Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let the Poor Man Have Some Dignity

Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis

Speaking of paparazzi, this is a terrible invasion of a young man's privacy:

That was quite an emergency Tracy Morganexperienced Tuesday night in SoHo. The "30 Rock" star burst into the Toys in Babeland sex shop on Mercer Street. "He looked around for a minute and then hollered across the store, 'Hey, do you have motion lotion?' They helped him pick it out. He handed them cash, and ran out of the store to a BMW X6 that was waiting on the street for him." We wonder who was in the car.

Human beings need lubricants. Emergencies arise. When are we going to have laws in this country that protect celebrities from being embarrassed in this way? Honestly, haven't we all had a similar emergency?

Mr. Angelina Jolie Goes to Dave & Busters

Brad Pitt at Dave and Busters

I heartily endorse a trip out and about:

It's a boys' day out for Brad Pitt and sons Maddox and Pax!

The star, 46, and his younger brother Doug took the two boys to Dave & Buster's in New York City's Times Square Wednesday afternoon, confirms. (Pitt took Maddox to the same Dave & Busters back in September.)

While at the arcade restaurant, Pitt helped Pax, 6, with the controls on "The Big One," an oversized crane used to grab stuffed animals. After several attempts, they won a giant stuffed animal.

The group -- surrounded by four security guards -- then moved on to war game "Razing Storm." Pax and Maddox, 8, took hold of the life-size guns and shot at the arcade screen for a few minutes before moving on.

While the bearded Pitt watched them play, an eyewitness tells Us he handed out extra Dave & Buster's game cards to a few children. One boy jumped up and down in excitement when the star gave him the card and patted him on the back, the source says.

When a crowd began gathering, Pitt, Doug and the kids got in an elevator to leave. As the doors closed, one onlooker yelled out, "I love Jennifer Aniston!"

Although Pitt didn't look amused, his brother Doug laughed out loud, an eyewitness says.

Why would you bring up poor Jennifer Aniston when the man is out with his kids? Having weird facial hair must be the fashion now. That's not really a beard on him--that's a Fu Manchu out of control, with a little Trotsky thrown in. I want to call it a modified Van Dyke, but I'll just get into trouble with the Facial Hair police if I do.

An Unfair Criticism of President Obama

President Obama, golfing, Martha's Vineyard, 2009

I realize that it looks bad for the President to be playing golf. From a public relations point of view, yes, it is a losing proposition for the President to play golf in a time of war or to look as if he's more interested in his golf game than national security. I've had to consider my own opinions on this to be formed out of passion rather than careful consideration. Maybe, just maybe, I will actually see a man or a woman in the White House of whom I approve, and, maybe, just maybe, they will like to play golf. It's not outside of the realm of possibility. What will I do then? Will I put on the mask of the hypocrite and walk around carrying water for that person?

It looks bad for President Obama to be playing golf while underwear bombers and evangelical jihadists and bankers and used car salesmen are running around, trying to ruin this country. In a more settled time, perhaps it wouldn't look as bad. If we had peace and prosperity, fine by me. Given our current state of affairs, he is due for some, but not all of this criticism:

It's been a tough first year for President Obama, as critics throughout the body politic bemoan that Mr. Change-We-Can-Believe-In is looking more and more like Mr. Politics-As-Usual. With the coming new year, however, POTUS has a prime opportunity to regroup, reload, and revamp his image. He could start by ditching golf.

Seriously. Its venerable White House history notwithstanding, golf is a dubious pastime for any decent, sane person, much less for this particular president. Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?

There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now. He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked--playing for cash, fretting over his form, and goading staffers to cut out of work early for a quick round.

During the 2008 race, Obama's golf outings drew less notice than his battles on the hard court. But, now that he's firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, the sticks have come out of the closet as Obama constantly looks to squeeze in a few holes: on Father's Day, during the family's summer holiday on the Vineyard, immediately upon touching down from his June trip to Europe. It is often noted that this president hit the links more frequently in his first nine months than the reared-on-golf George W. did in his first two years (after which W. conspicuously swore off the game out of respect for the troops). Currently ranked eighth on Golf Digest's list of presidential golfers (sandwiched between Clinton and Reagan), Obama seems intent on moving up the ladder--despite reports that he's something of a duffer.

In point of fact, it was a bad knee that put George W. Bush off the links, and a bad knee is what will do that every time. You cannot play golf with a knee or a back problem. All Presidents deserve their right to recreation. It would be unfair to say that the President has to be in Washington D.C. all of the time, padding around in rolled-up shirtsleeves with a frown worn down and a stack of papers nearby.

It is especially unfair to the First Family to expect them to be denied their right to recreation as well. Whether this criticism comes from the left or right is a bit unfair, and I have to say that I have engaged in it. I have criticized the social calendar, but I don't deny that they have a right to their affairs. I don't deny that they should have their chance to shine. I don't think you can be a good American and sneer at what perks come with that office. My bullshit is refuted in this case. There's probably evidence of it laying around here on the blog.

Who wouldn't want to play golf in Hawaii on a day like today? Who would deny him the right to have some down time? It does set a great example for Fatass Nation to get out and do something. There's an example of fitness here that should be followed. I guess I should be more conciliatory to this aspect of the President's daily routine and right to recreation. I do note that it's a losing proposition in the public mind. Is that fair? Perhaps not.

Flat Busted Broke in a Megachurch World

Aerial Photo of the Saddleback Church under construction

I am no enemy of religion. I like my religion just fine. Yours is your business. Religion isn’t the problem. Fundamentalists are always a problem, no matter what faith they espouse.

The Saddleback Church in Southern California is desperate for funds. Why? What did they do to put themselves in hock? Did they build too big of a sanctuary? What happened?

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren appealed to parishioners at his California megachurch Wednesday to help fill a $900,000 deficit by the first of the year.

Warren made the appeal in a letter posted on the Saddleback Church Web site. It begins “Dear Saddleback Family, THIS IS AN URGENT LETTER.”

“With 10 percent of our church family out of work due to the recession, our expenses in caring for our community in 2009 rose dramatically while our income stagnated,” the letter reads.

Still, Warren said the church managed to stay within its budget, but “the bottom dropped out” when Christmas donations dropped. “On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive — leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year,” the letter reads.

“It’s basically having to do more with less,” church spokesman A. Larry Ross said. “The seasonal Christmas offering was down significantly and, commensurately, the need for services the church is expected to provide is up,” Ross said.

When you say “the bottom dropped out” it really means that the expected drop in donations exceeded anything they could have anticipated. Being embedded in the California economy has obviously helped the church expand during good times, and now, beg for money in lean times. Much of that money is going to have to come from outside of the church, or, the the church is going to have to cut costs and liquidate assets.

I wondered if there was a special financial counselor category of financial advisor that deals with churches and liquidation, and, sure enough, yes there is:

Church & Non-profit Accounting
Through the years Mr. Orrin and his firm have developed special expertise in the relevant accounting laws and procedures for churches and non-profit organizations. Serving hundreds of ministers and their churches throughout the Northwest, Orrin and Associates has become a trusted source for consultation and services. Phill Orrin serves as financial advisor to a number of boards for churches and church-related organizations throughout the Northwest.

Mr. Orrin, being located in Spokane, may not be convenient to the Saddleback Church, but at least there is a non-profit specialty out there in the accounting world, which I did not know. Sounds to me like the Saddleback Church needs to find someone creative who can help them stay afloat.

Worshipping the devil does make sense in a down economy. You can pay tribute to mighty Satan in your own home, and you don’t need the overhead of a big, fancy church.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Always Marry the Crazy Ones

Way to go, Carlos Irwin Estevez:

Authorities haven't identified the accuser, but the woman on the 911 call says her name is Brooke and that her husband is Charlie Sheen. Sheen is married to Brooke Mueller Sheen.

The woman can be heard weeping and sometimes her words are inaudible. At one point she says, "My husband had me (inaudible) with um, with a knife, and (inaudible) he threatened me." Later, she says, "I thought I was gonna die for one hour."

The woman says her family is also in the house and that her husband was in another room when she called 911.

The 44-year-old Sheen denied threatening his wife with a knife or choking her, and told officers they had slapped each other on the arms and that he had snapped two pairs of her eyeglasses in front of her, according to the affidavit. An ambulance was sent to their house in Aspen, Colorado, but police say no one was taken to the hospital.

TMZ says sources tell it authorities "gave both Charlie and Brooke blood alcohol tests. Brooke registered a .13 while Charlie registered a .04. ... We're also told Brooke recanted her story to a female officer just before the bail hearing, telling the cop she was drunk when she made the 911 call. Nevertheless, law enforcement sources say police will still pursue the case -- at least for now."

And so continues the saga. If you check out WeSmirch, it's huge over there. They've even dug up a Christmas card.

This crazy young couple must be in love. Neither are sober, both are violent and screwed up, and craziness abounds. If you can't get through Christmas with the ones you love, then everyday life must be a riot. That must be one hell of a house to live in. She's pinging off the walls, he's walking around with a 4 inch lock blade, and neither one of them care if there are kids in the house or not. It must be high living on all of that CBS sitcom money. Do you think, somewhere, there's a showrunner lining up his resume and hoping things don't run afoul of the rather strange ethical standards of Les Moonves?

Creative types usually get weird, and that's fine by me. This kind of weird isn't from creativity. It's from the hooch, you see. Young Estevez was smart. He married a crazy drunk with no credibility. This is how it is done.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Everything You Read About Iran is Nonsense

This post is NOT nonsense; rather, it points out that much of what is being written and said about the seriousness of a threat from Iran adds up to a great deal of pointless warmongering:

When I started blogging last January, one of my first postswarned against believing that Obama’s election and the evident bankruptcy of the neoconservative approach to foreign policy had ended the prospect of a war with Iran. If you didn’t believe me then, the incoherent, war-mongering op-ed by Alan Kuperman in last Thursday’s New York Times should encourage you to reconsider. As Jim Lobe points out on his own blog, the fact that the Times accepted this piece in the first place is not an apolitical act, and it may herald a tilting of the public debate in a way designed to legitimate a subsequent U.S. attack.

Several features of Kuperman’s essay are worthy of note. The first is the timing: Why did the Times choose to run an unusually long (1,500-word) op-ed advocating war on the very eve of Christmas, a holiday normally associated with themes of peace, understanding, and harmony? It was also published on the last day when many people were likely to be paying much attention to mainstream news sources, which meant that prominent rebuttals would not appear or be read for several days. And that meant Kuperman’s piece could hang out there a bit longer.

The second puzzle is the dearth of new information or arguments in Kuperman’s piece. He hasn’t been to Teheran and come back with new testimony; the piece contains no scoop of leaked information or a novel piece of analysis, and as Marc Lynch points out in a compelling takedown here on his FP blog, Kuperman’s arguments in favor of war merely rehearse the same sort mixture of paranoia and over-confidence that was used to buffalo the country into attacking Iraq.

In particular, Kuperman assumes that a decision not to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities will yield a series of Very Bad Results (though at least he doesn’t claim that Iran would immediately bomb Tel Aviv), yet he also assumes that our launching an attack won’t have any serious consequences. To take but one example, he discounts the possibility of Iranian retalation in Lebanon, Iraq, or Afghanistan by suggesting that Iran is already causing trouble there, conveniently ignoring the possibility that they might do a lot more if sufficiently provoked.

A third feature of Kuperman’s piece is the absence of any clear link between his proposed course of action and the U.S. national interest. He takes for granted that Iran will get nuclear weapons unless someone bombs them, and that if they do, this will have grave consequences for the United States. But even if we assume that Iran eventually gets a few bombs — which is still far from certain — thereby joining the ranks of Israel, Pakistan, and India, it is not clear why this event poses a sufficiently grave threat to the United States as to justify a preventive war.

There is no grave threat, and that’s always been the problem with any approach to dealing with Iran. Attacking Iran is to the advantage of monied interests and not the general populace. The general populace can now see through warmaking and warmongering and threaten the political power of the monied interests. Attacking Iran is more about driving Iran’s oil off of the world markets and forcing a change in its government than it is about protecting Israel. Iran can be attacked, but only because none of the monied interests will have to suffer because of it. The United States would suffer, but the money men don’t have to share the risks. So long as the supply of oil shrinks and the price goes up, no one cares about dead American soldiers.

Israel is already well protected, holding dozens of nuclear weapons that can more than wipe out any belligerent state that attacks it with any kind of lethality. Israel is not threatened with this—nation/states do not use nuclear weapons without invoking the wrath of other nation/states. Israel is threatened by terrorism, of course, but the existence of Israel is not in doubt because no nation/state can deter terrorism with nuclear weapons. The real solution is to join the rest of the world in rooting out terrorism. That solution has nothing to do with attacking Iran when simply cutting off the money and material goods Iran sends to the Middle East will do the trick. I do think Israel can defend itself by stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza and Lebanon. Attacking Iran is simply pushing that defensive posture way too far.

Israel controls its own fate, but is locked in the grip of a right-wing establishment that refuses to let go of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s as if we were still locked in a Cold War with China, with men who served as Lieutenants and Captains in the Korean War firmly in charge of all aspects of American foreign policy. Think of America with Henry Kissinger still running the State Department, in other words, but without any of that mellowing with age and with a burning desire to hit back at China, Vietnam, France and whoever else.

The real reason that the United States cannot acknowledge Israel’s nuclear stockpile is because it would put any argument about needing to subsidize and defend Israel to rest. Israel doesn’t need defending; Israel needs to learn to live with its neighbors, and its neighbors need to learn to live with Israel. So long as there is a phantom threat from Persia to Israel, so continues this needless embrace of having to revisit the idea of attacking Iran.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Charlie Sheen Does it Again

Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller

This is just sad:

Charlie Sheen spent the better part of Christmas Day in a Colorado jail cell after being arrested on domestic violence allegations.

The 44-year-old actor was taken into custody Friday morning by officers responding to a 911 call from a house in this ski resort town about 200 miles west of Denver.

An ambulance went to the house, but the accuser was not taken to the hospital.

This young man has already had a tough time of it, and now this. Radar says this:

It's over between Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller after less than two years of marriage, has learned exclusively.

Sheen's arrest on felony domestic violence charges followed a night of arguing after a quiet trial separation of the couple, sources tell exclusively.

Mueller has now decided that she will file divorce papers in the very near future, we've learned exclusively.

After the Christmas morning incident, where Mueller told sources Charlie tried to choke her, the actor's representatives quickly moved into damage control mode. Sources close to Mueller told that Team Sheen pressured her to recant and even suggested the exact words she should use!

Late on Christmas day Mueller did recant her version of the violence -- after contact with Charlie's reps.

Mueller wants out of the marriage and has a prenuptial agreement. Sources told that money was discussed in connection with not further damaging Sheen's already tattered reputation.

Artistically, Sheen's reputation is not tattered. He still has a wildly successful show on CBS. Now, if we go by bankability, Sheen is fine. If we go by stability, no, spending Christmas Day in jail is a stroll down white trash lane, and people do tend to shy away from a man who can't resist beating on his wife.

E! News has exclusively confirmed that a weapon "of some sort" was involved in the domestic violence dispute the actor was hauled off to jail for on Friday.

The 44-year-old Two and a Half Men star was arrested yesterday morning in Aspen, Colo., and released that night after posting an $8,500 bond. 

Aspen Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro tells E! News the felony menacing charge Sheen is facing would not go into further detail—for the record, they aren't naming the victim, either—other than to say the count does involve "a weapon of some sort."

Aspen Chief Deputy D.A. Arnold Mordkin says he has spoken to Sheen since the incident. He "seemed upset, but was cooperative and pleasant," he said. 

While Sheen is not required to remain in Aspen at this time, he will need to return for his court appearance on February 8th, when Mordkin plans to formally file charges. 

It just does not sound good, does it? Well, in any event, Denise Richards must be having a particularly interesting Christmas holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is Not What You Want to Be Famous For

Grand Theft Auto

Oh, my:

It’s game over for a 14-year-old Roxbury boy, whose overwhelmed mother was so exasperated with his incessant video game playing that she called the cops on him.

The final straw for Angela Mejia snapped at 2:30 a.m. Saturday when, “I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the light on in his bedroom,” hours after she had told him to go to sleep.

“Sometimes I want to run away, too,” Mejia said, breaking down in tears in her immaculate apartment. “I have support from my church, but I’m alone. I want to help my son, but I can’t find a way.”

Mejia is among thousands of parents struggling with today’s video-game obsessed youth. The Entertainment Software Association reports the popularity of video games is skyrocketing, with 42 percent of adults intending to give, or hoping to find one in their Christmas stocking this week.

Mejia’s son - one of four children the 49-year-old is raising alone - was playing “Grand Theft Auto,” an exceedingly violent video in which the gamer assumes the role of ladder-climbing criminal.

An argument ensued as Mejia unplugged her son’s PlayStation. Then, this mad-as-hell mother dialed 911. Police responded and managed to talk the boy into shutting off the game and going to sleep.

“They (police) were just like, ‘Chill out. Go to bed,’ ” the boy told the Herald.

Mejia said she approves of athletic-themed videos, but as for “Grand Theft Auto,” she said, “I would never buy that kind of video. No way. I called (police) because if you don’t respect your mother, what are you going to do in your life?”

Is this bad parenting or excellent marketing? Is this how you want to become famous? To be a hardcore gamer ups your cred out there in the gaming world. To be able to brag that "my moms had to drop a dime on me and get Johnny Law to shut down my rig" confers status upon a young gamer.

If you own the Grand Theft Auto franchise, to have someone play your game to the point where a mother has to plead for help to the media and to the police to get her son to turn the game off, well, on the day before Christmas Eve, that's like being handed a candy cane with a billion dollars stuck to it. This story was so compelling (and, let's face it, the news is just another marketing tool), CNN has named the mother an "intriguing" person.


This is how CNN defines "intriguing" for us:

There are people who enter the news cycle every day because their actions or decisions are new, important or different. Others are in the news because they are the ones those decisions affect. And there are a number of people who are so famous or controversial that anything they say or do becomes news.

Some of these people do what we expect of them: They run for office, pass legislation, start a business, get hired or fired, commit a crime, make an arrest, get in accidents, hit a home run, overthrow a government, fight wars, sue an opponent, put out fires, prepare for hurricanes and cavort with people other than their spouses. They do make news, but the action is usually more important than who is involved in the story.

But every day there are a number of people who become fascinating to us -- by virtue of their character, how they reached their decision, how they behaved under pressure or because of the remarkable circumstances surrounding the event they are involved in.

They arouse our curiosity. We hear about them and want to know more. What they have done or said stimulates conversations across the country. At times, there is even a mystery about them. What they have done may be unique, heroic, cowardly or ghastly, but they capture our imaginations. We want to know what makes them tick, why they believe what they do and why they did what they did. They intrigue us.

Being pathetic is intriguing? Or is this really about helping a sponsor sell some video games?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The NHL Winter Classic Looks Like a Winner

Fenway Park

I love the NHL Winter Classic. If we lived near where we could go see this perennial fan favorite, we would go see them play outdoors.

This year, they’re playing at Fenway Park, and, as many of my longtime readers know, I am banned for life from Fenway Park. I’m a bit of a pest when it comes to baseball games. I feel that I need to help manage, and I like to sit on the third base line and confuse the third base coach. This inevitably leads to hard feelings, especially when I hurt the home team.

After setting up the rink, the old timers from the Boston Bruins took the ice:

Terry O’Reilly and Cam Neely

Look at Bobby Orr. What a classy gentleman.

Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr

Can’t wait to see it.

Jon Gosselin Really Isn't Much of a Badass

John Gosselin with a small handgun

I've been a badass all of my life. Jon Gosselin? He's been a widebody slapface for a few months now:

Causing a bit of a commotion, Jon Gosselin was spotted out earlier today (December 16) with a gun in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Bundled up for the chilly weather, the father of 8 headed out to his backyard where he fired the small handgun.

It’s a tad disturbing knowing Gosselin has possesion of a gun, especially since earlier today an arbitrator finished up with the division of the money and property he had with estranged wife, Kate.

Furthermore, Jon was recently ordered to stop making media appearances due to a breach of contract with TLC network.

He's really looking like hell now, and he's probably gorging himself on comfort food. A judge was not amused:

A Pennsylvania judge has ordered that no guns be allowed at Jon Gosselin’s home after the reality television dad was seen shooting a loaded pistol at his Berks County house.

According to MyFoxPhiladelphia, Judge Arthur Tilson issued the order Thursday after photographers snapped the former “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” star carrying the gun and then shooting it on his estate.

Gosselin has also been ordered to register the pistol at a new address within 90 days.

It was the second legal hurdle for the 32-year-old father of eight in just a few days. Earlier this week, authorities ruled he could not make any media appearances for compensation without permission from the TLC network, which aired the show that made him famous.

I have done a non-scientific study of this situation. I don't think what he did was all that bad:

The Gosselin Home, Berks County, PA (date of satellite photo unknown)

Without knowing what direction Mr. Gosselin was shooting, I would say that what he was doing wasn't smart, but it wasn't extremely dangerous. He appears to be shooting some sort of handgun, perhaps a 9mm handgun. Fair enough. If you look at the map, the Gosselin home is fairly isolated. I estimate there is at least a quarter of a mile between them and their closest neighbors. The scale really is important; alas, I couldn't get a good determination of distances. Suffice it to say, if Gosselin had been firing a hunting rifle, he'd be in serious jeopardy of hitting a residence or dwelling, however. Given that this satellite photo may be several years old, there could be other homes very close to theirs.

Now that the Gosselins are divorced, it's anyone's guess as to what happens next. Interest in the couple has certainly waned. The backlash may last for a long, long time.

*Widebody Slapface

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy 1977-2009

Brittany Murphy

What an absolute tragedy.

I have always thought that Murphy was one of the most genuine and hilarious actresses, ever. Her turn in "Drop Dead Gorgeous" introduced us to her, and to the equally wonderful Amy Adams.

If you want to see Murphy at her best, see her in that, and in Clueless.

Bethenny Frankel Can Wear Whatever She Wants

Bethenny Frankel

This is a little undue criticism for a lovely lady:

Bethenny Frankel
is no shrinking violet. The pregnant Real Housewives of New York star posed nude for a PETA billboard that was unveiled Dec. 15 in Manhattan's Times Square. Now, she's talking back to the
housewives and other haters who have suggested that the butt-baring photo was heavily airbrushed -- and she's shared the photo evidence (the original, untouched image) exclusively with

"Everything I'm about is being honest and being upfront," Frankel, 39, tells "So if people are talking and saying [the photo] was airbrushed...then, you know what? Here's the picture. Have it your way."

The author of new cookbook The Skinnygirl Dish adds that she would "never, ever allow them to put up a billboard that was really far from the truth."

Now four months pregnant with her first child, Frankel disrobed for the shots on a Manhattan rooftop in September. Although she's never posed nude before, she says "I wasn't that freaked out about it. I don't know why. PETA has no interest in making me look sleazy. It was such an honor."

The image doesn't strike me as being reshaped. Rather, it has been smoothed out a little, to give her an even glow. That's the advertising business, though. Compare the photo of Frankel above with this one, and there really isn't that much of a difference. She's not 19 years old. Is that supposed to be the sole criteria here? Why does her age matter when criticizing how she looks? She's beautiful, and that needs to be appreciated.

Bethenny Frankel, personal appearance photo

They do that with virtually everything. It looks as if it has been balanced for color more than it has been buffed and polished.

The controversy started when one hugely over-worked lady criticized another lady:

The housewives are hating on each other again.

Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice has slammed pregnant Bethenny Frankel's new nude PETA ad.

"To quote Bethenny: 'I just threw up a little in my mouth,'" Giudice, 36, Twittered Tuesday.

Frankel, 39, boasted in the New York Post that she was "already pregnant" when she shot the ad and she was "pleased" with how it turned out "because it doesn't look like there's been any airbrushing."

Giudice begs to differ.

"Help me understand this," she Twittered. "Bethenny is happy with her naked pic because she was 'already pregnant' at the time. She says she's now three months along, but she did the shot in August. Even if she's four months pregnant now, she would've been, like, one hour pregnant in the pic."

Now, I don't know about you, but I think there's some jealousy at work here.

Teresa Giudice

No? Okay then.

As for being accurate, well, compare the ad above with the infamous "Ralph Lauren" ad. So, if this is the benchmark for "overdoing" it with Photoshop, does that mean they overdid it with Frankel?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Updating the Look of the British Army

It’s always nice to see an ally focused on warfighting:

British troops will get new camouflage uniforms for the first time in more than 40 years, based on computer modeling of Afghanistan’s terrain, the Ministry of Defence announced Sunday.

The “multi-terrain pattern,” as the military has dubbed the new design, is the first new pattern from the Ministry of Defence since 1968, it said.

It is specifically designed with Afghanistan’s Helmand province in mind, the ministry said in a statement. The British military have suffered heavy losses in the southern province this year. More than 100 British troops have died in Afghanistan in 2009, making it the deadliest for UK troops in many years.

The new design was put together in six months, funded as an “urgent operational requirement” project worth £250,000 ($400,000).

“This new camouflage will help our troops blend into different environments in Helmand Province to stay hidden from the Taliban,” Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said in a statement.

The project included aerial and scientific photography in Afghanistan “to provide the right colors and their brightness,” the ministry said. “The colors were fed into a computer and computer modeling was used to represent the Green Zone, deserts and mixed environments in Afghanistan.”

It’s not as “high-tech” looking as the digital patterns that our troops use, but it’s a good start. I do have to note that, in nearly all instances, the insurgents who oppose us never wear this kind of camoflage, and just wear the regular clothing that can be found anywhere in Afghanistan. If uniforms were so important, why is it that our enemies never bother making theirs as camoflaged as the ones our troops and our allies wear?

Is it really that important? Or is this something that pleases the generals?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Verizon Has More Greed Than Common Sense

Consumers like to walk away from bad prices and bad service

When you’re hell bent on angering your customers, always try to do it with a smile, not a sneer:

Verizon Wirelessdefended today its recent decision to double penalties for smart-phone customers who leave their contracts early, telling federal regulators that it needed to do so to keep up with the rising costs of mobile devices that it is subsidizes for its users. Starting Nov. 15, Verizion Wireless smart phone customers were charged $350 for cancelling their contracts early, compared to previous charges of $150.

The letter drew immediate criticism from consumer groups that said Verizon is unfairly charging consumers for costs unassociated with the phones. Such policies, they say, deter users from switching carriers even when they move to areas without service and can add up to hundreds of dollars of penalties for households that want to terminate service, even close to the end of their contracts.

In a 77-page letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the nation’s largest mobile phone service operator said it makes up the costs of subsidizing phones like the BlackBerry Storm and Droid through service fees in one- or two-year contracts. When customers leave for competitors like T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel or AT&T,Verizon argued, it suffers losses from the discounts given for smart devices.

And the ETF goes to recover other costs beyond the phone, Verizon said:

Contrary to the implication of the question, the ETF is not limited to the recovery of the wholesale cost of the device over the life of the contract. As explained in response to Question 4, the ETF partially compensates Verizon Wireless for all the costs and risks of providing service, which include advertising, commission, store costs, and network costs.

Those costs shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of its users, who aren’t buying their phones to pay for Verizon Wireless’ ad campaigns, consumer advocates said.

The thing is, these phones are wonderful and all, but they’re really money traps. You’re not paying for a super cool device. You’re paying through the nose to be connected to a spotty network with severe limitations and expensive data rates. There’s a reason why a kid in California can run up a ridiculously expensive bill just by downloading a gig and a half of data over the wrong phone—the networks cannot handle it, and the fees are just one way to soak people. On my Verizon FiOS connection, I can download a gig of data, any time and any day of the week, in mere minutes. What’s a gig of data? To me, it’s a momentary thing that happens in the background. To someone with the wrong kind of phone, it’s like signing over six months of salary. Something is seriously flat busted broken out there. It’s been going on for years—anything for a buck.

And what’s to blame? Well, the marketing aspect is partially to blame. The elitism that goes with having an iPhone has clearly put companies like Verizon on the defensive. They are now rushing to give consumers something that can compete with the iPhone, and the costs of marketing such a thing are hitting their profit margins. Instead of playing against the weakness of the iPhone, which prevents customers from having real choice, Verizon is now saying, ‘the cost of abandoning us is designed to spread a word of mouth that will ensure that no one will sign with us, because our draconian rules will scare customers into sticking with their iPhones.’

Networks are expensive. Why bother even going into the communications business, then? Well, if every major telecom company joined with their brethren, and built out one comprehensive network that everyone could use, coverage would expand to most Americans. Where these companies would have to compete is on customer service, quality, and price. That’s why they won’t do it. They want their enclosed networks, their outrageous cancellation fees, and their exclusivity. In reality, there’s one simple way they could provide the consumer with great service and fair prices, and that’s by shared infrastructure investment and cooperation. You’re more likely to see them hiring better customer service personnel. I once had a conversation with a man at Comcast cable who, in his smugness and disdain for me, let slip that I was a drop in the bucket. Comcast’s bucket has sprung a leak in my area—their customers have abandoned them for Verizon. Is that because Verizon is such great shakes? Of course not. It’s because Comcast became too nasty to continue to do business with. This is why Direct TV, Dish Network, and everyone else are seeing a backlash from consumers.

The draconian rules of having an iPhone have now been confronted with the draconian rules of signing up for whatever Verizon has to offer, and, dammit, you had better pay their price and sign over your choice to them. Common sense has always said, “give the people what they want.” If you can’t figure out how to make money from doing that, go out of business.

Leaving things open, and giving the consumers the best product that a company can field, has gone the way of the analog pager.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Will Jerry Seinfeld Replace Conan O'Brien?

Conan O'Brien

Officially, a network would have to deny something as nutty as this:

Thanks to Conan O'Brien's disappointing transition into the 'Tonight Show' chair, I've heard NBC has their eyes on replacing him with none other than their golden boy, Jerry Seinfeld. Is a big old change on the horizon for struggling NBC and their late-night lineup? Just what does NBC's spokesperson say about this?

With Conan O'Brien ratings slipping faster than Tiger Woods' endorsement appeal, TV executives are telling me that informal discussions have started to occur within 30 Rock as to who would be the home-run replacement for the hysterical but sagging redhead. The name on everyone's wish list? Jerry Seinfeld.

"NBC just can't carry on like this. 'The Tonight Show' has lost 52 percent of its viewership in just one year. The November ratings will be the show's lowest in 15 years. They would be idiots to not be having the replacement conversation," a source tells me.

That may very well be, but where do you go if Jay Leno is standing around, all hangdog and anxious, wanting his job back and Jerry Seinfeld tells them to take a powder? Who has the stature to step in over the bodies and run things?

What people don't remember is the absolute power Johnny Carson once had in his position as the king of Late Night. Not necessarily in show business, but, really, a power over NBC and a voice in virtually all discussions where the interests of NBC collided with his own. Carson demanded and received multiple concessions from NBC, limiting the old Letterman show on NBC to four nights a week. Does anyone remember when the Letterman show would only run four nights a week, taking Fridays off for "alternate" programming? That left Carson (who took Monday nights off) to have his showcase to himself, scheduling big guests for an end of the week finale. Is there anyone in television right now who could pull off such a thing if it cost the network money?

Anyway, Conan is toast if the numbers continue to slide like they have been.

Elin Nordegren Calls it Quits

Elin Nordegren

How could she have saved her marriage? Her husband trashed their marriage: 

Tiger Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, will seek a divorce from the world's No. 1 golfer, is reporting.

A source close to Nordegren told the website Wednesday that a "divorce is 100% on." Woods and his wife have been married for five years and have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.

The report comes nearly three weeks after Woods crashed his sport-utility vehicle into a tree outside his Florida home, setting in motion a whirlwind of bad news.

Woods has not been seen in public since the Nov. 27 accident. Moving vans were seen outside his home Wednesday, and his wife has been photographed without her wedding ring in recent days.

Two words:

Unprotected sex.

It's not just the sex, I guess, but in these ultra-modern times, the ick factor of unprotected sex is a little too much for some people to stomach.

Kudos to Elin. She can go back to Sweden and live like a princess and never have to deal with the American sports media again.

Doggie Day Care

Did you know that there was a national chain of “upscale” doggie daycare franchises?

I mean, it’s not a terrible idea if you’re somewhat wealthy and you have a high maintenance dog. However, as I have already pointed out, people are abandoning their Chihuahuas in record numbers in California. Does that mean this is a bad idea? Probably in California, I guess, but the only place I see this working is where I live, in the money-soaked suburbs of Washington D.C., where fat cats have Federal paychecks to subsidize their largesse. It’s no wonder that this business started in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Federal contractor money allows tens of thousands of people to live like robber barons on low three figure incomes. These people, literally, do not have to work and can never be fired. That leaves them free to start online betting businesses or to whore themselves out to anyone who will hire them as consultants—usually, friends who have applied for Federal contracts and have won them without having to worry about being outbid.

Here’s part of the story, by the way, since I’m more interested in what I have to say anyway:

Ms. Nichols approached seven banks before securing a loan. Like the landlords, they all wanted to see a successful owner track record. It was a small women-owned bank, Southern Financial Bank, that finally gave her a $75,000 Small Business Administration-backed loan. She had also been saving her money for several years and she sold her house, which netted about $80,000. Everything went into the business, with a few thousand dollars going into marketing, says Ms. Nichols.

Ms. Nichols opened her first center, Happy Tails Dog Spa, in June of 2002 in Tysons Corner, Va., offering day care and boarding. She remembers looking up and seeing her dog-spa signage surrounded by those of telecommunication giants. “That felt really good,” she says.

In its first six months, Happy Tails grossed $250,000. By seven months, the company, with its then eight employees, was profitable. In 2003, revenue was above $1 million helping to finance the growth of the business, especially franchises. “I didn’t spend a lot on advertising. I lived for the business,” says Ms. Nichols. “Everywhere I went, I had my [company] shirt on, and I talked about the business.”

I see simple caution from the bankers here. One dip in an uncertain economy and the business takes a hit. What do you think we’ve been living through for the last few years? If ever there was an indictment of Federal contractor largesse, it would be the success of a Doggie Day Care in Tyson’s Corner.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Letterman Case Gets Weird

I don't have a reasonably interesting photo, so I'll just throw this up there for no reason

I don't know what to make of this:

Prosecutors have released transcripts of what they say are secretly-recorded tapes of conversations between lawyers for David Letterman and Robert "Joe" Halderman, the veteran CBS News producer accused of trying to shake down the comic for $2 million.

The transcripts have Halderman voicing fears Letterman would go to great extremes to get revenge.

Prosecutors contend Halderman threatened to go public with word of affairs Letterman had had with staffers of his show if the late-night host didn't give Halderman the money. Halderman insists he was just shopping around a screenplay about Letterman's life.

His attorneys told CBS News again on Tuesday that Halderman was trying to negotiate a business deal, on the on the right side of law.

Halderman is seeking the dismissal of the attempted grand larceny case against him.

On Oct. 1, Letterman made the shocking revelation on "Late Night with David Letterman" that he'd had sex with staffers, and that he was the target of the extortion plot.

Days earlier, say authorities, conversations took place at a New York City hotel between two Letterman lawyers and Halderman, who didn't know the attorneys were wired.

"I'm not sure how crazy this guy is, or um, how dangerous he might be," Halderman said of Letterman. " ... Should I be fired, mysteriously ... if my house burns down ... any number of things that... I have no idea who or what he is or is capable of."

While I have zero sympathy for Letterman, who behaved irresponsibly and acted like an absolute scoundrel, I do have to say that the tapes, and Halderman's performance, really doesn't ring true. This sounds like someone who is 'playing to the audience' by trying to appear to be on the up and up. This is how a sophisticated extortion might be carried out, but carried out badly, nonetheless.

If you're legitimately trying to secure a business deal, why are you afraid of these ridiculous attempts at revenge? Extorting something from Letterman would, I guess, cause him to take revenge. Securing the rights for a screenplay, or getting paid x number of dollars for something creative? Where's the revenge motive there?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When The Money Stops, the Hookers Do Tend to Give Up Your Secrets

Nah, Keep Digging, Sir...

Am I reading this wrong?

Despite claims that Tiger Woods was cheap when it came to spending money on the women with whom he had relationships, some did benefit financially and continue to do so.

According to several women who were involved with the golfer, Woods wired money to them on a monthly basis. The dollar amounts they cite range from $5,000 to $10,000 per month, and there’s talk among those women that someone out there might be getting as much as $20,000 per month.

“The money comes via a wire transfer,” said one woman. “There’s no contract about it, there’s no discussion about what it’s for, but it’s implied that it’s in exchange for keeping quiet about his affair.”

According to that same woman, Woods continued to be in touch in the days following his Thanksgiving night car accident. “Elin took his cell phone away, so he had to call from his land line at home,” said one. “He hasn’t called in at least a week though.”

Of course, Tiger gets all of that money back from his whores, now that they've gone on talk shows and all that, correct?

Oh, wait. There was no contract. So, unlike the huge losses that Tiger now has to suffer because Accenture, Gillette, and a growing number of advertisers have cancelled his contractstheir with him, Tiger doesn't get his whoring around money back from the flopsy butter hogs and the anal porn stars and the hillbilly trailer trash he was banging. And I say that as a man who has nothing against whores. I love whores. I'm not a former billionaire who made bank presenting myself as an elite athlete and an establishment darling, however. Has Jim Brown reached out to Tiger yet? Can't wait for that debacle.

That's how that works, right? Sometimes, I'm so naive about these things. I really need to do more whoring around.

America Needs a Robin Hood of its Own

Ever feel like things are being run by the Sheriff of Nottingham?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Protesters Trash the Home of Berkeley Chancellor

University House, home of the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley

If this is any indication of what’s to come in this country, then bear in mind one thing—many of the protesters who were arrested weren’t even students:

Eight people were under arrest Saturday after protesters broke windows, lights and planters outside the home of the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said 40 to 70 protesters also threw incendiary devices at police cars and the home of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau about 11 p.m. Friday. There were no fires or injuries.

The protest at the chancellor’s home came late the same day that police arrested 66 protesters at a campus classroom building that was partially taken over for four days.

The protesters are demonstrating against state funding cuts that have led to course cutbacks, faculty furloughs and sharp fee increases.

“The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives,” Birgeneau said in a statement issued through the university.

The eight were arrested on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, felony vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

They include two Berkeley students and one from the University of California, Davis, Mogulof said. Of the remaining five, four had San Francisco Bay-area addresses, while one is from Brooklyn, N.Y. Their ages ranged from 20-41. At least three are women.

I thought that the fact that five of the people arrested were apparently not even students at the school affected by the budget cuts should have been featured more prominently in the article. Clearly, this was the work of people who just wanted a reason to trash something, and they probably aren’t even acquainted with the particulars.

California is broke. It cannot pay state workers, it cannot agree on a budget, and it cannot continue bleeding money. Everyone is going to be affected by a situation like that, and until California can figure out how to properly tax the property of state residents, and return to some sort of fiscal sanity, then everyone, including pampered college students, is going to have to pay more. It’s as simple as that.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Way to go out on a limb there

Does anyone really care if the Saints and Colts go 16 and 0?

The New Orleans Saints and Colts are so close to 16-0 seasons, but there are sound reasons to believe neither team will attain regular season perfection.

Winning any game — let alone winning every game — is a difficult thing to do in the NFL.

“In order to win just one game in the National Football League, you have to play at an exceptionally high level,” Colts president Bill Polian said. “At some point in time during the course of a season, breaks are going to go against you. At some point in time you are going to have a game that is decided the wrong way by the officials. And there are always injuries. Brian Billick said it best. Take a look at teams now, and it’s not how they will look in January. From my perspective, going 16-0 is damn near impossible to do.”

In many ways, going 16-0 is a more impressive accomplishment than winning a Super Bowl, even though winning a Super Bowl is more significant.

Rodney Harrison understands the pressure the Saints and Colts will face in their final games. He played for the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished 16-0.

“Every time you play someone when you are undefeated, they want to be that team that knocks you off,” said Harrison, who now is an analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America. “You’re going to get their very best. That’s why it becomes so difficult. Then you have the national scrutiny, the attention you get, making a distraction.

You know, week in, week out, lazy sportswriters say that the Colts and the Saints are "going to lose this weekend" and "won't make it to 16 and 0." This is the best example I can think of to illustrate why sports writing has gone into the tank in this country.

Really? You think they won't make it? How safe is that for a prediction? Because, statistically speaking, that is the safe bet to make. It's a little like saying that one NFL team is going to score more than 35 points this weekend. Statistically, it's very likely that at least one team will score more than 35 points because, week in, week out, at least one if not three or four teams racks up some offense and scores that many points.

Hey, and I'll bet someone gets their uniform dirty, too.

The Saints and the Colts are having a great season. If they make it to 16 and 0, what a great story. But is it worth writing about? Instead of making the safe prediction, tell me who has the better chance of getting a perfect season into the record books. Tell me how Brees matches up against Manning, and tell me something I don't already know by doing some legwork. Tell me if the offensive line is better on this team or that team because of someone who is working harder than ever before. Tell me what coaching change or scheme or alignment of the football gods in the stars above is shining down some brilliance, and don't spare the details. Write, dammit. Write something readable and interesting. Don't sit there with your wang in one hand and a BlackBerry in the other and make the BOLD prediction of failure. Anyone can predict failure. Tell me why success is possible, what makes the failure a possibility, and who has what to thank for their performance this season.

MSNBC seems to hire these guys. Sports Illustrated and ESPN has them, too, and I don't even bother with Fox Sports, although, I probably should. The hacks end up at MSNBC for some reason. It's like they don't even have any standards.

Here's my bold prediction: half the teams are going to win this weekend, half are going to lose, and maybe, just maybe, someone will score a touchdown.

There, can I write about sports for MSNBC?

UPDATE: Hilariously, Both New Orleans and Indy won. So, did MSNBC fire their incompetent sports writers? Of course not.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bad Sports Writing From Ken Davis

Who hired this hack to write about sports?

Before Kentucky and Connecticut come together Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, coaches John Calipari and Jim Calhoun face a big decision. Will they choose the path of truth? Or will they opt for that road called Political Correctness?

Two years ago, when Calipari was still at Memphis and the Tigers defeated UConn in the 2K Sports Classic, they went all PC on us. Wouldn’t it be more fun this time around if these two highly successful coaches decided to bare their souls and talk about how much they dislike each other?

Maybe it’s old news. After all, the ill will between these two is rooted in activity that took place 20 years ago, before either coach rose to national prominence, before the conference championships, and Final Four trips. Calhoun, who has won two national championships, was on the verge of greatness at UConn. Calipari, who has had two Final Four trips vacated by the NCAA, was just starting out at UMass. Calipari wasn’t a real threat yet, just more of an annoying gnat that Calhoun kept swatting away.

They didn't go "PC" on us, as in "politically correct." They acted like adults.

Some of the absolute worst sports writing in the world takes place on MSNBC. Ken Davis is trying to race to the bottom and lie down in the gutter with Mike Celizic. Really, this is just awful, awful sports writing. This is as bad as it gets--trying to use column inches to start a nothing rivalry between two coaches who know better.

Someone needs to keep Ken Davis away from college sports. He has no business writing about amateur athletics if that's how he views sportsmanship.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Future of Over-the-Air Television

This is something to ponder:

You stupidly built a drive-in theater in the desert just as your customers were all deciding to stay home and watch HBO. Fortunately, the theater turns out to be sitting on a mountain of oil.

With a few asterisks, such is the situation of old-style TV broadcasters, whose viewers have fled to cable or satellite but whose spectrum is lusted after by the wireless industry. According to a much-noted study sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, in the hands of the broadcasters, that spectrum is worth a mere $12 billion.

In the hands of mobile phone carriers struggling to meet explosive growth for mobile broadband, it would be worth $62 billion.

To the Silicon Valley types who people the Obama administration, this suggests a rational policy: Pay broadcasters to give up some or all of the airwaves used to send signals to their dwindling rabbit-ear audience. Turn it over to mobile phone folks at a hefty markup.

Blair Levin, a veteran telecom analyst who heads the FCC’s broadband efforts, has floated a Hindenburg of a trial balloon by broaching just such a deal with broadcasters. Virtually all agree that any such “grand bargain,” to be politically deliverable, must enlist the willing, nay eager, participation of broadcast station owners. No problem—broadcasters would be the biggest winners, right?

Sadly, remember what happened to the original Hindenburg. Broadcasters, who have a keen sense of political realities, note that their broadcast licenses don’t actually confer a property right, so whatever deal the FCC struck with them, Congress would certainly rewrite it to make sure Congress got all the money. Broadcasters would receive squat, and probably be vilified as bandits in the process.

There is still a nominal audience out there, of people who just shelled out money to switch to digital converters. No one uses analog television in this country anymore, at least, not that I’m aware of. There was a massive scramble to get the converter boxes, and quite a few people still didn’t get the word or get the boxes they needed.

About the only way certain networks are going to expand is if they free up bandwidth or find a technology to make the existing bandwidth work with more devices. This is where having an honest broker at the helm of the regulatory agency, the FCC, makes a huge difference. There may not be the kind of focus on this issue that things like health care, war, and the budget receive, but it still has huge implications for everyone who uses a mobile device.

Vintage Rupp Snowmobiles

Rupp Snowmobile

I must confess to having a certain appreciation of old things. I like classic cars, classic everything. I remember the first jet skis—they were hilarious to look at, if you like that sort of thing. I also remember these old vintage Rupp Snowmobiles:

Way back in 1959, a company was started by Mickey Rupp to make innovative snowmobiles and other sporting equipment. Mansfield, Ohio was the home of Rupp for the entire duration of the company’s life. Highly successful in its time, the company produced minibikes, motorized three wheeled bikes, ATVs and Rupp snowmobiles. While the company eventually went out of business in 1978, it left behind a legion of fans, not the least of which are dedicated to Rupp snowmobiles. A huge section of vintage sled fans are passionate about Rupp and they are still being sold in the used segment today.

Rupp Snowmobile

In the sixties, the popularity of snowmobiles soared and hundreds of manufacturers took the leap into the fabrication of these machines. Eventually, after a few years of declining sales due to decreased snowfall in the early seventies as well as a general loss of interest in the sport, many of these companies were forced to shut shop. Amongst these was Rupp snowmobiles, which faced declining sales in the early seventies but seemed positioned to make a comeback in the mid-seventies with its Nitro series of liquid cooled engines. In 1977, Rupp snowmobiles was taken over by Arctic Cat that then reduced the production line to three models – a fan cooled Sport and two Nitros. Planned and engineered by Rupp, the snowmobiles were produced by Arctic Cat. 

Here are a few images and pictures of what I’m talking about.

Rupp Snowmobile

Rupp Snowmobile

They age well. Not many things can say that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Happened to Tara Reid?

Tara Reid

I'm worried. Normally, when I go a few days without knowing what Tara Reid is up to, I panic.

Just when you thought that Tara Reid's career was over, THR is now reporting that she has joined the cast of the indie comedy "Last Call." The new movie is a buddy film that stars Travis Van Winkle (Friday the 13th) and Ryan Hansen (Friday the 13th) as cousins forced to run a family pub. The supporting cast includes Christopher Lloyd, Tom Arnold, Dave Foley, Diora Baird, Clint Howard, John Capodice, David DeLuise and Richard Riehle. Greg Garthe is making his feature directorial debut on the film, written by Scott Donnelly and Erik Lindsay (American Pie Presents Beta House). The production is currently shooting in and around Los Angeles.

That was back in August. Hopefully, she's able to get through this one.

Tara Reid


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger angers Jesper Parnevik

Put this in the category of, "tell us how you really feel:"

In the most critical comment from a player, Jesper Parnevik said he owed Elin Nordegren an apology for introducing her to Tiger Woods. She once worked as a nanny for the Parnevik family.

“We probably thought he was a better guy than he is,” Parnevik told The Golf Channel from West Palm Beach, Fla., where he is in the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying.

Police said Woods’ wife told them she smashed out the back window of his Cadillac Escalade SUV with a golf club to help get him out after he struck a fire hydrant and tree early last Friday.

“I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of a 3-iron,” Parnevik said, adding that he has not spoken to Woods since the accident.

“It’s a private thing, of course,” the Swede said. “But when you are the guy he is — the world’s best athlete — you should think more before you do stuff ... and maybe not ‘Just do it,’ like Nike says.”

Notice how Parnevik goes directly at Tiger's money with that "Just do it" remark? That's some serious smack talking. Do you think that went too far? I don't. I think Parnevik has gotten some heat from his own people for putting the former Mrs. Nordegren in a world where she can now walk away with quite a bit of Tiger's money--what a terrible thing to do to a woman.

As for the mental aspect, and the intimidation aspect, as it relates to golf, do you think Tiger is now finished as far as being able to break other players down? Do you think Tiger isn't going to go out there next year and run like a scared titty baby from Parnevik? What backs up your skills as a golfer is certitude, and I don't know how much of that Tiger has left. I really don't.

I have to believe that Parnevik lives in Tiger's head now.

The rat in the punchbowl

Another sordid tale of how the hired help screwed things up

I feel bad for the poor woman:

On the night of the Obamas' first state dinner, White House social secretary Desirée Rogers glided past the rope line of press and photographers at 6:53 p.m., pausing to boast, "We are very excited . . . everything looks great." Little did she know that the evening would end up tarnishing her vaunted reputation as an overachieving perfectionist.

Virginia socialites Michaele and Tareq Salahi managed to get past Secret Service, proceed into the dinner -- uninvited, the White House says -- and pose for pictures with VIP guests and shake hands with the president. Now questions have been raised over whether Rogers, whose office drew up the guest list, was so busy basking in the limelight that she failed to notice what was unfolding in the shadows.

On Thursday, a House committee wants answers from her about how this could happen. A key question: Was anyone from Rogers's office staffing the front gate? Even though Secret Service has accepted full responsibility for the security lapse, Rogers also has indicated that none of her staff was present when the Salahis arrived. As a result, her managerial style is under scrutiny. And her Hollywood persona, fairly or unfairly, could prove to be the most damning evidence of all.

Rogers -- the point person for the high-profile, high-security, high-stakes diplomatic gala for the Indian prime minister -- was dressed in a pale peach gown from the avant-garde Japanese design house Comme des Garcons. It was the sort of attention-getting dress, with its translucent sleeves and strands of pearls encased in layers of tulle, that proclaimed the wearer a fashion savant.

How does her managerial style come under scrutiny when D-list scrubs crash her event? Did the Secret Service allow in people who shouldn't have been there? Didn't their mistake allow two people to breach the security of the event and introduce the unknown?

The best organizers often accomplish great things and then see some rubes drop a rat in the punchbowl. How is it their fault, then, if they're not the ones who let the rubes in in the first place? I don't get that. How, then, was she "basking" in the limelight? Is this an example of that shoddy journalism that the Washington Post is cutting its teeth upon? Is this a made up fantasy? I automatically don't believe anything in the article now.

Rogers is the hired help, and she, no doubt, remembers that by attending to her duties when necessary. She's been at this a while. To write that she was stumbling around, fanning herself with glory, belies the image of a perfectionist who knows how to organize an event. Which is she, then?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger Woods is Screwed

This is my prediction for what the jokes are going to sound like--this is not what I actually think, it's just an idea:

Tiger Woods is about to find out what it's like to live like a black man in America.

The law is closing in on him, his wife just tried to kill him, and now the crazy bitch he was screwing just got a lawyer.

Granted, that's racist as hell, and I'm sorry I wrote it, but I had to write it, because it will be coming out of the mouths of every black comic in America who has had it up to here with how Tiger Woods has gotten a pass. He's gotten away with it, and now, the walls are closing in:

The Florida Highway Patrol is seeking a search warrant for hospital records that would document the treatment Tiger Woods received after an auto accident early Friday morning, has reported, citing unnamed sources.

The Florida state police, according to the Web site's report, want to determine if the injuries Woods sustained resembled those from an auto accident or domestic violence.

Woods, who was scheduled to compete at his Chevron World Challenge that starts Thursday in Thousand Oaks, Calif., will not attend or play because of injuries sustained in the incident, he announced Monday on his Web site.

Headaches and soreness will keep Woods from traveling to attend the tournament, The Golf Channel reported.

"I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week," Woods said on "I am certain it will be an outstanding event and I'm very sorry that I can't be there."

When contacted Monday by ESPN, Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Miller said the FHP has made no statements to anyone regarding Woods and warrants.

But according to the report, the state police think they can show probable cause of a crime committed during the events that unfolded Friday.

There may not have been a crime committed, but there was a whole lot of favoritism granted on account of where Woods lived (the rich part of town) and what he got away with (imagine someone being able to turn away the police, three days in a row, from their home).

I think that the African-American community has a chance to speak to this double standard in how Woods has been treated better than anyone in America. My point is that, sometimes, not even money can keep certain African-Americans from being treated unfairly by the police. Sometimes, you also have to live in the right part of town and be Tiger Woods in order to get away with having the same troubles all of us have.

Whatever the truth is here, we haven't gotten the truth out of Tiger yet. This is the worst possible example of mishandling public relations I have ever witnessed.

Here's what I've had to say on my main blog, here, here, and here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is the Best Film of the Year

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

I don’t do film reviews.

I do go out and see films. I love to watch films when I have the chance. I cannot claim to have seen enough films this year to make more than a passing, half-hearted attempt at gauging what will win an Academy Award. I don’t even know if this film even qualifies, but I don’t care. I saw this entirely by accident in a crappy theater with terrible seats, a tin-horn sound system, and on a screen best described as two king sized beds side by side. Thin, narrow, and poorly illuminated as well. And, despite that, I was enthralled. Quality beat the presentation by a country mile.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is the best film of the year, and it is the best film I’ve seen since I can remember. It is so unique and well done, I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve ever seen. It compares well to two other films by the same folks—Chicken Run and the Wallace and Gromit film from a few years ago. I hate computer animated films, or films with too many special effects, but I like the animation techniques in all of these films, and it really takes on a new life with The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Deliberately retro, almost intentionally cheesy in some ways, but brilliant to look at.

The voice acting though, is the best. The interplay between Mr. George Clooney and everyone else is so subtle and dead-on that it is not to be believed. There is so much real chemistry between the actors, even when handed nothing but a script and a microphone. There is not enough attention given to voice acting, I believe. It can either work or fall completely flat and sound forced. What Clooney does is to refuse to rush or push anything. He just lives within the sound of his own voice here. He is so capably complemented by Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman that it really does create something unique.

And Hollywood doesn’t give us unique very often. Nor does it give us quality when cheap and loud can be handed out in buckets. The Fantastic Mr. Fox has originality and quality embedded into it. The sprawling sets, the finite detail, and the delight of watching the miserable villains we see in this film are so rewarding. Political correctness goes out the window in this film. Someone had a snit over much of what we see in it—a Hollywood snit backed by focus-group research. Thank God Anderson won as many fights here as he did. I don’t know if he won them all, but he had to have won quite a few.

I think the film that I can compare it to, favorably, is Miller’s Crossing, with a loopy, invented language all its own and characters that are fleshed out and real. There are more ideas explored in the first five minutes of this film than you will see considered in more than half the films that are out right now, combined.

It truly is the best film of the year and I don’t say that lightly. It is an absolute triumph of filmmaking. It makes up for a year in which crap has been king. Do we need any more Seth Rogen films? Not on your life. Do we need to hear anything else from Jennifer Aniston and her pals who make films no one remembers? No, and she’s really getting old fast, isn’t she, the poor girl. And I’ll tell you what absolutely hit me—the preview for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland played before The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It shouldn’t have.

Tim Burton should run screaming from this film and get those previews pulled. You cannot compare the randomly arranged muck of Tim Burton’s shit sandwich school of filmmaking with anything related to what Wes Anderson did with The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I realize it was a trailer, but it was a bad trailer. It was cut with a dull butter knife. Alice in Wonderland looked like Johnny Depp’s worst attempt at being mannered and weird since about twenty minutes ago. Really, can’t anyone see through his schtick by now? He’s still playing Benny and Joon for you suckers, complete with hangdog looks and someone else’s ideas. All of the characters in the forthcoming Alice film looked like they were done ten years ago by a terrible designer on the wrong computers. Depp looked like he had a flattened carrot on his head and as if he had insisted upon wearing porn star makeup, complete with a dashing smear in the wrong place. The Cheshire Cat looked like someone’s stuffed kitty. It was horrific and dull looking—much like everything else Tim Burton has been doing since Batman. The presence of Depp alone will bring in the money, but for what? For something pedestrian and half-baked? That’s just sad.

I marveled at the fact, leaving the theater, that Anderson absolutely owns Burton now. Forget the money and the numbers—Anderson owns everyone now. He’s done something that will force everyone to tear up whatever they’re doing and try much harder.