Thursday, June 30, 2005

¡Viva España!

Manifesto

Spain has legalized gay marriage, allowing for adoption by gay couples and inheritance of property between married partners.

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality," [Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero] told the chamber.
This, in the face of the strong Roman Catholic presence in Spain, gives me hope.

Catch Up

THE LOWDOWN

Sorry I've been away for so long! Let's catch up:

Yahoo is reporting that Jennifer Garner somehow got Ben Affleck to walk down the aisle. The deed was down on an island in the Carribean. No one from either camp will confirm the marriage, but then again none of them have commented on her growing belly either. Yesterday, the same Yahoo site reported that Jennifer has supposedly been telling people that she and Ben are having a baby girl. Looks like Alias may be writing a pregnancy into the storyline to match Jen's belly. I hope JJ doesn't try to hide her belly behind desks and bags.

In other pregnancy news, E!online is asking the question: Is Angelina preggers with Brad's baby? Apparently, they have been hanging out at her digs in England, playing house with Brad stepping in as man of the house. He's even teaching Maddox to ride a bike.

But don't you feel bad for Jen. It looks like she's moved on, with none other than Vince Vaughn. They are currently shooting The Breakup in Chicago, and have been spending some time getting cozy. In fact, this is not the first time they've met. Jen and Vince became aquainted when she was filming Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller, one of Vince's very good friends. They got on so well, it made Brad a little jealous. And don't forget, Vince just costarred with Brad in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Sing along everybody: It's a small world, after all...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Coolest man ever

whatever

Been MIA lately so I thought I'd keep it light for the first post back.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft went to Russia and was robbed of his 2005 Super Bowl ring... by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Following a meeting of American business executives and Putin at Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg on Saturday, Kraft showed the ring to Putin -- who tried it on, put it in his pocket and left, according to Russian news reports.
To be fair the article continues that it may have been a gift from Kraft to Putin. That is what the Russian are saying at least.

How badass do you have to be to steal something right out of somebody's hand with cameras documenting the entire exchange? This guy is a cold-blooded killer. You think Kraft is going to say anything? Especially now that the Russians have said it was a gift. Man, no wonder Bush liked what he saw in Putin's eyes. This dude is crazy.

Hot Enough For Ya?

FOOD FIGHT


Feeling a little warm? Beat the steamy weather and get a free treat at Starbuck's today. They are hosting an ice cream social and giving away coffee milkshakes to cool you off...in hopes you'll then buy even more coffee and ice cream.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bynum update

sporting goods

Some experts are suggesting Andrew Bynum could go as high as 10, and will almost certainly be gone by the time the Celtics pick at 18. He really impressed scouts at his workouts.

Looks as if there is no chance he'll be at UConn next year. Bad news for the Huskies, good news for Syracuse, Louisville, and the rest of the ultra-competitive Big East.

Update: more bad news for the Huskies, Marcus Williams is a suspect in a burglary, along with A.J. Price

Monday, June 27, 2005

Peace Now

Manifesto

I happen to know the writer, director, and two of the stars from this show, Peace Now, which is opening in a few weeks at the Midtown International Theater Festival.

It's a good and interesting play about a takeover of an administration building at a college during the Vietnam war. You can really see a lot of today's political climate in the story and in the feelings of the protestors. The cast is great, and includes a number of people who have been on Broadway as well as the guy who played Pete in "Pete and Pete."

If you're in NYC, check it out.

Satisfaction

sporting goods

When I left the office on Friday, the Red Sox were one half game behind the Orioles, but were riding a hot streak.

The hot streak continued over the weekend, and not only did the Sox take over first place, but they have somehow managed to build a 2.5 game lead. Ramirez is on fire, the whole offense seems to be clicking, hitting for extra base hit after extra base hit, and for 25 out of 27 innings over the weekend, the pitching was dominant.

Alan Embree continues to suffer (or we suffer by having to watch him), but really there is little to complain about today in Red Sox Nation. That means we can save up our moaning for around the All-star break and late July, when the team does its usual mid-summer skid.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Take action

Manifesto

Whether you consider yourself a liberal or not, Karl Rove's words were pretty damn offensive, especially if you live in New York.

If you live in NY, contact your mayor and governor to ask that he sack up and stand up against these comments.

Friday Random 10

WHATEVER

I've been away for reunions the past two Fridays, but now it's time to bring back Friday's Random 10 - with commentary!

1. Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire; My a cappella group did a fantastic cover of this, before I joined.
2. Unhappy - Big Boi; Great, this will now be in my head for the rest of the day. My goose is cooked.
3. Twenty Minute Work-out - DJ Kool; the more fun alternative to Let me Clear My Throat.
4. Loungin' - Guru; I had some friends who loved Guru's Jazzmatazz in college, but I never really got into it. I think you need to smoke more.
5. Oh $hit - Pharcyde; This is only on my iTunes because of Chill. Man is this song funny.
6. She Watch Channel Zero - Public Enemy; Is "It Takes a Million..." the best PE album? I'm not sure.
7. Got Kinda Hi - The Goats; George Bush Senior gets a lot of abuse on this album. Mickey Fickey.
8. The Way of Rhyme - Kriss Kross; Wait a minute, how did that get on there? I swear, it's not mine! Kriss Kross is not my bag, I swear!
9. B!t@h - D12; This song is pretty funny too. Offensive, but funny.
10. I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson; Smokey must've wanted to make sure Johnny didn't feel too odd on this list of 10.

What'cha got?

Nomack

sporting goods

I knew Tony Womack was a bad player. I express disbelief whenever I see him batting 2nd in the lineup. I couldn't believe that they would put someone with his "batting skills" in the outfield. As a Sox fan, I even celebrated his signing.

But I didn't realize that he was this bad. Go read Larry Mahnken's well-research rant about how Womack is killing the Yankees. It is worth the read, even if you don't understand some of the stats he uses. Some choice nuggets:

- Among qualified players, Tony Womack ranks 171st in the Major Leagues in OPS. There are 172 qualified players.
- 108 Major Leaguers have a higher Batting Average than Tony Womack's SLG.
- Tony Womack has more sacrifice bunts than extra-base hits (6-5).

Drugs

Manifesto

No, not that kind. There are two "controversial" drug topics being discussed in the press today, which I don't consider to be controversial at all.

It turns out, although Merck was saying the cardiovascular problems with Vioxx were not a major concern until the 2004 study that led to the drug's recall, the company was looking to reformulate the drug to improve its safety. I hate to rain on the "let's crap on big pharma" parade, because it's kind of fun, but companies do this all the time. They take a good drug, and they make it better. It's called life-cycle management, and you are always trying to improve on product characteristics to boost sales and product perception.

It's like saying, "Coca-Cola has a new version of Coke that is only one calorie. So they admit that Coke is high in calories!" There was certainly data that said Vioxx did not have a great cardiovascular profile, like for instance Aspirin, and Merck was trying to improve on that. I don't think that's a crime.

The second "controversy" is that the FDA has approved a drug, BiDil, for use in African-American patients specifically. I am sure people will freak out about this, as it has already been a source of debate, and it's a worthwhile debate. But it is not as if this drug was designed for African-Americans, suggesting that there is some sort of discriminatory drug development program.

Consider this sequence of events. A drug seems like it will work for chronic heart failure. Doctors test it in a huge trial, and when they look at the data, there is little difference between the drug and placebo. The doctors look closer, and discover that if you only consider the African-American patients in the trial, the drug appears to have a significant benefit. So, they design a trial only with African-American payments to investigate this finding. The result is so good that, ethically, they have to stop the trial early, because patients on placebo are dying at a much faster rate than patients on the drug (note: patients on both sides were also receiving standard of care, it's not as if they were withholding medicine from sick patients).

So while people debate the morals and ethics of having a drug just for black patients, they need to really be considering what would be the ethical implications of NOT approving this drug for black patients. Slippery slope arguments can easily be shouted down with Kaplan-Meier separation curves - people are given a chance to live longer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Snapsicle Snafu

FOOD FIGHT


Yesterday, in honor of the new Snapple Ice Pops, Snapple tried to break the Guinness Book of World Records in the giant popsicle category. However, it went from PR stunt to PR disaster very quickly. The 17.5 ton popsicle got a little mushy on the way in from Edison, NJ and spilled gallons and gallons of kiwi-strawberry juice on the streets. There were lots of angry people on NY1 who slipped on the sticky, gooey juice and the fire department had to hose down 17th Street. Sadly, they didn't break the record. Guess they've also learned that giant popsicles and heat don't mix since they won't be trying this again.

There were photos in this morning's Metro, but it's also on the NY Times where you can watch their video "The Streets Ran Pink with Goo."

AFI's top 100

universal remote

OK, I know everyone has seen the list now, so I'm here to beg for a post from Sergio giving us his thoughts on the biggest snubs.

Game

sporting goods

The Yankees scored 13 in the 8th last night, and as impressive (and somewhat comical) as it was, I am more interested in another game. As in the one game lead that the Sox now have in the Wild Card race.

70 games into the season is a long way to go, but it is clear that the Red Sox are going to have to finish ahead of all but one of the following teams: Baltimore, New York, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Texas. Right now they are 2 behind Baltimore, 1 up on the Twins, 2 up on the Yanks, and 2.5 up on the Indians and Rangers.

Let's face it, the Sox are average on the road (18-20) and great at home (22-10). They end the season with 24 of their last 36 at home, so they just need to be in the thick of things to make a big run. Winning 8 of their last 9 gives me a lot of hope that they will be right where they need to be at the end of August, despite their inevitable July swoon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Evolution is a crock

WHATEVER

I knew those wacky scientists have nothing on creationism. Noah's sons flew flying dinosaurs, so it looks like the dinosaur evidence doesn't support an anti-creationism argument after all.

Conn Artist

sporting goods

Well it looks like 7-foot high school senior Andrew Bynum, a.k.a. the guy who was going to keep UConn's front line stacked with a twin towers presence now that Villanueva thinks he is ready for the NBA, is joining Charlie in the quest to become a mediocre NBA rookie:

Bynum, a 7-foot center who averaged 22 points, 16 boards and five blocks at St. Joseph High (N.J.), would have competed for a starting position with the Huskies, possibly playing alongside rising junior Josh Boone for a team expected to contend for the national title.

The first bit of good news for UConn is that he has not signed an agent as of yet, so if he does not like where he is picked, he can come back to the Huskies. The second bit of good news is that the ESPN mock draft has Bynum going last in the first round, to the Knicks.

However, the uncertainty in all this is that it looks as if the NBA will institute a minimum age of 19 for the NBA after this year's draft, which means if Bynum wanted to go to UConn, it looks to me as if he would need to stay for two years, because he is only 17 right now. Yes, 17, 7 feet tall, and 300 pounds. Good lord, I hope this guy is in the Big East next year.

Madness Part Deux

THE LOWDOWN

Rumor has it that the male counterpart in a certain new celebrity couple is reportedly paying the female counterpart $5 million to marry him and stay married to him for 5 years. And she doesn't even have to consumate the relationship. But is $5 million enough if you must sell your soul to Scientology? Oh, TomKat, what are we going to do with you?

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Last Five Years

WHATEVER

Things I learned at my five year reunion:

  • Describing my job is really boring, unless I'm talking to someone from my major (Chemistry). This is why I put "Importer/Exporter" on my nametag. It also was like giving people a quick pop-culture quiz; you either laugh at that or you have no clue.
  • It is somehow easier to talk to people you didn't know that well in the first place than people that you knew pretty well but have been out of touch with since college. Seeing as there was usually a reason why you didn't know some people in the first place, then it is then best to just hang out with the people that you've kept in touch with. Is this anti-social? Yeah, probably.
  • I used to think that the condition of my fraternity was "not that bad." I think I need to re-evaluate that.
  • Want to bring down what could be a really good party? Serve airplane-quality food.
  • At five years out, we definitely have more in common with people who are 10 years out, than those who are still in school. And that makes me feel old.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Madness

THE LOWDOWN

It's now official -- Katie Holmes has lost her mind! Tom Cruise announced at a press conference that he did indeed propose to the Dawson's Creek sweetheart, and she accepted. That Tom Cruise is such a romantic! I know if I were announcing my engagement, I'd want it done at a press conference. At least he had the decency to propose in a somewhat romantic ( if not predictable ) location -- the Eiffel Tower. The couple was in Paris promoting The War of the Worlds. Supposedly the future 3rd Mrs. Cruise is sporting quite a bauble on her ring finger.
Isn't she sick of being controlled yet? In his latest "loving move", Cruise has hired some Scientologist to follow Katie around, making sure she doesn't stray from the path of Scientology. This psuedo - bodyguard even accompanied Katie on the red carpet for the London premiere of Batman Begins. When journalists noticed that she would not stray even ten feet from Katie, one reporter asked the bodyguard who she was. Her answer? Something along the lines of "Katie's new best friend". I mean, can you believe it?

Where have all the good Republicans Gone?

Manifesto

I've often wondered why the Rudy Guilianis and Christie Whitmans of the Republican party don't stand up against the hate machine that currently acts of the mouthpiece of the G.O.P. (Granted Whitman wrote a book about reclaiming the G.O.P. for moderates, but as for tangible action, there hasn't been a lot.) I'm sure there are good reasons for it, or at least political reasons, like the desire for further power. I've also wondered here and aloud why, with the exception of the U.C.C., moderate and liberal Christian churches haven't stood up and pushed back against those conservative sects that claim to represent the one true Christianity. I've also wondered how anybody lets the media get away with referring to these people as "Christians" as if there aren't Christian groups that disagree. Today's New York Times offers many of these critiques and more from the pen of former Republican Senator of Missouri, John Danforth:
In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.

By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth. We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.
It is a truly amazing piece of work from a man once considered a stalwart of the Republican party and former ambassador to the United Nations. I wish we had people like this in government again. Sadly, it seems that those moderates who originally made it into to Bush White House (Colin Powell, John Danforth, Christie Whitman, Richard Clark, Paul O'Neill, etc.) were so isolated and ignored that they quit rather than remain marginalized. They have, of course, been replaced with zeolots and ideologues more interested in consolidating power than actually doing the people's work. Thus, it seems the Bush/Rove plan to marginalize the moderates was effective in allowing the zealots to grab more of the levers of power. Hopefully, sharp, effective public rebukes from moderate Republicans and Democrats will arise some passion out of the sleepy American middle.

But here's a story for an intrepid reporter out there tired of runaway brides and missing white woman, take the above list of moderates effectively forced out of office by the current administration, examine their various and often serious critiques of the current administration, and compare that to some of the mistakes made by the current administration. I think you'd be surprised that more often than not, these moderates predicted the pitfalls that many of these policies have produced well before any action was actually taken. But that story would involve some actual research and analysis, so I'll probably read about it over at Talking Points Memo or maybe at AmericaBlog.

Hat tip to R.C. for the Danforth article.

I'll say it again

whatever

This is just too rich not to pass along. CNN (don't worry - this isn't going to be another post meant to trash CNN) has a story about a lawyer in London and his secretary. Since any summary won't do it justice here's an excerpt, but definitely go and read it for yourself.
The exchange appears to refer to her spilling ketchup on Phillips' trousers and who should pay the cleaning bill, UK's Press Association reported.

The first e-mail, which Phillips sent on May 25, said: "Hi Jenny. I went to a dry cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost £4 to remove the ketchup stains. If you cd let me have the cash today, that wd be much appreciated."

On June 3, Amner replied: "With reference to the e-mail below, I must apologize for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother's sudden illness, death and funeral I have had more pressing issues than your £4.

"I apologize again for accidentally getting a few splashes of ketchup on your trousers. Obviously your financial need as a senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary."
I feel so good about my chosen profession right now.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Checkbook Journalism

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The state of garbage journalism has been a pet cause of Chill's since the birth of this blog. He has also repeatedly railed against their addiction to stories about "Missing White Women." Here is something that mashes the two things together into one big corrupt mess.

Apparently, NBC and Katie Couric have just struck a deal to interview "runaway bride" Jennifer Wilbanks. Being that it is against their policy to pay for a sit-down, how exactly did America's Sweetheart land such a big story? By having NBC's parent company pay her for book and TV movie projects that will never exist!

From today's PageSix (in its entirety so you don't have to register).
JUDITH Regan did everything possible to keep her $500,000 deal with "Runaway Bride" Jennifer Wilbanks a secret. But PAGE SIX has obtained a copy of the "deal memo" that led to Wilbanks' interview with NBC's Katie Couric, plus an e-mail from Regan's office swearing Wilbanks and her family to secrecy.

"I must stress the importance of keeping this deal and all its details absolutely confidential," Regan's assistant, Doug Grad, e-mailed the Wilbanks family this month.

"Nobody can know that this deal has gone through — and those who do know . . . must keep it secret. Any leaks can lead to the cancellation of the first interview, and the cancellation of the deal. I cannot stress this strongly enough."

Secrecy was crucial because NBC News, like other network news divisions, has a policy against paying for interviews. NBC claims it hasn't paid a dime to Wilbanks or to Regan, who runs ReganMedia. But speculation has been rampant that Couric landed the Wilbanks interview as part of a $500,000 deal that included a TV movie.

A rep for NBC told us yesterday: "We have not, never have and never will pay for an interview. Whatever deal Judith Regan has with the Wilbanks' is not with us."

The carefully worded "deal memo" never mentions NBC. "Maybe Judith thinks she can garner interest in Jennifer Wilbanks so she can sell her rights to a TV movie," the NBC rep said. "She owns Jennifer now. Call Judith." Regan didn't return calls.

The agreement for the "television rights of the story of Jennifer Wilbanks and John Mason" says the couple will be paid "$500,000 . . . after the completion of the first interview " with Wilbanks and fiancé Mason.

The memo says the "interview must be completed within the next 10 days (therefore, no later than Monday, June 13, 2005) and TV Rights would also include Exclusive Dramatic Rights (TV/Movie rights.)"

ReganMedia issued a press release yesterday announcing it had acquired all rights to the life stories of Wilbanks and Mason. "ReganMedia is currently developing a scripted television project based on the Wilbanks-Mason story. The project is not with NBC, nor has any compensation been received from NBC," the release stated.

Although NBC is keeping itself at arm's length from the deal, the Wilbanks' seemed to think the money was coming from NBC. An insider said: "The Wilbanks family called up ABC and said, 'Katie Couric is offering us $500,000; what can Diane [Sawyer] do?"

This kind of stuff just makes my skin crawl.



Nothing Says Family Values Like A Porn Star

MANIFESTO

Family values are really important to the right...when it's convenient. They're happy to take money from the porn industry and have porn star, Mary Carey come to the White House dinner this week, but anything that isn't the perfect nuclear family needs their legislation. Well, it was seeming so tame and uninteresting until AMERICAblog.com reported that Mary Carey divulged her little fantasy to them prior to the dinner. Of course, wanting to make sure she wasn't uninvited, they promised not to publish it until after.
"Oh my God, his daughters! I’d LOVE to party with his daughters. I’d love to meet them. I totally want to have sex with them. You can write it the day after I leave here."
Apparently she was also on MSNBC yesterday sharing some dirt on republicans and their not so wholesome requests. Sounded entertaining, but someone posted that she's coming on the Daily Show soon too.

Thanks to SJ for the link.

$20.12...but not really

FOOD FIGHT


I wasn't even going to bring up restaurant week until I read the NY Times piece that wonders if it's really worth it. Glad I'm not the only one. I see the PR value and hope it helps the little guys, but from this diner's point of view it's sort of a let down if you're expecting to save money. It's usually hard to get a reservation so trying somewhere new/hot/interesting is hard, but even if you do, the special menus are so limited that I almost always want to go with the regular menu. I mean, why set yourself up for disappointment? If you're already there, just get what you want. Also, after drinks, tax, tip, etc at the expensive places the bill is likely no where in the vicinity of $20 per person. Here are her perfect examples:
Jean-Georges Vongerichten's molten chocolate cake, one of the most recognizable signatures of the 1990's, will cost you $6 more at Nougatine, the dining room adjacent to Jean Georges. And the menu at Dos Caminos does not include guacamole, which is like going to Disney World and skipping Space Mountain.
I don't really want to discourage people from going out and testing the culinary waters. See if you can get a reservation and enjoy, but bring the plastic and know what to expect. It starts Monday and runs 6/21 - 6/24 and then again 6/27 - 7/1. Or you could always just go somewhere great that stretches the budget everyday like Land, Kitchen 22, L'Ecole, etc.

Hal Who?

Universal Remote

Tom Hanks' production company has just purchased the Deep Throat movie rights from Mark Felt for a million bucks. Grey up his hair, put him in some big spectacles and borrow some costumes from Catch Me If You Can and Hanks will make everyone forget about about Hal Holbrook.

Now if they can just get Spielberg to direct...

Two unrelated baseball thoughts

sporting goods

I can't believe the Rangers just let Ryan Drese go. Last year, when I presented my AL Cy Young thoughts, I had him 3rd on my list after Santana and Schilling. I realize he is certainly not the 3rd best pitcher in the league, but how could you give up on someone that quickly?

Well, the Rangers looked stupid last night, when he pitched great to get a 1-0 win, now in a Nats uniform. While the Phillies are busy making stupid moves, the Nats are doing things right suddenly.

Meanwhile, I think the Yankees win last night was a huge one. They were 0-30 when trailing after 8 innings, they get the benefit of a bad call at first to keep the game alive, and then Giambi wins the game by finally doing something besides walk or strikeout. A late rally, a piece of good luck, and a monster shot by Giambi - three things the Yankees have sorely lacked this year.

I realize that they are still 6.5 games back, but this could be the game that gets pointed to as the turning point. And if not, then hey at least the YES network finally has a game they can set aside for future Yankee Classic airings.

I Love Royce

sporting goods

I told you Willie. Play Royce Ring.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

T-Shirt of the Night

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

"Tom Cruise is an Idiot." Saw a woman wearing it on the subway tonight. I think it just about says it all.

Your Clever Little Blog Could Get You Fired

WHATEVER

From today's USA Today:
Like a growing number of employees, Peter Whitney decided to launch a blog on the Internet to chronicle his life, his friends and his job at a division of Wells Fargo
Then he began taking jabs at a few people he worked with.

His blog, gravityspike.blogspot.com, did find an audience: his bosses. In August 2004, the 27-year-old was fired from his job handling mail and the front desk, he says, after managers learned of his Web log, or blog.

Luckily, no one at Daily411 complains about their co-workers on the blog so the threat of being fired is reduced. Of course if the higher-ups saw how much was posted during work hours, they might schedule a review.

Confirmation

THE LOWDOWN

Welcome to the first addition of The Lowdown! By now, we have all heard the reports/rumors surrounding the break-up of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (read Angelina Jolie here), and the world wondered if Brad did actually cheat on Jen with Miss Jolie. Well, we have our answer. Jennifer Aniston recently opened up to Leslie Bennetts for a Vanity Fair article about the dissolution of her marriage. Jen told Bennetts that contrary to popular belief, she did want to have babies with Brad. Starting a family, the most popular opinion for the breakup of their marriage, was not an issue with her. The reason she filed for divorce was the fact that Brad cheated on her. Page Six doesn't give any details about the cheating, only that he cheated. I guess we'll have to wait for Vanity Fair issue to hit stands, to see if she actually mentions Mr. & Mrs. Smith, or Angelina Jolie, but can only assume that this is the case. And now, to add insult to injury, Jen had to deal with the layout Brad and Angelina did for W magazine, depicting family life in the 1960s. According to Page Six, 'she was appalled' by those photos, which isn't surprising. Jolie and Pitt couldn't look any more together if they tried. And I don't want to hear about the fact that they are both actors (Jolie being an Oscar winner)... The spark is there, and that's all you need to start a fire.

Somethin's Burnin'

Sporting Goods

So I unfortunately caught a bit of Jim Rome on ESPN News two nights ago, in which his general rant was "The Sox aren't playing well, are they underperforming? No. They let two of their top pitchers get away, and 3/5 of their starting rotation is new. Maybe Theo isn't so smart after all, blah blah blah."

Yes, I will concede that the Sox let one great and one good pitcher go. But lost in the need to make that tired point is the fact that they actually replaced them with the pitcher who has been their best this year (Clement) and two guys who have had some bad starts, but have been good overall (Wells and Miller).

Turns out that because of injuries, the 3 new Sox have basically pitched 8 more innings that Pedro and Lowe. After you adjust for that, looking at Value Over Replacement Players, long story short the Sox could have saved about 15 more runs this year if they had Pedro and Lowe instead of the newcomers. With the Sox offense, that is worth about 1.4 wins to this point this year.

So Rome is either saying that giving up 1.4 wins from your starting rotation in order to save millions of dollars that allows for other signings (including resigning Varitek, arguably the team MVP right now) makes Theo a failure, or he is blaming him for Schilling's injury. Either way, as fun as it is to look at Pedro and think what might have been, it is not as if he was replaced with Danny Darwin or Matt Young.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Some Praise

Sporting Goods

To prove that I'm not all about whining and moaning, at least not completely, I'm going to point the sport lovers out there to the best daily site on the Web, Buster Olney's daily Weblog. Buster is ESPN's best writer and he's at it every day. Every day he gives a short article about some topic of interest. Next he summarizes the games from the day before, with links to articles of interest. Awesome.

UPDATE:I didn't even realize that it was for ESPN Insider Members only. Sorry.

Sorry for obsessing

Manifesto

I've been ignoring and ignoring this, but it is just too much. CNN has again been obsessed with another missing pretty white girl. I feel nothing but sadness for her family's loss, but there is really no justification for this being a headline. This happened in Aruba, which negates any "showing her picture might lead to her discovery faster" excuse. So what is it CNN, what's the story here? Oh, right, as Kevin Drum and Monocle point out
cable news employee who was willing to state the obvious on an anonymous basis, "We showcase missing, young, white, attractive women because our research shows we get more viewers. It's about beating the competition and ad dollars."
I would comment but Sergio asked me to keep this a family blog. Plus, I've been so busy at work I haven't been able to read MSNBC's groundbreaking coverage of the Jackson verdict, his career prospects, and his possible move to Europe.

Here you go CNN, since it is your goal to become the new America's Most Wanted. Why don't you help the FBI find all of these poor people.

A Better Batman

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Roger Ebert has given Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins four stars. It opens tomorrow. This is probably the summer movie I am most looking forward to, just ahead of Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

So Bad It's Good

SPORTING GOODS

So I was trying to think of a good way to point out how amazingly stupid the 5 year, $40m extension of Jimmy Rollins was, and therefore how amazingly great it was for the Mets, but did not have the time, so I will let Hardball Times do it for me.

He has a .731 career OPS, compared to his league average of .774, and -20 RCAA (runs created above average) in 698 games.

Rollins has led the NL in outs twice, finished 2nd another year, has a perfect record of being in the top 6 in the league in each of the 4 years he's been a starter and is 2nd in 2005. He has the 9th worst OBA in the majors since he became a starter in 2001 (min: 2500 PA)

Robo-Umps

SPORTING GOODS

Here's an article about how FIFA is debating whether or not to put microchips inside of soccer balls to confirm whether or not the ball crosses the goal line in the upcoming World Cup.

Assuming the technology works, this could lead to any number of innovations for other sports. As a baseball fan first and foremost, I can't help wonder if this could be used to create the first truly accurate umpire, at least as far as balls and strikes are concerned.

I know purists will probably hate it, and guys like Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux will be forced to retire, but would it really be all that bad if a game were better called by a computer than a umpire? I'm not saying put a machine behind the plate. An umpire would still control the game, instead he would relay the ball/strike calls from the computer.

And think of the statistical information that could be gathered if each ball were outfitted with a chip. You would be able to determine truly accurate readings for pitch velocity, home-run distances, and the torque on Pedro's curveball. You would know how long a line drive was in the air, how far it traveled, and how far an outfielder had to run to catch it thereby creating a real, usable defensive statistic. Of course, my idea would probably be prohibitavely expensive given how many balls are used each game but this is mostly just speculation anyway.

So let's hear it Chill, Darlucky and the rest of you. I know you probably hate this. Gimme your worst.

How do you spell lame?

Sporting Goods

F-I-S-K P-O-L-E. So the Red Sox, who for the last couple of years have been the franchise that I've admired the most, mostly because they make good roster moves, have been treating their fans right, and never would have traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano (I'll be 80, watching every Met game, and I still don't think I'll forget this). But now the Sox have done something that I think is completely foolish. They've gone and named the left field foul pole the Fisk Pole, after Carlton Fisk and his Game 6, 1975 heroics. This is dumb.

Fisk and the memory of him are great enough that no Sox fan is ever going to forget it, even the little ones too young to have seen it. That moment will forever be replayed, discussed, memorialized, etc. It doesn't need the imprimitur of "Red Sox" officials to continue as a great moment. Look, the Sox have a great thing at Fenway, and they have the Pesky pole down the right field foul line, which, last time I checked, was an unofficial name given by players and fans a long time ago that has stuck around. What's next the Wade Boggs Green Monster or the Jason Varitek memorial on-deck circle. People, we need to stop naming things by edict. It organically became the Pesky Pole, it organically became the Green Monster. I would imagine that if those names were created during a special ceremony held before a game, nobody would ever use them. Just like nobody is ever going to call the foul pole, the Fisk Pole.

I know there are real Sox fans, not just Met fans who watched every game for three years while living in Beantown (I'm pretty sure this wasn't a nickname created by city officials, unlike The City that Reads, which was once the governmentally chosen nickname for Charm City, Baltimore), let me know if I'm completely misreading how most Sox fans feel about this.

I'm now going to go back to eating my Freedom Toast. (What?!!)

UPDATE: After posting I decided to check the Sox Blog that DarLucky so nicely linked to on the right side of this blog. Apparently I'm not misreading the feelings of Sox Fans. See here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Punch those cards

Sporting Goods

OK, had a quick look at Win Shares, and here is the update on who might be worth throwing a vote to for the MLB All-Star game.

American League:
Infield: Jason Varitek, Richie Sexson, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez
Backups: Joe Mauer, Mark Texeira, Chone Figgins, Julio Lugo, Melvin Mora
Outfield: Gary Sheffield, Johnny Damon, Aaron Rowand
Backups: Garret Anderson, Ichiro!, Trot Nixon
DH: David Ortiz

Having a look at this team, the entire AL East is accounted for once you make Roy Halladay the starter, so you would need to find only representatives from the Indians, Royals, Tigers, and A's. Throw Coco Crisp, Brandon Inge, Mike Sweeney, and Huston Street on the team, and you've got yourself 9 more slots to build a pitching rotation from, grabbing an extra catcher along the way, while having all of the teams represented. Huston Street, 2005 AL all-star!

National League:
Infield: Johnny Estrada, Derrick Lee, Jeff Kent, David Eckstein, David Wright
Backups: Michael Barrett, Albert Pujols, Craig Counsell, Alex Gonzalez, Rob Mackowiak
Outfield: Bobby Abreu, Brian Giles, Luis Gonzalez
Backups: Jim Edmonds, Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee

First of all, I can't believe Eckstein is the MVSS right now in the NL, but who challenges him, Jimmy Rollins? Alex Gonzalez? Furcal stinks these days. And I was pretty excited to see David Wright there.

Nick Johnson gets the shaft playing at the same position as Pujols and Lee, as he is having a great year, but I'm sure they can slot him in easily since the DH will be in play. Add him, Roger Clemens as your starting pitcher, and the balance of the players above means you only need to find some clown from the Rockies (Brian Fuentes) and you can actually take the best players without worrying about leaving a team out.

Not like that any of that will happen, as we will clearly get guys like Piazza and maybe even Griffey on the team, but a stat nerd can dream can't he?

The Clam Castle?

Whatever

In a discussion of the Red Tide that is ruining this summer's harvest of clams in New England, the NY Times mentions Madison's "The Clam Castle". After years of buying into the dominance of "The Fish Tale", I'm now going to have to go back and try the clams at "The Clam Castle." I haven't been there since I was 7. If they are better I am going to be bitterly disappointed after having ignored the place for all these years.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Failure of the American Media

Manifesto

I've ranted and raved about the failure of the American media to actually report on anything of substance. I was quick to point to the appalling coverage of the missing white woman and the lack of coverage of Downing Street memo. Others have spoken on the issue far more eloquently than I. But I never really had a reason for it. I thought it was simply because the media is obsessed with ratings rather than news, that the media thinks that it is an organic entity, ignoring the fact that it plays a role in creating the news itself, and therefore what people know and want to hear more about. But after reading this story, I realize that a large part of the problem is that the reporters are simply people who are completely out of touch.

Now you probably wonder how a simple story about the departure of one CNN anchor and the announcement of his replacement could be evidence of the destruction of our media. You have to read deep into the story, to here:
For his June 20 debut on "American Morning," O'Brien -- Miles, that is -- is moving from Atlanta to New York City. He told The TV Column that he's already gotten his kids into schools in New York, "which was a tough hurdle," and they're now "doing the real estate thing," which he called "sobering." He cheerfully predicted he and his family will "wind up living in a refrigerator box under the George Washington Bridge.

"The car service will come pick me up there."
Are you f$#!ing kidding me. He can't find a good apartment in NYC so he is going to live under the bridge. Get it. Luckily CNN is going to send a car for him every morning to take him to work. Whew, I feel really sorry for this clown. Listen, CNN anchor guy, you make money, can afford an apartment in NYC, and have a car service picking you up in the morning. For the love of god, shut the f#$! up. It is no wonder that while I sit here watching the NBC nightly news I'm seeing stories about doggie spas. It is investigative reporting that shows what these as#@!les really care about, and want to know about. These people are using their jobs to investigate how to make their own lives more comfortable. Screw those who can't even afford a pet, let alone doggie spas, or those who can't even find a job. F#$! these people. (Oh wait, now NBC is running a story on super rich Russians. Sorry got to go. It isn't like there is a war going on.)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Crazy Like a Fox

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I've been avoiding any discussion of the crazy antics of newly-in love Tom Cruise and the hits his reputation has taken as a result. But here's the latest buzz on his mega-blockbuster War of the Worlds, from Jeffrey Wells' "Wired Column":
Yesterday's tracking figures on War of the Worlds (Paramount, 6.29) are through the roof -- awareness is over 90% and definite interest is over 50%. For a movie that's two and a half weeks from opening, this indicates something really big about to happen. This is almost Star Wars-level. Who knows? The Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise collaboration could do $90 to $100 million in five days time.
So get ready to eat crow, Hollywood. Cruise is about to have his first bajillion dollar-grossing movie in a while. Yeah, he's crazy all right.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bobby and Whitney

whatever

Ahh, this generation's Bogart and Bacall or Hepburn and Tracy. Check out this video.

P.S. - Thanks to S.A. for the link.

Widescreen Conan

Universal Remote

For the first time in months I turned on my old favorite show on TV, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the other night. And I noticed something odd. It was letterboxed. Now I love this. I can't wait to get my widescreen HDTV and be ready to enjoy seeing the seams on a baseball as it travels to home plate, but Conan in widescreen seems a little odd. To be fair it looked cinematic and gave the show a different feeling, but it was one that I wasn't used to. Does anybody know when this happened? I guess Conan just doesn't strike me as a show that even the most die-hard widescreen addicts would clamor for in widescreen. But maybe Conan is just getting the jump on everybody. He is the most innovative voice in late night, right there with Jon Stewart.

Yes, I Have a Question For You

Sporting Goods

Willie, Willie, Willie. After last night's frustrating loss, I am finally beginning to feel some of Chill's oft-mentioned frustration (here, here, here, here, and here) with Met manager Willie Randolph. I can forgive the crazy double-switches because Willie is an AL guy who is too eager to show he can play the NL game. It's his misplaced faith in his unproven players that drives me nuts, especially his pitchers.

Last night he used Heath Bell in the 11th who immediately lost the game by giving up hits to four of the five batters he faced which resulted in three runs. It wasn't until the damage was done that Willie brought in Aaron Heilman, who is fast becoming the Mets' best reliever (and hasn't given up a run in 9 2/3 innings since switching to the bullpen).

Willie seems to look at his players the opposite of the way I do (and I think most fans too). He starts out by having absolute faith in some of the more unproven players rather than having them earn his faith through performance. Only through repeated failure do they lose his faith. Players like Mike DeJean, Heath Bell, Victor Zambrano, Kaz Ishii, Dae Sung Koo, and Kaz Matsui may appreciate Willie's confidence, but as a fan it drives me bonkers. These guys have shown nothing all season but Willie keeps trotting them out there in big spots where they seems to repeatedly fail to do the job. And waiting in the wings are players like Aaron Heilman, Royce Ring, Miguel Cairo, and Jae Seo who are waiting for Willie to have faith in them. C'mon Willie, make them earn it. The NL East is too close this year to be giving away games like last night.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Dum-da dum DUMB

Sporting Goods

So can someone explain to me what qualifications Steve Phillips has to be an ESPN contributor? Yes he worked for a major league organization, but he was fired for incompetence, and not hired by anyone else.

It certainly isn't for his analytic or writing talent. Have a look at his latest if you haven't already, although you need an Insider password to read the whole embarassing thing.

He actually takes something that I would consider to be an interesting idea, and makes you question it all along the way. In his draft of all players, he smartly takes A-Rod, Pujols, Tejada, Santana 1 through 4.

But Pedro #5? Chipper Jones #9? Over Carlos Beltran (20)?
He'd pick a closer (Lidge, Gagne) over players like Beltran and Ichiro?
I really can't rationally discuss this, so thought I would point it out for other people to shake their head as they read through it.

The fog of war

MANIFESTO


We hear the US casualties, but not nearly as many stories about how awful it must be to be an Iraqi. After I read these stories, I wonder if I can even imagine. My version of something awful pales in comparison. Today there is an incredibly sad, but very compelling story on CNN about an Iraqi citizen who lost everything when he and his family drove out of Nasiriya in a sandstorm to get away from the chaos. He lost his four children and he and his wife were badly injured (he lost his leg). They are in the US now on a temporary visa, but while his story is beyond sad, he is not angry at Americans. He sees himself as one of many sad stories and just wants to start over. He says:

"There is many people, many families like my situation, really. And this need help and support and stand with them, not leave them with no asking, nothing. This is not, not, not a way to live, not a way to understand each other," he says.

That kind of perspective after so much loss is unreal to me. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The worst vacation I never went on

WHATEVER


Well, since you didn't reserve your space you've missed the chance to go on the Family Values cruise with Bill O'Reilly. It was cancelled and surprisingly enough, it was for lack of interest. Now, I can't imagine a worse vacation, but I would have thought those right-wing midwesterners would have been lined up in their track suits to nod enthusiastically while eating the buffet. So glad I'm wrong. Guess I'm just a stuck up Yank.

Pity the Interns

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

From Gawker:
(20th Century Fox is) calling everyone named “Smith” in the New York phone book and offering them free passes to a screening of Mr. & Mrs. Smith tomorrow night. This is kind of a weird, desperate promotional outreach effort — and I pity the two dozen interns who have doubtless been sent on this Oskar Blum-like quest.
I humbly agree with Defamer that whoever thought of this idea should get a promotion.

Who else?

Sporting Goods

W, 9 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 12 K, 2.45 ERA, .67 WHIP.

I was stuck at work so I had to listen to the game on the radio. From three years of living in Boston and now with Pedro following me to NY, I realized that there are at least three different Pedros.

First, there is blow em away with fastball Pedro. We don't see him that much anymore, but still occasionally.

Second, there is change-up, change of speed Pedro. He's the usual Pedro now.

Finally, there is curveball Pedro. The most rare Pedro and my favorite. All he does is throw breaking stuff. The curveball is my favorite pitch. There is no other pitch that makes hitters appear more ridiculous but that has such a small margin for error. Apparently last night was curveball Pedro. And if it weren't for a couple of hangers in the 7th inning, Pedro and the Mets would have their first no-hitter, respectively. I'm disappointed that I missed it.

STAT OF THE DAY

From ESPN BBTN:

• Opponents are hitting .151 against Pedro Martinez this season.

The only pitcher with a lower opponents batting average in his first 12 starts, since 1920, is Bob Turley for the 1955 Yankees (.147).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Graves Situation

Sporting Goods

The Mets have signed Danny Graves. Considering he will make the pro-rated minimum, and then will require a buy-out next year (unless the Mets decide he's somehow worth $5m), it will cost them about $600,000 for his services for the rest of the year.

Considering the Mets bullpen, and their refusal to utilize good young arms, I say it's a good investment. Teams have invested $600 g's on much bigger risks.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Potter Robber

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Here is a funny story for a couple of reasons. A couple of days ago, there was a shooting in England. It turns out two guys were trying to sell a stolen copy of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to a reporter from The Sun. If you don't know The Sun, it is one of Rupert Murdoch's totally trashy but completely readable tabloids. (Basically it's the British version of the New York Post. When B and I were last in London, it was a must-read every day, especially its infamous "Page 3" where they have a woman pose topless and give her opinions on current events.)

The funny part is not the shooting (in which no one was hurt), but rather the press release after. Details are sketchy, but somewhere in the middle of the transaction shots were fired and the police were called. The reporter and photographer from the paper immediately said they were simply trying had the "intention of obtaining the book so it could be returned to the publisher and the police could be informed."

Yeah, right. They had no intention to read the stolen book and publish an early review just to sell more newsapapers. I really hope the P.R. guy was winking at the end of that statement.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Double Switch Willie

Sporting Goods

Willie won't learn. Another 6th inning double-switch. Another colossal screw-up. Thanks, Willie. He might be great in the clubhouse but he is quite possibly the worst in-game manager in the major leagues.

Condensed movie review

Universal Remote

Team America: World Police is crap. You almost can't believe that the same guys who made the unforgettably funny and creative South Park Movie made this turd. Miserable. Avoid at all costs.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Shuffle it up

whatever

Let's see what iTunes likes today:

1. Pony - Tom Waits
2. Overprotected - Britney Spears
3. Here Comes My Girl - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
4. O.J. and the O'Jays - Chris Rock
5. Poor Lil Rich - 50 Cent
6. S.O.U.L - Slum Village
7. Bring on the Day - Charlotte Martin
8. Video - Ben Folds
9. Duck Down! - The Roots
10. Patterns - Simon & Garfunkel

This is what happens when you incorporate entire libraries into your cd collection. This is the exact opposite of sudsy. I will now light myself on fire.

New Get Your War On

manifesto

B gave me the job to inform all when Get Your War On is updated. I've now completed my task. Now I will read it for myself.

UPDATE (1:30): One of the weaker efforts but still worth a quick read.

More Pedro

sporting goods

I know, I know, you must be pretty sick of me putting up a post about Pedro after every start, but he did it again.

Quite simply, Pedro is going to get me fired. For most Mets games, I listen to them on the radio from work and, if I get lucky, listen to the rest of the game while I walk the mile home. But when Pedro pitches, I'm drawn out the door early. I find that I need to see what is going to happen. Because it isn't just Pedro, who is simply a joy to watch, but the whole Mets team plays better, on offense, defense, all over the field. They play like they are contenders. Mets fans haven't had that feeling for a while. I'm glad we get to enjoy it every 5 or 6 days.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ring Him Up!

SPORTING GOODS

Just heard that horrible Met lefty Dae Sung Koo has been put on the DL with a contusion to his left shoulder. Rookie Royce Ring has been freed from AAA. This must be music to Chill's ears.

UPDATE by Chill:Thank the dear sweet baseball gods. Apparently Koo claims he was injured sliding into home against the Yankees in his last good outing, so he was playing hurt for the last two weeks. Either this is an example of one of the cultural gaps that exists in MLB today, or coming up with lame excuses for poor performance is a global phenomenon. I'm going with the latter.

Top 50 Things a Foodie Must Do

FOOD FIGHT

I kind of hate the term "foodie", but sometimes you must. It's all together too common and if you dance around it with other descriptions, everyone is just thinking "foodie" anyway. But, I do love reading the Guardian. I must have missed this one, so I was thrilled to find their list of the Top 50 Things Every Foodie Must Do. They surveyed chefs to get their "before you die" wish list. I'm on board with eating at French Laundry, shucking an oyster, picking your own fruits/veggies, eating ice cream in Sicily. I'm skeptical of eating cheese flavored chocolates or going all the way to Hong Kong to "take a pee at Felix's" in the Penninsula Hotel. And there are many more I need to do: eat a hot dog in Coney Island, make love on a vineyard (a French one no less, but being French this is probably OK), boil a newly laid egg, and the list goes on. I have my work cut out for me. Some tidbits you might enjoy:
13) Learn how to make a dry martini
Mr. Durack says the perfect ratio is six parts gin to one part vermouth. He's right of course. He says that you pour the gin and vermouth over ice in a chilled shaker, then mix and strain quickly into a chilled martini glass. There are more rules too: any more vermouth and it's a mixed drink. Any less and it's a shot. Anything more than a green olive or a twist of lemon and it's a salad.
One of my favorites in the city for sentimental reasons and because it's just so good, but this description is spot on:
28) Dine at Jean Georges in New York City.
This place was on several people's wish lists. I must admit I found it difficult to keep my face straight at some of the pretensions of this world-famous and currently fashionable restaurant. Perhaps it was the white-gloved waitress with her trolley of warm marshmallows which she then proceeded to cut into cubes with grape scissors. Or was it the small matter of telling me I was unsuitably attired when sitting opposite me was a couple snogging so energetically I half expected a waiter to bring them a condom on a silver tray. Still, it would take more than that to distract anyone from the sublime cooking, be it sea bass with enoki mushrooms and star anise, or the heavenly chocolate dessert plate.

Appoggiatura

SPORTING GOODS

That was the winning word in this year's National Spelling Bee. It means "an embellishing note, usually one step above or below the note it precedes and indicated by a small note or special sign." I haven't seen the footage yet but I can imagine it. Little kid with skinny arms and glasses knowing stuff no one should know. Always hilarious. If you like this stuff and you've never seen Spellbound, I highly recommed renting it this weekend.

Also, has anyone else seen the ads for this on ESPN? The way they get the kids to spell "P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E" and "E-S-P-N!" is brilliant. As an editor, I can only imagine how many versions they must have gone through until the found the perfect kid to say each letter.

Ringing True

UNVERSAL REMOTE

Ron Howard's Cinderella Man is unquestionably a well-made, well-acted movie that pulls your heart strings and leaves you feeling like a champ. I'm certain the reviews will be very good. But more importantly for the filmmakers, the word-of-mouth is going to be through the roof. People like my parents are going to be climbing over each other to see it. By being a miraculous true story, it gets to have its big uplifting finale without having to feel guilty about it. It literally gets to have its cake and eat it too.

That being said, I predict it will be overrated. It is very good, yes, but something's missing. Somehow Howard and Co. managed to make a movie about a boxer during the Great Ddepression that has little or no conflict in it. James J. Braddock was a nice guy with a nice wife and nice kids. Oh yeah, they're mostly unemployed and have trouble scraping up enough for the electric bill, but after Braddock starts his comeback, that's pretty much pushed aside. I'm not saying I wanted Russell Crowe to turn Braddock into a Raging Bull because clearly the real man was nothing of the sort. He was like everyone else which is why everyone loved him so. But I do think they should have done a better job of portraying the Great Depression. If that isn't something rife with conflict, I don't know what is.

The early parts of the film that deal with his family's financial plight are a good place to start. There is a scene where Braddock is literally counting loose change trying to get enough to pay the bills but coming up about thirty bucks short. When he is later offered $250 to fight as a heavy underdog on a day's notice with no training, I was thrilled for him because I knew it would enable him to pay his bills for a few months assuming he wasn't killed in the ring. This is great storytelling because it makes him earning money for his family suspenseful. After that, with the comeback in full swing, the money aspect of the film is completely dropped.

The Great Depression is an era I know precious little about. Unfortunately, Cinderella Man does little to show how bad it was for so many people. There is one short scene set in the Hoovervilles of Central Park, but there is nothing about the soup and bread lines, nor is it explained how people qualified for public assistance and whether it is enough to live on. I was hoping to walk away knowing more about the era than I did entering the theater. Apollo 13, Howard's best film, is a movie that perfectly integrates history with drama. But I think Howard is too much of a populist to make a movie about the Depression truly depressing, if only for a few minutes.

That being said, the movie does work. Crowe gives another terrific performance, smiling more than I remember him doing in the past. As his trainer, Paul Giamatti is brilliant yet again. (Anthony Lane of The New Yorker hits the nail on the head when he says "there is no plummer part than a boxing coach.") The footwork Giamatti uses to steal every scene should be studied by real fighters. He and Crowe are so good you are almost tricked into believing the movie is as good as you want it to be. Renee Zellweger is fine in an underwritten role and I'm sure all three will be nominated for Oscars along with the film. (If that is true, I'll have to rename my annual Paul Giamatti Award for best performance by an actor that was screwed by the Academy. Then again, Giamatti's particular gift in getting the shaft should not be underestimated.) Craig Bierko is also especially good as champion Max Baer. You can absolutely see why people were afraid for Braddock's life. He has a scene with Crowe the night before the big fight that is great.

I really do think anyone reading this should see the movie. I know it sounds like I have nothing but criticisms for the movie, but in fact, my criticisms exist simply because I admire the filmmakers' past work so much. Howard has always been a bit of an underrated director. The beforementioned Apollo 13 is a truly great film, and A Beautiful Mind, Ransom, The Paper, Backdraft, and Cocoon are still movies that I'll watch whenever I catch them on TV. And Crowe is truly a force to be reckoned with. If he were a slugger, I would say he is in his prime. Enjoy his work as long as you can before he makes too many movies and starts to become familiar. It happens to everybody.

"I Have To Do This My Way"

MANIFESTO

Unless something unexpected happens, this will be my last DeepThroat/Mark Felt posting for a while. For those still interested in this most interesting of stories, Bob Woodward has written a terrific, albeit short, account of how his relationship with Felt developed. Obviously the whole thing will come out in his book (which I read somewhere is already written and being rushed to print) but for now, this is engrossing stuff. I've already pulled my old laserdisc of All the President's Men out for a weekend viewing. Let's just hope when the inevitable Deep Throat movie comes out, it is done with half as much skill.

Nixon Hagiography

Manifesto

Josh Marshall over at TPM has picked up on Sergio's point about the various Nixon cronies attacking Felt, while the D.C. media ignores their larger crimes and transgressions. But remember, not only did you hear it here first, but Sergio predicted it would happen before it did. Now that's something.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Interesting news

manifesto

Lots of interesting news today and different things on my mind, but I have to keep this short. Most interesting to me is the exhumation of the body of Emmitt Till. For those who don't know (and spelled out in more detail in the linked story), in 1955, 14 year old Emmitt Till was abducted and slaughtered by at least two men for allegedly whistling at a white woman. 60 Minutes recently ran a fascinating story looking into potential co-conspirators.

But what is really of interest to me today is the language used in the Associated Press article discussing Till's funeral:
Till's mother insisted that her son's body be displayed in an open casket at his funeral, forcing the nation to see the brutality directed at blacks in the South at the time. The slaying helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
I'm probably overreacting but the first sentence here seems to imply that Till's mother did something wrong or improper by "insisting" and "forcing the nation to see the brutality." In reality, Till's murder displayed the brutality of segregation to the county that had simply ignored it for too long.

This is where language gets tricky. To me, the AP article adds an implied indictment of a woman who did the right thing, condemning her for displaying her son's brutalized body for "political" purposes. It seems similar to what Sergio has been tracking, those who point out the impropriety with which Deep Throat acted, while ignoring the far greater and more damaging lawlessness that Deep Throat exposed, or similarly, those who call the media traitors for reporting on human rights violations being committed by small segments of our troops and their leadership while ignoring the indescribable and intangible harm actually being created by these violations.

I might be overreacting, and probably am, but I find this troubling because all three of these situations seem to be perfect examples of people doing what needed to be done for the greater good.

Enemies List

MANIFESTO

From today's Times:

Patrick J. Buchanan--Nixon Speechwriter and adviser, now a conservative commentator:

"I've always thought it was Mark Felt. I've told people that privately for a number of years. But I have not mentioned it publicly because I think Deep Throat is a dishonorable man."

"I think Mark Felt behaved treacherously. I'm unable to see the nobility of the enterprise, sneaking around in garages, moving pots around, handing over material he got in the course of the investigation."

Charles W. Colson--Special counsel to Nixon who served seven months in prison, now running Prison Fellowship Ministries, a Christian evangelical group that works with inmates:

"I am really shocked" about Mr. Felt's role. "I always thought that he was the consummate professional, very upright, everybody's vision of the F.B.I. guy.

"I can understand that he may have had some moral reservations about what was happening, but the right way to do it is to look the president in the eye and tell him, it isn't to go sneaking around dark alleys and talking to reporters. If the president had blown him off, he could have held a press conference and announced what he had done and he would have been a hero."

Notice Buchanan's choice of words. He makes "sneaking around in garages" sound like Felt and Woodward were up to something deviant. We all know how important language is to conservatives, the way they use ever so subtle choices of vocabulary to promote or oppose stances and beliefs. Expect to hear more of this sort of talk from neo-con commentators.

Ever since I saw the 1992 CBS documentary I wrote about yesterday, I've actually sort of respected Colson. He was upfront and took responsibility for his actions. His work post-Nixon also shows he someone perhaps trying to make amends. For a top political advisor though, his comments today seem hopelessly naive. The idea Nixon would have done anything other than fire Felt and try to suppress his investigation is absurd.

As partisan as I sound here, I also like to believe that, at least for me, this is not a partisan issue. As an avowed Democrat and Progressive, I believe Lyndon Johnson's decisions regarding Vietnam, for all the good he did for this country domestically (especially with integration), were disasterous and much of his 6 years were a blight on his party and our shared history as a country.

So it is not gloating when I call Nixon a crook. No worse than that, he was the head of a criminal enterprise determined to subvert the laws of the land for political and personal gain. He and his men invented "dirty tricks." They were not playing pranks. They would ruin lives and careers without hesitation if you were in their way. Their actions during the Democratic primaries deprived the American people of a choice in the national election. Nixon's defenders use terms like "honor" as if the man was honorable himself. Towards the end, when the Special Prosecutor got to close to the truth, he had him fired. (But not before the Attorney General and his successor both refused and were fired or forced to resign. These were men of honor.) I want to hear a Republican of some stature, a McCain or a Giuliani or, God help us, someone from the current Administration stand up for Felt and against Nixon and his cronies. It is hard to believe that this country is so partisan that even Nixon is still protected by the same party he betrayed.