Friday, January 30, 2004 CHUTZPAH AWARD NOMINEE: This one goes to Rick Salomon, the less-famous co-star of the PHST (Paris Hilton Sex Tape). Salomon, who is thought by most observers to have leaked the tape himself, is suing Paris, her publicists, and her moneybags parents for slander- to the tune of $10 million. But here's the kicker: the slander charge is due to the Hilton camp's allegations that Salomon wishes to profit from the tape, but in a document obtained by The Smoking Gun, Salomon offers to settle the suit- if he's allowed to market the video as a pay-per-view event. If you thought Paris was a despicable individual, she's got nothing on this vermin- he's actually offering to drop a lawsuit if he's allowed to do what he's suing them for saying he did. Although don't think I'm going easy on Ms. Hilton; I'd still love nothing more than to see her hideous, perpetually-blank-expressioned visage wiped clean from my consciousness forever.
If you haven't seen the PHST yet, I'm not about to link to it, but I am going to link to the transcript. In fact, hasn't everyone in America with interest in the tape already seen it for free? Why would they pay money for it on pay-per-view?
At any rate, she who puts the "ho" in "hot-blooded hotel heiress" could not be reached for comment by any of the aforementioned parties.
WEINER FOR MAYOR: I'm enjoying this new Wonkette blog, the latest from Gawker Media- doing for DC political and social gossip what Gawker did for New York, Gizmodo did for gadgets and Fleshbot did for porn.
Anyway, today Wonkette came up with a hell of a scoop, pointing out a line in this morning's edition of ABC's The Note which made reference to Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY)'s, uh, proclivities with the ladies:
Thank goodness Howard Dean won't be [the Democratic] nominee — he is a dead man walking. This is the loudest Democratic sigh of relief since Anthony Weiner got a phone call telling him that the test came back negative.
This line was posted, probably as a joke, and was rescinded minutes later. Weiner's supposedly running for mayor next year- provided a similar thing doesn't happen to Gifford Miller or Freddy Ferrer, he's got my vote.
IF YOU TEACH A MAN TO FISK...: My latest fisking is up at BlogCritics; it's a shot at some journalist who saw it fit to enumerate the supposed "parallels" between Bush and Hitler. The complete lack of death camps, racial extermination, and concentration camps currently in the United States notwithstanding.
THE SIMMONS/KIMMEL DIVIDE: I've written before about the odd dichotomy that has Bill Simmons, one of the more brilliant sportwriters currently working and seemingly no less than the voice of an entire generation of sports-pop-culture-and-stripper-loving young men, writing for "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the show that has all but disappeared off the pop-culture radar, if it was ever there in the first place. With Kimmel making a rare showing in the news today, this dynamic was on display in full force.
Simmons and some other writers for the show are in Houston for the Super Bowl, and during Media Day yesterday they pulled a stunt in which Kimmel regular "Cousin Sal" showed up in front of a mass of reporters costumed as Carolina Panthers kicker John Kasay, and attempted to fool media members into reporting his fake quotes. They managed to fool a couple of media outlets, until Kasay himself caught on to the deception, another reporter got into a scuffle with Sal, and all of Team Kimmel was escorted out of the stadium.
Simmons told his version of the story on his running ESPN.com blog today, and I laughed out loud reading it, especially the part in which Simmons accidentally ordered a Panthers home jersey for "Kasay" to wear, when the rest of the team was wearing road jerseys. "This is good!," I thought, and figured I'd watch Kimmel's show that night to see the finished product.
So I watched the bit, and... nothing. Not that I've ever laughed at anything on Kimmel's show (at least unless it involved Andy Milonakis), but the piece was absolutely, 100% laugh-free- mostly because "Cousin Sal" isn't funny, but also because the show left out almost the all the funny parts from Simmons' account, and even threw in a cringe-inducing interview of "Kasay" by ESPN's Trey Wingo, who really should know better.
I've got a feeling this has happened quite a bit- Simmons comes up with clever ideas, and all the "funny" gets filtered out in favor of the unfunny Kimmel sensibility. How long before those inevitable "Kimmel Gets Kanceled" headlines?
AN HONOR NOT TO BE NOMINATED: I never really commented on the Oscar nominations that were announced yesterday- honestly I'm upset that "Big Fish" was largely ignored- I'd have liked to see recognition for picture, director, adapted screenplay, production design, and supporting actor Albert Finney, though I guess myself and other fans of the film will have to be content with a Best Original Score nomination.
Of the Best Picture picks I agree with "Lord of the Rings" and "Lost in Translation"; I found "Master and Commander" slightly overrated and "Mystic River" highly overrated, and I haven't seen "Seabiscuit" yet (it's #5 in my Netflix queue, however). I don't care whether or not "Cold Mountain" was nominated or how Harvey feels, though perhaps I'll care more once I read the Biskind book.
I don't have much to say about the acting categories or anything else, but I just hope Bill Murray becomes the first Ghostbuster to win an Oscar. But only if he can beat Johnny Depp-as-a-gay-pirate-version-of-Keith Richards in "Pirates of the Carribean."
ANOTHER WHO-TO-VOTE-FOR QUIZ: Here's an elaborate one; I took it and it has Kerry as my #1, followed by Lieberman and Edwards. It says I have 100% agreement with Kerry, which I don't, but if you add up every position he's taken on every issue over time, I probably do.
BLOGGER BASHED, CONT'D: Remember that Blogger Bash that was held last weekend, the one I missed because I didn't know about it? It was held at an almost universally panned venue called AZ (see Paul Katcher's account, among others)- and perhaps indicating the growing power of the Blogosphere, AZ closed earlier this week. Serves 'em right for being so rude to the bloggers, even if I wasn't one of them.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004 CONGENITAL CONVENTION: Looking at the title of William Safire's column this morning, "Brokered Convention," I was so sure the word "Hillary" would appear in the final paragraph that the first thing I did was Control-F'd it- and sure enough, I was right. He's getting to be as predictable as Krugman...
"SANTA WITH MUSCLES," THE SEQUEL: Wrestling star Bill Goldberg will star in a comedy/horror film called "Santa's Slay," set to begin production later this year. Sounds like a "Bad Santa"-type film, which is okay except for three caveats: 1) "Bad Santa" wasn't that good, 2) Pro wrestlers have a bit of a checkered history when it comes to Christmas movies, and 3) What's a proud Jew like Goldberg doing in a Christmas movie?
HAPPY HALF-BIRTHDAY TO ME: Today is my half-birthday, as I am now officially 25-and-a-half years old. I'm not sure if there are any adults anywhere on Earth who actually celebrate their half-birthdays; when I was growing up it was a gimmick in elementary school in order to make kids with summer birthdays not "feel bad" that their birthday never fell during the school year. Then again, since the school year lasts more than six months, some kids got to have both birthdays and half birthdays- and what if your birthday was December 30? That way you're always on vacation and never get sung "Happy Birthday" by the class. See, it's paradoxes like this that are the reason our educational system in this country is in such trouble.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT I HATE MORE ABOUT LIVING IN BOSTON- THE SNOW, OR THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY: This quote, contributed by Peter Gammons during the 1996 election, was apropos for this year's contest, as inches of snow dropped on the Granite State on primary night. John Kerry won, with Howard Dean finishing a distant second and, unfortunately, Wesley Clark beating out John Edwards for third. Joe Lieberman is now likely done, and I was hoping Clark would drop out too. But it looks like we'll be stuck with Michael Moore's boy for at least one more week.
Next week: Seven states, including South Carolina and Missouri; we may know the winner after that.
THE SNOW, THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY, OR QUITTING THE CELTICS?: The same day that the man he replaced, Rick Pitino, ended the shortest medical leave of absence in the history of medical leaves of absence, Jim O'Brien today resigned as head coach of the Boston Celtics. The resignation, which came due to disagreements with the team's personnel boss Danny Ainge, means that an astonishing 14 of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference have changed coaches since the end of last season.
While it would absolutely kick ass if the Celtics hired Pat Riley as their coach, that's not too likely; Byron Scott, however, remains a possibility. But for now the C's will be led by assistant John Carroll, one of approximately 10,000 men named "John Carroll" in the greater Boston area (another was my journalism professor, and has a blog); in contrast, there are only roughly 5,000 Jim O'Briens. And no Rick Pitinos.
ST. LOUIS PARK BADASSES, CONT'D: You may remember a few weeks back I wrote about Thomas Friedman, and the bizarre incident in which he punched out another man at a think-tank symposium. Today comes news of yet another violent incident involving a political celebrity from my hometown of St. Louis Park, MN- this time, it's Al Franken.
According to the New York Post, Franken was attending a Howard Dean rally in New Hampshire when another one of those seemingly ubiquitous Lyndon LaRouche supporters started to heckle Dean. Apparently fearing that Dean would either start screaming or start singing, Franken "body-slammed" the man, knocking him to the ground. There was collateral damage, however, as Franken had his glasses broken in the scuffle.
Don't know what it is about liberal Jewish boys from St. Louis Park getting into these brawls, but don't worry mom, I'll try my best to stay out of trouble.
MY BIG FAT GREEK OLYMPICS: There was a piece in last week's Sports Illustrated about this summer's Olympics, which are scheduled to take place in Athens, Greece, and are facing logistical problems because several of the venues may not be constructed in time.
The piece also shares that organizers plan to stage several events at the same venues as during the ancient Olympics. Which got me thinking- why not further emulate the old Olympics, and have the athletes compete nude? We all know about the retro craze- wouldn't that be the ultimate throwback jersey, to wear nothing except for the name "Polydamas of Skotoussa" on your back?
Tuesday, January 27, 2004 AMID ALL THE NETS NEGATIVITY: The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight won their fifth consecutive game, and are now alone in first place (!) in the Western Conference, for the time ever this late in a season. As a result, Flip Saunders will coach the West in the All-Star Game next month.
All that, and Wally Szczerbiak hasn't played yet. The Long Island native is looking a lot to me like a future Brooklyn Net...
'80s PRESIDENT DEAD: No not Reagan, but rather Jack Tunney, who played on the on-camera role of "president" of the World Wrestling Federation in the '80s, died today at the age of 68. A sort of figurehead who always did what the fans didn't want, Tunney was a fictional version of Bud Selig, a full decade before the real thing.
While Vince McMahon was and is the true boss of the WWF/E, Tunney did indeed have some backstage pull, as he was chairman of the federation's Toronto territory.
SCOTT FREE: For reasons known only to themselves, the New Jersey Nets today fired Byron Scott as their head coach. Nevermind that Scott led the long-moribund franchise to two consecutive Eastern Conference championships, or that in only three-plus years Scott was the winningest coach in Nets history, or that, a recent five-game losing streak notwithstanding, the Nets are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division. This is the sort of nonsensical, undeserved firing much more common to hockey than to the NBA.
So what happened? Well, the team was sold this week- although that supposedly is unrelated to the firing. More importantly, Scott supposedly lacked the support of star point guard Jason Kidd, who was reported to have demanded Scott's firing as a condition for his agreeing to re-sign with New Jersey last summer- perhaps there was some side deal related to that contract that would trigger Scott's dismissal if Kidd gave the say-so. But honestly, Scott is probably getting out at the right time- pre-relocation lame duck teams don't exactly have a stellar history across sports, and given that he took a team with one playoff victory in 24 years and led them to six more, he'll likely have his choice of job openings- and this being the NBA, there are always plenty.
Scott will be replaced on an interim basis by Lawrence Frank, an Indiana product whose name sounds more like that of a synagogue president than an NBA coach.
BLOOMBERG VS. ATKINS: You know, for someone who made a billion-dollar fortune as the head of a broadcasting empire, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sure is lacking in media savvy. Witness a flap this week, in the mayor was dining with some firefighters, and dismissed as "bullshit" that Dr. Robert Atkins, inventor of the Atkins Nutritional Approach, had died after slipping on some ice and hitting his head on a Manhattan sidewalk last year. Bloomberg went on to call the doctor "fat," and intimated that it was in fact the diet, and not the ice, that caused his death- and since reporters with tape recorders were present, the whole quote made the papers the next day.
This, predictably, caused much anger for Atkins' widow Veronica, who demanded an apology. Bloomberg stonewalled for three days, at one point even telling her to "lighten up." Now perhaps I'm biased, seeing as how I'm doing Atkins and now and all, but what should have been a minor gaffe was magnified about a hundred times by his pig-headed refusal to back off. In doing so, he not only alienated the widow Atkins, but also the 50,000 or so New Yorkers who follow the diet.
Finally tonight, about five days after this all started, the mayor apologized to Mrs. Atkins-albeit through a spokesman, and not personally- and it was decided that they will have a steak dinner together. And people thought Rudy had trouble dealing with people as mayor...
OSCAR TIME: The Academy Award nominations will be announced at 5:38 tomorrow morning; as the Oscars have been called "the gay man's Super Bowl," it's apropros that they be announced during Super Bowl Week. Anyway, I predict the Best Picture nominees will be:
- "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King"
- "Cold Mountain"
- "Mystic River"
- "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"
- "Lost in Translation"
No "Big Fish" unfortunately, but we can only hope. And no I don't care about the Golden Globes so therefore I have nothing to say about that, but the cineaste in me has a certain appreciation for the Oscars.
UPDATE: Four out of five ain't bad- substitute "Seabiscuit" for "Cold Mountain"; don't blame me, I saw neither film.
SMOKING CIGARETTES, AND WATCHING...: I neglected last week to mention the passing of the childrens' television host Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan). He was a bit before my time, but I do have one distinct memory of Keeshan guest-starring on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Interesting that, despite being older and from a slightly earlier era, Keeshan outlived Rogers; much like how Joe DiMaggio outlived Mickey Mantle.
LIVE FROM THE SUPER BOWL: Much as I love sports and enjoy watching the Super Bowl, one thing I really hate is Super Bowl hype. Do we ever really learn anything from the hundreds of hours of analysis prior to the game? That's why I'm planning to ignore much of my usual sports shows this week, with a couple of exceptions: Bill Simmons has returned to his blogging roots and is reporting daily from Houston this week. And don't miss the daily Patriots Video News webcasts on Patriots.com, hosted by my friend Brian. Both men are lucky enough to not only attend the Super Bowl, but to spend this week in 70-degree weather, just as a foot of snow strikes their native Northeast.
Sunday, January 25, 2004 OH, THE PLACES I'VE BEEN:
True, it's only 26 states (52%)- but if I had all those electoral votes, I'd be president.
(Via Tainted Bill).
OOPS, SPOKE TOO SOON: Did I say there was no opposition in New Jersey to the Nets' move? There was a protest today outside Continental Arena against the move which was attended by- about 30 people. Ouch.
FIREMIKETICE.COM: From this week's issue of The Onion (see item #3):
So now we know that there's at least one person on the Onion staff who is a Vikes fan and agrees that Tice sucks.
'80s PITCHERS IN THE NEWS: Jesse Orosco, the oldest current major leaguer, announced his retirement this week after a nine-team, 25-year career that began in 1979. Orosco's retirement at the age of 47 means that the only players remaining who were active when I first started watching baseball in 1985 are the two Francos- John and Julio, along with Andres Galarraga and Rickey Henderson. And Roger Clemens, until he retired. Oh, wait.
In other news, Tommy John this week was named manager of the Class A Staten Island Yankees, and is being mentioned as a possible heir apparent to retiring Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
For those who've started following baseball only in the last ten years, yes Tommy John was an actual guy- he pitched 26 years in the majors and won 288 games- not just a surgery.
When Orosco began his career, Kirby Puckett was in high school. Now he's a Hall of Famer with a tarnished reputation & a street named after him in Minneapolis.
AND SPEAKING OF TWINS EMBARRASSMENT: As pointed out by "TwinsGeek" John Bonnes, a couple in St. Paul recently gave birth to twins, and being, pardon the pun, Twins fans, they named their twin children "Torii" and "Hunter," after the Twins' centerfielder. At a press conference attended by Bonnes, St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly felt the need to point out that the couple made this decision even though the mother had never met Hunter before in her life. Which may be necessary to mention, considering that Hunter is known to have as many illegitimate children as he has fingers on his throwing hand.
THE VOICE AND THE JEWS: There are two wildly off-the-mark stories in this week's Village Voice which treat the issue of Jewishness with uncommon cluelessness, even by Voice standards. And while neither is as egregious as last week's cover story that made up, out of whole cloth, a Bush scheme to pull all US troops out of Iraq this summer, but still have me scratching my head.
First, media critic Cynthia Cotts takes the Times' Thomas Friedman to task for his decision to donate a $2,000 journalism prize to Kol Shalom, a synagogue he co-founded in suburban Maryland. The prize, from The Week magazine, was mandated to be donated to a library, and Friedman chose the library of the shul.
Cotts throws in some background about the temple's rabbi, who supposedly has a shady financial past; point taken. But her real beef is with Friedman donating money/being an investor in a Jewish institution, when he writes about the Middle East for a living. Never mind that Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and that everyone who reads him is aware that he is in fact Jewish, and has some sort of personal attachment to the state of Israel- and while I've heard people argue that Friedman is excessively pro-Israel, he's far from a neo-con, and I've heard others argue just as forcefully that he's not pro-Israel enough. But regardless, I agree with Sullivan that whether or not TLF donates to a synagogue is no one's business but his own. Why should an op-ed columnist have to check his Jewishness at the door?
Just as goofy is a piece by Alisa Solomon, a Tony Kushner intimate who wrote some pretty ridiculously slanted pieces from Israel for the Voice a couple years back. Her latest polemic is about the forthcoming Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof," and while first arguing that she hopes the show's famous book isn't changed too much, she then abruptly reverses field and wonders how the revival will fit into "today's radically different cultural context"- in other words, is a show about struggling Old World Jews still relevant, now that the Jews run the world?
Wondering how 'Fiddler' will fit into a world in which "boys talk baseball at their Bar Mitzvahs" (they didn't in the '50s?), Solomon asks how the show will connect with today's Jews, and leads us to this unbelievable paragraph:
The grandchildren of Tevye no longer dream of becoming rich men (and women) in "a big tall house with rooms by the dozen." In vast numbers, they're there. And more and more of them are voting Republican. A few even have a hand in shaping Bush's bellicose foreign policy.
First of all, yes American Jews are on the average much more prosporous than at the time of 'Fiddler''s debut in 1964- but that's far from universal, and would certainly come as news to some of my high school friends from rural Wisconsin. And "voting Republican"? The whole KSJ thing notwithstanding, according to a recent survey, a grand total of 16% of Jews identify as Republican, and every major Democratic presidential candidate would win the Jewish vote against Bush. And what the the hell does the Jewishness of a few presidential advisers have to do with "Fiddler on the Roof"? Was 'Fiddler' less relevant in the mid-'70s when US foreign policy was run by Henry Kissinger, who- like the 'Fiddler' characters, and unlike Perle, Wolfowitz, or Feith- is an actual Eastern European Jewish immigrant?
I'll see the 'Fiddler' revival- you can't go wrong with Alfred Molina (Rahad Jackson from "Boogie Nights") in the Zero Mostel role.
BLOGGER BASHED: There was a Big Apple Blogger Bash tonight, which for some reason managed to completely escape my notice. Usually when these things happen the logo gets posted to everyone's blog who is going, and I guess by some fluke of blog-reading over the past few weeks I managed to miss the logos posted by the ten people on my blogroll who went. Damn.
Bill was there, and I guess they got kicked out of the venue and ended up at the noted Jayson Blair haunt known as Siberia.
Friday, January 23, 2004 ARMOND SPEAKS: Here's an interesting interview with New York Press' iconoclastic film critic Armond White, in Filmmaker Magazine. Both a Pauline Kael worshiper and a former student of Andrew Sarris' at Columbia, White is one of the few critics who always has something interesting to say, even if (as I do) you disagree with most if not all of it.
Thursday, January 22, 2004 PERRY/SCHONN '04: Gen. Wesley Clark, who is fast becoming my least favorite of the major Democratic presidential candidates, has already been endorsed by more than his share of losers (George McGovern, David Dinkins, Michael Moore, Madonna, etc.). But the General did pick up some cred today, when he answered in a survey that "Journey's Greatest Hits" is his favorite album. (John Kerry picked "Abbey Road.")
When the candidates in the September Fox News Channel debate were asked to name their favorite song, and most made fools of themselves, Clark was not yet in the race. But with the pick of Journey, Clark has proven that he has good, albeit anachronistic, taste in music, and is clearly angling for the coveted Steve Perry endorsement.
Coincidentally, today is former Journey frontman Perry's 55th(!) birthday. Yes, Steve Perry is older than my dad.
NETS APATHY, CONT'D: The day after the official announcment that the New Jersey Nets have been sold- paving the way for their move to Brooklyn- New Jersey sports authorities have reacted, though not in the way you'd expect.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, rather than declare their intention to fight the relocation tooth-and-nail, have all but conceded the move, announcing instead that they'll fight to keep the "Nets" name in New Jersey, and force the Brooklyn team to change their name. This is similar to the arrangment made when the Cleveland Browns left town and became the Baltimore Ravens, the only difference being that the Browns had existed for a half-century, while the Nets' tenure in the Meadowlands has been about half as long, and they were even previously known as the New York Nets.
When the Timberwolves almost left Minnesota for New Orleans in 1994, fans and politicians alike fought the move until the league rejected it, and they remain in Target Center to this day. Similar campaigns have happened elsewhere, sometimes successful and sometimes not, but if there's not even going to be organized opposition to a move, why does New Jersey even deserve an NBA team in the first place?
ANN MILLER, 1922-2004: Longtime singer/actress Ann Miller died today at the age of 81. Miller starred in such '60s musicals as "On the Town" and "Kiss Me, Kate," as well as various Broadway productions, but I'll always remember her as Coco, the mysterious landlady in David Lynch's 2001 "Mulholland Drive."
LAST NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF PETE ROSE'S CREDIBILITY: The Hit King will host a book signing this weekend at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Now I've been to Foxwoods, it's a great place, and I love the song. But why the hell would Rose, still seeking reinstatement and with all eyes on him, do such a thing? I guess if the last few weeks didn't prove that he's even dumber than we all thought, this does.
DOWN WITH WOODY I: Last night I watched the most recent Woody Allen movie, "Anything Else." Pretty weak, despite a few good one-liners, "Anything Else" is a semi-remake of "Annie Hall," only with the Annie character (Christina Ricci) as a pill-popping psycho as opposed to merely being "flighty." Jason Biggs plays the Allen stand-in, though Allen's in it too, as a loony "urban survivalist."
One moment that made me laugh, however, was when Biggs meets Ricci for the first time and asks where she went to school, and she says (you guessed it) "Brandeis." Now Allen has been putting Brandeis references into his films for 30 years, and usually he has used the device to establish female characters as rich and/or smart, in order to make the Allen character look better when they eventually sleep with him. But this is the first time to my knowledge that Woody has slapped the Brandeis tag on an outright psychopath.
DOWN WITH WOODY II: In the first Super Bowl "mini-story," the Bucs' Warren Sapp ripped Patriots offensive lineman Russ Hochstein, who is playing in place of injured center Damien Woody, on Wednesday's edition of "Pardon the Interruption." Sapp predicted that the Panthers' defensive line would "dominate" New England's blockers, mostly because of Hochstein's lack of skill, and even accused Hochstein of being incapable of blocking PTI co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.
And in response to the obvious question, I have no idea whether or not Hochstein is of the tribe, but if so he's one of the few Jews in the NFL, and if not he's a prime candidate for the Eckstein Award.
THIS FISH UNMASKS: One of my favorite blogs for the past year has been This Fish (Needs a Bicycle), the daily musings of a 25-year-old single girl in the Boston area. I like it both because it's so completely different from every other blog I read, and also because Fish's writing is both funny and engaging.
This week, in celebration of her 100,000th hit, Fish decided to include a picture on her blog. And while she unfortunately missed the "babes of the blogosphere" roundup by a few months, I'm happy to discover that Fish is just as superlative in the looks department as she is as a writer.
SANTORUM SPREADS FURTHER: Many who watched the State of the Union address the other night noticed that Rick Santorum, who is the Senate Majority Whip, walked into the chamber directly behind President Bush. And later, when Bush started talking about gay marriage, the camera panned over to Pennsylvania's junior senator.
Now, due to the senator's latest, Savage Love-inspired connotation, his appearance on the broadcast gave many viewers a chuckle- including this guy, who called me upon his first appearance.
But that was nothing compared to a passage in National Journal's "The Hotline" newsletter (subscription required), about Mr. Santorum's criticism of his senate colleague, presidential candidate John Edwards. The item is headlined "Scathed by Santorum," and quotes the work of a local newspaper reporter- who, it so happens, is a member of my blogroll, though I'm not saying which member. The piece ends with an Edwards spokesman stating that he "wasn't surprised Santorum was all over Edwards."
Of all those people- the Hotline editors, the blogger/reporter, and the Edwards flack- at least one of them has to know the real meaning of "Santorum," right?
BROOKLYN, HEAR WE COME: A deal was reached today to sell the New Jersey Nets to New York real estate developer Bruce Ratner, which paves the way for the team to move to Brooklyn.
Many hurdles remain, of course, before the new arena can be built- neighborhood groups are expected to protest, as are the usual anti-development folks, and the Knicks won't be too happy either. But I'm thrilled that it seems closer to fruition- 40 years after the Dodgers went west, the Borough of Churches will finally have its own team again.
The reaction in New Jersey has been, well, practically nonexistent. Aren't fans supposed to be upset when their teams leave? At least they can take public transportation to the new arena- which they couldn't do with the old one.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 CLINTON-OBSESSED DICK MORRIS, CONT'D: "What happened to Howard Dean? He was assassinated by Bill and Hillary with the assistance of Chris Lehane, the political hit man who first worked for Kerry and now backs Clark." -Wednesday's column. Just in case you were wondering about the shallowness of Morris' political commentary, he actually sees the Clintons behind everything, even if they have nothing to do with it. I think he thinks Hillary is God.
But he is right about Lehane; that guy may be the biggest slime to work in the high levels of politics since, well, Dick Morris.
MINNESOTA MUSIC: Here comes The Hold Steady, a Minnesota-born, Brooklyn-based band whose witty lyrics have been known to reference the Minnesota Twins. New York Press already has them in the "holy trinity" of Minnesota bands, along with The Replacements and Husker Du. Some Journey-rific lyrics:
she said my name is steve perry but people call me circuit city. i'm so well connected. my upc is dialed into the system. she said my name's neil schon but some people call me nina simone.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "How am I supposed to relax, when I've consumed so much coffee... and NoDoz!... and Ephedrine!... and anabolic steroids!... and crack! and..." -'Clutch Cargo' Howard Dean (Robert Smigel), on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."
THE STATE OF THE UNION: NOT SO STRONG: Now perhaps it was because I watched it with Bush-hating friends on the Upper West Side who heckled and booed non-stop, but I was considerably less impressed by this year's Bush State of the Union address than the previous two. Bush's speeches in the post-9/11 period were notably stronger than this, but I've noticed a dropoff since, sort of like when you can tell the writing on a sitcom is starting to slip.
As usual, I had no problem with the terrorism/national security parts, and found nothing to argue with therein. But the president this year went way off the rails in terms of social policy- the abstinence-only and anti-gay marriage stuff? Childrens' drug testing? Vague warnings about "the dangers of 'the culture'"? The nonsensical plea for sports owners to get rid of steroids, which are already illegal anyway? Did Bush have anything to say on the subject a decade ago, when he himself was a sports owner?
At least he kept it short, delivering the first sub-one-hour SOTU in recent memory. But the address was weak enough to make me look more closely at the Democratic side, now that Howard Dean may very well not be the nominee. Which makes sense, considering that I am still a registered Democrat.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004 "MY HUBBY'S IN JAIL!": Not Jerry Springer- Israel! Yigal Amir, the young Israeli who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, is planning to marry, but not if Israeli authorities have anything to say about it.
A disturbed woman named Larisa Trimbobler, a Russian immigrant who has been visiting Rabin in prison for several years, apparently decided that spending the rest of her life with a murderer who will be imprisoned for the rest of his life was an ay-okay idea. But prison officials are steadfast in their opposition to the marriage. Amir's lawyers say the prevention of the wedding is "a violation of his basic rights"- yea asshole, so is murder.
The Sondheim musical "Assassins" is being revived on Broadway this year- will Amir get his own segment?
Allison Kaplan Sommer has more.
NOT DEAD YET?: Just when you thought the Alex Rodriguez-to-the-Red-Sox deal was completely dead, a new report today says the two teams are once again talking, even though it's being denied by all parties. I still say it makes too much sense for everyone not to happen, though on the other hand, the third time wasn't the charm for McNabb and the Eagles, either.
Like the media in Boston doesn't have enough to concentrate on, what with Pats in the Super Bowl and the New Hampshire primary...
JERRY NACHMAN, 1946-2004: MSNBC news boss Jerry Nachman died last night of cancer at the age of 57. An old-school news boss, Nachman for years ran WNBC in New York, and later edited the New York Post before taking over as the cable network's news operation and briefly hosting an on-air show in 2002.
Nachman was a Hoboken resident who passed away in his Mile Square home, and I saw him more than once at synagogue. In fact, I was scheduled to see him speak two weeks ago, before the speech was canceled due to his failing health.
JUSTICE FOR BEN: As I've mentioned a time or two before, I had the chance to interview Ben Affleck in the spring of 1997 when I was a freshman writer on The Justice, back when the then-up-and-coming actor was promoting the film "Chasing Amy." Years before "Bennifer," I found Affleck an engaging and friendly guy, who hadn't yet been "infected" by some of the more unsavory aspects of Hollywood stardom.
Well, apparently Ben's now back on the way down, because this week he's interviewed in The Justice again.
HECKLERS' VETO: Howard Dean once again embarrassed himself on national television today, at a rally in New Hampshire when a group of supporters of loony perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche showed up and heckled him. Dean responded by singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," both getting the words wrong and singing off-key. At least he didn't audibly growl, like he did last night.
JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER: Michael Totten does just that with Sean Hannity's new book. But it's hard to blame him, as the book is titled "Deliver us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism."
Totten's got it all right, slamming both the Michael Moores of the world and the Hannitys for "cranking out polarizing polemics against The Bad People." Money graf:
I’m sure it’s fun to lump dictators, terrorists, and libruls™ together into one happy and convenient evil ball. It’s got to be even more satisfying to ask the Lord to come down and deliver us from such a horror. My far-left friends know all about it. You know - Republicans hate black people, adore Hitler, throw Muslims into concentration camps, and kill Arabs for oil.
I'm sure the Hannity book will include some disclaimer about how "Alan Colmes isn't like all the other liberals." I guess Hannity is to Colmes as Strom Thurmond was to his maid.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "With this guy, you never know if you're gonna get Smeagol Dean or Gollum Dean" -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show."
OY, WHAT A FEELING!: The New York city Department of Transportation has put the kibosh on an idea by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to put signs on the Williamsburg Bridge which read "Leaving Brooklyn- Oy Vey!" Proving that ethnic stereotyping is just fine in New York provided it's of Italians, Irish, or Jews, Markowitz wanted the "oy vey" (which means, roughly, "woe is me" in Yiddish) on the signs partially in reaction to "Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit" signs that appeared on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge two years ago. But DOT officials apparently considered the campaign "played-out," and possibly offensive as well.
Does this mean the "Jewish hipster" fad is losing momentum?
HAPPY MLK DAY: And is Chris Rock said, "you've gotta be really racist to be against the Martin Luther King holiday, because it's not like you have to do anything black that day. You don't have to watch 'Soul Train,' you don't have to read JET magazine- all you have to do is not work."
A TALE OF TWO JOHNS: The first delegates of the 2004 presidential election have been awarded, as John Kerry pulled 38% to win the Iowa caucuses. John Edwards, who like Kerry fared poorly in polls prior to the last week, finished a strong second, with erstwhile frontrunner Howard Dean coming in third with just 18%. Dick Gephardt came in fourth, and is expected to leave the race on Tuesday.
Kerry, initially viewed as the "establishment frontrunner," fell from favor in the latter half of 2003, due to both his tendency to flip-flop on almost every major issue, as well as the concurrent ascendancy of Dean. Voters apparently realized that Dean is all-but-unelectable, and figured Kerry and Edwards would both be stronger national candidates.
It's far from over for Dean, of course, but he didn't help himself with a truly bizarre concession speech, in which he 1) classlessly took the stage while Edwards, who beat him, was still speaking, 2) screamed and literally howled in celebration as though he had won, as opposed to blowing a lead and losing by 20 points, and 3) gave a rambling speech in which he mentioned at least 30 different states, including- somewhat arrogantly- the home states of his seven primary opponents, in order of their current poll standing. All the while sounding a lot like a pro wrestling villain giving a "heel promo." I'm not usually someone who says Dean is nuts, but yes, tonight he was nuts.
And with this caucus we say goodbye to the long political career of Dick Gephardt, by all accounts a good man and an honest politician who will be greatly missed in public life.
On to the State of the Union, and then New Hampshire...(and South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico and California and Texas and New York!)
Monday, January 19, 2004 SMASHING A PERFECTLY GOOD GUITAR: As the 40th anniversary approaches of one of the most significant moments in American pop cultural history- the first appearance of the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show"- a much more unsavory Beatles story is in the news, that of a doctor who allegedly mistreated George Harrison in the weeks before his death.
The lawsuit by Harrison's estate, in which Dr. Gilbert Lederman was accused of forcing Harrison to autograph a guitar for his teenage son, has been settled- but one part of the settlement jumped out at me: Lederman has agreed to privately destroy the guitar given to him by Harrison. Why destroy it? Seeing as how George died of cancer, why not auction the guitar off and donate the proceeds to a cancer charity? Wouldn't a guitar autographed by a Beatle go for six figures, at least?
Guitar gently weeps, indeed.
PATS VS. PANTHS: Super Bowl XXXVIII is set- it's the New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers, in a game that, unfortunately for the league and the networks, comes with no obvious storyline. And- lucky for them- this is one of the two-weeks-of-Super-Bowl-hype years.
Had the Philadelphia Eagles not played the worst NFC championship game by any team since the Vikings lost 41-0 to the Giants three years ago, it all would've been different- a veritable East Coast Bias Bowl between the Patriots and Eagles would've been just the third all-Northeast Corridor Super Bowl, after Jets-Colts in the Namath Guarantee Game and the much less exciting Giants-Ravens clash three years ago.
So Patriots-Panthers. I'd like to think of some interesting idea, of some player who's switched from one team to the other, or some coach looking for revenge, or some historical relationship between the two teams, but honestly, I got nothing. Except both start with "P." That's it, "The P Bowl!" Take it away, Don Cheadle!
STUCK WITH SEAN: But the worst NFL news of the weekend has nothing to do with what happened on the field- it was the announcement Saturday that ESPN blowhard Sean Salisbury has decided not to accept the offer to become a coach with the Cardinals, and we'll therefore be stuck with his snide bloviations after every single NFL highlight for at least one more year.
Yes, that's right: Rush Limbaugh was only the second-worst NFL analyst to appear on ESPN in 2003.
THE FREEPERS EMBRACE RON SILVER: And they link to me too. Who'd have thought the far-righties on that website would learn to appreciate a nebbishly Brooklynite Jewish actor who once played Alan Dershowitz in a movie?
Yes, I was right all along about Ron, and his verbal smackdown of Al Sharpton on last Friday's Bill Maher show is just the latest reason why. That garish yellow jacket he wore notwithstanding...
All that, and his father is the district attorney.
Sunday, January 18, 2004 TV CRITIC QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "['Sex and the City'] is a show written by gay men who think they know how straight women talk. If straight women actually talked that way, I'd probably become gay, too." -Matt Labash, in the Weekly Standard, leading off one of the best anti-"Simple Life" pieces I've ever read.
THE SEAN PENN FILM FESTIVAL: The last two films I've seen in the theater, "Mystic River" and "21 Grams," both happened to star Baghdad Sean. And while I don't make it a habit to judge the work of performers based on their politics, I consider both films highly overrated, with great performances all around in both, but not much else to recommend. (Minor spoilers for both)
"Mystic River," I know, is loved by many people in and out of the blogosphere. Now it takes place in a section of Boston in which I never set foot in the four years I lived in that city, and I never read the book, both of which may very well cloud my judgment of the film. And while I thought the performances were almost across the board great, my biggest objection to "Mystic River" was the contrived, coincidence-filled plot.
Despite its pedigree, the film has the exact same structure as a much less lauded film, "Basic Instinct": there's a murder, there are two suspects and, scene-by-scene, we're supposed to alternately suspect this person, no this person, no this person. And I thought character development was a strength of the film, that is until Laura Linney's bizarre "you are a king" speech at the end, which I'm still scratching my head about five days later.
It's not a bad film- handsomely shot and, like I said, great performances- but it had the sort of plot that repeatedly made me want to shout, "aw, come on!"
I didn't like "21 Grams" much more. While once again the acting was superlative, but this is one of those films where you have to ask if the non-linear narrative actually serves a purpose, or if its just cinematic masturbation on the part of the director. Unlike "Pulp Fiction," "Memento," or others of the genre, "21 Grams" really would be a better film told in standard order. Add the generally ugly visual style, and that you can't understand a word out of Benecio Del Toro's mouth, and I can't recommend it, several minutes of naked Naomi Watts notwithstanding.
MICHAEL AND R.: Richard Goldstein, the Village Voice's resident Angry Gay Man, is usually way off the charts (as evidenced by his Howard-Dean-is-butch piece in The Nation this month), but I've gotta give him credit for his piece in the Voice this week which points out the double standard between pop music's two foremost accused child molesters, Michael Jackson and R. Kelly.
Why, Goldstein asks, has Kelly both maintained his status as a sex symbol and continued to have a successful career, while Jackson is seen almost universally as a freak whose career is over? Part of the answer, of course, is that Jackson hasn't helped himself with his grotesque looks and non-stop erratic behavior, but also true is that of course there's one standard for those accused of molesting girls and another for boys. And besides, Kelly's assertion that "only Osama Bin Laden knows what I'm going through" was as questionable as anything that's come out of Jackson's mouth.
Would Roman Polanski have a single defender anywhere had he fled the country after sexing up a boy? Could anyone in hip hop continue to have a career if a videotape surfaced of him having sex (or urinating on) an underage male? I'm guessing the answer to both questions is "not fucking likely."
JAMES AND THE GIANT PIZZA: Like me, James Lileks is doing Atkins, and told an amusing story in Friday's entry about his first time being faced with pizza, in Day 7 of the diet.
Now perhaps it's from a lack of self-esteem brought on by that mean anti-Bleat piece in last week's City Pages- but what the hell does someone as skinny as Lileks need to lose weight for? Jeez, next thing you'll tell me John McEnroe, the scrawniest athlete in history, was taking steroids. Oh, wait... 1:23 AM
TOUR DE TRUMP: I'm loving the Donald Trump reality series "The Apprentice," but a couple of things: one, the producers are going to have a delicate balancing act with that guy Sam who, despite being completely nuts and thus more deserving of firing than anyone else, must be kept around simply because he's the most entertaining person on the show.
And another thing: even if you haven't seen the show, you're undoubtedly aware of the promos, which always feature Trump looking at the unlucky contestant and snapping, "you're fired!" The commercials before the first episode had him doing it to his right, and sure enough, the first candidate cashiered was the MD/MBA grad David who was- that's right, sitting on the right side of the table. In the second episode promos, The Donald said it straightforward- and Jason, the fired contestant, was sitting in the middle. In those for next week, he appears to go to his left- so in the boardroom scene, just so you know, the contestant on that side of the table will be the next to go.
And finally- who needs a gold-plated apartment?
HOT 100: 'Cause all the "cool kids" (Bill, Michele, etc.) are doing it, I thought I would too: it's the top 100 movies in the IMDB; if I've seen them, they're bold, if I own them, they're underlined. Here we go:
1. Godfather, The (1972) 2. Shawshank Redemption, The (1994) 3. Godfather: Part II, The (1974) 4. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) 5. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) 6. Casablanca (1942) 7. Schindler's List (1993) 8. Shichinin no samurai (1954)
9. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) 10. Citizen Kane (1941) 11. Star Wars (1977) 12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 13. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 14. Rear Window (1954) 15. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 17. Memento (2000) 18. Usual Suspects, The (1995) 19. Pulp Fiction (1994) 20. North by Northwest (1959)
21. Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain, Le (2001) [Amelie]
22. Psycho (1960) 23. 12 Angry Men (1957)
24. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
25. Silence of the Lambs, The (1991) 26. Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly]
27. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 28. Goodfellas (1990) 29. American Beauty (1999) 30. Vertigo (1958) 31. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
32. Pianist, The (2002) 33. Matrix, The (1999) 34. Apocalypse Now (1979) 35. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 36. Some Like It Hot (1959) 37. Taxi Driver (1976) 38. Paths of Glory (1957)
39. Third Man, The (1949)
40. C'era una volta il West (1968)[Once Upon a Time in the West]
41. Fight Club (1999) 42. Boot, Das (1981)
43. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001) (Spirited Away)
44. Double Indemnity (1944) 45. L.A. Confidential (1997) 46. Chinatown (1974) 47. Singin' in the Rain (1952) 48. Requiem for a Dream (2000) 49. Maltese Falcon, The (1941) 50. M (1931) 51. All About Eve (1950)
52. Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
53. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) 54. Se7en (1995) 55. Saving Private Ryan (1998) 56. Cidade de Deus (2002) [City of God]
57. Raging Bull (1980) 58. Wizard of Oz, The (1939) 59. Rashmon (1950)
60. Sting, The (1973)
61. American History X (1998) 62. Alien (1979) 63. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 64. Leon (The Professional) (1994) 65. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 66. Vita bella, La (1997) (Life Is Beautiful) 67. Touch of Evil (1958) 68. Manchurian Candidate, The (1962) 69. Wo hu cang long (2000) (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) 70. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
71. Great Escape, The (1963)
72. Clockwork Orange, A (1971) 73. Reservoir Dogs (1992) 74. Annie Hall (1977) 75. Amadeus (1984)
76. Jaws (1975) 77. Ran (1985)
78. On the Waterfront (1954) 79. Modern Times (1936) 80. High Noon (1952)
81. Braveheart (1995) 82. Apartment, The (1960) 83. Sixth Sense, The (1999) 84. Fargo (1996) 85. Aliens (1986) 86. Shining, The (1980) 87. Blade Runner (1982) 88. Strangers on a Train (1951)
89. Duck Soup (1933)
90. Metropolis (1927)
91. Finding Nemo (2003) 92. Donnie Darko (2001) 93. Toy Story 2 (1999) 94. Princess Bride, The (1987) 95. General, The (1927)
96. City Lights (1931)
97. Lola rennt (1998) (Run Lola Run) 98. Full Metal Jacket (1987) 99. Notorious (1946)
100. Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957) [The Seventh Seal]
That's 72 I've seen out of 100- not bad, right?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Is anyone else waiting for Michael Jackson to enter a plea of 'Mamasaymamasahmamacuhsah.'?" -The Sports Guy. HEE-HEE!
REVISIONS, TAKE TWO: The second trailer is completed for "Revisions," the feature-length film being made by my high school friends James and Eric; check it out here.
INTERNET GAME OF THE DAY: For all you '80s rock fans out there, it's "Whack-an-Oates!" Could "Whack-a-Colmes" be far behind?
Thursday, January 15, 2004 IT'S HERE:
My new computer (Compaq 2172) arrived today, and I'm blogging from there now. Pretty cool, after a week with no internet and another five days in Cybercafe Hell. It's the first non-obsolete computer I've owned since I started college eight years ago.
RETURN OF NORAH: My first-ever Kazaa download was "Sunrise," the first single from Norah Jones' forthcoming sophomore album "Feels Like Home." If that one song is any indication, we've got another great disc to look forward to from the woman I fell head over heels in love with two years ago. Maybe it won't win seven Grammys or sell 8 million copies like its predecessor, but if you ask me, it doesn't have to.
IOWA EVENS UP: All of a sudden the Iowa caucuses are a four-way near-dead heat, and at this point I'm almost as undecided as the Iowa voters. Must be that whole Midwestern solidarity thing...
I generally consider myself a good TNR neo-liberal, though my decision wasn't made any easier by last week's Joe Lieberman endorsement, which also gave space for long-winded dissents in favor of Dean, Gephardt, Clark, and Edwards. (Sorry, Kerry). It also didn't help that editor Peter Beinart gave even more space to the dissents than to the pro-Joe staff editorial.
As I've said before, I'm a natural supporter of Lieberman because I agree most with his views, but I've just plain never liked the guy, especially his sanctimoniousness and anti-Hollywood crusading. If I were voting next week I'd probably pick Edwards or Gephardt- I'm generally impressed with the campaigns of both, and while I used to look at Kerry as a future president when I lived in Boston, he's run such an inept campaign that frankly it's hard not to laugh at him. And Wesley Clark, let's be frank, just seems nuts.
As for Dean, yes I agree that most of the attacks against him- both by the media and his opponents- are unfair. And while I admire his tenaciousness, I can't say I agree with him on much of anything, and it'll be an interesting guessing game in November whether he wins only Vermont, Massachusetts, and California, or merely Vermont only.
The less said about Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, the better.
Meanwhile, the New Republic wasn't the only big endorsement procured by Joe Lieberman in the last week- today ESPN's own Chris Berman came out for Senator Joe. So what if Martin Sheen made "West Wing" fantasists happy with his backing of Dean- Joe's got the swami!
MUSIC CRITIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He's like Peter Cetera giving Barry Manilow a back rub while Air Supply double-team Carole Bayer Sager"- Mikael Wood, reviewing Clay Aiken's album in the Village Voice.
CORPORATE MERGER: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison announced this week that he has married his longtime girlfriend, novelist Melanie Craft.
This has got to come as news to the New York Post, which three years ago speculated that Craft was merely a figment of Ellison's imagination, and that he had made up the "fictional" fiance so that he could date other women without marrying them. That Post gossip even suggested that Craft's novel had been ghostwritten by the Oracle boss.
Assuming that Craft does in fact exist, the marriage is Ellison's fourth.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004 FIRED ON LETTERMAN: Man, it's gotta suck to be Don Chaney, the erstwhile New York Knicks coach who today suffered what may be the most humiliating firing in NBA history.
First, appearing on "The Late Show With David Letterman" last night, Knicks GM Isiah Thomas yukked it up with Dave about the "fire Chaney" chants that have been ubiquitous at Madison Square Garden for the last few weeks. The AP account:
Thomas, who took over from Scott Layden as team president late last month, appeared on the ``Late Show'' with David Letterman on Tuesday night and was asked about his plans for Chaney.
"You definitely don't like to see anyone humiliated in such a public forum,'' Thomas said of the chants. "It's a tough time for him as a man.''
Letterman then said: "So he's done, that's what you're saying?'' Thomas laughed and did not answer.
Then, adding insult to insult, the New York Daily News reported this morning that Chaney would be fired today and be replaced by longtime coach/announcer "Czar" Mike Fratello. The NYDN got the story half right; Chaney was indeed fired, but was replaced not by Fratello but Lenny Wilkins, the league's all-time winning coach.
At least Thomas didn't do something foolish like name himself coach...
THE NEW GROUND ZERO:
It's all right. Not great, just all right.
A PASSAGE TO NAPLES: Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was arrested on several charges- disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, and aggrevated battery of a law enforcement officer- two weeks ago at a hotel in Naples, Florida. Oddly enough, I arrived in Naples for my vacation just two days after Lifeson's arrest, and stayed only a mile away; I'm sorry I missed it.
A BUNCH OF MULARKEY: The Buffalo Bills yesterday named Steelers offensive coordinator and former Viking Mike Mularkey as their new head coach; the hire means that six NFL teams- a full one-fifth of the league- currently employ head coaches named "Mike." (Holmgren, Shanahan, Martz, Tice, Sherman, and now Mularkey.)
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 SPORTS MEDIA BIAS WATCH: Joe Scarborough, during his "real deal" segment on MSNBC last night, castigated the Fox NFL announcers for, during Sunday's game, making jokes about Rush Limbaugh as the quarterback Limbaugh was fired for ripping, Donovan McNabb, led Philadelphia to a victory over Green Bay, which brought the Eagles to within one win of the Super Bowl.
You know what this means, everyone: Fox has a liberal bias!
ROSE HAS HIS THORN: I feel bad that I wasn't able to blog during Pete Rose Week, at least before it gave way to Paul O'Neill Week. As I said before, I was able to watch TV and read newspapers and therefore caught much of the media coverage, but I'm yet to read any of the blogosphere's reactions, so if I'm repeating things people have already written, I apologize.
It's long been my position, as readers of this blog know, to have very little sympathy of Pete Rose, simply for the reasons that a) he bet on baseball, and b) he continuously lied about it for more than a decade. Rose has had much support from fans in the 14 years since his banishment, mostly people who either thought c) Rose was innocent of the charges, or d) he may be guilty, but so what, because what's so bad about gambling?.
Now that Rose has admitted that both "a" and "b" are true, much of his support, surprisingly, has evaporated. Part of the problem is that he comes off as such an unsympathetic character, both not completely apologetic and, according to most of the evidence, not completely truthful. It also hasn't helped that Rose has refused to apologize personally to Fay Vincent, John Dowd, and others whose integrity he has spent more than a decade questioning. Not to mention Roger Kahn, the respected baseball writer who co-wrote his previous, Milli Vannilli-like autobiography. And most of all Jim Gray, the then-NBC reporter who questioned Rose's innocence before the announcement of the All-Century Team in 1999, for which he was slammed repeatedly and even had to deliver an on-air apology the following night.
There are other questions too- Rose now says he admitted to Commissioner Bud Selig in 2002 that he was in fact guilty. Why did Selig keep this to himself for the last 14 months? Just to allow Rose to write a book for which he's being paid $1 million? Baseball Prospectus reported last year that a deal had been reached already for Rose's reinstatement; Rose and Selig now both deny it, but there's plenty of precedent for dishonesty from both men.
I maintain my position that Rose should eventually be allowed in the Hall of Fame, but not under any circumstances should he be allowed to manage again. But the argument has always been that Rose should be back in baseball because "the fans want it." What if, now that Rose has so thoroughly embarrassed himself, they don't want it?
A NEW LOW: Paul Krugman, today, names his column after Michael Moore's old TV show, "The Awful Truth." Krugman's already got the beard; how long before he gains 100 pounds and starts wearing ugly hats?
8-0: "The Sports Guy" Bill Simmons is, like the Brandeis football team, "still undefeated" in his picks thus far in the NFL playoffs. I'm sure Simmons would trade in the chance at a perfect record for another Super Bowl win by his beloved Pats, but even more excited, I'm sure, is my friend Brian, a Patriots employee who will get a Super Bowl ring if New England does in fact win it all.
UPDATE: Just kidding! I misread the pointspreads, and it turns out Simmons failed to cover on two games last weekend. That's why I get for never betting on sports, although at least this way I'll never be banned from baseball.
Monday, January 12, 2004 DIRTY OLD MAN: Howard Stern turns 50 years old today; I think we can safely say he'll go to his grave without ever sleeping with a 50-year-old woman.
I had forgotten the amusing bit of radio trivia that Stern and Rush Limbaugh share a birthday; also celebrating birthdays today are Edmund Burke, John Hancock, Hermann Goering (!), "Smokin'" Joe Frazier, and Kirstie Alley.
GARY'S GONE: Kicker Gary Anderson, the NFL's all-time leading scorer, announced his retirement yesterday at the age of 44, following the elimination of his team, the Tennessee Titans, from the playoffs on Saturday night.
Anderson had a long and successful career with several teams, but as a Vikings fan I will of course always remember him as the guy who missed what would have been the game-winning field goal in the NFC title game following the 1998 season, paving the way for an Atlanta Falcons victory over "Minny," who failed to reach the Super Bowl despite a 15-1 record that year. Therefore, it was apropos that Anderson's final career field goal attempt was a miss in a losing playoff game.
Anderson came out of retirement to kick for the Titans this year following a season-ending injury by starter Joe Nedney; why the team failed to sign lifelong Oiler/Titan Al Del Greco remains a mystery to this day.
Also on the subject of football, the Vikings have announced that they are "willing to play" in a new outdoor stadium. How nice of them... In a related story, I'm "willing to have" Jennifer Garner over at my house tonight.
Sunday, January 11, 2004 BACK TO LIFE, BACK TO REALITY: This time yesterday I was sitting by the pool in Florida, but now I'm back in New York, and it's real, real cold. Did you see the Patriots-Titans game last night, where you could see every player's breath in front of them? That's what it's like here.
For the last week I've had television and newspapers but no internet, so I haven't the slightest idea about what any blogger has had to say about anything. But regardless, just to show how much stuff can happen in one week, I thought I'd quickly go through the last seven days of news and provide my take on all that's happened, starting with sports and working my way out from there. Sure beats going outside...
PETE ROSE COMES CLEAN: I'll save my more extended comments on this super-story until a later date, except to say this: the conventional wisdom has always been that all Rose had to do was "come clean," and all would be forgiven. But what most people didn't realize is that Rose's support over the years has always been a mile wide and an inch deep- sure, people thought he'd been railroaded, but while they didn't necessarily believe he was innocent, they thought there was some reasonable doubt. But now that Rose has removed that- especially by doing so in such a dishonest, classless way- much of his support has evaporated. Now, it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't make the Hall at all.
MOLLY AND ECK MAKE THE HALL: Of course, one of the more objectionable parts of Rose's gambit was to announce it the week this year's Hall of Fame inductees were also introduced- and don't buy for a second that it "wasn't his intention"- it was exactly Rose's intention to steal their thunder.
At any rate, St. Paul native Molitor is the third Minnesotan (after old-timer Chief Bender and Dave Winfield) in the Hall- I'd like to hear why Jack Morris isn't the fourth- while Eckersley is the first closer of the modern era to make it. Yes, it makes me feel old to see players of my youth enshrined in Cooperstown- but I guess I dealt with that when Kirby Puckett when in three years ago.
STARBURY COMES HOME: With one trade, Isiah Thomas has made the New York Knicks the best team, on paper, in the Atlantic Division. So what if they've lost four straight since... Thomas has managed to rid the team of nearly every bad contract, while folding most of them into that of Penny Hardaway, who was among the NBA's best players as recently as four years ago.
True, this is the fourth time Stephon Marbury has been traded, and the previous three times the deals were received with rapturous reactions, and all three times the teams won precisely diddly-poo, as the father of the new Falcons coach would say. But I've got a feeling the Knicks are about to turn the corner, and I may actually someday by a ticket for one of their games, something I've had no desire to do in almost four years in New York.
GIBBS COMES HOME: Sure, I'd imagine the Redskins will improve quite a bit following the surprise hire of new coach Joe Gibbs. But everyone also said that after the team's two previous big-name hires- Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier- and we all know what happened there. Still though, Gibbs is about a hundred times the coach Tom Coughlin is.
RETURN OF DENNY: I'm happy to see Dennis Green back in the NFL as coach of the Arizona Cardinals for three reasons: 1) He's a helluva coach and it's good to see him back in the league, 2) I loved that red suit and white shirt he wore at the press conference, matching the teams colors, and 3) He seems poised to hire his former QB Sean Salisbury as quarterbacks coach, which would mean that obnoxious loudmouth will no longer appear on ESPN highlight shows. Way to go Denny!
GOVERNMENT CONTINUES SILICONE BREAST IMPLANT BAN: I always preferred the natural look, anyway. (Times story).
JESSE VENTURA TO TEACH AT HARVARD: The first true what-the-fuck story of the new year- what could Harvard have possibly been thinking? Don't they realize that the dumbest person in the class, whoever it is, will be smarter than the teacher?
THE HILLARY GANDHI GAFFE: Honestly, I thought it was funny. If the same joke had come out of George Carlin's mouth, no one would have objected for a second- and besides, how is such a caricature any more offensive than the Apu character on "The Simpsons"?
SPEAKING OF POLITICAL STEREOTYPING: I love that new RNC ad: "I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latté-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs." 'cause if you take every single American of whom at least one of the above is true, wouldn't you have at least 51% of the country?
WHICH ISN'T TO SAY DEAN CAN WIN: Most of the anti-Dean attacks from the other candidates, I admit, are nonsense- why pretend to be outraged that he said the Iowa caucuses are "controlled by special interests," when they are controlled by special interests? But I've got to admit that the "don't vote for a doctor, because doctors are assholes" line of reasoning is fast becoming my favorite anti-Dean argument of all.
SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER, I: But the most offensive political ad of the year is, of course, the one by MoveOn.org that subtitles Bush quotes to Hitler footage. Real classy guys- but what's even more offensive than the ad itself is that MoveOn is considered a key power broker in the Democratic party. Yikes.
SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER, II: Did I not predict this a year ago? There will be a second "Producers" movie, this time starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and based on the Broadway musical. Mel Brooks will produce but not direct; purists will scoff, sure, but I for one can't wait.
That's all for now; I'll be blogging all week but less, as I await the arrival of my new laptop...
Saturday, January 03, 2004 HERE COMES THE SUN: I'm heading down to Florida in the morning, where I will likely be without internet access for the next week. I haven't taken a break of this length since I started this thing almost two years ago; in the meantime check out some of the links to your left.
And also, as many of you know but most probably don't, I have left my position with Argus Media and will most likely be freelancing/taking time off for the first few months of 2004. If anything, it'll mean more (and better) blogging.
Anyway, have a good week everyone, and a happy new year.
BAD PRESS: New York Press really should be ashamed of themselves for running last week's cover story, by Alan Cabal, which rehashes some truly bizarre conspiracy theories about 9/11. While it's certainly worth asking questions about the intelligence failures that failed to prevent that tragedy, all the author does in this case is look up wacky theories from the internet and presume them to be fact.
Cabal, thankfully, does resist the temptation to blame the tragedy on Israel/the Jews, somewhat surprising considering his past sympathy for the "Holocaust revisionism" movement, in addition to comparing Israel to the Nazis on numerous occasions. He does, however, attempt to link the president to the hijackings because, you see, his brother Marvin Bush was on the board of directors of a company that had a contract with Dulles airport, and that's where one of the flights took off from, you see... meanwhile, the head of security for Logan Airport in Boston was Gov. William Weld's former chauffeur, but since his last name wasn't "Bush," that's of no concern to Cabal.
This whole this-person-knows-this-person-who-worked-with-that-person-who's-
cousin-is-that-person-who-knows BUSH is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the Village Voice, and I had always thought New York Press (for which I've written on occasion) was there to counteract that sort of thing. Not anymore, apparently.
But even worse, Cabal endorses the theory that no plane crashed into the Pentagon at all, though he neglects to even try to explain how, exactly, the building was damaged, or where the plane or all the people on it went. And why the Bush Administration would purposely kill, among the passengers, the conservative author Barbara Olsen, wife of Bush's own Solicitor General.
Even in a piece in which Cabal approvingly quotes a 9/11 widow who claims that George Bush "intentionally allowed 9/11 to happen to gather public support for a Â‘war on terrorism," the worst of all is this:
The internet is boiling with analyses of the 9/11 event. In Europe, a fair number of people believe the American government was complicit in the attacks. According to recent polls, one-third of young Germans believe this.
Yea, because German popular opinion, especially on matters of geopolitics, is never wrong, is it? That's the lesson of Cabal's goofy piece- that, and that everything on the internet must be true.
PETE COMES CLEAN: Unless we've been completely, utterly mislead, Pete Rose next week will officially admit what he has been lying about since 1989- that he bet on baseball- and is ready to "cleanse his soul" in order to finally gain admittance to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I'm blogging about this now 'cause I won't be next week, but between now and a few weeks from now you're going to be hearing a lot about how Pete is "courageous" and "admirable" for making such a candid omission, and that the least baseball can do is great his reinstatement. To which I say, of course, bullshit.
Now Rose is telling the truth, even after essentially, for the last 15 years, making a career out of the exact opposite. But his sudden conversion has nothing whatsoever to do with a desire to "get it off his chest"- his one and only reason is because an admission is Bud Selig's price to get back in the game.
Rose even wrote a whole book falsely pledging his innocence a decade ago, and apparently sees no problem with pulling a David Brock and writing a new book that contradicts the first one- and, of course, profiting handsomely once again. Then again, as a kid I read Rose's first autobiography, the one where he doted nonstop on his wife and children -the ones he no longer speaks to, natch- and also about his respect for the integrity of the game.
Fay Vincent has a Times op-ed about the situation; if only his writing had been so forceful and passionate in his gawd-awful autobiography.
And lastly, if Rose can finally admit his guilt after all this time, can OJ be far behind?
Friday, January 02, 2004 A-ROD IN REVIEW: Gordon Edes in the Boston Globe has a nifty chronology of the entire Rodriguez/Ramirez non-trade. The best line is from an anonymous Sox source close to the negotiations, when asked whether or not the deal truly is dead:
Dead? I think it's more accurate to say it's in a coma," the official said. "How dead was Glenn Close when she was at the bottom of that bathtub in `Fatal Attraction'?
Which certainly buttresses that whole Bill Simmons theory about how if the Red Sox were a girl, you'd probably just break up with them. But at least A-Rod never killed any bunnies.
Thursday, January 01, 2004 NEW BLOGS: My old friend Jonathan "Jabbett" Abbett recently started the Kosher Blog; Emily Jones, one of the first bloggers I ever read and still one of the best, has a new one called It Comes In Pints. Check 'em both out.
ROUNDUPS: Quite a few year-in-review roundups are out there, including-
- Sridhar Pappu's year in media, including the "Pappu-litzers," in the New York Observer.
- Tim Blair's best quotes of 2003. My favorite- Tony Blair's "I am the fucking prime minister!"
- Dave Barry's annual satirical year-end column. Best line- "CNN switches to a new format that consists entirely of Larry King talking to former prosecutors about Laci Peterson."
- William Safire's annual "multiple choice" piece, usually the only Safire column worth reading per year.
- And the ten most outrageous quotes by postings at the Democratic Underground are collected here, by John Hawkins.