This blog is about politics, sports, entertainment, current events, religion and much more.

Stephen Silver is a professional journalist who lives and works in the New York area. He has operated this blog since May 8, 2002.





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The 2004 Oscar Diary (BlogCritics, 3/1/'04)

ESPN's "Dream Job" review (The Black Table, 2/24/'04)

Godwin's Law is Under Attack! (Blogcritics, 1/30/'04)

Frankenbook: Al Franken on the Lying Liars (Blogcritics, 11/25/'03)

Layla Dirty Blond Ale: the Jewish Beer (The Blueprint, 9/'03)

Regime Change at "The West Wing" (Blogcritics, 9/25/'03)

Best Best Village Voice Full Split (New York Press, 9/23/'03)

Best Bar With No Integrity (New York Press, 9/23/'03)

Pete Rose: A Fisking (Blogcritics, 9/9/'03)

The Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of the Day (Blogcritics, 8/18/'03)

Bubble Durst (New York Press Daily Billboard, 8/1/'03)

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful- Okay Fine, Hate Me (New York Press Daily Billboard, 7/11/'03)

The Strib Circles the Wagons (New York Press Daily Billboard, 6/12/'03)

Books About Bias (Blogcritics, 5/14/'03)

Talkin' Smack (New York Press Daily Billboard, 5/13/'03)

The Lovely Miss Elizabeth, RIP (New York Press Daily Billboard, 5/6/'03)

Greed is Creed (New York Press Daily Billboard, 4/25/'03)

People Who Don't Need 'You People' (New York Press Daily Billboard, 4/11/'03)

Brandeis Jihad (New York Press Daily Billboard, 4/2/'03)

The Rush to War that Should've Been (Blogcritics, 3/13/'03)

What's The Frequency? Jewish Radio in New York City (The Blueprint, 2/27/'03)

On Sopranos IV: The Whack Mentality (Blogcritics, 12/10/'02)

Election 2002: A Postmortem (Blogcritics, 11/06/'02)

"The West Wing" Heads South (Blogcritics, 9/27/'02)

Weezer, the Muppets, and Interspecies Sexuality (Blogcritics, 9/25/'02)

Hoboken: Home of Baseball (, 8/14/'01)


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Stephen Silver
Sunday, March 14, 2004  
THAT'S ALL, FOLKS: After two years blogging here, it is with semi-mixed emotions that I report that this will be my final post here on Blogspot, and that starting today I will be writing from my own Movable Type-powered, Hosting Matters-hosted blog at The new blog will enable easier browsing, searching, and linking, not to mention an easier-to-remember name. This blog will remain online for the foreseeable future for both backup and nostalgia purposes.
Special thanks to Joe over at Short Strange Trip for helping to get me set up at the new place, and thanks to all of you who've been reading this for the last two years.

2:43 PM

NEWS ITEM: Kurt Cobain wanted to quit Nirvana and join Hole. That would be like if John Lennon quit the Beatles, made music only with Yoko, and then died an untimely death. Oh wait, bad example.
5:20 AM

Friday, March 12, 2004  


1. “The White Album,” The Beatles, 1968
2. “The Black Album,” Metallica, 1991
3. “The Blue Album,” Weezer, 1994
4. “The Black Album,” Jay-Z, 2003
5. “The Grey Album,” DJ Danger Mouse, 2004
6. “The Green Album,” Weezer, 2001
7. “The Wedding Album,” Duran Duran, 1995
8. “The Yellow Album,” “The Simpsons,” 1998
9. “The Brown Album,” Primus, 1994
10. “Steal This Album,” System of a Down, 2003


1. “The Rain Song,” Led Zeppelin
2. “Redemption Song,” Bob Marley
3. “Your Song,” Elton John
4. “Silly Love Songs,” Paul McCartney
5. “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” Rupert Holmes
6. “Love Song,” Tesla
7. “LoveSong,” The Cure
8. “Undone (The Sweater Song),” Weezer
9. “One Song Glory,” “Rent”
10. “The Thong Song,” Sisqo


1. “Songs in the Key of Life,” Stevie Wonder

5:54 PM


Ben Affleck, on the cover of Rolling Stone, to talk about his barely-at-30 midlife crisis. I’ve said it before, but if one of the two of them had to kill his wife/girlfriend, why did it have to be Scott?

5:51 PM

SIGNIFICANTLY AWFUL: Significant Others, the new marriage-counseling sitcom that debuted on Bravo last week, has been getting rave reviews, but I don’t get why- I thought the premiere was overly smarmy, and not particularly funny. It also didn’t help that a central joke of the first episode- a guy gets angry when he finds out his wife/girlfriend has had sex with a comically large number of men- was lifted from a ten-year-old movie, “Clerks.” And what happened to the black couple from the commercials?
It seems to me that “Significant Others” is the show for people who have missed television about whining yuppies for the 12 years since “Thirtysomething” was canceled.

5:50 PM

I LOVE “WILL & GRACE,” BUT…”: Last night’s episode was funny, especially Edie Falco’s guest turn as a sharky lesbian real estate agent. But one thing I couldn’t help noticing: from the guest spot by Chloe Sevigny to the reference to the Lindsay Lohan/Hilary Duff feud, half the jokes would have been completely lost on anyone who isn’t a daily reader of Gawker and/or Page Six. Stay tuned for next week, when Jack and Karen make fun of Tina Brown.
5:48 PM

SILVER AND GOLD: From, where I review movies, I learn of an upcoming British film called “Suzie Gold,” in which the titular character (played by Summer Phoenix) is a “Jewish princess” from London who ultimately meets Mister Right: a guy named Anthony Silver. The film, described by IO’s reviewer as “Bridget Jones' Big Fat Jewish Wedding And A Funeral,” which would be accurate except that Summer Phoenix is even thinner than Thin Renee Zellweger, nevermind Renee-as-Bridget. There’s no American release date scheduled yet, but I might have to see the film just so I can experience a movie hero named Silver.
5:47 PM

Thursday, March 11, 2004  
ARE WE SAFE WITH KERRY?: That’s the subject of my latest Detroit News blog.
6:08 PM

FEHR EATS THE SOUL: I don’t really have much to say about yesterday’s steroids-in-baseball hearings before the Senate; I only followed the news coverage to see if Bud Selig actually would be willing to lie to Congress again- if the proliferation of steroids in the game turns out to be Bud’s primary legacy as commisioner, that is quite a major silver lining. There was also testimony by players association head Donald Fehr, father of my college roommate, who gave an unconvincing libertarian defense, and was justifiably grilled by the much more admirable John McCain.
(The New York Post ran a “Fehr Strikes Out” headline, so I thought I’d throw in a gratuitous Fassbinder reference just to keep up with them. It was either that, or "Fehr and Loathing.")
Meanwhile, the Daily Quickie’s Dan Shanoff rips Reggie Jackson, calling him a “jackass,” for declaring that “somebody is definitely guilty of taking steroids.” Umm, after last year’s publicly released test results, which confirmed that more than 5% of MLB players tested positive, isn’t it true that somebody is definitely guilty? I like Shanoff, but his tendency to shill for ESPN programming (i.e., all the pro-“Playmakers” and “Dream Job” stuff, and now their baseball broadcasts) is getting to be a bit much. At least there weren’t any “Minny” references today.

6:07 PM

30 MONTHS TO THE DAY AFTER 9/11: More terror, this time in Spain. Damn. Al-Qaeda is now claiming responsibility, and calls it “Operation Death Trains”- we all know the connotation that “death trains” has, especially in Europe.
6:04 PM

ESOTERIC WEBSITE OF THE DAY: The comically named but generally serious anti-outsourcing site
6:04 PM

GUERRILLA RADIO: The long-awaited “liberal radio network,” set to star Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and others is a go; Franken has named his show “The O’Franken Factor,” apparently deciding to define himself by Bill O’Reilly right off the bat, which can’t be a good idea.
The network will be called “Air America Radio”; ironic that, after weeks of furor over “Passion of the Christ,” the liberals would name their network after a Mel Gibson movie.

6:03 PM

Wednesday, March 10, 2004  
MUSIC CRITIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: "For future reference, here's one Hip Tip: Never trust musical advice from a queen insisting that more Sting in your record collection will get you laid" -Jimmy Draper, reviewing the "Queer Eye" soundtrack in the Village Voice. Not tantrically laid, anyway.
9:12 PM

“John Ashcroft terrorizes NYC doctors” (Village Voice, this week)
“John Ashcroft to undergo surgery” (AP, 3/9)

6:10 PM

ANOTHER JUSTICE SCANDAL: My old college paper, The Justice, just can’t seem to stay away from controversy this year. First there was the “rhymes with tigger” racial scandal that resulted in the resignations of seven editors (see my entire October archives for commentary), then the paper made news again in November when most of a press run was stolen by a student senator. Now, the same week of the release of Jayson Blair’s autobiography, we’ve got a plagiarism scandal.
Michael Camp, a freshman writer for the arts section (of which I was editor in 1999-2000), has confessed to fabricating all or part of seven pieces for the paper, including lifting of quotes and passages from movie reviews in the Boston Phoenix, as well as from The Justice itself. And while Blair and Stephen Glass each at least made cursory attempts to cover their tracks, Camp didn’t even bother- he reviewed a performance of the school’s Israeli dance troupe by merely cut-and-pasting the Justice piece about the same performance from the previous year, and somehow thought that no one would notice. Especially not the performers mentioned in the story and the author of the original piece. Just as Jayson Blair lifted a story from one of his former co-interns, Camp cribbed from a reporter, now a sophomore, who is still a Justice staffer. Ouch. Let’s hope this is seen as an isolated incident and doesn’t do anything else to further impugn the integrity of the paper. Meanwhile, in better ‘deis news:

WALTHAM’S GOT A WINNING TEAM: Brandeis actually won a rare sports championship, a conference title in womens’ basketball. Yay Judges. But in less happy news:

STUDENT DRESSED AS JESUS ASSAULTED: A Brandeis undergraduate showed up at a Purim party last week in costume as Jesus- complete with crucifix, fake blood, and “king of the box office” sign- and got into an altercation with another student. The student, who is Jewish, defended the decision, saying that he dresses up as a popular movie character every year for Purim (last year, he was Spider-man.)
Interestingly enough, the student who assaulted “Jesus” is the same guy who last year was impeached from the student senate for stealing 2,000 copies of The Justice. See, it all comes full circle!

6:09 PM

FILM CRITIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Expect historians to one day look back on the launching of Von Trier’s Dogme95 (the manifesto that brought filmmaking closer to amateur porn) and laugh. That overhyped, low-fi creed made it possible for naive film buffs to think that by trading celluloid for video they were welcoming the arrival of a great artistic millennium.” – Armond White, rightly trashing the vomit-inducing Danish film movement, in New York Press.
6:04 PM

TAI STREETS OF DETROIT: The exodus from the San Francisco 49ers continues, as wide receiver Tai Streets has signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions, a move that reunites him with former coach Steve Mariucci.
Paying homage to the ‘70s detective show that starred Karl Malden while also referencing Streets’ team, Chris Berman dubbed the player “Tai Streets of San Francisco.” Unfortunately there is no cultural significance to “Streets of Detroit,” (outside of “8 Mile,” that is), although Berman was undoubtedly rooting for Streets to sign with the Eagles, where he would have become “Tai Streets of Philadelphia.” Maybe next year.

6:03 PM

LESS FREE THAN I THOUGHT: My score on the Libertarian Purity Test is an abysmal 20 out of 100, putting me in the "soft-core libertarian" category. I always thought my social liberal/fiscal conservative ideology gave me libertarian leanings, but I guess not- after all, I would never be for the privatization of Central Park.
1:55 AM

Tuesday, March 09, 2004  
MORE NEW CONTENT: I make fun of Maureen Dowd's latest awful column, on The Black Table's Black List (10th item from the top).
6:13 PM

AND YOU THOUGHT JOHN HENRY WILLIAMS DESERVED DEATH: Lifelong terrorist Abu Abbas, who among other acts masterminded the 1985 hijacking of a cruise ship that killed American Leon Klinghoffer, has died in custody in Iraq. If you feel bad about this, there's something wrong with you.
6:08 PM

Monday, March 08, 2004  
JAY-Z'S NOT THE ONLY RAPPER IN THE BLUEPRINT: My interview with superstar Jewish rapper 50 Shekel is online at the Blueprint, so read it and then check out
9:00 PM

ONE MORE AC NOTE: At about 5:00 in the morning at in the poker room at Trump Taj Mahal, I saw a guy wearing an OJ Simpson Buffalo Bills throwback jersey. No, I'm not kidding. The only thing worse would've been a Pete Rose jersey in a sports book.
8:42 PM

THE RED AND THE BLUE: My latest Detroit News blog piece is up; this time I look at the inherent fallacies in the ever-present red state/blue state theory.
2:32 PM

THE RETURN OF THE AMAZIN', BARROOM-BRAWLING METS: The New York Mets’ new rightfield platoon of ex-Yankees Shane Spencer and Karim Garcia allegedly got into a scuffle with a pizza deliveryman outside a bar in Port St. Lucie last week. Apparently the two outfielders left a bar in the vicinity of the club’s spring training facility, and Garcia decided to make a “pit stop” and urinate in front of a pizzeria next to the bar where they had been drinking. The delivery guy working there took exception, and a brief fight ensued.
I must say, I’ve rarely seen the words “scuffle outside a bar” and “New York Mets” in the same sentence since the participants were Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Tim Teufel; the closest we’ve come lately was that relief pitcher a couple years ago who couldn’t handle smoking pot. While I certainly hope the pizza man is all right, kudos to Garcia and Spencer for paying tribute to the hellraisin', barfightin’, and public-pissin’ legacy of the ‘86 Mets.

UPDATE: And in other Florida spring training fisticuffs news, there was a near-fight outside of yesterday's Yankees-Red Sox exhibition between the Yankees' head of public relations and a Sox security guard- though it was not the same Sox security guard who fought with the aforementioned Karim Garcia during last year's playoffs.

2:29 PM

SOPRANOS V, EPISODE I: Very good first episode of the fifth season last night, bringing in just the right mix of “mob family” and “family family,” while also revisiting both the Russian-in-the-woods episode and the Tony-wants-Melfi bit, the latter of which has been essentially dormant since the first season.
For those of you who have never read my stuff during a “Sopranos” season (and considering how long it’s been, that’s quite a few of you), here’s my position on the show: I love it, I think it’s the best thing on TV since “Twin Peaks,” and while I agreed that the fourth season was uneven, it was still better than 99% of what was on television in 2002.
But most importantly, I don’t watch the show just for the violence, and I sort of resent those who think the show is only about the blood, and/or a huge guessing game over “who’s gonna get whacked.” I don’t appreciate when people denigrate this great show for “focusing too much on the women,” and I feel like slapping anyone who complains about the previous night’s episode because “nobody got killed.”
That out of the way, I’m about ready for Carl Showalter/Mr. Pink’s arrival in the Jersey Meadowlands next week, how about you?

2:25 PM

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Kucinich [in the presidential debate] went on to explain that ‘as president, I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO,’ a statement roughly akin to my declaring that, as power forward for the Boston Celtics, I will end the team’s 17-year championship drought.”- Peter Beinart, memorably trashing virtually delegate-less candidates Kucinich and Al Sharpton in TNR, before encouraging John Kerry to “marginalize and ignore them.”
Hey, Beinart’s got a better chance of being starting PF for the Celtics next year than Vin Baker does…

2:20 PM

SO LONG, DR. DAN: Dan Barreiro writes his final column for the Star Tribune today.
2:19 PM

REQUIEM FOR A PLAGIARIST: The same week that saw the release of Jayson Blair’s book (no, that disgrace to my profession will never get a link from me), another serial practitioner of journalistic misconduct is going back to work: Mike Barnicle, bounced from the Boston Globe six years ago after numerous questions were raised about his practice of making up sources and lifting jokes from George Carlin, has a new gig, writing a twice-weekly column for the rival Boston Herald. Barnicle has spent the last few years writing a sporadic column for the New York Daily News and, somewhat inexplicably, serving as Chris Matthews’ primary substitute on “Hardball.”
Boston media expect Dan Kennedy, who broke the story, has got more, including the very true observation that “the Herald could have hired Barnicle any time during the past five-plus years. It's just that, until now, the paper's standards were too high.”

2:18 PM

O'REILLY GOES NUTS, CONT'D: In an uncommonly intelligent column by Frank Rich over the weekend on 'Passion,' he says this:
Bill O'Reilly was not so circumspect when he returned to this same theme last week, asking an editor from Variety why Mr. Gibson has taken so much heat for his film. After beating around the burning bush for a while, Mr. O'Reilly said: "I'm asking this question respectfully. Is it because that the major media in Hollywood and a lot of the secular press is controlled by Jewish people?"

Did O'Reilly really just stoop to the old-school, "Jews control everything" anti-Semitism? Doesn't he know that the Jews-control-Hollywood canard hasn't been true since at least the mid-'60s? When he lumps Jews in with "secularists" (his new favorite target), not only is O'Reilly making an inherent contradiction (isn't Judaism a religion, and thus by its very nature not secular?) but he's buying into the classical, code-worded anti-Semitism favored by his friend Mel Gibson, in addition to being completely wrong.
And this guy thought Ludacris was offensive? I'm ready to start a boycott of my own, and I certainly hope O'Reilly burns for this.

12:38 AM

Sunday, March 07, 2004  
AC, BABY, AC!: I went to Atlantic City on Friday night for the first time in awhile, and it was a lot of fun. I won $125 playing blackjack at the Trump Taj Mahal, which has essentially been turned into a 10,000 square foot commercial for "The Apprentice," complete with the show playing on monitors and the waitresses serving bottles of Trump Ice.
My two friends and I had an "Insomniac with Dave Attell" kind of evening, if you know what I mean, and it had been way too long. A few observations I can share:
- I saw several things that should be addenda to Bill Simmons' landmark "how to spot casino trash" column: I played blackjack next to a kid who appeared to be about 17, and had braces. Against the FMA as I am, I would wholeheartedly back a constitutional amendment that would disqualify anyone with braces- and that includes Tom Cruise- from gambling in any American casino.
- At another blackjack table, the guy next to me repeatedly shouted "show me monkey!" every time he drew a face card and wanted the other card to be an ace. Don't ask.
- I think the world would be a better place if when you hand your chips in to be cashed, the cashier quoted "Casablanca" and replied "your winnings, sir" as he or she handed back the cash. Can someone get Trump on the phone and demand this?

7:51 PM

KARMA INDEED EXISTS I: Ted Williams, a veteran of two foreign wars and one of the greatest who ever played the game of baseball, lived to be 84 years old. His son John Henry Williams, who spent years taking advantage of his father's fame in order to push his own ill-fated dot com ventures, and later had his father's body frozen in order to sell his DNA, lived to be 35 years old.
7:31 PM

KARMA INDEED EXISTS II: The debut album of Probot, former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl's third-string side project, outsold Nirvana widow Courtney Love's solo album, "America's Sweetheart," by 1,500 copies in their opening week, according to EW.
7:28 PM

NEWS ITEM: "Minnesota signs Winfield to five-year deal." No, the Twins haven't brought 52-year-old Hall of Famer and St. Paul native Dave Winfield out of retirement, but rather the subject of the story is former Buffalo defensive back Antoine Winfield, who the Vikings signed as a free agent yesterday. The latter Winfield is said to be one of the top players in the league at his position, but I confess I had not heard of him prior to yesterday.
The Vikes also signed defensive lineman Steve Martin to a free agent contract. Please, call him MR. STEVE Martin.

1:29 AM

O'REILLY LOSES IT: Bill O'Reilly's nonsensical, deeply compromised commentary on "Passion of the Christ," was bad enough, especially the part in which he dismissed Mel Gibson's father as "some crazy old guy," when he surely knows Hilton Gibson has been publishing anti-Jewish, Holocaust-denying screeds for decades. Now Mr. Factor takes on the culture war and- I'm not kidding- he doesn't think President Bush has done enough to fight it! From his latest column:
President Bush doesn't like to talk about social issues like gay marriage and degenerate entertainment... most importantly, traditional Americans lack a strong leader on social issues. I mean, think about it. You have a conservative president in the White House who rarely engages these issues. So the secularists have the bully pulpit. And they're using it very effectively.

So sorry to hear that the president of the United States has abdicated his legal and moral authority to the producers of "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy." The president who wants anti-gay bigotry ensconced in the U.S. Constitution "doesn't like to talk about social issues?" Is O'Reilly living on another planet?

1:21 AM

Friday, March 05, 2004  
DETROIT BLOG CITY: My first Detroit News blog item is online here. I’m off to Philly, but I’ll have more there on Sunday afternoon, and more here as soon as the ‘Sopranos’ premiere is over.
5:55 PM

GUILTY: Martha Stewart was convicted today on all charges in her securities fraud trial, and it actually appears all those “Martha Stewart Living in Jail” jokes are about to come true.
I didn’t follow the trial that closely so I couldn’t tell you whether or not the verdict is correct, but what I can say is that I really despised that line of reasoning that said “how can we indict Martha for her little crime when the Enron people are still free???” First of all, it’s apples and oranges- Martha’s case was a minor deal over a stock trade; Enron was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and of course a prosecution will take years to put together. And does the non-punishment of Enron’s crimes mean that no one should ever be indicted for any lesser crime ever again? By that rationale, OJ’s acquittal should have led to a moratorium on assault convictions.
Second of all, they’re not still free- Fastow rolled on Skilling and went to jail, Skilling may roll on Lay, and that’s the ballgame. Not to mention, the week of Martha’s guilty verdict the trial of the Rigas family (Adelphia) began, while Bernie Ebbers (Worldcom) turned himself in on a multi-count indictment. So those calling for all the major corporate heads to roll before Martha’s did, in fact, get their wish.
Also, with Martha down and Jayson Williams teetering, that whole “celebrities are above the law” theory seems on shaky ground as well, which is certainly bad news for both Jacko and Kobe.
I can't wait for Christopher Byron’s column tomorrow...

5:53 PM

SILVER AND GOLD: The letters page in Sports Illustrated a few weeks after the Swimsuit Issue is always one of the more entertaining reads of the year. And while this year’s was missing angry feminists, and also had no mention of that creepy photo of model Marisa Miller cavorting with sheep, there were a couple of gems. My favorite comes from Barry Gold of LA:
On Saturday I returned home after celebrating my son’s Bar Mitzvah. I’m not saying it was a sign from God, but in the mail was my new Swimsuit Issue. I just handed it to my son and said “Now that you’re a man, I think this belongs to you."

5:50 PM

WHAT DID I EVER DO WITHOUT WONKETTE?: If it weren’t for her, how would I know about the John Kerry schlong controversy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “Richard Gere problem,” or the most unintentionally comical headline in history?
5:50 PM

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Discussing the 49ers’ trade of Terrell Owens to Baltimore, and the Ravens’ lack of a suitable quarterback, the Quickie’s Dan Shanoff asks, “Who, exactly, is going to get TO the ball? It's like someone giving you Angelina Jolie's number, but you don't have a phone.”
5:48 PM

FILM CRITIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Had Michael Bay shared an era with Geoffrey Chaucer, he probably would have worked on this movie.” –Keith Phipps, reviewing “Passion of the Christ” in the Onion AV Club.
5:48 PM

PROUD TO BE A RODENT:I’m happy to report that after six months I have finally transcended “Flappy Bird” level, and have as of today moved up to the status of “Adorable Little Rodent” on Truth Laid Bear’s Blogger Ecosystem, the leading ranking system for blogs. By their bizarre formula based on linkage and traffic, I’m now ranked #1281, out of just over 8000 listed blogs.
The ALRs are the sixth-ranked sector of the Ecosystem, out of 16, and if you’re new to blogging you’re probably either laughing at me right now or hyperventilating in incomprehension. Yes, I’ve still got a ways to go (this is sort of like being a green belt in Karate), but it’s also nice to know when you’re moving up in the world.

12:42 PM

Thursday, March 04, 2004  
START SPREADING THE (DETROIT) NEWS: The big news I spoke of yesterday is this: I’ve been brought in for a 30-day stint as a blogger on the website of the daily newspaper The Detroit News, where I’ll be writing about the election and related issues three-to-five times a week. I’m very excited about it; my first post will likely run sometime over the weekend.
And in other housekeeping news, my move off Blogspot should be complete by the end of the month; my original goal was to switch over by my two-year Blogoversary in May, but I’ll likely beat that deadline easily.

5:48 PM

RALL ON A RAIL: Ted Rall, the controversial “cartoonist,” (his lack of artistic talent causes me to use the term very loosely) will no longer have his work published on the website of the New York Times. A spokeswoman for the paper tells Editor and Publisher that “we found some of his humor was not in keeping with the tone we try to set for ...while and its parent company support the right of free expression, we also recognize an obligation to assure our users that what we publish, no matter what its origin, does not offend the reasonable sensibilities of our audience.” In other words, we’re the friggin’ New York Times- no more substandard bullshit for us.
Rall, who among other high points has made fun of 9/11 widows and dead firemen, and written a column expressing solidarity with the insurgents killing American soldiers in Iraq, has blamed “conservatives” for the decision, because we all know how much influence the right has over the New York Times.
Say it with me everyone: This. Is. Not. Censorship. The Times has a right to publish whoever and whatever they want, and as America’s most respected newspaper it has an obligation to maintain high standards. Clearly the words “standards” and “Ted Rall” don’t even belong in the same universe, let alone the same sentence.
Now, about that Chomsky op-ed…

5:47 PM

…AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: There’s a very smart new blog devoted to critiquing my old college paper, The Justice; check it out here.
5:45 PM

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I'd write a story, and in the back of my mind know the guy I'm highlighting is either cheating the game with steroids or cheating on his wife with a Hooter's waitress. Or he was simply a compassion-deprived moron. I longed for the way it used to be - when the compassion-deprived morons who cheated on their wives with Hooter's waitresses weren't using steroids.” – Former Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman, who has a written a book about the 1986 Mets called “The Bad Guys Won,” which you can buy here.
Jeff, who I met awhile back and was kind enough to link here from his book’s website, wrote for SI for six years and was the author of 1999’s infamous “John Rocker on the 7 train” piece that did its part in helping the rest of the country to finally come around and start hating the Atlanta Braves. Pearlman left SI for Newsday a year ago but is now making his triumphant return to baseball writing with a tribute to the favorite team of his childhood. The book’s not likely to be a big hit among Red Sox fans, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.
Actually, I hope someday to write a similar treatment of the championship ballclubs of my childhood, the ’87/’91 Twins, in which I will include such “warts and all” items as Kirby Puckett’s infidelities, Kent Hrbek’s gluttony, Jack Morris’ midseason divorce, the Joe Niekro emery board incident, the famous Dan Gladden/Steve Lombardozzi lawn brawl, and (of course) a whole photo gallery of memorable Twins mullets.

5:43 PM

GOD AND THE BODY AT HARVARD: The Boston Phoenix has a profile of the most unlikely Harvard instructor ever, Jesse Ventura. People used to rip on one of my favorite professors for not having a PhD; Ventura lacks even an undergraduate degree.
Like Al Gore after he left politics for teaching, Jesse has both gained weight and grown a funny-looking beard, though strangely the piece does not mention his failed MSNBC talk show.
I never voted for Ventura, but I did have a “my governor can beat up your governor” t-shirt.

5:36 PM

NEWS ITEM: “UPN Show Is Called Insensitive to the Amish.” But they’ll never see it, will they?
The Center for Rural Strategies, aka “the hick lobby,” is behind this one; if I were them I’d concentrate more on trying to prevent comics from continuing to make lame “Deliverance” jokes.

5:35 PM

Wednesday, March 03, 2004  
NEW PIECES: My full review of “Passion of the Christ” is online at Hot Movie Ticket; in addition, my interview with Jewish rap superstar 50 Shekel (“In Da Shul”) has been published in the Blueprint. No link yet, but there should be one soon. I’ve also got a big, big thing that I’ll be telling you all about in the next day or two, once all the details are ironed out…
5:58 PM

TRUMP CARD: We’re halfway through the inaugural season of “The Apprentice,” and I have a few questions: Was it planned that the first four people off the show would be men, and the next four would be women? With all the “business tasks” being assigned, why haven’t the contestants yet been asked to run one of Trump’s casinos in AC for a day? That way, the contestants would have to decide whether or not to hire thugs to intimidate the card-counters- and I can just see the boardroom of that episode now:
TROY: I wanted to hire additional muscle, but Bill insisted on putting that money into more cigarette girls.
BILL: That’s wrong! Troy is dishonest! It’s his fault the casino got robbed!
TRUMP: If there’s anything I’ve learned from my years owning casinos, it’s that being able to effectively break people’s legs is the key to every successful operation. Bill- YOU’RE FIRED!

And another thing: Much has been made about the fact that all eight women chosen for the show have the exact same body type, and it just happens to be the body type that Trump himself is well-known to prefer- indeed, the females of “The Apprentice” and the general cast of “America’s Next Top Model” are more or less interchangeable. The lone Midwesterner -Minnesota farm girl Jessie- was cute, but certainly not "cornfed" Where's the diversity, Donald?
And speaking of no diversity, how in the hell are we supposed to tell Ereka, Kristi, and Katrina apart, considering the three of them all look exactly identical? Since they all have unnatural K’s in their names; I’m tempted to call them the KKK Girls; no wonder none of them get along with Omarosa.

5:56 PM

ANOTHER REASON TO HATE “DREAM JOB”: Since Tony Kornheiser is one of the judges for the entire six-week run of the show, he is required to be in Bristol for it and is thus out of the “Pardon the Interruption” studio every Monday and Friday. Therefore, the best show on ESPN must now make do with such substandard co-hosts as Norman Chad and Dan LeBatard.
This is just another in my litany of reasons why “SportsCenter,” and the network itself, has gone down the tubes lately: they struck gold with PTI two years ago, and then proceeded to completely misunderstand its appeal: rather than the chemistry and rapport between Kornheiser and Wilbon, the network’s execs apparently believed it was arguments and yelling that people wanted to see, and as a result greenlighted the abysmal “Around the Horn” and turned “SportsCenter” into all-arguments, all-the-time. In bits like “Fact or Fiction” and especially that vile John Clayton/Sean Salisbury segment, ESPN presents mean-spirited insult-fests, which are light-years away from the competitive but respectful camaraderie of PTI. And with Kornheiser now missing shows in order to feed ESPN’s latest horrible new venture, the network has even further cooked its golden goose.
One more complaint: walking by the ESPN Zone restaurant in Times Square last week, I saw a T-shirt for sale featuring the catchphrases of all the current anchors- and they’re all lame as hell. Now granted, had I seen the same shirt in 1996 with “en fuego,” “he hit the ball real hard,” and “drooling the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse,” I probably would have bought it. But can anyone other than the most ardent fan tell you what Scott Van Pelt’s home run call is?

5:55 PM

BLOG CRITIC QUOTE OF THE YEAR: “Reading this blog is roughly the equivalent of watching a homeless guy trying to negotiate 11 layers of dirty clothing in order to masturbate” –Happy Furry Puppy Guy (not to be confused with Happy Scrappy Hero Pup), reviewing Bill Cimino’s Bloviating Inanities.
5:54 PM

KERRY WINS: The 2004 Democratic primary season is now essentially over, as John Kerry won almost every Super Tuesday primary yesterday and John Edwards is expected to drop out of the race today.
I don’t love Kerry, but like him enough that I’ll most likely vote for him- however, I am a bit concerned that the Democrats will regret choosing him over Edwards, who is both more dynamic and, I think, more electable. That said, I would love to see a Kerry/Edwards ticket.
Meanwhile, Howard Dean won the Vermont primary despite having dropped out of the race two weeks ago; the win meant that Dean was spared the embarrassment of his “historic” campaign not winning a single state. “We’re going to Vermont and… uh… YEAAAAGH!”
And hopefully, Al Sharpton’s weak finish in New York will spell the end of his campaign, not to mention any thoughts of national political viability.
The senator’s victory was followed by a surreal report in this morning’s Page Six that the wife of New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller was a paramour of Kerry’s in the ‘80s, and that the woman, Emma Gilbey, has also been linked romantically to such disparate men as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and right-wing socialite/hedonist Taki Theodoracopulos. Now perhaps Taki is embellishing, as he did the time he claimed to have gone to prep school with Osama Bin Laden, but it’s still bizarre that someone with his politics could have an ex in common with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Though if there were a woman or two out there who'd been boffed by both Taki and Bill Clinton, I can't say I'd be surprised.
However, I do think this revelation helps Kerry: you just know the Republicans are planning to paint him as a stuffy, know-it-all fuddy-duddy like Al Gore- but could you picture Gore dating a woman who later took up with a member of Pink Floyd?

5:52 PM

“HERSCHEL WALKER-TYPE COMPENSATION:” With every other wide-receiver-who’s-an-asshole (Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, etc.) likely changing teams this off-season, could Randy Moss be next? That’s what a story in the Star Tribune says, alleging that Moss may soon be traded to the Miami Dolphins for “some combination of defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, cornerback Sam Madison, receiver Chris Chambers and draft picks.”
I was against the idea until I read the last line of the piece, which alleged that the trade will only happen if the Vikings “demand Herschel Walker-type compensation from any team willing to trade for Moss.” The Vikes, of course, traded five players and seven draft choices for Dallas running back Walker in 1989, and the Cowboys used those picks to build the nucleus of its three Super Bowl winners in the ‘90s. If the Vikings can get on the right side of that sort of deal, for a change, I say go for it.
Whether they keep Moss or not, the Vikes will have God on their side next year: Jim Caviezel, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, is a Vikings fan, and is the brother-in-law of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

UPDATE: Today, oddly enough, is Herschel Walker's 42nd birthday.

5:51 PM

ROID RAGE: I don’t have a whole lot to say about the latest developments in the MLB/steroids scandal, as it now appears at least some major players have been using steroids for years. Sure, it’s not that big a surprise, but until now all the evidence had been circumstantial. Now we may actually see people testifying under oath that they have used the drugs, and who knows how baseball will react- fines? Suspensions? Erasing of records?
I did find it quite amusing that Jason Giambi showed up at camp looking about 40 pounds lighter, and claimed he’d lost 4 pounds from “cutting out fast food”- sure. I’ve cut out fast food before, and you lose a lot more than 4. If the storm surrounding Giambi and Gary Sheffield is a huge distraction for the Yankees all year (on the undercard of the Jeter/A-Rod storm) then I for one will be a happy man.

AND SPEAKING OF BASEBALL: If you’re still looking for a fantasy league to join, e-mail me, ‘cause my league still has a few spots open.

5:49 PM

BLOG.CON: The second annual BloggerCon will be held at Harvard in April; I plan to be there, though not necessarily just to meet MTV veejay/blogger Adam Curry, who is confirmed as attending. Yanks-Sox at Fenway on that Sunday will hopefully be on the agenda as well.
BostonBlogs will host a party the night before for Beantown bloggers- but don’t expect to see This Fish there- the erstwhile Bostonian is moving to the Big Apple.

5:48 PM

ESOTERIC WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Safe-for-Work Pron. (Via Paul Frankenstein).
2:04 AM

Tuesday, March 02, 2004  
AND HER LITTLE DOG TOO: In what’s likely to be the least-mourned celebrity death by Americans this year, at least in the non-al Qaeda division, former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott finally kicked the bucket today at the age of 75. Probably the most all-around loathsome owner in baseball history, Schott achieved the rare trifecta of being incompetent, greedy, and virulently racist, and her persona added up to a chain-smoking amalgamation of Leona Helmsley, Donald Sterling, and Mel Gibson’s father.
An auto dealer who later became a baseball owner- because that career path worked SO well for Bud Selig- Schott owned the Reds from 1984 until she was drummed out of the game by her fellow owners in 1999, something that, despite all of the dozens of incompetent fools who run franchises all over the sports landscape, has never happened to anyone else.
Schott’s many fine moments included: being suspended from the game on two different occasions –three years apart- for using racial slurs/praising Hitler; calling star players Eric Davis and Dave Parker “my million-dollar niggers,” allowing her ever-present dogs to defecate on the field at Riverfront Stadium, removing both the out-of-town scoreboard and ‘70s-era championship banners from the park in order to save money; driving elite manager Lou Piniella out of town following the 1990 championship, even though she exhibited little-to-no baseball knowledge and didn’t know most of the players’ names; presiding over the Pete Rose betting-on-baseball debacle; complaining about the game being canceled after umpire John McSherry died on the field in 1996; and finally, letting the infrastructure of this once-great organization, in a great baseball town, slowly whittle down to nothing. There’s a reason the Reds have consistantly been a non-factor in the standings in the five seasons since her departure.
Ms. Schott was preceded in death by her husband Charlie and her dogs Schottzie and Schottzie 02; a biopic of Schott, called “Out of Her League,” is said to be in the works, to be produced by Roger Corman’s brother Gene Corman. Corman previously produced the TV film “A Woman Called Golda,” in which Ingrid Bergman was cast as Golda Meir; in that vein, expect Schott to be played in the movie by Salma Hayek.

NOTE: I apologize in advance to those of you thought this post was good at the beginning, but then went too far.

5:02 PM

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If you ask me, Pedro Martinez's jheri curl takes me back to a time and place where I'm not sure I want to be, where people wore things like leisure suits, and platform shoes with goldfish in them." -Michael Wilbon, on PTI. But that's nothing compared to this, as the Red Sox have apparently traded the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and replaced him in center field with Jim Caviezel:

2:29 PM

UP WITH WILCO: One of my favorite bands, Wilco, will release a new album, "A Ghost is Born," on June 8. As their previous record, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," would have to go very, very high on any list of the best albums of this decade (#1, as a matter of fact, on mine), to call the new one long-awaited would be quite the understatement. Can't f'n wait...
1:59 AM

PETE ROSE HITS ROCK BOTTOM: If Pete Rose's chances of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame looked bad after his insincere and incomplete "confession," it now appears the door is about to be slammed shut, as the New York Times reports today that Rose has agreed to appear at WWE's Wrestlemania XX later this month- at which time he will be inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame.
This is one of those situations where it's hard to tell whether Rose is being sullied by being in business with Vince McMahon, or vice versa. Rose's only previous wrestling experience consists of a few embarrassing appearances in which he has, among other gimmicks, dressed up as the San Diego Chicken and been assaulted by wrestler Kane, who is known as "The Big Red Machine" (get it?); Kane will "present" Rose at the induction. How this brief experience makes Pete worthy of wrestling's Hall of Fame is an open question; Rose can't get reinstated into the sport in which he's the all-time hits leader, but at least he's welcome to be enshrined by a fake sport which he never actually played.
Also on tap for WWE Hall of Fame inductions are another guy who's just been on a roll lately (Jesse Ventura), as well a GI Joe figure who sided with Iraq in the first Gulf War (Sgt. Slaughter), and old timers Tito Santana, Bob Backlund, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Don Muraco, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. They will be joined, posthumously, by the Junkyard Dog and "Big" John Studd; Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake will not be part of the festivities, as in the WWE's cosmos setting off a bioterror scare with your cocaine is apparently a much greater offense than betting on baseball.
Hulk Hogan, due to his falling out with McMahon, is not in the wrestling Hall of Fame- does this mean we can expect to see him in Cooperstown next August?

1:10 AM

THE KAFFIYAH IS SULLIED YET AGAIN: Our old friend Charlotte Kates, aka Little Red Kaffiyah Hood, is back in the news, as Rutgers Law School's resident fanatical Israel-basher has had a letter to the editor published in that noted bastion of reactionary anti-Zionism, The New Republic.
Ms. Kates apparently had a problem with TNR having used a quote, from a satirical flier that circulated last year, that Kates' organization consists of "activists for the destruction of Israel," who planned a "Hatefest" in October of 2003 and are "'opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of colonialism and imperialism."
That's fair enough- except for the part on the front page of the organization's website, which states that, uh, "We are opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of colonialism and imperialism, and we stand for the total liberation of all of historic Palestine." (Emphasis mine) She also, of course, leaves out the part about how the "hatefest" was downsized and ultimately kicked off campus when the rest of the national pro-Palestinian movement that you've heard so much about (yes, the rest of it) pulled out of the conference because they thought Kates was too extreme.
In his rebuttal, the author of the original article, Omer Bartov, gives Kates the flogging she deserves. After pointing out that Kates proudly calls for the obliteration of Israel, he says "New Jersey Solidarity therefore advocates the destruction of Israel and condones--indeed calls for--the mass murder of innocents. If Kates is proud of such goals and actions, so be it." Amen to that.

12:29 AM

ENETATION SUCKS: And so does Blogger, I know. Sorry if comments haven't worked the last few days, I'm working on it. A shift away from Blogger is imminent, and not in the same way the threat from Iraq was "imminent"; I have in fact registered the domain name Anyone want to give me a hand switching over to MT?
12:12 AM

TWINS UPDATE: The two-time defending AL Central champs reported to camp in Fort Myers last week, and Peter Gammons says the Twins may trade outfielder Jacque Jones to the Dodgers for pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii. I'm all for it- they have two too many outfielders and two too few starting pitchers, so every little bit helps.
Gammons ends that same column with a plea for Pearl Jam (who backed Nader in '00) to come to the Democratic convention in Boston and play their song "Bu$hleaguer." But I thought his column was called the Apolitical Blues...

12:10 AM

Monday, March 01, 2004  
OH DREAD: Wanting to clear my head of POTC, I went Sunday to see Broken Lizard's spring break thriller comedy spoof "Club Dread." It was all right, not nearly as funny as "Super Troopers" but still containing two or three brilliant gags and some hilarious songs by Bill Paxton's Jimmy Buffett-like beach-rock burnout.
There was, however, one thing in the film that rubbed me the wrong way big time, though I may be the only person in the whole country who noticed it. In the first scene of the movie, and once again about 40 minutes later, a character (played by Erik Stolhanske) appears in a sheriff costume referring to himself as "the fun police." That's not the problem. The problem is his costume- his "badge" is not a regular badge- it's yellow, it's shaped like a Star of David, and it's stitched to his shirt- an image most commonly associated, of course, with the Holocaust. Here's the picture, you be the judge.
Is it intentional? I don't believe it is; if such a gag popped up in something like "The Producers" I could understand, but in a beach/slasher parody, it just doesn't fit. I absolve the Broken Lizard gang of any malice, but shouldn't at least someone- a producer, a studio exec, a distribution person, anyone- have noticed the inadvertent presence of unmistakable Holocaust iconography, and thus suggested a wardrobe change?
Like I said, I went to see "Club Dread" to get away from all this anti-Semitism stuff...

11:59 PM

FUCK YOU, YOU CARWASH PRESIDENT: Not too long ago I caught Susie Essman, who is best known for her shrill, profanity-laden rants on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," doing an appearance on "Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn." While Susie's not nearly as mean in real life as her character is (I met her once a few years ago, and she was quite nice), on Quinn's show she did as most showbiz types do- she was sure to toss a few anti-Bush lines into her commentary.
Now I don't get nearly as offended by this as some others do, especially around Oscar time; after all, if what celebrities have to say about politics is "irrelevant," why can't the O'Reillys and Scarboroughs just ignore them? That way, they wouldn't get material for their talk shows and would have to talk about actual issues, instead of ranting at Janeane Garafolo for 60 minutes.
Anyway, back to Susie Greene: When I heard Susie start talking about politics, I had a brainstorm: if the Democrats were smart, they would turn her loose at the Democratic convention in Boston, and have her give one of her priceless 'Curb' rants, only substituting Dubya's name for Larry David's. Wouldn't that be great? She'd be like the Ann Coulter of the left.

10:14 PM

HOBBIT-FORMING: The big winner at tonight's 77th Annual Academy Awards was "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," which won a record-tying 11 awards, including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and every major technical category- that's two more Oscars than Norah Jones won Grammys. I've published my entire Oscar diary over on BlogCritics, but here are seven major observations, for the number (7) of Billy Crystal's favorite ballplayer, Mickey Mantle:
1. A good show all around, albeit nothing too memorable. Crystal was a pro, and he's obviously the best in the world at doing this- the clip-montage, the sung-monologue, and jokes throughout hit on all cylinders. Still, I wish the Academy had heeded my call to let Bill Kristol host the show, or at least given him and Crystal a song-and-dance number together.
2. Two biggest robberies of the night: Sean Penn beating out Bill Murray for Best Actor, and "Fog of War" besting "Capturing the Friedmans" for Best Documentary, clearly a political move on behalf of the academy which was hammered home by Errol Morris' speech. Both Penn and Morris are talented and have had distinguished careers, but I just thought their opponents did better.
3. Tom Cruise gave out Best Director, breaking with the tradition of the previous winner giving it out- but the winner was... oh yea, Roman Polanski. If R. Kelly can come to the Video Music Awards every year, why no Roman at the Oscars?
4. Funniest moment of the night: During the "dead people" montage, Elia Kazan got a loud, sustained ovation, and apparently no one sat on their hands. All of those people immediately stopped applauding, however, when the next name appeared: Leni Reifenstahl's.
5. As one of my readers pointed out, when Francis Ford and Sofia Coppola got up on stage together, it would've been great if someone had shot her, and then she'd muttered "Dad" before keeling over dead, like at the end of "Godfather III." I mean, Kay Adams Corleone was right there in the audience...
6. Charlize Theron won Best Actress and looked fabulous doing it, bringing up an interesting dichotomy: in today's Hollywood, the best thing a pretty actress can do is look ugly in her movie, while the worst thing a pretty actress can do is look ugly on Oscar night.
7. I correctly predicted 20 of the 23 winners, missing only on Actor (Murray instead of Penn), Adapted Screenplay (Mystic River instead of LOTR), and Song (I had the "A Mighty Wind" tune, instead of Annie Lennox's LOTR theme). Still, I went nearly the first three hours of the show without getting one wrong. I even correctly guessed Animated Short, Live Action Short, and Documentary Short, despite never having heard of any of the nominees.
For my expanded thoughts, click here.

12:46 AM

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