January 29, 2010

Take That, James Carville!

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but really Mr. Hannity? THIS is the best you can do in terms of supplying your viewers with the best political commentary around? What's the matter? Was the Chocolate Rain guy busy? Did Chris Crocker not want to scream "Leave Barack Alone!" for you?

January 28, 2010

Eating Your Cake?

Here's another example of what is horribly wrong with pundits who are so entrenched in their political position that they can't simply admit when they are wrong and apologize - rather, these spin doctors simply pull a complete 180 and argue the exact opposite of what they've been espousing and continue to claim moral superiority.

Take the case of Ellie Light. This was a letter writer to the editorial page of many newspapers who claimed in each case to be a local resident and was veyr much an ardent supporter of Barack Obama and his administration. And of course, the "fair and balanced" view was very much neutral in accusing the White House of being behind this nefariously subversive and clearly underhanded tactic.

After further investigation, it came out that Ellie was not a woman at all, but rather a man who simply didn't want his real identity revealed and who wanted to get his pro-Obama message to the world. So was there a big mea culpa from the conservatives? Of course not... instead, you got statements like "Obama's so hard up for advocates these days that this is the best he can do" and a puff piece that mentions in passing in the last two seconds that the Obama White House had nothing to do with this. No really, knowing why the reporter's kids were not at school that day was clearly more important to report on than correcting your false accusations.

January 27, 2010

"YOU LIE!" Redux?

I'm looking forward for tonight's State of the Union address... but not for anything President Obama will say. After all, we pretty much know what is going to be in his speech - the economy still needs work, we need to create more jobs, bipartisanship is now more important than ever, health care reform has to be passed - I highly doubt he'll stray from his core messages.

What I am looking forward to is seeing how the Republicans will behave. After all, the party wasn't exactly on their best behavior the last time, were they Mr. Wilson?

I can only hope that when the President says something that causes the Democrats to robotically stand and cheer and whoop and holler while the Republicans sternly shake their heads and sit on their hands - and he inevitably will - that he calls both parties on it. "Hey, Democrats. You're still the majority. Do something more than clap... Hey Republicans. Don't stall progress just because a good idea came from the other party."

If he does that? Best... President... Ever!

If not, then a real change in Washington is not likely to come anytime soon.

January 26, 2010

Practical Jokes 101

I like a well-designed and well-executed practical joke as much as the next guy... but the internet is riddled with epic failures of pranks gone wrong, most of which end up with "wacky blows to the genitalia" that I've already seen a million times with a lame Tom Bergeron-pun to add insult to injury.

One exception to this rule is the "one-upmanship" that Streeter and Amir at CollegeHumor.com have been documenting over the past few years. What started out as mere juvenile attempts to embarrass each other has evolved into an art form... there's tons of planning and coordination involved, and the pranks are so "authentic" and complex that the overly suspicious victim still falls prey to the hoax.

Here's some video of one such stunt, where thousands of extras were more than happy to help fool poor Amir into thinking he'd just won $500,000.

Of course, imitation is the sincerest from of flattery... but you've got to do a much better job of pulling such tomfoolery off. A high school in Kansas tried to "zing" a member of the faculty with the same stunt - a blindfolded half-court shot for a big prize - NCAA Final Four tickets. However, they didn't think it through...

The problems are myriad here... 1) The victim already thinks something is up - notice how long it takes him to shoot the ball. He fears a pie to the face or some other such attack is looming. 2) The prize is way too big for these kids to come through on. No way they'll be able to score the tickets... nor is there any real reason for them to offer this prize, unless there's an ulterior motive behind it. This joke is too telegraphed. 3) Even if the ball hadn't gone in, the reaction by the "oblivious victim" makes it clear that he's wouldn't really have fallen for the prank had it gone as planned.

Mercifully, the happy accident of making the shot turned the tables on the pranksters, and made lemonade out of lemons - and made this clip an unexpected pleasure to watch, in spite of all the reasons it shouldn't have ever seen the light of day.

January 25, 2010

Again... Without Going Over

Normally the bids in the Showcase Showdown are so laughably off the mark, the show ends up giving the prize to the lesser of two evils - the person who was the least off base. Finally, they get a guy who understands the value of what he is bidding on, and... well, take a look...

Still, hard to have sympathy for the guy. After all, if he really knew his stuff, he'd know he didn't have to be so accurate. And the way he's celebrating as they get back from commercial? The more I think about it, the happier I am with the result, and with how Drew Carey milks it for all it is worth.

January 22, 2010

Writer's Block?

Sorry for the slowness of posting this week, gang. I was at the ESPN "Mothership" for our annual Fantasy Baseball rankings meetings. There will be plenty of articles up on ESPN.com in the near future outlying the goings on there - once I finish writing a few of them, that is.

In the meantime, enjoy the following video clip masterpieces... hopefully, I'll be able to do better:

See more of these gems here: Worst Movie Scenes Ever

January 20, 2010

New Jersey Rolls Snake Eyes

So New Jersey is thinking about legalizing the online casino by allowing the likes of Bally's and the Borgata to allow gamblers to partake in virtual versions of poker and blackjack and the like through websites administered onsite in Atlantic City. Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford says he supports this idea - and I think he's nuts.

I've got no issue with the concept of allowing online gambling in theory, but what irks me is the fact that most of these casinos are crying poverty and that they are (get this) losing money due to the economy and competition from neighboring states who have opened up casinos of their own.

First of all, they're not "losing money" by any stretch of the imagination. They talk a good game - "Revenues fell 13% last year! Poor us!" I'd love to be in a business where a $3.9 billion profit is considered losing money. Maybe they're not making as much as they have in the past, but making money they certainly continue to do.

Secondly, if your primary concern was really that you're having trouble luring customers to your venues, then why provide a reason for more people to stay at home and not make the trip to gamble? As someone who has worked in the Atlantic City casinos, I can tell you the reason more people don't make the trip anymore is that there's no real effort to draw people in.

The casinos are sterile buildings with no character at all. Concept casinos like "The Wild West" at Bally's may have been cool when it opened, but now most of the "animatronics" no longer work, and the place is full of tumbleweeds. The powers-that-be simply don't care.

How about an 80's themed casino? How about a goth casino? How about something to see on the main strip of town (Atlantic Avenue) other than a porn shop with an allegedly "alluring picture" of a woman who looks like Brett Summers from Match Game?

How about something like this...

The answer isn't giving people yet another excuse to not make the trip. The answer is giving them something that makes them want to leave their laptops behind. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas... but what happens on a computer screen in somebody's home brings no money to the local economy. The profits that it generates will simply stay in the pockets of the executives, who themselves find very few reasons to ever visit Atlantic City themselves.

January 19, 2010

Stay Classy, San Diego

By now, I'm sure many of you have seen this video of a Jets fan being arrested, apparently for the crime of screaming "J-E-T-S" repeatedly as his team was winning a road playoff game. If not, it appears below...

While there is a gap in the video and there's no way of knowing exactly what escalated the conflict, one can safely assume that since the San Diego fans around this guy, who had to be grating on their nerves all game, are all defending him - well, you do the math.

But hey, glad to see crack security officers so quick to respond to remove a "threat" like this from such a "dangerous" situation. Why aren't these guys at the airport, frisking old ladies?

January 18, 2010

Cheap Trick

So David Blaine has gone back to his roots, performing his street magic again (as opposed to garnering publicity by stuffing himself in small confined places for weeks at a time) in the name of raising money for Haiti relief:

That's very noble of him, but I can't help but ask this question... if I am to believe you really are magic, David, why don't you just fill that jug with money all by yourself. After all, you clearly have the power to do it, don't you? Or was this clip below just a big old con?

January 15, 2010

The Fuhrer Over Leno

Yes, this video has been used to the point of overkill - with subtitles changed to direct the anger at topics from bad football coaching decisions to UFC fights to airport security and even one clever bit of satire where Adolf gets angry at the use of this video footage in all these satires.

Still, when done well, it still makes me laugh. Here's the latest, as the news of Conan's demise hits home hard...

January 14, 2010

January 12, 2010

I Do, But You Can't

For the past few weeks, my local newspaper has been filled with many letters to the editor decrying gay marriage. Regardless of my personal opinions on the subject... everyone is entitled to put pen to paper (or more likely, fingers to keyboard) and voice their views. After all, that freedom of speech is one of the pros of living in the United States.

However, what has me beside myself is the fact that not a single one of these anti-gay marriage advocates has argued anything that makes a lick of sense - and yet, the letters of support for these particular archaic views keep on coming.

Generally speaking, the letters fall into one of three areas:

1) "Gay marriage is against my religious beliefs, and therefore, should be banned."

I've no argument on what your beliefs may be in this area. If you say you believe homosexuality is a sin, I cannot and will not argue with you. But... worshiping Allah may not be in line with your beliefs. That shouldn't be banned as a matter of law, too, should it? I don't think so.

If your church or synagogue or mosque doesn't want to host a gay wedding, that's perfectly legit to me. But it doesn't necessarily follow that therefore gay marriage shouldn't be allowed in a civil ceremony, any more than two atheists who opt to get married would expect to have their vows read by the local vicar. It doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to tie the knot.

You need a better argument.

2) "Marriage is to be between a man and a woman, because it is for the purposes of procreation."

To borrow from John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!" Really? So, as an anti-gay marriage advocate using this argument, you're also obviously against these two people saying, "I do." -

After all, the AARP crowd isn't exactly prepping to get pregnant anytime soon. And since they have no plans of procreating, then they shouldn't be allowed to get married, right?

The same goes to infertile men and women, as well as those who CAN reproduce, but who have no desire to have kids. Shouldn't their nuptials should be legally banned as well, if I am to listen to you? No?

You need a better argument.

3) "What's next? People marrying their pets?"

I'm not even going to dignify this with a rebuttal.

You need a better argument.

Should this issue be up for debate? Absolutely, as all matters of public policy should. But if you are going to rally the troops to try and kill these bills, please make some valid points, or remove yourself from the discussion.

Thank you.

January 11, 2010

Buy the Book

I just finished "Columbine" by Dave Cullen, and it's too good a read to keep to myself. Cullen spent almost a decade researching the tragic events and their fallout at the high school in question and the result is this riveting tome.

Everything you think you know about the shooting is a bunch of misinformation, both intentional and unintentional... most particularly the fact that this was intended as a school shooting in the first place. If things had gone "according to plan" the death count of this terrorist attack gone wrong would have been far worse. Trench Coat Mafia? The killers were never members of the group.

Here's a brief synopsis of the book by Cullen himself... Enjoy!

January 8, 2010

Kill the Bum!

How Twitter trend of the day: Jaebum

Who is Jaebum? Apparently, he's the Justin Timberlake of Korea's hottest boy band, "2PM" but has left the group to move back to his native Seattle. Why would he leave at the height of success?

Seems when he first moved to Korea a few years ago, he was a little overwhelmed by the culture shock and used MySpace to vent, with such delightful bonmots as "Korea is gay." and "I hate Koreans." When word got out, there was a bit of an uproar in Seoul, as you might imagine, and Jaebum was eviscerated in the press and simply skedaddled.

Perhaps in time, the controversy will die down and he can resume his career, just as Justin Timberlake survived and flourished after the hoopla surrounding his exposing of Janet Jackson's breast for a grand total of nine-sixteenths of a second during the Super Bowl halftime show.

Usain Bolt's world record in the 100 meter dash currently stands at 9.58 seconds. In 1964, the world record was Bob Hayes, at 10.06 seconds. That's slightly less than nine-sixteenths of a second faster over the course of 45 years. (What's the matter Usain? Pick up the pace!)

After his time in track and field, Bob Hayes - The Bullet - joined the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL as a wide receiver and punt returner. Hayes' nickname came from his high speed, much as the term is used to describe fast trains today: "bullet trains." He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.

One of the fastest trains in the world is the The KTX, or Korea Train Express, connecting Seoul to Busan. It can run at a velocity of 350 kilometers per hour (217 mph). At that speed it would take approximately one day to travel from Seoul to Seattle, assuming there was no ocean in the way.

So cheer up, Jaebum. You're not as far away from your fans as you think.

January 7, 2010

A Bad Spell

Fear not, Jeron. You may not have a BCS National Championship to your credit, but there will be a job opening up with the Fox production crew real soon...

January 6, 2010

Blimey It's Cold Outside

Hot Twitter trend of the day: Snow

London is currently at a standstill, thanks to a huge snowstorm that has, according to reports in UK tabloids, caused 7,000 cars to breakdown since midnight. Six more inches are expected to fall today. The snow has shut down rail service in Scotland and most, if not all, school children have been told to stay home. Brrr!

Snow was a big hit in the good old USA back in 1993 when his song "Informer" topped the charts. We're still not entirely sure why a song with lyrics like "A licky boom-boom down" and "boom shakata" were so popular, but then again, our country also embraced Crash Test Dummies rousing chorus: "Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm." Maybe it's just something we tolerate from our Canadian neighbors?

Canada is not so happy with us right now, after John Carlson scored at 4:21 into overtime to give the U.S. a 6-5 upset - and the gold medal - in the World Junior Hockey Championships. Canada was the five-time defending champs.

We bet his Mom is proud of him!

Sarah Palin brought the term "hockey mom" into the vernacular when she described herself as such during her run for the Vice Presidential nomination in 2008. The infamous comment involved a reference to pit bulls and lipstick.

"Pit bull" is a term used to describe dogs in the Molosser family of breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier: also known as "Staffies." Staffies were originally bred in England for their courage, intelligence, tenacity and love for children. As such, they are popular pets throughout the country.

However, today, don't bother to walk them. The forecast calls for snow.

January 5, 2010

Where's the Love?

Hot Twitter trend of the day: Conveyor Belt

Last night on ABC, after the Bachelor handed out his roses and the show opted to show a five-minute highlight reel of the rest of the season - Spoiler alert: hearts get broken. I know, shocking - the network aired a new show called "Conveyor Belt of Love" where five insane ladies sat in front of a conveyor belt, rolling out guys at a "hunk a minute" clip. A combination of speed dating and "America's Got Talent" - the show actually worked because there was no cloying host explaining and re-explaining the rules over and over again. It's a simple, brainless concept, and if you can't figure it out while watching, you probably don't deserve to have it explained to you.

My favorite moment was when the final competitor (seen above) was about to bump one of the two alrady selected date candidates: a schlubby, sweaty Chris Farley-impersonator. It was clear he was about to get the boot, so he did the noble thing, and announced to his potential date that he was stepping down, since he didn't want to stand in the way of her happiness with Mr. Hunk. She was so impressed by that self-sacrifice, that she decided to keep Faux-Farley. His reaction was priceless: "Wow! That's the first time that's ever worked."

Speaking of Chris Farley and "large comedians" of his ilk with health issues, Artie Lange was hospitalized this week for undisclosed reasons and rumors abounded that Jim Breuer would replace him on the Howard Stern Show. Breuer denied this on Facebook: "OKAY I have to put a rumor to rest. I AM NOT replacing Artie. I don't even know what's going on with Artie and the STERN SHOW. I'm not sure how it started but I can assure EVERYONE it's NOT TRUE. If something is wrong with Artie we should all throw a prayer his way for his mental and physical health."

I met Jim Breuer at the All-Star Game in Cleveland (back when he was on Saturday Night Live and I was Mr. Met) during the celebrity softball game. Jim was a huge Mets fan. About a month after the game, I'm on the top of the dugout during the seventh inning stretch doing my usual dance to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and through the din of the crowd, I hear a voice screaming "Mr. Met Rocks!!!!" I look around to try and find the source of the screaming, and there, leaning over the railing of the loge level is Jim Breuer, giving me "the metal sign."

In 1941, Lieutenant Josef Stanislaw Kosacki used a series of vaccum tubes and batteries to develop one of the first machines to give the user an indication, or a sign, that metal was present. His invention was the standard for sweeping mine fields for almost 50 years, which kept armies moving smoothly across potentially dangerous areas with far greater speed. It also provided the building blocks for the airport security screening booths of today.

Also a familiar sight in most modern airports around the world? Conveyor belts... love optional.

January 4, 2010

Streaming from Sisqo

Happy New Year!

Hope your 2010 has been good to you so far. As for us, we're going back to some old school creative writing in our blog. Inspired by the old science series "Connections" we're going to start at Point A and end up at a random Point B, either by design or mere happenstance. Here's an old clip of the show to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

So let's begin with our hot Twitter trend of the day: Sisqo.

When Sisqo appeared as a hot trend, many people thought he was either dead or had "come out of the closet." Actually, he was getting buzz not because of coming out, but rather, for "going in." The man responsible for "The Thong Song" (and very little else) is one of the contestants on the BBC's version of Celebrity Big Brother. Of course, as is usually the case in these shows, the word "celebrity" is oftentimes stretched a bit, as evidenced by one of his fellow houseguests: Heidi Fleiss.

Fleiss is probably best known for her status as "Madam" to the stars. Clearly she's a publicity whore as well, appearing on this reality show so soom on the heels of filming the soon-to-be-aired season of Dr. Drew's rehab show on VH1, where she tried to get help for her addictions alongside Tom Sizemore, who was was convicted in 2003 of assault and battery against his girlfriend - Heidi Fleiss. That sounds healthy.

In 2003, Sizemore also appeared in the movie "Dreamcatcher" an adaptation of the Stephen King novel about larvae-like aliens who use mind control to take over humans. The movie, starring Morgan Freeman and Donnie Wahlberg, was panned by most critics and contains a scene that can best be described as a "deadly dump" when one of the characters uses "Door No. 2" to pass an alien creature from his body, resulting in his demise.

Of course, the most famous "loss of life in the loo" goes to Elvis Presley, who passed away at the age of 42 in the bathroom of Graceland. My friend Gary and I took a tour of the estate once, and someone actually asked the tour guide: "Are we gonna see where Elvis died?" Sorry, my morbid friend... the throne is not part of the tour of the King's life and times in Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee, and the second largest is Nashville, which is the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The street leading up to that museum is full of smaller shops devoted to individual artists, such as Randy Travis, Hank Williams, Sr. and Conway Twitty. When my friend Gary and I passed through town, "Twitty City" was proudly selling T-shirts with the slogan, "I was here the year he died." Even in death, there's money to be made as a country star.

That's probably why a show like "Gone Country" was created. This show takes diverse people like Dee Snider, Lorenzo Lamas and Richard Grieco and pits them in an "American Idol" inspired competition with the winner getting a single produced by country star John Rich. Hey, if Hootie can cross-over, anybody can, right?

And who was one of the contestants on the first season of "Gone Country"? That's right... Sisqo.