Saturday, January 18, 2003

FINAL COUNTDOWN: I would be remiss in my obligations as a Philadelphian if I did not remind the Blogosphere that Wing Bowl XI is this Friday, January 24, 2003, from 6am to 10am. Videos of all the qualifiers (and non-qualifiers) are available here, and WIP's Angelo Cataldi answers all of your Wing Bowl questions here, including the reminder that even at that hour, "Tailgating is not only allowed, it is encouraged."

Also, oh yeah, there's some kind of football game here on Sunday. My dad was there at the first game, and we'll both be there for this last one. Thankfully, there's only one member of the Buccaneers who knows how to score in Philadelphia, and I'm feeling good about our chances. You can check out his website here. Or is it here?

Call it 16-6, and don't be surprised if it's a blowout and the Eagles fans remain well-behaved. We've come too far to screw it up now -- both the players and the fans. Let's close this dump in style.

E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES!

Friday, January 17, 2003

IT COULD'VE BEEN WORSE. IT COULD HAVE BEEN LONGER: Updating a recent story, Jen and I just had the misfortune of watching that JFK Jr. biopic on TBS and, boy, was that bad.

How bad? So bad it made that Showtime biopic of Tiger Woods look like Citizen Kane in terms of its subtlety and narrative craft.

How bad? So bad that the moviemakers actually decided they had to tell you that John-John was often taught the Icarus myth growing up -- you know watch it when you're flying -- and they think they're being profound.

How bad? You know who should be suing the makers of this movie? Daryl Hannah herself. The actress who plays her, Tara Chocol, is so bad at portraying the former Clan of the Cave Bear star that I actually wished that Daryl Hannah had decided to get back into acting and auditioned for the part herself. (I mean, was she busy? With what?)

Oh, and Jackson? Mr. Browne isn't pictured in the movie (and given the quality of the acting, he should be thankful), and is only referred to once, so quickly you might miss it, as "Jackson" on the phone. Jeez. Methinks Mr. Sensitive doth protest too much.
DID SOMEONE SAY, "LONG-LOST TRIPLETS?" The Simpsons have been renewed for their 15th and 16th seasons.

So join America's favorite TV family -- and a tiny green space alien named Ozmodiar that only Homer can see -- on Fox from now until at least May 2005. It'll be out of this world! Right, Ozmodiar?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

AND NOW, THIS EXERCISE IN PUBLIC RELATIONS, OR "HERE'S TO SHUTTING UP": Jackson Browne wants you to know that he did not beat up Daryl Hannah. So ignore what you may have read, ignore the song Joni Mitchell wrote about the incident, and take him at his word, because maybe some other singing Jackson did it. Or none at all.

All this, mind you, for a movie only 2.49 million people watched -- approximately 1/9 the Joe Millionaire viewership. How many more people do you figure are now learning about it, thanks to his own complaints?
WE WERE DUPED: Or so claim the women of MTV's Sorority Life, one of my favorite reality shows of the past few years:
Members of the sorority told The Enterprise they had mixed feelings after the show aired last summer. Much of the show focused on drinking, wild parties and conflicts between the members.

"We realize we might have been naive, but we thought the show would depict more of our Jewish beliefs, values and traditions," sorority president Becca Ballon said last December. "That's at least what they (MTV representatives) told us when they approached us about the show."

Whatever you say, Becca. I guess MTV wanted to show a full season of havdalah services and Passover observance -- because matzoh and gefilte fish make for compelling television for today's 18-29 viewers -- and had no interest in showing, perhaps, the pledges getting completely drunk at your big spring formal ("That's not a double, sweetie!") before ditching it to go to a strip club. Who'd want to see that?

Genetta Adams of Newsday knows what I'm talking about:
[T]he girls on "Sorority Life" were ... so prissy, so shallow and so self-absorbed. And I couldn't wait to see what they'd do next.

There was the episode in which Candace, in her perpetually drunken state, kissed the guy who Amanda had a crush on, literally behind her back - Amanda was having a conversation nearby. When she turned around and witnessed the lip lock, she freaked!! And there was the time when Jessica tried to talk a friend out of taking home this guy, and her friend slapped her!! The horror!! Then there was the season finale ... well, you get the idea.
AND NOW, THIS HEALTH WARNING: If you're on a local beach and happen upon a beached whale, please, for heaven's sake, don't start slicing it up and eating it raw. As the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report explains:
During July 13--15, residents of a western Alaska village on the Bering Sea shore shared a meal consisting of muktuk [skin and a pink blubber layer] harvested from a beached adult beluga whale found near their village. The villagers estimated that the whale had been dead for at least several weeks. They cut the whale fluke (tail) into pieces and stored them in zipper-sealed plastic bags in a refrigerator until they were eaten 1 or 2 days later. On July 17, after a physician from western Alaska reported three suspected cases of botulism among patients who had eaten the muktuk, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology began an investigation. . . .

My thanks to one of our most loyal readers for alerting me to this item.
THE $50 BURGER: DB Bistro Moderne in NYC has it. What's in it?
The new burger, which will be available at Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne starting next week, adds layers of fresh shaved black truffles to the successful formula of ground sirloin and chuck stuffed with fois gras and braised short ribs, and topped with horseradish mayonnaise and tomato on a fresh-baked parmesan bun. It will be served not with fries but with pommes souffles, or crispy potato puffs.

Fifty dollars. For a burger. And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us.
HOLY OVER-SHARE, BOY WONDER! Ever wonder why Robin had problems with his . . ."utility belt"? Read on.
"YO, WHEN I TURN MY HEAD, I DON'T SEE NOTHING": Welcome to Eagles Court, to my knowledge America's only hall of justice operating in the bowels of a major sporting facility. Here's my favorite from last week's docket:
Then there was Thomas Coll, 19, of Havertown, who tried to reenter the stadium after being thrown out for not having a ticket. He pleaded "stupidity" to the charge of defiant trespass.

"Is that aggravated stupidity, or simple stupidity?" [Judge Seamus] McCaffery shot back.

"Whatever the lesser charge is," said Coll, who told McCaffery that he is a criminal-justice major at Widener University with "a minor in dumbass."

McCaffery grinned and found Coll not guilty.

"Are you Judge Seamus?" Coll then asked.

When McCaffery nodded, Coll exclaimed: "Awesome!"

For aggravated stupidity, the hornbooks will forever cite the case of Daniel Flagg, who decided to wander onto the Eagles' bench during Saturday's game, in his Donovan McNabb replica jersey, and thought he could just spark up a conversation with . . . Donovan McNabb, who, one would presume, is the only person on the Eagles' bench who's supposed to be wearing the #5 jersey...

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

"FAME WHORES": Last night's second episode of Joe Millionaire was exactly what I feared the whole series was going to be -- boring "dates", vacant declarations of instant "love" to the camera, mild catfighting . . . in other words, just The Bachelor on a different set.

There was very little talk of money in this episode, either from Evan Marriot or the twelve remaining women. No talk from Evan of feeling uncomfortable with The Big Lie, little talk from the women of being attracted to him for money alone. Just three "dates" in the French countryside, each consisting of Evan having the women doing more work than they expected -- picking grapes, shovelling coal and cleaning stables. Yawn.

The episode also featured more padding than a 12-year-old's bra, with a five-minute recap (and then a two-minute mini-recap) to open the festivities, repeated interview segments -- all this while not doing the one simple thing that could really aid viewing: every time a woman appears on the screen, give us a chyron that reminds us of her name, hometown and occupation, okay? They only did so intermittently, which made things really confusing.

Seven more eliminated; only five remain for the Final Humiliation.

There was only one thing worth remembering from the episode, a line of Evan's that revealed that (a) either he's a warm, funny, genuinely decent guy who happens to have unwittingly roped himself into a deceitful scam, or (b) the producers have scripted him really well to sound like warm, funny, genuinely decent guy who happens to have unwittingly roped himself into a deceitful scam. Anyway, here's Evan, commenting on one of the women:
She looked like a million dollars . . . not that I know what a million dollars looks like.

Monday, January 13, 2003

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, AND THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPOON INCIDENT ON OZ LAST NIGHT: I erred on Friday in claiming that Yao Ming's lead over Shaquille O'Neal in NBA all-star balloting was largely attributable to ballots being available online in Mandarin. To the contrary, reported Sunday's NYT:
The Chinese vote has not overwhelmed the trend. About 15 percent of all traffic to the Web site comes from Asia, and 11 to 12 percent of the ballots come back in Chinese. Yao leads Shaq in Asian voting, but he also leads him in North America by roughly the same proportion. Through Thursday, Yao was leading Shaq, 1,015,018 to 784,920, in the last published count until the starters are announced Jan. 23.

The management regrets the error.
SURVIVOR 6: THE ORTHODOX SHUL: Boys in one tribe, girls in the other, or so reports The Early Show.

Meet the new cast here.
TALKIN' BASEBALL: This weekend's trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, was fun, but disappointing.

First off, the fun: seeing Dan Bern perform a solo benefit concert in the tiny theater at the Hall was a treat. All Bern performed were his baseball songs, including "Merkle" (about Fred Merkle's boner in the 1908 World Series), "Ballpark" (breaking into Wrigley Field), "They Don't Got Baseball" (re Europe, "They got Bridget Bardot/We got Bernie Carbo", etc.), a bitter new song about the Giants' blowing a five run lead with nine outs to go in the World Series last year, and "Gambling With My Love", a song about writing a play about Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti:
I say girl, do you understand how with four thousand hits
A man could still feel emptiness?
And I have Pete say "Commissioner, what've you got in your hand?"
And he says, "Can't you guess?"
Pete says "If I was a betting man
I'd say you were trying to bluff me to my face."
Commissioner says, "Too bad you ain't as good playing the odds
As you are playing second base."

(For your best source of Bern lyrics: click here.)

What's more, the Inn at Cooperstown was a great place to stay, and the town is still gorgeous, even with five feet of snow over the past two weeks.

But then there was the Hall itself, and, frankly, it was disappointing. Yes, seeing all the artifacts and knowing all the history they're attached to is cool, but if you're coming in without that background. Otherwise, the place is just too dry -- the Hall itself, with the plaques of inducted players, felt more like mausoleum than living testament to the game of baseball. The museum's exhibits were too dry, too wordy -- all "look at this cool thing behind the glass and read about it", and not nearly enough "watch this cool film footage".

Baseball is a visual, active sport. Seeing a ball or a bat behind glass doesn't cut it, won't make the sport come alive for a six-year-old kid or a baseball-apathetic adult.

The Hall needs that. It needs rooms showing highlights and bloopers, along with video footage everywhere it's possible to put it showing the greatness of a Robinson, a Mays, a Killebrew or a McGwire. The exhibits need to be more tangible -- let the kids hold a replica of Babe Ruth's bat to feel how heavy it is. Let them stand 60' 6" away from home plate atop a mound and try to throw a strike.

And don't be afraid to get into the more colorful side of the game a little -- whether it's Babe Ruth's being sidelined from action thanks to raging venereal disease, Gaylord Perry's skills with Vaseline or George Brett's hemorrhoids, this too is part of baseball's legacy.

Otherwise, the Hall is just too damn sterile, which is a shame, because baseball's still America's great original contribution to the world of sports. It can't be content being the only Baseball Hall of Fame; it needs to be the best one there can be.

That said, any place that still has Juan Samuel's cleats on display can't be that bad.