April 2007

Alright, so my suspicion was wrong. Alec Baldwin did actually berate his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland. I thought maybe it was a prank by someone else. Well, I read his explanation. Although I think it’s corny that he doesn’t address the situation the correct way, which is not to mention his divorce, I think he did the right thing in confessing to it. Certainly, Wikipedia has been updated to reflect this. I have a feeling that this will have little to no effect on Baldwin’s career. We all know that he’s something of a pompous jerk at times. Regardless, flying off the handle is a common occurance in life. I just hate for Hannity to have anymore ammunition against anyone. Just wait until his skeletons are unearthed.

I knew it, as soon as a woman I work with handed me the news story to read: Sean Hannity, ever the righteous person that he is, would be all over the leaked voice message left allegedly by Alec Baldwin to his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland.

“Shocking”, I believe is what Hannity called it. I call it quite normal. It’s not right to go off on a child that way or anyone for that matter, but certainly people do it all the time. No one is without their faults, Alec Baldwin isn’t and neither is Hannity.

But before I spin this one around on Hannity–whose show I’d avoided listening to for over two months until today–I want to put out the idea here that this may not be Alec Baldwin at all. It could be, but then again, it may not. Baldwin has a lot of enemies. He’s proven to be something of a pompous windbag and in a town filled with them–Hollywood–there’s a lot of revenge to be had. I can’t say I’d be surprised if it were Baldwin, but I’m not entirely certain it was him. Let’s not forget that this could be fodder for Hannity’s show or that of the Righteous Indignicator’s buddy Marc Lavin (sp.).

Now back to Hannity. Let’s not forget that Hannity supports at least two things that make him fundamentally hypocritical on the issue of Ireland Baldwin. The first is that he supports hitting children. He’ll call it spanking, but it’s not just that. Occassionally, Hannity likes to talk about how good it was that his father used to “straighten” him out. We’re talking about his father smacking the shit out of him. Let’s be honest, please. Grizzled people call up his show sometimes spouting off about the crazy liberal notion that hitting one’s children is detrimental to their relationship with them and Hannity takes their side. So, would Sean Hannity have a problem with Alec Baldwin flying to Los Angeles to “straighten” his 11-year-old daughter out? Only because it give him ratings to do so. I’m sure some of his biggest listeners beat their kids and call it spanking or discipline occassionally.

The second thing Hannity supports that makes him a hypocrite of the first order is the United States’ use of force in Iraq. Okay, for those of you who read this blog, you certainly wonder how I can tie the two together. I can and I will: How does one claim to support the sanctity of children when he has supported policies that have lead to the deaths of many children by aerial bombings? Not really sure I follow Hannity on that one.

A family therapist on Hannity’s show whom the host apparently thought would agree with him raised a good point, which is that Baldwin’s childish reaction may be a sign of his lack of maturity and abundance in narcissism but not an indicator that he does not love his daughter. Conversely, the therapist pointed out, Baldwin does come across as hurt, deeply wounded that his daughter would not return his calls.

I would never advocate for a person to relate to their kids in such a way but for Sean Hannity of all people, a man who supports state sanctioned murder and child hitting, to go after Alec Baldwin (if indeed the man on the other end of the phone was Alec Baldwin) for this is pretty sanctimonious.

I agree with the sentiments of Trey Parker and Matt Stone–creators of South Park and Team America: World Police–that Baldwin is a windbag and very pompous. He’s also likely what I call a “show liberal”, a person who has to show off his liberalism in a self-righteous, indignant manner. This is likely all true. But he also does good things too. Baldwin just provided free tuition to a poor girl who was deployed to Iraq with the Army. Although that doesn’t do much to end the war, it was a good gesture.

Meanwhile, Hannity will milk this one for what it’s worth, as he always does. The voice on the phone, screaming in frustration will get replayed on his radio show, Hannity and Colmes and Hannity’s America. If the voice turns out to be someone other than Baldwin, he may end up eating crow.

I really love this song a lot. It’s over four-decades-old, but it will resonate for the rest of human history whenever there appears in one’s life the coming of the end of history. In Christianity, we learn that God knows all things and knows how our lives will end and how things will come to pass. I hope human civilization can last generations more, but I must admit it appears we have some serious challenges. The first is with the climate situation, but the second is important as well and that is our propensity to use violence to solve our problems. So many countries are armed to the teeth. We can make laser-guided weapons and awesome aircraft carriers but building a car that gets 100 mph on the gallon and putting it on the road, now that’s a tricky one. I’m a part of the problem too. The worst thing is self-righteousness and Lord knows, I ain’t very righteous.

Barry Maguire was singing about self-righteousness, the thing that allows people to turn their backs on their own shortcomings and propensity towards violence. This shooting yesterday in Virginia raises questions in people’s minds and people will understand it as an abomination–as they should–but we may miss the point altogether, which is that we use violence so liberally, like it’s confectioners sugar to be coated and sprinkled about our food. But it’s our violence, so it’s alright.

My favorite line in Eve of Destruction is “Look at all the hate there is in Red China/Then take a look around at Selma, Alabama.”

I think that’s a great sentiment. Some violence serves our needs well–or at least it’s acceptable, so we roll with it. My brother’s good friend, apolitical as you can get, said to him sometime in 2004, when reason would lead anyone to realize that the war in Iraq was ridiculous, said of the conflict, “I’m against it man, it hasn’t made my gas any cheaper.”

That’s crazy talk! Because your gas is expensive or you feel scared of some far off threat you support war. It’s good for you at that time and place and there for can be justified. That type of thinking is something that we have to eradicate from our psyche, particularly because we’re packing some serious stuff. It’s not just America. Actually, there are far worse culprits, although maybe so on a smaller scale. We’re just armed better and are the most prosperous nation in the West. I have no doubt that if Sudan had the ability to they’d bomb the crap out of their minorities with laser-guided missiles. What about Indonesia? What about Russia? These are belligerent nations. We’re all belligerent…Even Canada. Have you seen Donald Brashear? Well, I’m just gonna snap my fingers to this song because I kinda like the way it sounds, even if the message can bring you down.

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!

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