Friday, November 7, 2003

ZYMURGY QUETZAL JUKEBOX: As someone who has long advocated the creation of a cable network dedicated to academic competitions, I am pleased to announce that, this Sunday afternoon at 3:30 EST/2:30 CST, ESPN will be broadcasting the 2003 Scrabble All-Star Competition.

Lead commentator on the broadcast will be that guy who wrote that book about all the Scrabble people.

More info here and here.

(Via TV Tattle.)
GENERIC WEEKLY ER/WEST WING COMMENTS SPACE: Since people seemed interested over the past few weeks, let's do it again. My brief, brief thoughts:
ER: (1) I liked this Susan Lewis plot more last year when she did it with the kid from Almost Famous than with Bob Newhart; (2) Cranky Luka is more fun than overly passionate Luka; and (3) Again, where's Gallant?

West Wing: Whoever authorized that Josh-railing-at-the-heavens/Capitol scene should be fired, and John Wells should not be allowed to turn Leo into Rocket Romano v. 2.0. Not a great episode.

Your turn.
LET ME UNDERSTAND YOUR PLAN: Did you know that the rap collective Arrested Development was still around?

Fox TV's lawyers now do.

Next on Speech's litigation list: The Tennessee Titans, Sly and the Family Stone and our dog, Wendell.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

FINAL OUTS: After reading about the sad death of Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson today, you may have taken a look at SI's list of baseball players who died during their professional careers, and had some questions about some of the more curious listings.

Here's details on three of the odder ones:

Ed Delahanty (1903) -- Big Ed got violently drunk on a train fron Detroit to New York, and when they reached Niagara Falls, they kicked him off. The Hall of Famer started to wander across the International Bridge. He didn't make it all the way.

Len Koenecke (1935) -- Remember that stunt R.E.M's Peter Buck pulled on that plane that time? This was worse, with Koenecke going loco on a chartered plane, ending with the co-pilot battering him to death with a fire extinguisher to prevent the passenger from forcing a crash landing. Great story.

Doc Powers (1909) -- The A's catcher was chasing a foul ball behind home plate in the first game at Shibe Park history, and crashed into a concrete wall, causing severe abdominal injuries. After numerous operations, he died of gangrene two weeks later.

(Via Clutch Hits and TheDeadBallEra.)
FOURTEEN DAYS OF SOLIPSISM (#4): Can you tell the King of Pop from Everyone's Favorite Neighbor? See "What Mr. Rogers Taught Michael Jackson", from March 9, 2003.
BECAUSE IT'S BUGGING ME, THAT'S WHY: Has there ever been a more hookless pure-pop hit than Donna Summer's "Heaven Knows"?
FIGHT FIERCELY HARVARD, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT! How does an American university memorialize a alumnus who fought for his home country in World War II, when that country was Nazi Germany?

Just like everyone else from Harvard who died in World War II -- only with the addition of a teensy disclaimer.

(Mind you, this is the same Harvard that does not honor the sixty-four graduates who died fighting for the Confederacy.)

Say what you will . . . at least it's an ethos, right?

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

SHABBAT SHALOM, MOTHERF*CKERS: Look out, Gentiles: The Hebrew Hammer is coming.

Written and directed by rookie Jonathan Kesselman, the upcoming movie stars Adam Goldberg as Mordechai Jefferson Carver, is a man's mensch in these troubled times -- a Brooklyn private eye who, in his spare time, saves the world of Jewish culture and tradition. A "certified circumsized dick", The Hammer faces his gravest challenge when Santa's son, Damian Claus (Andy Dick), is out to destroy Hanukkah once and for all.

The Hammer is joined in this fight by Mohammed (Mario Van Peebles), the head of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front. Peter Coyote plays Bloomenbergansteinthal, head of the Jewish Justice League. According to the online materials, "Chief Bloomenbergensteinthal is charged with defending the Jewish people and its traditions in times of crisis. His word can move mountains, motivate world leaders, or get another Adam Sandler movie made."

Play the theme song, and get psyched. The movie is slated for release on December 19, the first night of Hanukkah.

This movie better not suck.
FOURTEEN DAYS OF SOLIPSISM, PT. III: Shaquille O'Neal has long been compared to the greats, like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. No news there.

But last February, when the bad-ass Laker compared himself to Germany's most bad-ass philosopher, calling himself "the black, basketball-playing Nietzsche," this blog decided to evaluate his claims:
Nietzsche: On his rival Voltaire: "Oh, Voltaire! Oh, humaneness! Oh, nonesense! Il ne cherche le vrai que pour faire le bien. I bet he finds nothing!"
O'Neal: On his rival Yao Ming: "Tell Yao Ming I said 'ching chong fong chang bing dong'."

Nietzsche: "No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
O'Neal: "I'm tired of hearing about money money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok."

You get the idea.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

WHAT'S COOLER THAN BEING COOL? While this blog continues to hold off on endorsing any of the Democratic presidential candidates, I have to give mad props to Gen. Wesley Clark tonight.

As part of tonight's CNN/Rock The Vote debate, the candidates were asked to produce thirty-second videos directed to twentysomething voters. Some, like Senator Palpatine and Governor Dean, focused on familiar slogans set to a techno/rave beat.

And then there's Wesley Clark. It starts off looking like a very traditional campaign roundtable ad, but then . . . well, I don't want to spoil the surprise. Just watch it in Windows Media or QuickTime format, and tell me you're not amused.
COMPREHENSION IS NOT REQUISITE FOR COOPERATION: With The Matrix Revolutions hitting theaters tomorrow, there's one question burning on the lips of at least three or four of the people who read this weblog:
Is Cornel West going to be in the damn movie?

Thanks to the Village Voice's J. Hoberman early review, we have an answer. And it is 'yes'.

Oh, but there's a followup: Does America's favorite Princeton-professor-slash-Sharpton-adviser-slash-"rapper" get to say something so stupid and cliched that you'd think George Lucas had written it? Ergo, concordantly, yes.

How about this doozy: "But what hope can a single vessel have against the entire defense system?"

(It depends, really. How many parsecs would it take the Nebuchadnezzar to complete the Kessel run?)

More to come.

(Did I like Matrix Reloaded? Well, sorta, but others here were more favorable.)
FOURTEEN DAYS OF SOLIPSISM, VOL. II: Today's blast from the past as we approach the one-year TT anniversary: Throwing Things' live coverage of the 76th Annual Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee, with such thrilling moments as:
Don't tell me that the kid who's Spanish/English bilingual just got "zocalo". Oh, wait, he did, while New Jersey's Jesse Zymet got "lefse", some kind of Norwegian pancake. . . . .

That's right: while poor Shruti Mishra of West Lafayette, IN was faced with "phthisiology", Grant Remmen of Detroit Lakes, MN got "email".

Feel the excitement! Start here, and scroll up as the drama unfolds.
THE QUESTION IS MOOT: Presidential candidate Al Sharpton will host Saturday Night Live on December 6.
YOU SELL WATERBEDS?! Think we can get Steve Martin to use The Replacements' "Customer" on the soundtrack to the movie of his book Shopgirl? Or is he maybe coming at the issue from another angle? I haven't read the book, but I'm just thinking . . . how complicated does that feeling get? It's gotta fit somewhere.

But, by that logic, the 28 Days soundtrack should have something by Lou Bega in it. And it doesn't. Oddly, it's full of Loudon Wainwright III.

Go figure.
UNTIL 'SIMPLE LIFE,' THAT IS: Seriously, how did "Arrested Development" get greenlighted? It is original, it has a great ensemble cast, and it beat the you-can't-be-funny-in-a-pilot curse. In short, everything the American "Coupling" was not. I'm going out on a limb and calling the "best new show" race over. So how long until Fox, which prematurely killed the last great new comedy, Judd Apatow's "Undeclared," starts running the episodes out of order, pulling the show for sweeps, and refusing to promo it? My advice is to watch it before it gets replaced by reruns of "Mr. Personality."
ALL LINKS CERTIFIED WORKPLACE-APPROPRIATE: Porn star Mary Carey, whose improbable run to a top-10 finish in the California gubernatorial race was fueled by a vague resemblance to Mariah Carey, ample skin, and a media stalled at the intersection of Legitimate News Drive and Gratuitous Titillation Boulevard, is making a docudrama about her campaign. Or a something-u-drama, but I won't say it here. Let's say it rhymes with "doc." Anyway, in the most inspired casting move Hollywood has seen since Robert Evans as Irving Thalberg, Carey has cast the Hedgehog -- Ron Jeremy -- as Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. Compare for yourself: the resemblance is chilling.

Monday, November 3, 2003

"I'LL PLAY IT FAST. ANYTHING BUT 'WEREWOLVES.'" Saw a rerun of one of my favorite Larry Sanders episodes tonight -- 1993's "Off Camera", in which Josh Malina of the Sorkin Family Players plays an Entertainment Weekly reporter doing an article on the show while things are falling apart backstage. Rip Torn is brilliant, and Larry, as always, is oblivious.

But it's creepy: the other guest stars in the episode include John Ritter, Gene Siskel and Warren Zevon, all of whom now, well, yeah.

If I'm Malina, I'm watching out for a man in black with a cloak and scythe. He's due.
A SIGHTING, OF SORTS: Well, not high-level in terms of prominence, but in terms of interaction.

1:30pm, 15th and Market Streets. I'm running to Wendy's to grab some chicken strips for lunch (and, by the way, they're not bad.)

Right there is former Big Brother "star" and current Philadelphia City Council gadfly candidate Will Mega (a/k/a "William Collins", "Hiram Ashantee"), in a tan suit, handing out brochures. And it goes like this:
Me: "I was happy when they kicked you out of Big Brother." He doesn't react. I keep walking past him.

Mega (about 10' away now): "I didn't hear you. What did you say?"

Me (about 15' away): "I said I was happy when they kicked you off Big Brother. But good luck."

Mega (loudly): "I'll be happy when they get rid of the white man."

I kept walking.
FOURTEEN DAYS OF SOLIPSISM, PT. I: As we approach this blog's one-year anniversary (November 17), I want to take a moment each day to highlight a post or group of posts that I'm particularly proud of, or, at least, ones that seem entertaining in retrospect.

For today: Blame Willard Rouse, or The Curse of William Penn.

Why can't Philadelphia teams win? It's the architecture, stupid.
FINDING EMO: Here he is! And while he may be a punk, he's not exactly punk rock. Now that we have that settled, let us never speak of "Emo" as a sort of music ever ever ever again.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME, IF I COULD FIND A WAY: Last Saturday night, the first of two twin girls was born at Baystate Medical Center in western Massachusetts at 1:57 a.m. The second, twenty-eight minutes later, at what seemed to be 2:25 a.m.

Except last Saturday night was when the clocks changed back, thanks to Benjamin Franklin, so the one who was born at 2:25 a.m. was therefore born at 1:25 a.m., meaning that she's older than her "older" sister.

Yeah, I know: my head's spinning too.

THEY'LL NEVER CATCH ME. I'M INNOCENT! I just watched Bottle Rocket. It was like an update of Repo Man with the cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and I kept waiting for Owen Wilson to turn to the camera and say "Dude! You're getting a Dell!"