of the elite media, I would like to say we are very sorry.
We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.
We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?
We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?
Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.
It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn’t be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia, on blog commenters:
Comments sections offer this great opportunity for morons to show the world they don't know the difference between their,there, and they're. It's as if Brian Williams finished every segment by saying, "That's all I got. Now, does anybody have any batshit-zany e-mails they'd like me to read out loud?" The worst part is, I'll start to second-guess myself: Huh. I thought his name was spelled "Barack Obama," but according to squidbaby44, "Barak HUSSEIN Osama is a secret mooslim!"
No, the segment filmed live at the Larry Craig mens' room wasn't even the funniest thing on last night's show. This was:
Yes, Republicans were against the gender card before they were for it.
Joe Klein defends the media:
Steve Schmidt has decided, for tactical reasons, to slime the press. He wants the public to believe that there is an unfair--sexist (you gotta love it)--personal assault going on against Palin and her family. This is a smokescreen, intended to divert attention from the very real and responsible vetting that is taking place in the media--about the substance of Palin's record as mayor and governor. Sure, there are a few outliers--and the tabloid press--who have fixed on baby stories. That was inevitable....the flip side of the personal stories that the McCain team thought would work to their advantage--Palin's moose-hunting and wolf-shooting, and her admirable decision to have a Down Syndrome baby. And yes, when we all fix on the same story, whether it's a hurricane or a little-known politician, a zoo ensues. But the media coverage of the Palin story has been well within the bounds of responsibility. Schmidt is trying to make it seem otherwise, a desperate tactic.After two days of nonsense, I'm glad someone said it. And good for Brian Williams for quoting this on the air tonight.
There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God." The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.
She did a great job and delivered on all of her objectives. She introduced herself to the electorate, spoke well, and had the crowd eating out of her hand. I say this even though whole paragraphs- like the "bridge to nowhere" one- were utterly false.
But here's my beef: the Republicans have clearly decided that they're going to fight the culture war, full-throttle, brandishing religion like a battering ram, bashing the media and playing the anti-elitism card at every opportunity- even if it entails Rudy Giuliani slamming big-city cosmopolitanism or Mitt Romney doing battle with Eastern elites. From now through November- nothing but mockery for Obama, Biden, and liberalism itself.
The Fox News, talk radio and blog crowds love this, and indeed, they're playing very successfully to the base. But in this election, with this electorate, they can't win that way. Especially since winning that way is utterly at odds with everything McCain has stood for for the last decade. Peggy Noonan was right on that count.
I'll have more on Palin's nomination in a North Star column later this week.
If McCain, when he appeared on stage afterward, were to say "And we'll see you tomorrow night!," he could probably deliver himself Minnesota. He didn't do it, though.
I agree with Noam Scheiber on what's rotten in St. Paul:
If you learned nothing else from 2004, you learned that Kerry was a flip-flopper--that he was before the $87 billion before he was against it--and that he was generally too wimpy to stand up to terrorists.Also, what happened to that whole idea of the hurricane "curtailing" the parties and celebrations aspects, and that people wouldn't even be wearing funny hats? So much for that idea.
So far this week, I've heard that Obama puts himself first rather than his country, that he's inexperienced, that he has no executive experience, that he's a whacked out liberal, that he's a celebrity, that he's unpatriotic, a defeatist, a flip-flopper, a moral relativist. Tonight, for the first time (care of Rudy Giuliani), I heard that he spent time in an apparently shameful profession called "community organizing." And that he voted "present" over 100 times in the Illinois state Senate. I haven't really heard the same critique more than twice, though. I have a hard time seeing how any one of them sticks, at least as a result of the convention.
The billionaire former governor of Massachusetts bashing "Eastern Elites," or his argument that the failures out of Washington in the last decade are the fault of liberalism?
As of right now, the name "Thomas Eagleton" appears on Google News 298 times. I don't have the historical data handy, but I'm going to guess that search didn't escape single digits at any time since the aggregator was introduced in 2002.
UPDATE: Oops, I was wrong- there was a brief spike in March 2007 when- you guessed it- Eagleton died.
Republican commentators Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan pull a Jesse Jackson and accidentally say what they really feel during an MSNBC commercial break:
This contradicts what both had previously said on the air, and what Peggy had written in her column that morning, which certainly did not include the phrase "it's over." Oops.
- Poor George W. Bush, locked out of his own party's convention. My heart just bleeds for him. Yea, he had to "handle the hurricane," but if his approval ratings were above, say, 40 percent, I'm guessing Dubya finds a way to make it to St. Paul. I wonder if he realizes the reason the entire convention is based around "reform" is because he's been such a failure. And comparing the "Angry Left" to the "Hanoi Hilton"? Really? I'm sure Republicans wouldn't mind at all if, say, Obama or Biden compared their opponents to the S.S.
- Fred Thompson went the "Passion of the Christ" route, sharing McCain's POW story in the most graphic, gruesome detail imaginable. A pretty effective speech in general, in a red-meat kind of way, and Fred was never this into it when he was actually running himself. Still, I HATED the huge images on the screen behind the speakers. Made them look small by comparison.
- Joe Lieberman, you're no Zell Miller. No, he wasn't nearly as vicious as the previous I-didn't-leave-the-party-the-party-left-me RNC whiner, and no challenges to duals were issued. But I was just astonished to see Joe bust out the "you may not agree with McCain, but at least you'll always know where he stands" line. Not only was this lifted pretty much directly from what Dubya said on the trail throughout the '04 race- and we know where that got us- but it's not even true of McCain! Hasn't he changed his mind on a whole host of issues?
- Come on anarchists, you're not making my home state look very good by throwing bricks at the convention site, even though I know most of you aren't from in town. Minnesota Nice that's not.
Then again, the cops beating up protesters and arresting radio hosts aren't exactly getting on my good side either. It's not good when O'Reilly is doing segments questioning whether, between Al Franken's Senate candidacy and the protests, Minnesota has "gone crazy."
My favorite Palin story yet:
As mayor of Wasilla, however, Palin oversaw the hiring of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, an Anchorage-based law firm with close ties to Alaska's most senior Republicans: Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted in July on charges of accepting illegal gifts. The Wasilla account was handled by the former chief of staff to Stevens, Steven W. Silver, who is a partner in the firm.This was forwarded to me by my friend, Stephen A. Silver (I'm Stephen J.)
New York Sun: Mailing Attacks Silver Over Handling of Rape Charge
Colbert. Hee hee:
The notoriously left-wing tabloid rag has this as its cover this week:
Again- it's Obama who's like Paris Hilton?
This sounds like something that would happen between rival figure skaters, but nope, it's Lions running backs:
Detroit Lions running back Rudi Johnson says his luggage was taken from the team's practice facility by Tatum Bell.I was thinking there was no way any NFC North team could possibly finish below the Bears this year, but in Year 8 of the Matt Millen Era, you should never count the Lions out.
Johnson was waived by Cincinnati, met with Lions president Matt Millen on Monday and signed a free-agent contact. During the meeting, his two duffel bags were taken from the team's headquarters.
Johnson said Wednesday he was shown surveillance footage Tuesday afternoon that captured the theft.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with Bell's agent, Kennard McGuire. Johnson replaced Bell on Detroit's 53-man roster.
Alan Wolfe of TNR, making sense about Palin:
In rushing to Sarah Palin's defense, the leaders of the Christian right have made it abundantly clear how they define a Christian. We don't care if you sin. We are not bothered if you put your ambition ahead of the needs of your children. If you have lied or broken the law, we will look the other way. It all comes down to your stand on guns and fetuses. Vote the right way, and you have our blessing. If any proof were needed that James Dobson is a political operative rather than a spiritual leader, his jumping on the Palin bandwagon offers it.I think I knew that about Dobson about ten years ago.
Ben Smith has an awesome retort to conservative bloggers who claimed, falsely, that he had reported "the Democrats" released Sarah Palin's social security and phone numbers:
RedState's Erick Erickson has a fevered take on our story on Tony Knowles' two-year-old opposition research book on Sarah Palin under the heading "Democrats Release Sarah Palin's Social Security Number."Of course, Drudge only linked to the Red State version, and ignored Smith's smacking down of it. I'm sure Hannity will still be talking about this weeks from now.
His item is so wildly misleading that it's hard to know where to start, but the headline seems like a good place.
First, if he knows that Democrats released it, he has better sources than I do.
Second, the Social Security number is missing its last four digits. That is, it's already been redacted, in an apparent excess of caution by whoever prepared it from public record. You can't get very far with a five-digit Social Security number. (Similarly redacted Social Security numbers are available for a small fee on such sinister tools as Lexis-Nexis.)
The item's first sentence is also inaccurate. "The Politico has received an opposition research file from the Alaska Democrats."
The notion that we received the file from the Alaska Democrats appears to come from sources inside Erickson's head.
Finally, Drudge is teasing the story with the news that Palin's home phone number has been released. You can find the same number in any online telephone book.
Annoying Hipster Douchebag goes to the Siren Fest:
I wish Executive Fingerblast were a real band. (Via LilB).
There's something that's long been a pet-peeve of mine: How is it that Pat Buchanan, a man with a list of racist and anti-Semitic comments a mile long, is still treated respectfully as a pundit? How in the world can he be employed to pontificate nightly on the ostensibly left-wing MSNBC?
Liz Spikol of Philadelphia Weekly is wondering the same thing:
That free pass, still very much in evidence, needs to be rescinded.Buchanan also appeared- not 15 years ago, but last year- on a racist radio show called The Political Cesspool. And the network that fired Imus still keeps him around? Why?
This is man who defended apartheid South Africa.
Who stood up for David Duke and Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk.
Who once referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.”
Who characterized Hitler as “an individual of great courage.”
Who referred to Jewish “group fantasies of martyrdom” in regard to deaths at Treblinka, which he believes are exaggerated.
Who championed Joe McCarthy.
During the height of the AIDS crisis in the gay community, Buchanan wrote: “Our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide.”
James Wolcott, on Bristolgate:
Jake Tapper asks: "What would the response be if Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and his wife Michelle had a pregnant unmarried teenage daughter?"After all that, the religious right is now, suddenly, okay with teen pregnancy. Then again, they never gave Cheney so much trouble for having a lesbian daughter...
I can answer that. Mona Charen, Ann Coulter, and Michelle Malkin would sprout bat wings and fangs and start divebombing, Peggy Noonan would issue a pained sigh that would ruffle nun's robes from here to Hoboken, Laura Ingraham and Bill Bennett would engage in a finger-wagging contest to condemn our loose licentious liberal culture, and Jennifer Rubin at Commentary's Contentions would crash into the wall doing cartwheels.
Former New York governor and still-a-huge-buffoon George Pataki, who I hadn't seen in public since he blamed Bill Clinton for 9/11 in his '04 RNC address, spoke at an RNC event this week and had this to say:
Do we have anybody from Tennessee here?” Pataki said as he opened his speech. “You know, you beat Al Gore in 2000. And if you beat Al Gore in 2000 you sure as heck can beat Os …” The former governor paused, seemingly for effect. “… Oh … Obama in 2008.” The line, delivered in Pataki’s familiar deadpan, appeared to be meant as a joke, and the audience took it as one, laughing, whistling and clapping.Obama/Osama jokes? Really?
Movie trailer voiceover man Don LaFontaine, perhaps best known as the "In a World" guy, died today at the age of 68.
Will he be included in the montage at next year's Oscars? I sure hope so.
Philadelphia Turkey: Eskin Has a Bad Day
I look at Obama's speech, as well as the rest of the Democratic convention, in this week's North Star column.
Following a bizarre weekend of rumors in which questions were raised about whether Sarah Palin actually is the mother of her baby son Trig, the campaign acknowledged today that her daughter Bristol is in fact five months pregnant.
The second story presumably invalidates the first, which reminds of nothing so much as the "Paul is Dead" mythology- it's certainly bullshit, but does have enough circumstantial evidence to it to make you think twice when you first hear about it.
Were the story true and Palin had actually lied for months about having had a baby, concealed her daughter's pregnancy, concealed all this from the McCain campaign and everyone else, etc., it would likely have led to her being dropped from the ticket, her resignation as governor, and the probable end of McCain's chances to be president.
But still, how often is it that the revelation that the teenage daughter of a conservative Christian politician is pregnant is actually the less-controversial, less-damaging alternative to something else?
Michael Kinsley, on the "experience" canard:
It's a hardy perennial: If your opponent is a governor, you accuse him or her of lacking foreign-policy experience. If he or she is a member of Congress, you say this person has never run anything. And if, by any chance, your opponent has done both, you say that he or she is a "professional politician." When Republicans aren't complaining about someone's lack of experience, they are calling for term limits.