This will be my last Varsity Basketweaving post of 2006. Check back next year*!
*In a few days.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
This will be my last Varsity Basketweaving post of 2006. Check back next year*!
In the Sports Guy's weekly NFL picks column, ESPN Page 2's Bill Simmons rightfully poked fun at the Indianapolis Colts' "AFC Finalists" banner, the Washington Mystics' "WNBA attendance leaders" banner, and Hartford's parade for the Whalers for going only so far in the playoffs.
While reading this, I was reminded of two more atrocities: the 2001 Atlanta Braves' slogan, "10 Years of Great Baseball" and the Cleveland Indians' retiring the number 455 to honor the number of consecutive Jacobs Field sell-outs.
As Jim Caple wrote about the Braves' slogan, it's conveniently "ignoring nine of the Octobers."
And Cleveland's retirement of No. 455 is even sadder. Not only is no Indian clamoring to fit three fat digits on his back, but also it's as if team officials and marketers said, "Well, we haven't had any really special players in the last 20 years, so let's retire a number that celebrates our ability to take people's money."
If this trend continues, a Major League Baseball team's seventh-inning stretch could include the unveiling of a "Most Peanuts Sold" graphic on the center field wall, and the Memphis Grizzlies in a pregame ceremony could hoist an "NBA Team" banner to the rafters.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
My girlfriend Casie is brilliant. Want proof?
When discussing Bob Barker's pending retirement from "The Price is Right" -- we only talk about pressing matters of international consequence -- I had told her that there had been rumors of CBS just pulling the plug on the show, temporarily or permanently, after Bob called it quits.
Then she suggested that another Bob might be a worthy successor to Mr. Barker. I'm looking at you, Saget.
I've heard other names bandied about, including current "TPIR" announcer Rich Fields and former "Double Dare" host Marc Summers, but Saget makes perfect sense. Think about it.
- As Casie noted, Saget has mainstream appeal, as evidenced by his appearances on "Full House" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," but also seethes with the snark needed for 21st-century game shows in "The Aristocrats" and, more recently, that surprisingly funny Jamie Kennedy music video, "Rollin' with Saget."
- He's already hosting a game show on NBC, "1 vs. 100." I'm not sure how well it's doing in the ratings, but even if it were faring well, I doubt Saget would pass up a chance to host daytime TV's most successful game show. Also, I've seen "1 vs. 100." Its format gets old faster than Uncle Jesse's hairstyle.
- Saget would be charming enough to nice contestants, but wouldn't be afraid to mock a loser or dumb sponsor in the process, making the show a must-watch.
- Not only could Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen be among Saget's Sweeties (as opposed to Barker's Beauties), Saget could call all of them "Michelle" and no one would flinch.
- A clip of Stephanie Tanner's voice uttering "How rude!" could be played instead of that dissonant tuba/trumpet bum-bum-buh-BUM (WOWWWWW!) sound effect whenever someone loses.
- Dave Coulier could be the new announcer. Let's get that man a steady job that doesn't involve Alanis Morissette. (Zing!)
While watching TV over my mini-vacation, I believe I discovered that the same stock footage of a woman in a bakery is being used in current commercials for both 5-Hour Energy drink and AmeriMerchant credit services. It's only a matter of time before the Kenmore and Land O'Lakes ad people jump on the bandwagon to put the half-baked "roll" back in B-roll.
Neither YouTube nor the companies' Web sites has been of any assistance in my quest to prove this theory, but I can only surmise that said bakery owner crashed financially and physically before reaching out to these boosters.
Friday, December 22, 2006
"Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody [out] there?"
Now, I'm usually very harsh on musicians covering classics, but if you know what's good for you, you'll download Dar Williams' goosebumpy cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb."
Her track retains the integrity and soul of the original, but Williams is so smooth, expressive and clever with both the established vocals and her own original descants and harmonies. It's the best cover I've heard since Eva Cassidy's take on Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."
My apologies for the late notice, as I heard the Williams version of the song for the first time just this week -- more than a full year after its Sept. 13, 2005 release date. But, wow, it was worth the wait I didn't even know I was waiting.
As I've promoted to death on this blog, I also write for Suburbarazzi, a Journal News blog about the celebrities that have some connection to the northern suburbs of New York City.
The head blogger asked us to do some year-in-review material, so I opted to do it in the form of Haiku. I'll update this post as I add more, but here are my first five:
• Bill Murray
• Keith Olbermann
• Hayden Panettiere
• David Letterman
Update! • John Schneider
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Cats In Sinks and Stuff On My Cat will have to raise white flags up their wagging tails. Behold the grudge match that is KittenWar! War has never been so cute, furry or full of hairballs.
So are you with Farley or Lili? Because it's about to go DOWN!
Best part: Winningest kittens. (Tough to beat Barlow, no doubt!)
Worst part: Losingest kittens. (Aww... I feel bad. C'mere, Oliver.)
The real war's bumming me out, so forgive me if I prefer the nonviolent fuzzy kind.
With 2007 rapidly approaching, I couldn't help but wonder what sort of future I'll face in the year to come. Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?
So forgive me for my vigor and subsequent disappointment when I cracked open the fortune cookie that came with Combo Meal No. 64.
:) You are gifted in many ways. :)
Uh, thanks. Evidently, this cookie is gently telling me that I have no future. So excuse me if I appear distant today; I'm on the look-out for falling anvils.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Still looking for a last-minute holiday gift? Vintage "SNL" has a suggestion.
Makes a great gift! Four quick thoughts:
1. Watch it again, listening only to the background music. How great is that?!
2. Since I first saw this sketch in 1990, I've always loved how Mike Myers totally hams it up with only four words with which to work. I also remember the first "SNL" skit that my siblings and I took notice of this Myers fellow: "Ten Beatles Classics You Kind of Know the Words to." In that one, he does a great air-bass-guitar riff for "Get Back."
3. More than 16 years later, "Happy Fun Ball" is surprisingly timely with references to a war in Iraq (albeit Desert Storm) as well as a list of medical disclaimers about product use -- an ironic predecessor to today's commercials advertising prescription medication. I picture one of the comedy writers back then saying, "Hey, let's have one of the potential side effects be 'an erection lasting four or more hours!'", only to be shot down by another with, "Nah, that's too over the top. Who'd believe that?"
4. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
I'm not sure if a grant from the Helena Rubenstein Foundation helped fund the three consecutive PBS shows I watched last night, but I'll still thank it for being "a long-time supporter of outstanding children's television."
I watched three one-hour documentaries about Niagara Falls, advertising, and the history of Second City improv. I was pensive about the economic disparity of the Canadian and American sides of the falls; intrigued by advertising execs' attempts to solicit our attention; and touched by Jennifer Candy's pursuit of comedy at Chicago's Second City stage in the wake of her late father, John Candy -- at the time of filming, she was even living in the same apartment building where he lived when he performed there!
The "Frontline" advertising documentary also featured the most distinctive regional PBS station ID in history, which one YouTuber correctly dubbed the "Flash of Doom":
PBS, regardless of how I felt as a child about your pledge drives or how I feel as an adult about your extended commercials, you do not suck. As Ralph Wiggum might say, "I'm learnding!"
I want to protest this question I found in a MySpace banner ad, because Nicole Richie is not an actress. At best, she was at one point a reality TV show personality, and now she's, um, an underweight defendant?
Some might argue that reality TV stars and actors are one and the same. I would not, however, as the majority of my friends to appear on reality TV weren't and aren't acting in any sense of the word.
I also wish to protest my getting worked up over any advertisement that appears on MySpace. I mean, I should just be happy that all the words in said banner ad are spelled correctly. Why do I care so much?
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I hate most Internet ads, but this Volkswagen one is Rabbit-acular.
Do: Release the year's most culturally, socially and musically relevant rap.
Don't: Be a wuss of a music station that forces Nas to replace the song's "murder the DJ" lyric with "wreck the DJ." Is it really that much better to wreck a DJ?
Show us the lesson that we should learn
Music Executive One: "Oh, no, these rappers are talking about violence again!"
Music Executive Two: "Yes, disgusting, yes."
Fan: "Um, excuse me, but I believe Nas is being ironic."
Music Executive One: "Hey, who let you in here? You wouldn't know what ironic was if you listened to Alanis Morissette's song of that name a million times."
Fan: [after a beat] "Actually, that's true."
Music Executive Two: [pressing intercom button] "Deborah, please activate the trap door."
Fan: "What trap dooooooooo..."
Music Executive One: "That's better. [Dull, echoey thud heard in distance.] Now where were we?"
Music Executive Two: "I was about to suggest censoring the horrible concept of murder."
Music Executive One: "Sounds good to me. Let's just have the rapper promote beating the DJ into submission instead."
Music Executive Two: "Perfect."
[Both dive into piles of money a la Scrooge McDuck. Fin.]
Monday, December 18, 2006
Do: Enjoy Nas and will.i.am's "Hip Hop Is Dead."
Don't: "Roll to every station, murder the DJ."
Indian track runner Shanti Sounderajan was stripped of an Asian Games silver medal after it was discovered that the runner "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman," according to The Times of India.
And yet the runner's camp claims to have a birth certificate that proves she's a girl, adding that the runner "hasn't attained puberty yet."
Puberty's hard enough. It must be even harder not going through puberty when you've more than twice as old as the age it typically starts -- as well as that whole winning-a-medal-for-running-really-fast-with-an-androgynous-physique routine.
Time magazine named "You" person of the year.
Evidently, Chrysler is in denial and/or wants a recount.
(Link courtesy of GorillaMask.)
Just yesterday, I warned you about the potential impact of Larry King's quotes posing as those of a genuine movie critic in movie commercials.
Well, tonight, my prophecy came true.
Refresher: I complained after seeing an ad for "The Good Shepherd" that King's words are not only meaningless (because he likes everything and isn't an actual critic), but also manipulative, because his raves butter up potential guests for his show.
His CNN guests tonight? None other than Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro and Matt Damon. The three stars of "The Good Shepherd."
Now's the time to assure you that, when I wrote the previous rant about King's quotes, I had no idea those three guests would be on his show. Scout's honor.
Sometimes, I hate it when I'm right. (But not often.)
Sunday, December 17, 2006
In honor of Elephant Larry's outstanding Caveman Christmas show last night, here's a fine clip of holiday hilarity, complete with adventure and impalement:
Hey, remember five years ago, when Sony got busted for inventing a movie critic named Dave Manning, just so the company could use the phony critic's rave reviews in ads for their movies, like Rob Schneider's "The Animal"? That was embarrassing, no doubt.
But while watching an ad for "The Good Shepherd" recently, I remembered a trend that I find far worse: Using Larry King's quotes in movie ads.
For the record, I have nothing against the guy. I just want movie companies to stop showcasing his rave reviews.
For starters, Larry King likes everything -- seemingly even more movies than Ain't It Cool News and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers combined. One key difference is that, even if King actually hates the movie, he could just be buttering A-listers up so he could interview them on his show.
In adition, -- hmm... how should I phrase this? -- LARRY KING IS NOT A FREAKIN' MOVIE CRITIC!!!
Really, what other talk show hosts' quotes routinely appear in movie ads? There are at least 20 other hosts' opinions I'd rather hear over King's, including some who no longer are on the air or breathing it. Wouldn't you think Oprah, in all of her Winfreynetic glory, would get more movie ad mentions than the man who suspenders [sic] disbelief? Arguably Gayle King's got more media cred than Larry King.
And even when ads for an awful movie reference a rave review from a tasteless critic from a small newspaper in the middle of nowhere, that opinion's coming from someone whose primary job it is to gauge movies' quality.
At least Dave Manning reviewed movies for a (fake) living.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
It's no secret that ESPN reporter Jim Gray is a controversial journalist. Most sports fans will tell you he was not the most popular of people in 1999 after he asked Pete Rose, at a very public ceremony honoring the baseball player, if Rose would confess to betting on the sport. I'll admit that at the time, I didn't agree with Gray's decision, but even then I admired his ability to ask the tough questions. And with 20/20 hindsight, Gray appears to be more in the right than Rose, who later admitted to baseball bets.
Fast forward to this week, when I was set to jump all over the eight-time Emmy winner for reporting that he had spoken on the phone with Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson, only to find out later that that person was an Iverson imposter. On the surface, that kind of reporting seems sloppy and inexcusable.
But what I find interesting about the Philadelphia Inquirer's take on the situation is what's reported in the 10th -- 10th! -- paragraph of this story:
"Gray said he received the phone number from Iverson last month. The only problem was that it wasn't Iverson's number, according to a source familiar with the situation."
Wow, so many things to say here if those facts are true:
1. From the public's perspective, the story here is that Gray messed up. But as a reporter, I am more peeved at Iverson if he intentionally passed along fake digits. If that's true, Iverson lied to him and deliberately screwed him over. Imagine the controversy that would develop if Gray lied about how to reach him for comment if ESPN were going to broadcast a damning story about Iverson; Gray might have been fired.
2. Of course, a reporter should be sure he or she is talking to the source in question, but I'm surprised this alleged deception hasn't happened more often. I interviewed stand-up comedian Kevin Meaney last week for Suburbarazzi, and while I contacted his publicist and spoke with a guy on the phone who sounded just like Meaney and knew very specific details about his career, I could never be 100 percent sure that it was him without conducting the interview in person. I'm certainly not implying that Meaney or his publicist would be deceptive; all I'm saying is that one never truly knows who's on the other end of the phone. For sure, this serves as a journalistic wake-up call, no pun intended.
3. If the Inquirer was confident enough to publish the possibility that the phone number was wrong, why does the newspaper place Gray's reasoning so low in the story? For the first nine paragraphs, it appears that Gray doesn't have a legitimate reason for what he did, but suddenly in Paragraph 10, the reader hears his side of the story. This information should appear far earlier in the story, at least somewhere in the first five paragraphs. Poor editorial judgment.
The conclusion of VH1's "Best Year Ever" last night was surprisingly moving.
Little Richard introduced himself with his trademark "WOoooOOOoooOOO!", an innocent and predictable enough opening.
Then he unleashed shock and awe on an unsuspecting audience with a genuinely moving, subtle and understated rendition of "Auld Lang Syne," complete with closed eyes, normal facial contortions and soft vibrato. Goosebump-worthy.
But because he's Little Richard, he had to follow that quiet ballad with another "WOoooOOOoooOOO!" Oh well.
Dear Quiznos ad people,
Please stop mixing gross food metaphors in your TV commercials for the Prime Rib and Peppercorn sandwich.
On its own, the sandwich looks rather yummy, but describing its meat content as the "crème de la crème of steaks" makes me want to vomit. Especially because then I perceive the sandwich's peppercorn sauce to be some kind of meat cream, oozing from the top steak slices. Blech.
In this context, the literal translation of the French phrase conjures up images of the creamiest of meats. And as much as I love steak, "creamy" should never be a superlative associated with steak.
Side effects include dizziness and a loss of appetite,
There's fandom, there's geekdom, and then there's the ultimate convergence of the two when Joe Howard (George Frankly from "Mathnet") answers questions on a "Square One TV" message board!
- On getting the role: "Since the creators of Mathnet were the creators of 'Sesame Street,' my wife thinks I had an edge getting hired for Mathnet because I look like a Muppet when I grin."
- While James Earl Jones was on the set for a week, Joe Howard quoted one of Jones' obscure movies to Jones, who was pleased and "lovely to have on the set."
- He organized a Mathnet reunion about seven years ago.
- His most amusing fan encounter: "I was walking down the street and three people in black leather, chains, green spiked hair, and piercings gathered round me, and I thought I had trouble on my hands. Turned out they all were Mathnet fans and they could not have been sweeter."
- Since the late 70's, he has known Dennis Haskins, the actor who played Mr. Belding on "Saved By The Bell."
Want a REALLY geeky admission to top this all off? I found this in a Google search to try to find out if Weird Al has any geographical connection to my newspaper's coverage area, so I could ask him Six Stupid Questions.
(Adjusting my calculator holster.)
Friday, December 15, 2006
After being too cool for school in rooting for "30 Rock," but not actually putting forth any effort to watch it, I got home just in time to see an episode from beginning to end.
I laughed out loud at least eight times at jokes that included references to college a cappella, race, bad relationships, karaoke, politics, Alec Baldwin acting like a fool, Tracy Morgan acting like a fool and Tina Fey acting like a fool. Solid writing, great delivery, fun cast. Good times ahoy-hoy.
It reminded me of the best days of SNL, except all the best moments from a 90-minute show are streamlined into 21 minutes of nummy-nummy goodness.
Now, will I actually be around and/or motivated to watch it again? Hopefully. Good stuff, Ms. Fey. Good stuff.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
According to the Peter Abraham's Yankees blog on LoHud.com, New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon (still love the sound of that!) ended a baseball writers' conference call with "Peace out! Shake 'n bake!"
I'm Wondering if when he drives to Yankee Stadium, Damon's got a cougar in the passenger seat.
As of this moment, Google lists 737 hits for the quoted search term "Chris Serico," yet still asks "Did you mean 'Chris Serino'?"
The number of hits for the Merrimack hockey coach? Only 509.
Mr. Google, it's time to ask Chris Serino stalkers if they really mean to look for me.
I'm so humble.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Nation, if you want to make Stephen Colbert break character on "The Colbert Report," I have two words for you: Shout. Out.
The show's "Shout Out" segment not only gives him a chance to interact with viewers, but also features a sound clip of Colbert shouting "Hey!" while crude animation between two Colbert photos depicts the shout at the bottom of the screen.
The only thing more jarring to the viewer than the sudden "Hey!" outburst is watching Colbert smile or giggle upon hearing it. He did it last night, and I've seen him do it at least one other time, and each time, it fills my heart with laughter and/or cholesterol.
And that's tonight's W∅rd.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
While avoiding a tired Michael Richards joke, I want to mention a poll published on CNN's Web site today: "Do you like people of your own race more than people of other races?"
The answer options? Just "Yes" and "No."
Now a vote for "Yes" holds at least some degree of racism, but a vote for "No" could as well, depending on how you answer the question. If you like other races more, you're a self-hating racist.
As of about 4 p.m. today, 48 percent of 34,813 CNN voters said "Yes," while 52 percent said "No." Draw your own conclusions, now that I've ruined the integrity of the question.
Monday, December 11, 2006
OK, I'll admit it. I watch "Celebrity Paranormal Project." On a regular basis.
The show's been reasonably tame for a few weeks, with a couple of fun cameos by Gilbert Gottfried and Ernie "Remember me from Ghostbusters?" Hudson.
And then there was last night's episode, featuring MAD TV's Debra Wilson, who seems like a bright, stable person when she's not (allegedly) possessed by an unhappy spirit, as seen at the 4:10 mark of this video:
I'm not sure if I believe her, but dude, when Wee Man's freaked, you know some serious ish is going down.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Last night in Times Square, Kevin Nealon and Robin Quivers were on opposite ends of the chat spectrum.
10:30 p.m.: I'm heading south en route to an ATM, when I see Nealon on a break from filming something in front of MTV's headquarters at 1515 Broadway. I decide to offer him a conversational, non-shouty "Kevin Nealon rules" as I walk past him. No reaction.
There are many reasons I don't blame the former Saturday Night Live star for not responding. Perhaps it's because he can't hear me. Perhaps it's because he's getting his makeup touched up. Perhaps it's because about 1.2 million people are walking and gawking right by him. Perhaps it's because the pressing flow of pedestrian traffic pushes me past him before I have the opportunity to say something else. Or perhaps it's because saying "(Celebrity name) rules" is the most uncreative thing to say to any celebrity. I blame all of the above.
10:37 p.m.: With cash in my pocket heading back north toward the W Hotel, I read a couple of lines that are on Nealon's TelePrompTer. So if you happen to see a bit featuring him in Times Square saying something to the effect of "Now let's go back in time. Let's say, oh, about 1 million years," you can say, "Hey, Chris was there when that was being filmed." And you can send me royalties.
10:41 p.m.: So I'm approaching the W Hotel at 1567 Broadway, where it's fun to unwind at the seventh-floor Living Room bar and people-watch. On occasion, I've also spotted my fair share of celebrities hanging out there. So as I reach the main entrance, I see Ms. Quivers wrapping up a conversation with a woman and we make eye contact as we both head for the entrance. I smile and show her my Sirius S50 (Fred Norris would probably play a "boing" sound effect for that remark -- but for those not in the know, the S50 is a portable radio), and tell her everyone on the Howard Stern Show is doing an awesome job. She's very pleasant and cordial and she looks beautiful.
Immediately trying to find something more creative to say than "Robin Quivers rules," I ask her to tell notoriously bizarre show writer Sal the Stockbroker to calm down. She laughs and I wish her well as she takes one of three elevators up to the seventh floor. I could have gotten in the same elevator, but I opt for the next one as a courtesy.
The Howard Stern Show itself actually taught me how to approach Quivers. Basically -- and obviously it's different for everyone -- I totally understand and respect the philosophy of that show's entire staff: It's OK to say something nice, but don't invade space, don't ask for a picture or autograph, and let them get where they're going.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Via BestWeekEver.tv, I learned about The Brickshelf Gallery's collection of rock bands replicated through Legos.
So, OK, I'm game. Who do you think of when you see this picture?
Most of you probably answered Nirvana. I answered Spinal Tap.
As much as I dig Dave Grohl, I still like my answer better, especially since Kurt Cobain played guitar left-handed.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Within five days of becoming Suburbarazzi's newest celebrity blogger, I scooped famous gossip site TMZ by five minutes in reporting the DWI charge handed down against Rip Torn. And according to early Google News data, I'm probably the first newsie to report the story overall.
Winner: 3:40 p.m. EST.
Loser: 3:45 p.m. EST.
Note: TMZ has since updated that page several times, but both that site and I had similar information when the stories broke.
I collect portions of a police blotter every Monday for my job, and I found the following local item to be particularly amusing:
"Complainant reports the theft of calculators. Value of the missing property is $211.46."
Hmm... I might have stuck around that day to see if 10 calculators fell to the floor when that cop took off his hat.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I think if I ever resorted to medical testing to make an extra buck, scientists would discover a new affliction known as Weekly Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because I find myself taking a three-hour nap every Sunday.
Either that or I should just go to bed earlier every night. (Nahhh.)