Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Harsh sounds afoot at the Oscars ...

The name Kevin O'Connell may not mean much to you, but it means a lot to Kevin O'Connell, not to mention hardcore Oscar buffs. If you think Peter O'Toole with his 0-for-8 record at the Academy Awards is sad, try living in O'Connell's shoes. The 50-year-old sound mixer has the all-time record for Oscar futility with 19 nominations without a win. Of course, one could say that 19 Academy Award nods is hardly a testament to futility. Consider as well the different types of films O'Connell has been recognized for - everything from family dramedy (Terms of Endearment, 1983) and Westerns (Silverado, 1985) to action movies (The Rock, 1996; Armageddon, 1998) and war flicks (The Patriot, 2000; Pearl Harbor; 2001) and superhero sagas (The Mask of Zorro, 1998; both Spider-Man movies) and obscure Mayan stories directed by borderline anti-Semitic visionaries (Apocalypto, 2006). Plus three Tom Cruise vehicles (Top Gun, 1986; Days of Thunder, 1990; A Few Good Men, 1992). That's a lot of varied ground for Mr. O'Connell, a lot to be proud of. And yet, no golden guy to represent all of that work.

The 19 nominations without a final triumph would be story enough, but there's more - unfortunately. O'Connell faced his most recent loss this past Sunday when he and his fellow Apocalypto sound guys were bested by the team from Dreamgirls - not an entirely surprising results, given that musicals obviously rely greatly on the quality of their sound. What happened next was the interesting part. Back in the press room, the victorious Dreamgirls team took questions, one of which was if any of them had advice for O'Connell. Two of them had general words of praise and consolation, but the third, Michael Minkler, had something else on his mind. Per the Hollywood Reporter:

"I think Kevin should go away with 19 nominations," [Minkler] said without cracking a smile. "We work really hard, and if we stumble upon an award, we are so grateful. I have to wonder ... Kevin is an OK mixer, but he should take up another line of work."

Awkward, to be sure. And now this blood feud within the sound mixing community is approaching Grey's Anatomy proportions if the rebuttal from one of O'Connell's Apocalypto colleagues is any indication. Greg P. Russell tells the awards-tracking Web site that Minkler was "absolutely sincere" with his press room comments about O'Connell (Russell used another, harsher word) and reveals that his partner had to leave the ceremony almost immediately after his category was announced to deal with a much more painful loss - that of his hospitalized mother, who died in his arms later than evening. "As if Kevin didn't have enough to deal with," says Russell. "He wakes up to this bulls***." Russell continues:

"It's been a really weird couple of days. I've been fielding all the calls because Kev has been out. The head of our studio came in to say he blasted Minkler for his assault. I even kicked myself for being congratulatory that night. Minkler said to me when I congratulated him that I was always a classy guy and he appreciated that alot. Integrity is something that means everything to me and this man has absolutely NONE. He stood backstage representing the entire Sound Community in front of the world, only to disgrace us all."

Ouch. One wonders whether Minkler will be man enough to apologize to O'Connell, at least to dissing him on the very night his mother passed away, or if this thing will escalate to someone being called out to the parking lot to "settle things," or however sound mixing geeks handle their business. Either way, it does seem like Minkler has some damage control to take care of. Or O'Connell could just get nominated again (he's working on Spider-Man 3, so that should be no problem), finally win, and then bludgeon Minkler with his new prize while yelling, "How does that sound, bitch?"

A Cuban rescue mission?

Now that the smoke from the Academy Awards has cleared, it's time to turn to even more critical matters - the impending championship season of Major League Baseball. In my little corner of the universe, that means the Chicago Cubs, also known as baseball's version of Susan Lucci Martin Scorsese the Democratic Party pathetic sad-sack losers. This Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Seven will mark the 99th season in a row that the Cubs have sought to reclaim the World Series championship that the team last won in 1908 (the second of two back-to-back titles, no less). So obviously it has not been easy being a fan of the Chicago National League Ball Club. As if we needed any reminder of that, yesterday brought yet another downer: news that Ron Santo, the beloved former All-Star third baseman for the Cubbies during much of the bittersweet late ’60s-early ’70s run, had been denied yet again entry into the hallowed Baseball Hall of Fame. Santo, who is 67 and has lost both legs to diabetes, fell five votes short of immortality. Five votes - sound familiar?

All of this morbid backstory is set up to what might happen this year. Already there has been muted hope that things at Wrigley Field may be different this time around. There's a new manager in Sweet Lou Piniella, a new center fielder and potential superstar in Alfonso Soriano. But the biggest news of all broke today with word that Mark Cuban, the out-there but loaded owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, may be about to put his long-standing desire to buy the Cubs from the Tribune Company into overdrive. How serious could Cuban be? Serious enough, according to Radar Online, to offer a smashing $625 million for the team. That would be almost 50 percent more than the value of the Cubs as listed by Forbes magazine - not to mention a megabucks offer to a company in Tribune that is teetering on the brink of financial ruin. Cuban has proven with the Mavericks the ability to take a long-sucking franchise and turn things completely around (once the laughing stock of the NBA, the Mavs made the Finals last year, and just about every player on that team worships Cuban like the second coming).

There are some possible drawbacks to this plan. For one, would the stubborn Tribuners even agree to the sale. Also, MLB's financial set-up is very different from how things go in the NBA - Cuban himself has admitted to that - and so his ownership of any baseball team is far from a guarantee of success. And how would fans in middle American - not to mention the commissioner's office - deal with Cuban's eccentric antics? But for Cubs fans starved for a consistent winner, having Mark Cuban in the ownership chair would be a refreshing breath of fresh air. Will it happen? If God is a baseball fan, it will.

NOTE: According to ESPN, Cuban has denied preparing a offer for the Cubs. Curses! (Wait, forget I said that ... )

The stars ... they really are like us!

So how does one of the world's best actors unwind just hours after winning the Academy Award. In the case of Dame Helen Mirren, newly anointed Best Actress of the Universe for her lead role in The Queen - it's tearing into a very American meal of a hamburger at the Governors' Ball:

Why is is this a big deal? Only because two years ago, then-newly anointed Best Actress of the Universe Hilary Swank sampled similar fare at a local L.A. diner soon after picking up her second Oscar for Million Dollar Baby:

To be fair, Swank's burger was of the veggie variety, but there is a pattern - and, perhaps, a new Oscar tradition. After all, it's very likely that the women who have to fit into those slinky gowns probably haven't eaten in days prior to the Academy Awards ceremony. Now, if we can just find a shot from 2006 of Reese Witherspoon and her statuette at McDonalds, and we'll really have something ...

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Oscars - the post-mortem

First things first - the fashion! (No, no, just kidding.) As far as the awards went, I did OK - four out of six, and the two "will win" that I missed, my "should win" backups (Forest Whitaker and Alan Arkin) took the prize. So maybe that's like a half each, which would make it five out of six. Groovy. There were some surprises among the categories I didn't predict - The Lives of Others defeating Pan's Labyrinth (which I thought was a bit overrated) for foreign-language film, Happy Feet over Cars for animated feature (the penguins rule for two years in a row), Melissa Etheridge's song from An Inconvenient Truth over the three Dreamgirls tunes for original song (from cancer to Oscar in two years - only in Hollywood). I liked the fact that all five of the best picture nominees won at least one Academy Award; dominant films are fine, but so is spreading the wealth. When Martin Scorsese was announced as best director, I don't mind saying that I said very loudly to the TV screen (and my friend Beth, with whom I was on the phone), "It's ... about ... f****** ... time." And, segueing into fashion for a bit, I agree with Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly - Helen Mirren at age 61 was the sexiest babe in the room.

And now the show itself - the reviews, if you haven't heard, have not been kind. Critics have bashed the broadcast for being too long and too boring. Tom Shales, never one to hold back his words, called the show a "horror." The Hollywood Reporter gave mixed reviews to host Ellen DeGeneres, saying that a host with a "harder edge" may have been a better choice. (This is after previous, so-called "edgy" Oscar hosts such as Chris Rock and Jon Stewart were criticized for perhaps going too far.) Another review went so far as to call DeGeneres the "lowest point" of the show.

Cranks, all of them.

Honesty, I don't know why any comedian - anyone - ever accepts this job anymore. It's easily the most thankless one in show business. Even Billy Crystal, maybe the only universally accepted Oscar host in recent memories, begs off of the gig more often than not, citing the pressure involved.

Look, last night's show wasn't perfect. Producer Laura Ziskin's choice to not open the show with one or both of the supporting categories was a calculated mistake. I could do without some of the film packages, especially Michael Mann's about how the movies saw America. Not only was the show already running long, but it really said nothing about America or the movies. But, people, understand this - the Oscars take a long time to give out, even in the most exciting circumstances. The faster we get around this concept, the happier we all will be. And if I ever get an Oscar and get played off by the orchestra, I may physically assault someone. That is one of the rudest things that can be done to someone, and to have it done in front of a billion people is particularly galling. (The practice, of course, also is done unequally - Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker get all the time they want, but the sound mixing winner? Not so much.)

But if the critics are so obsessed with the time factor involving the Academy Awards, I have the perfect solution for them - next year, carve out only one hour for the show - no pomp, no monologue, no speeches. Do it conveyer-belt style. Hire the most boring people you can - actually, not even famous people. Pull random pedestrians off the street to present. Announce the nominations and winners in deadpan style. Any winner who says anything will automatically have their Academy Award confiscated. We'll see what kind of reviews that kind of show gets. "But it was done in an hour so now you can get back to watching your reruns of Cold Case."

Ellen DeGeneres, I thought, did a fine job bringing her, yes, low-key humor to the telecast. Her bits in the audience with Scorsese and with Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg were especially amusing, and I hope she patents that Oscar bjorn she was showing off. But from the tone of the reviews, which I don't really agree with, I would be surprised if she's invited back to do this again next year. If that's the case, one suggestion for a future host if the Academy decides not to go with the one-hour concept - Al Gore, who was one of the funniest guys last night. He'd be a great M.C. - that is, if he's not doing something else at this time next year.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dave's Oscar predictions!!

So will I be right or will I be on? Or both? Only the guys with the envelope know. And, of course, Steven Spielberg, who know everything, right?

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Until now, for the most part this category in the Oscar precursors has been dominated by Whitaker's towering and terrifying performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He won the Critics Choice, the Golden Globe and SAG Awards, defeating basically the same crop of fellow nominees present for this final round. Whitaker even won the BAFTA in what is basically O'Toole's backyard, a key victory. But the Academy Awards are an entirely different animal, and I can't get out of the back of my head that O'Toole may be the greatest living actor never to have won a competitive Oscar. Hell, a few years ago he even briefly turned down the chance to get a lifetime achievement Oscar on the grounds that he was "still in the game" and wanted the chance to earn a "real" one. Well, here is his chance, most likely the last one for the 74-year-old veteran, and past history tell me that the Academy will defer from the frontrunner in favor of sentiment. At least O'Toole's work as an aging actor who falls for the very, very young relative of a friend has gotten rave reviews on its own, so it won't exactly be a repeat of past "make-up" awards for so-so acting (Al Pacino, anyone?) Still, this is one of those occasions where I wish there could be a tie so everyone could be happy.

Will Win: Peter O'Toole
Should Win: Forest Whitaker

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Dame Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Dame Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

This has been an era of Oscar "locks" - performances that are so acclaimed that their anointing to Academy glory are done deals months before even the nominations are announced. Julia Roberts got that treatment for Erin Brockovich, as did Charlize Theron for Monster, Jamie Foxx for Ray and, last year, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. But none of them were as dominant as Helen Mirren, whose portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II all but ended the best actress competition before it barely began. (New name for the category: The Helen Mirren Invitational.) The interesting thing is that in a Mirren-less year, any of the other four nominees could have been the favorite going into the ceremony. But even they must know where the crow flies; all four were along for the ride at the SAG Awards, but none of them showed up to see Dame Helen take home another prize; what's more, Judi Dench has chosen knee surgery over appearing at the Kodak Theater this Sunday. Well, at least she'll be able to drink in private!

Will Win: Dame Helen Mirren
Should Win: Dame Helen Mirren

P.S. Mirren gives kick-ass speeches - though not as good as Meryl Streep - so we're expecting some sassy Shakespearean-level stuff from the victorious Dame.

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

As per usual, the supporting acting category is one of the tougher ones of the evening, and not just in terms of the talent level. There are at least three cool stories among the five nominees. You have Murphy, the former SNL genius who has gone on to an erratically successful film career punctuated mostly by mid-level comedies that involve him playing multiple characters in various degrees of latex, but showed off both his singing and dramatic talents as a burned-out James Brown clone in Dreamgirls. Then there's Arkin, the beloved veteran who went 38 years between nominations but is back again as the foul-mouthed, heroin-sniffing grandfather in Sunshine. And in one of the best Oscar stories in recent history, there's Haley's comeback story from has-been child actor (remember The Bad News Bears?) to resurgent character actor courtesy of his chilling child molester in Little Children. Throw in former Boston bad boy Wahlberg's turn as a true-blue Boston cop in The Departed and Hounsou's desperate fisherman in Blood Diamond, and it's clear that whoever gets the Oscar from Rachel Weisz will have a lot of reasons to be emotional. Murphy has been in the lead for most of the duration, but don't be surprised if Arkin catches him at the end. In fact, he may have a better chance of taking advantage of the "old coot" phenomenon than O'Toole - with the added benefit of actually deserving it as well.

Will Win: Eddie Murphy
Should Win: Alan Arkin

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

No, I'm not splitting hairs here - both of these young ladies deserve to share the Oscar this year. The chances of that happening, of course, are minute. But what is clear is that without either of these two actors' presence in their respective movies, both Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine collapse as viable entertainments. The role of Effie, the talented but discarded diva, was key to the Broadway musical of Dreamgirls, and it's even more important to the film version, so the fact that Hudson, an American Idol reject who had never acted professionally, pulled it off gave the movie its emotional heart, and she knocked it out of the cinema with her rendition of the show's signature tune. Meanwhile, there's the 10-year-old Breslin, whom the producers of Sunshine pegged as their wannabe beauty queen back when she was 6. Her wide-eyed but human optimism was the engine behind the VW bus that could. No other child performer - not even the anointed Dakota Fanning - could have done a better job. The odds still favor Hudson's keeping the Oscar all to herself, but as much as she blew my socks off, I won't mourn if Breslin pulls the upset.

Will Win: Jennifer Hudson
Should Win: Jennifer Hudson and Abigail Breslin

Best Director
Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Paul Greengrass, United 93
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel
Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Finally it's going to happen. Finally one of the best filmmakers of his generation will get the one honor that has escaped his grasp all these years. Yes, after five nominations, Martin Scorsese is going to get his golden guy. We're pretty sure, that is. We've been here before, and so has he. Most everyone thought Scorsese would win for Raging Bull back in 1980 - but the Oscar went to Robert Redford for Ordinary People instead. Then there was 1990 and Goodfellas. Slam dunk, right? Wrong - thanks to Kevin Costner and Dances with Wolves. In 2002 it was Gangs of New York - and Roman Polanski for The Pianist. And in 2004 with The Aviator, Marty came up short again, that time to Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby. Clint is back again, along with difficult work from Paul Greengrass and Alejandro González Iñárritu. But The Departed is not only a return for Scorsese to the fertile, bloody ground of crime and treachery, but also combines deft direction with solid entertainment value. In short, it may be the most accessible film in this category, with the man on top to thank for it. It's not the best film Scorsese has ever made, but it will do. Enjoy the standing ovation, Marty - you earned it.

Will Win: Martin Scorsese
Should Win: Martin Scorsese

Best Picture
The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Even before one of the pegged favorites, Dreamgirls, didn't make the final cut, people knew this would be a tough choice. With no Titanic or Return of the King this year to make things simple, there still is no clear favorite even thought there are only hours before the envelopes will be opened. It's perhaps easier to say what may keep some of these films from winning. The Queen is a hoot thanks to Helen Mirren's performance and Peter Morgan's crackling script, but it also is the one nominee that could have easily been a TV movie. Letters from Iwo Jima is the kind of epic Academy voters usually love, and Clint Eastwood is a favorite of the group as well, but it's also a three-hour war movie that's done in Japanese. Babel may be the most polarizing nominee of them all, a multithreaded, multinational polemic about the need for communication that hits audiences over the head like an anvil. You either love it or hate it. (It's also very similar, in both format and divisive opinion, to last year's winner, Crash - a potential strike against it.) That leaves the violent crime drama The Departed and the caustic but heartwarming family comedy Little Miss Sunshine. The easy choice would be Martin Scorsese's Departed, a heady tale of corruption, the Mob and betrayal that displays the master's talents at their peak. But the better selection may be Sunshine, the low-budget wonder that deftly displays why, through it all - failed business deals, unfulfilled goals, awkward child stripteases - you can always count on your blood to come through at the end.

Will Win: The Departed
Should Win: Little Miss Sunshine

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Must be a groovy tune she's listening to ...

This is supermodel Marisa Miller posing for the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Notice anything missing?

Yeah, you're right. Why is Marisa using the crappy earphone that come with the otherwise excellent iPod? You think SI could spring for some of those fancy asymetrical Philips headphones! Sheesh ...

Oh, nice non-swimsuit on Marisa, too. (All the more reason to give Ms. Miller the proper audio equipment, since the magazine is saving money on costuming.)

Hair today ...

From the "someone has too much time on their hands" department, this tidbit from NBC News and the AP:

"A Florida company says it's come up with a handheld laser device that promotes hair growth. And now they say they've got the OK from federal regulators to sell it.

Yeah, this has "lawsuit" written all over it. The first time the "Hairmax Lasercomb" (swear to God, that's its name) zaps someone into an instant lobotomy, that's all she wrote.

Oh, and notice from where this new invention comes - Florida, the vortex of all that is wacky and crazy in the known universe. Ask me about that sometime.

Click on the subject line if you're really concerned about your baldness problem.

Wild world of sports ...

One of my favorite news programs on the air doesn't air on CNN or Fox News. It airs on ESPN. Pardon the Interruption is a funny, entertaining and often informative half-hour series that involved two sports columnists from the Washington Post, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, discussing (i.e. arguing) about the issues of the day - mostly, but not entirely, focusing on the wacky world of sports. The story goes that the two colleagues work across from each other at the Post and spent most of their time debating (i.e. yelling at) each other about what was happening in what news organizations affectionally call the "toy department". One day someone had the idea to take that concept to the airwaves. The show debuted on ESPN in 2001 and has become one of the most popular series on the cable channel.

This week, PTI is dark so ESPN can focus on this Sunday's Daytona 500, touting the return of NASCAR to its airwaves with a weeklong strip of preview shows. Right now, I suspect that Kornheiser and Wilbon must be chewing at the bit, as this may have been the worst week possible for them not to be able to go at it in front of their viewing audience. Not only have there notable stories in the actual field of play, especially the long losing streaks of both Duke University - four in a row - and the Boston Celtics - 18 (!) straight - but, in typical sports fashion, there have been plenty of shenanigans off the court as well, including:

* The positively stuptifying dismissal of San Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Despite leading the Chargers to the best record in the NFL and having probably the most talented team in the league, Schottenheimer was fired Monday night after his long-standing feud with general manager A.J. Smith finally reached a point of no return. It's hard to determine, though, what was the dumber move - getting rid of a popular and knowledgeable coach who earned a 14-2 record (the best regular-season finish in team history, by the way); or doing it at such a late date that finding a suitable replacement may be all but impossible, especially since most observers thought that Marty would be gone as soon as the Chargers lost their playoff game to the New England Patriots. There are other ways to potentially sabotage a strong franchise, but perhaps none as asinine.

* The mindfart of former NBA star Tim Hardaway, who may have torched his future post-basketball employment prospects - not to mention his good name - with his incendiary comments regarding the presence of gay players in his former league. Asked on a Miami radio station about his reaction to the coming out of former player John Amaechi last week and how he would have dealt with a gay player on his own team, Hardaway passionately declared that he would have a real problem with that and went on to say that he "hates gay people," that he is "homophobic" and that homosexuality "shouldn't be allowed in the world, in the United States." Hardaway later apologized - not so much for his opinion but for stating it out loud - and Amaechi letter commented that he appreciated the honesty that Hardaway displayed, but the incident has left many NBA pundits scratching their heads. The real fun of this, of course, is that Hardway is fooling himself if he thinks that he has never showered alongside a gay teammate, because the law of averages would dictate that he has done just that. One must also wonder how he would have reacted if, say, a white player had replaced the word "gay" with the word "black." Or, in his case, "overrated."

* The weekly incident of a parent going haywire at his kid's sporting event - in this case, a father taking the officiating of his son's wrestling match into his own hands. Take a look (you will believe a 11-year-old can fly):

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, don't it? If it's any consolation, it's unlikely that Law & Order will be doing an episode based on this incident - as they already did one about parent rage several years ago, that time involving actual murder and a hockey rink. Chin-ching!

Throw in, ironically enough, the run on NASCAR suspensions prior to Daytona, not to mention the chaos involving Anna Nicole Smith (a non-sports story, but still an irresistible one), and it's clear that Kornheiser and Wilbon would have plenty to talk about had they been on this week. They may have to expand to an hour, American Idol-style, just to catch up come Monday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. Eastern, 2:30 Pacific.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

They say that dogs and their owners can start to look alike after a while ...

Well, here's Bill Cosby ...

... and here's Harry, the champion Dandie Dinmont terrier that he co-owns and that currently is a favorite to win Best in Show at the presitigious Westminster Dog Show tonight.

What do you think? And who will be top dog in the Cosby household tomorrow morning?

Click on the subject line to read the CNN story about Cosby, Harry and the dog show. (You have to admit, dog shows are very cute.)

And here is some info about the Dandie Dinmont, a breed that is very adorable but really could use a different name.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Some Grammy thoughts ...

As the 49th annual Grammy Awards fade into memory, some musings about the ceremony just completed:

* I purposely make an effort to avoid the political on this blog, but when you see the Dixie Chicks go five-for-five at last night's awards show, including the big three (album, record and song), you have to conclude a message was being sent. Not ready to make nice, indeed.

* By the way, the Chicks also won for best country album - quite an achievement considering they aren't supposed to be country anymore, right?

* Someone tone down Quentin Tarantino's drugs, please? (Or at least share.) My God, I think he blew out Tony Bennett's eardrums.

* My female friends went gaga over Sting's arms as The Police performed "Roxanne," and I really didn't get the hoo-ha - until Shakira came out and did "Hips Don't Lie," and proceeded to show that, nope, hips do not lie. OK, girls, now I get the Sting thing.

* Seriously, I almost started sobbing during the James Brown mini-tribute. Did we really need the live simulation of the Godfather's dance moves, though?

* Speaking of Mr. Brown - Christina Aguliera, whoa. Proof positive of the difference between her and Britney Spears. Mainly, Ms. Aguilera is a singer.

* VERY classy of Prince to buy ad time to thank the fans for his Super Bowl appearance, silhouetted devil cock notwithstanding.

* OK, Ludacris, we get it - you don't like Oprah. Well, get over it. Oprah could probably have you killed if she wanted, you know. She's done it before.

* Just be glad that Helen Mirren didn't record an album this past year - otherwise, it may have been a much different night.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

From astronaut to ... ?

Update on the astronaut story - it just crossed the wires that Capt. Lisa Nowak has been charged with attempted first-degree murder in the aforementioned case. This is after she had been granted bail for the other stuff she's accused of, so I wonder if the Orlando police will have to rearrest her and this time hold her without bail. You know, 'cause attempted murder is more serious than attempted kidnapping and battery.

Maybe she's possessed by one of those space demons they always do movies about. Well, that could be her defense in court. Something's happened inside her head.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Spacey ...

Now, follow along, kids - this gets a bit complicated. Well, not complicated so much as bloody bewildering.

This is Lisa Marie Nowak. She's a captain in the United States Navy, and one of a handful of astronauts currently in the employ of NASA. Capt. Nowak has a distinguished record to be proud of - graduate of the Naval Academy, several medals, not to mention a recent successful mission on the space shuttle to the International Space Station. Her official NASA bio lists her hobbies as bicycling, skeet shooting, gourmet cooking and growing African violets. Oh, and she's also married with three children.

Now, this is Capt. Nowak earlier tonight. Looks a little different, does she? Well, there's a good reason for that - she's under arrest in Orlando for attempted kidnapping, attempted theft of a vehicle and other charges related to her allegedly trying to confront and abduct a woman whom she thought was a rival for the affections of another astronaut not her husband, a Cmdr. William Oefelein, USN. By the way, Nowak lives in Houston - yeah, she drove 900 miles through the Southeast to face off with this woman. The good captain also wore diapers during her car trip so she wouldn't have to stop along the way. (Astronauts wear adult diapers during launch and re-entry, I guess for obvious reasons. See, you learn something new every day.)

Looks like we have our first kooky love story of 2007, folks - and, appropriately enough, just before St. Valentine's Day. We're still early in this one, but from the initial details, this could put the Runaway Bride to shame. I can all but guarantee two things about this one:

1) We likely haven't heard anything yet, and

2) This will be a Law & Order episode by Christmas. Or at least an episode of NCIS.

Click on the subject line for the first of several articles about this caper.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

And the winner of Super Bowl XLI will be ...

... the Chicago Bears, of course!

Final score: Bears 24, Colts 20.


(or not)

Friday, February 02, 2007

What goes through a groundhog's head on Feb. 2?

"Mofo, please put me the f*** down!"

Seriously, how would you feel if you were sleeping soundly when a pair of foreign hands suddenly woke your ass up and presented you in front of the world? Only two species of being have to endure that kind of behavior - groundhogs and drug dealers who don't lock their doors. And what have groundhogs done to deserve the perp walk treatment.

Oh, by the way, the poor rodent didn't see his shadow, which means that spring will arrive early this yeah. Yeah, tell that to my friends in Chicago, where the high temperature on Super Bowl Sunday will be 6. Fahrenheit.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Hoot(er) and a half ...

Be careful what you ask for - or, in the case of the town of Troy, Michigan, what you don't ask for. The Detroit suburb wants to promote an image of a clean, business-and-family-friendly city, which probably explains why they are so resistant to having a Hooters within its borders. If you click on the subject line, you will read about how the Troy government's efforts to get rid of the one Hooters franchise already there have backfired. But the story itself is not necessarily the reason I'm writing about this. It's because of this line from the article about a fact that makes this situation all the more priceless:

"Critics are concerned that the restaurants' scantily clad servers don't fit the image the city seeks to project in its Big Beaver commercial district. Fleming said officials are trying to make the area a "world-class corridor."

"Big Beaver" - you can't make crap like that up. If one of the Troy shopping centers is called "Heavenly Hills" or something like that, we really have a winner.