Sunday, December 28, 2008

Favre Out

The verdict is in. Last year's New York Jets starting quarterback Chad Pennington leads an average Miami Dolphins team to an AFC East championship while aged veteran Brett Favre leads a very talented Jets team to the golf course. Please, Brett, stay retired this time.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

(Stupid) Man vs. Machine

-------------------------- Massage-O-Matic 5000?-------------------------

Here's a story about how three people were killed by a Japanese foot massager. I enjoy stories like this because they are about people being killed in ways I am unlikely to die, which in my mind, raises the average lifespan among people like me who do not put themselves in ridiculous fatal situations. (Although I realize I am tempting fate by saying this...."Tonight at 11...blogger predicts his own unbelievable death!"). Here are other situations that I am happy to hear killed people:

1. Mountain Climbing (especially if the victim chose to climb in a particularly dangerous way, no oxygen, no communication devices, no food, no warm clothes, etc.)

3. Murdered by a Japanese Foot Massager (see above)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Before They Were Stars

You didn't think Kermit the Frog landed that plum Sesame Street job right out of the gate, did you? Here's Kermit when he was just a young actor trying to make it big, as a pitchmuppet for Garry's Sausage.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is There a Secret Gay Basketball League?

Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I think the new American Basketball Association, founded in 2000 and currently consisting of nearly 40 teams playing all over the world, is a closet gay baskteball league. Don't believe me? Let's look at some of the teams in this league:

The Youngstown Swish
The Charlotte Crossovers
The Alaska Dream
The Houston Takers
The South Texas Showboats
The Georgia GWizzlies
The Bahama All-Pro Show

And an honorable mention has to go to the Butte Bandits of the All American Professional Basketball League.

I think it's great that there is a gay professional sports league. As long as none of the players say they are "married to the game," they just might do all right.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dismember the Titans!

Well, well. It seems that my New York Jets have knocked the Tennessee Titans off their undefeated pedestal. Takes a Titan to beat a Titan, I guess. The most surprising thing about the victory is that I'm not surprised. After the Jets returned to their perennial doormat form last year, I expected little from them this year, but since the unfortunate loss to Oakland, they've been playing like a different team. A playoff team, if not necessarily championship caliber yet.

The question is do I now once again have to reevaluate my opinion of Brett Favre? The answer is yes and no. I stand by my disappointment in Favre's earlier performances, but this is a different quarterback we've seen over the last few games. This is a quarterback who uses his running backs, who doesn't panic and doesn't gamble, and hence, doesn't throw interceptions or make big mistakes. This is a quarterback who gives us everything we got Brett Favre for, and not the stuff we would rather do without.

That being said, he couldn't be doing this alone. The Jets line, on both sides of the ball, is the best it has been possibly ever, guided by standouts Alan Faneca on the offensive side of things and Kris Jenkins on defense. Leon Washington has had some tremendous performances both on special teams and behind the line, and Thomas Jones has looked great. So credit where it's due: Favre, keep doing what you're doing, but know you've got a team behind you that's making you look good.

See you in the playoffs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bang Bang!

Here's a report and article about an 8 year old boy who shot his father and a boarder to death in Arizona. According the article: "Romero was from a family of avid hunters and wanted to make sure the boy wasn't afraid of guns and knew how to handle them." Mission accomplished!

Thanks for the liberal gun control laws, Justice Scalia!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Proposition 8A

In the Bible, Deuteronomy 22:22, it clearly states "If a man is found lying with a married woman, the both of them shall be put to death."

In order to protect traditional marriage, I am proposing Proposition 8A, which will make adultery (but only for cheating women), a capital offense. A vote yes on 8A will reinstate the death penalty in Califoria but only in matters of adultery. When passed, any married woman who fornicates with a man other than her husband, as well as that man, will be summarily executed and marriage will be saved.

Do YOU want ADULTERY taught in our SCHOOLS?

Are our CHILDREN safe from ADULTERERS?


Save the institution of marriage. Vote YES on 8A!!

You hypocritcal bastards.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Barack Obama is your 44th President of the United States. I'll admit, I didn't think it would happen. Frankly, way back when this all started, I thought it would be Hillary. But of course I am thrilled. In my mind, the Republicans who fear that this result will lead to disaster haven't been looking around. In my mind, there's nowhere to go but up.

Unfortunately, the victory is bittersweet for patriots here in California due to the passage of Proposition 8, an amendment to take rights away from Gay Americans, and the passage of similar laws throughout the country.

What makes this so disturbing is that many of those African Americans in California who are so joyful at touting Obama's victory as a victory for equality and civil rights were just as happy to pull a lever to curtail the rights of gays, and have no problem reconciling the two positions, despite the fact that attitudes against gays today are virtually identical to the ones against blacks in Dr. King's time.

The Proposition 8 passage is an abomination, and the hardship that it puts on homosexuals may be the least of the tragedy.

1. Its Unamerican

For those who complained that war dissenters were unpatriotic, here's what real non-patriotism looks like. To amend a constitution to take away rights rather than to grant them is possibly the most unamerican thing anyone could possibly favor. In our Declaration of Independence, our founding document, it states that this country is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, with the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness is guaranteed by the most fundamental of American documents, and Americans voted on Tuesday to deny that guarantee.

2. It's Unconstitutional

The equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the constitution, often used to protect the rights of blacks, clearly indicates that gay marriage bans are not permissible in a free country (check out the last clause of Section 1). If we had a fair Supreme Court, the California proposition and others could easily be taken to the Federal court system and be struck down. Sadly, our court is littered with activist judges who legislate their values from the bench, led by the unabashed hypocrite Antonin Scalia, who brazenly claims to be a strict constructionist while he interprets our most sacred document however the hell he wants.

3. It's Dangerous

Allowing a constitution to be amended by a simple majority vote is unprecedented. It's also ridiculous and dangerous. It sets a precedent that allows the majority to dictate minority rights. In America, majority rules while minorities are protected. Not so in California. Why can't Jews be barred from getting married next? Or Armenians or sanitation workers? All it takes in California to make any of that happen is a good campaign to get it on the ballot and an intolerant majority. What could be more dangerous than that?

In conclusion, those who voted for Obama because they believe in his ideas and that the change he and his fellow Democrats can bring will be good for this country, bravo. For those who voted against civil rights, against American ideals, especially those who have ostensibly been fighting for equality for so long, shame on you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Favre Cry

Ok, so it's readily apparent that I was way too soft on Brett Favre and that I should have gone with my first instinct. Sure the Jets are 4-3 and one game out of first place, but no thanks to Favre. He isn't just bad, he's quite possibly the worst Jet quarterback I have ever seen. And I've seen Browning Nagle and Mark Malone. Behind Favre's consistent and embarrassing interceptions, the Jets lost to the second worst team in football and came within a touchdown that Laveranues Coles had to catch behind him off his hip of losing to the worst team.

Don't believe me about Favre? Let's look at some eye-opening statistics. Here are Favre's stats through Week 8:

TDs: 15 Int: 11 Yds: 1611 QB Rating: 89.5

Here are the stats of the guy he replaced, Chad Pennington:

TDs: 7 Int: 3 Yds: 1710 QB Rating 100.5

Just for kicks, here are the stats of the guy who replaced Favre in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers:

TDs: 12 Int: 4 Yds: 1668 QB Rating 98.8

Sure Favre has the most touchdowns, but only twice as many as Chad and 25% more than Rodgers. In contrast, he has nearly 3 and 4 times the number of interceptions as both guys and fewer yards, and we all know that turnovers lose games. Who would you rather have?

In lighter news, Obama seems to be holding onto his lead. If he wins, things will get better in this country right away. Half the country will find a way to give the Republicans credit almost as quickly, despite the fact that Republican administrations have been almost consistently disastrous throughout history.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back in LA

I just got back from the New York Television Festival, where my script with Elizabeth, "Comic Book Geeks" failed to win the FOX comedy script contest. Virtually everyone there to whom we described our project responded: "Hey! I'm a comic book geek!" How come none of these people were among the judges?

Anyway, we got to see a bunch of impressive independent pilots and hear from some of the top people in the television industry. Here's what I learned:

There's always room for another good procedural.

The traditional sitcom is currently dead, but speculators expect its time will come around again soon.

It's all about the international market.

Now you know all you need to know about television.

By the way, I also got to see the HBO Premiere of its new animated comedy show, "The Life and Times of Tim," where I got to hear the immortal line:

"Bum rape humor is not a genre of humor."

Sunday, September 07, 2008

So Favre, So Good

Well, Brett Favre walked off the field of his inaugural game as the starting quarterback for my New York Jets with a win. Did the Jets look fantastic with all their spanking new acquisitions? Not really, they were lucky to hang on and it went to the last play of the game.

Was it Favre's fault? Definitely not. Favre to me did not look like he has lost a step, and he did something that Jets fans haven't seen in a long, long, time: Threw a 50+ yard touchdown pass. Given that the Jets struggled with a team that won a single game last year, I'm not ready to believe that Favre will lead the Jets to the promised land. But he definitely should be a lot of fun to watch.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Raising McCain

Well, the Republicans finally got their turn, and let's see what we've learned. Here's my analysis.

The Leadup:

The decision to essentially cancel the first day of the convention was an interesting one. On the one hand, the Republicans may have been right that it would have looked bad to "fiddle while Rome burns" by partying while a potential disaster was imminent. I'm sure at least many in the blogosphere would have been happy to transpose pictures of houses swept away by raging winds with shots of happy Republican partiers. On the other hand, it also felt a bit opportunistic, a chance for the Republicans to show that they are now the "party that cares." The end result, I think, was a wash. The Republicans didn't look bad, but on the other hand, they were not able to hit the ground running and built up momentum, and it wasn't until Sarah Barracuda took the stage that the convention had any energy at all.


Rudy Giuliani continues his quest to make me feel unending shame for making him the only Republican I ever voted for for anything (you'll just have to trust me that things were really bad in the early '90s in NYC). Nice to see that he is still carrying 9/11 around like his favorite pet monkey. What disturbs me most about Giuliani is his tactic of trying to make a joke out of the Democratic party. His big laugh line was that Barack Obama was a community organizer out of college. Why is that a joke? Obama was quick to point out the hypocrisy of the "anti-big government" party thinking that organizing people on a local level is ludicrous. Giuliani's exhorting the party to laugh at the Democrats, to try to paint them as pathetic losers rather than a group with different ideas about how to make this country strong, demeans them all.

Sarah Palin:
And what everyone was waiting for, the coming out party for Caribou Barbie (thanks Stephanie Miller). Palin gave a great, inspiring speech with little substance. The consensus seems to be the people inside the arena loved it, but the people outside may have considered her a little bit catty. That's the problem with trying to be compared to Hillary Clinton. A lot of people have a real problem with outspoken women. Kind of thought the Republicans would know that one.

The Speech:
I write this shortly after the speech was delivered, so its reprecussions are not yet well known. I thought it was a fine speech, little to criticize, but then, little was said about policy. In the end, McCain is a Republican, and a good soldier, and the facts are that the Republicans have had stewardship of this country for eight years and they have screwed it up in very predictable ways. That today, attacks on big government and the Washington elite are in fact, attacks on Bush's Republican party. They want to make this election about character and not issues, and this speech served that.

The Bounce: As I write this, the Republican event was not able to make a dent in Obama's bounce from last week. However it's still early.

The first debate is Friday September 26th at the University of Mississsippi, and will focus on foreign policy and national Security. If McCain can't hold his own in this one, he could be in trouble. For America's sake, let's keep our fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jeff Foxworthy, Where Are You?

If you believe that your state should secede from the Union....
If you want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a bridge that would service a few hundred people a day....
If you have a son named "Track" or "Trig" or a daughter named "Piper" or "Bristol"...

Well you just might be a redneck.

If you want to fire the city librarian for not banning enough books....
If your husband is a champion snowmobile racer....
If you think it's cool to shoot at animals from helicopters....

You may, in fact, be a redneck.


If you don't believe in birth control or evolution...
If you have an unmarried, pregnant teenage daughter...
If the Republicans think you are a viable candidate for Vice-President of the United States....


Monday, September 01, 2008

Campaign, Interrupted

So we won't be having a lavish spectacle for the Republican National Convention. Out of the goodness of his heart and a desire not to be linked with Bush's pathetic efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, John McCain has agreed that there will only be a minimal, perfunctory nominating convention so that efforts can be concentrated on Hurricane Gustav. While on the one hand I applaud any efforts to focus on averting major tragedy, it's hard not to see this as more political opportunism. Let's look at the advantages of limiting the convention for Gustav victims vs. the advantages to the McCain Campaign:

Advantages to New Orleans:

Focuses Attention on the Crisis
Allows President Bush to Focus on the Crisis.

That seems to me to be about it. Having John McCain on call during the Gustav emergency does not seem to me to be any more crucial than having any of the other 99 U.S. Senators on call (less crucial than Mary Landrieu and David Vitter). In addition, to be frank, most of the major news outlets had already decided to focus their attentions on Hurricane Gustav, so this move seems almost like a face-saving one.

Advantages to the McCain Campaign:

No Fiddling While Rome Burns

This is one of the ostensible reasons for the move, so that the Republicans don't appear to be partying and celebrating in the midst of a crisis, but frankly I think it's the least of the true reasons. For example, now...

Bush and Cheney Don't Have to Speak at the Convention

Given that the McCain campaign is desperately trying to distance itself from the Bush Administration, this is a huge plus.

Less Attention on Sarah Palin

Given that this woman seems to be little more than bait for women voters, I'm guessing the less she says and the less she is scrutinized, the better.

No Comparisons Between McCain Speech and Obama speech

Clearly McCain did not have a chance to match Obama's speech, both because he is less skilled at oratory and he has less to say. What was he going to proclaim, that that 90% of the time that he voted with Bush was a fluke? That he represents change even though he comes from the same party that has bludgeoned this country for the last eight years? I don't think so.

While I hope New Orleans benefits from this move, it really seems to be another pandering political move, like the selection of Palin, designed to win an election for a party that clearly doesn't have the facts or the issues on its side. Well, who can blame them, it's worked before. Let's hope the American people are too smart for them this time.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Living History

The action is fast and furious as the year comes to a close, no sooner do we dispense with the Beijing Olympics, historic in its own right on many levels, than we have the Democratic National Convention to analyze. And analyze it we will. To wit:

The Leadup: All the speeches leading up to the nomination were excellent in my opinion. From Ted Kennedy's deeply moving words, to the always charming and eloquent Bill Clinton, to Hillary rallying her troops, to Michelle Obama showing her strength, to Joe Biden reminding us of his working class background and his dreams of America, everyone did their job.

The Clintons, much feared and reviled for their supposed ego and power-hunger, gracefully deferred to the chosen nominee and rallied support behind him. You'll be hard pressed to find Republicans exhibiting such decorum.

They, and Obama after him, managed to avoid looking like they were attacking John McCain while at the same time taking him to task for being willing to propagate the policies of the Bush administration, a double-edged sword few Democrats have been able to handle without getting cut.

The Nomination: The acclamation of Obama, led by Hillary, was perfect, as was Obama's "surprise" appearance. Call it political theater, call it, as the "fair and balanced" Britt Hume did, "pure hokum," it delivered an important symbolic message. And it worked.

The Arena: Over the top? A little, perhaps, but not so much to merit the kind of attention and derision it got. One wonders if the other side paid so much attention to the venue because they have so little else critical to say.

The Speech: Some say brilliant, others "workmanlike." This speech was a huge success. But don't take my word for it. Look at this!

Your eyes do not deceive you! Bill Kristol, the 21st century's answer to Bob Novak, liked Obama's speech! He liked it! He really liked it! While it would be a bit too much to expect all of FOX's "fair and balanced" pundits to approve of a Democrat's performance, Sean Hannity predictably dismissed it as "a bunch of liberal cliches," and we know what Hume thought, this is a pretty big endorsement, if not of Obama's policies, at least his words.

What I liked about it is that he said a lot of things that need to be said, cliche or no.

He reminded us that the Republicans will attempt to dismiss the Democrats as the party which will raise your taxes and abandon traditional values (seems like I mentioned this on this blog not too long ago.)

He reminded us that the idea that somehow because Democrats welcome diplomacy as a way to solve problems without bloodshed we are soft on security is ludicrous. This is one of the biggest lies the Republicans have managed to so successfully propagate. Wilson, who led us to victory in World War I, a Democrat. Roosevelt, who led us to victory in WWII, a Democrat. For better or for worse it was Democrats who were not afraid to march on Korea and Vietnam and Republicans who pulled us out before the "job was done," and it was Republicans responsible for these disastrous Gulf Wars. So which party produces Presidents better prepared for war?

He reminded us that the Clinton years brought us an era of undreamt of economic prosperity in contrast to Bush's eight years of economic despair.

He reminded us that Democrats can be compassionate and also strong.

And millions were listening.

The Bump: Despite the Republicans breaching etiquette and launching attack ads while the Democrats should have had the spotlight to themselves, Barack got his bump, if delayed. He went from being two points down as the convention began to being 8 points up. Even McCain's surprise reveal of Vice President Beauty Queen (more on that in a moment), doesn't seem to have stopped the rise. Of course, next week the Republicans get their shot.

And no sooner did the DNConvention end than we learned that John McCain had made his choice. Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. Miss Wasilla, Miss Alaska Runner-up, Sarah Barracuda, The Hockey Mom. Senator McCain, a more transparent and pandering choice you could not have made.

It is beyond offensive that McCain thinks that women are so interchangable that a 44 year old Governor of a state that borders not any U.S. state, but CANADA, will pick up the votes that a respected Senator of New York and former first lady who has dedicated her life to public service while Palin was out hunting moose, brought together.

McCain, this choice will not earn you any Hillary voters and takes a huge chunk out of your credibility as someone who is not out of touch (you think the issues of Alaska represent the heartland? or the coasts?) and someone who puts heavy stock in experience (44?). One wonders who he would have chosen had Hillary won the nomination. I'm guessing this guy:

This choice is going to blow up in McCain's face,and I for one, can't wait to see if during the Vice Presidential debate, Palin gives Biden the opening to paraphrase the great Lloyd Bentsen stinger: "Governor, I served with Hillary Clinton. I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine. Governor, you're no Hillary Clinton."

Next up: The Republican National Convention. Then: The debates. Hang on sports fans, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic Breakdown

So the games of the XXIX Summer Olympiad have finally come to a close, and it's safe to look back and do some analysis. I've already talked about my feelings on the structure of the medals in an earlier post, but I think there's a lot more to talk about.

China: It just goes to show you what a totalitarian state can do when it puts its mind to it. From the effortless, flawless, diving robots the Chinese produced (the Chinese put together perfect dive after perfect dive, with the exception of their very last dive of the games, in which Zhou Lu Xin faltered ever so slightly, proving at the last moment that the Chinese were human after all, and allowing Matthew Mitcham of Australia to pull off a miracle dive to snatch the all-important 8th gold and diving sweep away), to the graceful gymnasts that seemed like they were literally born to compete, to the eight weightlifting golds they collected, the Chinese were a gold medal minting machine. An impressive display of national spirit, but also a scary one, as there was more than one story of a world-champion athlete who it seems would rather have been something else.

The Coverage: Good, if predictably ethnocentric. In fact, too good. Four years ago I would have been limited to the coverage I might be able to catch during four hours of primetime during the week and eight or so on the weekends. This year, between the Internet, multiple cable stations and TiVo, I felt obligated to pursue round the clock coverage, coming home each night to find 17 hours or so of acton waiting for me. Of course, TiVo helps as much as it hurts, allowing me to zip past Mary Carillo puff pieces on eating scorpions and pregnant pauses between gymnastics scores and the like, but still, I think I'll need the two years between now and Vancouver to recover.

The Decathlon: This is a huge mystery to me. The country that won the Decathlon this year? You'll never guess. That's right, the USA! Bryan Clay was your decathlon winner, the "world's greatest athlete." Clay has a pretty good story, since he fell just short of winning the decathlon in 2004 in Athens, taking home a silver medal, and this time went for, and got, the gold. So why no coverage? The last American to win the decathlon, Dan O'Brien, did so to much fanfare. You also may have heard of the last American to win before him, a fellow by the name of Bruce Jenner. So why no hoopla for Clay? Why did we not follow his journey? Was it because he was the first Afro-Asian American to win the title of World's Greatest Athlete? I hope not, but I'm waiting for a better explanation.

Boxing: Much controversy over the scoring and allegations of either favoritism or incompetence. I believe the technology exists to make boxing better. I'm for computer chips in the gloves themselves to help record hits. Professional boxing is always under the shadow of corruption, it would be nice not to have amateur boxing suffer the same stigma.

Moving on in this non-stop action summer, we have the Democratic National Convention. Stay tuned to this space for analysis.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pony Up, Olympic Hosts!

The Olympics are coming to a close (mercifully, no doubt, for my girlfriend who has been suffering from two weeks of 'round the clock coverage) and I think its about time I aired one of my major grievances about the Olympics: Stinginess with the medals on the part of the host country. Here is an example of what a gold medal should look like, from the 1996 games in Georgia, U.S.A:

Now here, by contrast, is a gold medal from this year's games in Beijing, China:
What happened to all the gold? What's up with the cheap plastic ring in the middle?

But here, by far, is the worst offender, from Albertville, France in 1992:

Are you freaking kidding me? Its made of GLASS! You cheap bastards!

These Olympians get one shot every four years, sacrifice their whole lives and overcome impossible adversity to get these medals. They deserve more than a gold-lined piece of glass or plastic.

I'm calling on the British Olympic Committee right now: Show 'em how its done in 2012 in London. Let's give these athletes the medals they deserve.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


So Barack Obama has selected Joe Biden as his running mate. I have great respect for Joe Biden and have since I was a kid watching him lead the confirmation hearings on Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. I think as far as what is good for this country from a governing standpoint, it's a great choice.

Of course, what is good for the country is irrelevant when it comes to electing our President. All that matters is how well the Republicans can convince people that the other guys are morally bankrupt and will raise their taxes. It doesn't matter how bad the economy gets, Americans, who never learned economics due to our underfunded education system, think that a promise not to raise taxes will protect their income and spending power (of course, they also believe that the theory of evolution means that people were sired by monkeys, so it's all relative). Democrats are going to start behind for that reason no matter what, so the issue then becomes how successfully the conservatives can smear the Democratic ticket. With Biden, they have some ammo:

1) He's an established plagiarist. Now Im sure most Americans do not consider plagiarism a crime on the level of say, marrying an unapproved person or removing a microscopic cell cluster from a womb to save countless lives, even though of course it is much, much worse, but it is still something the Reps can point to and say "Look! Integrity issues!" (and by the way, how come John McCain can completely abandon his suffering wife for a newer, richer model with no problem but John Edwards steps out for a one-off and its the end of his career?)

2) He's on record as supporting McCain over Obama.

One wonders why Democratic candidates don't think of these things when running against each other. This one is really bad and you can be sure we are going to hear about it all day long on FOX news.

3) He tends to put his foot in his mouth. Now in all fairness, the guy is 65 and had a couple of aneurysms, so you can forgive him for misspeaking every now and then, and he is charismatic enough to charm his way out of these situations most of the time, but it still gives me pause.

Will Biden hurt/help Obama? In the White House, a definite help. As far as getting elected, it probably won't matter one way or the other. Hopefully we'll get lucky and McCain will add Joe Lieberman to his ticket, since you can be sure the Fundamentalists won't stand for that.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mortgaging the Future?

Well, after reading my Brett Favre blog posts, the football elite have finally gotten their ultimate revenge. They are sending Brett to my team, the New York Jets. Am I happy about this development? Does my team pinning their hopes on a 39 year old quarterback have me brimming with confidence? What do you think?

Serves me right for getting involved....

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Prediction Time

OK, time for another one of my fail-proof predictions: Your Democratic Vice Presidential nominee is this guy. He kind of seems like John Edwards 2.0, doesn't he? Anyway, you heard it here first.

In other news, my significant other Elizabeth and I are in the final 25 out of 900 entrants in the FOX New York Television Festival Comedy Script Contest. Stay tuned to this space as details develop!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Dark Knight Triumphant

"The Dark Knight" is currently the 12th highest grossing movie of all time, and is projected to eventually slide into the #2 spot between "Star Wars (A New Hope)" and "Titanic". It's definitely a quality movie and one that is true to the 1985 "Post-Crisis" movement, what I like to call the "Reality Shift" movement of comics. It shouldn't be surprising that a movie like this has finally come out, as guys like me who were comic-reading teenagers in the 80s have finally become old enough to make movies. It will be very interesting to see what Hollywood does with "Watchmen" and how both the non-comic reading public and the fans respond.

So, hits and misses with "The Dark Knight" from a Fanboy's perspective.

The Joker: Heath Ledger's performance is a hit, of course, although in all fairness, this is not a role that lacks meat. William Goldman, the legendary screenwriter, points out that while Dustin Hoffman received accolades for playing the autistic brother in "Rain Man," the far more challenging role is the one Tom Cruise portrays, as the brother who doesn't have all sorts of built in tics and mannerisms to play with. I think Dark Knight presents the same issue. The Joker is easy to play. Jack Nicholson had no trouble with the character in the original Batman movie and Cesar Romero didn't in the 60s TV Show. In contrast, look at the disastrous turns that guys like Val Kilmer and George Clooney had as the Caped Crusader. Playing the guy who is supposed to be in control and subdued all the time and still reveal the rage boiling underneath, that's the tough job, and I think Christian Bale pulls it off excellently. I think the real problem is that those prior actors didn't know how to play Bruce Wayne. Christian Bale does.

Two-Face: A great job actually taking the time to explore this character's backstory (although they actually changed his origin significantly) and incredible makeup/digital photography. This Two-Face looks like Two-Face is supposed to look. I hope they do more with him in the next movie.


The Joker. Didn't expect that, did you? My issue is this. In his first appearance, the Joker used Joker Venom. It poisoned his victims while causing their faces to spasm in a crooked, twisted smile. This made his murders all the more horrible and it was ignored in this film. Maybe Nolan thought corpses with big smiles would look too cartoony but I think it's an important part of the character.

Two Face: The original story, where Dent becomes Two Face after being sprayed with acid by a vengeful mobster during a prosecution, fits the character better, and I would have liked them to have worked this in. Also, we didn't get a chance to see any of Dent's "dual themed" crimes, so I sincerely hope we'll see this character again.

Still, this is definitely the movie that comic book fans have been waiting for and if you haven't seen it yet, you definitely should.

Side Note: The 999th highest grossing film of all time? Oh God! Starring George Burns.

Update: No doubt the football elite have been reading my blog, as Brett Favre has agreed to return to the Packers and the Packers have agreed to give him a shot at the starting job. See? Everybody does the right thing, everybody's happy!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tales of Great Quarterbacks

OK, now that we've gotten our buddy Zac Sunderland out of the way, let's get back to Brett Favre. There is a camp of people that feels sorry for Favre. They say all he wants to do is play football and the Packers are preventing him from doing that. They say, just release him from his contract, or let him come back with the promise that they will trade him to another team. It's just not fair to Brett!

Listen, Brett Favre seems like a nice guy. But he wasn't too worried about what was fair in 2001 when he signed a $100 MILLION DOLLAR LIFETIME CONTRACT. That is not a misprint. Favre agreed to play out his career in Green Bay, and the Packers agreed to pay him more money than you or I or 90% of those Packer fans that feel so bad for him will probably ever see in a lifetime. Brett, you had a charmed career and are rich beyond belief. Either go out on top or go hold a clipboard for Aaron Rodgers but don't make the Packers the bad guy here. I am generally a labor guy and I am telling you the Brett boosters are wrong on this one.

Just for fun, take this little quiz. Which of the following were actually said by Brett Favre?

A) "I don't want to move. I enjoy the fans. I just want to stay. I couldn't envision myself playing for another team."

B) "If (playing for another team) would ever come up, I'd probably just retire. I've made enough money that I don't need to jump ship and go somewhere else."

C) "I know it shouldn’t feel unsuccessful, but the only way to come back and make that be the right decision would be to come back and win a Super Bowl. And honestly, the odds of that, they’re tough. Those are big shoes for me to fill, and I guess it was a challenge I wasn’t up for."

D) All of the Above

If you said D, you deserve $100 million dollars!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tales of Great Teenagers

It seems that some people may take offense to my suggestion that the Zac Sunderland story is overblown, that in fact this is a young man who is really doing something great with his life and should be admired. Here is a link to the story of Ateqeh Rajabi. Like Zac, she was 16. Like Zac, she stood up for what she believed in, in his case, sailing the ocean blue, in her case, protesting the "misogyny and injustice" of Islamic Fundamentalism. Zac got a shiny sailboat and a nice puff piece on CNN.

Ateqeh was hanged to death in the city square and then had her grave defiled. There was a report on it in the Iranian Press Service. As far as I know Wolf Blitzer had no comment.

Sail on, Zac! TEEN POWER!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sometimes I Just Hate People....

Brett Favre, who"retired" last year, is asking for his release from the Green Bay Packers so he can go try to hook up with another team. The Packers have refused. And I say: Good for them! I'm so sick of these fake retirements by athletes that it makes me want to puke. They have their tearful press conference, they accept commemoration and adulation from their adoring fans, while all the while they're planning their next move. The repugnant Roger Clemens tried this routine a couple of times and it's just sickening. Retirement should not be a backdoor way to get out of your contract and try to get a better deal. Either retire, or stick it out, but don't fake it, screw with the emotions of your fans, and completely ruin their image of you and your team loyalty by jumping to a new ship at the first good opportunity. Stick to your guns, Packers! Favre was a great player, but he made his choice and now he needs to either hold Aaron Rodgers clip board or go back to mowing the lawn and playing catch with the dog.

Someone else I hate is Zac Sunderland. This little 16 year old punk is getting all sort of publicity because he's going to try to sail around the world. Big F-ing Deal. He's got a state of the art sailboat with full Internet and phone access and he can stop whenever and for as long as he wants. He's not doing it to raise awareness for any cause except himself. As far as I know this will not prove anything except that his parents have way too much money and he has way too much time. Go do an internship somewhere! Get a paper route! I'm hard pressed to see why we should be impressed if he succeeds. As far as I know, no one is going to try to stop him. That actually might make it interesting, if there were people out there whose goal was to thwart Sunderland in his mission by any means necessary (short of severe physical injury or death of course). Unfortunately I cannot afford to pay for such an assignment but if anyone wants to give it a shot, his route can be found here.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Shuffle Up and Deal!

The 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event is underway, and the tenure of "Ambassador of Poker" Jerry Yang, who as far as I can tell did not do a thing for or with poker during his reign, is almost over. A friend and I have a gentleman's wager, a "last longer" bet for which name player will go deepest in the tournament.

My Team:

Men Nguyen
Phil Hellmuth
Chris Ferguson
Phil Ivey
Mike Matusow

His Team:

Greg Raymer
Johnny Chan
Allen Cunningham
Daniel Negreanu
Gus Hansen

I've taken an early lead as Raymer and Negreanu both made swift exits, but anything can happen. That's poker!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Free Gas

Well, not quite free, but while we're on the subject of cool websites, another one to check out is There are a number of gas pricing sites popping up on the web but I've found this one to be both fairly comprehensive and easy to use. It's a peer contributor website, where "spotters" (and anyone can be a spotter) input gas prices they have seen around the nation.

You simply put in your address or area of interest and you will get reports of gas prices in your area, color coded to indicate how recently the prices have been updated. It couldn't be easier, and the only way we're going to get these gas prices down is by consistently going to the cheapest pumps, so let's get cracking.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Taking Harp Lessons....

George Carlin died last week. Almost every modern comedian owes a debt to George Carlin. From Jerry Seinfeld to Chris Rock, the modern brand of smart, cutting, sometimes unforgiving observational comedy was perfected by Carlin.

The pabulum spouting mainstream media outlets responded by taking about the "7 words you can't say on television." Oh those 7 words." "Oh George, you and your seven dirty words." "Who can forget those seven dirty words!" Most of these newsreaders on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc., have probably never seen a Carlin routine in their lives.

Carlin was about so much more than fighting censorship. Carlin pointed out the absurdity of life with an unbiased eye. Whatever ridiculous platitudes and self-serving cliches you thought you could get away with in real life, Carlin would deconstruct mercilessly, making you laugh all the way. Rest in Peace, George, wherever you are. Here is the master himself giving his thoughts on death and the afterlife. They're not very comforting, but it wouldn't be Carlin if they were. (Note: The explanation of this post's title can also be found within.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Free Rice

There is an awesome site that everyone should check out. It's called Here's how it works: You get quizzed on words. Every time you get one right, you earn points towards increasing your vocabulary level. More importantly, every time you get one right, the site donates 20 grains of rice to feed starving people. Instead of simply wasting time and getting meaningless points for playing an online quiz, you FEED STARVING PEOPLE. Your knowledge is actually USEFUL.

In addition, the game is designed to actually teach you and increase your vocabulary. It's a win win. You get smarter and starving people get to eat. How often do you get a win-win in life?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Bush Legacy

The Supreme Court just ruled that restrictive gun control laws are unconstitutional. Some pundits are saying that the ruling is not a big deal. That it doesn't change that much. But it is a big deal.

It's a big deal because it's the Supreme Court giving a big F-U to the American people. The Court is saying that no matter how many people want a government led according to the principles of the Democratic party, the right wing court will always be there to wield the power. They have five activist judges willing to overstep their bounds and make their own laws and that's what they're going to do.

And make no mistake, that is what they've done here. The text of the Second Amendment is quite clear:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

In any country not full of gun nuts, that would not be open to interpretation (and don't come at me with the commas issue. It says what it says). There's a dependent clause in there. It says because we need a militia (because we have no standing army), everyone needs to be able to have a gun (in case the Redcoats come). The conservatives would have you believe that despite the fact that every other part of the consititution is carefully worded with specific purpose, the Founders just threw in that part about the militia for the hell of it. That it was just a bit of a jerk off. That they got together and said: We think every nut should be entitled to pack heat but instead of writing that, let's mention that a militia is important. It's ridiculous. It's nonsense.

And the Court knows it's ridiculous. They ruled that people were entitled to own a gun subject to certain limitations. Unh uh. That's not what it says either. It says shall not be infringed. No limitations. It was okay that they wrote that because if you only have your gun to fight off invading Redcoats and the occasional Cherokee, there's no reason for limitations. On the other hand, if the national defense issue is off the table and has nothing to do with the right to own a gun, even the Court understood that limitations are needed. So they decided limitations were legal. Even though the constitution says they're not. They simply wrote a law. One that says the opposite of what the constitution actually says.

This is the Bush legacy. Activist judges who control our government like it was Fascist Italy or Communist Russia. Possibly for decades to come. So much for checks and balances. So much for the American experiment.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

American Myths

What Classic Archetypes are your favorite superheroes based on? Here are my thoughts. Let's hear yours:

The Hulk: Mr. Hyde


Captain America: Achilles

Batman: Sherlock Holmes

Iron Man: Frankenstein's Monster

Wonder Woman: Atalanta

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is Pegasus Next?

Here is a picture of a unicorn. This is not a joke and I do not know how to photoshop. This is an actual picture of an actual unicorn discovered in Italy this week. It's not as smooth-looking as the unicorns you see illustrated in storybooks, but reality rarely is. Still. A unicorn.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Selective Memory

I saw a comment online the other day where someone said that if Hillary Clinton was the VP choice she would vote for McCain because she would rather die than see another Clinton in the White House. How can the average person be so psychologically deluded as to buy into this? How can people fail to remember how great things were when Bill Clinton was President? Here's a quick reminder:

Unemployment Rate in 2000: 4 percent
Drop in Violent Crime 1992-2000: 506,784
Hostile Action Military Deaths: 76
Federal Surplus: +230 Billion
Cost of a Gallon of Gas: $1.51

By way of comparison, here are some more current numbers:

Unemployment Rate in 2008: 5.5 percent
Drop in Violent Crime 2000-2006: 7,741
Hostile Action Military Deaths: 2,596
Federal Deficit: -410 Billion
Cost of a Gallon of Gas $4.00

But everyone should keep on voting Republican for President and blaming Democrats and see how much better things get.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The System is Broken

CNN reports today that after the results from Puerto Rico are tallied, Hillary Clinton will have more of the popular vote than Barack Obama. If Obama wins the general election, he will be the second consecutive President who takes office despite another candidate winning the popular vote.

We can all see how well the first one worked out.

The Electoral College system is a dinosaur. It was designed for times when there was no direct communication between states, let alone instant communication all over the world. It was for a time when a local man in a small town had to get up in the town square and say "This man Thomas Jefferson is a great man! Vote for me to ride my horse to Philadelphia and represent Smithtown's interest in Thomas Jefferson!"

That man was called a delegate, and he clearly isn't needed any more. It's time for America to have a true democracy where everyone's vote counts. We can rebuild it. We have the technology.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wiki Fugue

I have invented a new disease. It is called Wiki Fugue and is characterized by suddenly finding yourself on a Wikipedia page with no explanation and no memory of how you got there. There is no reason for you to be at any of the following Wikipedia pages (except as a link from this one), so if you fnd yourself at any one of these, contact your Internet psychiatrist immediately:

Old Oak Common TMD

Carolyn Waldo


Rhodes Hall

Psychotria Bryonicola

Sunday, May 25, 2008

You're Part of a Dystopian Alternate Reality, Charlie Brown

Here's a cute picture of the Peanuts gang depicted as characters from Alan Moore's Watchmen, which I found on a German site called Nerdcore.

While I love the sentiment, I think the creator got the characters a bit wrong, to wit:

Charlie Brown is definitely Nite-Owl. Nite-Owl is an every man, who does his best despite knowing that most of his efforts are ultimately doomed to failure.

I like Schroeder as Ozymandias. They look sort of similar, and both clearly have some special gifts.

Pig Pen has got to be Rorschach. A traumatic childhood would explain a lot about why PigPen is such a mess.

I think Linus is Dr. Manhattan. Linus is sort of the moral center that the Peanuts world revolves around. Although Manhattan has his own unique morality, both he and Manhattan are Jesus-like figures in their respective universes.

By extension this would make Sally the Silk Spectre, since their relationship is a key element of both universes.

Finally I think Lucy is the Comedian. She sees the world as it is and finds it both wanting and entertaining at once, as she pulls the football away every time.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'll See That Bet, and Raise...

Heroes of the big and small screen have found themselves in gambling situations for as long as television and movies have existed. Here are some common film and TV related gambling tropes.

Craps: Despite the fact that most craps tables have a throng of people crowding to get any piece of the table where they can bet from, and that most of the time the players are betting on someone else's roll, our hero will always be at the head of the table and will always be the shooter for the length of the sequence.

Roulette: Our hero never bets groups of numbers. He only bets a single number or on red or black. He never bets on odd/even. He almost always puts all his chips down on a single spin. This is especially true if he is playing red/black.


Blackjack: All movie and television heroes can count cards. Not only that, but this ability allows them to win instantly and consistently, despite the fact that real card counting may take hours of meticulous concentration before paying off. The hero will usually get escorted or chased away by casino security rather than getting up of his own accord.

Poker: At some point during the sequence, our hero, whether bluffing or holding the nuts, will go all-in for his entire stack. He is also likely to say "I call your (x amount) and raise you (y amount)" even though calling and raising are two separate actions and to try to do both is a clearly illegal string bet.

Slot Machines: Playing slot machines is not heroic. Our hero will play one coin by accident (he happens to have an extra quarter while waiting for a friend, for example). This coin will win him or her a huge jackpot, despite that most slot machines will not pay off a major jackpot unless you play at least five coins. If a secondary character has played a machine for hours to no avail, the very next person who puts a coin in the machine will win a huge jackpot.

Baccarat: Our hero will appear to be a very skilled baccarat player, despite the fact that there is not an iota of skill involved in baccarat.

Sports Betting: Sports betting is for losers. If our hero bets on sports, it's only to show that he has a gambling problem. Anyone else who bets on sports will usually lose, although a final bet may become a miracle win to save the bettor from total disaster, at least temporarily.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

There Will Be Blood (But Not Too Much)

I finally got around to seeing the critically acclaimed Oscar winner "There Will Be Blood," starring Daniel-Day Lewis as ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview. While the movie is a bit of a slow starter, it does get going late in Act II, and the pace of this expose of the oil world based on Upton Sinclair's best seller "Oil!" is not my issue with the movie.

My problem with this movie is it is simply out of date. This should not come as much of a surprise to anyone. The novel on which it is based was published in 1927. The problem is that Mr. Plainview, whom we are supposed to see as a sinister, diabolical, ruthless businessman, simply isn't that big a deal by today's standards. Sure, he ruins a small town or two, shows little compassion for workers killed in his employ, and takes revenge on one or two people who wronged him, but can this really compare with Halliburton's role in the war in Iraq?

Sinclair, who in his time turned a magnifying glass on the ills of industrial society, no doubt meant Oil! to be a cautionary tale on the dangers of business run rampant. Sadly, many more people then, as today, needed jobs than needed books, and the warning went unheeded. As a result, Oil!s bogeyman Plainview, with his odd gait, appearance, and speech patterns and his devastating fury which results in the death of a handful of people at most, is little more than quaint, and most of us probably long for the days when men with as little ambition posed the greatest threat to society.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Will the WSOP Ever Be the Same?

In a stunning move of corporate greed, Harrah's Entertainment has decided to reformat the main event of the World Series of Poker so that the final table, determined in July, will not be played out until November. This is almost universally thought of as a terrible decision by the players, except for the celebrity pros of course, who stand to benefit tremendously from the hype and the publicity, especially if they are chosen to coach one of the final table participants.

There are a ton of reasons why this is a bad idea. One that concerns me the most is the safety of the participants. With millions of dollars on the line, who is to say that some unscrupulous type might not pay someone to make one or more of his opponents "disappear?" It sounds dramatic, but things like this happen in other countries all the time, eliminating the competition, as it were, with a lot less money at stake.

Here are the main reasons why this idea is a disaster and how Harrah's addresses them.

1. Harrah's is getting the "float" from all the entry fee money while waiting for the main event to finish.

Harrahs: The money will be put into an interest-bearing account and the full amount of that account will be distributed to the players when the time comes.

2. The players may have only been able to afford one trip to Vegas this year.

Harrahs: All players will receive ninth place money once the final table is set. In addition, sponsorship deals made in the interim are likely.

3. The players' safety may be at risk.

Harrahs: Each of the players at the final table will be followed closely by television cameras and documentarians up until the final. This close scrutiny should protect them from harm.

4. The players may collude.

Harrahs: See above. Also, Harrah's will take every anti-collusion step they deem possible and effective.

5. A player may die in the intervening months.

Harrahs: A player could just as easily die in the day between the final table being set and the final table commencing under the current format.

I still don't like it, but the chances of my being at the final table of the WSOP this year are negligible, so I guess I'll just sit back and see what happens.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Elvis or Beatles?

In the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman's character says that everyone is an Elvis person or a Beatles person (I'm a Beatles person). Personally I think the dichotomy is Beatles/Rolling Stones, but the point is that there are certain areas of pop culture and of societal preference where you have to take a stand. There are Beatles people and Rolling Stones people. There are cat people and dog people. There are Star Wars people and Star Trek people.

And there are Superman people and Batman people.

I have always been a Batman person. When I was an avid comic book collector in my youth I was accused of buying anything with Batman on the cover. Not true (although I did buy this).

A great argument for why Batman is the more intriguing character is presented at here. You can guess the basic reason: Batman is human and therefore relatable, Superman is basically a God. Alan Moore knew this, and gave us the kind of Superman we could understand in MiracleMan and Dr. Manhattan. As the article points out though, if Superman had too much depth, he would cease to be Superman.

I actually recently heard from a Superman fan the only good counterargument I've ever heard, which went a little something like this:

"Imagine that anything you ever wanted you could just take, and no one could stop you. Any frustration could be dispelled, any desire immediately quenched. You decide not to act on those desires. Now imagine you have to make that choice every second of every day. Most of us don't have the willpower to skip a tasty looking donut even though we know it's not good for us. Now look at Superman."

Does sort of put the debate in a different light, I must admit.