Friday, June 6, 2003

STAR JONESING: How's American Idol evictee Frenchie Davis doing on Broadway?

According to the Washington Post, pretty fabulously. Ticket sales are up 20%, and the budding diva is still her wonderful, charming, brash self:
At Angus, a theater district eatery, where she's wearing a low-cut blouse and pants that reveal her thong, she gracefully stands up from the table and runs her hands down her torso and hips.

"Honey, do you not see my hourglass? Do you not see I'm proportionately big? Honey, where am I hanging? What is there to struggle with? Everybody's not supposed to be this big." She holds up her pinkie finger. "I'm a 36KK. I'm supposed to have curves. No one decides for me whether I'm beautiful.

"While being thin may be equated with being beautiful, no one who's around me for more than five minutes can walk away not feeling my sexiness and my beauty. No one. No one."

Keep reading.

There's more in the New York Post, where Frenchie says, "I honestly believe I would have made it with or without 'American Idol'. It just made things happen faster. It didn't make me a star. I made me a star."
50,000: According to my site tracker, visitor #50,000 came to us via Verizon online services, via The Minor Fall, The Major Lift. Thank you.
UPDATE: A well-placed source who'd have reason to know has informed me that Hornstine definitely informed Harvard herself of the plagiarism issue, and that I over-read the quote. Now you know.
50K: At some point today, one of you will be this blog's 50,000th visitor -- or, about one good day on InstaPundit.

Well, I'm grateful, and glad. You guys are cooler than his readers, anyway. Much.
FIGHT FIERCELY, HARVARD: Blair Hornstine elected to tell Harvard's admission office about the plagiarism issue, which would be most honorable.

Well, at least that's what the headline of the story says ("Hornstine tells Harvard about uncredited text"), but the text gives (me, at least) a different impression:
"The matter was brought to the attention of Harvard's admissions office," said Steven Kudatzky, an Evesham lawyer who said he spoke for the family. That description was confirmed by Edwin Jacobs Jr., an attorney for the Hornstines.

Passive voice, Kudatzky doesn't say who brought the matter to Harvard's attention.

If Hornstine's going to steal Thankgiving proclamations from Bill Clinton, why not steal his evasive admit/non-admit apology style?

And what does Harvard have to say about it? Elizabeth W. Green of the Harvard Crimson reports:
Hornstine, who sued the Moorestown, N.J. school system to ensure she graduated as her high school’s sole valedictorian, could potentially find her acceptance at Harvard withdrawn. It is not the first problem that Hornstine has encountered at Harvard: after news of her $2.7 million lawsuit came to light, more than 550 students signed an online petition asking that her admission offer be rescinded.

According to Director of Undergraduate Admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis ’70-’73, an acceptance offer could be withdrawn if a student engages in plagiarism.

Although Lewis declined to comment on any particular case, she said that “several” offers of admission for the Class of 2007 are currently under review. Lewis said offers come under reconsideration for a variety of reasons.

“Most of the time we learn it from the student. Sometimes we hear it from the school. Every once in a while we learn it in the newspaper,” she said.

Green's story also states: "According to Steven K. Kudatzky ’72, a close friend of the Hornstines and a self-proclaimed family spokesperson, Hornstine sent word to the admissions office informing them of her sourcing problems."

I will get to the bottom of this story. Or give up at some point out of boredom. We'll see.

In the meantime, Boston Marathon competitor Will Ferrell spoke at Harvard's Class Day yesterday. Here's what he said. More amusingly, here's what he looked like saying it:

Thursday, June 5, 2003

BLOG OF THE DAY: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift gets ten points for the name, and triple bonus points for the culture-centered content. This blog is a clear fellow traveller to ours, including its great Sunday NYT Arts & Leisure recaps, and I have to give propers to any blog that would let me know about an article containing these paragraphs:
The judge researched the bizarre-sounding terms in an urban dictionary on the internet.

"This led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs examining the meaning of such phrases as 'mish mish man' and 'shizzle my nizzle'," the judge said.

"Some definitions carried sexual connotations. The most popular definitions were definitions of the phrase 'fo' shizzle my nizzle' and indicated that it meant 'for sure'. There were no entries for 'mish mish man'," he added.

Of course, this blog covered the history of the shizzle back in O-Deuce.

Thanks to Greg Beato of Soundbitten for pointing it out to me. Us culture blogs have to stick together.
AROUND THE HORNSTINE: A little bit more, now that I've got a little time.

1. The Lawsuit: I had no problem with Hornstine suing to protect what she had earned -- the right to be named sole valedictorian, as provided by her student handbook. It's not like she was suing to be awarded something which she had been denied because of her disability, but, instead, she was trying to retain that to which she had already been entitled.

But why have one valedictorian in the first place? When I was in high school, we had one valedictorian from a class of 600, and it was nuts. Lots of us tried every angle we could to raise our averages -- some had their Science Fair work counted as an independent study, AP-level class; I had my co-teaching of a 10th grade Telecommunications class so credited, etc.

We all ended up within decimal points of each other. We all ended up at good schools -- our year, it was MIT, Brown, Amherst, Wash U and Penn for the top kids. And none of it was worth the resentment, bitterness or competition.

Similarly, look at Hornstine's Moorestown High, where the top members of the class of 2001 ended up matriculating at six of the eight Ivies, the University of Chicago, Stanford, Duke, BYU, NYU, Northwestern, Bryn Mawr, Notre Dame, Wesleyan, Haverford and, yes, Bucknell. None of them need to be valedictorian -- they're all going to end up well. Just take the top 10-20 students, honor them all, and select the best speaker from among them for graduation. Life's too short for this bullshit.

2. Oh, but the plagiarism. It's real bad.

First off, from Moorestown's Code of Student Conduct and Consequences:
Plagiarism, the failure to acknowledge the ideas of someone else, and submitting work that is not your own is considered cheating. It will not be tolerated in any school work. In a course requirement (i.e., junior English research paper), cheating will result in a failure for that course and may forfeit your right to enroll in the same course in summer school.

So, make no mistake of it -- Hornstine knew it was wrong. And how bad was it? Let's review.

Blair Hornstine, 11/26/02:
At Thanksgiving this year, Americans must carry on that tradition of sharing not only with family and friends but also with those in need throughout their communities.

Every generation of Americans has benefited from the generosity, talents, efforts and contributions of their fellow citizens. All of us have been enriched by the diverse cultures, traditions and beliefs of the millions of people who, by birth or by choice, have come to call America their home. All of us are beneficiaries of our founders' wisdom and of the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. While Americans are an independent people, we are interdependent as well, and our greatest achievements are those we have accomplished together.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember with gratitude that, despite our differences, each of us is a member of a larger American family and that, working together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage all of you to assemble in your communities and places of worship to share the spirit of goodwill and prayer; to express heartfelt gratitude for the blessings of life; and to reach out in friendship to our brothers and sisters in our larger family - humankind.

Bill Clinton, 11/23/00:
At Thanksgiving this year and every year, in worship services and family celebrations across our country, Americans carry on that tradition of giving, sharing not only with family and friends, but also with those in need throughout their communities.

Every generation of Americans has benefited from the generosity, talents, efforts, and contributions of their fellow citizens. All of us have been enriched by the diverse cultures, traditions, and beliefs of the millions of people who, by birth or choice, have come to call America their home. All of us are beneficiaries of our founders' wisdom and of the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. While Americans are an independent people, we are interdependent as well, and our greatest achievements are those we have accomplished together.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember with gratitude that despite our differences in background, age, politics, or race, each of us is a member of our larger American family and that, working together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish in this promising new century.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, [blah blah blah -- she didn't steal here] encourage all the people of the United States to assemble in their homes, places of worship, and community centers to share the spirit of fellowship and prayer and to reinforce the ties of family and community; to express heartfelt thanks to God for our many blessings; and to reach out in gratitude and friendship to our brothers and sisters across this land who, together, comprise our great American family.

Hornstine did not, as her apology claimed, "cut and pasted my ideas together" -- she cut and pasted Bill Clinton's (speechwriter's) ideas, and this is not, as her attorney baldly asserted, "a whole lot of nothing."

[He's also mobster Joey Merlino's attorney, but that's a side issue.]

Instead, it's plagiarism, and it's serious, and there ought to be consequences. If I were Hornstine, I'd step down as valedictorian, because it's the only way her classmates will ever respect her at this point. Step down, save face, show some class, and quietly go to Harvard in the fall. There's no reason for her to insist on the award at this point, when she no longer deserves it, and her mantle is already full enough.

And once she gets to Harvard, she'd be well-advised to seek out one of those lovable, irascible homeless guys around campus, spend some time with him, and from his guidance learn the true meaning of graduating with honors. It's the only way.
"IF WE DON'T WIN, I'LL WALK BACK TO PITTSBURGH": Frank Fitzpatrick recaps one of the greatest games in Phillies-Veterans Stadium history today, a June 8, 1989 meeting with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which started with a top-of-the-first inning 10-0 Pirate lead and finished with, well, here's Fitzpatrick's article, and here, courtesy of Retrosheet, may be the craziest boxscore/play-by-play you'll ever see.
IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS: Go ahead and read the spoilers for tonight's MTV Movie Awards broadcast. Start making outlandish wagers, and win them you will.
GUH: Blair Hornstine, the Moorestown High School senior who successfully sued the district to maintain her valedictorian status while being schooled at home due to a physical disability, has apparently had a bit of the Jayson Blair/Mike Barnicle disability as well.

It turns out that Hornstine had been writing regular columns for the Camden Courier-Post, like this one on Thanksgiving, except she had a little trouble with the whole Don't Steal Other People's Words Without Giving Them Credit idea, which, apparently, was one of those things only taught at her high school itself, and not by her tutors. So Hornstine borrowed liberally from Supreme Court justices Potter Stewart and William Brennan, President Clinton and others without attribution -- without quotation marks, even.

Here's a run-down of some of her plagiarism offenses, and here's her apology, in which she claims:
Recently, I was advised by the editors of the Courier-Post that I had not properly cited work for articles that I submitted. These voluntary articles were not written for class assignments. I kept notes on what I had read. When finalizing my thoughts, I, like most every teenager who has use of a computer, cut and pasted my ideas together. I erroneously thought the way I had submitted the articles was appropriate. I now realize that I was mistaken. I was incorrect in also thinking that news articles didn't require as strict citation scrutiny as most school assignments because there was no place for footnotes or end notes.

I am not a professional journalist. I was a 17-year-old with no experience in writing newspaper articles. Upon reflection, I am now cognizant that proper citation allows scholars of the future to constantly reevaluate and reexamine academic works.

Hornstine will be attending Harvard in the fall, where she had better memorize the following passage from Harvard's Student Handbook":
Preparation of Papers and Other Work: Plagiarism and Collaboration

All homework assignments, projects, lab reports, papers and examinations submitted to a course are expected to be the student's own work. Students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. The term "sources" includes not only published primary and secondary material, but also information and opinions gained directly from other people.

The responsibility for learning the proper forms of citation lies with the individual student. Quotations must be placed properly within quotation marks and must be cited fully. In addition, all paraphrased material must be acknowledged completely. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student's reading and research or from a student's own writings, the sources must be indicated.

edited to add: If I'm going to be talking about proper attribution policy, I'd better note that I learned of this story via Romenesko.
COMMENTS ARE NOW ACTIVE: Thanks to your suggestions and the good people at HaloScan, I've installed a Commenting feature on the blog. Enjoy. Be vocal and creative.

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

GRIPE OF THE DAY: I love my Reebok Waikato sandals. They are comfortable, flexible, and I wear them all day long.

Which is the problem. Because unlike any sandal I've ever owned -- and, typically, I'm a Teva originals guy, which don't have this problem -- these sandals collect sweat and odor like nothing I've ever seen before. I mean, end of the day, you don't want to be in the same room with these sandals. True Stankadelphia.

Anyone else have this problem with the Waikatos? Anything I can do about it, other than ditch them for the less-comfortable Tevas?
SPEAKING OF WHICH: Do you want to have comments-posting ability on this blog? I'm considering it. Let me know.
MOST OF MY HEROES DON'T APPEAR ON NO STAMPS: So, the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 Heroes and 50 Villains in film history was released last night, and, overall, it's a respectable list . . .

That is, until you realize that the first non-white hero doesn't appear until #19 on the list (Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) from In the Heat of the Night), and that Gandhi is the only other non-white human on the heroes list. Among the villains, none are non-white humans until you get to #50, Denzel Washington's Alonzo Harris in Training Day. No, Darth Vader doesn't count.

So, which nonwhite heroes and villains did they forget? Perhaps these:
Denzel Washington: as Steven Biko (Cry Freedom), Malcolm X, or as Joe Miller in Philadelphia, a movie in which Tom Hanks' Andrew Beckett placed as the #49 hero, and for which Washington failed to make the list of four hundred nominees.

(Let's compare: an attorney forced to examine is own prejudices, take on an unpopular client and win a major civil rights trial against a large Philadelphia law firm; or a privileged white guy who cheats on Antonio Banderas, has anonymous sex in a movie theater around the corner from where Jen and I got married, screws up a legal filing, contracts a sexually transmitted disease and takes the daring step of . . . suing someone? Denzel's the hero of the movie, not Hanks.)

Morgan Freeman: Crazy Joe Clark in Lean On Me, or how about Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins in Glory? Decent, proud men, heroes both.

Edward James Olmos, as calculus teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver. A real, real-life hero. Shocking that he wasn't in the top fifty, and Michael Keaton's Batman was.

Shaft, the man who would risk his neck for his brother man. Can you dig it?


I've got two, but they're good. That Laurence Fishburne wasn't even nominated on the list of 400 for his portrayal of Ike Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It is an outrage. Man, was he chilling. Also not nominated, and a true modern villain, was Larenz Tate's O-Dog in Menace II Society.

Other complaints, in no order:

1. No Tom Cruise? No Kevin Costner? Is Top Gun's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell not the definition of hero? Or Costner in Dances With Wolves? C'mon, dawg, forgive him for The Postman already.

2. Modern villains who didn't make the cut, but should have, in descending order of personal outrage: Claus von Bulow (Jeremy Irons), Reversal of Fortune; Mitch Leary (John Malkovich), In the Line of Fire; Jame Gumb (Ted Levine), Silence of the Lambs; Chad (Aaron Eckhardt), In the Company of Men; Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Reservoir Dogs; Aaron Stampler (Ed Norton), Primal Fear; Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), Kids; John Doe (Kevin Spacey), Se7en.

3. Same, but for the heroes: William Wallace (Mel Gibson), Braveheart; Det. John McClane (Bruce Willis), Die Hard; Archie Gates (George Clooney), Three Kings; Neo (Keanu Reeves), The Matrix; Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), The Insider; Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger (Sean Astin), Rudy. The first four, in particular, are no-brainer, top-of-my-head, archetypical, majestic heroes.

4. Where were the comic villains like Dr. Evil and Otto (Kevin Kline, A Fish Called Wanda)?

5. I have a real problem with Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) taking #30 on the Villains list. Bickle's no villain. Well, he's no hero either, for sure, but he's too complicated to reduce him to Good or Evil. It'd be like putting Ethan Edwards (John Wayne, The Searchers) or William Munny (Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven) on the list.

6. Finally, I'm just glad that Luke Skywalker didn't make the final cut, because we all know that Solo's the real hero, and Skywalker's a blonde wussy douchebag.

Comments? Additions to the list?

edited 6/4/03: Post them here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

BOY, I SURE HOPE HE DOES AS WELL AS KEITH OLBERMANN HAS: Rich Eisen is leaving ESPN, because he wants to be more than The SportsCenter Guy.
YOU COULDN'T HAVE STOPPED THEM, THE ARMY COULDN'T HAVE STOPPED THEM. SO I HAD TO: Forget about the complaining about Ben and JLo remaking Casablanca. Forget even my complaints that The Great Gatsby is being remade by an N'Sync member and a Hilton sister. That's nothing.

Because now Jonathan Demme is riding on my sacred horse, and I can't stand for it. Demme is remaking The Manchurian Candidate, and Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep have already been cast in the Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury roles.

Look: I love Denzel Washington. I like Meryl Streep, and it's a good role for her. I think Jonathan Demme's on a bit of a downward spiral with The Truth About Charlie and Beloved, but I'm not going to pour any HaterAde on the man who also made Silence of the Lambs, Married to the Mob and Stop Making Sense.

But The Manchurian Candidate is one of those movies that should not be touched. Ever. By anyone. It is a perfect piece of filmmaking by John Frankenheimer, a frightening depiction of brainwashing, ambition, paranoia, and Oedipal issues. It is chilling. It is a brilliant reflection of its times, and ought not be remade in our own.

If you've seen it, you know. If you haven't seen it, rent it tomorrow night and watch it after Fame.

(Tonight, of course, is an AFI 100/100 Night, and there are few better ways to let three hours pass than by admiring and criticizing the Institute's choices. I mean, if Angela Lansbury doesn't make the cut for her Manchurian performance . . . )

Monday, June 2, 2003

OUR MONTHLY DEATH-IN-WRESTLING FEATURE: Legendary WWF wrestler and manager Fred Blassie, one of the most hated (yet beloved) villains in the history of sports entertainment, passed away earlier today at the age of 85.

(Yes, someone involved in wrestling lived past his forties. It happens.)

Blassie had been hospitalized for a few weeks with kidney and heart problems, and his condition had been grave for the past week.

If nothing else, Blassie will be remembered as the man who coined the insult "pencil-necked geek". He also co-starred with Andy Kaufmann in the 1981 film My Breakfast With Blassie, which you can read more about here.

You can learn even more about Classy Freddie Blassie -- The Hollywood Fashion Plate -- via this link. Or this one. Rest in peace.
SERIOUSLY THE NICEST THING ANYONE HAS SAID IN A LONG TIME: From a blog simply titled "My Ramblings":
I don't know why I think this is so amazing. That Adam Bonin (the "guy" that I mentioned above and yesterday) could be married to Jennifer Weiner. It's like I just found out that two of my best friends are married to each other and I didn't even know it. I was so excited to find out that two people who entrance me with their writings are actually married to each other! How fitting! And how bizarre that I should even care, eh?

More here. Wow. Thanks.

THE CURSE: Twenty years ago Saturday, the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA championship, and as the Daily News' Rich Hoffman reviews, no Philadelphia team has won a major professional title since.

As I wrote back in January, there is no better explanation than the Curse of William Penn.
RES IPSA LOQUITOR: From Saturday's Washington Post:
The last name of National Spelling Bee winner Sai R. Gunturi was misspelled in a May 30 KidsPost article and on the front-page promo and caption.
I'M CURIOUS ABOUT THAT MYSELF: I enjoyed Showtime's new narcissistic miniseries Out of Order last night. Dealt with mental illness in a realistic way, and, in general, felt true despite all the showy and self-conscious cinematic language used to depict these characters' emotional reality.

That said, what I really can't get over is how much Eric Stoltz, our stoner bud from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, is starting to look like Kenneth Branagh. Take a look:

Sunday, June 1, 2003

WOLF IN HEAT: Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf may be the subject of a future Vows column, but he needs your help. From the New York Post:
"There was just something in the way we looked at each other," he said in a telephone interview from Montreal, where the team is playing a weekend series against the Expos.

"I was smitten. Even though we spoke for maybe 30 seconds, I could tell she had a great personality and was really cool. She just caught my eye."

Their paths crossed on the No. 7 subway train platform at Grand Central Station about 9:15 a.m. as the lefty hurler and a few teammates headed to Shea Stadium for an afternoon game against the Mets.

"She appeared lost so I asked her if she was OK," Wolf recalled.

"She asked me which train goes to Times Square, and I told her it's the No. 7."

Lovestruck by the brown-haired, brown-eyed twenty-something beauty, Wolf missed the next Queens-bound train.

So the ballplayer turned around, and saw the confused woman hesitating to get on a westbound train.

"She decided not to get on the train, so I walked up to her and asked, 'Are you going to be OK? I could stay here,' " said Wolf.

"And she said, 'No, you could take the train.' "

So the 6-foot, 198-pound California native caught the next Queens train - before he even had a chance to get the woman's name.

The pitcher, whose record this season is 5-2 with an ERA of 3.13, said he'd love to play the dating game with the woman, who he said was wearing brown suede bell bottoms and a black coat.

"I wish we had more than 30 seconds on a busy subway platform," said Wolf.

"I've been thinking about her a lot. You never know what could happen. She just had this innocence. She really put me at ease. I would just like to see where it could lead."

Should this unknown passenger wish to contact Wolf, a 6-0, 198-pound left-hander whose hobbies include music, movies and a Southern California lifestyle, she has been directed to contact the Phillies public relations department at

People all over the world . . . join hands . . .
THE TIMES LETS US DOWN: Here's one of the wedding announcements from today's Sunday Styles section:
Pamela Dawn Baker and Henry G. Miller, lawyers, are to be married today at the 200 Fifth Club in Manhattan. Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt of the New York Court of Appeals will officiate.

The bride, 32, is known as Dawn. She is an assistant corporation counsel for the City of New York. She graduated from the University of South Carolina, from which she also received a law degree. Her father, Dr. Edwin N. Rowley of Kingsville, Tex., is the chairman of the communications department at Texas A&M University there. Her mother, Pamela McDaniel, lives in Bishopville, S.C. The bride is the stepdaughter of Edward Baker of Columbia, S.C., and uses his surname.

The bridegroom, 72, is a partner in Clark, Gagliardi & Miller, a law firm in White Plains. He is on the board of Pace University. He received undergraduate and law degrees from St. John's University in Queens. His parents, the late Anne and Henry A. Miller, lived in Brooklyn. His father was an office manager at the New York Life Insurance Company in Manhattan.

The bridegroom was a widower.

Wait -- she's 32, he's 72 and you're not going to tell us how they met? What they see in each other? What her parents think? Whether any life insurance policies have been taken out recently?

So, in the absence of good Times reporting, we go to old reliable,, where we learn:
--They met a Westchester County Bar Association function;

--He proposed over a romantic dinner at La Caravelle; and

--They've registered at Bloomingdales, Macy's, Williams-Sonoma, Neiman Marcus, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Fortunoff, showing a particular overlapping, redundant fondness for Bernadaud Louvre china and crystal.

On a happier note, a Reader's Note in today's section indicates that beginning next week, Lois Smith Brady will have a weekly column tracking the lives of couples whose marriages were highlighted in the Vows column. If it's as good as this week's quintuple update, we're psyched.