I review "My Idiot Brother" at Patch.
My son blogs about his recent trips to Minnesota and the Jersey Shore.
Grantland has an astonishing look at everything that's gone wrong personally and financially for Ric Flair in the last few years. I had sort of assumed that most of the all-time great wrestlers were somehow shielded from the sort of stuff that has most of the lesser guys dying of an OD in a hotel room at age 45, but apparently even arguably the greatest wrestler in history can be four times divorced and owe millions.
This is a pretty impressive commercial, considering the product it advertises had already been discontinued by the time I first saw it:
She probably looks and sounds better on an iPad anyway.
Steven Hyden, in the AV Club, on Ke$ha:
Ke$ha has described her personal aesthetic as ďgarbage chic,Ē which is another way of saying that she walks, talks, and looks like a proudly vacuous, profoundly awful, and guilelessly trashy person on a never-ending whiskey-n-coke binge. Everything about Ke$ha is affected, from the sociopathic sneer of her highly Vocoder-ized vocals to the aggressive soullessness of the lyrics, which take hedonism well past the point of fun and into a dark, dank hell of Facebook catchphrases and bimbo-airhead posturing doubling as female empowerment... Does Ke$ha do anything to make society better? Of course not. Is Animal alluring and dastardly propaganda that encourages young, impressionable people to be massive pieces of shit? You betcha. Have either of these facts impeded my enjoyment of Ke$haís amoral, brain-dead, and relentlessly hooky singles? Sadly, no.And he's the one in the discussion defending Ke$ha.
Drew Magary's new book has a trailer. Yes, a trailer:
I review the underwhelming new movie at Patch.
Over the weekend in Minnesota I went to my first Twins home game of the year, which happened to be the Twins' one victory over the Yankees in the four-game weekend series.
A fascinating observation: fans of the Twins, after years of playoff exits and regular season blowouts at the hands of the Evil Empire, have become pre-2004 Red Sox fans, complete with "Yankees Suck" shirts and requisite booing of Derek Jeter. And it's the same one-sided rivalry that Yanks-Sox used to be; if you asked any Yankee fan to name their top rivals, the Twins probably wouldn't be one of the first 15 names listed.
On my trip this week I stopped for the night in Cleveland and, having nothing to do, went down to Progressive Field and took in that evening's Indians-Mariners game. A few thoughts on the game and park:
- I was able to walk up to the box office ten minutes before the game started and buy a ticket for $8, shortly after parking two blocks away for just $10. Once I got in there were enough empty seats that I was able to sit in about eight different seats over the course of the game. I don't know the last time doing such a thing in Philly was possible but it's been quite a few years.
- Progressive Field is the 16th current ballpark that I've been to and the fifth this season (after Minnesota, Philly, Seattle and Wrigley.) I generally liked it- it's a bit dated, but I can tell exactly which touches the other, newer parks stole from it. Nationals Park in DC seems to have swiped the entire blueprint, while Target Field took the Jake's outside-the-park plaza concept and made it much better.
- The Mariners beat the Indians 3-2 on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth. The Indians were missing just about all of their biggest-named players- Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Kipnis- and seemed to have lots of trouble scoring runs.
- Illustrating baseball's small/large market divide, both teams in the game have traded Cliff Lee, and multiple players - including ex-Phils Lou Marson and Jason Donald- were among the proceeds of past Lee trades seeing action on the field. Concurrently, Lee was shutting down the Mets in Philly.
- The Indians' in-stadium music after a loss is "Lost" by Coldplay. Yikes.
- On a better musical note: a local high school marching band played the national anthem on the field prior to the game, and then spent the entire game sitting in the left field bleachers- where all the die-hards sit- playing songs a couple of times between innings. In all my years of baseball I've never before seen a marching band at a major league game, although I kind of liked it.
- The following night the Indians scheduled a "Puppypalooza," one of those promotions in which fans are invited to bring their dogs to the game. However, the Indians played a doubleheader Tuesday, and the Puppypalooza was only in effect for the night game. So if you wanted to go to both games, your best bet was probably to go to the opener, go home and get your dog, and come back for the nightcap.
- If you didn't think Chief Wahoo was a racist-enough mascot before, he's gotten a makeover- they've given him a hooked Jew nose! And it's not racist, but the team's Phanatic-ripoff on-field mascot, "Slider," is pretty embarrassing too.
- The night guy on the ESPN Radio station that night, Greg Brinda, was more viciously critical of the Indians that night than I think I've ever heard any Philly host get about a Philly team. I think he was prepared to kill Indians manager Manny Acta with his bare hands.
During my road trip across the rural midwest earlier this week, I was driving somewhere on the Ohio Turnpike, in the Western part of the state when I saw something that looked like a mirage: A Volkswagen Beetle, decked out in rainbow colors, with an unusual word written on the side: "Fagbug." The car had a New York license plate and was driven by an attractive young woman (were you expecting Marcus Bachmann?)
I was wondering as I saw this- what in the world is the story here? The car listed Fagbug.com as a URL, but- as on most of the trip- my phone was dead and I had no way of looking it up.
Turns out it's a great story: a woman in Albany, N.Y., was a victim of a hate crime when her Volkswagen Beetle was spray painted with the words "fag" and "u r gay." She responded by driving it around the country with the graffiti still on, and eventually painting it the rainbow colors. Now, the campaign has national sponsors- including Volkswagen- and there's even a documentary, available to watch for free on Hulu.
Ben Revere, with the best catch by a Twins centerfielder since 1995 or so.
On the WIP morning show last Thursday, Angelo Cataldi bashed Jeremy Maclin for not being more forthcoming with the press during his recent health scare. Maclin had been held out of training camp while undergoing tests for mysterious symptoms, which were feared to be cancer but later determined not to be.
"I don't like secrets," Cataldi said, pointing out that Maclin could have easily dispelled rumors throughout the process. What was he supposed to do? Each day, tweet a different disease he doesn't have? And if he said everything but cancer, wouldn't that just continue the speculation that it was cancer?
Runner-up was the caller to the same show the same day who shared an alleged plot by Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner to buy the Patriots from a grief-stricken Bob Kraft and sell the Eagles to Ed Snider, with Andy Reid acquiring an ownership stake as well.
News Item: New York Press to fold
This was sort of a long-time coming- I think the paper was down to under ten editorial pages for much of the past few years- but it's sad regardless. The paper was my favorite thing in the world to read for my first few years in New York, and I even got to write for it for awhile.
My DVR search box has separate listings for Tiny Lister, Tom 'Tiny' Lister, Tom 'Tiny' Lister Jr., Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, and Tommy 'Tiny Lister, Jr. Not one for "Zeus," though. Maybe there would be, if "No Holds Barred" was ever broadcast anymore.
Matt Zoller Seitz on the "Real Housewives" death:
The type of so-called reality show represented by the "Real Housewives" franchise is the soft-bellied, 21st century American TV version of a gladiatorial contest. It has no agenda except giving viewers the basest sort of entertainment: the spectacle of people doing violence to each other and suffering violence themselves. Instead of going at each other like gladiators with swords and clubs, or like boxers hurling punches, participants in this kind of unscripted show attack each other psychologically. The show's appeal is the spectacle of emotional violence. The participants -- or "cast members," as they are revealingly labeled -- suffer and bleed emotionally while we watch and guffaw.
It's time to get real about reality TV.† As your parents may have warned you, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. People are getting hurt.
John McWhorter, defending "The Help"
AT THE END of the day, it is hard to see what The Helpís creators could have done that would have passed muster. Those ever seeking for Hollywood to ďcome to termsĒ with black people have developed such an imposing battery of objection tropes over the past forty years that I suspect they would reject even Raisin in the Sun as a bag of stereotypes if it were new... Letís try a version of The Help that might pass muster with its current critics. The maids would hold the white children at a polite armís length. Eversí murder would be the dramatic focus. The white men behind it would be the main characters, while the maidsí women employers would be background figures. Also, to assuage a common strain in the criticisms, an obscure, very humble working-class black maid of modest education in 1963 would sense it plausible to pen a protest manuscript herself and send it to publishers, rather than rely on Skeeter to do the writing and submission.I see all the criticisms of the film, but I liked it anyway.
To wit: The film that The Help should have been would be psychologically implausible, dramatically reductive, preachy, and not The Help at all. I cannot accept that this would be preferable for any reason to the solid, affecting Hollywood drama that I took in.
French film icon Gťrard Depardieu just couldn't hold it in any longer after his Air France flight from Paris to Dublin was delayed on Wednesday. So when he asked the flight crew if he could use la toilette and was told he'd have to hold it, he did what any self-important celebrity would do:Yikes. Though in fairness to Mr. Depardieu, this isn't even the worst airplane scatological disaster involving someone named Gerard. Remember Gerard Finneran? When they showed the drunk guy on the airplane at the beginning of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on Sunday, I just assumed it was going to be a Finneran homage.
He peed on the carpet. Really.
Anyway, if you don't ever want to get pissed or shit on, two pieces of advice:
1. Don't have kids, and
2. If you're on a plane, and the guy next to you introduces himself as "Gerard," just go ahead and get off the plane.
Howard Eskin made the surprising announcement Monday that he is leaving his 3-to-7 slot on WIP next month, although he will stay with the station as a contributor.
Say what you will about Eskin- judging by his radio persona, he's a blowhard with a tired schtick and nothing but contempt for his audience, a Phil Mushnick figure who stopped enjoying sports decades ago but still feels the need to work in it, and a shameless shill and apologist for Andy Reid and Eagles management.
But I'm not going to lie- I enjoyed his show, and have listened to it on the way home almost every workday of my six years here. Sure, I often found myself yelling at the radio, but there was something about Eskin's willingness to actually tell the idiot callers that they're idiot callers, when most other hosts on the station would indulge asinine points and sometimes even agree with them. And while the Eagles shilling was a bit much, his position was closer to the truth that of every other host on the station- that the Eagles are run by an evil, pinny-pinching conspiracy. Even four hours of Eskin at his worst was preferable to two minutes of Angelo Cataldi.
The host's time was probably about done. He'd been starting to lose in the ratings to Mike Missanelli, while sticking him with Ike Reese for the last two years was a disaster- the two had zero chemistry and no reason for being on the air together. He'd also been picking petty fights- such as when he went apeshit about Roy Halladay not agreeing to an interview during an offseason autograph signing- and his full-throated, uninformed backing of the ownership side during the NFL lockout was especially embarrassing.
Eskin has been getting more of a national profile, occasionally guest-hosting Dan Patrick's syndicated show, and he's hinted that more of that is to come after he gives up the WIP shift. But this makes no sense- Eskin's connections and expertise is all local, and not only does he seem to not care in the slightest about national story, but he has vocal hatred of everything from Peyton Manning to LeBron James to fantasy football to sports blogs.
The show was always best after a bad Eagles loss, with the callers crushing Reid and Eskin arguing back. My favorite moment ever was one night in November 2008, during a team cold streak. Here's what I wrote at the time:
Howard Eskin, whose Andy Reid-backing world is now crashing down all around him, spent his show Tuesday snapping at every single caller, as usual. But then, right before signing off at 7, a caller said something along the lines of "don't cut me off like you did everyone else," so Eskin snapped back, "all right, if you can do the show so much better, have at it."Here's a runner-up, which foreshadowed Jim Thome signing with the Twins by almost five years.
So the guy went on for 3-4 minutes, mostly saying everything that every other caller on both Philly stations has been repeating for the past 10 days, while Eskin stayed conspicuously silent. This went on until the guy ran out of things to say- at which point the host proceeded to yell at the guy for 3-4 minutes himself.
The other thing Iíd say to Republicans disappointed in the current choices (as Ross Douthat says he is today) is this: What youíre upset with isnít the candidate ó itís the party. Itís inconceivable that anyone could get the Republican nomination while using anything but solid Tea Party rhetoric on pretty much every issue. Theyíre all going to claim that taxes should never, ever, ever be raised no matter what, that half of what the government does is evil or unconstitutional or whatever, that the scientific consensus on climate is some sort of crazed conspiracy, and so on down the line. Iíve been saying for some time now that the odds are against Republicans actually nominating a candidate who believes crazy things ó but the odds of them nominating someone who says crazy things has gone up.... Thatís what the Republican Party is right now, and thatís what their nominee is going to say.
I enjoyed this list of the 60 best names in baseball history, but where's Rusty Kuntz? Dickie Thon? Wonderful Terrific Mons? Razor Shines? Gar Finnvold? Coco Crisp?
Even sadder, the Name of the Year tournament appears to have been abandoned mid-bracket.
I don't know how I feel about this ESPN commercial, mostly because it makes going to a baseball game look like a huge disappointment:
Batting Stance Guy tackles announcers:
Long story short: Michele Bachmann went on "Meet the Press" Sunday and stated that Electrolux has left the United States altogether. They haven't. I wrote about it for Dealerscope.
Luckily, Bachmann has been corrected and won't say anything false again for the rest of the campaign. Right?
Westerberg, solo, on "Here Comes a Regular":
Did you think "Entourage" was finally reaching maturity, a few episodes from the end, when Tig from "Sons of Anarchy" shot himself in the head last week? This week, they did an Original Whizzinator episode- very topical, six years after the Onterrio Smith arrest, although at least they didn't base an episode on a different past Vikings scandal. ALOTT5MA said it best:
The last episode ended with a recovering drug addict witnessing theYea, they sure were celebratory, considering two of them had just seen a guy shoot himself, right in front of them, literally the day before.
suicide of one of his business partners, a friend from rehab. That is a setup fraught with dramatic possibilities. One possibility that I hadn't considered is that it would lead, 23 minutes later, to the boys chasing each other with a rubber penis in celebration of falsifying evidence in a criminal case. Did I really say a few days ago that the show seems to be growing up?
The two best Minnesota Twins bloggers, Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes, have started a podcast, and just happened to record the first episode on the day JIm Thome hit his 600th home run and the Twins traded Delmon Young. I've got a feeling I'm going to be a regular listener.
Here's a chart of all the different kinds of wrestling nicknames. Brilliant stuff.
Stewart pins down Megan Kelly on her own maternity leave vs. everyone else's:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Here's a great fake Twitter account for the Terminator from the first film, whose tweets consist entirely of binary numbers, and tweets at people named Sarah (including Sarah Palin) asking if they're Sarah Conner.
Colbert's goodbye video to Romney in '08 is legendary; now, he says bye-bye to Pawlenty:
News Item: Tim Pawlenty drops out of presidential race
Bringing up the natural question- if you drop out of the race in August 2011, did you "run for president in 2012"?
Pawlenty just wasn't angry enough. Sure, he mouthed the talking points, but I never believed this guy was as strident as the GOP electorate clearly wanted at this point. It doesn't speak well of him that he wasn't even the most popular candidate from his own state.
The Awl's Danny Gold, on the burgeoning new genre of "frat rap":
Thereís something about a former Google employee thinking itís okay to rap that makes the veins in my forehead throb. He makes me more ashamed for Long Island Jews than Bernie Madoff. His first verse opens with him saying, ďYou ainít never met a kid like this before,Ē and all I can think is, yes, yes, I have. ALL I HAVE TO DO IS OPEN MY EYES IN MURRAY HILL. Iíve met a million kids like you before. Theyíre about to graduate from law school. You look like the nerdy Jewish kid my Nerdy Jewish friends used to beat up in synagogue... If the majority of your lyrics (and this seems true of most rappers in this genre) revolve around you saying, ďMost people say I shouldnít rap but Iím doing it anyway,Ē then, I donít know, MAYBE YOU SHOULDNíT BE RAPPING. Apply to dental school.
This aired on "Sesame Street," but it reminds me more of an absurdist, five-minutes-to-1 "Saturday Night Live" sketch:
Two new movie reviews once again this week, of "The Help" and "30 Minutes or Less." I see "Conan the Barbarian" next week; I can already hear the lamentations of their women.
I go off on a truly offensive gadget in a new E-Gear blog post.
"Louie" isn't just great, it's playing at a level right now that nothing else on TV is, not even "Breaking Bad." It's equal parts funny, affecting and heartbreaking, literally every time out. And I agree with this Chuck Klosterman essay for Grantland:
Whatís so distinctly compelling about this season of Louie is how everyone seems to collectively realize that what C.K. is doing is not only cool, but also authentically artful and unnaturally profound. Thereís no debate over its value because thereís no contradictory position to take. Itís not polarizing in any important way: If youíre watching this show, you intuitively know it's fantastic (and substantially unlike the way fantastic TV typically is).I also appreciated that the first of last night's two episodes was made possibly entirely by Christine O'Donnell's Senate race, and was in fact the best piece of comedy (out of many) that came out of that.
Everybody's favorite Nintendo game gets a Facebook makeover.
I've made the jokes. We all have. I watch "Sesame Street" all the time now with my son, and there are many, many times in which the initial shot of the Ernie-and-Bert segment makes it look like they're in bed together. But no, they're not, in fact, gay, and regardless of whatever online petitions are out there, they're not going to get married.
Why can't a couple of Muppets just be heterosexual life partners for two or three decades? These people are living in a world in which "Avenue Q" doesn't exist.
And they're not named after "It's a Wonderful Life" characters, either.
Zodiac MF live-tweeted the presidential debate. Scroll through to see the brilliance.
John Landis appeared on Kevin Pollak's Chat Show last week in an interview that lasted nearly three hours. Not a single question about the "Twilight Zone: The Movie" on-set death incident, but then I'm guessing Landis is legally forbidden from discussing that. Sort of like when Kevin McHale went on Bill Simmons' podcast, was interviewed for more than an hour, and there wasn't a single question about his decade-plus-long tenure as general manager of the Timberwolves.
A very good Charlie Rose discussions on Obama's successes and failures. Fareed Zakeria might currently be the only person with a show on one of the major cable news networks- aside from Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow- who doesn't make me want to tear my hair out.
And speaking of the president, if you were wondering what he's accomplished so far, here's a nifty website.
Guess-hosting "Mike and Mike" earlier this week, Screamin' A had an interesting critique of Donovan McNabb: He is unforgivably unwilling to stand up and assert himself. Smith's example? When he was jerked around and ultimately benched by Mike Shanahan in Washington last year, McNabb did not ever rip Shanahan publicly.
This, Smith says, is greatly disappointing to him, an opinion also shared by both numerous NFL players and "The Black Community."
It's hard to determine which part of Smith's argument makes the least sense. The critique of McNabb, in his years with the Eagles, was the exact opposite- that he ripped his enemies too much, held grudges, and was "bitter" and "whiny." Had McNabb showed up at training camp and kicked off his press conference by ripping Shanahan for 10 straight minutes, Smith would likely attack him for that.
Smith, for many of those years, wrote about Philadelphia sports while living and hosting TV and radio shows in New York, I remember his columns about McNabb being all over the map- supportive at some times, dismissive at others. Sometimes both in the same column.
This, of course, is yet another Obama/McNabb Parallel example. Obama is both totally unwilling to go after his opponents, and horribly unfair when he does.
I'm sure this was an attempt by Stephen A. to cause controversy. Unfortunately for him, no one's talking about it.
I haven't read the big New Yorker piece on Bachmann yet, but here's one of the creepiest websites you'll ever read. Of course, it's about 1/1000th as creepy as a Bachmann-controlled Whitehouse.gov would be.
"Cowboys & Aliens is no less than the first colossal, epic turd of the Summer of 2011. How bad can it be? Well, itís badly written, badly directed, badly cast, badly acted, badly conceived, and in spite of some professional below-the-line work, itís a bloody mess of a movie."It's only the second-worst Olivia Wilde movie of the month.
I'm never been a huge fan of Shannon Sharpe as an announcer, but his Hall of Fame speech over the weekend was pretty incredible.
Dave Weigel, after a Fox News website called a White House birthday party attended by Charles Barkley, Herbie Hancock and other noted gangstas a "Hip Hop Barbeque":
Fox Nation could have gone with the "Jazz BBQ Doesn't Create Jobs" hed, I guess, but why not cut to the chase with something like: "Uppity Blacks Eat Soul Food and Laugh While You Hunt for A Job You Can't Get Because of Welfare Queens, Affirmative Action, and Carjackers."
My review of the not-very-good "The Change Up" is online at Patch.
I'm no fan of Chris Christie, but good for him for slapping down the Gellerite/Gaffneyite hysteria over his appointment of a Muslim to the bench:
Of course, watch Christie have to apologize for this if he ever runs for president.
Rachel Maddow celebrates with a look back at the Racist Conspiracy That Wouldn't Die:
Pamela Geller has a new book coming out, about what she sees as the central challenge of our time, called "Stop the Judaization of Germany." Oops, sorry, it's called "Stop the Islamization of America." Same general theme, though
At last, something to be proud of happens in Congress:
The dual myths about the Eagles and Phillies being cheap both died a happy death last week, with the nearly concurrent moves in which the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence, while the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha, both of whom were the most highly sought-after players in their respective sports.
The Nnamdi deal followed several crucial signings and trades by the Eagles, while the Phillies managed to land Pence without giving up Domonic Brown or Vance Worley, yet another reason to be glad the local terms aren't run by talk show callers.
I'm guessing Richard Rys would like to have this Philadelphia Magazine blog post back. In the post, written last week, Rys chides both teams for not having done anything yet, while demanding that the Phils trade Worley for Pence.
Krugman was anti-Obama before his presidency, has been during his presidency, and probably will be after his presidency. He's attacked him from the left consistently, and the only Krugman-like thing Obama has done, the stimulus, was attacked for being too small. He's been tougher on Obama than any conservative who has appeared on the NYT op-ed page, and dare I say he's been more biting in his criticism than Maureen Dowd's middle-school insults.
The Twins, torn between buying and selling at the trade deadline, opting to be neither, making no trades. The rumored Denard Span-for-Drew-Storen deal with Washington never came to pass, which I guess is a good thing; the team has too many outfielders and more on the way, but I don't know that getting rid of Span is the ideal way to relieve it.
But I was surprised to discover that one of the Washington players the Twins wanted back is a young infielder named Stephen Lombardozzi, who is of course the son of the 1987 Twins second baseman of the same name. I don't know much about the younger Lombo, but if the idea is to live in the past, I don't see why he's the ideal guy. Why not sign Kirby Puckett, Jr.?
News Item: Randy Moss retires from football
The general consensus on Moss is pretty accurate: He was as talented as he was completely insane, and his unfortunate, month-long return to the Vikings last year will be remembered as just another of those weird quirks of one of the worst Vikings years ever. Still thought, I'll always appreciate his part in the great 1998 season.
The Deadspin thread on the topic is epic, especially the comments.
Is there a more consistently hilarious film critic today than Lindy West? Here, she does some research into the Smurfs and discovers the entire horrifying backstory behind how Smurfette came to be.
To the people who did this, or have been involved in similar incidents around the city in the last year and a half, I beseech you to think this through. There are consequences for your actions, terrible consequences.
Not the least of which is you made the crypto-racist commenters at Philly.com sound like reasonable people ó which is really saying something, because the commenters at Philly.com are hateful bottom-feeding trolls who look for every opportunity to demonize black people with offensive stereotypes. So congratulations on that.
Also, you made all the trigger-happy, paranoid Dirty Harry-wannabe types that refuse to leave the house without a concealed weapon seem like common sense people. Which really takes a lot of effort. So, again, fuck you for that.
Former Husker Du and Sugar frontman Bob Mould- whose new autobiography I can't wait to read- visits the AV Club's offices and covers one of his own songs:
My favorite part is when he doesn't even attempt the last few notes and just sings "doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo..."