Friday, October 28, 2005


At one point, you could have been Creepy Burger King guy this Halloween for the cost of two Angus Steak Burgers through BK's Web site.

But now, this fall's burgeriffic costume is sold out and routinely resells on eBay for over $100. A victory for fast food fans and alternative ad campaign supporters everywhere, right?

Well, I thought so. Until I read that the marketing firm that's in charge of the BK campaign might have been sending out annoying and misleading e-mails to hype the masks. (By the way, Seth Stevenson's Ad Report Card is a Slate must-read for anyone who enjoys analysis of commercial marketing strategy.)

I'll forgive you for this, BK, but only because I wouldn't mind answering the door for trick-or-treaters in this mask. I'd get to eat every piece of candy I bought because of all of the kids (and some adults) running away screaming.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Roker or Rocker?

Borrowing a line from an old Drew Carey stand-up special -- in which Carey refers to drive-thru liquor stores as "almost a good idea" -- I present to you the excellent new cell phone with the ambiguous brand name: The Motorola ROKR. The first time I saw this, even with the understanding that it's an iTunes-compatible phone, I sounded out the product name as "Roker."

For someone who claims to be a music fanatic, I am perplexed that my first instinct involved a cheerful weatherman who's had memorable interactions with Seinfeld's Elaine and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

I'm assuming features for his phone would include frequent weather updates, ringtones that sound like the NBC xylophone and, of course, ads for his mugs, books and bibs.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Leather Pants = High Comedy

Quite simply, the funniest eBay post I've ever read.

Leather pants are funny enough, but these pants' backstory and eBay Q&A easily make them my Links of the Week.

With an opening bid of $5, these pants eventually sold for $102.50. It obviously pays to be a convincing comedy writer. Because, really, what sane man would buy these things?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oscar winner goes topless on Italian TV

That's the headline that appeared on CNN's Web site.

Curious (and male), I clicked on the link. The person could have been any number of winners whose "talents" transcend acting. Perhaps Charleze Theron? Jennifer Connelly? Kathy Bates?

But even with a high-speed connection, I knew as the page was loading that it was going to be Roberto Benigni. I since have decided that life is not that beautiful.

I haven't been this disappointed with publicized clothing removal since Kitten agreed to a wager involving University of Kentucky football.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ill suited

National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern says a dress code for "inactive players on the bench and players at team functions and road trips" won't be as strict as some players and owners feared.

I personally am a fan of the idea of players dressing up when they travel because it's professional and looks cool, although I'd probably complain quietly if I were subjected to the same rule for cross-country plane flights.

Although I don't agree with Allen Iverson's choice of clothing for my own wardrobe -- or agree with some of the other things he does off a basketball court -- his point is a good one that "I dress to make myself comfortable." Nonetheless, I like Stern's idea here as far as trying to keep the game professional on all levels. I'll respectfully disagree with arguments from Iverson and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that the dress code is unfair for any number of reasons.

However, Marcus Camby's comments in this Washington Post article are a bigger problem (bold emphasis mine):

Nuggets center Marcus Camby, who will earn $9.3 million this season, suggested the NBA provide a stipend to help players pay for their dress clothes. Duncan told reporters he didn't plan on buying a suit, "Don't own one and never have."

Somehow I doubt this, unless he rented a suit for NBA draft day.

Earth to Camby: Basketball is your job. Most CEOs don't have a choice in the matter for business attire when they conduct business around the country, but they do it anyway to appear professional (and keep their jobs). But in Cambyland, bank tellers should ask Chase to pay for their Armani duds. And I should charge my bosses for my next spree at Banana Republic -- ideas made more ludicrous if bank tellers and reporters earned almost eight figures a year. Camby's certainly not helping to alleviate the "pro athletes are selfish" stereotype.

His quote might be the dumbest money-related comment uttered by an NBA player since Latrell Sprewell spoke last Halloween:

Sprewell, who was in the final season of a $62-million, five-year deal he signed with the Knicks, said he was insulted by Minnesota's offer of a contract extension that was reportedly worth between $27 million and $30 million for three seasons. "I've got my family to feed," he said.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hall of Fame balls (so to speak)

With the Yanks out of the playoffs, my rooting interests have shifted 1,430 miles west-southwest to Houston. The Astros have grizzled veterans (Including "Killer B's" Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell), the out-of-nowhere Chris Burke (who hit the 18th-inning-NLDS-clinching home run) and former Yankee icons Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.

So, in honor of my adopted baseball team for the remainder of 2005, here's a very cool story about a fan who caught not one, but two Astros home run balls in the same playoff game, including Burke's walk-off. According to ESPN, Shaun Dean "never considered selling the balls," instead opting to donate them to the Hall of Fame.

And if behind-the-plate tickets for the NLCS and bringing your 3-year-old son with you to meet and accept autographs from Roger Clemens weren't enough, he gets to be in an ESPN headline that reads "Dean, balls to be part of Hall of Fame exhibit."

I live for this.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I love my iPod as much as the next music freak, but Halloween costumes for iPods? Problematic.

Link courtesy of Alex from Elephant Larry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

La-la, la-la-la-BOOM!

"Who doesn't love the Smurfs?" asks Anderson Cooper in a video on the CNN Web site.

I don't. I've always been Smurfing annoyed about the Smurfing Smurfs. (Come on, you have too.)

Along with "Soul Train," they signaled the end of my childhood Saturday mornings with one to two hours of boring blue blah.

But now, the blue buggers star in a Belgian UNICEF commercial campaign, designed to raise awareness and money to rehabilitate children exploited as soldiers in Africa, according to CNN.

Normally I'd be against using Smurfs to promote anything. But the Belgians seem content to blow up the Smurfs for the cause.

Yes, blow up. As in pow, bam and kablooey.

I'm thrilled with the concept, although not necessarily the execution (pun not intended). Great cause notwithstanding, I'd be content if said cause were to rid Saturday morning of tedious programming and tiresome verb supplementing, such as "I'm totally Smurfed out," "I'm going out of my Smurfing Smurf" and the Missy Elliott classic, "Get UR Smurf On."

I'm usually a pacifist, but theoretically any end to the Smurfs is a good end. And I'm ready to pitch another cartoon the UNICEF people can drop bombs on when all the Smurfs have Smurfed.

If you're worried about Brussels babies, the commercial only airs after 9 p.m., which realistically means that most kids will only be tormented and scarred four or five times before each bedtime. As for the public service announcement's intended audience, adults appear to be appreciating the campaign -- a few of them for darker reasons.

Said CNN: The commercial begins with the familiar image of the Smurfs joyfully frolicking and singing their theme song with birds and butterflies. Then, planes appear and rain down bombs, setting the houses ablaze. Smurfette is killed and the others go running. Baby Smurf sits crying at the edge of a bomb crater.

Yikes! Okay, on second thought, maybe this whole concept is a bit extreme, even for a Smurf-hater like me. Maybe the Smurfs could just be refugees for a while and allowed back onto TV in an Adult Swim makeover after a few years.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stick a fork in 'em

As this Larry Johnson cartoon from ESPN Page 2 shows, the Yankees (and Red Sox) have been knocked out of the playoffs, with Major League Baseball's front office cringing at the prospect of an Astros-Angels World Series. I'm disappointed that the Yanks just didn't seem to show up for the playoffs, with the exceptions of Mariano Rivera, Shawn Chacon, Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield (Robinson Cano was brilliant sometimes and awful others).

While fellow Gannett employee Ian O'Connor makes good points in his column, I think it's unfair to place that much of the blame on A-Rod. As someone who has always considered David Ortiz to be this year's MVP, I am blaming the collapse on the entire team. Mike Mussina (who, I'll say again, is NOT a big-game pitcher) and Randy Johnson are most responsible for the collapse. They both looked timid in their starts for games 3 and 5. Wild can be explained and excused. Timid cannot.

My friend, Chambo, is a Sox fan who blamed A-Rod more than Big Unit for the series collapse. But while Johnson's pitching in Game 5 kept them in that game, he had multiple opportunities to come up in the clutch on his own terms -- Game 3. And he blew it. Unlike last year, A-Rod had a great regular season. This year, nearly everyone in the Yankee lineup faded in the clutch, too, so it's not just Rodriguez's fault. Even the normally dependable Hideki Matsui was invisible. And that hurts to say because he's usually one of the Yankees' top three clutch hitters (Sheff and Jeter being the others).

I have to blame Torre a bit, too. I don't understand why Chacon didn't pitch Game 2. He was only their best pitcher the entire year, with an American League ERA half-a-run lower than 10-0 Aaron Small's (something like 2.7 versus Small's 3.2). Firing Torre, however, would be a massive mistake, because anything short of a World Series title without him would be considered short-sighted and a public relations nightmare.

So, here's the thing that upsets me most: Although The Yankees deserved to lose -- and I'm not making excuses for them -- why the frig does home plate ump Joe West make a phantom outside-the-baseline call in such an important game and situation? At least with the Chuck Knoblauch play a few years ago, he was outside the baseline, but that's something that is almost never called. In this case, if Cano were outside the baseline, then about 95 percent of all runners are outside the baseline on any play running to first base. Just a stupid, inane call; Cano and Torre have every right to be upset. I'll be the first to say that the Yankees would have popped up harmlessly in the next at-bat, but at least give me that chance to blame the players instead of the umps. Normally an outstanding umpire, West should be suspended with pay for the remainder of the playoffs.

I'll be rooting for Houston the rest of the way. I dislike Ozzie Guillen (Have you ever seen so many sportswriters overcompensate for his "colorful" quotes?), am bored with the Angels, and don't want to give the Buck-McCarver tandem the chance to skew yet another broadcast in favor of the Cardinals. Plus, I love Andy Pettitte and the feel-good Houston vibe.

I'm more annoyed than angry at what should have been a phenomenal season, but at least now I can return to semi-normal sleep patterns.

Bonus thoughts! MLB should schedule an extra day between playoff series to compensate for rain; it is October, you know, and teams should not be penalized for Mother Nature's crankiness ... I want managers for the teams with the best league records to pick their opponent for the first round; it would make for awesome theater and give teams with the best record an additional advantage while giving the "chosen" team additional motivation.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Wearing "SP" bling, a man who may or may not have been reggae sensation Sean Paul in front of the Times Square W Hotel, where I've definitely seen this guy and that guy in the last four months.

Mystery Man was accompanied Sunday night by burly men and two skinny girls, and (mis)identified by tuxedo-clad revelers, who had just left a wedding afterparty at the Living Room.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Found What I'm Looking For

Fantastic U2 show at Madison Square Garden last night. While I stall to find the set list, here's the take on last night's show:

Original City of Blinding Lights
The first of five nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City and from the opening chords of City of Blinding Lights to the closing notes of With or Without You, this was one special night.

Being in the Big Apple, it was no surprises that the joint was jumping with the glitterati: Ralph Fiennes, Denis Leary, Gina Gershon, Chelsea Clinton, Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Ed Burns, Heath Ledger, Gavin De Graw, David Gray, Frank McCourt, Jann Wenner. (The U2.Com head nearly swivelled off completely with all the rubber-necking.)

Vertigo, Elevation, Cry/Electric Co... the band were on fire, the show was racing by. "See the stars and stripes. See the stars and stripes..." ad libbed Bono, draped in a flag, thrown on the stage at the beginning of Sunday Bloody Sunday. "Jesus Jew Mohammed/It's true/All sons of Abraham."

The stars and stripes were hung on the mike-stand as Miss Sarajevo was dedicated "to the United States Military." (That went down well!)

"Its kind of odd," explained Bono. "We actually got to play in Sarajevo. We met this girl there who had organized a beauty pageant..."

Little did she know that she was inspiring a little piece of rock'n'roll history and while we kinda knew that Pride and Streets and One would follow (and we wouldn't have it any other way) after that it was anyone's guess.

The First Time opened up the encore performance number one (no-one laid odds on this becoming a standard at the start of the tour), followed by a haunting Stuck In A Moment, which, after its appearance on the TV special last night, may be staking its own claim for a regular place in the show. It was dedicated to supermodels Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and, of course, the late INXS singer Michael Hutchence, for whom it was written.

And then Fast Cars was back with a rather dazzling cameo performance . It went like this: Bono asked for his black cowboy hat to be brought onstage and then invited onstage a woman in a bright yellow shirt with 'Jamaica' printed on the front. The stage was evidently her second home and she arrived from the ellipse as if some sixth sense had told her this was to be her night.. What a mover, felt like the whole of Madison Square Garden fell in love with her.

With the whole band out on the end of the ellipse stage for Yawheh, we thought we'd had the closing benediction... but we didn't factor in With Or Without You. What a way to close a show!

Update! Here's the setlist from this show:
City of Blinding Lights
Cry / Electric Co.
The Ocean
I Still Haven’t Found What I'm Looking For
Beautiful Day / Blackbird
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
Love And Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Miss Sarajevo
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where the Streets Have No Name

First Time
Stuck in a Moment
Fast Cars

All Because of You
Crumbs From Your Table
With or Without You

Friday, October 07, 2005

In the year 2000 (plus nine)

While waiting for the U2/Conan spectacular last night, I caught Jon Stewart on Letterman for what was perhaps the first real sign of the passing of the "Late Show" torch.

Stewart seemed comfortable and particularly chummy with Letterman as the two exchanged cute punchlines about their young children. But the highlight for me was Stewart's swipe at Tom DeLay. I have to paraphrase here, but it was something like:

"His face says innocent; his body language says not guilty; his hair says, 'What do I have to do for you to leave in this Buick LeSabre?' "

Nice. I then flipped over to NBC for Conan's fantastic U2 show, which featured solid (albeit overplayed) recent U2 songs and actual attempts to speak with Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton. There was even an "In The Year 2000" skit with The Edge and Bono each donning the requisite black frock. The Edge said that in the year 2000, it would be revealed that "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was inspired by the band's failed supermarket search for Boo-Berry cereal.

A good night for late night comedy. But then I started to bum out upon the realization that I'd have to pick between the two if there were a O'Brien-Stewart showdown in 2009, when Conan is expected to succeed Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show." Unlike the easy comedic choice to pick Letterman over Leno, choosing between Stewart and O'Brien makes me sad just thinking about it.

On top of all this, a feud appears to be simmering. Check out this segment from page two of an Oct. 3 New York magazine story:

[If] you want to get on O’Brien’s good side, do not bring up Jon Stewart (who failed at his own late-night show in 1994), as it makes him bristle at the unfairness of Stewart’s comedic hegemony—he won two Emmys last week—for a far less complex, toilsome, and popular show, at 1.4 million viewers per night. Stewart’s contract is up in 2008 (though Viacom could conceivably move him from Comedy Central to CBS whenever the need arose), setting the stage for a potentially sensational grudge match.

Gun to my head, I'd probably pick Conan. Although Stewart's political commentary is more biting, I probably prefer Conan because of his consistently edgier, more out-of-the-box comedy -- ironically, more like Letterman in that respect than Leno.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

All U2, all the time

You gotta love any band that reduces the hot and normally unflappable Amy Poehler to tears when the lead singer cradles her in his arms.

U2 is the guest on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" tonight, featuring live songs, an interview by the Cone-Dogg and merriment for all. Good luck getting stand-by tickets, people!

Tomorrow, Casie and I will experience more U2 rockitude live at Madison Square Garden. (Thanks go to my supercool brother-in-law, Matt, for securing the tickets!) I've never seen a band play MSG, so I'm psyched. It'll be awesome to see U2 (likely) perform "City of Blinding Lights" there, because that song is about New York City.

I saw U2 on May 26 in Boston, with "Running To Stand Still," "Vertigo," "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "Bad" among many highlights.

As for (Who's Going To Ride Your) dark horses for tomorrow night's show, I'm hoping Bono and Co. unleash any number of "Achtung Baby" cuts, especially "So Cruel," "Love is Blindness" and "Mysterious Ways."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

But how old is he in frog years?

Between Ozzy Osbourne and Kermit the Frog, the smaller of these animals turns 50 this year. Ozzy's 56.

This is a good opportunity to give Kermie props for his genuinely funny, and sometimes downright edgy, quotes for VH1's forgotten "I Love The 70's" series. Plus, as "70's" points out, he sings the all-time greatest song about rainbows. (Not Ozzy. Kermit.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


My birthday brings another anticlimactic number, but hopefully it also bears presents.

From them. And him. And her. And her.

And you. (Warning: Immediate Sound.)