Thursday, February 22, 2007

California, Here I Come: Liveblogging Tonight's 'OC'

When I first watched the pilot episode of "The OC" back in August of 2003, I enjoyed it. But for one reason or another, I haven't found a chance to watch an episode since.

Tonight, though, I've resolved myself to get back into the show. I only hope I haven't missed too much, and that whatever information I can glean from tonight's episode is enough to get me right back on the "OC" train for many years to come!

Here goes!

9:00 PM:
Ryan and Peter Gallagher, I remember them! I don't know who that girl is. I think that lady is the mom. I don't know that other girl, but I think she's getting married.

9:02 PM:
These two kids! I remember them! The boy is "Seth"; the girl is Rachel Bilson.

9:03 PM: "Structural damage"? What happened?

9:03 PM: Hey, I remember this song! I referenced it in the title of this post! Where's Mischa Barton? I must have missed her while I was typing.

9:06 PM:
Nice pool. Too bad they're moving. Hey, Ryan's going to Berkeley! Good for him.

9:07 PM:
Seth and Rachel Bilson are moving to Providence? Won't that change the title of the show?

9:09 PM: I don't know this girl at the airport. She talks fast; I assume she's some sort of comic foil.

9:10 PM:
"Summer"! That's Rachel Bilson's name! Hmmm...Seth used to know the airport girl. And he's still in love with her? But she's in love with Ryan. Conflict!

9:11 PM: This well-known character actor with the slight overbite was in the opening scene. What is his name, and who is he playing?

9:12 PM:
Hey, gay guys!

9:16 PM:
Hey, gay joke! Ah...this is the house Seth grew up in. What city is this? Are they still in the OC?

9:17 PM: Peter Gallagher and his wife are having a baby? Okay, character actor is a jet owner. (And it's Berkeley where Seth and Ryan were/are.)

9:18 PM:
"Deal or No Deal" reference followed immediately by an "OC" reference! Rachel's right--teen dramas do last forever! (Luckily for me!)

9:20 PM: Bunnies!

9:20 PM:
Oh, Seth had said that Ryan was in love with airport girl, whose name is apparently Taylor Townsend, not him. Seth and Rachel are boyfriend-girlfriend, and there's no conflict whatsoever!

9:21 PM:
I spoke too soon. Now Ryan and Taylor are going to be kept apart! Conflict!

9:22 PM:
This mother-daughter combo is absolutely foreign to me. Where's Mischa Barton? And who the hell is "The Bullet"?

9:24 PM:
"Kirsten"! That's Peter Gallagher's wife's name. And she's in labor! Oo, the gay guys don't like this. Wait, one of them's a midwife! (That is so random.)

(9:26 PM commercial: Hey, Adam Brody's in a movie! I hope his burgeoning film career won't interfere with his "OC" schedule. Maybe that's why Mischa Barton hasn't been in this episode much yet.)

9:29 PM:
Peter Gallagher and Kirsten had a baby! "Sophie Rose"! That's one character I'll stay caught up with. Ooooh...character actor is "The Bullet"!

9:30 PM: Holy crap! Hercules!

9:32 PM:
Can Seth be speaking the truth to Peter Gallagher? Is there subtle conflict between him and Summer, in that they might be bad influences on each other?

9:33 PM: Oh no. Speaking to getting-married lady, Summer mirrors Seth's doubts. (And getting-married-lady is pregnant. And her name is "Julie". And she's telling Summer not to pick Seth?!)

9:34 PM: Hey, Mischa Barton! In a locket! Wait--why can't she be there today? Is she in Berkeley? Providence? Overseas? What's the deal? I smell a surprise ending to the episode!

9:35 PM: Hey, the other gay guy is a wedding planner. How about that.

9:36 PM:
Sex scene! This is the "OC" I know and love--ach, interrupted by one of the gay guys.

9:37 PM:
Oh, no. Is Summer going to leave Seth to go to George?

9:38 PM:
Who's that running? Is it Hercules? It's totally Hercules! And he's in the wrong place! Phone call desperate plea to the woman about to get married--nice twist on the Graduate paradigm.

9:39 PM: More time with two ladies I don't know. I wonder what Mischa Barton will be wearing when she shows up at the end of the episode.

9:40 PM:
Aaaand the gay guys are giving up the house. They certainly proved useful in this episode. The Cohens are moving to Berkeley!

9:41 PM: Has Julie made up her mind? Tune in in three minutes!

9:45 PM:
Man, this moving is emotional. It almost feels...conclusive.

9:46 PM:
Holy crap, Rachel's really leaving! Maybe Mischa Barton's imminent arrival will change her mind.

9:47 PM:
Although she is telling Seth it isn't goodbye... (And her last name is "Roberts", apparently.)

9:48 PM:
Seth's sad, Rachel's sad, the music's sad...I'm sad.

9:49 PM:
Yes, Taylor, we know Ryan's going to Berkeley. She "saved" Ryan? I wonder what that was about. Uh-oh, Ryan's going to get stuck on the train--he did! I swear to God, that exact same thing happened to me a few months ago! I was seeing my girlfriend off and got stuck and had to go to Fullerton! I'm just like Ryan Atwood!

9:51 PM:
Da Vinci Code knock--nice. I hate that book. What's with all the hugging and leaving in this episode? And where the hell is Mischa Barton?

9:52 PM:
Flashbacks? To the pilot? But that's the one episode I actually don't need information from...

9:54 PM:
Mischa Barton! I knew we'd see her.

9:55 PM: So, now we're catching up to everyone's new different are they going to get everyone back together in the OC?

9:56 PM:
Hey, Seth and Summer get married! But that's a weird thing to put in the middle of a season. Seems more appropriate for a finale.

9:57 PM: Dammit, Ryan...the Cohens reached out to you and turned your life help that boy. Yay, he did it!

Well, that's it. Good episode. There are obviously some holes in my "OC" knowledge--that was bound to happen after missing four seasons--and I wish Mischa Barton had been in the episode more...but I think I caught a lucky break in that the series seems to have wrapped up a lot of storylines and is now focused on new beginnings. I won't make the same mistake I did last time and fall behind on the show.

Never again will I miss an episode of "The OC"!

Long Live DJ

Dennis Johnson--five-time NBA All-Star, NBA Finals MVP and three-time NBA champion--has passed away at the age of 52. With him we have lost a member of the all-time greatest starting five the Boston Celtics--or, in my humble opinion, any team--ever put on the court.

Here's a play DJ might be best remembered by:

Britney Spears Rampages City with Umbrella

So, to recap:

On February 16, it was reported that Britney Spears had checked into rehab. Within 24 hours, she had checked out.

Then she shaved her head.

On February 20, she checked back into rehab again.

Then she left. Again.

Now, for the third time in less than week, Britney Spears is back in rehab.

And that's all there is to say at this point. Unless...

You might also be interested to know that, before checking into the Promises residential treatment center on Wednesday, Britney swung by Kevin Federline's house to beat the hell out of an SUV with an umbrella and scare the crap out of some photographers after he wouldn't let her into the house to see her kids.

Good times.

While "Entertainment Tonight" has the story, has the frightening pictures.

'The Barry Gibb Talk Show' One Step Closer to Becoming Kind of a Reality

Now that the need to replace Conan O'Brien as the host of "Late Night" (when he leaves to finally end Jay Leno's reign of terror at "The Tonight Show") is a scant two years away, NBC seems to have realized that maybe they should begin exploring options other than Carson Daly (the Melba toast of television personalities, only not nearly as funny).

First to join the list of contenders? Jimmy Fallon. He's in talks to enter into a "holding deal" with NBC, which would lock him up with the network for any future television productions, be it a sitcom, a sketch show, or--ta-da!--a late night talk show.

Say what you will about Jimmy Fallon--that he cracked up in almost every sketch he appeared in on "Saturday Night Live", that he soiled the greatest moment any Red Sox fan will ever experience in his or her life, or Taxi--I personally feel that he would make an admirable successor to Conan O'Brien, if only for one reason:

He's not Carson Daly.

[Thanks to "Ronnie" for the tip.]

David Ortiz Eats Trucks, Manny Ramirez Sells Cars

In case there's any question as to how David Ortiz manages to continually strengthen his already near-suffocating bear hug on the hearts, minds and first-born children of Boston Red Sox fans while Manny Ramirez only further alienates himself from them every season (until he inevitably goes on a tear--then all is forgiven until next time), two stories that have come out of the Sox spring training camp illuminate the dichotomy perfectly:

Manny was given permission from the team to report late to camp for "family reasons"...and it now turns out that his definition of "family" might include his 1967 four-door Lincoln Continental Sedan convertible, as he's scheduled to appear at the Atlantic City Classic Cars Auction on Saturday, where the item is being sold. Way to be committed to the team, Manny (not to mention your post-op mother, whom you used as an excuse).

Ortiz, meanwhile, didn't have to travel to Atlantic City for his vehicular needs--he was handed the keys to a Toyota Tundra TRD just for showing up at camp yesterday. But that's not the interesting part: Big Papi later referred to the truck as "his breakfast" [fifth paragraph].

So not only did David Ortiz make it to spring training on time (early, technically)--unlike his space cadet counterpart--the Red Sox gave him a truck...and he ate it. How can anyone not love that guy?

Boston Police Officers Might be Too Busy Shopping for Yachts to Fight Crime

The Boston Globe is reporting that the police were the most highly-paid Boston city employees last year by a landslide, with officers holding 124 spots on the list of the 125 biggest earners. In 2006, the average uniformed police officer made $113,617--compared to firefighters, who made $91,087 on average, and teachers, who pulled in a whopping $62,195. (When are we going to stop overpaying teachers in this country?) Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, explained in an interview that it has become difficult for the city to hire more police officers and expand the force because each one of them just makes too much damn money.

But they're worth it, though. Who else is going to protect the city from Mooninites?

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Puzzle Calendar - 02/22/07

QUESTION: "In the school lunchroom, one table and half a table ate a pizza and a half in a minute and a half. At the same rate, how many pizzas could two tables of hungry children eat in three minutes?"


ACTUAL (B.S.) ANSWER: "four pizzas (Each table eats a pizza in a minute and a half, so the cafeteria manager will need four pizzas.)"

CONSENSUS: Hogwash! Each table and a half eats a pizza in a minute and a half, not each table. Each table actually eats a pizza in a minute, which means that in three minutes they would eat three pizzas...and in three minutes two tables would eat six pizzas. The answer is six, and my Mensa calendar contains a typo. Who do I report this to? (Also, why did a character of "cafeteria manager" need to enter into this scenario? Feels extraneous.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rest Easy, Fatties...

Come June, you may resume being extreme.

The Most One-Sided Swordfight Ever

Living what may be the adult video enthusiast's greatest fear (second, perhaps, to being caught by mom), Oconomowoc, Wisconsin resident Bret Stieghorst was attacked by a neighbor wielding a three-foot-long cavalry sword because he mistook the audio from a porn Stieghorst was watching to be the sounds of a woman actually being raped.

Apparently, the fact that he kicked in Stieghorst's apartment door to find the man completely alone and (one would reasonably assume) wielding his own, somewhat less museum-friendly weapon along with a DVD remote did not immediately lead James Van Iveren--the sabre-brandishing downstairs neighbor--to suspect that he had misjudged the situation...for he remained in Stieghorst's apartment, keeping him at bladepoint while he searched for the nonexistent female victim before finally leaving. One wonders if he apologized...or if he even allowed Stieghorst to put his pants back on during the detailed investigation.

Van Iveren, 39, has been charged with criminal trespass while using a dangerous weapon, criminal damage to property while using a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct while using a dangerous weapon--the Holy Trinity of crimes for crazy-while-not-necessarily-murderous people. His excuse for not calling the police instead of taking imaginary matters into his own hands was that his apartment--which he shares with his mother--does not contain a telephone.

A thirty-nine-year-old man lives with his mother and doesn't own a telephone...and he doesn't know porn when he hears it? What an exciting new world awaits him if he ends up in prison.

As for Stieghorst--who was so shameless as to pose for photographs taken by the local news regarding this story [see above link]--he was clear to state that this incident, which might have caused a weaker man to reevaluate how he's spending his life, will not deter him from watching porn for a single second. A heroic stance for individual rights, to say the least. Rest easy knowing that the next time Bret Stieghorst beats off to a graphic sex scene featuring a staged rape, he won't just be pleasuring himself...he'll be pleasuring us all.

Jennifer Lopez to be Humiliated by Simon Cowell

Access Hollywood is reporting that, fresh off her stint saving the world (or perhaps not), Jennifer Lopez will perform on "American Idol" ("The show everyone watches but me!"™) on April 11.

On the one hand, it's nice to see that J-Lo is making an attempt to become a viable presence in the music industry again (unless you count that upcoming movie about the vampire salsa singer)...but on the other, I don't think it's fair that the producers of "American Idol" are allowing someone to audition so late into the season simply because she's famous.

In any event, I'm sure that the show--which purports up and down to be all about genuine singing ability--will prove to be harsh confines for Lopez, as vocal talent is something she definitively lacks. There's no way "American Idol" would have as poor a singer as Jennifer Lopez on the show and kiss up to her rather than derisively mock her. That would be extremely hypocritical.

Colts' Backup QB Seeks to Back Up Peyton Manning in Additional Careers

You would think that with all the time the Indianapolis Colts' backup quarterback Jim Sorgi has to spend on the bench (read: the entire season), he might get a little recreational reading done, and at some point he might have learned the definition of the word "irony". Apparently, though, he has not.

Capitalizing on a comment he made during an interview over Super Bowl weekend where he likened himself to the Maytag repairman ("the guy bored out of my mind waiting for something to do"), on Tuesday Sorgi actually auditioned to play the iconic washer-dryer advertising character [scroll down to the last four paragraphs] as part of a promotional deal with Whirlpool (who owns Maytag).

One can only assume from this news that, in addition to lacking a dictionary, Sorgi does not own a television set. Otherwise, during his three-year tenure in the NFL, he would have seen his on-field superior appearing in just about every commercial ever.

With Peyton Manning completely dominating the field of athlete pitchmen, there's no room for any other starting quarterbacks--never mind his own backup. Jim Sorgi cannot surpass Manning in his third-greatest talent (playing football) or his second (endlessly whoring himself out for money)...but perhaps these facts are just what Sorgi will need to carve out a career for himself in the very realm where Peyton Manning's greatest strength lies: blaming his teammates for his failures. Now that would be ironic.

[Ed. note: Yeah, so I just referenced that last link six posts ago. So what? Tom Brady rules!]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wait, So...He Doesn't Have AIDS?

Something is amiss in the Associated Press story that started making the rounds Tuesday evening reporting that Tommy Morrison--perhaps better known (to people who prefer crappy movies about white boxers to the real thing) for playing "Tommy 'Machine' Gunn" in the Rocky no one talks about than for his boxing career--who essentially retired over a decade ago after being diagnosed as HIV-positive, has been cleared to fight in West Virginia.

The thing that's missing? No one--including Morrison--appears to be making the biggest deal in the world out of the fact that he says he's NOT HIV-positive.

In my book, that's kind of the story here, not the fact that a boxer--HIV-positive or not--is going to fight John Castle of Indianapolis at the Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort on Thursday. If Morrison is, in fact, HIV-positive, then good for him that he's fighting again. If he's lying about not being HIV-positive, then why isn't anyone looking into this? (West Virginia apparently can't, because the state doesn't require boxers to submit to blood tests, but State Athletic Commissioner Steve Allred said he reviewed Morrison's medical records and consulted with the Association of Boxing Commissions' medical review committee, for whatever that's worth.) And if Morrison was, as he claims, misdiagnosed over 10 years ago and never had human immunodeficiency virus to begin could such a thing have happened, and--perhaps much more puzzlingly--why the hell is he more interested in fighting John Castle of Indianapolis at the Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort than in suing the bejeezus out of every doctor, nurse and medical receptionist he's ever come in contact with since 1996, as well as possibly their extended family members, college roommates, and mailmen?

Were I in the position that Tommy Morrison is alleging he's in, I wouldn't be saying, "I'm negative and I've always been negative and that should be the end of it," as he told the AP over the phone. My quote would read more like, "I'm negative and I've always been negative click," because I couldn't end that interview fast enough to call my phalanx of lawyers.

But that's just me. Some of us prefer winning sums of money that would allow us to start a few banana republics to getting punched in the head repeatedly, while others...well, others might be crazy liars.

[Ed note: Yes, I'm aware that AIDS and HIV are two different things; I simply felt that the inclusion of the former made for a catchier title. Sue me. Unless you're Tommy Morrison, in which case you're not really into that.]

Minor League Hockey Team Folksily Courts Publicity by Exploiting Mentally Unstable Celebrity

Unlike Craig Ferguson, the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch doesn't avoid the easy targets, as they've offered Britney Spears (she of the recently exposed dome and rehab entrance) an all-expenses paid trip to Syracuse to attend some of their games. The news is being announced in conjunction with a team promotion wherein women who shave their heads will get into Saturday's Crunch game against the Manitoba Moose for free.

Crunch owner and president Howard Dolgon has suggested--allegedly with a straight face--that the offer to Britney is being made out of genuine concern for her mental health, stating that "in addition to being 3,000 miles away from Hollywood, Syracuse is light years away from that pretentious environment." Dolgon then went on declare that he expects Spears to learn how to ice skate, practice with the team, and perform both new and time-tested songs for the crowd. (I wonder if he was so demanding of Dora the Explorer.)

What's gotten into minor league hockey these days? My personal experience is limited to the occasional NHL game, but I assume that minor league promotions used to involve free hat giveaways and the like. When did the the small-timers get so presumptuous as to expand the practice to include the ritual humiliation of internationally known figures? (Could this insatiable appetite for exposure be Stephen Colbert's fault?)

Perhaps the unseemly penchant for national-newsworthy promotions in minor league hockey is not borne of necessity so much as it is of low self-esteem. Consider Dolgon's statement that "there won't be paparazzi within 100 miles" of a Syracuse Crunch game. You can't deny that he's right...given that there won't be anybody--including, I'm willing to bet, one Britney Spears--within 100 miles. It's an American Hockey League game.

The British Are Going! The British Are Going! is reporting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce a timetable for the withdrawal of his country's troops from Iraq on Wednesday.

This sets yet another new record for the embarrassment level of George W. Bush and his administration. Although Blair certainly has not represented the majority opinion of the United Kingdom's citizens regarding the Iraq War, the fact that Bush has had him in his pocket since 2003 at least made him look good. The prime minister, with his outspoken support for the U.S. involvement in Iraq, has served essentially as a high-class hooker for the president on an international scale: everyone else at the party knew that he was paid for, but there was no question that George had spared no expense to get the classiest-looking gal he could find.

The scheduling of Blair's timetable-for-withdrawal announcement, however, sends a very clear, very depressing message to Bush: even the hooker thinks the party he is paying her to be at has gotten a little too sketchy for her taste, and she's leaving without him.

Second-Most-Predictable Comic on Television Draws Line at Most Predictable Joke in News

Craig Ferguson, the host of CBS' "The Late Late Show"--whose personal brand of consistently unfunny comedy is steeped in the Yakov Smirnoff tradition of "I'm from another country! Isn't that hilarious?"--made a point of not making a Britney-Spears-shaved-her-head joke on Monday night's broadcast, saying that "we shouldn't be attacking the vulnerable."

I don't know where Ferguson gets off telling people who they can and can't make fun of. The only person who's in a position to set an example like that is the number one late-night talk show host in the country...and the only way to attain that foothold is to tell the most mind-numbingly obvious jokes conceivable, night in and night out. It's also the only way to maintain the spot, so Ferguson's really fighting an unwinnable battle, here. He should stick to what he knows best: being ignored in favor of Conan O'Brien.

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Puzzle Calendar - 02/20/07

QUESTION: "Stephanie bought some small souvenirs for a Mardi Gras party. At the first store, she spent half of what she had, plus $10 for bead strings. At the second store she bought colorful beads for half of what she had left, plus $10. On the way home, she bought some postcards with half of what she had left. She ended up with $5.

"How much money did Stephanie start out with?"

MY ANSWER: "$100"

ACTUAL ANSWER: "$100 (1/2 of 100 = $50; $50 + $10 = $60, leaving $40; 1/2 of $40 = $20; $20 + $10 = $30, leaving $10; 1/2 of $10 = $5, leaving $5)"

CONSENSUS: Stephanie has a spending problem, and I'm a math genius.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tom Brady's Sex Season Finished Much Stronger Than His Football One

Now it all makes sense.

When Tom Brady, one of the most clutch quarterbacks in NFL history, was intercepted by Marlin Jackson on what should have been the New England Patriots' game-winning drive in the AFC Championship Game four weeks ago, there was simply no explanation. Tom Brady doesn't fail when the game's on the line. The Patriots don't lose to the Indianapolis Colts. And the finger-pointing crybaby Gomer Pyle certainly doesn't fall ass-backwards into a Super Bowl Ring Giveaway by matching up against the worst quarterback to ever play in the game. But Patriots fans (and, let's be honest, anyone who recognizes the difference between what is fair and right and what is a grotesque affront to football, mankind, and even God) can now take at least a small amount of solace in the fact that there apparently was an excuse for all of these tragedies...

And it was Tom Brady's doggone virility.

How could Brady have been expected to keep his head in the game when he was faced with having to explain to his super-hot girlfriend Gisele Bundchen that his former, less hot but still very attractive (and certainly not deserving of the "aging B-list[er]" title the obviously jealous Boston Herald reporter Laurel J. Sweet assigned to her) girlfriend Bridget Moynahan was 2 months pregnant (now it's 3) with his baby? That's an impending conversation that no man--not even one as handsome and talented as the Patriots' #12--can completely put out of his mind in any situation.

Of course, it's technically unclear as to whether Brady actually knew about the pregnancy four weeks ago...but I refuse to accept the possibility that he couldn't have, because that would leave him with no excuse for the AFC Championship loss. And whether it's on the football field or in the bedroom, I know that in the final seconds, Tom Brady always comes through.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

BRT 1138

Yesterday, one might have taken the fact that Britney Spears checked in and out of rehab within twenty-four hours as a sign that she wasn't committed to treating what might be an alcohol and/or substance abuse (or is it just sleepiness?) problem. But now that KABC in Los Angeles has broken the news that the pop-star-cum-theme-park-ride-disaster showed up at a tattoo parlor with her head shaved bald, we can stop pointing fingers...because twenty-four hours is more than enough time to make a full recovery when the rehab facility in question is a dystopian prison commune located beneath the surface of the Earth. The androids who oversee the day-to-day operations at that place--with their emotion-suppressing drugs and liberal use of batons--will straighten a girl out right quick.

We never should have doubted your level of dedication to improving yourself, Britney. You truly are a shining example for all mankind.

UPDATE: Idolator has discovered that Gang Starr had previously attempted to popularize this aesthetic choice back in 1998.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I Wonder If They've Tried Scaring Her

You know who doesn't find the above clip at all funny? This girl.

Scottie Pippen Also Second Banana to Michael Jordan in Fake Retirements

Michael Jordan is returning to the NBA!

Remember how exciting it was when you heard that news (the first time, anyway--not the Washington Wizards time)? Well, prepare to be much, much less excited...because Jordan's former shadow-holder with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, is doing the same thing! Maybe!

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Pippen is considering making a comeback and has expressed hope that he would be able to join a playoff contender (one has to assume that this contingency is motivated by a desire to win an NBA title for the seventh time and make it into a few pictures of the event for the first). The 41-year-old plans to display how much he's got left in the tank when he participates in the "Shooting Stars" contest as part of the All-Star festivities this weekend in Las Vegas.

If Pippen really wants to show off his skills, he ought to enter the Slam Dunk contest and impress the judges--including Michael Jordan--with a spectacular move that no one has ever accomplished before...maybe like dunking from the foul line. That'd be something to remember Scottie by.

Publicist Expects Us to Believe Ricky Martin Knows What 'Promulgate' Means

With Ricky Martin defending flipping the bird at a mention of George W. Bush during a recent concert in San Juan, the media seems to think that the story is the Puerto Rican singer's change of position on Bush (he performed at the president's 2001 inauguration ball) and his admirable conviction to speak out against the Iraq War.

But the real point of interest here (insofar as anything involving Ricky Martin can be deemed "interesting")? The email to the Associated Press explaining Martin's actions, ostensibly dictated by the man behind "Livin' la Vida Loca", contains the word "promulgate."

Not only did Ricky Martin's publicity team shatter their own espoused reality by attributing a five-dollar word to a former member of Menudo, they also completely wasted any attempt to send a message to George W. Bush. How could anyone possibly think that he would know what "promulgate" means? The minute you elevate a conversation from the realm of obscene gestures, you've taken it right out of the president's wheelhouse.

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Calendar - 02/16/07

QUESTION: "Which of the scrambled words below is least like the others? (The difference has nothing to do with vowels, consonants or syllables.)


MY ANSWER: "That'd be 'LLWA', since it forms 'WALL', which, unlike the other three words ('PAINTING', 'SCULPTURE', 'MUSIC'), is not an art."

ACTUAL ANSWER: "WALL (The other three words name art forms: PAINTING, SCULPTURE, MUSIC.)


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kerry Wood is Fall Apart Rabbit

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood has apparently decided to give Ken Griffey, Jr. a run for his money in his quest to become the World's Most Injured Professional Baseball Player. After gradually decomposing over the past three seasons--culminating in his only making four starts last year and thus limiting his opportunities to hurt himself--Wood has savvily raised his injury game by expanding it beyond the baseball diamond, most recently having gone ahead and threatened his career by falling out of a hot tub.

It's a move that shows great forward thinking on Wood's part: Now that his right shoulder injury has become such a problem that he's being converted to a relief pitcher for the upcoming season, he knows that he's not going to be getting in as many innings as he did when he was a starter--which translates to fewer chances for bodily harm. With "Mr. Glass" Griffey, Jr. able to get himself on the DL for months at a time with barely more than a stiff breeze, Wood knows that he's going to have to get creative to stay competitive...and this hot tub incident could be just a preview of much more ridiculous injuries to come.

[Ed. note: I was disinclined to post back-to-back rabbit-centric stories, but once I had found out about this guy, I just couldn't resist.]

Bunny Laughs and Learns While You Choke and Die

The Fisher-Price "Laugh and Learn Bunny" teaches us all a very important lesson:

The cuter the toy, the more likely it is to kill you.

'The NFL Today': Now With 300% More Scowling

Once again illustrating that they are a network completely in touch with what belongs on television, CBS has hired former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and Angriest Man in Football Bill Cowher as a studio analyst for "The NFL Today".

Now, in addition to being swept up in the continuing drama of Shannon Sharpe's valiant struggle with enunciation, football fans will be able to kick off their favorite day of the week by staring at the Bill Cowher face (that is, at least until Cowher--at wit's end with his colleague's closeup-ratio dominance--ends his television career when he attempts to strangle Dan Marino). Is the season here yet?

Jennifer Lopez Saves the World

Sure, stories have abounded for years that Jennifer Lopez is cruel, demanding, and an attention-hogging devil woman...but the same people who are so quick to point out those facts always forget one thing:

J-Lo is famous, and is therefore a better person than you.

Amnesty International understands this, and that's why today they honored Lopez with a human rights award. For propriety's sake, the organization's official explanation for singling out Jenny From the Block as an "Artist for Amnesty" is her work on Bordertown, an upcoming film that examines the murders of women in a Mexican border city...but I notice that Antonio Banderas, Martin Sheen and director Gregory Nava--all of whom were also involved in the film in question--remain conspicuously award-less for their efforts.

The completely reasonable explanation? They're just not famous enough. (Also, none of them ever battled an Anaconda.)

Father Tags In His Love (Featuring Joe Scarborough Narration!)

With stories of fathers pushing their sons too far in sports practically being a staple of our culture, one can easily lose sight of the phenomenon's inspiring flipside: the men who are so dedicated to protecting their kin from the dangers of physical competition that they won't hesitate to injure other children in their cause.

Take, for example, the heartwarming tale (which, perhaps fittingly, broke on Valentine's Day) of Illinois resident Ray Hoffman--part-time wrestling coach and candidate for World's Greatest Dad--who, when his son was being pinned in a wrestling match, bounded into the ring and body-slammed the offending 11-year-old.

Here's to you, Ray, for breaking the stereotype of the American sports father.

[BONUS: Don't ask why the above YouTube clip of this incident includes the low-level audio from a totally unrelated "Scarborough Nation" broadcast; just immerse yourself in the soothing dichotomy.]

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Calendar - 02/15/07

QUESTION: "If a bottle with a deposit costs $1.10, and the bottle costs a dollar more than the deposit, how much is the bottle worth?"

MY ANSWER: "$0.10"

ACTUAL ANSWER "$1.05 (no, not $1.10)"

CONSENSUS: While it's good to see that you've significantly raised your game since yesterday, Mensa calendar, I must protest to the vagueness of this question. When you ask "how much is the bottle worth?", one can reasonably assume that you mean to the purchaser, who--after initially paying $1.10 for a bottle then receiving $0.10 on the deposit return (which I think is what you're saying)--would have ultimately paid only a dollar, thus making the bottle worth ten cents to him (perhaps more, depending on the deliciousness of the beverage it had once contained). In short--I'm confused.

Also...what's up with the smugness of your answer? It's only mid-February; I don't think you've yet earned the right to talk me like that.

Girl, You Know It's True...Pray as You Might That It Isn't

Milli Vanilli: The Movie.

What should at best be a throwaway joke (perhaps delivered by Young MC) on VH1's "I Love the 90s" is soon to be a horrifying reality, thanks to the inspiration of writer-director Jeff Nathanson (who, for the purposes of the project, is all too clearly favoring his basest Rush Hour 3 instincts at the expense of his Catch Me If You Can potential).

If the Variety report is to be believed, Fabrice Morvan--the surviving member of music's greatest punchline--has long been resistant to let Hollywood get its hands on the Milli Vanilli story, and only acquiesced once Nathanson convinced him that he would spin the duo's tale sympathetically, from their point of view. Sure. And I'll bet Morvan really squeezed Universal on the deal points, too...holding out for three cases of ramen noodles when they were only offering two and a half.

For Biz Markie's sake, Variety isn't even taking this project seriously enough to keep track of which member of Milli Vanilli is still alive! In the third paragraph of their piece appear the words "Rob Pilatus, who died in 1998"...which are completely contradicted two paragraphs later, when the article informs us that "Morvan took it hardest, falling into drug abuse and serving time for robbery before dying from a drug overdose ." (Pilatus is the one who's actually deceased. I hope at least Jeff Nathanson is aware of that.)

Most people would look at a music duo that was popular for 15 minutes in the eyes of no one over the age of 11 nearly two decades ago and is now remembered only for being a laughable fraud whom the definitive source for entertainment industry news can't even be bothered to find out which of the two remains above ground and think: "I'm not interested in that."

The ruling class of the movie business? They look at the exact same thing and think: "Box office gold."

I'm looking forward to seeing who's right. (SPOILER ALERT: It's not the movie people.)

UPDATE: Variety has amended the article in an attempt to cover up their double murder of Milli Vanilli (perhaps they'll try to Blame It On the Rain?) (no? too soon?), but--luckily for justice--I have retained a copy of the damning evidence. If it pleases the court:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Decorative Greenery Consortium Finally Relinquishes Its Monopoly at Wrigley Field

I think it's fair to say that baseball fans all over the country were sick and tired of Big Ivy's decades-old, blatant defiance of anti-trust laws with its callous, preening dominance of Wrigley Field's outfield walls since 1937. After 70 years, the nightmare is finally over....and viewers of Cubs games will at long last have the freedom to settle their collective gaze upon some genuine American product advertising interspersed amongst all that unpleasant "nature" and "tradition".

God bless the USA.

That Lawyer's in Trouble if Barry Bonds Ever Gets His All-Naturally Grotesquely Enlarged Hands on Him

The lawyer did it.

That's the word out of San Francisco, where today defense attorney Troy Ellerman--who has represented both the Bay Area Laboratory Co-op (BALCO) founder Victor Conte and its vice president, James Valente, in the investigation into the company's illegal activities as part of a federal steroid probe--agreed to plead guilty to leaking secret transcripts of grand jury testimony from an earlier phase of the investigation to San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada. Apparently, Ellerman wasn't satisfied with the fact that he'd already guided both of the aforementioned clients to guilty pleas (the same plea that pretty much anyone who's ever been associated with BALCO has made...with one notable, bloated-skulled exception), so he decided to go the extra mile by falling on his sword. That guy must really hate Barry Bonds.

Williams and Fainaru-Wada, who used the information they found in the documents--such as the fact that baseball star Jason Giambi and sprinter Tim Montgomery openly admitted to having used steroids--to write a number of stories for the paper in 2004 and later the book Game of Shadows, which offered highly incriminating evidence against MLB-record-thief and all-around a-hole Bonds regarding his unbelievably obvious use of illegal performance-enhancing substances (it was also, surprisingly, kind of boring), had been facing jail time for refusing to divulge their source. Now they're off the hook while the finally-revealed man behind the curtain, Ellerman, will be going to prison for two years.

Personally, I think he should be getting a parade--but NOT one for "Most Reliable Lawyer Ever". I presume Victor Conte would agree with the latter condition.

Tennessee Lawmaker Hopes to End Abortion by Assigning Fetuses Paperwork

How is it that the people who view abortion as "evil" continue to come up with the most evil plots to try and forward their cause?

Republican Rep. Stacey Campfield has introduced a bill in Tennessee that would require death certificates for aborted fetuses.

If you thought the last part of that sentence read "death certificates for aborted fetuses," you are not mistaken.

Since Campfield won't openly cop to the obvious fact that the true goal of the proposed legislation is its would-be incidental result of creating public records identifying women who have abortions--thus potentially dissuading them from doing so--it only makes him look that much crazier. Good plan, Stacey.

[Ed. note: Since this story is so depressing, in an attempt to brighten it up somewhat I decided to post, in lieu of a photo of Campfield, one of fellow Tennesseean Justin Timberlake, who recent records indicate brought sexy back.]

Because If She Hadn't Died, the Movie Would Probably be Nominated for Several Academy Awards

If you showered recently, it might be advisable to move along before immersing yourself in the continuing Anna Nicole Smith Death Fallout Sleazefest '07. The latest (and, admittedly, comparatively benign) development is that the producers of Ms. (or was it "Mrs."? has that been settled yet?) Smith's final thespian outing (one of whom, John James, appeared on "Larry King Live" the night of her death to help scuzzbaggify the proceedings) have gently implied that if she were still with us today, Illegal Aliens would be receiving a theatrical release instead of going straight to DVD.

Watch the above trailer and decide for yourself: Does Mr. James truly believe that Anna Nicole's tragic passing has robbed us not only of the woman herself but also of the opportunity to marvel at a tale "replete with metaphors of her life" (I assume he means that Anna Nicole's house was once spectacularly annihilated as a result of improperly-stored flatware) on the big screen...or is he more inclined to privately celebrate the fact that it was the best possible thing that ever could have happened to his destined-for-the-bargain-bin offering?

Perhaps we'll all have to wait until the DVD comes out in May to pass final judgment. After all, there's no way that brief tidbits of Chyna screaming at various pitches in harshly-lit settings that appear to be made entirely of cardboard can give one an understanding of the full scope of her performance.

Jesus in a Tree

And to think...I was worried after Molly Ivins died that there'd be nothing left in Texas but crazy. (You might have to select 'Play' on the video page.)

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Puzzle Calendar - 02/14/07

QUESTION: "The following simple substitution cryptogram, in the form of a rhyme, can be easily solved.

"18-15-19-5-9 1-18-5 18-5-4
22-9-15-12-5-20-19 1-18-5 2-12-21-5.
20-8-9-19 3-18-25-16-20-15-7-18-1-13
23-1-19 4-5-19-9-7-14-5-4 6-15-18 25-15-21.

MY ANSWER: "Roses are red, violets are blue. This cryptogram was designed for you." (1=A, 2=B, 3=C, etc.)

ACTUAL ANSWER: "Roses are red, violets are blue. This cryptogram was designed for you." (A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.)

CONSENSUS: Seriously, Mensa calendar? Again? I'll let this offense slide on the grounds that it's a holiday, but one more occurrence of such patronizing child's play and I might start to lose respect for you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Kansas First State to Achieve Time Travel; Joins Rest of Country in 21st Century

Dorothy's not in Kansas anymore, and neither is God.

At least he's no longer superseding science in the state's classrooms, anyway, as the Kansas Board of Education has finally--after being the laughing stock of the country for refusing to move their thinking out of the Dark Ages for, well, pretty much ever--approved new evolution-oriented science standards for the state's public schools ("new" being relative to Kansas, as most people with the capacity for thought and reason have been on board the evolution train for the past century-and-a-half or so, going back to when Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species). The curriculum will replace the most recent ass-backwards mode of belief that had been officially sanctioned by the board--the "intelligent design" theory that was put into practice in 2005 (and is, contrary to its name, most stringently maintained by our president).

So congratulations, Kansas, and welcome to the future.

(By the way...God is going to be so pissed at you guys. When the Rapture comes next week, you're totally not invited! Suckers!)

Teacher to Fight Pornography Conviction Using "I Don't Know Nothin' 'Bout No Computer Machines" Defense

In October of 2004, substitute teacher Julie Amero was assigned to a class of seventh-graders at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Connecticut. Last month, she was convicted of exposing those students to pornography on her classroom computer, and today she is facing a possible 40-year prison sentence. (Tell that to someone who thinks that a career in education doesn't lead anywhere.)

Amero's excuse? She's practically a Luddite. The 40-year-old Windham resident with no prior criminal record is maintaining her contention from the trial that pornographic images kept popping up on the computer throughout the day in question, and--despite her most valiant efforts--her lack of technological savvy rendered her incapable of quelling the barrage of hardcore sex before it could befoul the once-pure souls of the children in her keep.

I have little trouble believing that an inexperienced computer user could fall victim to a pop-up storm, particularly if the machine in question was lacking in a firewall or any kind of spyware protection (as a computer consultant who testified in the trial confirmed that it was)...but I'm compelled to side with the jury on the fact that one very suspicious question remains:

Why didn't Amero throw a blanket over the computer or just unplug the damn thing?

A possible answer to that question? The woman is way into porn and likes sharing it with 12-year-olds.

Of course, I'm no lawyer.

UPDATE: Perhaps Amero could count on a Christmas miracle to get her out of trouble, seeing as she's married to Santa Claus.

Oprah, Albom Renew Efforts to Eradicate Culture

If you like Oprah, that means you like whatever she tells you to like, and that means you like Mitch have I got good news for you: Oprah is going to turn Albom's most recent bilious discharge of sanctimonious claptrap--or "book", as some choose to refer to it--For One More Day, into a TV movie!

(TV! That's where Oprah lives and everything with which you are familiar comes from and, ideally, returns to! Hooray!)

For One More Day, which tells the story of a suicidal baseball player who magically gets to spend a day with his dead mother, is a fine example of how far Albom has progressed as a writer since his first book, Tuesdays with Morrie, which tells the story of a sportswriter spending magical days with his dying mentor, or even his second book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which tells the story of a dead man who spends a magical journey magically meeting people he has magically touched in his magical life.

Both Heaven and Morrie were previously adapted into TV movies for ABC (on which the filmed version of Day will also air), with Oprah holding the reins on Morrie...and as long as soccer moms and the infirm continue to worship at the altar of Oprah because she's friends with celebrities, she's ostensibly sassy, and/or other people do it (and we all want to be like other people, don't we?) and keep phonies like Albom on the bestseller list (along with pretending to be interested in Steinbeck, Faulkner, et al, after actively ignoring them your whole life)...there is no end in sight.

If I'm crying, it's only because I'm so happy about this.

Bank of America Won't Tell If You Aren't

In a move of bold defiance to the popular notion that large corporations are insensitive to the needs of the working man, Bank of America Corp. has begun offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers--"typically illegal immigrants", the Wall Street Journal helpfully points out.

According to the Journal, Bank of America tested the program last year at five branches in Los Angeles, and last week expanded it to 51 branches in Los Angeles County, home to the largest concentration of illegal immigrants in the U.S. (and me!). The bank hopes to roll out the program nationally later this year.

I think this ought to prove to all the capitalism-hating hippies out there that just because a company is incredibly rich and powerful, some--like Bank of America--will still go the extra mile to help customers who, for one reason or another ("the law", for instance), wouldn't normally have access to their services.

That is, of course, until said customer-in-need runs out of money...and then that dirty, lawbreaking Mexican better go back to his own country where he belongs.

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Puzzle Calendar - 02/13/07

QUESTION: "What two words, formed from different arrangements of the same seven letters, can be used to complete the sentence below?"

"As sure as there is a _______ every day, a company that _______ you against losses will find some loophole."

MY ANSWER: "sunrise, insures"

ACTUAL ANSWER: "sunrise, insures"

CONSENSUS: This question has a low correct-answer rate in certain areas of Alaska.

Spoiled Billionaire Heiress Nothing Like That Other Spoiled Billionaire Hereiss, Says Spoiled Billionaire Heiress in Question

If you think that Ivanka Trump is in any way similar to Paris Hilton, you must be a dumb poor person. is reporting the 25-year-old former model has had just about enough of being compared to the 26-year-old celebutard nonpareil, claiming that--unlike Paris--she works long hours (for her father Donald Trump) and bought her house (from her father Donald Trump).

That's all the evidence I need to know that Ivanka doesn't live with a sense of entitlement, for it clearly illustrates that the plucky, do-it-herself gal (and star of the documentary Born Rich) barely even associates with her progenitor. When she says, "it was always made very clear to me that things wouldn’t just be given to me," I believe her.

That $1.5 million condo at the Trump Park Avenue, for example? She earned it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Russian Soldiers Putting the 'Service' Back in 'Servicemen'

For all the talk about how brave and hardworking American soldiers are, it appears they could stand to learn a thing or two from their Russian counterparts about just how to "be all you can be". For starters, they could force one another into prostitution more often, like the resourceful young men (and I do only mean men) of interior troops unit No. 3727, stationed in St. Petersburg.

The office of that city's military prosecutor is launching an inquiry into claims made by the Soldiers' Mothers group ("a leading Russian nongovernment organization championing soldiers' rights"--apparently through emasculation, if the group's name is any indication) that a conscript in the aforementioned unit was forced into part-time employment in the world's oldest profession by fellow soldiers who beat him and demanded that he earn money for them. This incident is far from an isolated one (or, if you will, more than just a "wham, bam, thank you...sir"), according to Valentina Melnikova, the head of Soldiers' Mothers, who told the Associated Press that "there are certain military units where such things come up every once in a while." (Insofar as I am less than fluent in the Russian language, I can only assume that some degree of urgency was lost in the translation of that statement.)

While Russia's Interior Ministry is hard at work attempting to discredit the conscript who made the claim, human rights activist Ruslan Linkov has stated that allegations about soldiers from unit No. 3727 being forced into the sex-for-pay game have been around for several years but prosecutors continue to ignore them. Linkov asserts that forced male prostitution among the ranks of Russian servicemen stationed at home has become "a professional business"...and that "generals and colonels [are] among clients".

You hear that, American soldiers? Members of the Russian military are so loyal to their superiors that they're willing to do whatever it takes--whatever it takes--to please them (or, if they happen to be a little higher up the ladder themselves, pummelling their subordinates into doing it so that they can make money)! I declare that the men (sorry, ladies, but I think it seems pretty clear where the demand lies) of America's armed forces must rally themselves at once to join the international prostitution race, before Russia gets too far ahead and we find ourselves in another Cold War.

Now 'The Today Show' Will Never Win the Super Bowl

Former NFL running back Tiki Barber (y'know--the Barber twin who didn't win a Super Bowl) is set to become an NBC television personality, a hiring that is scheduled to be formally announced by NBC in a press conference on Tuesday. Barber, who will begin his new job in April, will be a news correspondent for “The Today Show” and is expected to have a role in the NBC’s Sunday night football broadcasts.

Personally, I think this is a very risky signing for NBC, particularly with regards to "Today". Barber has said that rather than being another ex-athlete who sits on a panel and pontificates about the game he used to play, he wants to be a "do-it-all" broadcaster...specifically citing "Today" co-host Matt Lauer as the type of broadcasting personality he hopes to become.

How can the network not see the writing on the wall? He might be all smiles and "no regrets" on the surface, but you just know that to retire after one of the best seasons of his career without a Super Bowl ring is just eating Tiki up inside. It might not happen right away, but sooner or later that repressed rage is going to fry some circuits in Barber's brain, leading to an altogether deadly Single White Female situation between him and Lauer, the unwitting object of Tiki's misdirected obsession. I don't see this turning out well for anybody...particularly Meredith Viera, whom Tiki might very well end up killing with a shoe. Tune in this spring!

The Australian Prime Minister is a Purple Archmage*

In a nationally (his nation, not ours) televised interview on Sunday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that al-Qaida leaders in Iraq should "be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for [Barack] Obama but also for the Democrats" in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections.

When Howard's opponent for a fifth term, Labor candidate Kevin Rudd (who's pulling away from Howard in the latest opinion poll, a fact some are theorizing is motivating the the current PM to shoot his mouth off) pointed out that Howard's comments could harm Australia's future with a possible Democratic U.S. administration, the conservative Howard--a steadfast supporter of George W. Bush in the Iraq War--did not waiver in his douchebaggery, telling Parliament at Canberra, "I'm doing nothing of the kind. I don't retract anything I said."

Way to go,'ve proven that you really are a fan of George W. Bush in that you've begun modeling your behavior after his in three easy steps: (1) say things that make you obstinate buffoon, then when (2) people point out that you're acting like an obstinate buffoon, giving you an opportunity to amend your stance, (3) act like even more of an obstinate buffoon until the entire world has turned against you.

Then you'll have them right where you want them.

*"Purple archmage" is Australian for "dick".

Ralph Fiennes Likes His Women Airborne (and Possibly Trapped)

I've always presumed actor Ralph Fiennes to be somewhat of a bore, that his commonly respectable yet stuffy choices of film roles were a reflection of the man himself. Little did I know that he had already proven me wrong last month by letting his fun side out on a Qantas Airways flight from Australia to India, where he allegedly became "amorous" with a female flight attendant in the lavatory.

The flight attendant, Lisa Robertson, who as of yesterday has been suspended by Qantas, is denying that she had sex with Fiennes--that she, in fact, thwarted his inappropriate advances. Whether or not she's telling the truth is irrelevant, for all that matters is this:

Ralph Fiennes just became a little more interesting.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Most TV-Movie-Ready Thing You've Ever Heard NOT One Step Closer to Becoming a TV Movie; Granada America are Lying Shadeballs



Have you heard the one about the crazy astronaut lady who drove 900 miles in a diaper to try to kill another lady who was into another astronaut that the crazy lady was also into? Of course you have.

And in a development that should surprise absolutely no one (Defamer is already days ahead of the curve in narrowing down prospective casting choices), the film rights to Lisa Marie Nowak's story have been optioned [Ed. note: dead link]--specifically, the film rights to a New York Times article about Lisa Marie Nowak's story, written by John Schwartz. The production company who ponied up an undisclosed sum for the piece is Granada America--yes, the Granada America, producers of such legendary made-for-TV fare as the Jason Priestly vehicle I Want to Marry Ryan Banks and The Twelve Days of Christmas Eve, starring Molly Shannon. They have gone on record as saying that the story will be developed "either for a feature or television film".

If Granada America actually believes that The Stalker Wore Space Underpants: The Lisa Marie Nowak Story will ever see the inside of a multiplex--as opposed to the living rooms of proud, NASA-supporting Americans, where it rightfully belongs--they certainly are shooting for the moon.

Get it? The moon? That's where astronauts have gone on occasion!


Once the original link reporting this news had vanished, I was compelled to inquire further, and found this. Apparently, The New York Times is saying that neither the newspaper nor John Schwartz has or plans a deal with Granada. Damn you, lying producers of "But Can They Sing?"!

UPDATE (02/11/07): John Schwartz, the very man who wrote the New York Times article at this center of this story, has been kind enough to comment on this post and further clarify the matter. As you can see in his explanation of how this false report ever got out in the first place (his second comment--the fifth one down), he's taking the fact that his name and reputation were used in a big fat lie on the part of Granada America with more grace and maturity than I would have. Maybe that's why he writes for one of the most respected publications in the world and I often spent large portions of weekdays in pajama pants.

Rugby Fans, Including Russell Crowe, are Afraid of Girls

Hasn't the rap on rugby always been that it's the manliest sport that a sport can possibly be, what with the lack of protective equipment and heavy emphasis on "scrumming" making American football look like a little girl's tea party by comparison? Add Australians to the mix and you've got to figure that it's time to hide the women and children, right? Make it an Australian rugby team owned by Russell Crowe and,'s reasonable to assume that the women and children have no chance and it's time to save yourself. Isn't that what fans of rugby would have the world believe?

If the fans in question are fans of the South Sydney Rabbitohs club (see? rugby's ostensibly so manly that teams are called "clubs"), which is part-owned by Russell Crowe, they don't have a leg to stand on. The club has cut its cheerleading squad due to a conclusion by Crowe and the rest of the ownership that skimpily clad cheerleaders detract from the game and "make spectators uncomfortable". And with that decision, nearly 200 years of manliness associated with the sport have been flushed down the toilet in the inappropriate, non-swirling way. (Do the wussifying effects of Crowe starring in A Good Year know no bounds?)

Scantily-clad gyrating women make you uncomfortable, do they, rugby fans? So brutal violence is something to be celebrated by the whole family, while sex is something to be afraid of and hide from. Not only does that not sound like a particularly masculine point of view, it doesn't even sound Australian.

As a matter of fact, it sounds strangely...American.

[Ed. note: This blog's not even two weeks old and I've already twice posted an image of Russell Crowe on it. What's my deal?]

Me vs. My Page-A-Day Mensa Puzzle Calendar - 02/09/07

QUESTION: "A simple substitution code has been used to conceal a 'quote.' Work out the code to decipher the original words.

"Little Miss Muffet:
9 14-5-22-5-18 12-9-11-5-4 3-21-18-4-19 1-14-4 23-8-5-25 20-15 2-5-7-9-14 23-9-20-8.

MY ANSWER: "I never liked curds and whey to begin with." (A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.)

ACTUAL ANSWER: "I never liked curds and whey to begin with." (1=A, 2=B, 3=C, etc.)

CONSENSUS: Man, when they say "simple", they mean it. I suspect that my Mensa calendar's ATM PIN might be "1-2-3-4-5".

Lawsuit Won't Stop from Fulfilling All Your Cockfighting-Related Needs

Following up on a threat made over the summer, on Thursday the Humane Society of the United States filed a civil lawsuit in District of Columbia Superior Court against online retailer juggernaut, accusing the website of illegally promoting animal fighting because it offers two cockfighting magazines for sale. The Humane Society is claiming that the magazines violate federal animal cruelty laws;'s position is that refusing to sell books or magazines simply because their messages may offend is censorship...but one particularly astonishing fact has arisen from this dispute that, curiously, neither side is paying much heed to:

There are at least two magazines in existence in the United States that are dedicated to cockfighting.

One's called The Gamecock; the other, Feathered Warrior. What I've gleaned from the customer reviews (scroll down--they're worth a read) on is that The Gamecock is the New York Times of cockfighting magazines--the gold standard by which all others are measured (one reviewer actually states that the monthly contains "lots of sage advice from elders")--while Feathered Warrior, despite having been around since 1903 (according to its Amazon page) (and, for my money, boasting the superior name) appears to fulfill the market role of a distant second banana (while The Gamecock currently holds the 80th position in magazine sales on, Feathered Warrior is languishing at #928)...not so much the Pepsi to Gamecock's Coke as it is perhaps its Shasta.

The good news for both is that, as of this writing, the two magazines remain available for purchase on, who stands defiant in the face of the Humane Society's lawsuit. As Feathered Warrior owner-editor Verna Dowd, 77, told reporters: "The Humane Society are crazy people...I don't know what's wrong with them."

Amen, Verna. In a world where the practice of training birds to murder other birds for amusement and profit might possibly be seen as wrong...I don't want to be right.