Saturday, July 26, 2003

ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY: Oh, I'm a happy man today.

It was season ticket holders' open house at the new Eagles' stadium. Our seats have been on the fifty-yard line at the Vet since I was born (and since my dad went to games at Franklin Field in the 1960s), and the team has treated us well in transferring us across the street:

Yes, I blew up the yard marker just to confirm: dead center. The seats are higher than they were at the Vet, and the field's a bit further under street level, but the view's a great one because of how close the seats now are to the field. The angle's a lot better, and, what's more, we're now shaded by an overhang. Being up high at a football game isn't bad at all -- it gives you a lot more perspective on how plays develop, and lets you focus really well on the passing game.

On a personal note, I was heavily involved in defending the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development in litigation contesting the City Council ordinances which authorized the construction of the two new stadiums (see opinions 1, 2 or 3 for examples, all of which are in PDF), so it felt really nice to actually be in the stadium and say, hey, I'm a (very small) part of the reason this is here now. Cool.

Opening night against Tampa Bay is only 44 days away.

Friday, July 25, 2003

BYE BYE, MEIN LIEBER HERR: Liza Minnelli and David Gest have separated. I guess we can all stop worrying about completing their wedding registry now . . .
MY SMELL DOES COST A THING: Why do I love the Brit music blog No Rock & Roll Fun?

Items like this:
BAD ADVERTISING SLOGANS OF OUR TIME: J-Lo's Glow is going to be hobbled with the strapline "In the eye of the storm, I am still Jennifer Lopez", which makes you wonder what the ones they rejected must have been like: "Smells vaguely of potatoes"? "Could even mask the smell of Celine Dion"? "It's mainly water, but its got something in that makes if whiffy; but don't put it on your women's bits; it stings like a bloody jellyfish"?

Are we getting ready for Gigli? Oh, yes.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY: I just happened to be at my cousins' house in Brooklyn on July 24, 1983, and was able to see The Pine Tar Game, live. I can still remember being stunned at George Brett's anger, and asking my dad to explain what the hell was going on.

For a good recap, go here.
THE ONLY WAY WE CAN PROTECT OURSELVES IS BY GOING MAD: Well, we're not going to be able to make fun of the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie reality comedy "The Simple Life" (city slickers go to Arkansas) until the fall.

In the meantime, there's Bob Dylan's new movie Masked and Anonymous, about which much has been written, none of it good. For Zimmy, anyway.

Let's start with the Times' Tony Scott, mentioned on this blog for the second time today:
I did not see any cows at the screening, but only a many-stomached Bob Dylan fan could walk away from this film, which opens today nationwide, feeling well nourished. And some, undoubtedly, will. You may encounter people who tell you it's a stone masterpiece. The thing to do is nod politely. They mean no harm. For all I know, they may be right.

As a movie, "Masked & Anonymous," directed by Larry Charles, a master of the sitcom domain making his big-screen debut, is an unholy, incoherent mess. As a Bob Dylan artifact, though, it is endlessly, perhaps morbidly, fascinating.

Crossing the coast to the LA Times' Kevin Thomas, who calls it "a work of such pretentious self-indulgence":
With "Masked and Anonymous," director Larry Charles and Bob Dylan attempt an epic depiction of America in its death throes, taking their inspiration from the songs of Dylan. The movie, with a script attributed to Rene Fontaine and Sergei Petrov but actually by Charles and Dylan, attempts to be prophetic and put-on at the same time, thus falling into the ancient snare of trying to have it both ways — and being unable to pull it off. The look of the film is great, the soundtrack glorious, but more often than not the dialogue is atrocious, featuring a lot of long-winded gobbledygook.

Finally, The Onion A.V. Club's Keith Phipps makes enough points just by reviewing the "plot":
After a bus ride in which Giovanni Ribisi lays out the shifting tides of revolution and counter-revolution that direct whatever alternate universe contains the film, Dylan runs into Val Kilmer, who delivers a monologue about why animals are better than humans, then pretends to kill a rabbit. Meanwhile, journalist Jeff Bridges and girlfriend Penélope Cruz try to secure an interview with Dylan, then needle him about not appearing at Woodstock. Luke Wilson leaves his bartending job to bring Dylan a guitar belonging to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mickey Rourke plays a power-mad generalissimo, Christian Slater and Chris Penn appear as wisecracking roadies, and the background is filled with extras dressed up as Gandhi, Lincoln, and Pope John Paul II. Eventually, Ed Harris shows up in blackface carrying a banjo to deliver a stern, puzzling monologue. Clearly, Dylan and Charles had ambitions beyond making two hours of nonsense, but they've succeeded at little more. . . . [Dylan's] an icon and he delivers an icon's performance, literally: He could easily have been replaced by piece of wood with his face painted on it. That distance also means he remains more or less untouched by the embarrassment going on around him, even though it's largely his own creation.

Let's repeat: Ed Harris shows up in blackface.

Do we have a picture? Yes. Will I post it? Of course:

Yeah, and you thought Milk Money was embarrassing.
MAYBE, I'M AMAZED: Yes, I've been down on this season of The Amazing Race.

But tonight's episode reminded me why I love it so much. Easily the best episode of the season, tonight's sojourn in Malaysia ("We're Not at Charm School Learning to How to Be a Gentleman, We're Racing") involved challenges which were actually challenging (the ladder climb, and just not-getting-lost-driving-in-a-foreign-country), great inter- and intra-team conflict, and a truly heart-pounding finish. And then add to that some nifty camerawork of the "we can see what the competitors are missing" variety -- road signs missed, markings on trucks ignored, clue wheelbarrows driven past over and over again -- all hallmarks of the show that once brought new meaning to the phrase "DIESEL FUEL ONLY".

The race rewards persistence, as a team is never really eliminated until everyone's at the pitstop and all the penalties (have there been any this season?) have been added up. Tonight was no exception.

Two teams have races really well throughout -- Team Who (the anonymous straight guys) and Team Yes We Are Clowns But We Do Not Amuse You. I expect to see them at the end.

Also, nutbunch. Just saying, is all.

Next week: South Korea.
SWERVING WHILE SIPPING? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its list of the ten most dangerous foods to eat while driving.

Raise your hand if you've actually tried to eat chili (#4) while driving. And where are ice cream cones on the list? You ever try to lick a dripping ice cream cone and keep the jimmies from falling on your clothing on a ninety-degree day?

(Why do I have the feeling that if Norm MacDonald ($25,000 to play your bar mitzvah/wedding/ice cream social) were doing this item, he'd find a way to work in the phrase "assistant crack whore"?)
THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED "OH, MARILYN!": I'll let this Page Six item pretty much speak for itself:
ACCORDING to Jerry Lewis, Marilyn Monroe could never have fooled around with the late President John F. Kennedy or Frank Sinatra - because she was too busy spending time with him. Lewis knocked Bill O'Reilly's socks off when he taped a segment for Fox News Channel's "Pulse" - due to air tonight - when he asked Lewis about Monroe's sexual history. "Half of it is bull [bleep]!" Lewis cried. "[Monroe] was the nicest, sweetest, most wonderful girl in this world. Troubled, but a marvelous lady . . . I am so sick and tired of hearing about people blackening the names of Jack Kennedy and Bobby." When O'Reilly pressed him about Monroe's documented dalliances with the Kennedys, Lewis denied she ever slept with the brothers, exploding: "I know [she never had affairs with the Kennedys] because she was involved with me! OK?! . . . I wasn't looking at her photos . . . and it was nice, by the way," Lewis added with a leer.

Well, they did know each other. Lewis, it's worth noting, was married from 1944-1982, and had five children with his wife by the end of 1959 -- but if he wants to fess up to shtupping Monroe, that's his business.

(For newcomers: title of post explained here).
"COMPLETE CONFIDENCE": Despite internal sniping about her performance, new NYT executive editor Bill Keller says that new Arts & Leisure editor Jodi Kantor is safe:
Keller says he has “complete confidence” in the current cultural team and recites the usual platitudes about “talented staff” and “something that doesn’t need fixing.” A close Keller ally confirms that the new editor really means it. “First of all, take Bill at his word that there’s not going to be bloodletting.” As for the controversial Kantor, the insider explains, “He thinks also her work has been very strong, and is aware that outside the paper and within it, there’s a sense that she’d really done some terrific stuff and made it a lot better in a short time. In the end, that’s what matters, rather than the thought she’s connected to the old management.”

Phew. Good article on the whole. Did you know that Keller personally recruited A.O. Scott to the paper based on one impressive piece on Martin Scorsese for

Via Romenesko.
JUSTICE CAN BE BOUGHT: Chief Justice Rehnquist, that is -- and, to be specific, one limited edition Bobbin' Head Rehnquist as produced by The Green Bag. I received mine on Monday, and now, you can get yours too.

Current EBay price for this once-in-a-lifetime action figure is already over $100. Just remember: bid with your (bobbin') head, not over it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

ONE ANDY DICK EQUALS TWO TONE LOCS: Yes, it's time to look at the Clear Channel College Entertainment Pricing List again.

Four Victoria Jacksons for a Soul Asylum? Six Rich Halls (he's still alive? and working? and known to today's college audience?) for a Richard Lewis? (Actually, holy shit, look at Hall's website. I guess he's moved on from the sniglet, but has America? Can America?)

Nelly Furtado charging the same for an appearance as the legendary James Brown?

And Jeffrey Gaines is "generally available". Really? You're kidding.

It's a fertile ground for digging. Tell us what you find.
A POST WHICH WILL ONLY BE MEANINGFUL TO THE BASEBALL GEEKS IN THE AUDIENCE, A GROUP WHICH, OF COURSE, INCLUDES ME: Tom Tippett of Diamond Mind thinks that Voros McCracken is wrong. His conclusion, based on 90 years of data:
The bottom line, though, is that I am convinced that pitchers do influence in-play outcomes to a significant degree. There's a reason why Charlie Hough and Jamie Moyer and Phil Niekro and Tom Glavine and Bud Black have had successful careers despite mediocre strikeout rates. There's a reason why the top strikeout pitchers have also suppressed in-play hits at a good rate. Using power or control or deception or a knuckleball, pitchers can keep hitters off balance and induce more than their share of routine grounders, popups, and lazy fly balls.

Here's the full article.

(Quick summary of the debate for the latecomers: Baseball statistician and now-Red-Sox-employee Voros McCracken created a huge amount of buzz two years ago when his research and analysis seemed to demonstrate a completely counterintuitive conclusion -- namely, that baseball pitchers have little reliable ability to prevent hits on balls-in-play, and that their only real measurable, consistent skill was in recording strikeouts and preventing walks and home runs. For more, keep reading here.)
C'MON DONNY, LET'S GO GET A LANE: Lebowski Fest was this weekend, just like we said it would.

Read about it here, here and, um, here:
Friday night, 500 showed for a midnight screening with crowd participation rivaled only by “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

"Rarely when I see one of my films on TV do I watch the entire thing, but whenever ‘Lebowski’ comes on, I get hooked,” Jeff Bridges said from New York, where he’s promoting his new film, “Seabiscuit.” “I’ve got to see Turturro lick the bowling ball.”

Nice marmot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I HAVE SUCCUMBED: Forget what I said before about "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy". No ambiguity, no hesitation anymore: the show's just adorable.

Tonight's episode won me over. I mean, any show in which the makeover artists say of the subject's girlfriend, "There's a hooker in Trenton who's missing a pair of shoes," well, that's priceless television. Because it's not just a hooker's shoes -- no, we're looking at Trenton-hooker quality, and if you've spent any time in the un-Garden-like capital of the Garden State, you know how low we're looking.

Carson Kressley, thank you.
JUST CUT IT AND EAT IT: Congratulations to Fairbanks native Dean Katairoak, who won his first World Eskimo-Indian Olympics gold medal this weekend. If you know this blog at all, you know what event:
Katairoak won the muktuk eating contest by woofing down a two-inch piece of raw whale fat in 27 seconds. Katairoak, a 17-year-old from Fairbanks by way of Barrow, brought his own filet knife and sliced through the 14-eater field.

"They caught the whale in Barrow and I knew it was really soft," he said. "All the other years it's hard to chew. But this year I just cut it and swallowed it whole."

Katairoak used a simple technique, slicing with his right hand and stuffing his face with his left. Some competitors cut up the muktuk in pieces, some small and some large, and then eat it. Katairoak saved time by doing both simultaneously.

"Just cut it and eat it," he said moments before grabbing a second helping.

Make no mistake: if you're looking for the best muktuk coverage in the blogosphere, come here.
IF HE COULD BE TURNED, HE WOULD BE A POWERFUL ALLY: So I'm with my dad at the Phillies game last night, sitting right behind home plate.

It's Verizon Night at the Vet, and out to present a check to charity and then recite the National Anthem is company spokesperson/living legend James Earl Jones.

He's done reciting the Anthem. The applause dies down. And I, for whatever reason, decide to yell out:

It's good to be back in Philadelphia.