February 2005 Archives


I was all set to write something else when I made the mistake of checking Drudge and finding this headline:


The link doesn't go anywhere, but it doesn't have to. I am now officially overloaded. Thank you, Mr. Drudge and Mr. Breitbart. I'm now turning off the computer and going to rinse out my brain.


Best Picture: no surprise. Didn't see it. Guess I hafta now.

Boy, was that a boring show. "Ever get the feeling you've been had?..."



"Eternal Sunshine" won best original screenplay- I really do have to rent that thing. (We actually DID rent it once but didn't have time to actually WATCH it...) Charlie Kaufman showed why you have to be prepared with a speech on index cards- he was endearingly thrown by the clock, but, dude, next time- and there very well could be a next time- write it all out.

Best actor: Wanda the Ugly Woman. Somewhere, Keenen Ivory Wayans is thinking "Carrey, J. Lo, my brothers, now this- how did THIS happen? Where's MY reward?"

Best director: Dirty Harry. His mother's there! His mother!


Prince showed up in purple, but all he did was read off the prompter. Why couldn't they have HIM perform? I don't care if he hasn't done anything worth hearing in about 20 years, just let him do a song or two.

OK, the guy from "Motorcycle Diaries" sang his acceptance speech. At least it was short.

Sean Penn came out disheveled and for some reason felt the need to defend Jude Law from Chris Rock's jokes. Sean Penn may be the most humorless human being on Earth. Mrs. Chad Lowe won Best Actress, which gave everyone the opportunity to see her spectacularly low-backed gown. She doesn't do anything for me- the accent in this movie seems forced/fakey, can't say I care for her looks- but I'm obviously wrong, because she keeps winning. Whatever. I didn't see any of the movies in this category, so I know nothing.

You didn't need me to tell you that.


The "in memoriam" parade started with Reagan, who got less of an ovation than Jerry Orbach or Janet Leigh or Paul Winfield or Elmer Bernstein. Brando got the biggest, Rodney Dangerfield very little. The crowd's strangely subdued tonight- I wonder if it's by design, whether they were told to keep the ovations to a minimum, or whether the sound engineering is cutting back on the volume. It's been like that all night. Or maybe everyone's still depressed over the election. Or maybe the show's boring. Hmm, that could be it.

Aw, geez, Puffy? Why? What did we do to deserve this? And Beyonce AGAIN? With Josh Groban? This will be Vegas in ten years- the Beyonce and Groban Theater at the Bellagio. How much did Beyonce's people pay to get her this exposure?

It's been a while since any major awards have been given out. There's about an hour left before overtime- it can't go by fast enough. For an allegedly "edgy" show with an "edgy" host, this has so far been as lame as it gets.


Beyonce is singing again? They couldn't find someone else to sing?

The live-action short winner actually said "the dog's bollocks"! Think the people manning the delay even know what bollocks are?

Chris Rock made a very old, very lame breast joke about Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz. Then they come out and Penelope Cruz' outfit pretty much justifies the joke.

Penelope Cruz just called Che Guevara an "idealist." Is that what the kids are calling totalitarian pro-Soviet, anti-freedom warriors fond of executing prisoners without trial when he wasn't putting them in forced labor camps these days? The same people who railed against Bush for Abu Ghraib probably LOVED "The Motorcycle Diaries." But nobody said Hollywood folks know their history.


Here's a little schtick between Adam Sandler and Chris Rock with Rock reading the lines of the "missing" Catherine Zeta-Jones. Not funny at all.

Best adapted screenplay? "Sideways." Deserving. It had to win something.

How did the star of "Bubble Boy" become a star big enough to be a presenter at the Oscars? HE WAS "BUBBLE BOY!" In a movie co-starring Beetlejuice from Howard Stern's show!

What does it say that when they dedicated the show to the troops, not a single person stood up?

Whoops, here comes the Sidney Lumet tribute. Time to bail for a few minutes.


Man, Mike Myers is looking mottled.

Another original song. OH, MY LORD, LOOK AT ADAM DURITZ' HAIR! Does he realize how ridiculous he looks? He's gotten chubbier and balder and now looks like an accountant on a weekend bar-hop, except for a string mop of dreads plunked atop his head in an unnatural clump. Someone buy him a mirror. And maybe a song that doesn't sound like every other Counting Crows song.

They just showed the upper tiers of the Kodak Theater- empty seats galore. They don't use seat fillers up there, and it looks like Adam and his Crows cleared everyone into the lobby. Can you blame them?


While they do the Carson tribute with the inexplicable taped interjections of Whoopi Goldberg...

One thing that strikes me- of all this year's movies, which ones will we remember a few years from now? Which ones will we revisit? Which were this year's "Raging Bull," "Casablanca," "Chinatown"? It's an interesting thing to ponder when you realize that the Best Picture nominees may not be in that category. Will anyone be looking back at the artistry of "The Aviator"? "Ray"? Doubt it. "Sideways," maybe, and I didn't see the other two. But I did see "The Aviator" and "Ray," and they were standard Hollywood biopics, nothing special, nothing I'd ever want to see again. Of the year's movies, my strongest memories were of "Sideways," "Kill Bill" (both), "The Incredibles," "Shrek 2" (!), "Shaun of the Dead" (!!!), "I (Heart) Huckabees" (not because it was all that good), "Garden State." That's not to say that they were the best of the year, and I didn't see several of the more highly regarded flicks, but I know that "The Aviator" and "Ray" were overrated. Although maybe "Ray" gets points for featuring Booger, with a bizarrely shaven head, in a major supporting role.

Did Kirsten Dunst's head get even bigger? Has she been hanging out with Jose Canseco lately? Jeez.


Now there's a taped bit where Chris Rock goes down to the Magic Johnson Theaters and asks people what their favorite movies of the year were, which appears to be a make-fun-of-regular-people schtick. It's amusing enough, if condescending.

Scarlett Johanssen's hair appears to be made out of some sort of cotton-rayon blend.

Hey, kids, it's the Sci-Tech awards part where they ram through edited acceptance speeches- time to hit the rest rooms for a smoke and some blow!

Pierce Brosnan has apparently morphed into Alec Baldwin, and he's sharing the stage with animated Edna Mode. The whole live action-animation hybrid never works. This is no exception.

Really, they ought to just distill this to a one-hour deal, hand out just the biggies- actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, Best Picture, Best Director. Be done with it, mail out the rest, get to the parties faster.

Ah, Supporting Actress. Evidently, the category is really Best Impression, because Cate Blanchett really only did a Katherine Hepburn imitation. It was hardly acting. I think the voters thought this would be an honor to the real Katherine Hepburn.


This wasn't a bad year for movies, but the biggest movies were a little underwhelming, which may be why I just haven't really been all that interested in the Oscars. But, yeah, I'm watching while I work.

Maybe I was distracted by Renee Zellweger's striking resemblance to Olive Oyl, but I got the sense Chris Rock's monologue didn't quite get the boffo response for which it was designed- the Bush bashing got some appreciative applause, as you'd expect, but the "Soul Plane" material got murmurs rather than laughs, and some of the audience reaction shots showed the stars nodding and clapping and even grimacing rather than dissolving into tears.

Morgan Freeman won a Lifetime Achievement Award- er, Best Supporting Actor for playing pretty much the same role he's played before, but the shame is how his greatest work has gone unrewarded. And by that, I refer, of course to "The Electric Company."

Robin Williams resorting to an Elmer Fudd impression? He's run out of material.

"The Incredibles" deserved it. They should go back and give Brad Bird one for "The Iron Giant," too.

This thing where the tech awards are given out at their seats or with all of them already on stage- obviously a time-saving attempt- is just plain weird. I'm waiting for them to hand out an award in the men's room.

Oh, no, here comes the first Best Original Song nominee. Beyonce singing in French with a boy's choir. Um, no, no thanks, not now.


This Iowahawk post is priceless. Hunter Thompson meets Scooby and friends- wish I'd thought of that.

When Scooby invokes the guy from Nazareth, I lost it.

(Hat tip: LGF)


I slept all day.



Yes, I think this picture is funny. But the headline makes it special.

It must be terrible to be a celebrity knowing that you can't even scratch yourself, let alone puke on the roadside, without someone snapping your photo. We watched that "Stars Without Makeup" show on Fox last night and agreed that it was a new low, snarkily criticizing (mostly) actresses for having the temerity to get older. Just terrible, we thought. Evil, even.

Except that we watched it all. And there's the rub: if not for the obsessive celebrity-watching, these folks would not be as rich and famous as they are. They owe a lot of whatthey have to the very banes of their existence, the paparazzi and the bottom-feeding tabloid journos. It's a tradeoff you know you have to make when you chase after stardom- you'll lose your privacy in exchange for fame and fortune.

And, sometimes, someone will fire off their camera phone when you have to expel a load of vomit. It's a small price to pay.


Hugh Hewitt has an item on the resistance to Wal-Mart, and how the media reacts, and he's right but he misses a critical point, the reason the media, the print media in particular, can't stand Wal-Mart.

Follow the money.

Wal-Mart doesn't do much newspaper advertising. The chains that Wal-Mart competes with do. Ever wonder why Target, which bears a striking resemblance to a slightly more pricey, slightly more fashionable Wal-Mart, never gets bad press? Buy the Sunday paper and check the circulars. That'll tell you everything you need to know.


At the post office the other day, a guy walking in front of me with a cell phone pressed to his ear and a daughter running in random circles around his feet bumped his way through the door, failing to prop it open for me. Fine, not a problem, I thought, he's busy. And then I recognized the voice.

The guy was a radio chef. He'd been, until recently, host of a restaurant show on a big L.A. talk station, but one weekend not long ago he was suddenly gone, a non-person, replaced. Shortly thereafter, I saw his picture in a flyer as the new spokesman for a grocery chain. That's what he was discussing on the phone. I think he was hoping people would be listening.

"Yeah, well, they tell me sales are up," he said. "They're seeing increases everywhere." And it sounded to me like he was insinuating that the sales increases were due to him. In a way, I imagine he's right- the previous spokesperson for that chain was a child, an unbelievably grating little kid who looked like a clam in glasses and a hat and had a nails-on-a-blackboard voice to go along with it. They could have hired Scott Peterson as spokesman and it would have been an improvement. But the guy kept talking, left the post office, and soon climbed into his SUV and was gone.

We all like to ascribe the success of the business for which we work to ourselves. Must be me, we think. And then things go south and it's someone else's fault. Good equals us, bad equals those idiots in marketing. I listened to the guy- how could I not?- and I felt for him. He didn't have his show anymore, all he has is this endorsement deal, and he wants it to work for him. Can't blame him. I would, too. But, dude, if sales are up, or down, or flat, it has nothing to do with you. And I'd tell you that even if you'd held the door for me.


I'm amazed and impressed, really, that Glenn and Ed can continue to blog, and eloquently and prolifically so, while their wives have been in health emergencies. Their dedication is admirable, both to their readers and their spouses.

Me, anything happens to Fran, I fold like origami. She's OK now, but it was a long day, so I'm going to take the cheap way out and beg off for now. My brain isn't big enough to handle everything at once. Thanks for your understanding.


Still raining.

This has to stop sometime, right?


A guy is charged with plotting to assassinate the President, and it's not the lead story anywhere.

If this was 1980, or 1970, or 1960, it would be different. "PLOT TO KILL PRES FOILED," you'd see on the Daily News. "MAN HELD IN PRES SLAY PLOT," that would be the headline on Newsday. The Post would have "PARIS HILTON PHONE HACKED." You know how the Post is. But it would be all over the place.

But not today. Right now on CNN.com, the lead is the double killing in the Amber Alert case in Texas, then there's a crackdown on scams, then there's the drop in the dow, then there's Bush's comments about Iran, and then there's the arrest. At Foxnews.com, it's either second or third depending on how you read the page- California's rains and the double killing are both above it. It's an also ran on MSNBC.com (main hed: "Bush's Hit List"), where it doesn't even make the top seven headlines, although there's a note that it's being discussed on "Scarborough Country," in an evenhanded and clam manner, I trust. ABC News doesn't even have it on the main page. CBS has it second to California's mud.

I dunno, maybe it's because the guy's been in custody since 2003, but we don't seem to treat attempts on the President's life the way we used to. I wonder sometimes whether the world would stop now the way it did on November 22, 1963 if, God forbid, there was a repeat performance. Maybe 9/11 indicates that it would. I'd hope so. But this is a different world.


Today, February 21, in 1848, the Communist Manifesto was published. In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated, and in 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated. NASCAR was incorporated on this day in 1948. Nixon arrived in China on February 21, 1972, and Greta Garbo's first American film opened on February 21, 1926.

And all of these events pale against one overriding, critical event that occurred on February 21. This was the day on which Fran was born. Nothing else even approaches the importance of that.

Happy birthday, Fran. I love you.


Addendum to yesterday's weather-related mea culpa: all that mud that cascaded down our hill ended up in someone's home. The home in question was a multi-million-dollar house a half-block away, right on the cliff overhanging the Pacific Ocean.

There was a front-page article about that house in today's Daily Breeze with pictures- here it is.

You can temper your sympathy because they're rich, if you like. I feel really bad for them- they were rebuilding that place for what seemed like a year and a half, and they'd finally moved in not too long ago. And no matter how wealthy anyone is, nobody deserves an 18 inch cascade of mud busting down the front door.


The NBA All-Star Game halftime show is LeAnn Rimes and Big and Rich.

The NBA All-Star Game.


Somewhere in a luxury suite, David Stern is saying something to a client about how you can't say the league appeals only to hip-hop fans and video-game players anymore. See? he's saying. Country music. We're huge with the red staters. Maybe we'll consider a franchise in Nashville, if Ratner can't close the deal in Brooklyn.

Nope, no scary hip-hop here. We got us some twang.

I liked it better when they dunked at half-time. No music.

(This game is pretty useless, actually, but it's for stuff like Vince Carter's off-the-glass-pass-to-himself slam. And memo to Charles Barkley- maybe Atkins for a month or so, OK? Take it from a fellow weight struggler, it's time, man)


Yeah, so, Los Angeles people overreact to rain. Ha ha!

Ha ha my ass. Sometimes, smug sarcastic humor comes back to haunt you. Last night, after writing yesterday's post and hearing John and Ken talk about it on the air, mocking the weatherman for his panic-inducing forecast, I went to sleep, secure in the knowledge that, hey, it's just rain. No big deal.

It was about 2 am.


What the hell was THAT?

Thunder, Fran whispered. Just thunder.

But it sounded like the roof just caved in!

It's thunder.

And so it was. The rain had picked up into a torrent, the lightning and thunder were... well, you know, we don't get lightning and thunder in Los Angeles like you do almost anywhere else. I hadn't heard nor seen that kind of thunderboomer since a couple of Midwestern trips over a decade ago. And they were close- I was doing the count-the-seconds-between-the-flash-and-the-boom thing, and the two were simultaneous. Direct hits.


Ella the World's Most Famous Cat was born in Long Beach. She's never been outside of the LBC and South Bay. She had no experience with this kind of thing, and she was terrified. After running under the bed and spending a couple of hours there, she decided to try and come back out. She scrambled onto the bed at my feet, teetered on the edge, then tried to walk across the bed, planting one paw on my leg, wobbling, testing the ground (my leg) with her other paw, satisfied, then, just as she began to walk over me...


And like a shot, she was back under the bed. It's about 12 hours later and she's still shaky.

The next inkling that this was bigger than we'd thought came when my sister and I went to get a little walk/run exercise in between the raindrops. There'd been some dirt in the pool, some standing mud/water on the edge of the patio, but nothing too bad when we went out, but after we got rained on a lot, we returned and a neighbor was bailing water out of his garage with trash cans. Poor guy, I thought, and then I came back, took a shower, changed, walked into the living room, looked out the glass doors to the yard, and saw that the patio was underwater. The whole thing, right up to the house. Water and dirt and mud. After a while, it subsided, and we all figured it was over and time for lunch. We drove up the street and had to turn around- a fire truck and utility crews were there, and there were hoses and mud everywhere. Down at the end of the block, a fleet of trucks had appeared, with several workers and sandbags. Up the next street, we got onto the main road, which was now covered with mud and rocks, and after a quarter mile, we were turned back because rockslides had closed the road. We went the long way around, and in our lunch travels, we saw power outages, mudslides, utility crews, sewer trucks, and blinking or dead traffic lights everywhere. Finally back home, we discovered our street had become Mud River.

And that's what it's like now. Looking up the street:

And down the street:

And right at the street:

The shiny stuff's mud. It's flowing. It's worse in person.

And now comes the promise: I will never make fun of people who panic over minor weather emergencies again. Never.

Until next time. I can't help myself.


We walked by a place tonight that does cosmetic enhancements and procdures and the like, and there was a menu of sorts outside the front door:

You can see there are some things that have been taped over on the menu. Um... what's under the tape? I mean, are there things that, well, they can't- er, don't do anymore? Was there a consent decree with the state? Why would they have to cover over some options?

Just asking.


It's raining in L.A. right now- it's pretty hard and pretty steady, and pretty, actually. Southern California in the rain is lovely, palm trees waving and glistening, the ocean turning dark and choppy. THis is lost on the locals, who can't drive in this weather, and it turns the TV newscasters absolutely moronic. A few minutes ago, the weather clown on KCBS-TV news actually suggested that viewers take the day off on Friday if they can to avoid driving in the rain. He was serious. We're not getting a monsoon, we're just getting rain, regular rain, the kind Seattle gets 300 days out of the year. Yeah, take the day off. Take cover. RUN!!!

And the idiocy is contagious. Just after that gem, anchor Harold Green introduced a report on the mysterious peacock deaths in Palos Verdes Estates by saying they were happening in "Rancho Verde Estates," then threw it to reporter Jaime Garza, who promptly identified his location as "Rancho Palos Estates." He later amended that to Rancho Palos Verdes, which happens to be the correct name of the town in which I'm located. But that's not where he was.

I have to stop watching the local news.


I was going to go on a rant about the House passage of the indecency bill when I was distracted by models in body paint. The good part is that if you really, really concentrate and focus on the body instead of the paint, the view's nice. The trouble is the paint. If I'm going to be staring at, say, Daniella Sarahyba (and that reference guarantees a sudden Google leap- hi, Daniella Sarahyba fans), I really don't want to have any thoughts about the Phoenix Coyotes.


Oh, right, indecency. Well, you know how I feel. Like here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here. I'm not gonna repeat the argument here. But I still want Fred Upton or Joe Barton or any of the Congresspersons who voted yea on the bill today to explain to me why they're so crazed by whatever they perceive indecent broadcasting to be, what the harm is, and why this, of all things, required a rush vote while countless other actually important issues remain untouched. I also want to ask why the Washington press corps doesn't ask them the same questions, why the Congresspeople and Senators and FCC commissioners all get a hall pass for this one Perhaps it's because 99% of the reporters covering broadcast regulation have no idea what the issues are, because they haven't worked in the business and don't understand the business and don't give a rat's ass, since they only took the beat because it was the only one available. (Even trade reporters, a group of which I am a member, aren't on the ball- I won't make much mention of a particular trade reporter's embarrassing appearance- he clearly didn't know how Congress works- on Stern's show this morning because I like the guy, but, y'know, geez)

Bottom line: we've entered the Twilight Zone, and broadcasters refuse to stand up for themselves. If I had a show right now, I'd be on the air every day demanding answers and rallying listeners and storming Capitol Hill. But I don't have a show, and the industry won't defend itself.

And maybe I shouldn't waste my time helping people who won't help themselves.


And after all that, the proposal in Orlando was a hoax. The Magic did it as a publicity thing.

It worked- nice one. But what I said still holds. You don't propose at a ball game. And it you were thinking about doing that, don't. You got that?


A long, long time ago- okay, it was about 1988- Fran and I, as yet unmarried, were sitting in the field boxes down the third base line at Veterans Stadium, watching the Phillies play, when Dan Baker came on the P.A. and called attention to the scoreboard, on which someone was proposing to his girlfriend. As the happy couple burbled and smooched, Fran and I looked at each other, and we didn't need to say anything, but Fran did anyway:

"If you even THINK of proposing here, I will kill you."

No worry about that, ma'am. I'm not that stupid/crazy/unromantic.

Sunday night in Orlando, a guy dropped to his knees on the court during the Magic-Hornets game and proposed.

Photo Credit: WKMG-TV/Orlando- local6.com

Bless her heart, his girlfriend turned and ran away.

(Hat tip: Pat Campbell, WFLF (540 WFLA)/Orlando)

Guys, it is a rare woman who wants to be proposed to at a ballpark. Women grow up dreaming of being swept away by the handsome prince riding the white steed. They'll accept a heartfelt ring presentation at a nice restaurant or an appropriate location (for us, it was Logan Square in Philadelphia, by the fountain at night). They most assuredly do not dream of being embarrassed or pressured in front of 15,000 strangers buzzed on watered-down Bud Light.

The hard truth is this: the proposal, the wedding, the reception, guys, they're not for you. Guys don't dream of marriage. Guys don't think they'll ever get married, and when they do, it's kind of a surprise to them. Women- not all, but I'd venture that it's most- dream of the proposal, dream of the wedding, dream of it all very specifically. They know what they want- the proposal on the beach, the wedding at the Ritz-Carlton, the prince sweeping them away, riding off into the spectacular sunset. Dwight Howard and Grant Hill do not figure into that image unless they're the groom.



If you're a single guy, consider yourself schooled. No need to thank me.


The sun was setting, it seemed, directly at the end of the Hermosa Pier as we strolled on it, across the beach and over the ocean, and stopped above the water's edge. There was a warm breeze, the lights of Malibu and Palos Verdes were twinkling in the distance- Southern California doesn't get more Southern California-like.

And the only thing that mattered to me at that moment, this evening, was that the woman I love was there with me, her smile outshining the lights. Everything else disappeared. Work, money- nothing mattered. Just one person, the perfect partner for the perfect moment.

And whatever the faults of this day, however you want to spin its origins and commercial aspects and Hallmarkization, if it's merely an excuse to escape from the office on a Monday night, head for the beach, and share a special moment, well, that's good enough for me.

Happy Valentine's Day, Fran.


I'm not lovin' it.

That would, of course, refer to the McDonald's ad campaign which features the slogan "I'm lovin' it," and I don't have to tell you how the campaign appears to be an attempt to seem "hip" and "now" and "fab" and "boss" and possibly even "groovy, man" or "gear" to today's young trans-fat consumer. And that would be fine, if rather misguided, if it wasn't accompanied by things like I got in a Valpak coupon mailer this week.

The McDonald's coupon is a promotion for the fact that the chain has expanded the menu to include marginally less lethal, if significantly less tasty, items. The arches and slogan appear in the upper left (I'd scan it, but there are copyright notices and while I'd call it fair use, I really don't need any C&D letters right now), and there's ayoung blond woman in pigtails with a strange, insane grin looking at floating food items, accompanied by the slogan "my life my choice." Er, good for you. But that's not the problem. First, the detachable coupon says "get me FREE," and if "me" is the same as "I'm" and "my" elsewhere in the ad, I assume that means you get the girl free, which is certainly a deal but might be a little scary, considering the insane grin and all. And then there's this:

    Get a free McVeggie Burger (R) with the purchase of any menu item, 'cuz McDonald's fits the way you live.

Wait just a goldarned minute. Let's replay that last part:

    'cuz McDonald's fits the way you live.

Get that?


Ah... no. No, no, no. NO. McDonald's can't go around saying "'cuz." McDonald's is a multinational corporation. Multinational corporations don't say "'cuz." This is the kind of cutesy, heavy-handed stuff ad agencies put in ads to make them "relevant" to the "target audience," who, of course, wouldn't be caught dead writing "'cuz" or, for that matter, ordering a McVeggie Burger. A Quarter Pounder, sure. But no McVeggie and no "'cuz."

You may not care about this. It makes me want to track down the marketing people responsible for this and make them pay.

(Is there any relevance to the fact that the Spanish version on the opposite side ("mi vida me eleccion") has nothing comparable to "'cuz"? Probably not- the agency geeks probably couldn't figure out how to do it, but you know they tried)

Here's a message to corporate America: it's okay, really, it is. We know you're a bunch of (mostly white, mostly male) people who aren't in touch with the street. You don't have to be. You keep pumping out the burgers and fries, we'll eat 'em, and you don't have to try to act "cool." You're not Fonzie. You're not even Richie. You're Potsie, you're terminally uncool, and that's the way we like you.


Long week, it's Saturday, I'm Easoned out. Only one thing to do: mindless popcorn flick time.

Why, yes, we did see "Hitch." How did you know?

(Amusing, stupid, you'll forget it in 15 minutes. Recommended for fat guys who think they stand a chance with supermodels. Popcorn was good, Icee was a little too melty- hard to suck up through the straw. Napkins were average- firm, a little rough. Seats were reasonably comfortable. Two thumbs sideways)


The spin didn't work. Eason Jordan's out, and he's going to be lionized by the folks who post at Romanesko. He'll be a martyr. He fell on his sword.

Here's the amazing thing- not once did CNN or Jordan even suggest for a second that the videotape of his remarks in Davos be released. There it was, proof of exactly what he said, and neither he nor CNN every asked that it be made public.

That should tell you something about the kind of martyr he is.

We are in a different age now, one where the kind of wild-ass charges and flippant remarks people would throw around with abandon in the past are now heard, reported, and fact-checked within minutes. Jordan didn't say anything that hadn't been said before by others with an axe to grind against the military- indeed, he'd said similar things before without repercussions- but now the word gets out, unfiltered. His brethren in the news media kept it quiet, but bloggers didn't, and he's gone.

I'm pretty much an absolutist on free speech, which is one of the areas in which I depart from the extremes on both left and right. I think you ought to say whatever the hell you want to say, right or wrong, obscene and indecent or refined and pure. Wanna drop f-bombs on TV? I say go ahead- even if kids hear it, it's nothing that they won't hear elsewhere and nothing they can't handle. We've discussed that here. But there's another side to that- you cannot say things without regard to consequence. You can state lies about someone, but you'll face libel charges. You CAN yell "Fire" in a crowded theater, but if people stampede, you're responsible (unless there really IS a fire, that is). And now, if you make outlandish claims about anything, there's a battalion of bloggers ready to debate you. That's not something with which people like Eason Jordan feel comfortable.

And that's why he's no longer running CNN. But I'm guessing he'll be a j-school professor any day now, nursing his wounds, teaching another generation how to do things the old-fashioned way. If he teaches them to be careful and get stories confirmed before spouting them in public, maybe this whole episode was worth it.

Up to now, I've been working mostly at home with only occasional trips out of town or business meetings and lunches up in Burbank or Hollywood, and I've maintained good health, even when it appeared that the rest of society was dropping like flies from the flu, colds, the grippe, whatever. And I'd laugh- hey, I have it all figured out! Stay home! After all, you won't get sick if you don't have to go places where there are lots of people.

In the last few weeks, a project for satellite radio had me heading up to the Westside every night.

This morning, my throat hurt a little, all the way back in the deepest corner. My ear was a little uncomfortable. My throat was kicking up a little phlegm.

Maybe I shouldn't leave the house.


Sometimes you assume that when you're a writer, everyone you know reads everything you write, but that isn't the case. I know, for example, that Fran reads the column, because I catch her on the computer reading it- I think she uses it to try and figure out exactly what's percolating inside my mind, since I guess my typical daily behavior doesn't betray much of that. I know when friends read it, because some of them (hi, Joe!) berate me for my troglodyte tendencies and others (hi, Larry!) approve of the same. But I get a lot of "now, what is it that you do again?" from my friends and relatives. That's okay- I don't sit in their offices and watch what they do for a living, either.

Our friend Gwen just found out about this page. Gwen's been Fran's friend since childhood and didn't sternly disapprove of me when Fran started dating me, so I instantly liked her. She hasn't actually read this column yet, but the whole idea that I write stuff like this, related to her by Fran, is apparently intriguing, and she told Fran that she'd love to be mentioned in this blog. Well, who am I to deny a request like that? So, hello and welcome to our newest reader, Gwen Canter of New Jersey!

(Now, if she reads any of the stuff I've written, that stern disapproval may yet be forthcoming....)


The commercial bothered me the moment I saw it. It was on a Super Bowl pre-game show, and it was striking and disturbing- a boy in a 1950s living room is sitting on the floor at what appears to be his grandfather's feet, watching "I Love Lucy" on a big black-and-white console TV. He gets up and walks away, and as he walks he morphs into older and older versions of himself and the scene changes accordingly- he's a teenager at a party with a smaller black-and-white TV, he's walking through a Johnny Rockets-style malt shop with a TV on, he's a young sideburned husband with his wife and baby and a portable TV, he's an adult walking through a bar with color TVs overhead, and as he walks through the bar, having lost his hair, he begins to hobble and look, well decrepit. And finally, he walks into a living room much like the one in which he started, he takes a seat in front of a flat-panel TV, and a boy- his grandson, probably, although you never know- sits on the floor in front of him. The spot is supposed to sell DirecTV, but I found it odd, unsettling. See, the timeline starts in the early 50's. I was a kid in the 60's.

I don't like this aging thing.

I've been insulated, for the most part, from watching the ravages of age- my parents were both young-acting, young-appearing, vibrant, active people until cancer ravaged them and took them in a relatively short time. Dad's hair was still mostly black at 73- he was proud of that- and he was out there playing tennis and swimming and shooting hoops until a few months before he died. Mom was Mom- exactly the same from the 60's all the way to a few months before she died, and then she was gone. I don't know what will happen to me, but I'm feeling some of the aging process now- aches, pains, creaking, not as fast as I used to be. And then I see a commercial, trying to sell me something!, reminding me that you rapidly go from a young sprite to an old fart in the relative space of a 60 second commercial. You'll end up like Grandpa, it says, having a hard time getting around, sitting uncomfortably forward on a decrepit chair passively watching the flickering images on the TV as your grandkid fidgets on the carpet, not pleased you're there- he'd be playing GTA San Andreas on that screen if you would just go away- but stuck with you nonetheless, because Mom told him he had to be with you because, well, Grandpa's lonely and besides, when he kicks, you want to be in the will, don't you?

Yeah, I think I'll run out and buy a DirecTV right away. Sold. You get Lawrence Welk on that thing?

I'd like to think I'm still part of the future. I have a whiz-bang computer thing, I have satellite radio- I do WORK for a satellite radio company, for the moment at least- and I don't recoil at the mention of the latest hip-hop hit or teen fad. But DirecTV has shown me the truth. I'm minutes away from geezerhood, minutes away from sitting in a booth alone at the Roll 'n' Rye gumming a corned beef-on-rye and loudly denouncing the guvmint to nobody in particular.

Oh, wait, I don't have DirecTV, I have Dish Network. Whew. There's still hope.


I've been trying to see if I can post from my Treo. Sometimoes it works, sometimes not.

If you see this, it worked.


    W.R. Grace & Co. and seven of the corporation's executives were indicted Monday for engaging in a long-running conspiracy to "knowingly release" hazardous asbestos fibers that placed the entire town of Libby, Montana, "in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury," the Justice Department announced.

    The indictment says for many years company officials knew, and tried to hide, the dangers to the community of 8,000 residents from its hazardous mining operation. Prosecutors say 1,200 residents of Libby have suffered lung diseases and related pleural abnormalities from exposure to tremolite asbestos. The document says more than 20 town residents suffered "an extremely rare and fatal form of cancer in humans known as mesothelioma."

I see that and I have nothing more to say.

Except this: I saw what mesothelioma did to my father and then I see a company cavalierly exposing a whole town to asbestos and it makes me beyond angry.

It made my father angry, too. Before he died, he told me about Libby, Montana, about the way the whole town was full of the fibers and how the company allegedly knew what it was doing and hid the truth from the people. And now the indictments are out, and the company's denying everything, with this P.R. spin:

    "As a company and as individuals, we believe that one serious illness or lost life is one too many."

If the company and its executives- if ANYBODY- really knew what was happening and tried to hide it... there is no punishment too severe. And I'd like to be there to watch when it happens.


"The Simpsons" sucked tonight, too.

You know it's bad when there are multiple "guest voices" playing themselves and they all wear sweatshirts with their names on them so you know who they're supposed to be.

The ratio of hits to misses on that show is getting a lot worse.

And "American Dad" appears to be a less funny "Family Guy" in which Dad's obnoxious instead of stupid, there's a wacky talking fish instead of a talking dog, and there's a sarcastic alien instead of a sarcastic baby. I'll take "Family Guy." Actually, I'll take the rest of the night off.


No miracle. McNabb didn't have it in him, and he didn't show himself to be even an adequate clock manager in a critical moment.

Unprepared or unable, there's no excuse. But New England, even on an off day (and they were off today), is a better team.

When does Spring Training start?


Worst. On-side kick. Ever.

Okay, not the worst- New England didn't score or anything. But that was virtually a bloop right into a guy's hands.

Ah, well.


And wouldn't this touchdown have been better if they'd left themselves enough time to score again?

Over, it isn't. And Vegas must be a madhouse right now.



If the game wasn't over before, he's making sure of it. He's tired? It's the last game. You had two weeks off. There's no excuse.

If there's anything coming out of this game, it's that McNabb is just plain not good enough. He has two minutes to make a miracle. He can do it. If he doesn't want to be embarrassed, he has to come through now. If he thinks a slow-huddle offense instead of a no-huddle offense is appropriate now, he's mistaken.



Another terrible decision by McNabb, another interception, another disaster.

And even though they stopped New England and forced a punt, they're throwing underneath, 2 and 4 yard plays when they need 20 and 40 yards. This is what happens when your quarterback is having a bad night and your game plan is too conservative for your needs.

Maybe the "Simpsons" episode wil be good. Probably not.


The look on Jim Johnson's face before Dillon picked up the first down said it all- He just looked frustrated and answer-free, watching his defense just plain being outplayed. And guys in green keep going down- Kearse went to the ground writhing and grabbing his calf. He stayed in, though.

Finally, they stopped the Patriots on third and goal. Field goal, better than it could have been, but there's still a mountain to climb and not a lot of time to do it in. Confidence? Ummm, well, not really. Good thing I'm not a player or coach.


Three and out at this stage of the game is awful, unacceptable, pathetic. Then a crap punt that gives New England decent field position yet again... you can't get angry about it, just frustrated.

Still not over. Need a stop, need something more from the offense.

But if they can't stop Branch, and he just got another one despite Sheldon Brown being exactly where he needed to be, it ain't gonna happen.


Oh, yeah, can we all agree that the Pylon Cam needs to be retired? Good. It's pointless. Can't see anything with it. Lose it. Thanks.


The painful part of this is how the Eagles seem to know what's coming yet let it happen anyway. They called the screen- they yelled it out as the play rolled out- yet there was Dillon, there was the ball, there was the goal line, there was the lead.

There's time. Still, if you can see trouble coming and you can't do anything to stop it, that's a bad sign.


So I ended up on a phone call while the Pats scored, then the Eagles scored. Trouble: Eagles can't stop Branch. Good: Westbrook's back in the game. Bad: Pinkston- yes, this is bad, despite his difficulties at times- is in the locker room getting an IV. Real trouble: those third down conversions by New England, which seem to be easier than they should be.

14-14 in the waning moments of the third? There are worse places to be.


There is little worse than forgettable football. Bad football's entertaining when the screw-ups are really huge and embarrassing. Good football's, well, good. This- well, it's tied, and I've already forgotten most of it.

I'm gonna go cook dinner. You go watch Paul McCartney or something. If someone's wardrobe malfunctions, call me back into the house, willya?


Well, that was inevitable. Givens was wide open, and the Eagles gave the Patriots field position too good to screw up (although they'd screwed that up before).

7-7, and nobody thought that would be the score at this stage. Neither the "Pats in a blow out" nor the "close game" people anticipated anything other than a high-scoring affair, which was curious insofar as the same people were touting how great the defenses are.

And they are, so 7-7 shouldn't be all that shocking. The sloppiness isn't a surprise for the Eagles, who played sloppy first halves all season, but the Patriots are usually more together out of the gate than this.


Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. You'd think there'd be more settling down by now, but both teams are just plain off. Brady's fumble, Johnson's miserable punt... it's not getting any better.

Signature element so far: early on, L.J. Smith caught one and got drilled into the ground, and got up with a huge clump of grass in his helmet. Several minutes later, the clump was still there.

By the way, who in the world could have possibly thought that the Bud Light commercial with the bird upbraiding guys at a bar was funny or would sell beer?


The Pinky catch was key, of course, but the way L.J. Smith fought his way out of a crowd- escaped being bottled up- was pretty excellent.

Suddenly, even the commercials seem better, although I appear to have reached the point where celebrity cameos in commercials elicit more of a "who's that supposed to be" reaction than the knowing nod that the ads are supposed to get. I'm not in the demo anymore. But the worst in that regard wasn't a Super Bowl commercial and wasn't filled with people I don't know- the NBA's running an "I Love This Game" spot featuring Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, Kelly Clarkson, all the teen girl stars, and while I imagine it probably pleases horny young guys, I can't imagine it making teenaged girls into instant Memphis Grizzlies fanatics, no matter HOW dreamy Pau Gasol may be.

Underthrow, overthrow, nerves.

Penalty, penalty, interception.

If this is the first quarter of NFL football someone's seen this season, they can't be impressed.


Most of the commercials suck, too.


Nothing doing on the ground, a little tentative in the air. New England's swarming, Westbrook seems to have gotten lost on the way to the park, and here I go getting all negative while NOBODY'S SCORED YET.

Geez. Maybe I should just pay more attention to the commercials. That FedEx one was cute.


Highlights of my off-and-on watching so far: Terry Bradshaw grabbing the mic and shoving it back in front of former President Bush, and Clinton not answering the "who's gonna win?" question as if he's still planning to run for something. (I watched more of the Sixers-Clippers and Rockets-Lakers games than the official pre-game crap)

Gretchen Wilson's singing right now, and at least it's clear she's really singing (and actually hitting all the notes), but the "crowd" on the field for this is so clearly phony that it's distracting. They have about a hundred young people jumpiong up and down and pumping their fists for Charlie Daniels, and I think it's pretty safe to say that you'd have to pay anyone under 50 to jump up and down and pump his or her fist because they're hearing "The Devil Came Down to Georgia." I'd say that the NFL was out of touch, but everyone does this, because they want to, I don't know, engender excitement among viewers. Why, if a generic multicultural crowd is orgasmic over an old country fiddler, then perhaps I should be, too!

Radio Moment: James Brown just dropped Donnie Simpson's name when teasing the Black Eyed Peas and Earth, Wind and Fire ("I sound like Donnie Simpson!"). A bunch of people in Washington just got a charge out of that.

And, now, it's the Black Eyed Peas. Sorry, but they kinda suck. At least they didn't come out and sing "Let's Get it Started." Oddly enough, the same hundred fans who were groovin' to Charlie Daniels are going wild over the Peas and Earth, Wind and Fire singing "Shining Star." Guess the kids, they love the oldies. Left unexplained is how, at the hottest ticket in sports, with security at a maximum, there's suddenly a huge mob of people ON THE FIELD waving their arms in unison to "Where Is the Love"? And now, Charlie Daniels is on stage for no apparent reason.

I love this game. Anyway.


I've been busy. Is there something going on this week?

Oh, yeah.

(I'm not obsessing on it. Really. I'm prepared for disappointment. We're talking the Eagles here. But, man, it's Super Bowl time and for the first time in 24 years, it matters. It's... surreal. And, yes, when the game rolls around, I will be here. Maybe you'll be able to track a true meltdown. ANd that can happen no matter who wins.)


When we first moved to Los Angeles a decade ago, it became apparent that everything was a 45 minute drive from our house in Palos Verdes. Downtown? 45 minutes. The Valley? 45 minutes. Pasadena? Brentwood? Anaheim? 45 each. Ralphs? 7-Eleven? The post office? Well, okay, not those, but whether it was a Dodger game or the studio or lunch with friends on the Westside, you knew it would take 45 minutes, maybe an hour if the traffic was really bad.

No more. Now it's anybody's guess, but 45 minutes is the 2 am time. Any other time of day, forget it.

After a long period when I rarely had to leave the house for anything, I've been making the run a few times a week from home to Beverly Hills for a project on which I'm working, and each drive has been an eternity. I hadn't had to do any real commuting for years, with the exception of the run to Dodger Stadium last season, but I expected traffic for that. This time, it's a more standard route- the 110 to the 405 to LAX, then... standstill. The first day, I tried staying on the freeway to Sunset and ended up very, very, very late. The second day, La Cienega to San Vicente to Sunset- still very, very late. The third day, I bailed at Jefferson and wound my way through Culver City to Robertson- still late, not quite as late. Today, I bailed at La Cienega, then Jefferson to Robertson- much better, but still a long, long drive. But in each case, the drive took way longer than it used to. Every road has more people on it at any time of day than it used to.

The problem's simple- the roads weren't built to handle this volume of traffic. Just look at the 405 north of the airport- there's not really a bottleneck, even though the road's got construction work going on. Nevertheless, it always- always- comes to a standstill just past the La Cienega exit. It just does. And it stays that way- a sea of brake lights- all the way to the Valley. Gotta get someplace fast? Sorry. Alternate route? You're joking. It's L.A., and our roads can't deal with all the cars we have.

Possible solutions? Let's review:

1. Mass transit: Tried, failed. Check the bus stations they built along the 110 freeway- even the one that connects to the Green Line train is always empty. Miserable failure. I've written about it here.

2. New roads: where? No room, unless we want to spend a zillion dollars on eminent domain. Or we can build more of those raised roads, which strikes me as a poor idea, considering the earthquakes and all.

3. More carpool lanes: The ones we have don't work. Either they're just as stopped as the main lines, or they're empty while the rest of us are stopped in the other lanes. And we spent zillions on building those lanes so that a handful of cars could speed past. It's social engineering to force people to share rides in a city where no two people have the same point-to-point commute. Unlike most other cities, the commute isn't from the suburb to downtown, it's from anywhere to anywhere. I've worked at several companies here and none were downtown- I worked in Koreatown, Universal/Burbank, Pasadena, Culver City (twice), everywhere BUT downtown. I couldn't carpool to any of them.

So what the hell do we do? Can't reduce the number of cars, can't reduce the number of people (which, with the borders apparently porous, can only get worse), can't force people to carpool or take a bus or train... what's the best option?

The best option is to give up. Or work at home. Now I remember why I chose that route in the first place.


You and I pay for the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the music we listen to, the food we eat. We are, of course, fools. All you need to do is to be young, skinny, fabulous, skinny, young, and skinny:

    (New York hotel "creative director") Tommy Saleh advertises for Prada, Chanel, APC, Paul Smith and Jeremy Scott - secretly. "Chanel did a pair of gold sneakers for me, and a skull-and-bones brooch," he says. "APC gives me so much stuff - like small-collar white shirts. A small-collar white shirt means a lot to me." Saleh also owns over 100 pair of shoes worth about $500 each, and a rack of suits by Prada and Paul Smith - a wardrobe worth well over $100,000, all given to him for free.

    Which begs two questions: Why and how?

    "A lot of people want to put their clothes on me, because of all the fabulous things I do," says Saleh, with no trace of irony.... "My friends are tastemakers," Saleh says. "I get asked maybe 10 to 20 times a day what I'm wearing."

(Hat tip: Gawker)

I've known about how celebrities get all sorts of free stuff for years. That's no secret- of course, a clothing company will want a celebrity, any celebrity, to be seen and photographed in its goods. But you've never heard of Tommy Saleh. Or Leigh Lezark:

    Leigh Lezark, a DJ and promoter who throws the weekly downtown dance party Misshapes, is arguably one of the most influential New Yorkers in the music industry, though few outside her circle know who she is. "I get a whole bunch of free stuff - free CDs, clothing, makeup," says Lezark, who is in her early 20s. "People will say, 'I see you around; everywhere you go people are looking at you and your style.'" Since co-founding Misshapes - which has become the Saturday night destination for downtown scenesters and art-school kids - a year ago, Lezark has been given about $15,000 in free goods and services.

    "Lacoste wants to give us free clothing; they heard about us through Misshapes," she says. "I get into sold-out shows all the time, like Interpol at Roseland - I don't even know how much it would cost to go see Interpol at Roseland. Fashion Week is not a problem - last year I was on line for the Marc Jacobs party and someone just pulled me out of the line and let me in. I can't remember the last time I paid for a drink."

    But Lezark's true influence is felt in the music industry. "At a place like Misshapes, they play a song, and all the cool kids will be like, 'Who is that?'" says Carmelita Morales, a publicist at addVICE Marketing.

    Morales, who gives Lezark CDs to test out at her party, points to the recent mainstream success of the Killers (who played on "Saturday Night Live" a few weeks ago) as proof.

    "It was important to give the Killers street cred - because if it comes from the radio, all the club kids and tastemakers would never go for it. You want them to hear it in the clubs first."

There ya go- a major label band's publicist slips a CD to the "right" club jock, and that generates "street cred" with the "club kids and tastemakers," who are evidently too dense to realize that they're being marketed to just as slickly and commercially as the popular acts they disdain. All the "cool kids" are just as susceptible- maybe MORE susceptible- to marketing as the great unwashed bridge-and-tunnel crowd. In other words, the "cool" people aren't all that cool.

I'd rather not try to be cool, anyway. You keep the same style for, oh, say 40 years, cool cuts in and out on you no matter what you do. Lately, I've had several instances when people- generally young and female, for some reason- have pointed at my feet and said "oh, those are SO back in style." Oh, really? Converse All-Stars, white hi-tops. Been wearing them since, oh, about 1966. Converse doesn't pay me. I pay them. Forty bucks, actually. Uncool, I know, but I'm no Tommy Saleh.


The State of the Union was a bold step forward in the... er... it was a fervent plea for... um...

Okay, I didn't see it. I was in a meeting all evening. Happy now?


It's pretty much what we all expected, right? The partial privatization of Social Security? Cool, then, fine, no problem. How did he look, how was the delivery? Couldn't tell you. I was busy wondering if I'd ever get to eat dinner.

I did. A Del Taco #11 combo. Late. It's repeating on me right now. Mmmmm, return visits from a beef burrito.

I can also dispose of the Eason Jordan thing while we're at it: if I'm CNN, I fire his ass immediately. The top guy at a news organization making wild-ass unsubstantiated claims charging the U.S. military with deliberately targeting and murdering journalists? Done. Through. Fired. What are they waiting for? Do they think this can be ignored or talked around or allowed to blow over?

Worked for Dan Rather, sort of. But this is different- the evidence is Jordan's own words. Time to go.

There ya go. All caught up, and I didn't even spend a moment talking to anyone about it or watching the news or reading anything. Informed Opinions R Us. Even when we're not all that informed.


T.O. wasn't supposed to be ready for the Super Bowl, but he may be.

The A and C subway lines in New York weren't supposed to be fixed for five years, then they said 6 to 9 months. It took nine days.

I think someone's holding out on us.

You and me, we get injured, we're out for a long time. We get sick, we're sick for days, weeks. But whenever I have to take a day off from my slow, lame-ass exercise because I'm "not feeling right," I think about how your typical pro athlete plays through everything. And that's because, well, they get help. I once talked to someone in pro sports who said he doesn't have to worry about getting sick while traveling, because the team training staff will "take care of it." A quick shot of something and you're fine in a matter of hours, ready to go by game time.

Can't we get that treatment? Where are OUR trainers? If I get sick, I have to make an appointment to see the doctor, and she writes a prescription, and I have to go get it filled, and I take it, and I feel lousy for days until it clears up. I want to just drop by the trainer's room and get fixed up, no appointment, no problem. What's in the shot? I don't want to know. Just make me feel better.

The same thing happens with fixing other stuff. My computer goes blooey, the cable or satellite goes out, the car drops a rod, I'm out of commission for hours, days, weeks. I want the kind of acceleration the New York subway got. If a five year job took nine days to accomplish, a five day job should take nine hours and an overnight car repair ought to take, what, an hour? While-U-Wait service, that's what I want.

Of course, that ain't happening. The New York subway's vitally important- why, if the A and C trains are out, people will have to take the R train or- gasp- the bus! We can't have that! Put me out of commission and the only one who suffers is me. Apparently, I don't rate.

But it looks like we COULD get faster service across the board. It IS possible. I'd pay a little more to get taken care of in express fashion. Yes, I'd like the Terrell Owens treatment, please. Yes, I'll wait. But not for long.

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