Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You make the call!

Adorable, or doped up?

Fidel Castro - we're on the clock again!

Hmmm .... you may recall that last summer, right before Fidel Castro turned 80, it was announced that the Cuban leader would be temporarily stepping down from the post he had held for nearly half a century to undergo abdominal surgery, but that he would be back as soon as he recovered. As a result, festivities scheduled to mark his birthday were postponed until around early December, a time that was seen by many as a deadline for Castro to get all better and prove that he was as ruff and tuff as ever.

Well - the celebrations have begun in Havana, but, lo and behold, the guest of honor hasn't shown up. In fact, El Presidente hasn't been seen in any shape or form since a video of the old coot was shown more than a month ago. And in that video, Castro didn't look too good.

All of which means, of course, that Fidel Castro is dead.

Now I know I said this before, but this time I absolutely mean it. You watch - the final announcement that Fidel has gone to meet his final reward, or whatever the Communists call it, will come around mid- to late December. But he's already in a meat locker somewhere, staying fresh as a daisy so he'll look good when he lies in state. You've got to look good for that; after all, it's your final close-up.

Why all of the subterfuge? Why doesn't the Cuban government just come out and say, "Hey, sorry to be a buzzkill, but the great leader has passed ... but the good news is that we can all be capitalists now!"? Well, that's just now how it's done in Communist countries with totalitarian governments. You remember those fun-loving Russians back in the ’80s. They'd appoint a new fossil to run things, he'd make a few appearances to call Americans decadent and corrupt, and then he'd disappear with a head cold before turning up in a box six months later. In other words, they have a hard time just coming out and saying stuff. Their marriage proposals must be interesting. So, no, they just won't say outright that Fidel is morto. We'll just have to wait for the Cubans' timetable. But trust me, he's gone bye-bye. And too bad, too - he missed the chance to see Britney Spears' bare hoohah.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No way, O.J.

Word has come down the pike that NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch's Mom-and-Pop media conglomerate that has given us such fare as House, American Idol, Cops and the time-honored classic When Animals Attack, has, after an apparent weekend bout of "What the heck are you thinking?", decided not to publish If I Did It, O.J. Simpson's heartfelt tome about how he (would have) savagely murdered his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman - had he been in a position to do it, of course. The two-part TV special that would have been a companion piece to the book - that's off as well. (Murdoch himself is quoted by the AP as saying that the whole thing was "an ill-considered project." No shit, Sherlock. Your business acumen astonishes.)

No word on how Simpson reacted to the news of his thwarted plans when he was informed on a nearby golf course while conducting his never-ending search for the real killers, or what will happen to the $3.5 million he - oh, excuse me, his kids - were to receive for his finely honed work. There's also no word about how Judith Regan will sleep at night now that her attempt at self-catharsis has been nipped in the bud. But there is word on how Fox will deal with the two hours of dead air it just picked up as a result of O.J.'s abrupt cancellation. Rumor is that at least one of those hours may be filled by a to-the-death contest of "the dozens" between Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Now that's entertainment!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ed Bradley ...

On the complete opposite of the O.J. Simpson debacle is the death of 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley, which shocked just about everybody last week and then left those who knew him and those who watched him with a massive degree of sadness. Reading the obits to Bradley and then watching the 60 Minutes tribute to him this past Sunday, I was struck not just by the diversity of his career, but also by the diversity of his life away from the reporter's desk. Jazz enthusiast, philanthropist, skier, loyal friend - it's the kind of life any person, let along any journalist, aspires to achieve. Bob Schieffer called Bradley the coolest guy he ever knew, which is one hell of a great quote, but not as good as what Andy Rooney said about his colleague, maybe one of the nicest things I've ever heard one human being say about another.

"I don't have enough years left myself to ever get over missing Ed Bradley," Rooney said.

It sounds like that will be the case for everyone who knew him, no matter how old they are.

Read Rooney's entire commentary by clicking the subject line.


I really can't believe that People magazine passed me over again for the title of Sexiest Man Alive. I mean, George Clooney, please. What does he have that I don't? Well, besides the chiseled good looks, the charisma, the charitable heart, the tons of money, the Italian villa, the pot-bellied pig and the freakin' Oscar. Take all that way, and he's just another hot stud who gets laid a lot. Nothin' special.

I mean, come on - there's no comparision!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rancid Juice ...

And now, more than 10 years after the fact, the ultimate indignity from America's most notorious acquitted murderer. In two weeks, O.J. Simpson will be the star of a two-part television special with the lurid title If I Did It, Here's How It Happened. Yes, he's going there. Simpson - whom, you will recall, was once a hero - will tell the world how he would have killed his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman on that notorious June evening in 1994. If he actually did it, that is.

Of course, this is all being done to promote a book, written by Simpson between his regular trips to the golf courses of the world in search of the "real killers." Of course, this special is being aired by Fox, a network that is home to some top-notch quality entertainment such as House and 24, but also has been known to air anything within and without the boundaries of good taste in search of ratings. Of course, this two-night "event" will garner boffo numbers - or maybe not. Maybe, for once, the viewing public will refuse this latest serving of Juice push themselves away from the dinner table of trash TV, unwilling to give this small man another minute of their attention.

Then again, what the hell have I just done.

If I Did It will air ... oh, look it up yourself.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Word today that the New York Mets - not exactly my favorite baseball team for very personal reasons that no Cub fan needs explained - and CitiGroup have reached a longterm, multimillion dollar agreement that includes the naming rights to the Mets' new ballpark, which currently is being built alongside the team's current home, Shea Stadium. Thus, come 2009, the Mets will play in CitiField, a modern facility that is being crafted to resemble the Brooklyn Dodgers' old ballpark, Ebbets Field, at least on the exterior.

All of which is fine and dandy - after all, big money deals for the rights to brand athletic stadia have become de rigeur in recent years. But there had been a budding movement to have the Mets break with modern tradition and name their new place after one of the major icons in baseball history, Jackie Robinson, who played his entire career in Ebbets Field or Brooklyn. (Even the cynical New York Post had endorsed the idea a while back.) It was only a couple of months ago that the United States Tennis Association named its New York facility, where the U.S. Open is played, after Billie Jean King. Much was made of the millions of dollars the USTA walked away from in order to honor a person who was a true pioneer of the game of tennis, on and off the court. And the Mets playing in Jackie Robinson Stadium would have been the ultimate monument to the man who did more to change baseball, and the society in general, than any other player in history, millions be damned.

Of course, they could split the difference and go with Jackie Robinson CitiField, or Jackie Robinson Park at CitiField. But I won't be holding my breath.

Friday, November 10, 2006

This post is brought to you by the letter B and the number 37 ...

It was on this day 37 years ago that Sesame Street premiered on public television, ushering in a new era of children's entertainment and education. It was my favorite show when I was a tot, and even today in my advanced age, I still will turn in on occasion when I need a quick smile. The show, while it has evolved over the years, still is the cream of the crop when it comes to teaching tiny ones about numbers and words and other simple concepts. Plus it's not as creepy as that damn Teletubbies program.

In honor of the Street's birthday, I thought I'd lay down some facts about one of my favorite Muppets, Big Bird. Yes, I did own a Big Bird when I was younger. You could make his bill move by sticking two fingers into the back of his head. (Oh, the things that will amuse the young.) His full story can be read by clicking the subject lines, which will take you to his page on the Muppet Wiki site. (Yes, a Muppet Wiki. The evolution of man's intelligence is complete.) But here are some bullet points.

* Big Bird is 8-foot-2 in height, which means he could throw down over Yao Ming if he wanted to. He's also only 6 years old, which means he must have one hell of a thyroid condition.

* He's a golden condor.

* He's the only Muppet, so far, to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

* His best friend, Mr. Snuffleupagus, was the original lead singer for The Doors before he was fired and replaced by Jim Morrison.

* He has a teddy bear named Radar, a homage to the character on M*A*S*H played by Gary Burghoff. Radar also had a teddy bear.

* The primary actor who plays Big Bird, Carroll Spinney, also plays Oscar the Grouch.

* Big Bird once appeared on an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

* Among the items found in Big Bird's massive nest: a mailbox, a football helmet, a bubble gum dispenser and the mummified corpse of Jimmy Hoffa. (One of these things is not like the other.)

* Among his more famous cameos on other shows was a memorable scene opposite Allison Janney on The West Wing. What is not commonly know is that the two briefly dated after they worked together but broke up due to the bicoastal nature of the relationship.

* Big Bird has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with a few droppings.

* He has recorded several musical albums, including the cleverly titled Big Bird Sings!, but flopped as a hip-hop artist when his rap debut, Flippin' the Bird, was a commercial disappointment. Though not as disappointing as Kevin Federline's "effort."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Priorities ...

On this, definitely the most important U.S. election day in a generation, maybe the most important since 1860, it should come as no surprise that there would be breaking news bulletins aplenty inundating us in the hours to come. I don't know if we thought that this would be the first one, but it does say a lot about this country and the media that covers it.

Whether the (inevitable?) end of the Spears-Federline blessed union is a bellwether as to how the election will go, I have no idea. Maybe we can go back in time and gauge what the voters did in the first elections after an Elizabeth Taylor divorce. In the meantime, crack open a 40 and a bag of Cheetos in memory of a love gone toxic.

Do your duty ...

Unless you live under a rock or some sort of undisclosed location, you know that today is Election Day, the one time every two years when we, as the drivers of the American Dream, can check under the hood and make sure that the parts are working in the way that we want them - and if they're not, swap them out in favor of new equipment. It's also a day that thousands of people have literally given their blood, whether on a battlefield or right here on native soil, for so that we may voice our opinion freely. Remember that as you journey to your local polling place to cast your ballot, and as you make sure your ballot is cast correctly. Never let anyone, including yourself, take your right to vote away from you.

If you need help figuring out where you vote, go to this site. Don't count on anybody calling you with information about where, and when, to vote. Chances are they are not your friend.

I voted today bright and early, at 7 a.m., when the polls opened here in California. I have made it a point to vote in every election precisely for the reasons cited above, but this year especially it was important for me to do it first thing in the morning. My local polling has shifted around in recent years, from a high school to a gay and lesbian center, to an elementary school, to a community town hall. This time around, I voted at a synagogue. And I am happy to report that by the time the polls officially opened, there was a line of about eight people, spanning all strata of race and age and apparent social standing, waiting to do their civic duty. This is significant because in 2004 - when we were voting for president, no less - I went to vote some three hours into the day and was only the third or fourth person at my polling station. If the turnout this morning was any indication, this could be a big day. Why, we could get maybe 55 percent of the eligible voters doing their job - still pathetic compared to other democracies, but for the U.S., where it seems like people care more about who wins on Dancing with the Stars or American Idol than who represents them in Congress, a big deal.

So I went in, I filled out my ballot, I cringed as the electronic counting machine temporarily lost juice and then had to be powered up. But eventually I was tallied and I got my sticker. Then, while leaving a local restaurant with my breakfast, I passed a small group of teens entering with a parent or teacher in tow. "Hey," I overheard one of the kids saying, "he's already voted." "Yeah," I thought to myself, "that's how it's done. And in a few years, it will be your turn."

From my head to God's ears. And, hopefully, to yours.

Tag, you're it.