25 December 2004

My Christmas with John Madden...

First of all, I want to thank Santa, the NFL and the executives at CBS Sports for bringing me the Raiders @ Chiefs game on this Christmas day. I couldn't possibly think of any better salvation from the NBA. As for Meet the Fockers: Focking awful... I don't even want to waste my time writing about it. Just don't see it. But before all that, I spent my morning living one of the greatest 2nd half Madden Football finishes in the history of the world...

Let's go to the videotape!

After a mediocre first half by Rich Gannon and the Oakland Football Raiders, featuring a touchdown strike to Doug Jolley and a Janikowsi field goal, the Raiders led the Buffalo Bills, 10-3. Defense dominated the game for most of the second half, with just a Raiders field goal in the third quarter. We take you now to the fourth quarter, and with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, the Raiders leading by 10, Rich Gannon is driving in the red zone.

The offense lines up in an eye formation, Gannon snaps the ball, looks to Rice, throws, and is PICKED OFF! As the game goes from in the bag, to up in the air, the Raiders defense limps onto the field and Drew Bledsoe goes to to work. Before you could say Turducken, with no timeouts remaining, the Bills and a no-huddle offense drive down the field and into the Raiders red zone. The Raiders call a timeout and attempt to regroup. Thirty seconds left on the clock-- Bledsoe hands off to Henry and is stopped at the goal line! First and GOAL, Bills with 1:00 left. Bledsoe passes incomplete, second down. Bledsoe passes incomplete, third down. Bledsoe hands off to Henry for no gain, FOURTH DOWN. Bledsoe hands off to Henry... Touchdown Bills! On fourth and goal, the Bills score a touchdown, in one of the most improbable comebacks. Madden and Michaels are making snide comments about the Raiders defense, and I am stunned. The Bills line up for the PAT and after running the clock down to :15, the kick is good.

The Bills kick deep and Whitted is stopped at the 22 yard line with :07 left on the clock. Timeout Raiders. The Raiders go with a 5 WR Formation, the Bills in a prevent. Gannon snaps the ball and goes long to Jerry Rice! Complete pass! Rice calls time with :01 remaining. And Sebastian Janiskowski, the Polish sensation, rumbles on the field for a 49-Yard attempt.

Palms sweaty, and the Play Station controller thumping in rhythm to the heart-beat supplied by the video game's sound effects... the ball is snapped... THE KICK IS UP, AND IT IS GOOD! JANIKOWSKI SPLITS THE UPRIGHTS AND THE OAKLAND RAIDERS WIN 17-14!!! DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES??? YES!!!

Coming up next on ABC, middle-aged sluts and yard boys in "Desperate Housewives". For John Madden, I'm Al Michaels, we hope you enjoyed this presentation of the NFL. Good night everybody.

23 December 2004

Q&A on Xmas Eve

Questions...

1) If I am a paying customer to premium movie channels, and I illegally download a movie from the internet that is due to be running on said movie channels... where is the crime? If I have plans of watching this particular movie on HBO, but download it a few months in advance, is this really any different than watching when I had originally planned? Is it the violation of release windows or just using illegal means of watching a movie? I know there's flaws here, but it is sort of interesting to ponder..

2) It's 56 degrees outside on December 23rd in New York City. Yikes?

3) Is it possible to be a patriotic liberal? Examining our post-9/11 world, the country has been split in two: the doom and gloom lefties, and the ignorance is bliss-let's hold hands and live paralyzed in fear righties. I would argue that Michael Moore is a patriotic lefty, but at the same time, there's a grey area he enters when he talks about his desire for a US defeat in Iraq. Is it possible to be both things right now? I don't know. I know I consider myself left-wing, and while I am ready to acknowledge the myriad of things this country is doing wrong right now, I am not shy about rising to it's defense when needed. I think the root of most world anger towards the US is because we're not living up to our duties; we set the bar so high for ourselves, and we're failing to help the rest of the world out. When we send billions in aid to countries around the world, and still hear them bitch about what a bunch of bastards we are... what is the problem? We've got to do a better job. We need to stop confusing our duty as the big dogs in the world as our license to scrap the rules whenever they don't appeal to us. We need to take ourselves down a notch to re-engage the rest of the world with our program; If we want help in Iraq, we have to wipe the egg off our faces, and offer these other countries some incentive to help clean this mess up. Can we admit that the billions we've poured into Iraq would be better spent cleaning up the Sudan, the REAL war on Terror, and the environment? I've wandered away from my point... I think it is possible to be both, and if the Democrats want to put someone in the White House in 2008, let's take the time to find our voices, and get it right this time...

4) I got on a political bent today after seeing the documentary "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism", about the Fox News Channel. Poor production in this little movie, but pretty compelling stuff here. There is no semblence of objectivity with the network, and that would be fine if they weren't masquerading as a legitimate network news channel. There ought to be a congressional investigation into this... Where does freedom of speech and freedom of press meet? Is it their right to report the news, as blatantly one-sided as they do, and claim to be "fair and balanced"? I do not know.

5) My weekend NFL Picks (hometeam in bold):

VIKINGS over Packers : Favre is not Favre anymore, and the Vikes have the edge with Moss and Culpepper.

Raiders over CHIEFS : Raiders are playing hot right now, and seem to have a little fire in their belly.

TITANS over Broncos : Jake the Mistake. Volek at home.

STEELERS over Ravens : Pitt's offensive weapons at home win out over Baltimore's D.

LIONS over Bears : Chad was a one week mirage, and without Urlacher the Bears are not HUNGERED...

BENGALS over Giants : As of right now, there is no line on this game. Very tough to call, It will be close, but Cincy has the edge at home, and Palmer is quietly having a very strong season.

JAGUARS over Texans : Leftwich and co are hitting their stride, Texans disappoint when results are expected.

Panthers over BUCS : Bucs are a mess on and off the field. Panthers are rollin'...

JETS over Patriots : Chad and Jets are heating up, Patriots seem to be hitting a few bumps on the road... This division game in New York, after a tough loss in Miami should go to the Jets.

Bills over 49ERS : I've said it since day 1, the 49ers are the worst team in football, and Mularkey has this Bills team playing great football.

Redskins over COWBOYS : Is VH1 broadcasting this game as an I Love the 80s special?

SEAHAWKS over Cardinals : I'm glad they're letting the unwatchable teams play each other late in the year as to avoid wasting anyone's time.

DOLPHINS over Browns : If anyone is looking for Don Criqui and Steve Tasker...

Eagles over RAMS : This is put up or shut up for the Eagles, good thing it comes against Martz's band of boobs.

Merry Christmas to all!

22 December 2004

Cool times in the hot stove..

a) Things we all hope for, but rarely work out:

1. Every team invites handfuls of minor league veterans, n'er do wells, and has-beens to spring training; most of these guys have stuck around in the minors putting up so-so numbers, or are fizzled prospects who have fallen on hard times, or guys from the Indians in "Major League." Without fail, at least a couple of these guys have blazing springs- they're killing the ball, or mystifying batters with their breaking stuff... and the sick part is, everyone falls for it. But the equation is only set-up to produce spurious results: [Superstar veteran hoofing it during his spring "vacation"] + [Minor league veteran playing his ass off to make it to "the show"]= a roster spot for Danny Young- the guy who never could figure out how to get major league hitters out until this spring ('99), with the Chicago Cubs! Holy Cow! Hey Hey! Look at this guy's slider! Get this guy a uniform and put him on the roster! But when opening day at Wrigley rolls around, with below freezing temperatures, and this guy gets called in from the bullpen with men on and walks three runs in... it would be a good time to give pause and reflect on the difference between spring training numbers and REAL LIFE. [if anyone has a player or two that has actually made the jump, i'd love to know...]

2. I bring this one up because I'm cushioning the blow: Movie sequels. "Meet the Fockers" is probably going to be wretched. The original set the bar so high, that failure is their most logical fate. Can they do it again? Can they take a movie that worked so well the first time, by making fun of a guy's name, profession, awkward scenarios with in-laws, and everything else, and do it all again without feeling tired and forced? We'll soon know... But if Major League 2, American Pie 2, Airplane 2 are any indication; movies that succed with a formula, die with the same formula. [I'm well aware of Die Hard 2, Lethal Weapon 2, the Godfather, Star Wars and Rocky movies... but we're speaking about comedies here.]

Okay, I've only got two right now. But I think life is full of these.. I guess the lesson here is, keep your expecatations down and you'll smile more?

b) Dodgers renegged on the Yankees. Shotty business practice here, but a wise move. I can't figure out why everyone is tripping over themselves to allow the Diamondbacks to acquire Randy Johnson. Was Paul DePodesta in his office trying to figure out the best way to win the affection of Brian Cashman? "I know, if I trade two of my starters, my best reliever, my only consistent source of power, AND a prospect...will he finally respect me?" Randy Levine of the Yanks responds by wondering if anyone would ever want to do business with the Dodgers ever again; Randy, if the Dodgers keep offering ridiculous sweetheart deals to every other team that calls, and letting all their best FA's walk away, I think people will keep lining up!

c) Sad interview with Larry Brown on ESPN- I think that fight really affected him, and he seems dazed with all this, wondering how things got out of control so quickly; I wonder what stopped him from resigning. He said his son never wants to go to another NBA game after seeing what he did. You reap what you sow; if you promote a league by players (Jordan, Bird, Johnson begets Artest, Rodman, Kobe) they become bigger than the game. If someone did this in the NFL, they'd be gone, and the league would keep on rolling, because NFL fans love teams, not necessarily players. You promote the NFL by team matchups, and if ABC's newest promotion is any indication (or vindication), they are taking the most important spot of their NBA calendar, outside of the post-season, and are putting two games that are made special by player turmoil (Kobe/Shaq and Pacers/Pistons), and promoting them through that. As Phil Mushnick might say "Shame on you..." (But those NBA on ABC commercials sung to the Jackson 5's ABC are strangely alluring...)

Stay classy, San Diego..

21 December 2004

"Hey, Kris... I heard that girl asking about you!"

First things first, please enjoy this excerpt of an email sent by the fine person who runs NBC Fitness Center:

Hi there,
The following has been brought to my attention some of you might
already know this. Every year The Father's Heart Church has a Children's Holiday
Party, but here's the catch if they don't collect enough toys the kids just
receive candy, what's that about. So I'm asking everyone to help the cause -
After all it's all about the children, right. The toys can be dropped off at the
fitness center today and tomorrow morning, the party is Tuesday, December 21 yes
tomorrow sorry for the short notice. Thank you soooo much - it's much
appreciated

I'll trust my readers enough to let that speak for itself...

Folks, Kris Benson is the luckiest man in the world. First, Omar "Headlines" Minaya rewards this guy's sub-.500 career of mediocrity with a 3 year, $22.5 million contract. Then, (and I realize I am placing his luck way out of chronological order, but more in my order of discovery) I find out he has the hottest baseball wife I've ever seen. Anyone who watched a minute of FOX's 2003 Playoff coverage knows what Kerry Wood's wife looks like, and I know Chuck Finley's wife was in many-a-trashy 80's music video... but, ladies and gentlemen, THIS is unprecedented: http://www.annabenson.net -- But chicks like this should come with a warning label..

"On Tuesday's Howard Stern Show, Kris' wife Anna made it clear that she would get more than even with her husband if he slept with a baseball groupie. "I told him -- because that's the biggest thing in athletics, they cheat all the time -- I told him, cheat on me all you want," she said. "If you get caught, I'm going to screw everybody on your entire team, coaches,
trainers, players. I would do everybody on his whole team."

Whoa. Maybe Omar knew what he was doing keeping Kris Benson around! I think that contract was his blitzkerig attempt at keeping him and Anna in town. And can't you just see this now? Willie Randolph and Cookie Rojas sitting with young Benson in the dugout, pointing out girls in the stands he thinks are staring at Kris. Or even, John Franco (we all know he's a dirtbag), hiring strippers to Benson's room while on the road...

20 December 2004

Don Criqui & Steve Tasker?

Morning Business cont'd:

a) When you've got two gentlemen named Don Criqui and Steve Tasker calling the plays for the CBS broadcast of the Bears vs. Texans, it's a good chance you are watching the D game of the weekend. The game being shown to 2% of the country, using half the cameras of a normal NFL broadcast, and maybe if you are lucky, using the yellow 1st down marker line.. They didn't even give these guys the CBS Sports blazers! (They were wearing snow jackets!) However, the fine folks at the Eye were onto something, because this was a snoozer fit for the PAX network. I'm not sure why I mention this, other than my fascination with the name Criqui... Cree-keewe...

b) CBS vs FOX: FOX's game broadcasts seem crisper and faster-paced, while CBS never misses a second to plug one of their shows, or play their bombastic, mind-numbing NFL on CBS theme which sounds like a cross between a early 80s Schwarzenegger blockbuster theme and your run of the mill war video game. I'm into it when they're running the opening animation, with the cheerleaders, and the fast-paced tease of the game... but by halftime, I am cringing every time I think it's about to start playing again. The convential thinking of network sports operations is that the heavy losses from rights fees paid to major sports properties are offset by the amount of viewers attracted to the events, wherein you can draw them to your prime time and news... But CBS has crossed the line.. Every freakin' time the refs whistle the play dead it's another goddamn reminder for Survivor Vanuatu, Cold Case, and the next NFL star 60 Minutes wants to interview. And before you can recover and shake out the cobwebs, boom-boom-boom here's the NFL on CBS theme, like a linebacker spying an open quarterback...then some mind-numbing commercial breaks with the moron twins yapping about commerce in France for IBM; Folks, I don't even know what they're selling here! Then it's a dose of Levitra, Cialis, a car, a diamond, a beer, and then boom-boom-boom here's the NFL on CBS again. And, the amazing part about all this, is that this clusterfuck of sensory overload makes the sound of Shannon Sharpe's voice soothing by comparison! I can tolerate this abuse when I'm watching a good game, or even when Nantz & Simms are leading the way, but not for Mr. Don Criqui and the 3 and out Bears!!

c) It's not just me... the Titans logo really does look like a flaming thumbtack.

d) Way to go, SNL. DeNiro lays an egg the first time he hosts, and what do you do when he comes back? You re-do the same first two sketches as when he hosted the first time. It's amazing when I can even make it to Update anymore.. I think Gilbert Gottfried said it best, "They're a mediocre restaurant in a terrific location."

e) 5 things I like about holiday season: Gifts, Cheerleaders in santa outfits, slow times at the office, seeing family, [CENSORED] trashed at 3 in the afternoon from eggnog, wearing a santa hat.

f) The Michael Littner world tour had a triumphant show this past Saturday at the Improv. Michael manages to be one of the few oases in the desertland of terrible comedy hosted at the Improv on Saturday nights; highlights included his ovary dance.

More to come...

17 December 2004

Do you have the Beatles "White Album"? Nevermind, I'll have a hot cup of fat, and the head of Alfredo Garcia...

Morning business:

a) Omar Minaya has rocks for brains. Either he's trying assemble a 25-man roster consisting of only Dominicans to hang out with, or headlines are more important than winning real games. Now, I know it's never easy for the Mets, being the other team in the city with the biggest team in the world; so big, in fact, they transcend the sport. But, get it together... You're not going to win by overpaying for over the hill veterans (or trading the jewels of your farm system for average pitching). Pedro has been steadily going downhill for the past three years; he was still effective last year, albeit very tenuously. And no one much cared that his agent was trying to convince the Mets to sign him without having to take a physical. If Pedro has more than a year and a half of quality starts for this team before breaking down into oblivion, I'll be the first to admit I was wrong. 4 Years, $52 million... I just don't get it.

b) You see 15 seconds of Linda Rondstat singing "It's So Easy" last night on VH1 Classic, and you can't rid yourself of hearing the song over and over in your head. How fucked up is that?!

c) I don't understand people who insist that as rock operas go, The Who's "Tommy" is better than Pink Floyd's "The Wall". I don't even think this is close!

d) I'm going to take a quick break from the quick, rapid-fire shots of opinion before this turns into a Larry King column...

Last night, my roommate Andy and myself were taken to dinner by our friend Hannah and her grandparents. This sounds awful, right? Grandparents? Her grandparents are the coolest people in the world. I'd even go as far as to say that I would, on my own, hang out with these senior citizens for a few hours. Her Grandma Bubbles is still as lively as I'm sure she was in her early days, and talks about dignitaries and famous people of this city as though she knows them... because she does... all of them. She mentioned something about how Donald Trump was an asshole, and that her son, David, a developer, was once asked by the Donald, why he (David) never said anything nice about him... David told him that he'd say something nice about him as soon as he thought of something nice to say about him. She wrote the first kids guide to NYC, and is a remarkable woman. Grandpa Eddie is a very funny man, who is often quiet, but when he speaks, it's worth the wait.

They took us to this place called the Harmonie Club, an old social club built in the turn of the century for Jews who weren't allowed into the other clubs of New York. And this place was awesome... I won't bore you with the details, but slacks and jackets are a must, and when Andy showed up in jeans, they made him wait in the back room; I would have tried something like "Do you have any idea who I am?) Meanwhile, we were on our way with clothes for him, and Hannah and I nearly had him in golf pants and a blue corduroy jacket before Bubbles put the kibosh on that. We had lobster for dinner, and it was magnificent. Andy remarked that I looked like the assumed identity of the doctor that Kramer from Seinfeld would play, based on what I was wearing.. With a checkered grey sportcoat, over a blue sweater, with a plaid shirt underneath, slacks, and a scarf, I felt like someone in the background of a 70s Woody Allen movie.

e) The Apprentice finale did a 13.2 - Last year's Apprentice finale did a 19.3 - In TVspeak, that is a HUGE difference. You reap what you sow... this year's version was unwatchable. Not a single character that was compelling or worth watching; they were all the nastiest, mean spirited people, and the ones that weren't were just vanilla boring.

f) Thank you for all your comments so far, keep 'em coming.

16 December 2004

Top 5 Pet Peeves of the Holiday Season

This has been fun so far, so in celebration of the launch, we're doing a special two-a-day blog. Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Pet Peeves of the Holiday Season:

10. Christmas Music - I DO NOT LIKE XMAS MUSIC. I DO NOT LIKE XMAS MUSIC. I DO NOT LIKE XMAS MUSIC. There are probably a multitude of reasons for this. We'll start be narrowing them down- For one thing, it has very little to do with being Jewish and not having a particular affinity for Xmas. Anyone who knows me knows I have a weird affinity for Arabic and Indian music, and I definitely have more in common with the WASPs than I do with the Turbans and Towels. (Bhangara!) What really drives my dislike is that they are cheesy, and hokey, and I feel like people who know better get sucked in.... and they become unavoidable the day after Thanksgiving. The media integration is even worse; When I see ESPN promos for College Football games using the tune of the 12 Day of Xmas (and, please, someone who has been baptized, explain to me how there are twleve fucking days of Xmas) , I seriously want to douse myself in gasoline and light myself on fire... and those goddamn Old Navy commercials; they're so bad year-round, yet these ad geniuses have figure out a way to take it up a notch. I can't go on anymore.

9. Christmastime in Rockefeller Center - My place of work turns into a merry-go-round for people from Wyoming. I have nothing against people from Wyoming, I just want them to learn the goddamn rules. Whenever a plane lands in NY from one of these places, instead of teaching rednecks how to buckle their safety belt (this can be filed under the same heading as telling someone the number they've just called and that they need to wait for the beep before leaving a message on one's voice mail), explain the rules of NYC. "Attention, rule #1: Treat sidewalk traffic as you would traffic on the autobahn. Do not stop. If you are going to stop, pull to the side of the walkway and when you're ready to re-engage, proceed. Rule #2: Do not travel 3 or 4 in a line. This is asking for trouble; walk single-file, and again, do not stop. Rule #3: Do not expect anyone to give a shit that you are taking a picture in front of an oversized Xmas tree. It would be a leap of faith to think that your bumpkin cousins back at home care that much about seeing you in front of a tree, do not assume that anyone in this city is going to stop what they are doing so you can take a picture of your wife in front of a tree. If you can accomplish this, more power to you, but you may need to be very patient." And so on and so forth... I think Rule 5 would be prohibiting travel outside of Times Square.

8. TV Holiday Programming - Hey, I've got a great idea! Why not batter people senseless with this upcoming holiday by relentless, and decades old programming! Instead of taking advantage of very high HUT levels during this wintery season and showing our best stuff, let's trudge Jimmy fucking Stewart out there one more time and have him muttering about bells and angels. (I, for the record, have never seen this movie).

7. The Spirit? - Somehow people think that this holiday season brings out a spirit in people of generosity, caring and giving. I'd file this with "100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong."

6. Sick people - I know I've devoted the core of this to dealing with the holiday; but this one has really got me rankled. When people are sick, they should not come to work... or they should take a cue from the Japanese and wear one of those face masks. I sit facing a wall, and there is a mini wall that divides my area with some girl, who faces towards my desk, and has been coughing from bronchitis for the last week IN MY DIRECTION! And she started to get irritated with me when I would show signs of being irritated with her launching germs in MY FACE! (ducking, or turning my head, or glaring at her with eyes of death) It got so bad that I was bent down, nearly having my chin on my desk, to duck from the flying germ warfare while doing work. And in between coughs, having to hear her rejoice about having a white christmas! This is also the same chucklehead who refuses to set foot in Yankee Stadium because she's such a die-hard Red Sox fan.. I know, I know, yes, even if she had front-row tickets to Game 7 of the ALCS... #$&*@& #$&@....

Phew, that felt good. But to show you all I'm not a total scrooge, tomorrow (or later today), I will bring forth the Top 5 Reasons to Rejoice that the Holidays are here.

Genesis + Cans

I suppose the idea of a blog has always intrigued me; but the minutae involved has always halted this progress before it ever got off the ground. How much to divulge on this thing? What sort of tone should these blogs o' mine have? But RK showed me the way- he proved to me that when you've got something on your mind; be it, a bitch on wheels that you can't quite figure out what to do with, or just an overflowing toilet at a friends house, this is your corner to stand on your soapbox and let the world know that I FEEL THIS! So welcome to Musings from a cubicle at my very own corner of Hyde Park.

So, cans. My mother got me a set of Bose headphones for Hanukah; and they sound pretty damn good. A very thoughtful gift for someone like myself, for without my iPod, I would have lost my mind in this city a long time ago. (side note: the iPod is my oasis. Imagine this scenario... and for those of you who live in NYC, you won't have to do much imagining... you are on the subway, and two chinese ladies are screaming at each other; now, they're probably not angry at each other, per se, but since their language is tonal, the difference between a few decibels may actually change the word! now, if you don't have your headphones on, you are contemplating homicide, or, at least I am. But with bliss eminating from little white buds in my ears, I am tapping my foot to something great, while wondering if they have chickens hanging from their windows at home, AND at work.) Back to the cans: a great gift like this can not go to waste, but there is a rub-- there is a large difference between walking around the city with tiny little white headphones in your ears, and big ol' cans on your dome. One is fashionable, the other is an expression of nerdiness and self-involvement.

How the hell did we get here?! I remember as a teenager being at the mall in LA, in line for a movie, and be seeing vato gangstas with massive cans on their ears attached to a CD player; it was a thug thing, and I would think to myself "Man, what a bunch of losers". But now that the iPod has taken over the world, the idea of listening to music while on-the-go is socially acceptable, and at this point in time in our universe, fashionable. All because of headphones? I'm not one to forgo function over fashion; but all of a sudden the statement that I am making to the world has been altered immediately. But the bottom line is this, with winter taking hold, those cans make my ears nice and warm, and man, do they sound good.

Today's Song of Choice: "Let Go" by Frou Frou (Garden State Soundtrack)