Saturday, December 31, 2005

Rainy day ...

It's the last day of 2005, and it's raining in Los Angeles. If not cats-and-dogs, it's definitely a puppies-and-kittens type of rain, and the forecast is that it will span the gap between years, ending sometime on the second day of 2006. Which means that the hallowed Rose Parade is likely to get a bit soggy for the first time in a long while. But water is supposed to be good for roses, right?

In a way, it's nice that it's raining here today, even if the vast majority of Los Angelenos are either shaking their fists at the sky in fury that their plans to hit the beach have been foiled - or, more likely, are wondering in terror where the bright yellow light they've grown so accustomed to has gone. But for me, it's kind of symbolic of the washing away of the residue of a year that was pretty rough on a lot of people. Or maybe just Mother Nature's last raspberry toward the human renters of her planet, another reminder of who's really in charge - as if we needed one after all of the hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and Nick-and-Jessica stories that invested the Earth for the past 12-plus months. Either way, the rain kind of justifies my time-honored decision not to venture out into the drunken pathways that mark the New Year's Eve festivities. I'll be sipping my non-alcoholic sparkling cider, on my balcony, bidding 2005 a proper adieu.

Happy New Year, suckers!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas with a twist

I have very talented friends and family. My brother is an artist. Many of my chums are writers, which makes sense considering I am as well. And my dear friend Rachael, my first college buddy, is not only an excellent singer, but a budding filmmaker as well, thanks to her boyfriend Brendon. The two of them just sent me a Christmas-themed short that Brendon directed and Rachael contributed to, and I thought I would share it with my audience, all four of you.

Click on the subject line to get a smile to put on your face.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Baseball, gentleman! Baseball!!

Since I launched this blog several months ago, I purposely have steered clear of political matters, mainly because I have observed that in these days of division and polarization, little often is accomplished by airing one's political opinions on such a public forum, other than preaching to the choir and/or bruising fragile egos. This self-imposed embargo, however, does have room for exceptions, and this entry is one of them.

I go into this potentially sensitive area because the issue at hand deals not just with politics, but also one of my big loves, baseball. Some of you may be aware that Major League Baseball, in its continuing mission to garner positive public opinion from the masses, as well as promoting the world's greatest sport to the world itself and acknowledging the growing international presence in the U.S. leagues, will stage the inaugural World Baseball Classic this coming spring. Sixteen nations are scheduled to be represented, including Canada, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, and a myriad of squads from Latin America, where baseball has never been more popular. One of the countries in the region that has been invited to take part in baseball's equivalent of the World Cup is Cuba - a natural choice, considering the powerhouse Cuban teams that have been sent to the Olympics and other international tournaments. The prospect of a U.S.-Cuban matchup at some point during the WBC surely had baseball fans salivating at seeing Cuba's best players take on the likes of Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens.

Well, those fans had better towel off, because as of now Cuba is out of the tournament. This is the decree of our friends in the U.S. government - specifically, the Treasury Department, and even more specifically, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which has denied the Cuban team a permit to play in the WBC, citing the embargo status the U.S. has against Cuba's Communist government.

This is crap. The whole idea of international athletics is to keep the politics at home in the name of sports, competition, and peace and harmony. And while the previous statements turns out to be bunk more often than not, that doesn't mean it's time to stop living up to it. It's extremely disappointing that the U.S. government, which currently is run by a self-described baseball fanatic, has seen fit to put the kibosh on what was designed to be a glowing example of how a game can bring people and nations together. Major League Baseball and the players' union already have pledged to try to get a reversal of this decision, and I expect politicians on both sides of the Cuba issue to have their two cents' worth before all is over, but considering the stubborn streak in the current administration, all that huffing and puffing may not be enough to convince the powers that be to chance their minds. If that doesn't happen, maybe the organizers of the WBC should consider playing the games based in the U.S. - and the potential millions of revenue the tournament may earn - to a more hospitable location. I hear Havana's lovely in the springtime.

Click on the subject line for an article about the situation - that is, if you haven't stopped reading out of patriotic disgust or something.

Speaking of commercials ...

Here is an example of a commercial gone terrible, terribly wrong. It's another ad from our friends of Carl's Jr., best known for heart-attack-inducing cheeseburgers and a commercial in which Paris Hilton all but had sex with one of the oversized sandwiches. Their newest TV spot endorses what they say are sensational, great-tasting milkshakes. But I'll never know, 'cause after seeing this on the tube the other day, I will never be able to consume a Carl's Jr. shake without possible barfing it back up with this thing going through my head.

Besides, Hersheys Creamy Chocolate Milkshakes, availble in your grocer's dairy section, are cheaper and fantastic, and don't use pseudo cow sex as part of their marketing campaign.

Click on the subject line for the icky sights, if you dare. Moo.

More "fun" with freaky commercials

Click on the subject line for another example of weird-ass marketing. You'll never listen to Lionel Richie the same way again.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

That mutha was crazy!

"I think he's the most influential comedian of the half century."
- Bob Newhart on Richard Pryor

Rest in peace, Richard. And thanks for the laughs.

Friday, December 09, 2005

In the year 2005 ... fresh pepper for everyone!

Remember that creepy song, "In the Year 2525?" No? Well, why don't you?

"In the Year 2525" was a little tune from the summer of 1969, when the Cubs were hot, the moon was a travel destination and Charles Manson had abandoned his musical career for something more hands on. The song, which hit #1, was basically how man was slowly going to grow obsolete as technology, which was supposed to make things easier for us, did just that, with ominous effects on our lazy asses. Of course, it was just a song, right?

Well, yeah. And yet ... what do I see on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" this afternoon but a sign that, in fact, we are running out of things to do with ourselves. Because Ellen is doing her annual Christmas thing of giving her audiences cool and snazzy gifts to give to their loved ones, or just keep themselves. On this day she presented a bunch of stuff courtesy of your friends at the fancy cookery company Sur la Table. And one of those items was ... wait for it ... the electric pepper mill.

That's right! No more of the fun twisting and turning required to coat your delicious salad with the bright taste of fresh ground pepper! Now you're just one button away from peppery goodness!

Personally, I think it looks like a glistening, cutting-edge sex toy, but that may say more about me than anything else.

Oh, by the way, Ellen is setting herself up to be the heir apparent should Oprah ever throw her hands up and decide that we as a people just aren't worth it. In fact, they're almost twins, except that Oprah isn't white or gay or a sneaker aficionado. I say that because they're both nice people, they both give away lots of loot to the less fortunate, and they both have audiences that go absolutely apes*** whenever they get free stuff for just being there. Honestly, there were times this week that I feared for Ellen's life, with the way her fans were whooping it up. Shades of "Day of the Locust" went through my mind.

P.S. Still don't believe me about the pepper mill? Click on the subject line for the cold hard truth.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Coke heads

In case you have forgotten - and why would you have, never mind Iraq, political scandal, the BCS and Jennifer Aniston topless - the Cola Wars continue to rage on in the supermarkets, restaurants and schoolyards of the world. We were reminded of this today with word that Coca-Cola is changing advertising slogans as part of their eternal struggle with Pepsi for the blood-sugar levels of our young:

Coke to retire 'Real' with new tagline in 2006 - Dec. 8, 2005: "Coca Cola, threatened with becoming second in market value to archrival PepsiCo for the first time, will debut an aggressive marketing push next year that begins with a new global slogan -- 'Welcome to the Coke side of life' -- to replace its current 'Real' tagline."

Yep, the "Coke side of life." Eric Idle should sue, along with the drug dealers of America. Also, this proves that the marketing team at Coke Central could use a dose of creativity. I mean, get "real," already.

In other news, Coke is preparing to market a new beverage targeed for older consumers, a cola-coffee combo entitled "Blak." The name tested better than the original choice, "Crude Oil."

Imagine ..

... a world where this man wasn't senselessly murdered 25 years ago today.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

And the Jon-Erik Hexum Memorial Marksmanship Award goes to ...

Pen Gun Accident Kills Budding Rapper - Yahoo! News

This is a sad story, of course. But, honestly, what was this guy thinking? Or not thinking, as it were?

What do those bumps mean?

Clicking on the subject line above will hurl you through cyberspace to one of the more unusual sights on the pop culture horizon, even though it actually isn't. Yes, Virginia, they do publish Playboy in Braille.

Now, the first question that may come to mind upon hearing such a fact is, "Why?"

Why, indeed. It seem absurd in the face of it. "Uh, isn't Playboy famous for its pictures of nude women?" And you would be right. But there are words in there as well. And if nothing else, look at this as proof that some people do read Playboy for the articles.

Besides, Playboy in Braille has been a staple of the visually-impared market for 35 years - and, yeah, it is indeed published by the Library of Congress, part of a publishing program for the blind that includes Rolling Stone, Seventeen, Ladies' Home Journal, Popular Mechanics and Martha Stewart Living. And those without sight have the best of both words - they can appreciate Playboy's fine journalism, and they've never seen La Toya Jackson naked. (Not to mention what the Chicago Bulls were wearing last night!)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Sting of Progress

Click on the headline above to go to an article about how-bomb sniffing dogs may soon be replaced by - wait for it - trained, non-stinging wasps. The rationale is that the wasps are more easily trained than our four-legged friends, at a savings of lots of time and loads of money. The article itself isn't funny, but one must feel bad about the impending loss of employment by the brave and loyal canines that have kept us safe through the years. But fear not for them - word is that dogs may be replacing airline pilots. After all, they have no union and will work just for kibble. All they have to do is keep the mutts from sticking their heads out of the windows of the cockpits.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What the ... ?

These are the medals for the Winter Olypics in Turin next February? Have the Italians been drinking too much chianti? Or will the entire Games be played on a bitchin' Windows XP setup?

There's a hole! In the medals! Egad!

Oh, crap!

So, you remember Nick and Jessica, those great kids who just couldn't make it work? Well, get this - according to the crack staff at Entertainment Weekly, Ms. Simpson and Mr. Lachey didn't have a prenuptial agreement. Which, in Hollywood langugage, means bloodbath. Now, it's possible that the ex-Newlyweds will comport themselves with maturity if and when this thing heads into divorce court, that the dirt won't fly in the quest for the inexplicable millions the two have earned over the past few years. But that wouldn't be fun, right?

Boy, I hope Nick and Jessica aren't reading this. I sound catty.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Glad Gregory Peck Isn't Alive to See This ...

So get this - apparently somebody has and stolen Gregory Peck's star right out of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This isn't the first time that a star's star has gone missing. In fact, it's the fourth. But in the other three cases, the markers honoring Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas and Gene Autry had been temporarily removed during construction when they went poof. Here, someone seems to have taken a cement saw and ripped Greg's honor right out of the sidewalk. (Methinks someone may be have seen "Amazing Grace and Chuck" about five too many times here.)

The amazing thing is that no one seems to know exactly when the crime took place. The best the police can come up with is that the star was stolen between Nov. 17 and Nov. 22. Now, I don't know how many of you have been to Hollywood Boulevard, but it's hardly what's known as a quiet, unpopulated nook. It's filled with a myriad of tourist, kooks and, er, working ladies pretty much 24/7. And as crazy as a lot of them may be, surely somone would have noticed someone performing surgery on the pavement.

Well, here's hoping that the culprit is nabbed and that Peck's star is soon back where it belongs. And as for the thief - well, he may need an attorney as good as Atticus Finch to get out of this one.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What movie am I?

Courtesy of my pal Beth. Go to her site (bookmarked below) to see which film she is.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Helping the kids out ... but ...

There is a plan afoot to supply the world's schoolkids, particularly those of limited means, with cheap laptop computers that will assist them in the classroom and the library. The models will cost less than $100 and have open-source operating software, along with wireless Internet access and a hand crank to generate electricity - and because kids love to twist and pull things, which is a completely different issue.

All well and good. But there was one line in the AP story about the comptuers that caught my cynical little eye:

"The devices will be lime green in color, with a yellow hand crank, to make them appealing to children and to fend off potential thieves -- people would know by the color that the laptop is meant for a kid."

Yeah, 'cause thieves have ethics. Isn't it about time for those annual stories about some yahoo cleaning out a cache of Christmas toys intended for a sad group of orphans withi no arms or something? Then again, every time one of those stories makes the news, the public responds with even better toys for the unfortunate tots. Which have made me wonder how many of thoe burglaries are inside jobs. Such thoughts may be why I may not be going straight to heaven.

If they said that thieves would be less likely to steal the computers because they were butt-ugly - now that reason, I may buy.

Denier (and dumbass?)

BBC NEWS | Europe | Austria holds 'Holocaust denier': "UK revisionist historian David Irving has been arrested in Austria under laws against denying the Holocaust.

Mr Irving was detained after a routine check on a motorway last Friday by police acting on a 1989 arrest warrant issued by a Vienna court, police said.

He told a libel hearing in London in 2000 that the Nazi gas chambers had never existed - that they were 'completely fictitious'.

He lost the case and the judge branded him 'an active Holocaust denier'.

Mr Irving was arrested in the southern province of Styria.

The historian was apparently on his way to address a students' club in Vienna when he was stopped."

OK, first thing's first - if it's well known that denying the Holocaust is a crime in Austria, and you're one of the world's most notorious Holocaust deniers, you think it's a good idea to go to Austria for a publicized visit? I know there's such a thing as making a point, but geez ...

Actually, I'm kind of torn about this story. Part of me is distressed that a person can be arrested merely for the words that he says. I'm one of those crazy black people who think that the Klan should be allowed to march anywhere they want - 'cause the more people who realize how nuts they are, the better. And there are reasons for somone to deny the Holocaust actually happened. Like they didn't witness the events directly. Or don't have any relatives who died during it. Or are complete and utter morons with cat poop for brains.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Caught red-handed - and red-nosed

Click on the title of this posting to read the culmination of the story of the escaped Texas death-row inmate and how he was caught - blotto in front of a liquor store in Shreveport, Louisiana. Now, I'm opposed to the death penalty for several reasons, moral and logical - but, if you're going to go through the efort of escaping from Death Row - particularly Texas Death Row - ye cats, do something with it. Don't just get pie-faced in a parking lot. Idiot.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

This is only a test

My friend Beth is having trouble posting to her blog (which is bookmarked below), so she asked me to try to post something to mine to see if this is a system-wide problem or just her. ;)

So here I go.

The thing is, I have nothing to say at this particular moment, an occupational hazard of having jost awakened on a beautiful Saturday morning. So I'm going to make something up. Please don't read anything into the following statement. I don't need the letter(s).

Here I go:

Bunnies are evil!

Again, please disregard the above declaration. I'm sure the vast majority of bunnies are soft, cuddly and law-abiding citizens of the animal-American community. In fact, I had a cousin who was married to a bunny, and it went fine until the bunny died of an overdose of carrots and rum.

Too much information? Sorry.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I think we all appreciate the efforts pharmaceutical companies make to warn us, during their spiffy commercials, of all the different ways their wonder drugs could kill or maim us. OK, maybe we just make fun of the way the drug companies warn us about how that medicine that will lower our cholesterol may cause our livers to explode - or how the new stuff that seals up leaky bladders could cause our livers to explode. (Come to think of it, how come all of the drugs could affect livers adversely? I take that seriously.)

Nevertheless, occasionally one of these commercials crosses a line, so to speak. I take you to a spot I saw tonight on Advair, an asthma drug that has been out for some time, though this is the first time I noticed this little chestnut:

"... Rare, but serious asthma-related fatalities occurred in a study with Serevent, one of the components of Advair ..."

Gee, that sounds pretty nasty compared to those NON-SERIOUS asthma-related fatalities. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And now for something completely different!

Porn versions of popular TV shows!

"Fill-more Girls"
"CSXXX: Crime Scene Fornication"
"The Wet Wing"
"The Sopornos" (wait, I think that's already been used by an actual movie"
"Desperately Horny Housewives"
"69th Heaven"
"Everybody F***s Raymond"
"Holding Hands in the City" (reverse psychology)
"The Orifice"
"Stacked" (oh, that's the name of an actual sitcom starring Pamela Anderson)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Midnight on the North Side

This is not a good day for true Cubs fans everywhere, for the dreaded moment is upon us: The Chicago White Sox have won the World Series - and, far worse, they snapped their WS drought before the Cubs did. This is bad news for Cubs devotees such as myself, not so much that the Sox won their first world championship in 88 years. Truth be told, the White Sox earned this title on the field by narrowly avoiding one of the biggest regular-season collapses in major-league history, seeing their division lead dissolved from 15 games to just one-and-a-half in late September before going on one devil of a late season tear that ended with the team winning 11 out of their 12 playoff games. It was extraordinary to watch. No, what I truly dread are the White Sox fans, whom I fear won't be able to enjoy their team's first title in 88 years. Because, even now, the other Chicago team is in their heads, and many of them will take this opportunity to drag the Cubs and their loyal fans through the mud.

But if the Sox triumph compels (forces?) Cubs management to actually assert themselves and try even harder to bring a winner to the North Side, so be it. And as more than one of my friends has pointed out, there's a trend working here. Last year the Red Sox broke their streak of futility in dramatic fashion. This year, it was the White Sox. Only the Cubs and their 98-year absence from the top of the baseball mountain remain. And, hey, it's got to happen sometime.


Before we put this season in mothballs, a couple of other words about the World Series just past:

* I understand the resistance, in the wake of one of the more poorly officiated playoffs in baseball history, to instant replay, with fears that having that method of judging questionable calls could slow up games even more. But at least, can MLB go back to the old ways of determining umpiring crews for the playoffs and WS, when umps had to earn those jobs through merit rather than a mere rotational system? Because it got pretty embarrassing how many calls these guys were missing, and not just in the Sox' favor.

* If I were the owner of the Houston Astros, I would fire Phil Garner tomorrow. The Astros' manager was totally out of line in the way that he threw his team under the bus last night after Houston lost Game 3 in 14 innings. By slamming his squad publicly to the press instead of doing it to his players' faces behind closed doors - or, even better, holding his tongue altogether - he may have snuffed out the last wisp of hope the Astros had for a miracle. Sure, the team didn't perform in the Series the way they could or should have, but considering where it had come from - being 15 games below .500 and all but dead in mid-May to the National League championship - they didn't deserve to be called out like that to the world. Big-league managers can't lose their cool at such an important time. Besides, Garner should look in the mirror if he wants to assign blame as to why the Astros got swept by the Pale Hose. It wasn't entirely his fault, and the White Sox themselves were an overwhelming force - but, as Harry Truman said, the buck stops here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weird coincidence regarding Rosa Parks' death

Last night I mentioned that I regarded Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson as the origins of the modern civil rights movement. Well, get this: Rosa Parks died on Oct. 24, 2005 ... Jackie Robinson passed away on Oct. 24, 1972, exactly 33 years earlier. That has to mean something. Right?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rest well, dear Rosa, rest well ...

I returned from a film screening this evening to the news that Rosa Parks passed away tonight. Over the next few days many will speak with endearment and admiration of this simple seamstress who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man almost 50 years ago because she was tired after a hard day of work - and because she had had enough of the inequality she faced daily as an African-American living in the segregated South. Those people will talk about Parks in terms more eloquent that I ever could, whether it's because they knew her personally or because they remembered the time when Jim Crow ruled the land. I didn't know Rosa Parks, and I was born in a time when blacks had more opportunities, and have lived long enough to see my people (I usually hate that term, but it seems appropriate in this case) achieve even more. But I can say this:

Rosa Parks, along with Jackie Robinson, was The Origin, the spark that started the whole thing. The reason why Oprah Winfrey is the richest woman in America. The reason why Condi Rice is four heartbeats away from the presidency. The reason why Denzel Washington and Halle Berry had the chance to win Academy Awards. The reason why Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are international sports icons. The reason, frankly, why I'm still alive after a dread disease instead of dying a painful death in a segregated and inadequate hospital. And every American - black, white, or whatever - needs to take special care to read the obituaries to Parks today and play close attention to what a hero truly is.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Honestly ...

... wouldn't you love it if they held hands?

Another creepy commercial!

This new spot in which the Pillsbury Dough Boy dances sensually to Barry White tunes to promote how Pillsbury biscuits can help your love life? Dough Boy called "the other Mr. White"? Er, no. Though maybe David Copperfield can use the biscuits to help him knock up a chick without touching her.


Word has reached the states that David Copperfield, the stylish magician who can make everything from the Statue of Liberty to Claudia Schiffer disappear, will go the opposite way in his next grand illusion. Copperfield has told a German magazine that he intends to impregnate a woman on stage, in front of an audience, without touching her.

I'll avoid the obvious joke concerning Copperfield, and go for a slightly less obvious one.

How dare Copperfield mock the vast and unexplainable powers of a superior being by fathering a child with no intimate contact whatsoever! Who does he think he is - Tom Cruise?

Thank you - enjoy the veal!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Creepy commercials!!

Is anyone else as skivved out as I am about these Charles Schwab commercials that are animated, only not? (Or live-action, only not, depending on your perspective?) I know it's reminiscent of what Richard Linklater did in his psuedo-cartoon Walking Life, but that was a feature film that was using that avant-garde form of animation to convey a mood. These are ... commercials about a brokerage firm. And, frankly, it's doing more to creep me out than attract me to "talk to Chuck." Though I'm not really looking to built a portfolio, being that I'm almost broke and all.

And while we're talking about weird TV ads, can we please get rid of that guy in the Burger King commercials with the big plastic king head? He reminds me of an escaped mental patient. The only thing scarier than that is that killer breakfast sandwich he's hawking, 500,000 calories and all.

And, yes, I know I haven't posted in, like, forever. I'm working on it, I promise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Kate Moss blows it!

Sorry, couldn't resist the pun. But then again, it really works as more than just a stupid (or rather clever) joke. After all, Kate Moss was caught by those pesky British tabloids indulging in a white powder not sugar. With photographic evidence, to boot. And it only took days for a major fashion retailelr, H&M, to drop Moss as a endorser only 24 hours after backing her on the grounds that everyone deserves a "second chance." H&M announced its shift in opinion after being inundated with negative reaction to their decision to keep Moss on the payroll, cocaine or otherwise. Whether more business jump off the Moss boat remains to be seen, but the scuttlebutt is that her career as a petulant and waifish supermodel may be in trouble.

All of which means, of course, that the ’70s are finally over. Because if a supermodel can't take part in some recreational drug abuse, then an era has truly passed. Now they'll have to start eating or something for their vice of choice.

Friday, August 26, 2005

This can't be good!

Oh, those pesky scientists, always a bunch of killjoys. If it wasn't bad enough that daydreams may cause Alzheimers and that chocolate may shrink your testicles, now this piece of good news from some of the world's top thinkers:

Earth's Core Spinning Faster Than Crust - Yahoo! News: "The solid core that measures about 1,500 miles in diameter is spinning about one-quarter to one-half degree faster, per year, than the rest of the world, scientists from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

"The spin of the Earth's core is an important part of the dynamo that created the planet's magnetic field, and researcher Xiaodong Song said he believes magnetic interaction is responsible for the different rates of spin."

So I guess it's time we informed Hilary Swank and Delroy Lindo to fire up their superduper supersonic underground drill again and head back down for another round of Core maitenance! 'Cause anything that has to do with the core of the Earth going wacky can't be kismet for the future of mankind. (Though it does explain the 2000 election and why "Yes, Dear" is still on the air.)

(Note: I was kidding about the chocolate study. But you never know!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Fun with profanity

My dear buddy Beth, whom all of you should get to know someday, pointed me via her own blog to this cool quiz on, what else, that determine what swear word you are. I know, the idea that every individual on Earth can be summed up by one singular profanity is genius, though it does make me wonder what kind of result people like Pope Benedict XVI or the Dali Lama might end up with. (Not to mention that other beacon of spirituality, Tom Cruise.) But I digress. The curious cat in me couldn't resist, so I went and I tested. And my result?

"Your word is SHIT. You are laid back and relaxed, and most people like you. You don't especially want to stand out from the crowd, you are pretty happy with your lot."

So that's it. Frankly, what with the way I've been feeling about the upcoming fall television season, not to mention my beloved (!) Chicago Cubs, I'm a bit surprised that it wasn't something harsher. Heck, "shit" is so PG-13. (The aforementioned Beth, meanwhile - who has one of the kindest hearts I know - registered the F-bomb. Then again, she's pretty feisty when provoked.) According to Quiziilla's stats, 35 percent of testers share my colorful description.

If you want to take the test yourself - that includes you, Mr. Lama! - click on the title of this entry to go directly to Quizilla. Then feel free to liberally use your particular word for the rest of the day, if it makes you feel better.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Stranger with Candy

A revelation from Science:

Study Describes Bar at Center of Milky Way - Yahoo! News:

"After creating the most detailed analysis yet of what the Milky Way looks like, astronomers say a long bar of stars cuts on an angle through the center of the galaxy that includes the sun and planet Earth."

That's interesting. But if the experts had said that the bar was made out of creamy nougat instead of stars, that really would have been a breakthrough - because then we may have finally figured out what nougat actually is.

Or maybe nougat is in fact made of stars.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Lefties (and I'm not talking politics)

Oh, the things we discover with our fertile little brains. To wit, courtesy of the AP:

Study: Most Wild Chimps Are Southpaws - Yahoo! News:

"WASHINGTON - When it comes to fishing tasty termites out of their mounds, wild chimpanzees don't have the right stuff. Most, in fact, are southpaws. A three-year study of 17 wild chimps in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, found that 12 of them used their left hands when using sticks to probe for termites.

Four were right-handed and one was listed as ambiguously handed."

"Ambiguously handed." Sounds dirty, no? But, seriously, I guess we just found out where the brunt of the major-league scouts will be spending their winter. I know of one team on the North Side of Chicago who could use some simian assistance sooner rather than later. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Peter Jennings - Reporter"

Watching the two-hour special on Peter Jennings' life (and I mean two-hour - no commercial interruptions) was, in some ways, an incredibly sad experience. Not just sadness as a life interrupted, but also at the fact that Jennings' passing was really the end of an era. Here was a reporter who actually seemed totally devoted to reporting - and not just on the big stories, though he clearly excelled in them, but also the little stories, the ones that not many people cared or knew about, the stories that could get him in trouble. I was struck at how many documentaries he did that probably could never get produced today because they were critical of the U.S. government or something like that. I liked that the special did not shy away from the fact that he was a work in progress, that it took time and struggle for Jennings to achieve the skill that made him so revered in the industry. And I liked that the show dealt with perhaps the main controversy of his professional career, the allegation that he was somehow anti-Israeli or pro-Palestinian. And his doggedness to get to the truth and the heart of the story, even when he was being eaten alive by cancer and nowhere near the newsroom. One producer choked up talking about the one of the last calls Jennings made to ABC News from his sickbed - directing the troops as to how they should properly cover the London bombings. The program also didn't avoid the painful fact of what killed Jennings. One entire segment was devoted to his addiction to cigarettes - and, noted with some irony, his coverage of the tobacco industry. Even a tobacco executive spoke about how Jennings covered the story with tenaciousness, but always with fairness.

All of the examining of his career brought home one big point: that while Jennings was not a perpetrator of so-called media bias, he definitely saw his job as more than just a mere reciting of the news of the day. He most likely saw himself as an advocate - for those stories he thought deserved more coverage, and for those people who touched his heart or were in need. And you have to ask: How many of the current crop of reporters, even the superstars, have that in them? And what of the next generation?

There was also much about Jennings the man - a man, friends pointed out, who took great, and successful, pains to keep his private life private. A camera went into his empty, cluttered office, filled with books on almost every topic. His myriad of awards were kept in a very special location there - his private bathroom. His sister, who sounds almost exactly like him, was interviewed extensively. Friends noted that he was shy (explaining his ability to communicate with children) and that he was very cheap, almost ashamed that he was wealthy. His curiosity about America, religion, and more was forever insatiable. One person spoke of his volunteer work at a local homeless shelter after being genuinely shocked that such poverty could exist just 40 blocks from his Manhattan home. He regularly hosted an annual jazz festival at his own home in support of a favorite charity. And there was his family - his wife, who he always called "Darling." His kids, to whom he was passionately devoted. Video was shown of him all but completely losing it when he was speaking at his daughter's high school graduation seven years ago, saying how proud he was that she had done something her father had never done.

Maybe most extraordinary of all, and lost in the tragedy of Jennings' loss or this celebration of his career, was the speed in which this 120 minutes was put together. Remember that ABC admitted that nothing was prepared in advance prior to his death. The folks there had basically two days to produce this special. Many people were interviewed, from nearly every big name (and a lot of not-so-big names) at ABC News were interviewed, along with everyone from President Clinton and Condoleezza Rice to Antonin Scalia and Al Sharpton and Alan Alda (both close friends of his). And the clips and the file footage - that alone made this show a fantastic achievement, one that, even with some mild mawkishness, was Emmy worthy. It's too bad they had to make it.

If you didn't see it, I hope ABC replays it so you can.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sour grapes, but perfect for making a fine French whine, er, wine

Well, that didn't take long. Less than a week after London upset Paris for the rights to the 2012 Summer Olympics, the mayor of the French capital, one Bertrand Delanoe, is screaming foul play, accusing Tony Blair and British Olympic head Sebastian Coe - Lord Coe to his friends - of crossing the line when it came to their campaigning tactics. Delanoe speaks specifically of criticism of the Paris bid by British officials, and that Blair sinned by having a private meeting with IOC members in his own hotel room in Singapore days before the final vote.

You know, the French have many redeeming qualities - pretty buildings, good cheese, Catherine Deneuve. And not to get political, but I defended them when they chose not to back the U.S. in the war in Iraq. But it's times like these when I get why they are hated by much of the developed world. Forget the fact that Delanoe may be better served yelling at his country's president, Jacques Chirac, for possibly torpedoing the Paris bid with his stupid bashing of British cuisine (see below post). But did it ever occur to Le Mayor de Paris that he is speaking ill will of London and the UK at a particularly inappropriate time in their own history? What, he couldn't wait until the mourning period was over? Idiot.

Besides, what kind of name if "Bertrand," anyway?

This Internet marketing is really something

It must be, as I've received three spams promising a year's supply of Oreo cookies in the last 24 hours. How did they know? :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It's too bad Li'l Kim is going to the pokey for a year ...

Not because she's innocent of the charge of perjury. (And frankly, that's a pretty lame way for a rapper to get set to the Big House, no?) But because the great prison nickname M. Diddy has already been clamed by Martha Stewart. Or, and that she'll probably have to wear clothes while incarcerated. :)

Sacré blew!

Remember what your mother said when you were younger: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"? Jacques Chirac may be wondering that right about now as he stews in his subtly sauteed juices in Scotland at the G8 summit, ruing this day as the day that the French capital, Paris, was upset in the chase for the 2012 Summer Olympics by the British capital, London. It may never be clearly known what exactly put London over the top in defeating the heavily favorite Parisian contingent for the right to host the world's biggest athletic event, but many already are pointing the finger at Chirac's comments of a few days' ago, in which he told the leaders of Germany and Russia that a nation that can't cook decent food like the UK could never be trusted. Now, I don't necessarily disagree with Chirac on that one, but it's what he allegedly said next that could have had the IOC scratching its head - he added that English food was the worst in the world, with the exception of the cuisine of Finland.

Having not been to Helsinki for supper recently, I can't say whether that opinion has any validity - but I'm sure the two Finnish members of the IOC committee that votes on who gets the Games couldn't have been pleased. In the final vote, London beat Paris by the tally of 54-50. You do the potential math.

Who says the Finns don't have spunk? Just don't accept their dinner invites until you know what's on the menu, I guess.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

MTV and Live 8: The Video Star Is Dead

Live 8 was touted as being the greatest musical event in the history of this planet. And I saw many indications on Saturday that this was indeed the case. But the brunt of the world may have to wait until the DVD packages hit the stores - if they do - because thanks to MTV et al, the true power of these varied musical acts was blunted by a motley goo of commercials, meaningless audience interviews and copious amounts of the "music" network's patting themselves on the back for bringing Live 8 to our eyes.

It made me pine for the heady days of Live Aid almost exactly 20 years ago. Back then I remember bitching about the many PSAs, hosted by no less than Sally Field, reminding us about why Queen and Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins and all these other legends and newbies of the rock and pop realms had congregated onto the stages of London and Philadelphia - not merely to entertain us, but also to urge us to donate money to the famine-stricken African continent. But, looking back, at least then the music actually was presented just about in its entirety. And, after all, it was a telethon.

This time, to be fair, MTV had some additional hurdles to deal with. Instead of two concert venues, there were 10 to deal with, so presenting every song from every act was an impossibility. But MTV could have tried. After all, they now have several branded networks thanks to that 500-channel universe that's not a reality. Wasn't it worth it to, say, place the Philadelphia portion of Live 8 on MTV, the London venue on VH1, disperse the others on MTV2, VH1 Classic, MTV Hits, etc.? And even if that wasn't part of the plan, how about at lease not cutting into actual songs to tell us what a historic event we were experiencing? When they interrupted the extraordinary Pink Floyd reunion - during David Gilmour's guitar solo in "Comfortably Numb," no less - I nearly threw something at the TV screen. Sure, it was the last song of the band's set, but still, what, they couldn't wait another two minutes?

For many, Live Aid was the peak of MTV's existence, a triumphant melding of music and pop culture with some social consciousness thrown in for good measure. Live 8 may be not only its nadir, but perhaps its death knell as a television network of any importance. They should be ashamed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"War of the Worlds" - saw a screening last night

This is one freaky movie, full of thrills and fantastic visual effects. It's much more episodic than Spielberg's usual stuff, but that's the nature of the story he's telling - the story of Cruise trying to get his kids to safety from the alien invasion. Also, don't expect Cruise to do any typical action-heroic stuff. He's much more concerned with keeping his family safe than saving the world. But it's pretty loyal to H.G. Wells' book, including the opening and ending narration (I won't tell you who does that, but it's pretty cool.) And there are allusions to 9/11 all over the place here, something that Spielberg has readily admitted. Some have complained that after about 90 minutes of nonstop thrills, the film bogs down when the clan runs into Tim Robbins, still in partial "Mystic River" mode as a creepy survivor determined to launch a "surprise attack" against the marauding tripods. But that sequence has its merits as well.

The most astounding thing about "War of the Worlds" is the speed at which this ambitious above-average film was made. Remember that this was pretty much a gap-filller of a project for both Cruise and Spielberg, who had respective jobs that were postponed prior to singing on to this. If nothing else, this movie is a testament to landing on one's feet and making maximum effort to spend one's time efficiently.

3 1/2 stars

Monday, June 20, 2005

Tom Cruise squirted in face in London

There's a joke in here somewhere, but I'm not touching it with a ten-inch, er, ten-foot pole. But seriously, folks, can be blame Tom for getting pissed off over this incident? What if it had been human blood or acid or anthrax? I was just amazed as Tom kept smiling even as his rage was obviously building. Maybe this Scientotology mind trick has some benefits after all.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Perp walk, animal style

The perp walk is now part of the popular culture, thanks to the likes of CNN and "Entertainment Tonight." Witnessing the journey of the newly accused as they face the cameras for the first time as arrestees has been as common a sight on the tube as the toothy anchors or the sensational promos for the nightly news. Thank the likes of O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Timothy McVeigh and, most recently, Russell Crowe for that. All of this is perhaps a lengthy intro for my topic of the day. Because I've noticed that the commercials that advertise miracle methods for removing pet stains and odors (one such product has the deliciously audacious name "Urine Gone) always feature doggies and kitties looking tremendously, tremendously guilty at their "offenses."

I don't mean to compare a cocker spaniel to Russell Crowe, though the jury is still out about which beast of burden is smarter. But I'm asking, is it necessary to make our furry friends out as archcriminals just because they may lack a bit of bladder control? As the poet says, when you've got to go, you've got to go. Instead of shaming these critters, why not celebrate the fact that Science, after putting a man on the moon and perfecting the art of organ transplantation, has turned its gaze upon more pressing matters such as removing dog pee from the carpet?

Really, there ought to be a law.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Jeff Gordon - What the fuh?

By now many of you are aware of the debacle that went down at Wrigley Field last night. No, I'm not talking about the Cubs - I refer to Jeff Gordon's "singing" of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch. Now, we know that Jeff's main forté is driving cars real fast, not warbling out tunes. But gee whiz, Mr. Gordon, Saddam Hussein probably knows the song better than you.

On the upside, the Cubs did rally for four runs in the eighth to come from behind and beat Houston following Gordon's butchery, so maybe the NASCAR king has become some sort of warped good-luck charm.

Oh, and by the way, Jeff, it's Wrigley Field, not Wrigley Stadium. Sheesh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong - blown tire?

One door opens, another door closes. Star Magazine (not exactly a paragon of solid reporting - but then again, they're aren't Newsweek) is reporting that Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow are calling it quits after being lovey-dovey for the past two years. Their proof? Stuff like a sighting of Crow with one of her ex-loves, Eric Clapton. Nothing about whether Lance flushed a copy of Crow's new album down the toilet in response.

If the reports are true, it's sad and all, but what else were they to do? After all, it's impossible to make both their first names into one solid word. Bennifer (II)? Brangelina? Tomkat? It doesn't work. (The best I could come up with was "Lance-ryl". Ugh.)

One more thing - maybe people should stop extolling the praises of their signnificant others in print, 'cause that could be a sign that trouble is brewing. Remember that Ellen DeGeneres was singing the praises of her love Alexandra Hedison in The Advocate at precisely the same time word was spreading that she had dumped Hedison for Portia di Rossi. Wel, Lance is talking about Sheryl in the current issue of Playboy that is on newsstand at this precise moment. Print interviews about spouses and such may be the new voice-mail message.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Kill the local news - now!

Honest to God, a promo I heard for the local news out here in L.A.

"How to keep your kids away from sexual predators … plus, Victoria's got a new secret, somebody took her panties!"

I didn't know whether the anchor was smugly amused with himself or was silently wishing for death.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bad George Romero movie breaks out in South Asia (or more fun in Laos!)

Earlier today I posted about the discovery of a new form of rat that's been discovered in Laos. Now, another, less savory find in that neck of the Earth (not that rodents are really savory, except maybe with some fava beans and grilled onions). Turns out that zombism has emerged in a village on the Laos-Cambodia border, the kindly gift of a breed of mosquito that kills people with its bite in less than two days, only to "resurrect" them within hours for a short period of time, during which the undead behave in ways that would, let us say, differ from proper society. And I know that this sounds like something right out of Weekly World News, except I found the story on the BBC News site. And despite those scary pictures of Camilla Parker-Bowles, they are not known for tabloid journalism.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? Probably nothing, unless it leads some lazy Hollywood producer to do another horror flick with Paris Hilton.

Science is golden - and rodent

The Paper of Record, The New York Times, has a story about the discovery of a previously unknown type of rodent in Laos. Called the "kha-nyou," or the more English-friendly Laotian rock rat, the "new" animal has long whiskers, short legs, and a long furry tail, but "are definitely not rats or squirrels, and are only vaguely like a guinea pig or a chinchilla." The article also says that the kha-nyou is commonly seen in its lifeless state in Laotian food markets, but there's nothing about whether they are selling Quarter Kha-Nyous at the local McDonalds.

Here is a sketch of the curious critter:

Y'know, this sounds like a cliché, but this actually does look like a guy I went to school with. And no, I'm not saying who. :)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Sympathy for the stupid

Word came out today that Kellen Winslow, the talented tight end for the Cleveland Browns, was injured this morning in a motorcyele accident. Seems young Kellen was riding new new Suzuki machine - so new that he didn't have a valid permit to ride a motorcycle - when he hit a curb and went flying off at 35 mph, landing so hard that he took out a small tree. Lucky for him that he was wearing a helmet (though it wasn't strapped on) and apparently only has minor injuries. But can I just say, for all of the common-sense people in the universe, what the heck was he thinking? This is a guy who lost most of his rookie season last year with a broken leg suffered in a game against Dallas, an injury that required two surgeries. This is an activity that may have ruined the career of former Chicago Bulls guard Jay Williams in 2003 (he fractured his pelvis among other injuries). And I would venture that it was in Winslow's $40 million contract that he wasn't supposed to engage in anything that threatened serious injury - Williams had such a clause in his deal.

If I were the Browns - a team in a league where there are no guaranteed contracts - I would cut Winslow off right now. If he's stupid enough to risk his multimillion-dollar livelihood for a joy ride, then he doesn't deserve to wear anybody's NFL uniform.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

"Waiter, there's a fly on my Pope!"

There was a documentary on PBS last night called "White Smoke," a timeline of the events from the death of Pope John Paul II to the election of Pope Benedict XVI to replace him. I found it to be illuminating and interesting, but also disturbing for one big reason: a brief shot of John Paul lying in state in St. Peter's Basilica included the extra bonus of a big-ass FLY fluttering around on his face. Of all the footage they had from three days of the pontiff being displayed before the millions who flowed in to pay their respects, they had to choose those few seconds? And remember, boys and girls, PBS is now available in high-definition - heaven knows what that will look like in crisp detail.

Adventures in Film Advertising

Just saw a commercial that advertised Stephen Chow's flick "Kung Fu Hustle" as "The #1 Kung Fu comedy in America." Now, not to pick hairs, because apparently Chow has a mini-classic on his hands, but exactly how many Kung Fu comedies are currently in general release in the U.S.? Oh, wait - why, of course. I totally forgot about "The Pacifier." And when "Kingdom of Heaven" comes out in a couple of weeks, well, just pass the fried rice and forget about it.

(P.S. Yeah, I know that tagline in the commercial is obviously being silly. So am I - psych!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The End is Near (really, we mean it this time)

Many mystics and pundits and prognosticators will say to you with a straight face that the End of Days is upon us, and will point to various indicators to prove their claims that it will soon will be time to leave and to turn the lights off before we lock up this plane of existence. Maybe they'll reference 9/11, or the tsunami or the fact that the frogs are dying. Some will say that it's because Benedict XVI is the next-to-last pope ever according to some 11th century saint who, on his deathbed, allegedly listed all of the Holy Fathers (cryptically, 'course, 'cause no decent psychic would ever speak the straight skinny about such matters). Then there are the obvious signs, such as the Red Sox winning the Series or Britney's carrying of the Federline child, yo. But today came the final, undeniable proof that God is coming, and He most likely is pissed.

Brace yourself ...

Michael Bay is remaking "The Birds."

I leave you to ponder what's left of your fate.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the movie - Don't Panic!

Being both an entertainment journalist and a movie buff, I relish the opportunity to see advance screenings of new films, even when I know that the piece of cinema I will be seeing has little chance of being known as a work of art, or even of cinema ("Battlefield Earth," anyone? Still waiting for that sequel!) But the big-screen version of Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" held special ranking inside my hot little head, 'cause it was probably my favorite novel of the 1980s. I even wrote a very successful (A-) book report on the tome when I was a sophomore in high school. I relished Adams' melding of science-fiction, comedy and a hint of satire; I found his work on "Hitchhiker" and the other four books of the trilogy (don't ask) to be very clever and very British, even if his last offering in the series, "Mostly Harmless," was a bit too dark for my taste. (The best one? The fourth, "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," though you'd better read the first three before you tackle that one else nothing will make sense.)

It had long been Douglas Adams' dream to convert his most famous book, which actually began as a BBC radio series, into a major motion picture. He worked for years on the screenplay, literally up to the day he died, at the age of 49, in 2001 of a massive heart attack while working out in his Southern California home. (Adams probably appreciated the irony of that, maybe even silently chortling to himself as he was whisked up to the Pearly Gates.) People as diverse as Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Jim Carrey had been mentioned to take on major roles in whatever flick resulted, rumors that must have caused consternation to die-hard fans of the English-based story - much in the same way devotees of "Bridget Jones' Diary" may have cringed when Texas Renee Zellweger landed that veddy British part. But, as the smoke clears, we now have a "Hitchhiker" for the masses with a cast that straddles the line between the English and American coasts, but is still based firmly in the British countryside - at least, before the Earth is destroyed by a group of very ugly intergalactic demolition artists.

Don't worry, for those of your who aren't familiar with the "Hitchhiker" saga - I didn't give anything anyway. The destruction of the Earth takes place within the first 30 pages of the book - or, in Hollywood math, the first 10 minutes of the film. That's how things get started - on the worst Thursday ever, as Everyman Arthur Dent goes from trying to prevent his house from being flattened in favor of yet another highway bypass to being hurdled across the galaxy, homeless in every way possible, and helped only by his best friend Ford Prefect, who actually is an alien and traveling correspondent for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the most popular book in the universe. What Arthur confronts, dressed in his pajamas, are experiences beyond his imagining - a permanently depressed robot; a two-headed, three-armed gigolo/thief who happens to be president of the galaxy; and the cute girl whom Arthur failed to pick up at a recent costume party. Oh, he also discovers who really runs things in the universe and what the answer the ultimate question of life is. And why towels are so important.

All of this is spelled out in vividly delightful detail by Adams in his book, which is dense with puns and funny dialogue and even funnier passages from "The Hitchhiker's Guide" about poetry, ballpoints and whether God really exists. There are many who feared that this would be unfilmable in this format, or that the mucky-mucks in Tinseltown would find a way to, well, muck up what they considered to be sacred text from Adams. You know, the way they've altered just about every book that's ever been turned into a movie. And, in fact, the movie is not exactly the book that Adams wrote. But that's OK in its own way. For one thing, remember that Adams wrote much of this screenplay, though Karey Kirkpatrick did some revisions on the final draft. And Adams himself was known for extensive revisions of his work. The novel, for example, has a lot that wasn't on the original radio series, and the resulting BBC television series takes out stuff from both the book and the radio show and adds still new stuff. What we end up with in the movie is, I'd say, about 70 percent of what was in the book, with some brand-new stuff (including the ending), a pumping-up of the romantic tension between Arthur (played by "Office" alum Martin Freeman) and the aforementioned girl Trillian (Zooey Deschanel, maybe the best name for an actor today), and a couple of references to later "Hitchhiker" novels. It does not go as nuts, as say, Sydney Pollack did with "The Firm," where he basically redid the entire second half of John Grisham's novel to give Tom Cruise an excuse to run around downtown Memphis like a maniac. (Not that it didn't work for cinematic purposes. But I digress.)

As for the casting, Adams was on record that the only character who had to remain British for the film was Arthur himself (what, did you think I meant the American version of "The Office"'? Silly rabbits!) Thus, Mos Def plays Ford Prefect, and the hilarious Sam Rockwell plays President Zaphod Beeblebrox, complete with second head and third arm. But the essence of the overall movie remains British, from the voice talent (Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren, for example) to the overall sense of humor. Ironically, that may be a drawback to how "Hitchhiker's" does on this side of the swamp, as a lot of English comedy movies struggles to find a footing here unless the title contains the words "Monty Python" somewhere. And an inside knowledge of the book is very helpful to getting some of the bits, which could go a long way towards promoting literacy, if you think about it. But the filmed vision of Douglas Adams' most lasting creation is not the unmitigated disaster it was rumored to be. I liked it, and I hope you will, too. And if you don't, well, there's always "Battlefield Earth."

3 stars

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"The Interpreter"...

I have to give to "The Interpreter," the latest political thriller from director Sydney Pollack - it tries very, very hard to be intelligent. And it just about makes it despite the inherent flaws in this tense story of assassination, ethnic cleansing and the bad things that happen when you hear something you're not supposed to. That's the conundrum Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman, fragile and beautiful as ever) finds herself in when, while retrieving a bag she left in the sound booth she works in at the United Nations (she's a translator), she overhears a cryptic plot to kill an embattled African dictator. Of course, the whispered machinations are in a rare African dialect called Ku - and, of course, that's one of the several languages Silvia speaks fluently, having once lived in the same nation that is now run by said dictator, a peacenik-turned-despot who is headed to the U.N. to try to save his hide from claims of genocide and possible charges from the war crimes tribunal. That coincidence is the beginning of a twisty plot that is unwound through the eyes a Secret Service agent with the great motion-picture name of Tobin Keller (Sean Penn, haggard) that eventually uncovers that there's more here than just another assassination plot - and more than just another interpreter.

Kudos for Pollack, who has done this before ("Three Days of the Condor," anyone?) for keeping things interesting, for delving into hot-button territory (i.e. Rwanda, Sudan), for expert use of the United Nations building (first time it's ever been used in a movie) and for some good acting, including Catherine Keener in the otherwise-thankless role of Penn's wise-cracking partner. (She has the funniest line in the movie, easily.) Points deducted, however, for some wicked obvious holes in the plot, including an ending that borders on both the obvious and the preposterous, maybe the worst photograph ever used in a big-budget movie (it's real in the flick, but it looks anything but in my eyes), and especially the fact that Pollack and the writers couldn't help but insert the prerequisite sexual tension between Kidman and Penn - a plot point made even more idiotic because of a very recent and very sore spot in Penn's life. Still, I recommend "The Interpreter" because it definitely isn't boring - and it isn't "Guess Who."

2 1/2 stars

P.S. As God is my witness, nearly ever time Kidman opened her mouth and used her clipped South Africanesque accent, I got Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa" in my head. If Kidman had said that she grew up on a farm in Africa, I was storming out of the theater.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A sign of our times

In a true measure of the information superhighway - or maybe just naked commerce - within hours of the election of Benedict XVI as pope, more than 200 items relating to him for sale or bid. This includes editions of newspapers, announcing his election, that won't be published until tomorrow.

Say, if the world ends overnight, does that mean that bids on those newspapers would be disqualified?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Lance Armstrong to put away yellow jersey

Well, it's official - after this summer's Tour de France, Lance Armstrong will hang up his bicycle for the last time. Now, retirement announcements by athletes are to be taken with a very large grain of salt - how many times did Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux and nearly every pro boxer north of Hilary Swank walked away from their games only to return months or years later? But somehow I believe Armstrong when he says that he will put the bike shorts away for good. Indeed, I wonder why he doesn't just say bye-bye now? What else does he have to compete for. This is a man who has achieved just about everything possible in his field. You can't shake a stick at someone - the only one - to have won six straight Tours de France, the crown jewel of the sport. That alone would put Armstrong among the best sportsmen of the past decade. Add his miraculous survival from testicular cancer and the fact that he goes home every night to Sheryl Crow (hey, can't let that other testicle go to waste), and he's practically a cycling god.

I just hope that Armstrong's departure has nothing to do with the constant allegations that he's on the juice - not that I believe them, 'cause I don't. But Lance may be thinking, 'Do I need this hassle?' And, frankly, he doesn't. But no matter what the reason, Armstrong has earned the rest and the right to do with the rest of his life what he will. Even if that means he ends up hosting "Saturday Night Live."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Meow ... Ka-Pow! (Or, why Florida may not be the weirdest state in the nation)

It's been a weird 24 hours in the human multiplex, weird enough where you really, really, want that conclave in Rome to get started, like, now in order to give us a diversion from the wackiness that is permeating our existences. So weird, in fact, that the news that Britney is indeed carrying the Federline child seems almost normal, yo. But the news out of Wisconsin may take the unholy cake, at least for this da. Seems that the state best known for Brett Favre, Fonzie and cheddar may soon have another distinction to hang on its mantle - as the only state of the union to make hunting stray cats legal. Hunting, as in "get the gun, Momma, there's a couple of wild calicos outside."

Seems that an advisory poll conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has determined that a majority of state citizens is in favor of removing stray cats from the "protective species" list (or, more accurately, making them "unprotected") and thus fair game for the outdoorsmen who don't get enough of a challenge out of taking aim at the deer, turkeys and occassional illegal immigrant that run wild through the forests. All of this is the brainchild of one Mark Smith of La Crosse (see, one man can make a difference), who insists he's not a cat hater but, he told the local newspaper, "if you open the door and kick your cat out at night, you've changed its status." (Profound, no?)

Any kill-the-kitty law is far from a certainly, but it's only a matter of time until the folks at PETA climb onto this puppy - and, perhaps, until some ambitious schmo publishes a feline-centric cookbook. Waste not, want not, you know. Meanwhile, Carli Hiaasen, the Miami Herald columnist who writes such blisteringly witty satiric novels about his home state, may want to consider setting his next book in a more northern location - unless he figures that the Midwestern folk in Wisconsin may be a bit too odd even for him.

Cubs-Padres game rained out today in Chicago ...

I don't know ... is it a bad sign when your team is only a week into the season and you're already looking at a rainout as a great situation because it means they can't lose that day? Or is it just the typical start of a Chicago Cubs season? Yeah, yeah, I know that it is just a week into the new season and the Cubs are only 3-4, hardly the peak of any death throes. But I'm a Cubs fan, so leave me alone!

Tomorrow, a doubleheader. Oooh, a chance to lose twice.

Pedro Martinez - Flip-Flopper

Yeah, just like a politician. A few days, New York Mets pitcher and supporter of little people Pedro Martinez said in a typically well-thought-out statement that he didn't want the World Series ring he earned last fall as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Then, within hours of yesterday's glorious ring ceremony before the Sox' home opener, he did a bit of damage control by telling reporters that he'd take the ring, adding "I thought I did what I had to do to earn a ring with the Red Sox."

You're right, Pedro, you did do what you had to do to earn the ring - except, maybe, want the ring in the first place. What a joke this guy is. It may seem like a typical boorish thought by a typical modern pro athlete, but he also dissed all of the loyal fans of Red Sox Nation (yeah, a whole nation!) who have been waiting literally all of their lives for a chance to even see a World Series ring with the Sox logo emblazoned in diamonds. As a die-hard fan of another long-suffering baseball team that has been seeking the final glory of October for nearly a century, Martinez' words sting even more.

So I say to Pedro, who now wants his jeweled talisman, "Nuts." If I were the Red Sox brass, I'd take Martinez' ring and raffle it off to a lucky Boston fan. Because it seems like any of them would appreciate it more than this tool would.

P.S. Negative points for Martinez for now playing for the Mets. Yuck.

Random Thought

Yeah, the more than I think about it, the more I have to agree that that Big King-head guy in the Burger King commercials is kinda creepy. But not as creepy as Hootie was in that odious, brain-washing Bacon Cheedar Tendercrisp Ranch chicken sandwich commercial for BK. Thankfully, as I haven't seen one air for a while now, perhaps Hootie has been put out of his misery.

Mariah Carey - American hero

I always knew there was something special about Mariah Carey - OK, maybe just something - but I just thought it was her great pipes, her quirky behavior and her penchant for being 95 percent naked at nearly all times. Well, I stand corrected. Turns out that, while we were praising the firemen and police officers who bravely ran into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, we were neglecting maybe the biggest hero of that whole tragic situation. Witness:

>Superstar Mariah Carey can see a positive side to the critical-mauling and poor sales of her Glitter film and soundtrack album - it cheered up Americans following the September 11th attacks. The semi-autobiographical film was released only a month after the singer's much-publicized breakdown and ten days after the terrorists attacks in New York and Washington DC. Carey tells the New York Post newspaper, "The problem was Glitter was about a diva moment. It was too close to my life. Another thing that people don't remember about Glitter is that it came out the week of 9/11. The movie became a pressure release for everyone dealing the intensity of the attacks. Glitter was the safe joke of the day."<

Well done, Mariah, for taking our minds off of the misery and heartbreak of the worst attack on American soul with your mediocre acting skills. If we had known about your powers, we could have dropped you off in the middle of Baghdad wearing just a loincloth and platform heels and flushed Saddam out of his hole six months sooner. We'll remember you next time something else blows up real good.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The funeral of Pope John Paul II

All-nighters really aren't my bag anymore, especially since I put in my fair share in college, so staying up to watch the funeral for John Paul II last night (1 a.m. L.A. time!) wasn't necessariliy a good idea on a physiological basis. (Let's just say that my Friday turned into a nap day.) But I'm so glad that I did it. I'm not a big fan of organized religion in general and, in my bloated little mind, there are times when I think even God has trouble with a lot of what's done in His (or Her) name here on earth. But you didn't have to be a regular churchgoer to be totally moved by the experience of viewing the Pope's services. The chills and the emotions were striking, the spontaneous reactions of the huge crowd of pilgrims exhilirating. I was particularly moved when the ministers of the Eastern Orthodox Church prayed in their own way over John Paul's coffin; I was halfway expecting the rabbis and imams who also were in attendance to get their turn, but that probably was pushing it for what was a Christian service. And bravo to CNN to keeping their commentary sparse, unlike what I heard happened on some of the other networks, including one that chatted all the way through the stirring and eerie Litany of the Saints. This is one "instant event" I hope hits the DVD market sooner rather than later - with the proceeds going to charity, of course. (Idiot that I was, I didn't tape it.)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Matt Drudge Is Trying to Save Us from Ourselves

Matt Drudge, America's more respected journalist, points out on his "news" site that for the weekend just past, in which Pope John Paul II left this earthly plane, the number one movie at the box office was the stylized action flick "Sin City," and that such film includes - spoiler warning, please - "a Cardinal as cannibal, in league with a serial kiler who reads the Bible ... a cross in just about every scene" and that the movie "includes a scene in which Bruce Willis ripping a man's penis off." Gee, you think Drudge is trying to make a wizened comment about the state of American morality or somethin'?

Seriously, don't you wish Walter Winchell was still alive so he could eat this joker's liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti?

Cubs Update: Opening Day, Yay!

Final Score: Cubs 16, Arizona 6. At least for one day, Chicago fans say, "Sammy who?" But Zambrano doesn't get the win after being lifted after 4 2/3 innings and more than 100 pitches. He then gets ejected for arguing pitch calls with the umpire, though one wonders why the ump bothered. See, when a baseball player leaves the game, he can't come back! :)

So the Cubs are in first place, at least for one day. There is joy in Mudville.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


I present to you a new musical sensation - Wing! What, never heard of her? Where have you been, mister and Ms.? Wing, from what I gather from her Web site, is a Hong Kong native who moved to New Zealand about as decade ago and decided to learn how to sing. Nine CDs later, apparently she's still learning, but you can't fault her for trying. She has tackled everything from the Broadway tunes to Christmas carols and has recorded entire albums devoted to the Beatles ("Beatles Classics by Wing"), the Carpenters ("Wing Sings the Carpenters") and her newest project, "Dancing Queen by Wing" - yep, you guessed it, a CD devoted to the work of ABBA. (Where's Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths when you need them?) But, really, Wing has to be heard to be believed. And even though it's hard to poke fun at a nice lady who performs at hospitals and nursing homes, it's a little easier once you experience the fruits of her labor.

But, as you hunker down with your headphones to marvel at the vocal talents of Wing, keep this in mind - if she can record nine albums, then anybody can. Including you. But not me - I can't sing worth a damn.

I give you ... Wing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What the Puck?

The National Hockey League (you remember them, right?) has announced that, in an effort to raise fan excitement, the nets will be increased in size next season to promote more goal scoring.

Nice idea, but do you know what else puts butts in the seats? Players! (Not to mention a schedule of games that actually get played.)

Game ... on?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Finally, the Final Four

Let's review. My Final Four predictions were: Illinois, North Carolina, Louisville and Kentucky

The actual Final Four when the smoke cleared: Illinois, North Carolina, Louisville and Michigan State.

Three out of four isn't bad, considering this year. But if you saw the state of my overall tournament bracket - and you will never see that - you wouldn't be so proud of my acumen.

So who win it all? My heart says Illinois, 'cause they have been sorely underestimated all season, even as they stayed at No. 1 and nearly went undefeated. By my head says North Carolina 'cause they have been the most dominant team of the tourney. I guess we'll see what the teams themselves say this coming weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Commercials that are just WRONG

Commercials - their task is to compel us to buy more stuff, not necessarily to entertain us, and definitely not to repel us away with our arms flailing above us. But that's precisely what two such ads have done to me in recent weeks. And it's not even that the commercials themselves repulse or offend me. They're just ... odd. A bit too odd for my taste.

The first such commercial is the one for Van de Kamp's frozen fish products. They depict a natural setting - a playground, a racquetball court - where something is just off. That being the presence of a fish, quite obviously out of water and apparently trying to mouth some words - maybe "Take me to your leader" or, quite possible, "Put me back in the water." The people in the commercial are seen to back away in some form of stilted panic. A clearly despondent man can be see on the racquetball court, his head planted deeply into his hands. In the spot on the playground, a young girl reaches inquisitively for the fish, only to be grabbed by her freaked-out mom.

The tagline for these ads is "Uncomfortable around fish" - i.e., for those who can't deal with preparing fresh fish for your family, come buy our frozen, already-prepared fish dishes such as fish sticks, fried fillets, etc. Obviously the set-up is supposed to be some form of irony (like rain on your wedding day, perhaps). But to me, the scenario is more logical than humorous. If I were walking down the lane and suddenly came across a 3-foot swordfish standing on its back fins and trying to speak to me, I would quite properly think that the End was near and would run away in a fevered panic. And it would not make me hungry for fish sticks.

The other disturbing commercial is, on the surface, even more benign - a seasonal marketing approach by Jell-O to turn its ever-popular gelatin products into "jiggler eggs" for Easter. Thus, three little girls in bunny costumes parade around the room holding big, wiggling, glistening eggs made of Bill Cosby's favorite dessert. Innocent, friendly fun, right? Maybe for you. But in my eyes, eggs should not jiggle. I look at those fruity objects in those kids' hands and all I can see in my mind is that scene in "Alien" involving John Hurt and a meal that did not agree with him. A totally illogical concept to connect Easter joy and sci-fi horror, sure - but then again, we live in a world where fish walk the streets. And where the Red Sox win the World Series.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Devil in a (turtle) shell! Run! Run!

This explains so much when you think about it - really! To think that inside the heart of this benign, docile creatures lurks the very spirit of pure evil. But seriously, folks, shouldn't this story be taking place in Florida instead of Indiana?

Courtesy of my pal Beth.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I saw a screening of "Sin City" last night

I didn't read the original graphic novel, so I have no basis of comparison, but I'm assuming that because of Frank Miller's involvement with the project, the film stays pretty close to the source material. Having said that, I found "Sin City" to be a deliciously bloody (literally) good time. A shade below "Pulp Fiction," but probably only because that movie came first. (And, yeah, I know that "Sin City" was published before "Pulp Fiction" came out, so one could argue which truly came first, but I'm going by my point of reference.) Director Robert Rodriguez is a visual genius, though most of us already knew that. He really takes advantage of his digital backgrounds and allows the real-life actors to effectively melt into their surroundings. And most of the acting is top notch, espeicially the career-reviving performance by a nearly unrecognizable Mickey Rourke. He takes his character, a nearly indestructable force of nature named Marv, and embodies both his fury and his heartfelt emotion. Be warned, though, that "Sin City" is a very violent movie, and the violence is treated in both cartoony and graphic ways. Roger Ebert called "The Passion of the Christ" the most violent film he had ever seen around this time last year; that title may have just been transferred to Rodriguez' "home movie." 3 1/2 stars.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Congressional Steroid Hearings - Strikeout

Re: Yesterday's House committee hearings regarding the use of steroids in Major League Baseball - can the world get those 11-plus hours of its existence back?

I mean, what was really accomplished by what came within a bloop single of becoming a show trial, in which the entire baseball operation was feeling the heat? Oh, we learned that steroids are bad! What a revelation. While this government is fighting a war, trying to figure out how it will pay its bills and haggling over serious issues such as health care and Social Security, several of its elected representatives spend their St. Patrick's Day getting critical face time and brownie points by bantering with Sammy Sosa and company. (You know at least some of the committee members copped autographs when all was said and done.) One obvious question is, "Why now?" Baseball has been dealing in one way or another with the steroid issue for nearly a decade now; it's distressing to think that a book written by former big-league slugger/current ex-con Jose Canseco prompted the Beltway Boys to sit up and smell the pine tar.

This is not to belittle the steroids issue. Studies have more than proven the danger of long-term use of the performance-enhancing drug (even if the jury is still out about how much the performance of baseball players is enhanced). The pain and suffering of the families who testified about how their kids had committed suicide in post-steroids depression was very real - it may have been the only real part of the entire day. But they were the only real winners (if you can even call people in their situation "winner") of the whole enterprise. Losers? There were plenty. Commissioner Bug Selig and players' union head Donald Fehr came across as somewhat whipped by the athletes who power (no pun intended) the game and may have kept the current MLB policy on steroids soft by the standards of other sports. But many of the Congressmen didn't do much better. They ignored the fact that baseball may not be practicing zero tolerance like track and field, but they are doing something to fight a practice that already seems to be major decline. Not to mention that the minor leagues has had a stricter anti-steroids line for years now, a more effective barrier to rampant steroid use in the majors. And the fawning of some of the Representatives approached groaning level at times. Exactly what does it matter what pitch Sen. Jim Bunning, a Hall of Famer who testified earlier in the day, threw to Mickey Mantle when he hit a 500-plus-foot home run off of him?

The two who lost the most threw their statements, though, were on the opposite sides of the steroids spectrum. Much has been said about Mark McGwire's performance yesterday, his tearful opening statement that included his declaration that he wouldn't speak in detail about the suspected steroid use of either himself or those around him. He said that if he said he had juiced up, he and those around him would be scorned and abused; if he said no (like Sosa and Frank Thomas and Curt Schilling and others did), he simply wouldn't be believed. He forgot the third part of that theory - if he basically said no comment, that would be treated as a de facto yes. For all the rumors and allegations about McGwire over the years, his own words yesterday did more damage to his legacy that all of that innuendo put together.

But Canseco, one of McGwire's chief accusers, didn't do much better. Not only was the whipping boy of McGwire and others on the players' panel, he himself came across as a hypocrite by suddenly switching his party line that steroids were good for improving athletic performance. His 180-degree, come-to-Jesus switch to the steroids-are-evil line came across as unconvincing and self-serving. And at least McGwire's tears were believable, even if his message was skewed; the former slugger has always been known as a man who wears his emotions on his sleeve. Canseco's acting job wouldn't get him work on a D-list soap.

As for Congress' threats to get involved in baseball's steroid policy if the league itself doesn't do more, that came across as hollow within a day, as President Bush has said that he is not in favor of government intervention. So much for that.

It's a shame that on what should have been a great day in sports - the beginning of the NCAA Tournament and the NBA rematch of Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O'Neal - that this grandstanding affair dominated the headlines. Steroid use in all sports is a situation that does need to be monitored and taken seriously. And yesterday's sideshow is not the way to do it. Foul balls for everyone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My Final Four picks

For what it's worth. I don't know much about college basketball except that it's fun to watch and the players and fans rarely go after each other. But it seems to be the fashion this time of year to fill out the brackets and see what you're made up in terms of full-court acumen. So - here I go. I'm picking Illinois, North Carolina, Kentucky and Louisville, with Illinois defeating North Carolina for the title. There. I did it. I'll be wrong. This is why I don't bet on sports.

Breaking: Robert Blake not guilty

Guess this sets up that long-awaited "Baretta" reunion show!

Jose Canseco, the 'fraidy cat?

OK, I'm confused. Jose Canseo publishes a book about he and half the known baseball world were loading up on steroids and how steroids in fact can be good for your athletic career (he says this, of course, before his liver falls out and his gonads shrink). But when the Senate subpoenas him to show up and discuss his past exploits with the juice on the record, he asks for immunity? Maybe his gonads are shrinking - or maybe he's just getting sound legal advice before he presents himself to the federal government. No, I like the first theory better - it's sexier, for some reason.

Proof that the U.S.-Mexico relationship may be in trouble

Relations between the U.S. and Mexico, while usually good, have been a bit strained lately, mainly because the Mexican government feels that it has been getting the short end of the stick in recent months in terms of immigration policy and the fact that Americans have been warned not to vacation south of the border for safety reasons. Now this - the announcement that the National Football League will play a regular-season game in Mexico City in October, the first time an actual, it-counts NFL game will take place outside of the U.S. Fine - except the more the 100,000 fans expected to pile into Azteca Stadium will get the privilege of watching two of the worst teams in the league - the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. The Corona beer had better be half-price that Sunday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"Napoleon Dynamite"

Just saw it. Sweet film. But very surreal. Reminded me a lot of my days in high school, though I was not that nerdy. And I didn't grow in Idaho. And I didn't wear winter booties in the middle of the summer. But I did like me some tater tots.

3 stars.

Crime doesn't pay ...

And neither does flipping off the entire nation!

AP Wire | 03/15/2005 | ASU player dismissed for obscene gesture

Chicago Cubs 2005: That's a Wrap?

Now that both of the Cubs' young ace pitchers, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, already have gone down with arm trouble before the team even breaks spring training camp, it's the fashionable thing to declare the season already over for the Chicago National League Nine, yet another piece of coal in the overflowing sack of misery that is the existence of the die-hard Cubs fan. But what about me. Am I about to pronounce the Cubbies dead on arrival in 2005? Am I going to write off the forthcoming campaign as a wash-out, a perpetual six-month black cloud over my head?

Yeah, probably.

Not that great things can't happen. No one saw 1969 or 1984 or 1989 or 2003 coming, after all. In all of those years, the Cubs were supposed to do their usual die-in-August routine, yet they contended for, or actually, made the playoffs. But, then again, as is the lot of us martyrs to the blue pinstripes, we think as much about how all of those seasons ended as to the thrilling lead-up to the finales. And none of them ended with World Series titles, or even World Series invites. They ended with black cats on the field, first basemen forgetting the basics of fielding, or random fans inserting themselves into the action at the worst possible moment. In short, they ended crappily.

I, and others of my ilk, take preverse delight in saying that we are guaranteed admittance into heaven when it's all over because we have lived our Purgatory on earth courtesy of the Chicago Cubs. With Sosa off the reservation for good and Wood and Prior already fragile, it may be time to think of 2005 as another step along the way to salvation.

Or they could go all the way. Hey, anything is possible. (Right, Boston?)

A sequel to "Cheaper by the Dozen"?

Apparently, according to this news brief:

Steve Martin ready for another 'Dozen'

[World News]: LOS ANGELES, March 11 : Steve Martin will reunite with 'Bringing Down the House' director Adam Shankman for a sequel to 2003's 'Cheaper by the Dozen.'

Shankman -- who directed the Jennifer Lopez-Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy 'The Wedding Planner' and the Mandy Moore drama 'A Walk to Remember' -- has become one of the hottest comedy directors in Hollywood.'Bringing Down the House' grossed $132.5 million at the U.S. box office and his latest project -- the Vin Diesel comedy 'The Pacifier' -- took in $30.5 million last weekend when it opened at No.1. Shankman told Daily Variety deals are being worked out for Martin and other cast members from 'Cheaper by the Dozen,' including Bonnie Hunt and Piper Perabo, but he said it was questionable whether Hilary Duff would return for the sequel.The story for the new movie follows the family with 12 kids as they go on a vacation and run into trouble with another family from the neighborhood that has eight kids.

'Cheaper by the Dozen,' directed by Shawn Levy, grossed $138 million.

So what will they call it, "Cheaper by the Nearly Two Dozen"? Will there be a subplot where the adorable Bonnie Hunt will be forced to wear a pregnancy suit during half the movie? Or, wait, they can have Hunt and screen daughter Perabo both be pregnant, and they can have their babies within minutes of each other while Martin shuffles from room to room in the hospital! What an original concept!

Will Martin Short be available?

Meanwhile, Ms. Duff may not be available for this return to comedic domestic bliss. Probably because she has turned into the most expensive cast member, provided actor/Demi impregnator Ashton Kutcher isn't able to reprise his uncredited role as Perabo's idiot boyfriend. (Didn't she dump him at the end of the original?) And, by the way, when Duff's feud between Lindsay Lohan was going hot and heavy, did anyone else have images of a twisted version of the Tupac/Notorious B.I.G. showdown? And we all know how that one ended.

Steve Stone

Cub fans still bemoaning the dismissal of broadcaster Steve Stone at the end of last season will be interested to know that he has turned up as a color guy on ESPN's spring training games. I don't know if he will stay on for the regular season, but considering how many games ESPN and its 37 sister stations air each week, the more warm voices they can find, the better.

Well, here we go ...

This blog has been in the making for ... well, several minutes. Seriously, my brother has been on my case to start a blog for months now, and just recently one of my best friends in the world carved out her own section of the universe and has had a blast in the just the first few days. So finally I figured, what the heck? Thus, this. I plan to talk about almost anything that comes into my head here. It may be a film or TV reviews (that's part of what I do for a living, after all), or a comment abou the news of the day, or a funny (?) joke, or a recipe for seafood. We will see.

In the meantime, I indulge you for patience, understanding and pungent comments. Keep me on my toes and I'll try to keep you on yours.