Here's my Dealerscope Week in Electronics Retail Crime Black Friday edition, in which the same retailer comes up again and again...
Barney Frank is retiring from Congress; he'll be missed:
Frank certainly deserves better than the right-wing caricature of him, which is that he is somehow singlehandedly to blame for the 2008 financial crisis. At any rate, I really hope he decides to launch a TV career.
This is kind of awesome. Other than the smell of the grass, the crack of the bat, and all the father/son/"Field of Dreams" stuff, transaction mania has to be my favorite thing about sports. And here we go with the baseball Winter Meetings and NBA post-lockout chaos, both the same week!
My reviews of two of the year's best movies, "Hugo" and "The Muppets," are online at Patch.
My review of the Amazon Kindle Fire is online at E-Gear.com.
The Boston Phoenix's history of the recently shuttered Columbia House record club was a great read. I had a buddy in high school who signed up under probably dozens of assumed names and sold off the surplus disks at a huge profit.
Dustin Rowles of Pajiba on "Jack and Jill"
Iíve seen Adam Sandlerís Jack and Jill. If there is a God, he might allow a fire whirl to kill 40,000 human beings in 15 minutes, but no God could be cruel and inhumane enough to allow this movie to exist, to be screened in front of millions of innocent people. Itís incomprehensible. No God would allow Adam Sandler to dress up as his own twin sister, to prance around in a dress and a wig and speak with a lisp that would haunt even demons, demons that couldnít handle the emotional carnage that Female Sandler inflicts. Itís too much ugly... Jack and Jill is not a movie; itís a weapon of mass destruction that not even Stalin wouldíve been sick enough to use.
Jack and Jill will never be forgotten; the power of its awfulness is enough to break through the rift of space and time, to sear through the universe and destroy black holes.
Jonathan Chait on the Romney campaign:
Romneyís overarching national security theme is pure drivel stitched together from the fantasies of right-wing talk radio. In Romneyís world, President Obama jets around the globe apologizing for the United States when he is not expressing outright disdain for it and plotting to enable the rise of foreign countries to supplant American might. He offers no factual basis for any of these utterly counterfactual claims. And itís the sort of theme that might work for an incumbent president against an untested challenger, but itís hard to see how you paint a commander-in-chief with a strong record of wiping out terrorists as an America hater.Chait also had a great piece last week about the biggest reason liberals are disappointed in Obama- namely, that they're always disappointed in every Democratic president. David Frum's piece in the same magazine about the general nuttiness of the Republicans was similarly great.
Charles Pierce, on Ann Coulterjoking about the Kent State shootings:
Note to cable television bookers. This is not humor. This is not commentary. This is eliminationist rhetoric from a career white-supremacist. This is not a fit person to bring into the public discussion of anything. This is a vicious evil woman who would sell her grayhaired granny to the Somali pirates for 15 minutes worth of airtime. This is someone who should be shunned, permanently, by anybody with a sense of human decency.Coulter's going about it all wrong- she should write a whole book about racial eliminationism. That'll guarantee a decades-long career of regular punditry gigs- it's worked for Pat Buchanan.
My review of "The Descendants," one of the year's better movies, is online at Patch. My review of another of the year's best, "The Muppets," will appear this week along with that of the not-yet-seen "Hugo."
News Item: Baseball reaches labor deal
I've spent a lot of time hating Bud Selig over the year, but you have to give the man credit: nearly 20 years of continuous labor peace in baseball was once totally inconceivable. My only question is, if the baseball players and owners can come up with a model both sides are happy with, why can't the NBA or NFL?
And yes, I favor the two new wild cards, especially if it leads to a one-game playoff every year. I've got a feeling the Twins are going to be in that playoff quite often.
This Franco Harris Penn State crusade might be the most damage a retired athlete has done to his previously pristine reputation since the David Tyree anti-gay marriage campaign.
As pointed out by Adam Serwer, Rick Santorum actually attempted to quote Omar from "The Wire"- doing it incorrectly, of course- in a speech about the Middle East. What a surprise, Santorum quotes the gay guy on the show.
McSweeney's asks: Crate and Barrel furniture model, or "Wire" character?I loved this even before I realized the author, Sarah Garb, was on my staff when I was arts editor of my college newspaper.
Jonathan Chait, reacting to a poll that Republican primary voters trust Newt Gingrich with nuclear weapons more than any other candidate:
If youíre surprised that they picked Newt instead of, say, the sober, careful, calculating Mitt Romney (chosen by 17 percent), youíre not thinking like a right-winger. The guy you would trust most with nuclear weapons means the guy most likely to use nuclear weapons. Romney would probably wimp out. Gingrich would use nukes to settle a fishing dispute, or possibly to impress a prospective fourth wife.
Jeffrey Goldberg, tearing down the Obama Hates Israel lie:
"[Jennifer] Rubin, like many of her colleagues to my right, believes that Netanyahu is the living embodiment of the State of Israel. Her formula: If you dislike Netanyahu, you dislike Israel. This is absurd. Barack Obama has shown zero animus to the state of Israel or to the idea of Israel. In word and in deed, he has been in Israel's corner; he has spoken eloquently in defense of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he has provided it with unparalleled defense support.Yet if you dislike Obama, it doesn't mean you dislike America. Funny how that works.
A heartfelt tribute at SB Nation.
Drew Magary on Penn State:
By the way, I wish columnists would stop emphasizing that victims of Jerry Sandusky are essentially leading ruined lives. Imagine being victimized by that piece of shit and then reading all over the place that you have virtually no hope of leading a normal life. If you've ever been a victim of abuse, you need reassurance that your life HAS NOT been destroyed. Instead, it seems like columnists have gone out of their way to try and emphasize how emotionally damaged these people will be now, as if you didn't already know that being raped is a traumatic event. It's not helping. Craggs described it as, "Moral showboating... the 'I'm more against child abuse than you' shit... it's 'I pity the children more than you.'" EXACLTY. I don't need your help to see the ugly truth of it all, Lupica. The grand jury report did the trick quite nicely.
Paul Waldman, on the lay of the land in the Republican race:
"Only two of these candidates, Romney and Perry, are remotely plausible nominees. No one who knows a thing about politics actually believed that Donald Trump could mount a serious campaign, or that Michele Bachmann could, or that Herman Cain could. And clear-eyed Republicans view the idea of Gingrich as the GOP nominee with horror. There's a reason Gingrich is so unpopular. He's personally unlikeable, a self-important blowhard whose default mode is sneering contempt for everyone around him. He's reckless and unpredictable. He's got a private history of despicable behavior, cheating on two wives and then dumping them for younger models. His record of flip-flops puts Mitt Romney's to shame. Even if the economy fails to accelerate before next November, there is simply no way Newt Gingrich could beat Barack Obama.
My son has a new blog post- with lots of video- up at Noah's blog.
A lot newly published for me this week:
- My review of the not-very-good "J. Edgar" is online at Patch.
- An E-Gear blog post, in which I defend my decision to let my son watch TV.
- ESPN will host live boxing at CES (yay!) and Colin Cowherd (boo!)
- Three product reviews: The PlugPug iPhone/Mac charger, the Monitor Audio iPod dock, and (best of all) the Roku LT streaming box. The latter, which only costs $50, brings every episode of every season of every HBO show to your TV. So should I decide to watch "The Wire" from start to finish again- and I think it's about time- I can.
- All that and more in the new E-Gear Weekly newsletter.
This Penn State football molestation story has quickly become quite possibly the biggest sports story of all time, leading to the end of the tenure of the seemingly unendable tenure of coach Joe Paterno.
I didn't go to Penn State, and after this week's events, I'm very, very proud of that fact. I've long complained about my alma mater, Brandeis, not having a football team, but if no football means no pattern of sexual abuse, then no football doesn't sound so bad. Brandeis had its worst PR crisis of all time a couple of years ago, and that was because they were talking about selling off the art collection...
Still, the reaction from some Penn State partisans has been downright embarrassing, especially the heckling-filled press conference Wednesday night and the subsequent riots.
I understand the love that people have for Joe Paterno, and that he's generally been a good guy for the past few decades. This is no Bob Knight situation at Indiana, where the entire student and alumni bodies coalesced around a violent sociopath who had been a bad guy for decades and was fired due to his own behavior. But regardless, there's absolutely no defense for what Paterno did, and the board was right to fire him. And if you think the worst tragedy of this matter is that Paterno was fired over the phone, then there's something wrong with you.
Perhaps the most embarrassing apology for the university was this Huffington Post piece, which emphasized that Paterno was the fall guy for other people's misdeeds. "Tell me, when was the last time you heard Jerry Sandusky's name?," the author asked. The last time I heard it was on three different radio shows that morning, about two minutes before I read the article.
I had another fight on Twitter with someone who pointed at that morning's Philly.com sports page, noting that Paterno's name was all over it and Sandusky's was nowhere, and therefore Sandusky was getting a pass. That, I said, was because Paterno had resigned the day before and there'd been no Sandusky-specific news that day. Newspapers are notoriously biased towards stuff that happened yesterday.
I don't pay a huge amount of college football. But for the rest of the year, I'll be rooting very strongly for everyone who plays Penn State.
I review "Tower Heist" at Patch.
And you thought it was embarrassing that a bunch of Ohio State players got tattoos... Penn State is now the subject of probably the most horrific scandal in college football history, as a longtime former assistant coach has been indicted for dozens of counts of child molestation, with two university officials, including the athletic director, also charged with covering it up.
The whole thing really looks a lot like the various Catholic priest abuse scandals, with bureaucrats repeatedly covering up abuse and refusing to hand anyone over to law enforcement.
Does this mean the end of Joe Paterno's reign as coach? It probably should, although really, who's going to fire him? The athletic director already resigned, and the university president is probably next out the door.
News Item: Twins fire GM Bill Smith
For the first time in my lifetime, the Twins have fired a general manager. Howard Fox was kicked upstairs, while Andy MacPhail and Terry Ryan both ended their tenures voluntarily. Ryan, now, is back as interim GM.
True, the team had an awful year and just about every major move of his tenure- the Santana trade, Garza-for-Young, Ramos-for-Capps, and numerous other hits- have been disastrous. But not only was Smith not fired right after the season, but there wasn't even many rumors that he'd be gone.
Will things change? Who knows- the team had lots of success back when Ryan was in charge, but then again, the Twins' organizational philosophy is pretty much the same no matter who is in charge, so who knows.
Jonathan Miller of Philly Sports Daily sticks up for the Eagles receiver, who denounced Eagles fans jumping back on the bandwagon after bashing the team early in the year:
I donít agree with what he said Ė Eagles fans are as loyal as they come. But I love that he stood by his comments. Nobody does that anymore. Everybody punks out and issues a lame, insincere apology; ďif Iíve offended anybody, etc. etc.Ē And then they slink away from the scene.It's good to see an athlete not play the "the fans can be as mean as they want to you, but you can't be mean to them at all" game.
The best moments of Quentin Tarantino's work:
Richard Rys on Philadelphia Magazine's blog last week had a one of those posts that's missing one very obvious fact that undermines the entire argument.
In the piece, titled "Letís All Stop to Laugh at the Mets," Rys rips the New York Mets, he writes, "not for their Madoff debts, or their willingness to trade nearly anyone on their roster. The latest knee-slapping news out of Flushing is the teamís plan to lower the outfield fences and bring them closer to home plate by as much as 17 feet."
This is especially pathetic, Rys believes, because the Mets are terrible and cash-strapped and there's no reason to think moving the fences back will make any appreciable difference. The Phillies, on the other hand, would never do such a thing:
Of course, Phils fans remember Atlanta Braves pitcher and future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltzís opinion of Citizens Bank Park in its early days: ďThey canít ever win in Philadelphia Ö Thereís no way free-agent pitchers are going to go there Ö Iím not even going to call it a baseball field Ö Itís a joke.Ē Smoltz wasnít alone; plenty of analysts, including former Phils John Kruk and Curt Schilling, were down on CBP and its short fences back around 2005. Fast-forward to today. I know a few guys named Halladay, Lee and Oswalt who had no problems with the cozy dimensions at their Pattison Avenue workplace.Has Rys forgotten? The Phillies, after Citizen's Bank Park played as an extreme hitters park its first few years, moved the fence back in left field after the 2005 season. And three years later, they won the World Series.
Now I'm not saying the Phillies embarked on a huge run of success BECAUSE of the fence decision; they probably didn't, nor do I think it'll make much of a difference for the Mets. But I don't see how making a ballpark dimension change, which teams do not all that rarely, is a sign of being pathetic. Nor do I see how the Mets are worthy of mockery for making such a change, when the Phils made a similar change not that long ago.
I still can't believe the Phils actually signed Jim Thome. As long as they don't expect him to play first base, there's not really any downside.
Last Thursday's "Conan," the last of four episodes in New York, was just about a perfect episode of late night television. There was a visit from the show's ex-writer-turned-signature guest Louis CK, as well as the late night's first-ever same-sex wedding, which both made history and lived up to late night's long tradition of televised weddings.
But of course, there was also Triumph. The Insult Comic Dog came out of retirement and, of course, tackled Occupy Wall Street:
Speaking of which, this Colbert clip illustrates why I'm not 100 percent on board with OWS. Sure, they're largely right about the banks crashing the economy and all, but, as a commenter states, "the girl's name is Ketchup, and they use spirit fingers to make decisions."
You know, if your correction completely contradicts the central facts of a story, you should probably just delete the story.
Paul Waldman on the Herman Cain situation:
In case you're confused, here's a review of the right's current stance on that topic:
1. The primary victims of racism are white people.
2. The most vicious form of racism is when a white person is falsely accused of being a racist.
3. On rare occasions, a black person can be a victim of racism, but this only occurs when a prominent black conservative is criticized for, well, for pretty much anything. In that case, the criticism can only be motivated by the racism that liberals feel in their hearts, unlike conservatives, who all believe in the equality of all people.
Here's an amazing performance of "November Rain," with Amos Lee and a full orchestra. Not great video, but it sounds amazing:
From a New York Times magazine piece over the weekend I learn of the existence of a newly famous rap producer/impresario who goes by the name "Lex Luger." A few observations:
- The story, in none of its 3,500 words, acknowledges the pro wrestler Lex Luger or the producer's decision to use his name.
- Then again, the rap Lex Luger is only 20 years old; Luger's wrestling heyday was over by the time he was five or six years old.
- When will Luger collaborate with Sting?
- Luger's real name, "Lexus Lewis," is a much cooler name than "Lex Luger." It also sounds more like the name of another 1990s ring sport champion, Lennox Lewis.
No word on whether Luger may go out on tour; may I suggest the "Lex Express"?
This project excites me for multiple reasons, except that... doesn't he know it's "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts"? It's not like it's in every episode of the show.
I keep expecting to hear some Penn State fan make excuses for what's going on, defend Paterno, claim the whole scandal is ginned up by "haters," etc. That hasn't happened yet, although on Monday morning's Cataldi show, a caller was talking about how being around a college football program "isn't like going to work for Barney Frank."
I don't know what's worse, the homophobia or the complete nonsense. Is Barney Frank known for hiring underage staffers and molesting them? That was Mark Foley, I thought.
This week marks the end of my 15-year routine, going back to the beginning of college, of reading the Boston Globe sports notes columns every Sunday morning. Peter Gammons invented the form in the '70s, and the likes of Gordon Edes and Peter May took the honors in the '90s. But the Globe's new paywall marks the end of that; a subscription isn't worth it for the three articles a week.
Maddow has a great observation:
On the Glee Wiki, a list of things with little/no continuity.
Remember the girl at Business Insider who whined and whined that the iPhone 4S wasn't cooler? She's back, with a side-by-side iPhone vs. BlackBerry test.
Jonathan Chait on Herman Cain:
Cain is executing a business plan. Itís an excellent plan. The plan involves Cain raising his profile as a conservative personality, which he can monetize through motivational speaking, book sales, talk shows, and other media. Cainís selling point is that heís a black conservative who can capitalize on the sense of white racial victimization that has mushroomed during the Obama era. Accordingly, Cain assures conservatives that they are not racist, as proven by their support for him. Indeed, it is the liberals who are racist, as evidenced by their opposition to Cain. If Cain were campaigning to be president, the scandal would hurt him. Since he is instead campaigning to boost his profile, it will help him.I also find it hilarious that just a couple of weeks after everyone on the right lambasted Cain for "playing the race card" over the Niggerhead thing are now reacting to the sexual harassment story by... playing the race card.