Friday, June 30, 2006


Can you guess why Minnesota Timberwolves Forward Eddie "Not the Comedian" Griffin is smiling?

Oh, come on, take a guess. Give up? From the I-can't-believe-this-kind-of-thing-actually-happens Department, Griffin is in trouble again -- but not just any kind of trouble. Only the kind of trouble that a young, privileged, dumb-as-a-rock, extremely gifted but jerky pro athlete type can find. But this is a new nadir. This goes right up there with Najeh Davenport and Bryant McKinnie. No, wait. It's worse.

I believe this quote sums it up rather succinctly:

"He was masturbating himself going down that street. That's how the accident happened...He's paying attention to that video and all of a sudden he's shoveled somebody's car on the top of the sidewalk."

There has to be some logical explanation here. I'll bet he was just doing it for the kids.
So before we rush to judgement, let's let all the evidence come in. We can sit here all day and argue about who was masturbating what, but at the end of the day, what does that really solve?

Either way, here's hoping that Griffin, er, pulls himself together real soon. (Thank you! Thank you very much!)

- CBS Minneapolis

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One-shoulder tops: Now here's a fashion trend I can get behind

As the summer comes into its own, I'm seeing more and more of these on the streets. And I like. Could they be this summer's pleated tennis skirt? Only time....will tell.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

I celebrate Wilson Phillips

I was talking about it with somebody, and it got stuck in my head. On further review, though, the lyrics are kind of haughty. Nevertheless.

First verse:
I know there's pain
Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don't ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Some day somebody's gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Til then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry?
Don't you know
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things'll go your way
Hold on for one more day

Second verse:
You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You've got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin your worries pass you by
Dont you think its worth your time
To change your mind?


I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free the chains
Yeah I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains

Some day somebody's gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Dont you know?
Dont you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day? yeah
If you hold on

Bring it home:
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day,
If you hold on
Can you hold on
Hold on baby
Won't you tell me now
Hold on for one more day cause
It's gonna go your way

Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can't you change it this time

Make up your mind
Hold on
Hold on
Baby hold on

Obligatory NBA Draft report

Ever since The Sports Guy started his running NBA Draft diary and Mel Kiper, Jr. made drafting a serious topic of debate, it has been a federal law that every person with a blog MUST post an entry about the NBA draft. So here goes. Law and order every time, that's me.

I was pretty freaking underwhelmed by the Bullets' draft picks, despite the fact that this draft was short on big names and they didn't pick until #18. Ultimately, the Bullets drafted two forwards - Ukranian Oleksiy Pecherov in the first round and Belarusian Vladimir Veremeenko in the second. Both are viewed as projects. Meh. Word was they were going for
N.C. State big man Cedric Simmons, but he went 15th. Had this been the Redskins, they would have given away all their 2007 picks so they could move up. Sometimes, doing nothing is something. And I think Ernie Grunfeld knows the best way to improve the Bullets this offseason is on the free agent market (Jamaal Magloire?).

[Insert dorky-Eastern-European-white-guys joke here.]

Hey, maybe Vlad and Olek can get a pick-up game going in whatever black hole former overseas Bullets picks Peter Jon Ramos and Juan Carlos Navarro exist in. Maybe they can practice boxing each other out on free throw misses, or setting really killer screens, or fouling out. }crickets{

At least the Bullets weren't the laughing stock of the draft. For that, I give you YOUR New York Knickerbockers. With the 20th pick and in desperate need of talent, any talent, they went for Renaldo Balkman. Six-foot-five FORWARD Renaldo Balkman. This will be review for all you NIT fanatics out there, but Balkman won the 2006 NIT MVP Award after leading the South Carolina Cocks to their second consecutive NIT Tourney victory. Man - that's some rarefied air. The ESPN talking heads were in consensus for once. Jay Bilas said he was "stunned." Greg Anthony called the pick "befuddling." Stephen A. Smith said he was "almost speechless," which I think is about as close to blessed silence as he gets. Dan Patrick was actually giggling.

(Now, though, of course everyone's making their own "Who's Renaldo Balkman?" jokes. A word to the wise: that joke is not 24 hours old, and it is already dead. Dead. Dead as a doornail. It was funny exactly zero times. It's always hilarious when writers and bloggers suddenly act like they're these big-shot power brokers just because they have a blog or write some column. Awwww, snap! Geno Blazinski.geocities.blogger/shitbag said he had never heard of you, dog! How does it feel to get dissed like that? He was all like, 'who's Renaldo Balkman,' man! Dag!)

With their next pick, the Knicks took Mardy Collins, a decent point guard out of Temple. But if they wanted a point guard, why didn't they take Marcus...Williams...who was available...with...their first...pick, and taken Balkman later? Damn, Isiah. I think you and your delicate misunderstood genius just made my brain bleed. Of course, due to a Thomas-brokered trade from a couple years ago, the Chicago Bulls got the Knicks lottery pick - number 2 overall - and ended up getting LSU force of nature Tyrus Thomas. But it's all part of Isiah's plan, people. It sucks for you that you just don't understand basketball the way he does.

But going back to the rarefied air of the NIT, the Maryland Terrapins - who were knocked out early in that tournament each of the last two seasons - did not have any players drafted. Can you believe it? Must have been some kind of clerical error. Moving on.

Congrats, though, to GW standout J.R. Pinnock on going in the late second round to the Mavericks. Could be a good situation for him.

Anyway, go Bullets, and congratulations to Knicks fans everywhere.

- Washington Post
story on Pecherov
- Predictably flippant
New York area column on Balkman
- Washington Post story on Simmons and Magloire

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Court redistricting decision - is it good or bad?

I don't claim to be a political expert - I'm just a regular guy trying to make sense of it all. To me, there seemed to be good in the Supreme Court's decision to throw out part of Texas' redrawing of voting boundaries so that certain groups - Hispanics, mainly - wouldn't be as big of a factor in elections. But there was bad in that they decided that states can redraw voting boundaries as often as they want - which means that whenever a new political party comes to power, they can redraw the districts in their favor. Personally, I don't see how that's going to lead to productive actions. Just more juice for partisan politics. More mud-slinging, more name-calling, more divisiveness (literally).

At least the decision wasn't completely bad. Right?

- Washington Post
- I
blogged about this before

Here's a list of things I lost in the horrible flood

Although I have not been contacted, I see news that the area around Lake Needwood - a scant mile and a half from my estate - is being evacuated. So I have decided to act pre-emptively and create for insurance purposes this list of irreplaceable items the flood took from me:

Honus Wagner baseball card

Twelve delightful Faberge eggs.
These were like my children.

Crazy upside-down airplane stamp.
Can you believe I found this at a yard
sale for two dollars?

Gold and silver doubloons - spectacular!
These were passed down to me from my
distant relative, Bluebeard, the coin collector.

The coup de grace: my solid gold bathroom.
I simply can no longer perform my daily ablutions
in anything less than solid gold. That may
be difficult for you people to understand, but please try.

I will expect remuneration in the form of a cashier's check no later than the 30th. I cannot discuss them further, as I am too traumatized by the loss of these items, which were so precious to me, from a purely sentimental standpoint. Thank you for your cooperation.

P.S. Not that anyone cares, but just to update the situation as of 6/29, my house was not flooded and everything is back to normal. Nevertheless, I continue to expect remuneration. What's the hold-up, Big Insurance? Bunch of bureaucrats is what you are.

- Washington Post

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm ready, Lord, for the flood!

That is Bible talk for "the mid-Atlantic region is undergoing several days of heavy precipitation interspersed with periods of lightning and flash flooding." That, of course, is meterological talk for "SHIT, muthafucka! DC is WET!"

There have been fires, shuttered roads and buildings, derailed commutes, widespread power outages, and many difficult rescues, but thankfully - so far - no reported fatalities or major injuries. But there's more on the way. Damn you, low-pressure trough, or whatever it is!

Anyone remember The Bridge to Terebithia? That was a sad book.

The worst part thus far, then, has been the marked decline in personal grooming. This hasn't been the kind of "clean the air" rain that makes the atmosphere feel all fresh and renewed. It just made everything more humid. Combine that with the power outages, and it's Night of the Living Dead out there. Women walk listlessly through the waterlogged streets, hair pulled back in frizzy ponytails. Some seem to be wearing gym clothes to work. Makeup seems optional. Gaaaah. And this is just the half of the human race to which I am physically attracted.

Hello, fourth of July tourists. Welcome to Washington!

Washington Post

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(Bridge Photo Credit: By William E. Mccormick For The Washington Post)

Monday, June 26, 2006


Washington Post

(Photo Credit: NBC via Associated Press)

Warren Buffett helps out the little guy

It's heartwarming that Warren Buffett is giving away $37 billion to the Bill Gates foundation. I heard that particular charity was having some cashflow issues. Plus, there really aren't a lot of charities or causes out there anymore. So this made perfect sense to me all the way around. Lend a hand to the underdog. You don't want any one foundation, you know, completely monopolizing the business of charitable giving. That just isn't the way Bill Gates does business.

In other news, the Oakland Athletics have decided to disband and send all their players to the New York Yankees, and Burger King is giving half of its stores to McDonald's.

- Washington Post
- Gates foundation Web site

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Chili Peppers find trouble with "California Sex California," the first single off their new album, "Sex California California Sex Sex"

This album covers a time period in the band's life that they refer to as "The Sex and California Years." Also known as, the band's entire career.

Guess what the album title means in Chili Pepperese!

It will also henceforth be known as "The Plagiarism Years." The first single (it's really called "Dani California") mines rich new lyrical territory by discussing the band's home state of California - along with the sexiest sex references since the band's last big album, "Californication." But it has come under fire for containing a guitar riff whose first four notes sound EXACTLY like the famous riff from Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." They could have just bitten "Crosstown Traffic," but they wanted to plagiarize BIG.

And if that's not enough, highly respected singer-songwriter Tom Petty is now considering suing the band for ripping off his 1992 song "Last Dance With Mary Jane." Apparently, the band just took out the words "dance" and "Mary Jane," and replaced them with the word "California." They then replaced the words "last" and "with" with the word "sex."

It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Until then, Chili Peppers, your creative vitality remains truly awe-inspiring.

- New York Post article on
potential Tom Petty lawsuit
- Rolling Stone
review of "Stadium Arcadium" (boy, you can piss in Rolling Stone's ear and get four stars if you're famous enough)
- Would you like to
buy this album?

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Whew! I'm glad that immigration problem is over!

See? Nothing a few news cycles' worth of attention can't fix. We addressed it, we marched, we debated, we argued, we dug our heels in, and we debated some more. As a nation, we were transfixed for approximately two weeks worth of media saturation. And now, do we still hear about it? No. No, we don't. So... problem solved! Huzzah!

Thankfully, scenes like this one are a thing of the past.

So what if actual legislation hasn't been passed, apparently in a move of defiance toward President Bush? Who are you, Danny Details? Nancy Nitpick? Come on. We don't have room for people like you in the national discourse. People who want "tangible results" and "real progress." You can sit in your spaceships with the scientific-evidence-huggers. Your kind makes me sick. I mean, physically ill.

So in closing, I'm glad our democracy rose to the occasion to tackle the issue of illegal immigration. Was that really so hard? May this serve as a lesson for future debate - let's just yell at each other in the blogosphere for two weeks, get on some magazine covers, have a march, and move on. At some point, you have to let it go, people. Let it go.

- Washington Post story on
House Republicans vs. the President
- Washington Post editorial on the status of the immigration bills

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(Photo credit:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Thomas Gang

The New York Knicks announced today that General Manager Isiah Thomas - widely regarded as a failure as a coach or general manager with three different NBA teams and as president of the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association - will be the Knicks' head coach AND GM.

I, for one, applaud the Knicks for making this move. Because they are poised on the brink of a great opportunity, and they know it. With this move, the Knicks are saying, "we embrace this moment in history." The team can and should now aggressively pursue new depths of basketball ineptitude.

Isiah Thomas greets his millions of
adoring fans at the news conference at
which he triumphantly announced himself
as the Knicks' new head coach. Huzzah!

A starting lineup featuring five power forwards? Trading three draft picks for magic beans? (Or, you know, they don't have to be magic. Pintos are cool, too.) Fistfights on the bench? Fan revolts? A zero-win season? Multiple homicides? These are just some of the cards in play now that Isiah Thomas has full rein in the Big Apple. The sky is the limit.

I repeat. The. Sky. Is. The. Limit.

Isiah loves Winnie's upside. We want him
as the new small forward for The Thomas Gang.
Would you take Steve Francis and
three draft picks for him?

And I say to Thomas, screw all the naysayers. They just don't know how to dream big. Isiah, I understand that you want to go down in history as the WORST coach and GM in the entire history of organized sports. Cut and dried. That is it. So Godspeed, Isiah. And remember - there's only one gang you need to belong to. And that's
the Thomas gang.

- Washington Post
- Hater Skip Bayless
drinks some Thomas Haterade

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(Photo credit: The Associated Press)

Here we go again with more of that pesky "evidence"

The National Academies of Science - a noted bastion of witchcraft and anti-American psychobabble - released a study today claming that Earth is now the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."

Look! Researchers from the National Academies of Science! Get 'em!

That's great, National Academies of Science. I'll be in my spaceship. Right? And I'm not coming out until you stop insisting that "facts" and "evidence" have a place in the national discourse. Because I like my discourse full of only a very few select words: Troops, Jobs, Business, Terrorism, Troops, and Liberal Media - the latter of which clearly has you in its back pocket. So until you're ready to come down from your
ivory tower of "information in the public interest" and talk about how your beloved "scientific data" can lower gas prices, I have no use for you.

story link
- The National Academies of Science

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Ann Coulter political cartoon - I have nothing to add

Except that when, as a conservative, Bill O'Reilly implies that you've crossed a line, then you have crossed a thick, yawning, very difficult-to-cross kind of a line. Without further ado:

- Fox News
Bill O'Reilly column on Coulter
- Washington Post
Howard Kurtz column on the controversy and media's handling of same

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(Political cartoon credit: Jack Ohman)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Dallas Mavericks were the Koko B. Ware of the NBA Finals

Last night, the Miami Heat captured their first NBA title. While Dwyane Wade is clearly the alpha dog of that team and maybe the entire league, it was the "old guys" - Mourning, Payton, Walker, etc. - who tipped the scales in this series. Rather than Dallas looking like a younger, speedier team, they just looked greener compared to Miami's cagey and hungry-for-a-title vets.

The Mavs' showing in this series reminded me of a certain professional wrestling personality from the 1980s and early 90s. I speak of none other than The Birdman, Koko B. Ware.

The Mavs and The Birdman even have similar colors...

Why, you ask? Because both like to come out early with a lot of energy. They are quick, high-flying, and fairly exciting to watch. I say "fairly" because, in the end, it seems predestined that both are going to lose, to the point that last night's fourth quarter was almost boring. The Mavs didn't have the juice to pull it off and everyone knew it. The bag of tricks is flashy, but it's not deep, and there's no ironclad will to win. And that, I say, is why the Mavs are the Koko B. Ware of the 2006 NBA Finals. I don't think they'll be the Koko B. Ware forever, and for their sake, let's hope not. Because if that's the case, they'll never wear the gold.

- Washington Post
- Miami Herald
story link

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I have good non-car-insurance-related news

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday not to limit the scope of the Clean Water Act. While the ruling "muddies the waters" - that's a pun that I use when I mean it makes the law unclear, but is also a play on the fact that the law deals with waterways and such, did you get that? - it seems to be a good sign that no new specific limits were put on the government's ability to enforce the act, which attempts to protect wetlands and other similar property.

In perhaps the most shocking turn of events of all, the vote went along party lines - the conservatives wanted to really rein in the law, the liberals wanted the law to remain as a viable protection tool - with justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote, in favor of the liberal side this time. It's funny how what everyone predicted - that Kennedy would basically be the guy who decided every case because he's the only moderate on the whole court, and the lefties and righties would all vote predictably - has come true.

Although, I don't see any good reasons why the environment remains a partisan issue. Why is it not yet commonly accepted that we all have to protect our home planet? Anti-environmental conservatives are entitled to their property rights and pro-business stances, but how does, you know, the planet being destroyed not trump that? What, do they live on a different planet than we do or something? Wait. Don't answer that.

Washington Post

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Next up: a space ark

So a bunch of scientists in Norway are building a seed vault, a big disaster-proof thing that holds a bunch of plant seeds in case we need to re-vegetate the earth after the inevitable, ERRRR, theoretical environmental disaster. In a way, this creepy scenario makes me feel a little better. Here's to plants surviving humans!


I OD'd on sports this weekend

And now I'm slowly returning to normal. But I figured that, before the DTs kick in, I should record my over-the-weekend takes on what I'll call The Wide World of Sports. You can't use that phrase by the way - I made it up and I own it.

I can totally quit whenever. Let's
watch another game, man!

I'll go chronologically. Thoroughly entertaining 1-1 tie Saturday afternoon between the U.S. and the I-talians. Had a chance to watch this one at a bar, and it was crazy how packed the bars get now for the World Cup. It doesn't even get that way for Redskins playoff games. Very interesting.

Anyway, Italians are very, how do you say, passionate about futbol, which they like to call The Beautiful Game. During Saturday's match, the Italians threw some very beautiful elbows, took some very beautiful flops, and drew some beautiful red cards - the most passionate of cards. They also scored a beautiful own goal that was The Equalizer for the lazy, dispassionate Americans. (I love that phrase - a tying goal is The Equalizer. That's awesome. It makes American sports phrases like "upside" and "walk-off home run" seem kind of pedestrian.) Better luck next time, Italians. And go Americans this Thursday against Ghana.

Secondly, congrats to the Washington Nationals for winning their weekend series with the Yankees. The Nats needed something like that. Capped off by Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run Sunday afternoon, it could be the biggest series in their short history. Way to go, fellas. We need a better phrase for "walk-off home run," by the way. How about "The Atomizer?" Or since it's the final nail in the coffin, how about a "Coffin Door Home Run?" Book it. You can't use it, though. Another patented phrase for The Wide World of Sports.

Thirdly, there was the U.S. Open. I wonder if Amy Mickelson is done changing the bedding that her husband shat all over Sunday evening. Just painful to watch. Mickelson tried to be Cowboy Bob the whole day (especially the total, total spit-up job on 18) and pissed away the tournament. Remember on the third or fourth hole when he drove into the rough and tried to do something cutesy with a fairway wood instead of just punching it out, and the ball went about six inches, followed by Mickelson punching out with a wedge and eventually making bogey? That decision was the difference. I really like The Left-Hander (even though he shills for Satan) and hope he can get back to that victory-before-glamor style. You have to feel bad for Colin Montgomerie, too. You can tell he'll never get another shot at a major. Monty's choke had a sad finality to it.

Finally and probably best, though, was the awesome Game 5 between Miami and Dallas in the NBA Finals. The fourth quarter and overtime bursts from Wade and, to a lesser extent, Nowitzki were unbelievable. What can you say about Dwyane Wade? He's the bomb. I know that's an outdated phrase, but screw you, hipster police. It's appropo. Dwyane Wade is The Bomb. Give me Wade over LeBron, Kobe, whoever. He was shaking two, three Mavericks at a time to get his shots off, and the two free throws at the end were just nails. Also, let us not overlook the gutty play of cagey veteran Gary Payton. Hopefully, Pat Riley starts going more with Payton at point guard over Jason "I have a nervous tic where I needlessly jump in the air before every pass that I make" Williams, especially late in games. GP knows this is his last chance, and unlike certain golfers that shall remain nameless, he rose to the occasion.

So that was The Wide World of Sports this weekend. Delightful. Don't get many weekends like this too often. Hope everyone was able to savor the overdose. Now if you'll excuse me, my chicken soup is getting cold, and my methadone is starting to dissolve. Good day then.

Washington Post article on
U.S. Open
Washington Post story on
Washington Post story on
Nats beating the Yankees

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Monday, June 12, 2006

A very special guest blog featuring Bill Walton

Throw it down, big man! Throw it DOWN!! And welcome, welcome, one and all, to the pinnacle of human acheivement, the center of the basketball universe, the NBA Finals! And although I begin today's irregular and irreverent dispatch with my trademark introductory greeting, it could not be any less true than it is on this morning. For there is no joy in Miamiville, friends and neighbors. Mighty Shaquille has been blown out.

And while the big man huffed and puffed and did his best to blow the Mavs' house in, his gargantuan body and his even more gargantuan talent were not enough. For the Mavericks of Dallas - oft maligned this campaign for their lack of focus and interest on the defensive end of the floor - sprung their merciless trap, and ensnared in their grasp the mighty Shaq. Try as he might, the big man was unable to overcome their double and triple teams, their zone coverage denser than a pint of Cherry Garcia, so dense that it appeared at times to be like five moons encircling a distant alien planet.

But when Shaquille, like the seasoned warrior that he is, attempted to find a teammate that was inevitably left open by this collapsing coverage, the sharpshooters were left to take aim, which on this day was not true. Jason Williams finished with 3 for 10 on jump shot opportunities while making only 1 of 4 three-point jump shots. Similarly, Gary Payton finished 1 of 4 overall. Even superstar Dwyane Wade needed 19 shots to score 23 points, and was like the waves on the white cliffs of Dover, dashing himself incessantly against the ramparts with endless drives to the basket, when jump shots, in their discretion, may have proved the better part of valor on this day.

But give credit to this Dallas Mavericks franchise for finding the will to win, and the will to compete on the defensive boards. They are to be commended. And they WILL win this series in a sweep. There is just no way around it. Shaquille O'Neal is utterly and completely by himself, and even as mighty a soldier as Shaquille - truly the Achilles of the planet's modern era - can not a phalanx of enemies single-handedly defeat. So until next time, this is Bill Walton, saying throw it DOWN, big fella! Throw it DOOOWWWWWNN!!!!!

Washington Post
news article
Washington Post
Michael Wilbon column, much of with which I agree
Miami Herald story on
what went wrong
My own
personal home page
Cherry Garcia

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Yo, I don't know what "Stu Scott" means exactly, but it basically means "fucking idiot"

So I'm watching the NBA Finals last night, and they're doing the requisite "Mavs owner Mark Cuban is just a really rich fan and look at all the cool luxuries he put in the locker rooms" story. The story is being "handled" by ESPN SportsCenter personality Stuart Scott.

Stu got to the exciting part about the chairs the Mavs players sit on during the game, and said they were "ergonomic." He then went on a classic Stu Scott tangent. I quote:

"The chairs are ergonomic. I don't know what 'ergonomic' means. I can't even spell it. I'd be out of the Scripps [Howard] Spelling Bee if they gave me that word. Seriously. But basically, it means 'for really big, really tall guys who want to be really, really soft.'"

End of quote.

Of course, as anyone who has worked in an office over the last five years and has any semblance of mental capacities knows, "ergonomic" just means that something is designed to fit your body and increase comfort. The dictionary defines "ergonomics" as "the applied science of equipment design in order to reduce operate fatigue and discomfort." I don't know how Stuart Scott doesn't know this. Maybe he's too busy mining outdated rap songs for new SportsCenter catch phrases. Either way, mad props, Stu! You're making us all get jiggy with laughter. And how you got that job? It's beyond me, dog. You must have evidence of some OPP going on. Word up!

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Da Vinci Code -- The Little Movie That Could

Just about a month ago, a film called “The Da Vinci Code” entered theaters. I can’t recall there being any fanfare. That’s why I like to call it The Little Movie That Could.

After doing some research, I discovered that “The Da Vinci Code,” is actually based on this book that was popular in certain circles. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It actually has the same name as the film.

Ah, but seriously. As most people know, the globally celebrated $425 million phenomenon that was “The Da Vinci Code” in novel form hasn’t exactly translated to big screen success. If a gross of $171 million (as of June 6) can ever be called a disappointment, that is. Amid worldwide protests and, even worse, really bad reviews, “The Da Vinci Code”: the movie hasn’t hit the unequivocal home run many people might have expected.

They make these same expressions for like two hours.

Speaking of the reviews, did I mention they’ve been bad? Have they ever. And the negative sentiment seems to have built on itself. In the wake of the movie, it seems to have become quite fashionable to bash the book. Retroactive critics are always amusing. Nevertheless, while the book was not the most well-written piece of literature the world has ever seen, it does read very much like a movie. So coming in, I wasn’t sure why the majority of people would dislike the film if, non-retroactive critics aside, most people liked the book. Just set the pages to live action. How could they possibly go wrong?

And to an extent, that is true. The critics who panned the movie, I think, were a little off. Much of the time, critics seem to have different scales of what makes something good or bad depending on their expectations for that particular project. For instance, since critics presumably had a higher ceiling of expectation for “The Da Vinci Code” than they did for, say, “X-Men,” there was more room for the former to fail. But when taking the absolute value of the movie itself, it really wasn’t a bad little ride, this Little Movie That Could.

There is no lack of fun actors. Tom Hanks is main character Robert Langdon, a famous Harvard symbology professor (I once waited in line for two hours to get a symbologist’s autograph. No, wait, that was a football player). Sir Ian McKellen (aka Gandalf to American philistines like myself) plays eccentric millionaire Sir Leigh Teabing, and Jean Reno is hardboiled detective B├ęzu Fache. Perhaps the best acting (and character) in the whole thing, though, is Paul Bettany as the brutal, troubled monk Silas. That’s the good news.

Now, the bad news. There is a lack of fun roles. There is such a premium on the story that the characters can’t keep up. Particularly in the case of Audrey Tatou, playing a block of wood, er, Parisian police symbologist Sophie Neveu. Her and Hanks have zero chemistry, and she brings nothing to the table other than asking a million inane questions that eventually just kind of make you want her to stop talking. Also, the story. It kicks along and keeps the viewer engaged, but it never builds up any real head of steam. It all feels mechanically predetermined (it is, of course, but we’re not supposed to feel that way), like some creaky amusement park ride. So while there is some drama to the story, there is never any real suspense. To exacerbate this feeling, the explanations of the symbols and history behind the story are so watered (and dumbed) down it feels like a youth group field trip. And when it you finally reaches the ending, they seem to accidentally jumble the film. It’s like finding out who shot J.R., then listening to the Patrick Duffy explain why he never had any friends growing up. Boring!

To draw an odd conclusion analogy, the movie feels a little like instant oatmeal. Take an astoundingly successful book, add Tom Hanks, and voila! It doesn’t leave you hungry, and it doesn’t taste so bad going down. But ultimately it is oddly unsatisfying, and as you consume it, you are aware that real oatmeal takes more effort than this. Hey, it’s okay and all. There’s just nothing organic or fresh about it.

Rotten Tomatoes
Da Vinci Code page
The Washington Post
Da Vinci Code review
The Washington Post
story on China banning The Da Vinci Code

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mission accomplished! The war is over!

Great news! Looks like our long national nightmare is over. With the death of Sunni Muslim insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was responsible for thousands of deaths in Iraq, the second Gulf War is finally finished!

We were just toying with you, Abu. Objective complete.

I am simply elated that we finally destroyed the man who started the whole Iraq war. If if wasn't for al-Zarqawi and his terrorist dealings, we would never be in this mess! Remember when we called those summit talks, and al-Zarqawi jumped up from his chair, and banged his shoe against the table, and cried "we will bury you"? That was crazy. But thankfully, with his passing, all of that hatred and violence between Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds and Americans is behind us. The bombings against Iraq's fledgling security force will end, and the Iraqi government will be able to form itself in peace. We will be able to refocus on our central mission over there, which just happens to escape me at the moment. But it will come to me. I'm just overwhelmed right now. What a rush!

Washington Post

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(Photo Credit: AFP/Spiegel)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Soccer - I wish to feel the passion

Soccer is anathema to many American sports fans, but I get the feeling that it may be verrrry slowly gaining a foothold.

So to this end, I feel the time is ripe to jump on this delightfully festive bandwagon. I'm tired of the same old same old parochialism of American sports. Football, baseball, basketball, and golf. Football, baseball, basketball, and golf. I want to shop in some new sports aisles! You know that ethnic aisle in the grocery store, with the huge bags of dried beans and the dusty bottles of things like coconut soda? Well, that's soccer, man! Soccer is the coconut soda! And you know what? The rest of the world is hooked on this stuff! They can not stop drinking it! But we're all so stuck on our Diet Coke (and our Mountain Dew on weekends) that we're in a rut. But I, for one, wish to drink the coconut soda. I wish to feel the passion of The Beautiful Game. The passion. The rhythms. The beauty. And let us not forget, of course, about the passion.

This is soccer. Any questions?

So I'm climbing on board. I'm camping out in soccer bars (there are some good ones in D.C.) and watching these matches. I've been reading up on it, and America seems to have an uphill battle. We've got the powerhouse Czech Republic to contend with. We've got the always brash, always entertaining Italians (don't know anything about their team, though). So we'll see.

My first order of business is to simply witness a live-action goal, which I have never done outside a shootout or highlight package. So if I can do that, and learn the game (my friend Rishi has pledged to help me out on this one) I'll call this a success. And if I can get into the World Cup, maybe I'll parlay that into an increased interest in four-time MLS champions D.C. United, easily the most successful Washington sports team of recent years. Might be nice to support a winner for a change. So hey. Go Yanks!

Washington Post story on
some soccer injury
Full Washington Post
World Cup primer

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hey, I just realized something - today's date is 6-6-6!

Did anyone else get that? It's the number of the beast! I'll gas up the car - you guys get the batteries. We can be in my old Y2K cave by sundown. I knew it would come in handy. Now fly, fly!

Quickly! We can hole up in here!

Washington Post
story link
story link
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
story link on 666 prayer marathon
The Church of Satan: The Web site

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Jessica Alba - you're on notice

There's a reason I stole that line from Stephen Colbert. It was only fitting. Reason being is that this week, Jessica Alba proved herself to be just another bag of Hollywood meat - vapid, thoughtless, hypocritical. Why all the vitriol? Her speech after a win at the MTV Movie Awards for her striptease in Sin City (whatever award category that is).

"Thanks to all the perverts who voted for me," Alba said upon accepting (she also hosted the show, which airs Thursday).

What? I'm rubbing my hip because I
got a jellyfish sting. And this photo shoot
is for a film about nature.

Now, I didn't vote for this. I don't watch the MTV Movie Awards. And with the exception of "Sin City," I've never seen a minute of her TV or film work. What gets me is that she sexualized herself in "Sin City," gladly took the money for the role, gladly took the movie award, then called her fans (those loyal enough to vote for her) "perverts." Is that because some of your fans are heterosexual males who enjoy it when a sexy girl takes off her clothes? You are a pervert if you enjoy that? And if you truly feel that way, doesn't enabling that behavior make you a pervert as well? It's not like guys were up in a tree, looking up her skirt with binoculars as she went into the bathroom. And it's not as if her role in "Sin City" was a seemingly innocuous role from which people of a certain mindset were forced to extract certain ambiguous forms of sexuality. She played a stripper! And she stripped!

What if Cheryl Tiegs had called Sports Illustrated readers "perverts" after her famous fishnet spread in the 1978 SI Swimsuit Issue? A premature end to the sexual revolution, that's what. After thinking it over, I really believe that.

That, of course, would be the very same sexual revolution that allows Hollywood meat bags like Alba to become celebrities with their bodies. After all, what other conceivable reason could there be for Jessica Alba's celebrity? It's not acting. Don't get me wrong, when your body is a 10 out of 10 (like Alba's), then use what you got to make your money. But 30 years ago, if Tiegs, et al. had called out their fans for celebrating the very attributes they themselves were putting on display, Alba and hundreds like her would not have nearly the careers they have now. It's disingenuous, it's condescending, it's ungrateful, and it's stupid.

And like most stupid things, this is all Britney's fault. This is definitely a move from the Spears playbook. It's artificial naivete. Alba is simply giving herself plausible deniability. Slink around mostly naked, use that to create popularity, and when you are recognized (or criticized) for it, say that people who notice you for that reason are just icky pre-verts. You're a SERIOUS ARTIST. It's like sucker-punching someone and then taunting them for having anger management issues when they try to retaliate. It's like opening a delicous pastry stand, then calling your customers gluttonous fat-asses. So I'm pulling your card, Jessica Alba. Quit crapping where you eat. I know you're reading this. And I don't care if you were only joking. One thing about Hollywood is, there's always an assembly line of shapely meat bags to take your place.

Washington Post
story link

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Tom Green spotted alive, learning respect for sea

So, what has Tom Green been up to lately? Well, a lot, apparently.

Not too long ago, he broke some ribs on a fishing trip and had to drive himself to the hospital. Can you see him doing that? My ribs are on the floor! Ribs are on the floor! Goodness me, there is bleeding on the floor.

And now, the former MTV talk show host has another talk show ready to kick off. Can you guess where it is airing? Go ahead, guess. CBS? Nooooo. Spike TV? Try again.

Years later, still an astounding display of marry-upsmanship

Give up? Yeah, this was a tough one. The answer is, The Internet. Can you believe it? Talk about a curveball!

Anyway, it's an uncensored talk show on the Internet. I wonder if he'll stick his face in poo. Of course, Fear Factor and a bunch of other places kind of co-opted that bit of shock TV from him. But I'm sure he'll still be entertaining nonetheless. After all, he was once married to Drew Barrymore and still lives in the Hollywood Hills. And that is in no way depressing.


St. Louis Post Dispatch

Some celeb site with
fishing story

48 hours of "Benson"? Somebody pinch me!

Well, it finally happened over the weekend. TV Land finally added the television show "Benson" to its lineup. And to formally re-initiate us back into the "Benson" era, the cable channel kicked it off with a 48-hour "Benson" marathon this past weekend. That's two full days of "Benson."

I mean, can you believe it? How could the weekend get any better? Answer: it couldn't. My neighbor across the street tried his hardest to get me to leave my house after the Brinks truck, the beer truck, and that bus carrying the high school girls' volleyball team got in a three-way crash on my front lawn. But you know what I said to my neighbor? I said, quit callin me. 48 hours of "Benson," man! Hollaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

Yes! It's the whole "Benson" gang. Hey, gang! Can you hear me?

Come on. When Robert Guillaume does his thing, and the other actors do their various things, there's just no stoppin it, with the things and so forth. And maybe I'm a little pastier for the wear, and maybe my eyes are a little glazed, but to this guy, it's all worth it. But you know what the best part about it is? I can finally stop sending my weekly five-page letter to TV Land begging them to include "Benson." Finally, my letters - and my prayers, my fervent, tearful prayers - have been answered. And I couldn't be more thankful.


News release
announcing the big news

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Welcome back to "That's Not A Word!"

Hello, hello, and welcome back to That's Not A Word! Today's winner is environmental activist organization Greenpeace. During a recent presidential speech, you circulated a memo containing anti-nuclear energy talking points. One of the bullet points on the memo was:

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

We went to the dictionaries. Then we smoked some bong hits. Then we looked in the dictionary again, because we forgot what we had looked up the first time. And congratulations, Greenpeace! "Armageddonist" is not a word!

Hey! Stop Wailing! Why doesn't anyone take us seriously?

And because environmentalists insist on wondering why, oh why, they are stigmatized the world over, as they make up words and forget to complete their talking points and such, Greenpeace, your prize will be six months of formulating complete sets of talking points for the oil industry!

Congratulations, Greenpeace. And we'll see YOU next time on "That's Not A Word!"


Washington Post
story link

Previous episodes of
That's Not A Word!

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(Photo credit: Greenpeace)

"I can't talk now, but I answered my cellphone anyway for some reason"

"Hello? Who's calling, please? Look, I don't know why we're talking right now. I'm in the middle of something very, very important -- it's a closed-door meeting, actually -- and I just can't be talking on my cellphone right now. Look, why don't you call me back. Just call me some other time, and hopefully at that time it will be more convenient a time for me to speak with you. I would tell you a specific time at which to call back, but I just don't live my life like that. I have many closed door meetings, some of which spring up at a moment's notice. Mid-year conventions don't post-mortemize themselves now, do they? Now you surely understand why I can't talk right now. So why do you nevertheless insist on talking to me?

"But as I was saying. Yes, I can't talk to you right now. Call back another time.

"What? What's that? Voice mail? Never heard of it. Good day now."

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My dog ate my belt

First of all, I'm not what you would call a dog person. I'm just not. Some big dog barked in my face when I was a baby, and from what I've heard, things that happen to you when you're baby-sized create later trauma. But after years of physically forcing myself to deal with them, I got over it. Mostly.

Fast forward 10 the present day. It is present day America right now. Two months ago, my wife and I adopted a dog. And what a dog she is. Half German shepherd, half pit bull (I know - the perfect mix for someone who's tentative around dogs, YES!), and alllll crazy.

This is the calm...before the storm....

Actually, let me say that my dog has grown on me very much, and she's overall a very good girl. Aren't ya? Aren't ya, girl? Yes, yes, you are. You're a good puppy-wuppy-weepy-woo.

But sometimes...she has these moods. There are dark places in her brain, places we don't talk about at parties. And when those strike, well, there's no quarter.

Case in point: last week, she ate my belt. She didn't bite it, didn't tear it up. She physically consumed the belt. She was home alone in her kennel, and the belt was ten feet away from her, hanging on a chair. She deliberately moved herself, in the kennel, over to the belt. And ate it. When I came home, all that remained was a lonely buckle, lying askew on the linoleum.

So what happened? For about four days, nothing. She was fine. But on the fifth day, pieces of belt started coming out in her crap. Then she stopped crapping. Then it was all liquid. Then she vomited up some belt (and other stuff). And then my wife took her to the vet. The vet advised us to give her some Pepcid AC (what?) and don't feed her for a day. Then, she charged us one hundred and fifty dollars. Thank you, doctor. You've done a good turn here today. Now, the vet advised us, over the next few days, your dog is going to be crapping out the last of the belt. So take her on a lot of walks, and bring a lot of crap bags. Christmas in June!

So anyway, my dog is nice, but she's a little crazy. That belt wasn't beef jerky, you, er, jerk! And now on top of all that, I need a new belt. This one, I'm storing in a lockbox.

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