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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Happened Here?

The Buick Enclave, which was NOT the vehicle the Tiger Woods was driving when he crashed

Negligent, impaired, or just plain confused?

Tiger Woods was seriously injured early Friday when he hit a fire hydrant and a tree near his Florida home, authorities said.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the PGA star hit the fire hydrant and tree as he pulled out of his driveway in his 2009 Cadillac sport utility vehicle.

Mr. Woods was taken to Health Central Hospital. Officials there didn't have record of him as a patient, though the news release said Mr. Woods' injuries were serious.

The highway patrol said the crash is still under investigation, and charges are pending. However, the highway patrol said the crash was not alcohol-related.

Mr. Woods, 33 years old, owns a home in the exclusive subdivision of Isleworth near Orlando. Orange County property records indicate his home is valued at $2.4 million.

Woods was driving a Cadillac--and yet, he's the spokesperson for the Buick Enclave, pictured above. I would say that the pending charges are for negligent driving or driving while impaired in some way.

Pain killers? Is it wrong to suggest that Woods may have been under the influence of a pain killer of some type? Given his history of being injured, is that outside of the realm of possibility?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Minnie Mouse Hangs Out With Katy Perry and Hayden Panettiere

Wholesome without being creepy?

Missing the Glory Days of Golf

Warwick Hills, 17th Hole

Tough times for the economy mean tough times for golf courses:

The recession has dealt a mean bogey to golf. Hundreds of courses have closed in the last two years and many formerly exclusive country clubs have slashed fees or opened their greens to the public.

Sales of golf balls, clubs and apparel -- a multibillion-dollar industry -- have dipped 10% this year as players trim spending, according to golf researcher Pellucid Corp.

But perhaps the most dramatic examples of golf's woes can be seen in the string of barren fairways and locked gates. Through September of this year, at least 114 of the nation's 16,000 or so golf courses had closed, according to the National Golf Foundation, a number that was offset only partly by the opening of 44 new courses.

"People are cutting golf out of their diets because they've got to cut something," said Jeff Woolson, a real estate broker with Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis who specializes in buying and selling golf courses.

Woolson and other real estate experts say most golf courses have lost 30% to 50% of their worth in the last two years. Several courses have been forced into bankruptcy. Among them is Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale, which dates to 1925 and was designed by noted golf architect William P. Bell, who also designed the Bel Air Country Club and the Newport Beach Country Club.

The owners tried to sell it for $6.5 million, but couldn't find a buyer before the bankruptcy court decided to turn it over to the lender. The asking price, which would have included a Spanish-style clubhouse and Olympic-sized pool on 35 acres, might sound like a bargain -- there are homes in the Los Angeles area that sell for more -- but golf courses are businesses, not typical real estate investments, because they must remain golf courses. And business has been bad lately.

It's a big comedown from the glory days.

Golf thrived so in the 1980s that it was widely believed that a new U.S. course could open every day and there still wouldn't be enough links to satisfy demand. In the 1990s came Tiger Woods, who made the world pay attention to golf as he grew to dominate the sport. The "Tiger effect," many investors assumed, would launch a youth wave of interest in the sport.

The Tiger effect really didn't happen. Just because a lot of people began to pay attention to golf, that didn't necessarily translate into people taking up the sport. I'm sure that a few tried it, but rarely did you see anyone stick with the sport once they figured out just how difficult it was.

The glory days happened because people had money and leisure time. Working for the Man nowadays means no time off, screaming brats on the weekend, and barely enough money to not pay the mortgage. The increase in the number of people wearing nametags and working for peanuts has meant that there are fewer and fewer bankers and financial services people to play golf.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Cruel Life of a Lizard Smuggler

Sometimes you get away with it—and reap untold rewards. And then, sometimes, Johnny Law gets up in your business and thwarts your best efforts:
In an apparently cold-blooded attempt at smuggling, a Lomita man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport this week with more than a dozen wriggling lizards strapped to his chest.

Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.

Plank was returning from Australia on Tuesday when agents found two geckos, 11 skinks and two monitor lizards in his possession. Australian reptiles are strictly regulated, and Plank didn’t have a required export permit, officials said.

The lizards are valued at $8,500.

Smuggling wildlife into the U.S. is a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison. Plank has been released on a $10,000 bond and will be arraigned Dec. 21 in a Los Angeles federal court, authorities said.

I say, next time, we just let him go. Smuggling lizards is its own harsh reality.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This is the kind of thing that could get you fired

This is what got a couple of announcers suspended from calling NBA games for the Los Angeles Clippers:
Smith: “Look who’s in.”
Lawler: “Hamed Haddadi. Where’s he from?”
Smith: “He’s the first Iranian to play in the NBA.” (Smith pronounced Iranian as “Eye-ranian,” a pronunciation that offended the viewer who complained.)
Lawler: “There aren’t any Iranian players in the NBA,” repeating Smith’s mispronunciation.
Smith: “He’s the only one.”
Lawler: “He’s from Iran?”
Smith: “I guess so.”
Lawler: “That Iran?”
Smith: Yes.
Lawler: “The real Iran?”
Smith: “Yes.”
Lawler: “Wow. Haddadi – that’s H-A-D-D-A-D-I.”
Smith: “You’re sure it’s not Borat’s older brother?”
Smith: “If they ever make a movie about Haddadi, I’m going to get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part.”
Lawler: “Here’s Haddadi. Nice little back-door pass. I guess those Iranians can pass the ball.”
Smith: “Especially the post players.
Lawler: “I don’t know about their guards.”

I think that suspending them for being boring and trite would be enough, but here are the real details:
Veteran play-by-play man Ralph Lawler and analyst Mike Smith were suspended for tonight's Clippers telecast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket for comments made during Wednesday's telecast, according to sources with knowledge of the decision but not authorized to speak publicly.
Fox issued this statement at 5:03 p.m. today: "We regret the remarks made by Clippers announcers Michael Smith and Ralph Lawler during Wednesday's telecast. While we believe that Michael and Ralph did not intend their exchange to be offensive, the comments were inappropriate. We extend our apologies to Hamed Haddadi of the Memphis Grizzlies and to anyone who was offended. We have addressed the situation with Michael and Ralph and have taken appropriate action."Wednesday's comments came near the end of a dreary Clippers loss, 106-91, in Memphis as rookie Haddadi, a 7-foot-2 center and the first Iranian player in the NBA, came into the game.In a 40-second exchange Lawler and Smith began talking about Haddadi. A Clippers fan who watched Wednesday’s telecast complained about the verbal exchange and said he received an apology today from Fox Sports.
Can you complain if they're boring and make no sense? Can you complain, for example, about how Tim McCarver, when he calls baseball games, is almost always wrong and never offers any insight as to what is going on? I mean, let's face it--McCarver trades on the fact that no one has the sound up anyway. Can you complain when Chris Collinsworth is unnecessarily critical of a position player who plays a position Collinsworth knows nothing about? Am I just being nitpicky when I say, thank God I can turn the sound down.

Ricky Williams Really Is a Football Player

Given his strange odyssey, games like this one are worth noting:

Ricky Williams showed he's still got it.

The 32-year-old Williams rushed for 119 yards and scored three touchdowns, and the Dolphins beat the Carolina Panthers 24-17 on Thursday night for their fourth win in six games to get into the AFC playoff picture.

A day after learning Brown is lost for the season to a foot injury, the Dolphins (5-5) continued their surge after an 0-3 start behind Williams. The 2002 NFL rushing champion had a receiving and rushing touchdown in the same game for the first time in his career that included a couple of lost seasons.

"Coach always talks about finishing," Williams said. "Sometimes in this league, in a physical game, it's difficult to finish. I think in the past we've prided ourselves on finishing games and we did a good job tonight."

There aren't many 32 year-old running backs who could do half of what Williams did against Carolina (yes, the photo above shows Ricky running against Jacksonville; Jacksonville and Carolina occupy the same space in my head).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Amy Alkon is Still Peddling Her One Claim to Fame

I’m speaking, of course, about America’s most celebrated insane bag of nuts blogger, one Amy Alkon, who seems to be interviewed here for her ability to be crazy and credibly so:

Amy Alkon, a syndicated advice columnist and self-described “manners psycho,” certainly thinks so. Just ask “Barry,” a loud cellphone talker she encountered recently at a Starbucks in Santa Monica, Calif.

“He just blatantly took over the whole place with his conversation, streaming his dull life into everybody’s brain,” Ms. Alkon recalled in a telephone interview.

Among the personal details Barry shared that day — errands to run, plans for the evening — was his phone number, which Ms. Alkon jotted down.

“I called him that night and said, ‘Just calling to let you know, Barry, that if you’d like your private life to remain private, you might want to be a little more considerate next time,’ “ she said.

Alkon has no ethics, and I call bullshit:

Someone who doesn’t tolerate inconsiderate public behaviour is Amy Alkon, the famous Advice Goddess columnist in the US who is also known as a blogslapper of ‘assclowns’. Recently, Amy was so annoyed by a ‘cell phone shouter’ in a LA café, she immediately posted personal details of the assclown’s conversation to her weblog. The icing on the cake was the assclown receiving calls directing her to Amy’s post, using the phone number she’d haplessly broadcast to all and sundry. Fittingly, one of Amy’s mottos is -revenge is the best revenge.

Indeed, shaming websites catering for pissed-off victims of public arseholes are springing up with a vengeance. Check this Wall Street Journal article, inspired by Amy’s experience for a list of blogslapping websites. One potential site not yet created could cater for the common problem of locals and families terrorising the neighbourhood.

Notice anything?

That same incident happened in 2006, and Alkon continues to “peddle” the incident as something recent. So far, the Wall Street Journal and now the New York Times have passed off a single incident (and I’m guessing she’s dressing up the same incident and peddling it around—I could be wrong) as being something Alkon has done to unsuspecting people in the name of some sort of morally superior attempt at enforcing “ethics” and here’s what she did:

Eva Burgess Is Getting Glasses!
And she’s picking them up Saturday after 4pm! I know this because she was bellowing into a cell phone about it next to me in a café. Apparently, she’s not only inconsiderate, she doesn’t seeem to mind giving a lot of personal information, starting with her full name, to a total stranger.

She continued, Eva and Ken Hashimoto “have insurance there,” she said…”under a flexible spending account.” “We just have to pay by the end of the year,” she said. And then she most helpfully bellowed her phone number — [REDACTED] — perhaps because she’s lonely and wants total strangers to call and ask how her glasses are working out for her.

Hey, Eva, can I have your bank account number and your log-in so I can transfer a few bucks to my account? I’d like to get a pair of noise-canceling headphones in case you sit next to me again.

On a positive note, the little girl with them, probably Eva’s (and maybe Ken’s) daughter, was very quiet and well-behaved.

Hey, Eva, I know it’s kinda cold in NYC, where you’re apparently from (according to the area code you helpfully dispensed), but here in sunny southern California, at the moment you were talking, it was 58 degrees. Next time, you might take your business outside –- as exciting as I found it, on a morning I would normally have relaxed to the classical music while eating my breakfast and thinking my own thoughts, to instead be a part of your eyecare needs.

Nice going, New York Times. That uncanny similarity is a little too uncanny for my tastes. If she’s been running around, doing this sort of thing for years, well, all well and good. But let’s not give her a pass on being the unethical-blogger-who-posts-someone’s-phone-number nonsense. I don’t care how offended someone is—posting their personal information crosses into Michelle Malkin territory.

Sorry, @DQuenqua over there on Twitter. You’ve been punked by one of the least ethical human beings alive.  Cue 2011, and a rousing story in the Washington Post about how Amy Alkon smacked down someone by publishing their phone number on her blog…

Congratulations, Miss Bacall

Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman 1945

I suppose there are some who can't quite get their head around the fact that Lauren Bacall has been famous since, when, exactly? 1944? Earlier than that? I mean, world famous.

World famous for 65 years? My goodness.

The above photograph, of Bacall getting Vice-President Harry Truman in hot water with his wife, was taken in 1945. And, this year, she is getting an honorary Oscar:

The Academy Awards won't be presented until March, but the first Oscar statuettes of the season were being handed out Saturday night at a private, black-tie dinner in Hollywood.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is breaking with tradition and presenting its honorary Oscars away from the televised ceremony. Actress Lauren Bacall, producer-director Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis were to each receive Oscar statuettes at the inaugural Governors Awards event.

The winner of this year's Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Award, producer John Calley, was to also receive his trophy at the star-studded dinner. Each of the four recipients were chosen by the academy's Board of Governors.

Annette Bening, Tom Hanks, Kirk Douglas, Anjelica Huston and Quentin Tarantino signed on as presenters for the evening, which included 600 invited guests celebrating at the Grand Ballroom above the Kodak Theatre, the same room where the annual post-Academy Awards Governors Ball is held.

Morgan Freeman, Alec Baldwin, Steven Spielberg and other guests were serenaded by a violin quartet before the ceremony began in a room decked out in bronze and silver curtains with a giant Oscar statue at the center.

Bacall made her screen debut with Humphrey Bogart in "To Have and Have Not" in 1944. She went on to star in more than 30 films, including classics such as "The Big Sleep" and "Key Largo."

Here's Hilary Swank atop the piano, which is still  in the National Press Club:

Hilary Swank


It Hurts to Lose a Home

In the case of Nicolas Cage, two of his homes are now foreclosed upon:

Nicolas Cage's next film may take place in New Orleans, but the debt-plagued actor can now no longer claim to be a resident of the Big Easy.

Cage, 45 who filed a lawsuit blaming his financial collapse on his longtime business partner, had his two historic French Quarter homes purchased in a foreclosure auction Thursday.

The houses went for $4.5 million – about two-thirds the appraised value – to Cage's lender, Regions bank, the lone bidder. Movers were seen clearing Cage's belongings on Friday.

Cage, whose next film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans comes out this month, has been selling off homes in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Rhode Island to pay off a $6 million federal tax lien.

Good God, where is the help this man needs? There's no reason whatsoever to seize assets when, in good faith and in good time, Cage could restructure his asset portfolio and raise the cash necessary to satisfy the people who are rushing to take away his assets. This is a disgrace.

First of all, he's a bankable movie star. He may have up and down periods, but this is a man who can make money in his chosen field. Second of all, he has assets but obligations--show me a man who has assets, and I'll show you a man who can deftly restructure and make things right for anyone and everyone who's bringing their demands to bear. Third, have some compassion. I realize, we're not supposed to feel bad for rich people in America. I get the populism here. But, on a much smaller scale, think of a small businessman being cleaned out by an unscrupulous partner or spouse. Helping that person get their affairs in order would leave them with the ability to pay off obligations with interest and keep their dignity.

Well, I've read where friends are offering to help Cage. I hope he comes out of this stronger and can then go back after the cutthroats who went after him when he was in a bad way.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Golf and a Man Bear Pig

Sign, Camp Bonifas, South Korea

Here's a story about our troops that doesn't involve horrible news and tragedy. This is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy reading about, and learning about. I'm afraid I can't do horror and screaming and what the hell is our government doing? posts all of the time. Most of the time, sure. I have brass balls in that regard. But, once in a while, I have to get off that bus and stretch my legs.

In South Korea, our troops have many, many golf courses. One, in particular, stands out:

You stand atop an elevated tee box on the first and only hole of the world's most dangerous golf course.

And you consider your chances.

This deadly little par 3 measures 192 yards but plays more like 250 in the face of the vicious winds that often blow out of North Korea across an exclusive piece of real estate called the DMZ just a few yards away.

Underneath your feet and off to the right are bunkers. The military kind. To the left, over an 18-foot-high security fence topped by concertina wire, are hazards that make high rough, deep water and dense woods seem like child's play.

Try countless unexploded mines -- the very definition of out-of-bounds. One herky-jerky backswing, one snap hook yanked out of your bag at the wrong moment and . . . ba-boom!

The soldiers would like Tiger Woods to play the course, and there's no reason why he shouldn't. It would be a great Public Relations move. I've seen some nutty things on the golf course, but this is a bit much:

Over the years, the course has developed its own mystique. Play alone here and you'll see. Weird things happen.

"You see animals," [Army Sgt. Mikel] Thurman says.

Like wild boars, Korean tigers and so-called vampire deer.

And even something weirder.

"Some guys say they've seen this thing, a man-bear-pig," Thurman says without smiling. "That's what they say."

Well, there is no man-bear-pig. There are men who don't shave, and there are men with pig faces, but unless someone has been dabbling in the realm of cloning and dogs and...and...

Research by South Korea's top human cloning scientist  [he announced in August, 2005 that his team had created the world's first cloned dog]- hailed as a breakthrough earlier this year - was fabricated, colleagues have concluded.

A Seoul National University panel said the research by world-renowned Hwang Woo-suk was "intentionally fabricated", and he would be disciplined.

Dr Hwang said he would resign, but he did not admit his research was faked.

"I sincerely apologise to the people for creating shock and disappointment," he said after the panel's announcement.

"As a symbol of apology, I step down as professor of Seoul National University."

Never mind.

Eliza Dushku

Eliza Dushku

There's no way that they will be able to keep Eliza Dushku off of television.

Eliza Dushku

There's a reason why I wish I had gone against my instincts and invested time in Dollhouse--quality. I couldn't do it because it was on Fox. Fox is a terrible network. They kill shows. 

Joss Whedon can give you quality and he can provide you something few other networks can--a ready-made fan base that will pay off in so many other ways. Merchandise, dedication, goodwill, karma, you name it.

With Whedon, someone literally has to give the guy the freedom to create and give him five years. A lifetime in television, but in just five years, Whedon can create a franchise (he can do it in much less, and he nearly pulled it off with Dollhouse, but I think that his fans need five years of story arc and everything after that is gravy). Fox could have had a contender. Fox could have had something of serious quality. Instead, they'll just find filler and trash. Filler and trash is worth what in ten years?

I'll check it out on DVD. I'll absorb what Whedon was able to make. It's too bad he didn't get five good years or better with it, but it wasn't his fault. It's Fox. That's what they do to quality. They kill it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cindy Crawford the Victim of a Sickening Extortion Plot

Cindy Crawford

I really despise these sorts of things:

Model Cindy Crawford and her husband were the victims of a bizarre extortion scheme involving a photo of her daughter, authorities said.

According to court documents filed in Los Angeles, a German citizen was indicted after seeking to extort $100,000 from Crawford and her husband, businessman Rande Gerbe.

The documents allege that the man, Edis Kayalar, 26, called Crawford in July and said he had a "sexy photograph" of her then 7-year-old daughter "in revealing clothing, bound to a chair and gagged."


Kayalar claimed that he stole the photo from the girl's former nanny, according to the court records. He allegedly told Crawford that he wanted to return the photograph to the family so the tabloids would not get it. Later, he said he would sell it to the media if the couple did not pay, the records state.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the couple said: “Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford intend to pursue any and all available legal action against anyone who aids the perpetrator in the distribution or sale of the photograph of their daughter.”

This is why you need to monitor the hired help. As innocent as the incident may appear, why does the nanny think having such a photograph is okay? 

It sounds more like a case of very bad judgement on the part of the nanny than it does a reflection of how Crawford and her husband are raising their family.

Let's face it--you have to make sure that you know what you're doing when you hire people to care for your children and you definitely have to watch the hired help. I can't stress that enough. Nanny Cams are only part of the process. You have to evaluate their judgement. And you have to have conversations with your children to assess where things are at as far as what goes on in the home when you're not around.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How Can Anyone Be Offended by Larry King?

When was the last time anyone was offended by Larry King? How does this little hot mess figure she can garner any sympathy at all by pretending she is offended by a man who has been asking softball questions far longer than she and her mother (I'm guessing here) have been alive?

All Carrie Prejean did was make herself look like she does not understand anything about how the media works in this country. I mean, down to the technical level--when you take off your microphone and then keep trying to continue the interview, you look like the stupidest person imagineable.

People who produce shows like what someone like Prejean can bring to an interview, but only up to a point. When you do something as stupid as remove the microphone and the IFB piece, then sit there and speak into the void of an empty studio, it shows them that you are more likely to knock over chairs and pull down the lights than you are to conduct a simple interview.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Everyone Knows Recycling Doesn't Work, Right?

If you think enlisting celebrities is going to get me to recycle, think again, Batman:

NBC Universal's three-year "green" campaign has largely focused on off-camera issues like making company facilities more eco-friendly. News and information programs have also been enlisted to do stories on environmental issues, but except for one "30 Rock" episode two years ago, the campaign hasn't touched the prime-time lineup.

This year on "30 Rock," corporate boss Jack Donaghy tells the late-night show's staff it has to cut its carbon footprint by 5 percent, and puts Kenneth the Page in charge of getting it done.

"It's something that is relatable and is something that a lot of people are doing," said Jack McBrayer, the actor who portrays Kenneth.

Backstage, the show has done its part by removing water bottles in favor of water filters and using chemical-free cleaning products. The show rents hybrid vehicles to transport its actors and crew members, said Beth Colleton, vice president of the "Green is Universal" campaign.

"Everybody is on board with greening up the place and being more environmentally-friendly in real life," McBrayer said. "Every now and then people need to be reminded of things that can be done."

In the comedy "Community," the college is renamed "Environdale." College students think they're hiring the band Green Day for a gig, and instead gets the Celtic combo Greene Daeye. Dwight in "The Office" takes the role of "Recyclops" in that comedy. "Heroes" features cast members filling a truck with recyclables and talking about the importance of giving back to the earth.

This effort damages those franchises in several different ways. When these shows come out on DVD, imagine the confusion when it starts up with the "green" episode and the people watching fail to be entertained and realize they've been gypped. Thirteen years from now, when these shows are syndicated out to low-paying, low-rated independent channels on what is left of the TV spectrum, these outdated "green" shows will point to the folly of trying to recycle while President Tila Tequila signs into law the first bill outlawing the word green.

Recycling doesn't work by the way. I'm not a scientist, and I know someone who isn't one, but recycling has minimal benefit to the environment. It's far better to just not buy things made of paper and plastic. Live with cast iron and surgical steel implements and always go with the granite countertops. When the granite countertops wear out, you can pull them out, break them up, and use them for a walkway in the garden.

If you need a celebrity to tell you how to live, brother, you don't know how to live.

Know Your Orthodox Priests Before You Experience Roid Rage

Greek Orthodox Priest

As much as I want to try to help people understand that, yes, there is a Greek Orthodox Church, and, yes, it is a Christian religion that has been around since forever, there’s a part of me that realizes that many people are simply too stupid to understand anything at all about the world in which we live:

Marine reservist Jasen Bruce was getting clothes out of the trunk of his car Monday evening when a bearded man in a robe approached him.

That man, a Greek Orthodox priest named Father Alexios Marakis, speaks little English and was lost, police said. He wanted directions.

What the priest got instead, police say, was a tire iron to the head. Then he was chased for three blocks and pinned to the ground — as the Marine kept a 911 operator on the phone, saying he had captured a terrorist.

Police say Bruce offered several reasons to explain his actions:

The man tried to rob him.

The man grabbed Bruce’s crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English.

The man yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” the same words some witnesses said the Fort Hood shooting suspect uttered last week.

“That’s what they tell you right before they blow you up,” police say Bruce told them.

Greek Orthodox Priests generally don’t shout “Allahu Akbar” because of the fact that they don’t speak Arabic, they don’t believe in Allah, and because they believe wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ. There there’s the fact that this happened on Monday, not long after the Fort Hood shooting rampage, which is probably where the young man got the idea, in a panic, no doubt, to try to glom onto what happened there and earn a little sympathy. I believe that we can perhaps think about forgiving the young man for lying through a human growth hormone and steroid-laced chemical fog that has warped his brain, probably similar to the one that drove Roger Clemens throughout much of his later years in baseball. Clearly, his ‘roid rage (he’s into that stuff and has blogged about it) and his inability to deal with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that he most emphatically does not have because he has never deployed as a Marine indicate that he’s just a violent, reactionary young man with no judgement or impulse control.

Know your Greek Orthodox priests, my friends. Oh, and Sikhs aren’t Muslims, sir. I know you’re looking at what’s on their head, and I know you’re flushed with anger and you’re confused, but they’re not Muslims, so calm down.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank God Daphne Zuniga can Explain Hydrogen Sulfide to Us

Celebrities should always become advocates for things. Whether it would involve advertising or going on television shows or appearing in public with sandwich boards, I don't know.

I do know this--the Huffington Post is the place where celebrities go to talk above their paygrade:

Atchison Village would seem like a great place to live. It's a pleasant-looking neighborhood in Richmond, California on the east shore of San Francisco Bay. The residents are diverse. Some have lived there since the village was built in 1941. Others have discovered the neighborhood more recently. It's an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a comfortable feel, barbecues on the weekend and neighbors who know each others' names, with home prices far more affordable than most places in the Bay Area.

But there's a downside: Atchison Village has a bad neighbor. You know the kind we're talking about, right? The kind of neighbor that seems not to care about property values, or endangering the welfare of the people around them. The kind of neighbor that lets their garbage blow into other people's yards. The kind of neighbor that makes messes and refuses to admit it or clean them up.

In most places, behavior like that might get a person run out of town on a rail. But Atchison Village's bad neighbor has some clout: it's the third-largest corporation in the world.

The Chevron Corporation has run a gigantic oil refinery just west of Atchison Village since 1902. Ever since the city of Richmond was built, its residents have been breathing in the poison that comes out of the refinery stacks, or escapes from its miles of pipes. People in Atchison Village and other nearby neighborhoods report much higher levels of diseases from asthma to cancer. Kids living in Atchison Village are much more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than kids in other neighborhoods. Tests have found high levels of toxic substances like sulfur and heavy metals inside Atchison Village residents' homes, which are pollutants known to be emitted by oil refineries.

Well, move, then.

Seriously, if you haven't already figured out that one shouldn't live in close proximity to a Chevron chemical plant or a Chevron oil refinery, then move. Apply for government help getting out. Government, your job is to help those people move before anyone gets sick. Next time you allow something like this, remember what you had to do to help those people.

People, let's acquire something I like to call basic common sense. If your children are in danger, you have to move with a sense of purpose. You have to get off your dead ass and get them away from whatever is poisoning them. Put your vast pyramid of crap you can't afford into the back of an 18-wheeler and move. If they could move the oil refinery as easily as you can move your real-estate challenged rear end, they would.

I hate to break it to you, but we kind of need oil refineries. Houses? Oh, we have plenty of those. Apartments, too. What's more important? That swell house in Richmond or your kid with leukemia? Glad I could help you figure that out.

Oh, and remember:

Co-authored by Bill Gallegos

Celebrities need help every now and then. Don't judge them for that. And, yes, a Theater Arts Major from UCLA who has had severe mercury poisoning and isn't named Jeremy Piven is allowed to talk about environmental issues, I certainly get that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who Discarded a Spare Army of Desperate Persians?

 The Oracle Temple, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Things like this always catch my eye:

The remains of a mighty Persian army said to have drowned in the sands of the western Egyptian desert 2,500 years ago might have been finally located, solving one of archaeology’s biggest outstanding mysteries, according to Italian archaeologists.

Bronze weapons, a silver bracelet, an earring and hundreds of human bones found in the vast desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert have raised hopes of finally finding the lost army — 50,000 strong — of Persian King Cambyses II, buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C.

“We have found the first archaeological evidence of a story reported by the Greek historian Herodotus,” Dario Del Bufalo, a member of the expedition from the University of Lecce, told Discovery News.

According to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun. Alexander the Great had famously sought legitimization of his rule from the oracle of Amun in 332 B.C., but according to legend, the oracle would have predicted the death of Cambyses.

Of course, people have long been trying to find this “lost” army:

The owners of this hotel, who also run a hotel on the Red Sea, offer desert camping and exploring services that look professional from their web site [the link is now dead], but one shudders to read of their plan to convert tourists into “archaeologists” looking for the lost army of Cambyses.

Some have tried to walk the route:

Signor Miglietti, 38, who runs an electrical components business, was so fascinated by the king’s ill-fated journey that he decided to try it.

Before setting off a week ago, pulling a 200lb cart loaded with supplies, he was warned by Tuareg desert nomads that his plan was madness.

Five days, 23 hours later, with blistered feet and severe stomach cramps, he arrived at Siwa.

A man of few words, he said simply: “I’m satisfied. I’m quite well and I went faster than I expected.”

Needless to say, he found no trace of Cambyses’s army.

The legend, as well as inspiring archaeologists to mount many fruitless searches in the desert, has come to symbolise the perils of the Great Sand Sea.

The region in the western Sahara is a massive expanse of dunes, continually beaten by wind and sand storms.

Even the Tuaregs avoid it because of the lack of water and its utter isolation.

Whether or not the items found were planted there (a distinct possibility) or looted and moved (another possibility) or that of a different military detachment (some possibility there) is up to scientists and archaeologists to determine. A lot army of poor soldiers in the terrible desert conjures up all sorts of possibilities, so I hope what has been found puts the mystery to rest.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A question from Tumblr

Katy Perry


  • real

  • fake

  • real but enhanced with a very good push-up bra

  • a secret hiding place for ninjas?

 Used to keep Russell Brand from using conditioner?

Reconsidering the Utility of the Modern Blimp

This is NOT one of Pasternak’s Blimps

Success looks a bit like this:

Igor PasternakThe gig: Igor Pasternak, 45, is the founder and chief executive of Worldwide Aeros Corp., a Montebello-based developer and maker of blimps used for surveillance, advertising and transport.

The future: Pasternak is developing the Aeroscraft, an airship as long as two football fields, to be used for transcontinental and transoceanic transport for cargo and passengers.

It may conjure up images of the Hindenburg, but Pasternak assures that, in distinct contrast to earlier-generation airships, the Aeroscraft is a new type of aircraft that combines airplane and airship technologies.

The craft would be like a flying cruise ship capable of traveling several thousand miles. It could hit a top speed of 174 mph, meaning it could go from Los Angeles to New York in about 18 hours. And by flying at an altitude of 8,000 feet and lower — compared with airlines’ 30,000 — passengers would have a clear view of the landscape below.

“You have to stay innovative in this business,” Pasternak said. “You always have to stay on the cutting edge if you want to be successful.”

We need to get these things into use. James Fallows has pointed out the obvious—we must move more people to some form of air travel. I can’t think of a better and more environmentally-friendly mode of transport, other than the bicycle and a person’s own fat ass walking somewhere, can you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Defending Yourself From the Herd

This herd can stomp on your garden, sir

It's been my experience that rude behavior on Twitter is swiftly punished. That's what that "block" option is there for--to effectively block the behavior of others that is anti-social. If you're getting on Twitter to screech at people and fight, you can count on losing your account within hours--it's really that good at effectively destroying the "trollery" of others. Twitter has seen various examples of this, and it really boils down to children getting on there to curse at adults, nothing more. Celebrities are actively using Twitter to push their projects and connect with their fans. I wouldn't count on that continuing if the ability of people with hidden agendas are able to seriously defame or drive people off of Twitter altogether.

Last week, a 're-tweet' called for help in defending @RealScottBaio from a bit of trollery, so I added my two cents worth:

@xryk It's been my experience that @RealScottBaio is an upstanding gentleman, so please allow me to formally block you for being a #jackass

@Cynicor You're a scumbag. You're the worst kind of troll there is--no ethics or values.

I took my shots, and I blocked the users that were behaving like trolls, and then I let it go. It's really that simple. When someone is being a jackass, you hit them and block them and go about your business. Always maintain your composure, where possible. Mr. Baio was attacked by a man who used various documents to publish Baio's mother's home address--how sickening is that? I added my parts because I wished to defend a member of the community. I had my say, and it was freely offered. Mr. Baio does not need to be defended, but he was defended by a community enforcing standards of conduct. That's fair to me. Fame means that complete strangers can sometimes step up to your defense.

In Britain, a tweet got a man into trouble when he called Stephen Fry "boring." The abuse leveled at him by the larger community was virulent and cutting. This is because Mr. Fry has a massive "herd" of followers while Mr. Baio has himself around 3,500.

And the matter would have rested there, probably, if not for the fact that Mr. Fry, a much-loved figure who has spoken openly about his crippling depression and about being bipolar, has more than 934,000 followers and is one of the most widely read Twitter users in Britain. His much-publicized tweetsin February, about being stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes, did as much to raise Twitter’s profile here as the photograph Ashton Kutcher posted on Twitter of the rear end of his wife, Demi Moore, did two months later.

When Mr. Fry’s followers heard of his distress, they tended to do two things: offer their support and criticize his perceived antagonist. And suddenly Richard from Birmingham, who says on his Twitter profile that he writes “one-line movie reviews, and more,” found himself the target of a stream of unpleasant, even abusive, tweets. Among the most upsetting, to him at least, were those from the well-known British actor and comedian Alan Davies. Mr. Davies, who is a friend of Mr. Fry’s and has more than 104,000 Twitter followers, called Richard a “moron,” and worse.

The story was then picked up by a variety of news outlets, including the BBC and The Sunday Times.

The ganging up on Twitter against people who have somehow run afoul of others has become increasingly common here. The same thing happened last month when the journalist Jan Moir wrote a column in The Daily Mail criticizing the lifestyle of Stephen Gately, a gay member of the pop band Boyzone who was found dead at 33 in his vacation apartment in Majorca.

Many people — including Mr. Fry — believed that the article had homophobic undertones, and said so on Twitter, where Ms. Moir then became one of the topics of hate du jour. An organized campaign helped ensure that her article led to about 23,000 formal complaints to the Press Complaints Commission of Britain.

I've already covered that story, and while I decry any kind of herd mentality in social networking, I do note that sometimes the herd gets it right.

Is Fry boring? That's not my call to make. A person qualified to be a critic (and, really, no one is), could make an informed comment about his work. Would it prove anything?

If I were to say it, I would offer some evidence and back it up. What would that prove or accomplish? If he were to release something that especially offended me, I would criticize it, and try to do so fairly. Or I would defend him from such criticism. That's all done within the greater boundaries of blogging and civil discourse. I wouldn't use a picture of him being used to give an enema to an elephant--that would go too far, plus, that would take several hours of fooling with Photoshop, and I'm not inclined.

I wouldn't run from a screaming mob if I did take an exception to his work. I never have, and I never will. I do think that people who love his work and admire him can sometimes go too far--this is called a fanboy mentality. I would add, though, that it takes a lot to gin up the outrage of fanboys. Putting the lid back on that boiling pot is next to impossible. No one should incite the herd to attack. In Fry's case, I think it evolved more from how wrong people perceived the criticism to be. That's all well and good when you only have a few thousand followers. When you have nearly a million, that herd can stampede on a moment's notice. Even if only a few hundred people become actively engaged in hurling insults, it can feel like a tidal wave.

Sometimes, the self-regulating social community can fairly and quickly enforce a behavioral standard that is missing in much of our interaction. Any idiot can go on any blog, and I know this because I've done this many, many times, and unleash a string of invective and hurl insults at someone just because they're weird or wrong. This anti-social behavior sometimes find a way to get corrected fast when a community of people enforces a certain standard. Is that a good thing? Or is it a tool for wannabe-Fascists? Well, that depends on the herd, doesn't it?

The Funniest Thing Jay Leno Has Said in Twenty Years

There are some whoppers here, but the last one is the funniest thing Leno has said in a good, long while:

Prime-time newcomer Jay Leno says he would have rather stayed put at "The Tonight Show" and if NBC offered him that job again, he'd take it.

In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable magazine published online Monday, the talk show host hastily added that such a decision isn't his to make.

Conan O'Brien, his successor as "Tonight" host after 17 years, is "doing fine," Leno said.

"Conan is in the same position I was in when I took over. It takes a while. Some will like it; some will leave forever and not come back."

Leno said he doesn't think the recent controversy surrounding his former late-night rival David Letterman "will have a big effect at all."

Referring to Letterman's acknowledged sexual affairs with female members of his staff, Leno said, "If it were me, it would kill me. I'm the guy who's been married 29 years. But Dave has never pretended to be Mr. Moral America, he's never set himself up that way. He's not a hypocrite."

All of those Clinton and Monica Lewinsky jokes must have come from some other hypocrite, then. How pathetic is it when, after having been dumped like old potatoes by NBC, Leno still thinks he can slouch back to where he was and take his old job back and not look like Willy Loman after fifty slammed doors.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Of Ancient Avenues Walked Alone

I imagine my forebears living in southern England, roughly twenty thousand years ago, firmly in charge and running things with benevolence and wisdom. I imagine the stones they carved, the talismen they carried, the knowledge they held in their heads. I know they had bad dental hygiene--there's no need to ruin it for me, okay?

The places that were walked are fascinating to me. Who did the walking? Why did they have strange languages and songs that are now lost forever? What did they eat? Why did they choose to live in England?

THE Ridgeway is the oldest continuously used road in Europe, dating back to the Stone Age. Situated in southern England, built by our Neolithic ancestors, it’s at least 5,000 years old, and may even have existed when England was still connected to continental Europe, and the Thames was a tributary of the Rhine.

Once it probably ran all the way from Dorset in the southwest to Lincolnshire in the northeast, following the line of an escarpment — a chalk ridge rising from the land — that diagonally bisects southern England. Long ago it wasn’t just a road, following the high ground, away from the woods and swamps lower down, but a defensive barrier, a bulwark against marauders from the north, whomever they may have been. At some point in the Bronze Age (perhaps around 2,500 B.C.), a series of forts were built — ringed dikes protecting villages — so the whole thing became a kind of prototype of Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England.

The land here is downland, somewhere between moorland and farmland, hill after hill curving to the horizon in chalk slopes (the word down is related to dune). Here on these pale rolling hills, the plowed fields, littered with white hunks of rock, sweep away in gradations of color, from creamy white to dark chocolate. The grassland becomes silvery as it arches into the distance. The wind always seems to be blowing. The landscape is elemental, austere, with a kind of monumental elegance. The formal lines of the fields and hills not only speak of the severity of life in the prehistoric past, but would also match some well-tended parkland belonging to an earl.

You know, I might have been that earl. I might have been the one to say, "okay, we're going to put a picture of a horse here, and we're going to do it by removing the grass and the dirt so that all we have left is the chalk." I am exceedingly good with a shovel, you see.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Never Have A Single Point of Failure

Had I been been the one advising Nicolas Cage, he wouldn't be selling off his possessions like a shamed Willie Ames right now:

How could one of Hollywood's highest paid actors find himself owing $6.3 million in back taxes and deep in money troubles? The answer is easy if you believe Nicolas Cage.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 16 in Los Angeles, the National Treasure star, 45, claims that his longtime business manager, Samuel J. Levin, duped "lined his [own] pockets with several million dollars in business management fees while sending Cage down a path toward financial ruin."

That journey began in 2001 when Cage – whose next movie is the crime drama Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – hired Levin to oversee and manage his business interests, investments and finances. Levin did not return calls seeking comment. A rep for Cage had no comment.

Mr. Levin was Cage's single point of failure. If you have assets in more than one country, and if you have more than one source of income, you need multiple, independent advisors and an outside accounting firm to audit their activities. Always find at least two or three advisors who are independent of one another, and audit them regularly.