April 2007


Lately, I’ve written a ton about Iraq, and I suspect that it will not stopped. I’m just aggravated by the whole thing. That said, I understand that not everything relates back to Iraq, the way everything for Walter Solcheck from The Big Lebowski went back to his experience in Vietnam.

One thing I know, and I have never served time in war, is that war sucks. That’s because violence is awful. This morning, more than 30 people were gunned down at Virginia Tech. It’s awful. So many dead people there. This story will dominate the American news media for the next week at least. I can predict what the stories will be about despite my reluctance to read anything about it: gun control vs. gun rights, violence in society, violence on campus, video games, who’s to blame, etc. Some commentator will say something about it that will infuriate someone. Months down the road, when the school opens up for fall term, NPR will cover peoples’ return to classes or why some students chose to go there after their admission.  I can see it like a softball down the middle.

It’s not wrong for the story to get coverage and for people to share their memories of the event; that’s helpful and essential in any tragedy. Nevertheless, when people get too dramatic about it, blaming anything and everything for person who snapped and killed dozens, it doesn’t make much sense. Why? Because people not only die every day in the world, but people also die because of us in the United States. Our country is responsible, directly so, for the deaths of thousands of Iraq men, women and children who never provoked themselves into being bombed or shot. Two years ago, in a small town in Iraq, as many as a dozen Marines carried out a mass murder of civilians. That story got very little press. People remember things because they’re close to home, which is understandable, but why get bent out of shape about it. If we want to know how things like what happened at Virginia Tech today occur we have to be honest. We are a society that values death and yet pretends to have some morbid revulsion by it. We’re a violent society for some reason or another and I’m not sure. Who knows. I just don’t look forward to the sanctimonious ponderings of commentators about violence in our society if we don’t recognize the dual tragedy in greasing Iraqi people in the name of our own safety or worse, theirs. Ours is a violent society. We’ve embraced death. It’s become an answer to our problems; warfare and abortion come to my mind. People are murdered everyday in America. If 30 is a tragedy, why not one? Isn’t 30 just 3o ones?

Relax already. Enjoy the historic day. Stop crying catastrophe. There is no crisis with blacks in baseball. What there is however is a preference away from baseball, but that’s a whole other issue.

First, let’s deal with those crying crisis in America’s pastime.

To hear it from Jimmie Rollins, Carl Crawford and C.C. Sabathia, you’d almost think that the clocks had been rolled back on integration 60 years from the day that a towering, athletic black first baseman took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. You’d think that Major League Baseball would soon return to the game with the shameful color curtain that excluded some of the best talent in Baseball for six decades. Alas, that is not the case.

Appearing on ESPN this week, the three major leaguers expressed frustration that their were not enough blacks in baseball. Sabathia, a two-time All-Star selection with the Cleveland Indians, went as far as to imply that as one of the only blacks on his team he felt lonely. Shortstop Rollins said he felt that he had to be a role model to black boys who may some day want to play in the hole the way he has in six seasons with the Phillies. Rollins wants to be what Ozzie Smith and Royce Clayton were to him growing up. Crawford said he felt the situation was frustrating.

Although no player said Major League Baseball’s existence, or their livelihoods for that matter, were at stake each sounded a chord or alarm and discontent that seemed to sour a great anniversary in baseball.

The three young players, each likely in the prime of his career, decried the lack of black children interested in baseball.

What is admirable about Sabathia in particular, is that he has deigned to do something about what he sees as a problem, sponsoring a Little League team in his home city in Vallejo, California.

Other black ballplayers, including Milton Bradley of the Oakland Athletics have donated their money and time to the issue to help create a greater opportunities for blacks interested in the sport. Bradley said a generous Little League coach provided him the opportunity to play during an impoverished childhood.

That’s great and all, but is there really a problem with black children choosing to devote their time to other sports such as basketball and football? Unless you don’t like contact sports or squeaking shoes, to object to a black child playing those sports hardly seems reasonable. After all, don’t we want sports in society to be about recreation, exploration and growth? Or do we want to force these things on children, diminishing the curiosity and appeal that they offer?

Steve Phillips, an analyst with ESPN and former general manager of the New York Mets said he thought Major League Baseball teams should sponsor say, two ballfields in the areas surrounding their city to attract inner city, and presumably black youths to the game.

This sounds all well and good, but it doesn’t answer the question of why a child should feel more drawn to emulate Derek Jeter than Carmelo Anthony or LaDanian Tomlinson. It could be that just as many white kids have eschewed basketball for other sports black youth enjoy that game and football. Both sports have grown in black participation to the point where not only is the NBA nearly all black, but whites are in the minority in the NFL. Both sports have a hip-hop appeal that is more attractive to blacks. There’s nothing wrong with that. So why should black kids be ashamed of turning away from baseball.

I will admit that having just received a friend’s 1990 Upper Deck baseball card set, it’s strange to think of how fewer American blacks are playing the sport–this says nothing about those who look just like them but come from Latin America and have greatly influenced the game. At the same time, our nation is great because it values preference, choice and expression. It’s no crime that a 12-year-old black kid from Newark may be more interested in Richard Jefferson and the Nets than how Barry Bonds, Derek Lee, Dontrelle Willis or any other black ballplayers are doing.

Black major leaguers such as Derek Lee, Cliff Floyd and Tony Clark–all among the tallest in the game–were themselves standout basketball players. Clark told the Sacramento Bee that he would have preferred to have played basketball himself were it not for a back injury in college. They are not alone in being successful ballplayers who have talents that cross into other sports. Jackie Robinson himself was an outstanding football, basketball and track and field star. White ballplayers too have shown proficiencies in other sports; Tom Glavine with hockey, Mark Hendrickson in basketball and Mike Hampton in football.

So let’s let kids be kids and enjoy the day. It could be some day that the hip hop trend towards the wood court and the gridiron fade away like an old played out beat. But until then kids will be kids. Enjoy a monumental day. Let kids be kids.

I was reticent to go with an old friend of mine to watch Blades of Glory, the newest Will Farrell movie. To be honest, it’s taken me a while to warm up to Farrell, once a staple of Saturday Night Live, the show that seemed to jump the shark just as he arrived. But whereas Jimmy Fallon and Chris Katan have been totally unable to make things work cinema wise, Farrell has been among the most successful at making a transition from SNL to the screen. Even skeptical people such as myself (and I will admit we are few and far between) who hated the cheerleader routine he was known for, must acknowledge that Farrell and only Farrell could carry the comedic roles of Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby. Farrell is likable in these roles for his expressions, mannerisms and overall energy.

It’s likely that Farrell saved Blades. Although I’m sure others could have played the over-the-top, flamboyant sex-crazed figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels, Farrell added energy to the film that. Certainly John Heder, who stars across from him as Jimmy McElroy, a wimpish, waif of a skater, was entirely replaceable. Heder has still not managed to break from the Napoleon Dynamite persona of a helpless loser and I suspect that his one trick pony will break its leg soon.

But back to the movie, and I’m no Roger Ebert so I wont give you a detailed review but more a quick opinion: Will Farrell saved this movie. It’s over-the-top, which is fine, but over-the-top also in a way that is aggravating too. The characters are cartoonish to a fault, including Will Arnett and real-life wife Amy Poehler who play a brother and sister figure skating tandem who must defend their gold medal from Michaels and McElroy. At the same time they also serve as a vehicle for satirizing one of the world’s most pompous and ridiculous sports.  Arnett, who was brilliant as Gob on Arrested Development can’t be blamed too much. It wasn’t a comedy that centered around his character and there wasn’t too much to work with to begin with except to do his best playing an outlandish, moronic and vindictive skater. Poehler is obnoxious as she often is when playing someone (I wonder if you’re still reading this by now it must be hard to follow).

I don’t want to give too much of it away, but I will have to get back to my point that Will Farrell did a great job with what he could. He made the movie watchable. When Farrell’s character, facing banishment from an international figure skating organization tells Nancy Kerrigan, who plays an official, that she’s given him an “official boner” I laughed very hard. Surely it’s fun to see someone talk about erections around America’s former sweetheart, but it’s even better coming from the obliviously self-absorbed Will Farrell. He makes the movie by morphing into a ridiculous and ridiculously likable character, albeit one who is shallow and vain. I would imagine it’s fun to work with him on movies and Heder, who has one year in Hollywood left, tops, did his best to compliment him.

Overall, the movie is watchable with a little extra something. It’s not desperate to make you laugh, but more so to keep you a little giddy. Anyone who wants the story to adhere to the laws of physics or the protocol of figure skating within a comedic frame shouldn’t watch it. You probably shouldn’t expect that from a comedy to begin with. Another thing that makes it watchable is the cast of personalities that appear, albeit briefly in the film like Craig T. Nelson of Coach Fame, Kerrigan and other former Olympic ice skaters such as Canadian Brian Boitano. American skater Sasha Cohen even smells Will Farrell’s athletic supporter for extra shock value.

So if you have ten bucks and you’re not going to demand something that will absolutely blow you out of the water like Anchorman or Talladega Nights, but will serve more like Old School, this one might be worth it for you. I think Will Farrell has made something of himself outside of SNL, which is more than a whole decade of that show’s talent can say. Unfortunately for Heder, 365 days from now he may not even be able to land a gig with the perenially bad Rob Schneider.

If you watched either of these videos, which show an awesome parking lot fight that occurred in Parma, Ohio in 1989 between two high school students, or if you haven’t watched it, you may want to know the story behind it. I wrote about them earlier this week (being between the ending point and starting point of jobs is awesome). After a week, the person who posted them on Youtube returned my inquiry.

Here’s what he said:

Thanks for your interest…I had this video stored away on vhs for the longest time…lately, it seems like everyone has a fight on their video phone or digital camera…I thought I’d put it up cause its entertaining…Nothing to violent…This was in the days before internet and UFC. The tall dude Dan had the girlfriend named Tracy, who arrived with him in the car…The week earlier, the smaller dude Scott
was hitting on her…Dan found out and wanted to beat Scott’s ass…So he insisted that he meet him at McDonald’s…Well, Scott found out and instead of not showing up, much to our suprise he showed up..and went right for Dan when he pulled in…I don’t think Dan realized until that moment that Scott was not going to back down…This was both their first fight (As you can tell)
1989 Day Drive McDonlad’s in Parma.

 

Back then, having this on tape was great…we knew something might happen…and it did…put now its more comedy than anything compared to some of the brutal fights you see….oh well…hope that helps you out.

 

Thanks a lot, Cheeks, I was dying to know what the fight was about!

It seems as if the mankind is hurling towards the destruction at a faster rate each day. People remain willfully ignorant of the things in life that actually threaten our survival: CO2, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation and warfare. Objective analysis is met with derisive, incendiary, criticism and insults. Suddenly experts; scientists, researchers, doctors and the like are subject to insults and paranoia for expressing the profound but nevertheless accurate opinions that things as they are are not really benefiting our survival. Anything besides the merits of their argument becomes fodder for people who make a living off of trashing others.

Nothing offends my sense of fairness more than the fact that morons I’m sorry, I’m trying to be positive, foolish people, become experts on things for which they are either a: totally lacking in knowledge about or b: have a subjective pre-determined opinion on that upholds their livelihood. In other words, asking Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity to give a fair analysis of the mounds of legitimate evidence for global warming caused by CO2 is probably not a good idea if you’re looking for a way of getting towards the truth.

Some day will we look back on ourselves and wonder why we blindly followed foolish people into a ditch? If we have conscience enough to recognize that, I suppose we will really hate ourselves. As water pours into our houses from flooding we’ll say, “Fuck, I shouldn’t have listened to Ann Coulter as a rational scientific source. ”

Will we listen to our voices of reason after the next terrorist attack against us and say, “Shit, Laura Ingraham was only speaking out of her ass when she said we could end terror by having a war with Iraq.”

I kinda hope not, so that way we wont be aware that all the while we were fucking ourselves.

This last weekend, Pope Benedict XVI told Easter celebrants at St. Peter’s Square that the war in Iraq was a futile mess. This isn’t the Pope’s first statement as such. Being a big believer in collective security and global cooperation, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke out against the war two years before he was elevated to become the Bishop of Rome. Nevertheless, Benedict has a rational viewpoint on the war which he has expressed. He has a religious viewpoint on the war which he has expressed as well. But he’s not a Hollywood guy, not a musician or an athlete, so it’s unlikely anyone will turn on him. He represents very conservative interests too. We wont hear Michelle Malkin calling him a moonbat anytime soon, which is the right wing insult it seems to be hurled at anyone with a point lately.

Is Benedict at filthy hippie? I hardly think so. Just because he is Pope doesn’t make his opinion sacrosanct, but let’s face it, this is a very smart man who has spent so much of his life in academia. He has studied the European Union and has a knowledge of how things work in the world, certainly much more than Jonah Goldberg or any other chickenhawk out there. I haven’t heard the hue and cry about Benedict’s opposition to the war yet from Hannity or O’Reilly. They don’t have the guts to take him on. Not that Benedict would have to defend himself, but I’m sure many Catholics would take umbrage with these guys attacking him.

I totally disagree with the furor over Don Imus. Not because I think that what he said was alright. Clearly, what he said was tasteless and totally incendiary and only the most pathetic angry white dude who sits outside all summer watering his lawn could think it was funny. On the other hand, news of his firing is kinda funny to me. I mean, Don Imus’ show has never been funny to me. It’s always seemed like something of a boys club for people with no real sense of humor.

My only question–and if anyone who reads this has an idea, please clarify–is how was the CBS decision to fire this old bastard a smart one? Were people really going to remember this a year down the road and stay away from his show? It seems like CBS was making some serious cash off of this guy. They paid him $10 million a year. So, how are they going to fill that slot with someone lucrative? It seems like someone must have had the goods on Imus. Personally, if I were Don Imus–and I’m glad I’m not, except for the money–I’d want to choke the shit out of Rev. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, who both seemed to have divvied up this one between the two of them.

Otherwise, I don’t care. It was time for Don Imus to retire. He has very little to offer the world of broadcasting and keeping him on is only encouraging bad radio.

The Turkish equivalent of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced on Thursday that his nation would be willing to use military force in Iraq to drive out the terrorist threat posed by Kurds who have crossed borders to carry out or support terrorism in Turkey.

General Yasar Buyukanit said Turkey would employ the option of chasing after Kurdish rebels within northern Iraq, where a semi-autonomous Kurdish regional government reigns. The Kurds are a much closer ally of ours than the the Shiites or Sunnis who make up the bulk of the rest of Iraq. If Turkey ever does begin shelling Kurdish territory within Iraq that would put the U.S. in the precarious decision of having to defend, diplomatically speaking, two of it’s allies. Turkey is a NATO nation and potential European Union member.

Who knows what will happen. This could just be a threat from employed by the Turks to see to it that U.S. forces do more to root out the terrorists in Iraqi “Kurdistan”.

As Buyukanit said of entering Northern Iraq “You are met by Kurdish flags, not Iraqi ones”.

Hopefully, nothing will come out of it, but if it does, the American opposition to Turkish intervention may be hard to justify. After all, the U.S. did invade two nations to stop and preempt terrorist threats (in the case of Iraq, that argument never held much water). We’ll see what happens.

I wrote something that was acidic towards Michelle Malkin, the syndicated rightwing columnist who appears as an analyst on FOX News’ Hannity and Colmes as well as the O’Reilly Factor and any other show that stoops to believe she is an expert on anything besides saying shocking things meant to galvanize conservatives or anger wussy liberals. After reading it, I decided to erase it because in my life, time is precious and to devote that much energy doesn’t really do me well. Of course, I am spending additional time and expending additional energy to create a nicer blog entry about her, but I think as far as karma is concerned, that’s the best thing that I can do right now.

Yesterday, I watched this video on Youtube. In short, it’s a segment from the online show Hot Air (go find the link yourself!).  During the segment, Malkin runs down anti-war allstar Cindy Sheehan’s fast for peace, which occured last July.

Naturally, aiming for the lowest common denominator, Malkin does nothing to argue on the merits of Sheehan’s objection to the war in Iraq, and instead shocks us with footage of her eating a sub, having smoothies and ice cream inside a coffee. Here are some screen shots:

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Some douche on the radio in Allentown, Pennsylvania or around that area was canned on Wednesday for encouraging listeners–quite possibly all unemployed– to call into his radio station and repeat the “phrase that pays”. The phrase: “I’m a nappy headed ho”, a variation on WFAN jerkass Don Imus, who last week called said the Rutgers University womens basketball team were “nappy headed hos”.

Gary Smith got the boot for giving payola to his callers (if you want to call NASCAR promotional materials that).  The station WSBG, bills itself as the station of the Poconos (yay, Hawley, PA!), and fired Smith. Interesting enough, when you check out the stations Web site, you notice that Smith has been removed from the staff listing. That was quick. I’ve never heard the station, but I’m sure it sucks. Probably plays Creed, Nickelback and Eveneses I can’t even spell that band’s name right their so shitty!

I suspect Smith was trying to make a valid point, which is that shock jocks will be shock jocks. They will always say things to get people hot under the collar. That’s why they exist; to entertain/incite hicks. Unfortunately for Smith, Don Imus couldn’t care less about his plight. Imus is a millionaire many times over and within a year no one will care about this incident with the Rutgers team. He’s already issued apologies.

Don Imus is on a two-week suspension from WFAN and on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams began with an announcement that the network had canceled its simulcast of Don Imus on its cable network MSNBC. Regardless of the suspension, Imus will return to his successful radio show. Smith may never work in radio again, and instead end up doing air conditioner repair or pool installation. I’m not happy a man is out of a job, but clearly his show was lacking. Don Imus wont care at all though about this small-market broadcaster. He wont take Smith under his wing or thank him for coming to his show’s defense. Instead, he’ll continue to collect his money and entertain his listeners who wear golf shirts and Dockers pants.

But the real tragedy is that on April 16 Jarred, the Subway guy is supposed to visit the station to talk about something or other. I’m sure he’s a big draw for them. Certainly his publicist and Subway would have retracted him Smith to stay in his job. Smith will never get to host a celebrity of Jarred’s ilk.

It’s no real loss to the world of broadcasting. There are already a ton of corny shock jocks out there who tell breast jokes, flatulence jokes and jokes about mothers-in-law. Just too bad for Mr. Smith. What a stupid thing to stand up for. Don Imus doesn’t give a crap about you.

A part of me really cringes when I watch this video. I was never bullied in high school, nor was I a bully, but I certainly witnessed my fair share of it. I graduated in 1998, which was the year of the high school shooting. Incidents in Mississippi, Kentucky and Oregon captured national attention, although nothing like what would overshadow them a year later, when in 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris gunned down more than a dozen people at their school in the Denver area. Bullying seemed to be behind the shootings.

I wonder if this kid ever wanted to shoot anyone:

He’s the subject of a random youtube video from 1989.

I’m not sure where the video was shot, although I’m certain it was an urban school, possibly on the East Coast by the looks of things.

It starts out with some kids doing some moves:

I couldn’t hear what they were jiving to, but it could have been Steady-B or Public Enemy.

They even use some special effects on that neat old VHS of theirs.

I’m not sure what initiated it, but when the dancing is over, these boys head over to a study hall to taunt a fellow student, who looks to be Filipino or some type of Polynesian.

It all starts with some words and some pushing.

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