Thursday, May 31, 2007

NASA Jeopardizes Future of Human Race

Disturbing news from outer space: cosmonauts are protecting the space station from harmful debris and performing “biological experiments” in space radiation.

Why is this a problem, you wonder?

Tell me this: where will the next Fantastic Four come from if we protect astronauts? It’s important to expose them to as much radiation as possible and hope for the best. The world is desperately in need of a group like the F4 or the X-Men, or at least the Super Friends or the Justice League. What do we get? Oleg Kotov in an ill-fitting space suit.

When you’re serving soup to Kang the Conqueror, don’t come crying to me.

Secondly, have they never seen the documentary Green Slime? Any day now giant blobs will begin raining down on earth, the tentacled spawn of this monstrous experiment that they’ve left to bathe in gamma rays.

The fools have doomed us all.

Fred Thompson’s Theme Song

Just in time for his candidacy, I propose this as Fred Thompson's theme song (to the tune of Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla):

His polling goes up while the others go down
as he dithers and dithers he’s making up ground,

Helpless candidates who are in the race,
Scream “My God!” as he closes in on them.

He’s just an actor and a man-about-town,
But his time in the senate has made him profound.

Oh, no, they say he’s going to go. Run, run, Fred Thompson!
Oh, no, he’s Reagan-like you know. Run, run, Fred Thompson!

History shows again and again,That even an actor could become president.

Hot investment Tip!

In the category of “Best Idea I Don’t Agree With” yesterday saw news that Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and worth about $642 billion, announced in an e-mail to the AP that he is one of the prospective owners of a new football league. He thinks that football demand exceeds supply, so there is an opportunity for another football league.

Personally, I don’t agree. I get quite enough football from the NFL on Sundays, Mondays, and the occasional Thursday. I love football, but any more than that and it begins to cut into my marriage and, hence, activities I enjoy even more than football.

Overall, though, I think Cuban is correct. If you get a chance, invest in the new league. Run by guys like Cuban it’ll be like having a license to print money. I don’t care if they play on Fridays, or in the spring, or on alternating blue moon Tuesdays; people will watch. This isn’t the second coming of the XFL, or the USFL being run by professional moron Donald Trump.

The sports landscape has changed now, with ESPN taking a much more adversarial role to the NFL than in the past. ESPN helped smother Vince McMahon’s league in its infancy, but I doubt that they’ll be so generous a second time. Playmakers and Football Wives and licensing fees have taken their toll on ESPN and its parent company Disney. Why not serve a little comeuppance to the NFL?

Sports competition is also vastly reduced now. Hockey has relegated itself to a minor-league sport. College football is a monopoly run to enrich the football factories and displease the customers. Basketball is the third-most-popular sport and holding, while Baseball is always trying to tear itself apart via one thing (stereoids) or another (labor strife). NASCAR fever has passed. Despite major publicity, golf and tennis occupy their traditional places in the sports culture.

The only new “sports” entrant is poker. I don’t think that will cause much trouble for a new football league.

I think Cuban’s on to something here, and the NFL should be wary. Maybe their next expansion will come when they merge with the new league.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What to do with Brittney and Lindsay?

As you may have read, rehab didn’t take for Lindsay Lohan, who was once again arrested for DUI. And it apparently didn’t take for Brittney Spears, who has taken to blogging rambling apologies for her erratic behavior. What should we do about these two troubled souls?

Never fear! I have developed a solution which will catapult them back to superstardom, help them work through some of these personal problems, and establish a whole new fan base for these two women:

Jello wrestling.

I’m not kidding. Imagine it: these two bikini-clad gladiatresses striving for victory in a twelve-round Jello jigglefest offered only on pay-per-view. La Hoya versus Mayweather? Forget about it. Across the country guys will shell out $49 for sixty minutes of true must-see TV. You get Larry Merchant to call it and it’s a ratings bonanza for whatever network is lucky enough to get the rights.

The still photos alone would be worth millions.

There’s never going to be a better time to get them to agree to it. Brittney’s at the nadir of her legitimate career, the ultimate low point before she takes the plunge and dives into late-night cable pseudo porn in a desperate attempt to hold on to her eroding popularity. And every day brings us closer to the seemingly inevitable Lindsay Lohan sex tape, nervous breakdown, or both.

But all those problems can be washed away in a tide of jello.

First of all, the winner can then declare herself “Jello Champion” and challenge other troubled performers to take her crown. Imagine Brittney defending her crown versus Paris Hilton, Anne Heche, or (dare we dream?) a tag-team match of Lohan/Spears versus the Olson Twins.

I can see this becoming a trend. Any actress or singer hoping to regain some popularity would gladly add this to the front end of the predictable “Playboy-Skinimax-Breakdown-Infomercial” route. If nothing else it’s good exercise.

The loser can pocket her earnings and either retire or, if she wishes, hit the daytime talk show circuit and complain about exploitation and her emotional problems. She could cry on Oprah’s shoulder about how she had jello stuck in her ears for a month, or that she was coerced into it by her boyfriend, or whatever. She could appear on E!’s “Behind the Jiggle” special.

And let’s not overlook the psychological boost that is sure to come from being the center of attention again, coupled with the excitement of competitive sports. Add to that the joy of getting to knock senseless one of your competitors for the hearts and minds of the fickle American public, and I think you’ll agree that we’re going to see some real fireworks in those jello tubs.

And we all know that every red-blooded American male loves a catfight!

New Feature: ESPN Feeder

My brother is a computer programmer, and he’s come up with a program that will take digital TV broadcasts (like CNN or Fox News or what have you), convert them into headlines, scan the net for additional information, and then present them as a sort of synopsis “News Feeder” for a blog. He’s asked me to give it a beta test here on my blog with ESPN.

I let it go overnight and here’s what it came up with:

Keyshawn Johnson joins ESPN: Filling the “protectionist gasbag” void left by the departure of Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson retired from football to begin broadcast duties for the network. Some commentators allege that Johnson has been retired on the field for some time, while others questioned his ability to comment beyond “Look at me!”

Roger Clemens plays solo game: In a scene reminiscent of “Bugs Bunny versus the Gashouse Gorillas”, Roger Clemens apparently unfurled his genius and will be the only player for the Scranton Yankees in their exhibition game against an unnamed opponent.

Barry Bonds is surly: Barry Bonds was surly today, a sign that the pressure of chasing Hank Aaron is getting to be too much for the normally jovial slugger.

Roger Clemens warms up: Roger Clemens warmed up in preparation for his start with the AAA club. No word yet on whether or not there will be opponents.

Tennis: After several highly-ranked Americans were bounced out of a tennis tournament, it ceased to be news. The tournament was in a foreign country, so it wasn’t that important to begin with.

Roger Clemens picks nose: Reports from Scranton were confirmed that Roger Clemens did pick his nose while in the bullpen waiting to start for the Scranton/Wilkes Barr Yankees.

Roger Clemens throws a pitch: In what must be a rare occurrence, Roger Clemens actually threw pitches during a tune-up start for the Scranton Yankees.

Roger Clemens sits in dugout: Roger Clemens sat in the dugout while the other team, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, played defense.

Roger Clemens throws more pitches: Roger Clemens continues to throw pitches for the Scranton Yankees in their game.


At this point I had to cut it off because it malfunctioned and continued to do only Roger Clemens updates for another sixteen terabytes. It’s surely because of a programming error, because I know that ESPN isn’t interrupting actual sports news to hype Roger Clemens starting against AAA players.

I’ll ask my brother to do some fine-tuning and try this again later.

ESPN has Valentine Fever

I ignored this comment to replace Joe Torre with Bobby Valentine some time ago, but now I see that Valentine fever has swept through Page 2 (via Jonah Keri wondering why he's not managing) and must be stopped. Is there not some sort of vaccine that these guys can take to protect from this?

How else could you explain a career 0.500 manager who managed to underachieve in both Texas and in New York, and whose greatest accomplishment is sneaking back into a dugout in a poorly-drawn fake mustache, be suggested two times as someone who could be a potential “savior” manager?

Does he have some sort of ability that I don’t know about, and I’ve never seen? I know he’s reputed to be a managerial genius; is there any evidence of this? Did multiple Mets late-season collapses not sufficiently damage his reputation to keep him out of the majors forever?

Can someone explain this to me? Please? Anybody? Does Bobby Valentine have naked pictures of ESPN honchos following his stint as an announcer for the network? Is he cousin to Bud Selig? Does he have Svengali-like powers that we can only suspect? Seriously, what’s the deal here?

Imagine if Valentine ended up managing the Yankees, thus ensuring 4 or 5 years of futility. The only competition for the Red Sox would be the Orioles (now in their 12th year of corrupt incompetence) and the Blue Jays (it’s baseball, eh!).

We’d have to live with Red Sox fans, insufferable under the best of circumstances, shoveling a potent cocktail of self-loathing and hubris down our throats 24/7, abetted by celebrity fans and sympathetic media. Is the sports world ready for that? I doubt it.

AP: Liberal Speaks for Conservatives

I can’t decide who is worse: Al Michaud or the AP. If you don’t know, Al Michaud is the loser who heckled Mormon Mitt Romney at a campaign stop, yelling “I’m one person who will not vote for a Mormon!” The AP is the chickenshit organization who anonymously (no byline I can find) gives us an account of the event.

It turns out, though, that Michaud plans on voting for Hillary Clinton, because he identifies himself as a “liberal.” So the whole point of this story was to explain to us that a liberal who lives in Delaware was unwilling to vote for Romney because he’s Mormon. Stop the presses!

Oh, wait, that’s not the point of the story. We find the real point of the story here:
Michaud later told reporters he was not "a right-winger," alluding to some evangelical Christians who have compared Romney's faith to a cult.
Now I get it: this Neolithic mouth-breather was actually projecting the feelings of “some evangelical Christians” who think Mormons are a cult. So the logic that drove this whole piece was that an impolite liberal projected the true feelings of evangelical Christians by yelling a slur at a Mormon candidate. Make sense now?

Question for the AP: if a self-described conservative calls Barack Obama the “N” word at a campaign stop, does it mean that some liberals are racist?

This whole exercise was a way to write “Conservatives think Romney is cultist”, only there’s no data or quotes for that piece. What, the AP couldn’t find one evangelical pastor stupid enough to shoot his mouth off, so they had to resort to some anonymous jerk in Delaware?

My guess is that it’s the AP who has a beef with Mormons, and used this as an excuse to advertise their prejudices. It’s bad enough that the AP pulls stringers from within Al-Qaeda to report on Iraq, must they rely on stringers from the Democrats for news on the US elections as well?

Stupid Reuters Tricks

Trick #1:
The weekend’s big news story was that men don’t like to shop and they’re not very good at it. At least, that was the opinion of some group called TNS Retail Forward. As far as some kind of data to back that up, you’ll be somewhat disappointed with the link: other than demographic information the rest of it is just apocryphal stories and opinion by someone named Mandy Putnam about men.

What can we hope for next from Mandy Putnam and TNS Retail Forward? Perhaps a similarly exhaustive scientific study to show that women are bad drivers, or the long-hoped-for study that children like candy. Come on, Mandy, follow up that sizzle with some steak!

Seriously, this is news? Or is this just sexist opinion dressed up as science and packaged as news?

Trick #2:

Study shows older baby boomers who are healthy, wealthy, and have meaningful things to do in their life are generally happier.

What a miraculous find: people who have financial resources, are healthy, and have a reason to live are generally happier than those without. What a shock! I’m glad somebody funded that study…twice!

Coming soon from Reuters, second only to the AP: an exhaustive study to determine if the Pope is Catholic or not!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rosie, Sheehan to Helm New Show

Newly available talk show diva Rosie O'Donnell and former peace movement frontwoman Cindy Sheehan today announced that they will be working together on a new talk show this fall, debuting across from "The View" on rival network CBS. Called "Harpies", the press release promised that it will "focus on all the things that make America a bad place and a beacon of oppression and bloodshed throughout the world."

O'Donnell wrote in a blog entry that "I don't expect neo-fascists like Elisabeth Hasselbitch to understand complex issues, like the inside attack on the world trade center or how George Bush is manipulating world oil prices to increase Halliburton's profits. But Cindy and I will educate everyday, average Americans about these subjects and more without her annoying prattle interrupting us."

"Times are changing, and we're adapting our programming to reflect that," said a CBS network executive. "Recent surveys reveal that there are more and more unemployed lunatics watching TV in the middle of the afternoon, so we feel the need to cater to their desires."

Sheehan spoke to reporters outside her camp in Crawford, where she was busy putting up "For Sale Cheep" signs. "Rosie and I are the last two people willing to speak truth to power since Michael Moore went soft." She said. "I want the bloodthirsty public of this country to feel bad about themselves and realize that you can't spell oppression without U,S and A."

CBS hopes that "Harpies" can recapture some of the magic for the network, which has seen ratings plunge since bringing aboard "safer" female anchors like noted plagiarist Katie Couric.

Tragically Preventable

RIP Marquise Hill, who died over the weekend in a jet ski accident. The most troubling thing is that Hill survived the incident, but drown later because he wasn't wearing a life preserver. Police said:
"It's so important to have a life jacket and a signaling device," Atkeson said. "One keeps you afloat and the other helps us find you."

This is the second athlete in as many months to die in an utterly preventable fashion. To quote Hill Street Blues, "let's be careful out there."

Painful Math

Bull + Woman = Minotaur

Horse + Man = Death by Ruptured Colon

Excuse me while I convulse on the floor for a little while...

(H/T The Anchoress)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Phantasialand: The Happiest Place in the World

I took my family to Phantasialand last weekend, and let me tell you, if Disney is the happiest place on earth, then Phantasialand is truly the happiest place in the world. At least, I imagine that’s their slogan, since everything else there is heavily influenced by the Disney Imagineers’ art.

If you’ve never been (and I doubt you have), think of it as Disney-like at less than half the price. Naturally for a reduced-priced experience, you expect for there to be certain accommodations in the way things are. For one thing, its stock of costumed characters have been wearing the same outfits since 1960, and they’ve acquired a smell of sweat and stale failure that cannot easily be forgotten. Also, the food is as expensive and unedible as you’ll find in any amusement park, and every employee is extra-surly just to be sure you get the optimum parkgoing experience.

The architecture is truly unique, although this building reminded me of something. I never could bring to mind what, though.
For accommodations, the Chinese-themed hotel is definitely a wonderland of sight, sound, and impossible-to-find rooms. We ended up sleeping in the hallways after wandering lost for six hours and bathing in the enormous pool, easily the size of three hot tubs end-to-end.

And in what other park could you hope to see an MC Escher-inspired character spraying water?

But enough about the atmosphere. Here are the exciting attractions you can expect to experience in Phantasialand:

Mexicans of the American Southwest: Okay, the actual name of this was The Silver Mine, but it’s essentially a South-of-the-border version of Pirates of the Caribbean. You get in a slow-moving train and pass by sleeping Mexicans, miners hard at work playing cards, and an attack on a fort by banditos where one of them is firing his pistol at you while downing a bottle of tequila. Kind of like riding through a campaign ad for Tom Tancredo.

Ghostly Rickshaw: Exactly like the Haunted Mansion, except with Chinese-themed characters. All it needed was the elevator and the funny tombstones. Oh, wait, it had the tombstones.
Tower of Horror: I don't know the name of this, but basically you went up in a big tower and got dropped in a terrifying manner. Sound familiar?

1001 Arabian Nights: After boarding flying pirate ships (take a guess at why), you go into the dragon's mouth to enter the cave of wonders and meet this Arabian mainstay:
No, I don't know why, either. Kind of a good synopsis for the entire Phantasialand experience.

Race for Atlantis: Hosted by "Mr. Noodle’s brother Mr. Noodle" (of Elmo fame), who played the part of Neptune. I go the strong impression they bought this ride second-hand. It lifted you up in a big boat in front of an Imax screen, which then vibrated until you had to go to the bathroom. I still can’t figure out why my younger child was too small to ride this. We waited 40 minutes for this crapfest, too, making it even worse. Can you tell I didn’t care for it?

Temple of the Night Hawk: After this ride (think Space Mountain with electronic images of flapping green birds all over), my 7-year-old asked me what a night hawk was. My 4-year-old replied that “it was the green light thing that they do to make it seem more spookier.” I asked him if he thought that the ride was scary, and he replied “not really.” Apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the safety features, because I was terrified.

Tittle-Tattle-Tree: One of the few completely original rides in the park, this thing was just a big bucket that flew up and down over a span of 30 to 40 feet like a yo-yo. I enjoyed it, but the promise of tittle went largely unfulfilled.

Swan Boats: I have no idea what the name of this attraction really was, but it was a big boat that drifted lazily around a long course, with no rapids or sprays or anything. I took a picture, and trust me, it was lamer than it looked (in the background you can see the dragon's mouth entrance to the Cave of Wonders):

Two-Story Carousel: This claimed to be “the largest 2-story steam-powered carousel on the continent!” While it was quite nice and impressive, I had to wonder: how many contenders are there for that title? Isn’t that like trying to get into the Guinness book of records for “most times having wounded own genitals with cheese grater while humming Hawaii 5-0 theme”?

Haunted Playground: Right in the middle of the park there is one of the most boss playground I have ever seen, full of giant slides and swinging bridges and other cool stuff. It was also abandoned. Apparently it’s haunted by the souls of disappointed children or something.

Stone River and The Wash Basin: This was basically two big log flumes, like you might find at Dollywood or your finer Six Flags parks. Overall a pretty good ride. As a bonus feature, it made my wife yell a swear word at its climax, which is usually far better than I can accomplish (insert sexual prowess joke here).

Colorado Adventure: I’m pretty sure this was Big Thunder Mountain, ripped whole cloth from Disneyland with the expectation that their lawyers probably don’t go to other theme parks all that much. At least, Phantasialand better hope they don’t.

If you ever get the opportunity, I urge you to go to Phantasialand, the happiest place in the world. At least it is until Disney has it shut down.

Dr. Z is a Sanctimonious Jerk

Just writing that title makes me feel better. If you don't read sports, or you don't care, feel free to skip this. I'm going to rant.

Wine-swilling dilettante Paul Zimmerman (aka Dr. Z) is a sportswriter for SportsIllustrated. I last lambasted him here for being a hypocrite as regards his writings on the need to fire several radio jocks (Imus, Limbaugh, et al) with whom he doesn't agree while insisting that he "doesn't call for people's heads" later on in the column when discussing coaches.

In his latest mailbag he makes the same feat of logical legerdemain. His first quote:
Tim of Dover, Del., wonders when Eli Manning will receive the official "bust" label. "When do we fans and you media types call him out?" he asks. Now I don't want to be resentful, after you said such nice things about my work, but honestly, I'm not in the business of calling people out. I try to evaluate what I see on the field, but I know what's bugging you, the idea of high draft "savior" types getting the benefit of the doubt far too long. Manning is a scatter-passer. It's time for him to get his gunsight in place. Another up and down year and...well, a bust? I don't like that about a "burst?"
Emphasis is mine, added because this is unbelievably sanctimonious talk from an odious hypocrite. In just a few seconds, which was really as long as I could expose myself to his infantile drivel without endangering my synapses, I dug from the most recent mailbags examples of him plying this business he so willfully denies:

On Randy Moss:
I promise you this, Gary. As long as I'm a selector, the Canton Highway will be a very difficult road for Moss. I don't care how many great years he gives the Patriots. The guy's a dog, and there are too many people who spent years of sacrifice without getting a sniff from the Hall.

Asked about his feelings toward Terrell Owens
...whose on-field commitment cannot be questioned, despite "Peter King's crying about his alligator arms." Waddya mean, crying? Put me down as agreeing with Peter. In San Francisco T.O. would give up on patterns and passes that called for him to extend himself in ways he didn't care for. He was notorious for that...But here's the thing I don't like about him. He's a bully. He's got a mean streak. You'll notice that whenever he went after someone, it was when the person was in a weakened situation...Hall of Fame? Not if I'm still a selector.

About the Giants players:
They feed on the media's antipathy toward Coughlin. They take shots, drop little innuendos they know will see print. They are very media savvy, and I include Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber, two guys I admire and admired greatly as players. It's no picnic coaching these guys. Shockey and Burress refuse to work out with Eli Manning in the off season, despite his constant pleading. You never know when Burress will choose a game in which to go south, in which to come up with a case of the dropsies. You never know what outrageous quote Shockey will launch. You never know when Manning will get a case of the sprays and start directing his passes God know where.

His comments about Imus and other radio personalities he finds distasteful (all in my earlier denunciation).

About Tony Kornheiser:
ESPN's Tony Kornheiser, whose high school recitations added nothing, and really should have been the man to go, was rated no stars.

This last is a reference to his annual column where he rates announcing teams, the whole purpose of which is to call out his fellow on-air Sports professionals.

Perhaps I misunderstand the erudite gentleman, and in his world "calling out" means something else. Perhaps I misunderstand, and "calling out" is only to be used on wide receivers or teams with whom he doesn't agree.

Or perhaps I see clearly that this guy is a monumental fraud and a grade-A jackass.

Happy Memorial Day!

As the child of a veteran who is fortunately still with us, I want to wish everybody a happy memorial day. While you're picknicking or doing whatever today, remember the people that died to make it so.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Democrat's Prayer

I ran across this recently on a website calling for Al Gore to run and deliver the US from 8 years of Republican rule. It's apparently some sort of prayer to be offered up to the most high Al, and is reputed to be one of the sixteen steps to getting Al Gore to appear at your event or fundraiser (the last step being a large speaking fee).

The prayer is as follows:

"Our Goreacle,
(who really won the 2000 election)
Hallowed be thy Powerpoint.
Your books are all best-sellers,
Your movies win awards,
In Cannes as well as at the Oscars.
Give us this day our carbon offsets,
And forgive us our consumption,
As we forgive you for your lifestyle of abundance.
Please enter into the election,
Which will deliver us from evil.
For neither Hillary, nor Barack, nor John Edwards is your equal,
Al Gore."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bitter Sak’s Standoff Finally Ends

Sak’s 5th Avenue announced that their new gigantic shoe department will have its own ZIP code, 10022-SHOE, ending the bitter standoff that had developed between corporate officials and New York’s mayor over the past several months.

The disagreement started in January when Sak’s announced that they would soon open a full-floor shoe store and petitioned state and federal authorities to recognize the 8th-floor area as an independent state. In this way Sak’s hoped to avoid the oppressive tax burden imposed by New York on all businesses, shoe stores in particular.

“It’s really a terrible economic climate for us,” said Sak’s Director of Shoes Jane Cobbler. “The state of New York not only requires 51% of all shoes to be made with union labor inside the state, but they have a windfall tax of 35% per tongue per shoe you sell. They accuse us of price gouging on $350 stiletto heels, but we pay $320 in total taxes on every pair. Tell me who’s gouging whom.”

New York officials defended their tax policy by saying “We’re greedy, incompetent, and beholden to unions. What are you gonna do?”

Sak’s had petitioned the federal government for recognition of the new store as an independent state located inside New York, proposing the name “Less Taxessota.” Backed by prominent democratic lawmakers with shoe fetishes, the store experienced early success when a groundswell of so-called “Progressives” on the internet rallied to their cause.

Unfortunately for Sak’s, New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg refused to allow repartitioning of the 8th-floor area, vetoing their proposal and halting development on the mammoth shoe department. Sak’s brought in Democratic Party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to lead negotiations during the standoff, which ended with Sak’s eventually capitulating and accepting the new ZIP code as a symbolic measure of their utter powerlessness.

Disappointed with the results, combination democratic activists/shoe fetishists on the internet vowed vengeance. “We won’t rest until they’re utterly defeated in the ballot box!” screamed posters on the Hushpuppy Post. “It’s inconceivable that these democrats would shrink from a fight! They should be ashamed of themselves!”

Other posters at the DailyKobbler were more nuanced. “It’s just a small setback, like the mountain of small setbacks before, which indicate that the country doesn’t agree with us and accept our ideas. But that’s small matter to us, because we get to be smug either way.”

NCAA vs Saban: Can they both lose?

In the case of NCAA versus Nick Saban, let me lay out the two sides and their arguments for you:

On the one hand we have the NCAA, a monopoly controlled by college presidents seeking to redefine “hypocritical” that treats athletes as chattel slaves whose sole purpose in life is to line the universities’ coffers. To this end all other competitors, from education to professional sports, are to be humiliated and destroyed to protect their state-sponsored business.

On the other hand we have Nick Saban, a lying weasel who brazenly betrayed his previous employers, and who is also a filthy coward that retreated from the height of his profession in order to return to the corrupt world of college athletics so he could live like a petty baron instead of proving his skill against his elite peers on an even playing field.

The dispute: Nick Saban said 100 words more than the NCAA-regulated “Hi hope you are well don’t respond to me” that is allowed between April 15 and May 31, the period that the NCAA sets aside for college coaches to view high school recruits. The NCAA apparently has a “lookee no touchee” policy, kind of like a strip club.

I’m not kidding: the policy says you can “exchange a greeting” but no more. So you presumably can’t even say “how you doing?” since then the recruit would respond, and then the coach might respond to the response, and then the scholarly pursuits of these latter-day Olympians would be disrupted.

Apparently Saban spoke to high-schooler Etienne Sabino for “a few minutes,” most likely offering cars, hookers, and a cushy booster-sponsored job if Sabino would sign with the Crimson Tide (a typical recruitment package for the SEC).

So the NCAA will investigate, Alabama will deny everything, Sabino will end up getting hired by some other university, maybe there’ll be a slap on the wrist, and everybody will be happy at the end of the day. Whoopee.

Is there any way both sides could lose?

In Defense of Rosie

Okay, I’ve had my fun mocking Rosie O’Donnell. She’s a moron. She deserves it. I regret nothing I’ve written and I retract nothing I’ve stated.

But on her spat with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, O’Donnell does make one salient point:
“Here’s how it gets spun in the media: Rosie – big, fat, lesbian, loud Rosie – attacks innocent, pure, Christian Elisabeth. I’m not doing it!”
Setting aside that what she really means is “the conservative media”, which is a great deal less than 50% of all media, O’Donnell does have a point. The fact that she’s fat, lesbian, and loud is not something we ought to be ridiculing. She has a right to be all of those things, and those of you who are conservative demean yourselves when you ridicule her over that.

Ridicule her because she’s a moron who believes the fantasy stories that the truthers spew. Ridicule her because she fears George Bush more than people who would stone her to death if they got half a chance. Ridicule her because she’s intellectually dishonest and a pompous hypocrite with chronic diarrhea of the mouth. Those are all good reasons that she can control and change.

But leave the other stuff out of it. You’re all better than that.

Josh Hancock’s Dad Can’t Sue Son, Sues Everybody Else

Josh Hancock’s father Dean is doubtless anguished over the death of his son, but suing everyone he can think of is just plain wrong. There is someone who is wholly responsible for the death of Josh Hancock, the St. Louis pitcher who died early in the morning on April 29: that would be Josh Hancock. Not the bar, not the tow truck driver, and certainly not the guy whose car stalled.

Dean Hancock’s lawyer, some shyster named Keith Kantack, should be ashamed to bring this case to court. Kantack’s going to make out either way by exploiting this poor man’s grief, because his fee gets paid whether this spurious suit wins or loses. And Hancock will pay those fees from his son’s estate, so for him it’s probably worth a gamble to see if he can alleviate his suffering by squeezing some money out of somebody else.

But what about the defendants? A restaurant, a tow truck operator, and a private citizen. Not exactly deep pockets. They have to get their own lawyers against this spurious lawsuit, whose end result could in any case be financially ruinous for them. Ambulance-chaser Kantack should be shunned from polite society forever for spearheading this. He’s doubtless one of those TV “We get money for you!” lawyers who is a plague upon society.

Why do I say the suit is spurious? Well, according to his teammates, it’s pretty clear that Hancock was an accomplished party animal who held his liquor well. Jim Edmonds thinks that if you eliminate one of the factors that led to the accident (drunk, on the cell phone, speeding) then Hancock would have avoided the stopped tow truck. So if Hancock is going 55 instead of 68, there’s no accident despite the fact that he’s still drunk and on the cell phone, according to a teammate that knew him.

Two nights earlier Hancock had an eerily similar incident where he lost the front bumper of his car in a crash at 5:30 AM. Police involved didn’t even test him for intoxication. This was the night before his infamous “show up late and panic everybody” game the next day. I suspect that if you reconstruct the earlier evening, you’ll find that there was little chance that Hancock was sober that night.

Case dismissed against the restaurant.

I’m not even going to discuss the marijuana in his car, and which will most likely be found in his bloodstream as well. It just makes this case even more of a farce than it already is.

I’m also not going to discuss Tony LaRussa’s sanctimonious comment:
"When you sign a contract with the Cardinals, you're talked to about these issues [such as drinking and driving]," La Russa said. "I did have a very serious heart to heart with Josh on that Thursday and on Saturday he still drank and still crashed. Maybe I could have done a better job in my conversation, but I pulled out all the stops."

Except to say this: shame on you, Tony LaBooze-a. You exemplified a life of drinking and driving drunk to your players, and in return one is now in a coffin. You’ve no right to lecture this guy on responsibilities and drinking and driving, and all during your “serious” lecture with him a few days earlier he was likely thinking “just like you, right, skip?” When you cede the moral high ground so completely, expect gutter-crawling behavior from your charges.

The reason that you don’t drink and drive (or smoke pot and drive or talk on the cell phone and drive) is because driving is dangerous, and doing those things lowers your ability to react to unexpected occurrences, like a stalled vehicle and tow truck in the lefthand land. And when you fail to react, you can be injured or killed, or injure and kill others.

Josh Hancock was surely not the only car that went by them on the interstate, he was just the only one too impaired not to avoid them. Thank goodness Hancock didn’t happen by before the tow truck was there to guard his car, or Justin Tolar (the car owner) would have likely been killed as well. Case dismissed against the tow truck driver and the car owner.

To me, the one redeeming fact of this entire case is that the only one dead is Josh Hancock. It was he that made the poor choices, he that took the risk, he that put himself and others in danger, and he that paid the price. Thankfully, it’s not the family of somebody else suing Hancock.

Not Evil, Just Stupid

What are we to do about Internet searches? You have Google, which is run by oligarchic pirates, and you have Yahoo!, which is apparently run by morons.

If you can’t use it in Scrabble, it’s a proper name. Hence, their list of top misspelled words in searches is, in actuality, a list of hard-to-spell names, with the exception of 2 (out of 20!) that are actual words.

You’d think somebody would have pointed that out.

(H/T my wife, who occasionally sends me ideas)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Israel Finalizes 'Emissions Offsets' for Hamas

The Israeli government Monday announced that they were undertaking a new initiative to help the Hamas remain “Carbon Neutral” by offering them offsets when they attack Israel.

“Global warming is serious, and we intend to treat it as such.” Said a government official. “But if Hamas insists on emitting CO2 by using rocket fuel in their attacks, we’re going to help their leaders become zero-emission as an offset. That way, everybody gets what they want.”

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” Planetary spokesman Al Gore said on Wednesday. “I couldn’t be happier with the plan. And I hear that Israel is going to use ‘green’ methods to secure the offsets, so there’s even more to like.”

The opposition political group Fatah commented that “we are fully committed to the Kyoto process and congratulate Hamas on their role in helping to make Palestine compliant with our obligations.”

President George Bush hailed the plan as innovative and said that the US was committed to expanding it. “We’re going to accept Israel’s leadership on this, and immediately apply the same logic in Afghanistan. If the program is successful, we might also broaden it to areas of the globe that desperately need similar offsets, like Iran or Venezuela.”

A Hamas spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to become an offset, said “Uh-oh.”

Introducing New ESPN Blog, Skidmarks Hashmarks

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’m aflame with jealousy that this measly shill is prominently placed on ESPN and gets more hits in an hour than I’ll get in a year.

Now, having said that, this really is a terrible blog that ESPN foists upon us. I’m pretty sure just reading all that cost me 1 or 2 IQ points, but I was drowning my sorrows in generic cough syrup as I went, so it’s possible that you could read it without the same effect. But why take the chance?

I read all 17+ inaugural posts, though, and as a matter of public safety I’ll try to sum them up and give you the gist of the blog so that you don’t have to wade through it yourself. Anyway, here’s a roughly chronological summary of “Hashmarks”:

The obligatory “Welcome to my blog!” post, complete with ESPN cross-promotion. The boys upstairs must be proud of him. Includes occasional flashes of good writing obscured by clouds of smarm, which as it turns out is a pretty accurate forecast for the rest of this blog.

Dallas Cowboys rule! Since Mosley used to write for a Dallas Cowboys blog, he’s decided to go with what he knows and feature the Cowboys prominently. Very prominently, since a little over 1 out of 5 topics are Cowboys-based. Including two on Keyshawn Johnson, whose retirement appears to be a bigger story than the last 3 years of his career and is of critical importance to Mosley since Johnson will be working for ESPN soon. What, is Keyshawn going to sign this guy’s checks or something?

  • Random use of bullets and “block quotes”, all arranged in a bizarre fashion as if crafted by an idiot savant who’s not quite got the grasp of the “savant” part yet…more on this later, appended randomly for no apparent reason
A plea for his readers to write as much of his blog as possible. I wonder if that works? If anybody’d like to fire me off a long-form post on the subject, feel free. Try to keep it under 5000 words, though, and please cite all references.

Some clucking about being the lead link on “Hot Read”, followed by pimping other ESPN stuff. The boys upstairs must be really happy with this blog. I don’t even know what Hot Read is, and judging by this, I don’t wanna know. Is it too late to demand that high-quality stuff like this be placed in the “ESPN Members Only” section, since I’m not a member?

Newslike substance and updates on events that happened around the NFL…two or more days ago and already beaten to death by other blogs. He’s not kidding when he says you should check there third or fourth after a story breaks. He failed to mention that you should also let the news age a little, since recent stories just aren’t his thing. Imagine a guy that posts every 90 minutes but can’t post anything topical. It boggles the mind.

Two (two??) posts on his first day derived by printing and responding to reader e-mail. I strongly suspect one of them is full of made-up reader quotes, since it’s very complimentary. Thankfully, if there are references to stuff that would let me know it’s fake, I didn’t pick up on them, so my brain isn’t synced to idiot-wave frequency…yet.

Midway through the writing smacks of somebody running out of steam. Not so good, since the blog’s not even a full day old yet. It's one thing to so boldly ape Bill Simmons; must he do it so poorly to boot?

A derogatory post about punters. Good to see he’s breaking new ground in football comedy. Originality is nice.

Signing of posts with a cryptic “m”, unless of course it’s one of the many posts that doesn’t have the cryptic “m” at the end. Wide variations in style make it seem as if it’s written by two separate people, although I refuse to believe that it takes more than one person to write this incoherently.

A post about his “blog numbers.” No, I’m not kidding about that: his blog’s not even 24 hours old and he posts a “lookee what I got” post. But he says he only got 5 e-mails from “current NFL players who happened to stumble across this blog.” I can’t decide if that’s sad or impressive. No, really, I can’t. Seems like it ought to be more, but then again, I’ve never gotten an e-mail from a current NFL player. Of course, I’m not front-page on ESPN. See? Not so easy to judge, is it?

The mercifully final post (the last time I dared read the blog) is an obligatory “roundup of news” link that shows he’s out of ideas, out of talent, and out of bed at 2:00 in the morning. One of them is about a brawl at DisneyWorld, so we can expect that he’ll be fired within 24 hours for besmirching the home office’s reputations, thus ending our long national nightmare.

Now we can all go to bed, which is something that Mr. Mosely apparently fails to do in a timely fashion. Good night, and God bless.

UPDATE: As I post this, I see that he's "off to Plano for an interview", no doubt at the urging of his now-wrathful masters. And no, I didn't read the other posts. I'm quite dumb enough on my own, thank you very much!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Motorola Announces Crowphone

As a follow-up to successful line of Razr Phones, Motorola today announced its successor, the PC2D, or the “Crowphone” after its inspiration, singer Sheryl Crow. The phones will be given free to every person who purchases a ticket to Live Earth, scheduled for July 7.

Head of design Peter Peachtree said a news conference that the waterproof cell phone is “a personal cellular and cleaning device for use anywhere that the on-the-go person finds themselves: at home, in the office, or even out on the trail.”

“Everybody takes their cell phone to the bathroom, whether it’s to talk or play games or whatever,” said Peachtree. “But Sheryl’s right: we can’t be literally flushing trees just because we’re feeling prissy. That’s what makes the Crowphone unique: use it to clean yourself, wash it in the sink, and you’re ready to go.”

Verizon is also in partnership on the Crowphone, with their new slogan “You’ll never wipe alone.” Verizon Network Development Head Lynne Thompson said that it addressed many needs at once.

“Between the ultimate utility of the Crowphone, and the blanket coverage of Verizon’s network, you can be sure that people will hear whatever you want them to hear, no matter what you’re doing” Thompson wrote in a press release.

The Crowphone is unlike traditional plastic cell phones in that on the back side it has a variety of replaceable covers, from coarse all-natural fibers to smoother suede or synthetic lambskin. “While we want to be environmentally responsible, we also want to acknowledge that not everybody is up to the challenge of using burlap to clean themselves. So we have some planet-friendly, non-animal alternatives.”

The PC2D will come with full camera and video technology, although Peachtree said the company does expect to have to modify lenses and other “typical non-contact equipment” as need may be.

Peachtree anticipated that the Crowphone would change the way people go to the bathroom. “I just have this image in my head of five or six women standing around the sinks in the bathroom comparing which color backing and which material they have. People will probably even trade from time to time, just to sort of try out somebody else’s lifestyle. It’ll be fun!”

New NFL Commissioner Announces Network Shakeup

Commissioner Roger Goodell today announced a surprise shakeup of the NFL Network, announcing a new programming slate to bolster the upcoming games offered by the fledgling network. The moves were necessary, he said, to complement the high-quality programs already offered but which had saturated the public’s appetite for football.

“From now on, NFL won’t just stand for quality football, it will also be synonymous with Nudes, Fights, and Lesbians. We’re going to have to adjust our deal with cable providers again, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. We’re a pay channel, and we might as well start acting like it.”

Goodell announced the following changes to the network:

  • Color commentators for the Thursday night games will be recently-punished shock jocks Opie and Anthony, who Goodell says “will bring an in-your-face style not associated with the NFL since Rush Limbaugh got out of rehab.”

  • Films of the Week, a weeknight midnight-to-4 AM program hosted by Steelers assistant coach Larry Zierlein. “We’ve had just a taste of what’s in his vault, and it really leaves us wanting more,” Goodell said. “This will be the breakout show of the year.”

  • The Art of Seduction, a Friday-night 9 PM show hosted by Joe Cullen and geared towards helping adults “improve their love life”. Cullen will focus on such topics as “Seducing the Drive-Thru Girl” and “Upholstery Burn Prevention and Treatment.”

  • Wednesday Night Dogfights, with Michael Vick and cohost Clinton Portis. Goodell denied rumors that Joey Porter would also work on the show. “He wanted to feature fights with alligators and gorillas, and we just don’t have the budget for that right now.”

  • Inside the Locker Room…the cheerleaders’ locker rooms, that is. This program will air just after “Saturday Night Countdown” during the season and will be produced by Howard Stern and hosted by former Carolina TopCats Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas. “A sexy look at the feminine side of pro football,” Goodell said. “We’re going to have the DVDs available for order through our new NFL website,”

  • Planet in Crisis, hosted by Al Gore. Focusing on environmental concerns and the mounting problems of global climate change, this program will air midmorning during the week and is designed “to keep congress of our backs about steroids and other problems,” Goodell admitted. “Listen, it’s free publicity to Al Gore, which will make those ninnies in congress quit hassling us about the real problems that exist in our league, like out-of-control drugs, wife-beating, stereoids, and inappropriate fan T-shirt slogans.”

Michelle Wie Redefines Status

Michelle Wie continued her quest to redefine herself from an also-ran to a never-was today, announcing that she had once again accepted a sponsor’s exemption to demonstrate futility in the upcoming PGA John Deere Classic.

“I’m really excited to continue to prove that the last six times I missed the cut on the PGA weren’t flukes,” Wie said to reporters Tuesday. “I’m going to keep on playing and missing the cut in men’s events until everyone recognizes that my talent is a mirage and my reputation based more on words than deeds. Then I’ll go fail on the LPGA tour and call it a career.”

“We’re excited,” tournament director Clair Peterson said. “She’s a big draw for nontraditional golf fans, who cannot be counted on to grow or sustain the sport, so it’s important for us to attract as many of them as possible. Next year we’re hoping to get sponsor’s exemptions for Michelle, a leprechaun, those Siamese twins that appeared in Playboy, and a golf-playing robot.”

Wie also expressed some displeasure that her charity golf session with Tiger Woods had been cancelled. “Apparently Tiger was worried that if he and I played together it would be like matter and anti-matter and there might be an explosion,” Wie complained. “But I’m not that bad. I’m sure that I do better than last place if I played against children and got six or eight mulligans.”

Brief word from our sponsor

First of all, early posting today. Tomorrow should be my regular mid-afternoon post.

Second of all, I just passed my thousandth visitor today. I’m so happy! I’ve had a blog now for about 70 days, so I’m averaging about 15 people a day. Of course, I check my blog about seven times a day from different computers and different accounts, and my wife checks it twice, and I know that my brother and his wife each read it, and my sister-in-law checks it twice a day, so I’m guessing I have 2 readers that aren’t in my family.

That’s not so bad: it’s two more people than listened to me before I started!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fall TV Preview

Yesterday I previewed the upcoming summer TV shows, and so now I’m doing the same for the shows premiering this fall. As always, I have made sure not to watch them nor to acquire any actual knowledge, thus keeping my opinions pristine.

I’m not the only person in cyberspace to have an opinion not backed up by experience or facts, but I’m certainly one of the most honest about it. Once again grouped by category, this fall’s shows are specially designed to help people catch up on their reading:

Reality Shows Demonstrating Poor Judgment

Kid Nation: I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that they found at least 40 families willing to let their 8 to 15-year-olds be exploited on-camera for 40 days to help boost CBS’ ratings. Is this unsettling to anybody else? Are there no child labor laws in New Mexico? Does anybody really believe these kids are left "alone" in a New Mexico ghost town? If this show isn’t phony, then it’s probably illegal, and beyond both of those it shows unbelievably bad judgment. I’ve got no problem with adults humiliating themselves for their 15 minutes, but could we leave the 8-year-olds out of it, please?

Network TV Attempt at "The Sopranos"

Dirty Sexy Money: This show chronicles the lawyer for a “powerful and amoral NY family.” You know how it feels when you have a stapler open and accidentally staple yourself in the pad of your finger? I imagine that’s what your soul feels like if you watch this show. Claims to have the acting debut of Dan Rather, but if you watched him protest that the fake memos were real you already saw him turn in an Emmy-worthy performance.

Cane: Afraid to portray Hispanics as criminal (that honor is reserved for whites, blacks, and Italians in present-day television), Jimmy Smits headlines as the head of a powerful Cuban-American family trading in sugar and rum. Probably long on love for the old homeland and short on reality, this will be jam-packed with every Hispanic-sounding actor CBS can find. But if you take the criminal out of the Sopranos, will you have a show worth watching? My prediction: muy mal.

Obligatory Police Show

K-Ville: This is so formulaic just reading the setup made my head hurt: two policemen, one buttoned-down and the other "less than orthodox", are partnered to patrol the mean streets of New Orleans. The straight one harbors a dark secret. If their chief threatens to take their badge and one of them is close to retirement, they’ll have used every cliché in the “Police Show” genre. No word yet on which partner gets to be the one that rides on the hood of the perp's car.

Obligatory Doctor Show

Private Practice: This is a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy, which I’ve never seen. Let’s hope it does better than Joanie Loves Chachi, but honestly, it doesn’t look quite as good. And she’s working in a private practice, where doctor shows go to die. If Bob Newhart couldn’t make it work, what hope Kate Walsh have?

Way Too Many Sci-Fi Shows

Pushing Daisies: This show promised to add “a bittersweet flavor to the worn-out procedural recipe” in its blurb. I read the hook, and seemed more like the flavor of burnt metal that you get if you over-microwave popcorn. Apparently ABC’s motto this season is “we’ll greenlight anything!!”

Bionic Woman: I remember this show as a kid, and it sucked then, too. At least Wonder Woman had her costume going for her. All the Bionic Woman has is that “sproing-sproing-sproing” sound when she jumps.

The Reaper: I liked this idea better when they made a movie called Spawn out of it. But to each his own, I guess.

Journeyman: I also liked this show better when it was called Quantum Leap.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles: First of all, calling Sarah Connor “unforgettable” is a bit of a stretch. Ripley was unforgettable. Sarah Connor was eminently forgettable. Second of all, having her son feature in the show is a mistake. Who wasn’t rooting for the terminator to pick him off in T2? Looks awful, and likely to be the first one cancelled.

Moonlight: The current Hollywood adage right now appears to be “When in doubt, go vampire.” Since they don’t have any other sci-fi offering, CBS gives us this dreadful rip-off of Angel from the writer/producer that did Beauty and the Beast. I have no idea if they mean the show or the movie, and quite frankly, the concept is so bad it hardy seems to matter.

Two Shows from One Writer with no Point

Chuck: Using the word “geek” two times in the description of the show, NBC makes sure that you understand their opinion of you as they lay out the premise. It’s directed by McG, infamous cousin of the now-banned MSG.

Gossip Girl: Just what every adolescent girl needs: a drama showcasing “the surprisingly sinful world of the over-privileged teenagers living on New York’s Upper East Side.” They may as well start following this with ads for methadone clinics and anorexia rehab centers just to hit the sweet spot with the target audience. I wonder if Shannen Doherty is available?

Hollywood Goes with what It Knows

Lipstick Jungle: It’s from the same woman that did Sex and the City, so it’s gotta be good, right? Only it’s less demeaning to women than Sex because it focuses on powerful women. So it’s sure to be a draw, unless all those female fans of the other show liked the fact that they could relate to the women there, in which case it’ll struggle. But hey, at least it focuses on everyday, average women: a movie executive, a fashion designer, and editor of a fashion magazine. Excuse me while I go get my arc welder…

Obligatory “What the hell were they thinking?” Show

Viva Laughlin: I swear, this sounds like an SNL parody of CBS, not an actual show. Did they actually think to themselves, “you know, there’s a real shortage of musical television these days.” Perhaps this is cause and effect, gentlemen. What are they thinking at CBS? What’s next, a variety show featuring Britney Spears and K-Fed?

Cheech and Change: Cheech Marin stars as the operator of a check-loan place who is inundated by alien radiation and discovers he has super powers, so he begins fighting crime at night and helping the desperate people who come into his store. Okay, I made this one up, but I say it still sounds better than half the stuff on this list.

Lone Comedy Starring Former Successes

Back to You: It’s got Kelsey Grammar! It’s got Raymond’s wife (Patricia Heaton)! It’s got Fred Willard! It looks terrible!

Porter blasts Vick, Portis

Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter today lashed out at troubled quarterback Michael Vick and his apologist Clinton Portis, calling them “cruel barbarians” and saying he hoped that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell punished them both “to the fullest extent of the law.”

Porter told a local reporter in an interview that “Forcing dogs to fight each other is animal cruelty, pure and simple. It’s not a sport, it’s not a contest, and it’s not a competition. It’s almost as bad as putting sweaters on them or making them wear booties.”

Portis told a reporter in Virginia that he loved dog fighting, and that he knew “a lot of back roads [with dog fighting] if you want to go see it.” When informed that dog fighting was illegal, Portis dismissed it by saying “it can’t be too bad, because in all the hundreds of dogfights I’ve been to I’ve never seen a cop. I’ve seen dogs dressed as cops, but I think they were off-duty.”

Porter disagreed. “I’m disappointed that Clinton would support something like that and protect a savage like Michael Vick. Everybody knows that the true test of a dog’s capabilities is to pit it against the most savage of animals, the horse. A fight between a dog and a horse is worth watching. Dog-on-dog fighting is passé.”

Monday, May 21, 2007

Poetic Justice for Jimmy Carter

From foreign disaster to home-grown malaise,
The era of Carter left us in a haze.
He bitches and moans that George Bush is no good,
He just won’t shut up like ex-presidents should.

Before you listen to him giving advice,
Remember there’s reason he didn’t win twice.
It wasn’t his style or his substance that won,
He was president because he's not Nixon

Bill's interns may not have kept their lips well sealed,
But Bill Clinton’s are and that’s part of the deal.
And Ford didn’t whine until after he’d died,
While George Bush the elder has acted tongue-tied.

But Carter is not content to be this way,
His scolding sounds like a donkey in full bray.
For every day that Carter complains some more,
He shows us he’s useful as tits on a boar.

Coming Attractions

I’ve decided as a public service that I’m going to review the upcoming summer television shows, as explained in an article that I found here. I haven’t actually seen any of these shows, so you can be sure that my reviews are untroubled by any complicated knowledge of the subject at hand. And I don’t have any advertisements from anybody, so my judgment is honest.

I’ve grouped the shows by their genres:

Derivative Reality Shows:

On the Lot: Since they claim this is a global search, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of Bollywood directors and some good French noir filmmakers. Or maybe not, since that would inevitably lead to problems with translation and focus; they’ll probably find an Indian immigrant who hopes someday to make Bollywood films. They propose to split the groups “into teams” to direct films, since all the great directors are partnerships or teams. After poisoning any chance for them to succeed individually, they’ll have some Hollywood “celebrities” drop by; I’m sure their advice will be uniformly awful and unsuited to the task at hand. Then they’ll force the public to watch their drivel and rig the votes to generate public interest. Do I sound excited yet?

Pirate Master: Unless they make everybody wear puffy shirts and end their sentences with “arrr, matey” this is one of the lamest ripoffs I’ve ever heard of. No, scratch that: even with puffy shirts this is a lame idea. It’s like Survivor on a boat, surely conceived to keep production costs down. And they even have a Pirate’s Court, but no word yet on whether or not Judge Wapner was available to be chief.

Obligatory Game Show Entry:

National Bingo Night: Ever since Golden Girls and Matlock were cancelled seniors have been demanding a show made “just for them.” Now they get it, in the form of interactive Bingo. Doesn’t this already exist? It’s called Lotto in some places, I understand. Is this the best game show ABC could green-light? Why not just revive Password? Is Chuck Woolery on long-term contract with Lingo?

Dramas with Beach Babes

Hidden Palms: Think of it as Beverly Hills 90210 meets Twin Peaks, but more vapid than the former and more obtuse than the latter. My money is that this is sure to be this fall’s most quickly-cancelled show, unless one with a breakdancing robot debuts that I don’t know about. Plus, it advertises “science girl Lizzy” so you know it’s going to strive hard to break stereotypes.

Dramas without Beach Babes

Army Wives: To me, this looks like it might be ‘Desperate Housewives’ meets ‘Platoon’, only without any killing or nudity. It’s on Lifetime, so it’s presumably targeted at women, so for all I know it’ll be a hit and women will love it. I’m not a woman, so it seems like a soap opera with a military hook and little else going for it. Let’s move on, shall we?

Shows of Unclear Focus

The Starter Wife: I can’t tell if this is a comedy or a drama or both. At any rate, it looks terrible. Why is it that when the entertainment industry goes looking for inspiration, they rarely get farther than the entertainment industry? How about a show centered around, say, somebody who works as an arc welder? It’s a dangerous job, and arc welders can fool around on their wives just as well as anybody else, right? Plus you can easily work in fire and explosions. Where’s my arc welder show?

Animated Shows Hoping for some Simpsons Magic

Creature Comforts: Fortunately for you, I’ve seen the original show on which this is based, so I can give you firsthand knowledge of what to be prepared for: the most horribly insipid, painful television viewing experience not involving electrocution that you could ever hope to be subjected to. However, when the tagline says “you’ll laugh, cry, and think” they’re right: you’ll laugh at anybody who likes this show, you’ll cry if you’re related to them, and you’ll think about your own death if you watch it.

Lil’ Bush: Depends on how they go with this. It could be hilarious, it could be terrible. This is the sole show that I look at and think “yeah, that could be a success.” Comedy Central wants you to think of this as a second coming of “South Park”, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be a bare-knuckled scattershot criticism like that or a more narrowly-focused critique of Bush like the unlamented “That’s My Bush!” show from several years ago. My bet is on the latter, and it gets cancelled in a few months and left-wing outlets howl about the vast right-wing conspiracy that controls Comedy Central.

Lucas: You’re stupid, send money

You may have missed this story in the news celebrating the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. It’s got a little gem of a quote by George Lucas, the creator and director of three beloved Star Wars films and three terrible, hackneyed, poorly-written spinoffs:
"Popcorn pictures have always ruled. Why do people go and see these popcorn pictures when they're not good? Why is the public so stupid? That's not my fault. I just understood what people liked to go see, and Steven (Spielberg) has too, and we go for that."
Thanks for defending us, George! Sorry we made you rich and all. We’ll try to do better next time.

The reality is this: most people live in a place called the Real World. It’s hard for us to get excited about movies centered on child abuse or drug addiction, because we’ve experienced that or know people who have. When we go to the movies, we’re seeking a little something called “escapism”. It’s in the dictionary; you can look it up. We don’t want a mirror held up to us and somebody to say “look how miserable you are!”

Hollywood types, though, live in Phony World. In Phony World all those things exist, too, but they’re swept aside by a torrent of more important things, like the size of J-Lo’s butt or Britney Spears’ haircut. So in Phony World, they think that we’re so distracted by the size of Angelina Jolie’s lips that we didn’t notice there’s problems in Real World, and they take great pains to lecture us on them.

Listen, we know there’s problems. But we’d like a little remove from those problems. Every once in a while, we’d like a lift instead of hearing about what a downer everything is. Every once in a while we want to see the good guys win.

Sometimes Hollywood delivers that, and the movies make tons of money. Mostly, though, Hollywood doesn’t deliver that, so we go elsewhere for entertainment (video games, books, television, the internet). And you know what? By force-feeding us drivel and calling us stupid, you’re encouraging us to look elsewhere.

So enjoy the decline, Hollywood elites. The Real World awaits you, too. Maybe one day one of us norms will make a movie about you.

Schickel: No Nads, Always at Time

Poet Brendan Behan said that a critic is like a eunuch in a harem: he’s seen it done, he knows how to do it, but he’s totally incapable of doing it himself.

In a column yesterday about the blogosphere Richard Schickel eloquently said: I want to be head eunuch!

Having some passing familiarity with Schickel’s work, I accept that he has no balls and I happily cede to him hereafter the right to issue the sole authoritative critiques of books.

(Blue H/T to the incomparable Ed Driscoll)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

AP Paid Somebody for This??

Stop the presses! Female singers are judged by their looks! Well, duh. The target demographic is 18 to 34 year old males. It's a wonder that female singers wear clothing any more.

And the article manages to toss out two trite tales that I am long since weary of: the "outsider" Avril Lavigne and poor, pitiful P!nk, who just doesn't fit in.

Avril Lavigne is as packaged as any other singer today, including Britney Spears. Nothing more complicated than that. She can sing all the Sk8er Boy anthems she wants, she's still either a total fraud or a total sell-out. Without her rhyming dictionary she's no better a singer than Rosie O'Donnell.

As for P!nk, can we please give it a rest that she feels so bad about herself and she's not a beauty like all the other singers? The act is getting tiresome, and it hardy fits with how she presents herself; basically a half-dressed hooker. I'm not a psychologist, though, so maybe I'm missing something here.

Democratic Congress Springs to Action

The Democratic congress, now celebrating over 120 days of futility, finally found a project that speaker Nancy Pelosi said "we can really sink our teeth into. This is something that the democrats, the American people, and all but the most jaded republicans in the pockets of the oil companies can support."

California congressman Tom Lantos is leading the effort to have Michael Vick "severely punished" by the NFL for his alleged role in a dogfighting ring. "With all the problems in this country, we can't have Mike Vick running around having dog fights." Explained Lantos. "It just sets a bad example."

Lantos sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to "act swiftly and forcefully" and making veiled threats if he doesn't find satisfaction. "Basically, I don't want to hear this malarkey about innocent until proven guilty," said Lantos. "And I don't want to hear about how congress should be spending its time on other things. If we can't get ourselves worked up into a righteous fury over something like this, what can we get worked up over?"

"I hear that they even might have had cats declawed in there!" Former actress and PETA scold Bea Arthur said. "Such barbarism cannot go unpunished! Off with his head!"

Asked about whether the Republicans might support an assault on the NFL over Vick's termination, Pelosi was confident. "I know that Republicans like to torture animals and protect villains, but we're always thinking of minorities and those that can't defend themselves, so we're quick to jump on issues like this that our focus groups show broad support for."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Heche Needs Psych?

File this one under "News We Already Knew": Anne Heche's separated husband Coley Laffoon says she needs psychological review. He's worried that she might have erratic behavior that impairs her ability to care for their 5-year-old son.

Since they originally met when Laffoon was working on a biography of Ellen Degeneres while Heche was still Degeneres' lesbian lover, I think it's safe to say that she is at a minimum somewhat confused.

Yes, I know that it's part of a custody battle. But I think it's pretty safe to say that Heche may very well have some issues. And I'm not even going to get into the whole "we all took a shower together but wore swimsuits" thing in the piece.

Friday, May 18, 2007

World Bank: More than a Feeling

In addition to the well-known story of his interceding to give a girlfriend larger-than-typical pay raises, the World Bank revealed today that they have many other complaints against the soon-to-be former head Paul Wolfowitz. The ten gravest complaints that they revealed today were:

1. Once caught in a compromising situation with a pneumatic tube
2. Stole coin rolls for personal use
3. Drank from employee breakroom coffee, but never chipped in
4. Caught picking nose on CCTV
5. Used influence to waive ATM fees for friends and family
6. Lost all the bank’s money in Nigerian e-mail scam
7. Gave money to the Swiftboat Veterans
8. Called all female tellers “Jiggly Juggz”
9. Has no “protein-stained” garments to be paraded in news media
10. Gave outgoing chairman a golden shower instead of a golden parachute

“In light of this,” said one Bank trustee, “It’s clear that he can’t stay. It’s one thing to harass tellers and swipe a coin roll here and there. But picking your nose and not putting any money in the coffee fund? Unforgivable.”

It's Superman!

I've caught a photograph of what is, apparently, Superman in disguise using his X-Ray vision.

Is there really any other explanation for this, other than some dude who is a pervert without presence of mind not to stare when hundreds of camers are going off? I can't think of one.

Next time rent Barbed Wire, dude. I'm sure it's available in the 99-cent rack.

Althouse on Sexy

I hadn't read Althouse in a while, which is a bad habit, because she's much more intelligent than I am and is always interesting. Well, except for the car stuff; I just breeze by that. I'm not into cars.

Anyways, today I read her post about the rise of clavicles as "sexy." I have to admit, I had no idea what clavicles were, so the post was enlightening. I thought your clavicle was in your mouth. Althouse is anti-clavicle, seeing them as a sign of emaciation and not at all sexy. I tend to agree.

But for some reason, this post nearby struck me as humorous, with a picture showing that when she dresses to go out, Ms. Althouse chooses to emphasize the, uh, not-clavicular region of her torso. So she's consistent in both word and deed. Good for her!

Okay, I'm going to shut up now before I get into trouble. I have a raft of comments that are disrespectful, lecherous, or both, and I don't want to go there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shock Jocks ‘Endangered’

Environmental groups today petitioned the federal government to grant radio shock jocks endangered species protection. The move comes after poachers raided XM Radio, eliminating two more of the once-proud species. Poachers had earlier seriously culled the herd at CBS radio, eliminating one dominant male and one lesser pair.

“The loss of Opie and Anthony is an example of everything that’s wrong with the current protection scheme,” said Meaghan Goodall, head of Animals R People 2. “They were second-generation shock jocks, and we had great hopes that they would become a breeding pair and help perpetuate the species.”

Goodall was pessimistic about the future and insisted government must act now. “It’s not just the proud, mature shock jocks that the poachers are after. They’re willing to scalp any member of the species. Just look at what happened to JV and Elvis: one flied lice joke was enough to get them plugged, stuffed, and mounted.”

Marvin Winderbeet, spokesperson for the anti-radio group Listen to Silence, opposes the proposal. “Opie and Anthony have been begging for it for years. They were offensive to just about everybody, juvenile, and not worth the time it took to turn off the radio when you stumbled across them on accident. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.”

Shock jocks have always been at risk, Goodall said, but it was greater now since the loss of “silverback and acknowledged pack leader Don Imus.” She called his loss “irreplaceable” and said that further thinning of the herds would lead to below-reproduction levels.

“There are still a few of the big ones out there, like Howard Stern, but as high-value targets for hunters we can’t be sure how long they’ll stay.” Goodall blamed the losses on the rise of politically correct assassins. “Shock jocks can’t use one single stereotype any more without an aggrieved group howling for their jobs. All they can do is straight-up white male bashing, and even that doesn’t work if there’s gays or disabilities involved.”

Goodall summed up the future this way: “Imagine a world without shock jocks, and you’ll see why something needs to be done.”

Republican Candidate Bios

I know that a lot of people, like myself, don’t pay too much attention to the primaries at this early stage of the game. So when you’re channel-surfing hoping to find something blowing up or bikini-clad women, and you stumble across a debate with eight or ten weirdoes standing up on stage all wearing the same suit and all ducking the same questions, it can be a little hard to figure out who’s who. So as a handy guide, I’ve researched these candidates based on the impressions across the blogosphere to condense their biographies.

Hope they help.

Rudy Giuliani: Former tyrannical mayor of New York who had six mistresses and changes wives the way other people change socks. From what I can tell he supports a law that would force every woman to get an abortion, and some on the left think he had advance knowledge of 9/11 and used it as a way to catapult himself to stardom. His favorite song is Ray Parker Jr’s “The Other Woman.”

Mitt Romney: Weirdo religious kook who was governor of Massachusetts. Is considered “soft” on the second amendment because he wants to confiscate assault weapons, tanks, and RPG’s from loyal Americans. Favorite book is “Battlefield Earth”, which is probably a sign that he’s a Scientologist posing as a Mormon in order to be more mainstream.

John McCain: Strong on the war on terror, apparently a Democrat on everything else. Supports federal laws requiring ordinary citizens to wear gags the final 14 days before an election. When he gets mad, he swells up like the hulk and begins swearing, shouting “McCain smash to hell!” Has a thing for drunken sailors. Favorite food is Compromise Pie, where somebody else picks out all the ingredients and does all the work, but he takes as much credit as possible and eats it no matter how bitter it is.

Rue Paul: I read somewhere that he sleeps with a tin-foil hat on in a Faraday cage to keep sinister microwave radiation from space satellites from frying his brain. Apparently it doesn’t work.

Tom Tancredo: In high school, Tancredo was voted “Most Likely to Round Up a Posse to Get ‘Em.” His favorite song is the amended version of “This land is your land”:
This land is my land,
It isn’t your land
I’ve got a shotgun,
And you ain’t got one.
You better get off.
Before I blow your head off.
This land was made for me, not you!
Mike Huckabee: Funnier than Al Franken, more relevant than Jeanine Garofolo, and more respected than both of them put together. Of course, that means he’s like about 90% of the population of the United States. Considering changing his name to Huckleberry just to pick up some further recognition.

Jim Gilmore: Winner of the “Ordinary Guy Who Runs for President” contest, he’s in intense negotiations to buy Lamar Alexander’s plaid shirts and generic image.

Tommy Thompson: He’s not a real person at all, but is actually one of the animatrons stolen from the Hall of Presidents at Disneyworld. I think it was the one they were using for Millard Fillmore, since nobody knows who he is anyway. He’s being controlled by Karl Rove and his minions as a way to keep their grip on power. If he had a favorite song, it would be “Rocket” by Herbie Hancock.

Sam Brownback: Probably a former moonshine runner whose infatuation with ethanol reveals his inner Al Capone.

Duncan Hunter: Governor. Actor. Conservative. Odds-on favorite to actually win the nomination. Oh, wait, that was the guy who hasn’t declared. I guess this guy’s okay, too. But I don’t really expect anybody to have read down this far, just like nobody pays much attention to the guys after Tancredo. Let’s face it: the second-tier candidates are there for comic relief, and only Paul really delivers on that consistently.

Ed Driscoll is my hero

Many thanks to Ed Driscoll, my hero, for his kind link to Seussanetics. If you don't read Driscoll's site every day (right after Daily Dollop), then you really should.

However, I must admit that I'm a little bit jealous of the title that he came up with. I wish I'd included it...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Seussanetics (aka Seussentology)

Before L Ron Hubbard began his career,
A much greater man showed a faith much more dear,
The good Doctor Seuss, it was he that in fact
Has taught us all things that our consciences lack.

An alien Xenu? Why no! That’s absurd!
In fact we’re descended from one great big bird,
That mistreated Horton and forced him to be
A surrogate mom to her orphan baby.

The “Clear” is just bunk, and it won’t really work,
It’s offered by charlatans, paid for by jerks.
In fact the status that you seek for in lieu,
Is what Doctor Seuss would have said was a “Who.”

And after your soul has gone on to take rest,
It comes to find Who-ville, where all is the best.
No Grinches up there, that is not in the plan,
Just cats, kids, and fishes, and maybe green ham.

When some people speak about engrams at least,
You can be quite sure that your money they’ll fleece.
Like bears seeing apples they simply can’t stand,
If would-be parish’ners have cash in their hands.

Old Seuss loved debate, twixt a fish and a cat,
But Ronny’s disciples will not stand for that!
They’ll silence their critics with court-ordered writ,
And if you dare question them they’ll have a fit.

When BBC shows what Doc Seuss is about,
Disciples of his do not yell, whine, or pout.
They rest all serene because they know in fact,
They’re not all just crooks, their hearts are not black.

There are lots of stars who think it’s likely true,
If you don’t watch out Body Thetans get you!
But Seuss tells us not to have worry for that,
It’s almost as likely as Cat in the Hat.

Instead the good doctor would like us to know,
That if you work hard Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
And just as poor Horton once salvaged a Who,
The Doctor would like for us to be saved too.

For those who would say that a celebrity,
Is somehow more valuable than you and me,
Seuss teaches us that we are all just the same,
The Sneetches can teach you the rules of the game.

Sometimes it is tough, “I give up” you would say,
In each of his books the good doc shows the way.
If arrogance is your own personal hurdle,
He’s written a book that is all about Yertle.

Remember pop loves you no matter if he,
Gets cross when you jump on him like a tramp’line.
And mom loves you too, although it might be true,
On some rainy days she could abandon you.

So forget ‘bout engrams and clears and thetans,
That junk was all written by sub-average men.
Try following Seuss (for no money he begs),
He only suggests that you try the green eggs.

My Rung on the Ladder

I've never hidden my deisre to climb the blogosphere evolutionary ladder. So now, about two full months into real blogging, where am I in my quest to be a higher being?

Well, at this very moment I sit at 35766. That's an improvement over my last update in April, when I was at 47133. Things are looking up! I'm not an insignificant microbe anymore, either. I'm a multicellular organism now. A few more steps and I'll be playing with the big boys! I can see that a few spots below me is a blog called Drunksex. So long, drunken whoremonger! It's good to be out of that neighborhood.

Let's just see who my new neighbors are. At 35767, and thus a hair less evolved than me, and thus not as important, is a blog called ksajadi, run by an Iranian immigrant living in Canada whose last post came on July 13, 2005. Not an encouraging start.

One step above me, and thus my superior, is a site called Vinyl Mine Clip Shack. I expected to find rubber nipple clips or other "adult devices", but it's apparently a TV/movie review site that has been inactive since last September. I can't pass this guy? Really?

Okay, so this is not my proudest moment. And it's not like it gets any easier up the list. One of the top-ranked multicellular microorganisms: a blog called Drunk and Armed. It's pretty clear that I'm still trapped in the blogosphere equivalent of a trailer park. So for goodness' sake, throw me a link or two!

Ripping Yarn from ESPN Ombudswoman

Oh, what a fairy story the ESPN Ombudswoman weaves for us here! Unfortunately, I don’t believe much of it. I’m not calling her a liar; I think she believes every word she wrote. But that doesn’t make her accurate.

Schreiber would have us believe, against all logic and the functioning of every other successful communications outlet in the world, that ESPN does not “coordinate” their message. Apparently producers just choose random topics out of the air, which conveniently happen to align with network interests and dovetail on a common set of topics. And in related news, monkeys might fly out my butt.

It seems more likely to me that they take their cue from some original source, directed by the network hierarchy. Why else would John Amaechi’s book, Arena football, and NASCAR be such hot topics when otherwise they’d go relatively unnoticed? In fact, Arena football and NASCAR are not new at all, yet their ESPN coverage is. Any ideas why?

And on the flip side, how is it that no criticisms of ESPN or its affiliates ever seem to see the light of day at the network, and dissenters are ruthlessly crushed? Is it possible that this is a method of nonverbal communication?

Now for some fun with numbers. Here’s what ESPN says about Hockey coverage:

"We compared all the 1 a.m. shows during March 2007 with all the 1 a.m. shows in March 2004, the last year ESPN had hockey rights," said Craig Lazarus, vice president of studio productions, whose responsibilities include overseeing all productions of SportsCenter. "We found that in March 2004, hockey accounted for 20 percent of the Top Ten highlights. In March 2007, the percentage was 18 percent."
In all other segments of the 1 a.m. "SportsCenter," the show with the heaviest emphasis on highlights and events coverage, there were 29 fewer minutes of standard, daily NHL coverage in March 2007 than in March 2004. Those 56 seconds a day amount to a 28 percent decline in hockey's allotment of airtime, but I doubt that fully accounts for the feeling that hockey gets "no love" anymore.

So NHL coverage has dropped by 10% in the Top 10 highlights and 30% in coverage outside of the Top 10 highlights. To me that’s significant. They go on to say that since NHL2Night isn’t on any more, that’s probably why hockey fans are upset.

So basically, coverage of their sport dropped by 40% on Sportscenter and they lost 100% of the non-Sportscenter coverage. I don’t watch hockey, so it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other what happens to it. But these fans have a point: ESPN has just about dropped Hockey coverage.

As an excuse ESPN offers some tripe about the rights packages, etcetera. I’m pretty certain that if ESPN wanted to continue to do NHL2Night, they could. Hockey’s not going to turn its nose up at being on ESPN. But the fact is that since ESPN can’t derive profit from it, they ignore it.

The reverse is true for NASCAR and Arena Football. Now ESPN has profit motivation, so now they are in high gear to promote the sports (pardon the pun). I don’t believe for one second the part about “untapped fan bases” and the other nonsense. It’s money, pure and simple. But Schreiber is sure to toe the company line, letting us know how big a draw NASCAR is (bigger than Yankees-Red Sox!) to defend these decisions.

She also doesn’t seem to show any intellectual curiosity about whether or not it’s ethical for ESPN to own part of the AFL. My judgment, obviously, is that it isn’t.

What’s more, though, these are phenomenally bad business decisions! ESPN is going to try to push Arena football on a public that already has two professional leagues (NFL and college) and has resisted every other effort to introduce more football (USFL, anybody?). They’re antagonizing the 800-pound gorilla in the room (NFL) for what is probably a low-return proposition. They’re alienating hockey fans for no other reason than arrogance.

In short, they’re behaving as a classic monopoly. The end point of this behavior is pretty clear: a competitor will be born to address the problems they’ve created, and end up crippling their business.

Don’t believe me? Tell me how AOL, once in command of the Internet, has been doing lately.