Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Year in Rebuke, er, Review

My confidential sources inform me that at midnight tonight, 2007 ends forever. What's more, it will be immediately followed by another year, 2008. Astonishing, I know.

Seriously, this is the time in which we are told to look back at the previous 12 months - because where we've been can say a lot about where we are going. But maybe for this one time - again - looking back may be hazardous to our health. Don't believe me?

Yeah ... that about sums it up. But don't worry, kids ... next year we'll make some more!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The wind cries Santa ...

It was 75 degrees in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, but we paid for the balmy weather with sustained winds that reminded me of the tornadic activity back home. Don't believe me? See below:

So you think you're having a crappy Christmas?

I thought I was ... until I heard that the Chicago Bulls fired head coach Scott Skiles today - Christmas Eve! I mean, sure, the team has had a very disappointing start, but it's not like they've sucked for years. The Bulls have made the playoffs for three years in a row, a peak for the post-Jordan years. And, what, the team was still going to be bad on December 26, so they couldn't have waited two more days?

How Scroogy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

This story makes me sick ...

This morning, as I awoke to another sunrise in Los Angeles and another story about Jamie Lynn Spears still being pregnant, I also awoke to another reality: that I am the living result of an "experiment". At least, that's what the CIGNA insurance company thinks. The "experiment" line was the rationale that they took to deny a Los Angeles family coverage of the liver transplant that their daughter, 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, needed to save her life. Nataline was a leukemia patient who underwent a bone-marrow transplant from her brother, but a complication led to a lung infection and, eventually, liver failure. But CIGNA denied the Sarkisyans' request for coverage for the procedure, saying that the operation was, yeah, experimental.

As Nataline lay in a medically induced coma at UCLA Medical Center, a large rally in front of CIGNA's L.A. headquarters was staged yesterday to convince the behemoth to reverse their decision - and, miracle of miracle, it works. The family got word at the rally that CIGNA would cover the surgery after all, though even then they couched their words as if they were doing the Sarkisyans a favor - the favor the clan had paid for with premiums, by the way. But only hours after that, Nataline took a turn for the worse and died before she could go under the knife.

In their statement approving the transplant, CIGNA said that their "hearts go out to Nataline and her family as they endure this terrible ordeal". Now that she's dead, CIGNA isn't saying anything so far - probably in anticipation of the inevitable lawsuit - so no word on where their hearts are now. We know where their livers aren't.

Look, there are differences between my situation and Nataline's. I didn't have cancer, for one. But I was on death's door - hell, death was knocking hard and using a chainsaw to cut the door open. At the time I was double-covered by my parents' dual insurance policies, and still the bill was as long as a Russian novel. They fought us over paying for a medical jet that would transport me to Omaha for the transplant, claiming that they could just load my comatose ass onto a commercial flight. And that was almost 20 years ago. Who knew how long the "experiment" would last - or what hoops we would have to go through if I had the transplant today - or, God forbid, need another one someday?

This is not a political blog for the most part. But if you ever needed any proof that the health-care system in this country is irretrievably broken, just look at the corpse of Nataline Sarkisyan. Seventeen years old. Dead because of a corporate decision. Several candidates on both sides tell us that it's our responsibility to be insured in order to fix the problem. But if the insurance company doesn't do its job, then why bother?

UPDATE: Here is the Los Angeles Times' take on the situation.

UPDATE 2: The Sarkisyans have hired a big-time lawyer and may be going after more than a lawsuit. Murder and/or manslaughter charges may be filed. A message is about to be sent, and how.

Monday, December 17, 2007

His s*** don't stink!

Congratulations go out from this blog to Kaka, the Brazilian soccer player who has won Player of the Year honors from FIFA, also known as the European football folks. And a double congrats to Kaka for avoiding finishing No. 2 in the vote. That would have really been a crapper.

P.S. In Argentina, "kaka" is slang for the male genitalia. Just wanted to share.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just as long as there are no upskirts ...

In an apparent indication that Pope Benedict XVI realizes that he's no John Paul II, the Vatican has brought in a consultant, legendary Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, to work on the Pontiff's image. Zeffirelli thinks that Benedict's image isn't happy and that his wardrobe is too flashy, but admits that John Paul is a hard act to follow:

"Coming after a pope as telegenic as John Paul II is a difficult task."

No crap, Sherlock. And you never say JPII needing any help in conveying his image - well, maybe except for the time he toured with 2 Live Crew. But that mash-up ended badly in a clash over who ate all of the green M&Ms at the craft services table.

Meanwhile, Zeffirelli, who directed Romeo and Juliet and Jesus of Nazareth, also will help the Vatican by "defending the faith in cinema" - which means making sure those who make so-called Christian-themed movies know exactly what they're doing. In commenting on that, Zeffirelli threw Mel Gibson - who starred in the director's 1990 rendition of Hamlet - under the missionary bus:

"You have to pay attention, as shown by the fallout from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ which irreversibly harmed the memory of millions of people."

Yeah, that sounds like a thumbs-down to me. Wonder what Franco thinks of The Golden Compass. Not to mention Bad Santa, the third-greatest Christmas movie ever!

Friday, December 14, 2007

(Definitely not) silent after all these years ...

Even though I'm a fan, I'll be the first one to admit that Tori Amos is an acquired taste of a musician. She can be quirky as hell, but no one can deny her talents as a singer, a pianist and a songwriter. And her core audience is as loyal as they come. And now we know, thanks to the concert clip below, that Amos is also a badass motherf*****. Just watch as she performs the song "Code Red" (from her most recent album, American Doll Posse) during a show in San Diego two nights ago. Her performance is fierce, but that's nothing compare to what she does to the two bimbettes chatting amongst themselves in the front row. If you're in a hurry, fast forward the clip to about 2:25 into the song.


If the girls were annoying enough for Amos to react the ways she did (and comments from those who were there seem to confirm as much), then you can't really blame her for what she did. In fact, Laurence Fishburne once stopped a Broadway performance midstream to chastise an audience member who answered their ringing cell phone and took the call. Even church services aren't immune to the plague that is short-attention span theater.

Actually, the chicks probably got off easy. If they had been doing that during a Phil Spector concert, dude probably would have put a cap in their butts.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jodie Foster, in or out? CNN helpfully clears things up for us ...

This just in: Jodie Foster is gay. A lesbian. Prefers the company of the fairer sex.

How do I know this? 'Cause CNN says it's so. Go to and peruse the links on the home page. There is says, in bold blue text, "Jodie Foster publicly thanks gay partner."

Click on that link, and you'll get this helpful and informative video about why they can say Jodie Foster is so gay.

Now, it's true that Foster did, at an awards ceremony last week, publicly thank the woman considered by many to be her longtime companion (as they used to say in the '80s), Cyndey Bernard. And yes, many clues point to the fact that Foster and Bernard are more than just chums, most notably that Foster's two sons each have "Bernard" as a middle name. And maybe, just maybe, Foster's declaration of affection last week marks her subtle way of coming out. But is CNN going to far by stating that Foster thanked her "gay partner"?

And, most important of all, why the hell do we care? Indeed, why am I writing this blog post?

Yeah, why am I writing this blog post? Never mind, move along. Ooooh, Led Zeppelin concert clubs below!

Ike spiked ...

Ike Turner, America's favorite rock-and-roll pioneer-slash-unrepentant wife beater, left us yesterday at the age of 76. This post is not to rehash the many peaks and valley's of Mr. Turner's appearance on Earth, but to applaud our friends at the New York Post for yet another subtle turn of phrase in their headline to Ike's obit.

Keep staying classy, Post guys.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What a pig ...

This is Bobby Petrino. He's a football coach - a successful one, for the most part. He was a major success at the University of Louisville, going 41-9 in his four years there and raising the Cardinals to a powerhouse in the NCAAs, after decades of being known as just a basketball school. He took that record to the NFL, signing a lucrative deal with the Atlanta Falcons prior to this season.

Bobby Petrino is a football coach.

He's also, as of last night, a coward and a quitter.

That's because Petrino's tenure as Falcons head coach also ended last night, abruptly, precisely 13 games into his NFL career. In fact, it ended less than 24 hours after he had led his team against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. Hours before that game, Petrino had told his boss, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, that he was with Atlanta for the long haul, despite the fact that the team had gone through a dismal season, a season that was doomed from the beginning after Michael Vick, their dazzling star quarterback, blew his career and his life by becoming the mastermind of a dogfighting ring and getting caught doing it. No, he told Blank, he had no desire to jump ship for the open job at the University of Arkansas, despite rumblings that Blank had heard in the background.

The next day, in the aftermath of the Falcons' 34-14 loss to the Saints - and Petrino's challenge to his players to ask themselves how they could improve the 3-10 team - the coach called Blank to tell him he was done. That night, he was at a press conference in Arkansas to accept the Razorbacks' coaching position.

How did he tell his former Falcon players? With a form letter hung in their lockers. It might as well have said "So long, suckers!" And just like that, Michael Vick - who was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison the morning of Petrino's last game with the Falcons - was no longer the most notorious person in Atlanta. At least for the time being.

We hear so much about how pro athletes aren't loyal anymore to their teams, their fan bases - that they're in it only for themselves and not the greater good of their respective franchises. But it's just as bad, maybe worse, when coaches pull the same act. Petrino is a doctrinaire coach, one based in discipline. He clashed with veterans on the Falcons, even cutting a popular and still effective lineman during the team's bye week as if to make a point about who was boss. He outlawed loud talking during team dinners. It was his prerogative to set team rules, as it is for any head coach - but Petrino seemed incapable of dealing with his players as men of respect. And then there was the absence of Vick, the talented QB Petrino was brought in to work with, to harness his skills into a form that would deliver those long-desired Super Bowl titles to Atlanta. The moment he was busted for the dogfighting, their season was effectively over. Petrino may have been dealt a bum hand, but he was being paid handsomely for it ($24 million over five years), and there was no reason not to suspect that he could right the boat next year, maybe the year after that.

Instead, he bailed out before his first year was even done, after effectively lying to his owner, his players and virtually everybody else in Georgia.

The Falcon players have condemned Petrino as a quitter and a coward and as less than a man, and why shouldn't they? After all, if one of them had pulled this act, the first person to blast them would have been Bobby Petrino. Blank says he feels "betrayed" by the move and also is pissed at Arkansas, whom he says didn't have permission to speak to Petrino. Almost everyone in the NFL family has blasted Petrino. Meanwhile, Arkansas apologists are speaking. "Forget everything you hear out of Atlanta," wrote Wally Hall in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Yeah, Wally, remember that in two years when Petrino bails on Arkansas' ass to coach a larger NCAA program.

Falcons strong safety Lawyer Milloy may have said it best when summing up the sudden departure of his former coach. "This league is for real men," he said. "And I think he realized that he doesn't belong in it." At this point, I'm not sure what league Petrino belongs in. It surely isn't one I would be interested in watching.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Masterpiece Theatre now X-rated ...

Gillian Anderson has just been announced as the new host of PBS' Masterpiece Theater - or at least one of the hosts for this coming season, which promises to be a fun one (see the AP article regarding such). An interesting choice, especially since Anderson is the first Masterpiece host who can choose which accent she will use from segment to segment. Will she be American Gillian or British Gillian? That should be a ratings booster!

A whole lotta love last night ...

At the risk of doing something, er, illegal, I thought I would liven things up here by giving all of you cool cats who didn't have the good fortune of being in London last night for the long-awaited Led Zeppelin reunion gig a taste of what you - and I - missed. So kick back, pull out that dusty bottle of Jack Daniels (in honor of Mr. Bonham) and ride back with us to those days of yesteryear when men were men, women were women, and rock bands consistently blew the roof off the joint. (And praise God for the gift of YouTube.)

In order of set list:

"Good Times Bad Times" (the very first song on the very first Zeppelin album - fitting start to the concert, don't you think?)

"Stairway to Heaven" (or, as Robert Plant calls it, "that damn wedding song")


Encore No. 1 - "Whole Lotta Love" (not including, sadly, Rachel Dratch on the cello)

Note: Look at all the bald spots in the audience - classic!

Encore No. 2 - "Rock and Roll" (not including, happily, any Cadillac imagery)

Note: Sorry for the crappy sound on this one.

There was more, much more, but those are the only complete songs I could find on YouTube at the present moment. Still, you get the idea. This should tide you over until the world tour. (What?)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Idle hands ...

When do you know your blog hasn't been updated in, like, forever? When your own mother complains about why you haven't posted anything new in more than two months!

So I guess it's time I got off my duff (do the young ones still call it that?) and tried - forced myself, even - to keep things current. So, in the tradition of Ashley Judd in Someone Like You (see the film to know what I'm talking about), I'm blowing the dust off of this joint. I hope to be able to entertain the two or three of you who read this blog regularly in the past. And if I can double my audience, all the better.

Hi, Mom!!! :)