Monthly Archives: May 2006

Quote of the Day

“But the fact is, this is a spectacle no more. Bonds doesn’t talk much before or after games without prompting from his soon-to-be-canceled biopic, and nobody seems to begrudge him his silence. Bonds has lost the audience for no better reason than the fact that the audience doesn’t like waiting. No audience does. Episodes of “The Sopranos” are evaluated based largely on the number of whackings rather than the precision of the character studies.”

-Ray Ratto, in a San Francisco Chronicle column, combining perhaps my two biggest pet peeves of the moment.

The Great Philly Newspaper Sale, Cont’d

Looks like I get to keep my job:

Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. will pay $515 million in cash – most of it borrowed from banks – to Knight Ridder’s successor, the McClatchy Co., and assume $47 million in pension liabilities, to take over The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, Philly.com, and related publications and Web sites… [New publisher Brian] Tierney said the investors intended to continue publishing the Daily News, and would honor labor agreements and had no plans for job cuts.

My paper, the Trend Leader, is one of those “related publications.”
Also, my managing editor asked Tierney about the status of our paper in a press conference yesterday and Tierney… had heard of it, and praised it! That’s a good sign.

Not So Perfect “Strangers”

I never really got “Strangers With Candy” when the show was on Comedy Central. I know, a lot of people I know thought the show was absolutely brilliant, but I never really understood what was so funny about it- it just seemed weird, and I got the feeling watching it that its humor was operating at a wavelength literally of another world than my own. But when I heard they were coming out with a movie version and there was a screening, I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I went and saw the film yesterday. And… yikes.
Now once again, perhaps I just didn’t get it. But I laughed maybe twice at the entire 90-minute movie, which didn’t touch “funny” with an 80-foot pole. The main problem is with the main character, played by Amy Sedaris. A movie is always in trouble when the protagonist is more interested in being annoying than being funny, which is why I hated all the early Adam Sandler films while my friends loved them.
Like those Sandler roles, Sedaris gives a performance consisting entirely of weird noises, stupid facial expressions, and “funny” lines that make no sense. In this case, I absolutely loathed Jerri Blank and rooted for bad things to happen to her, a reaction I haven’t had to a fictional character since Lisa Kudrow’s awful HBO show was canceled.
And on top of that, the plot is nonsensical (something about a science fair) and talented actor upon talented actor is sent up to embarrass themselves. There will be no multimedia debate, alas, about whether or not Stephen Colbert is funny in this movie. Allyson Janney, Dan Hedaya, and numerous others show, do nothing, and then are shunted off-screen. I still have no idea what the hell Philip Seymour Hoffman was doing wasting his time with this movie.
The worst movie I’ve seen this year, easily, and probably of last year too (since that’s when it was made.) There must be a reason why the film sat on the shelf for nearly two years. Once again, lots of people I greatly respect are huge fans of this character/show. Why that is, I’ll never understand- I can think of about 40 shows that have aired on Comedy Central in the past decade that would make better movies than this one.

The “24” Finale

(SPOILERS!) A well-done finale to a generally strong season, I believe the second-best after the fourth. It was satisfying to see Jack kill Vladimir Bierko- with a flying headscissors!- and shoot Henderson too. President Logan was such a brilliantly created character that I’ll certainly miss him, although it’ll be cool to have President Leland Palmer next year (will he go grey, overnight, during his presidency?)
As for the ending, I knew the Chinese would resurface eventually. With Jack running around in public all day, and the military and police sending out APBs about him throughout, he didn’t seem to care too much about his secret staying safe. As for the Chinese telling him “you’re too valuable” to kill, most have interpreted that as believing that they’ll somehow use his superhero talents for their own purposes. But I think it means he’ll be “valuable” in some sort of prisoner exchange, allowing him to return to America safely to set up Season 6.

Lloyd Bentsen, RIP

Former Senator and Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen died today at the age of 85. He was an estimable public servant for decades, but Bentsen will likely always best be known for the moment in the 1988 vice presidential debate in which he confronted opponent Dan Quayle with the immortal line “I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
It’s probably the most memorable line in the history of vice presidential debates, although it probably doesn’t have much competition for such a title. The only other contender, I figure, would be James Stockdale’s “who am I? Why am I here?” routine from 1992.

Lotto Luck

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to the NBA lately, as after the last season the league just about lost me. However, I did watch last night’s excellent Game 7 between San Antonio and Dallas, which was a classic, even if it was marred by way too many timeouts.
Then, tonight, I tuned in for the NBA Draft Lottery, which Toronto won. My Wolves did not move up but did end up with the sixth pick. This isn’t a particularly strong or deep draft, so the pick isn’t worth as much as it would be in most years, although it’s also not particularly certain that this year the 6th pick will be much worse than the 1st.
Let’s just hope the Wolves do better with this 6th pick than they did in 1990 with Felton Spencer. Or all those years when they had to forfeit their pick over the Joe Smith contract.

Quote of the Day

“We have our disagreements, we Americans. We contend regularly and enthusiastically over many questions: over the size and purposes of our government; over the social responsibilities we accept in accord with the dictates of our conscience and our faithfulness to the God we pray to; over our role in the world and how to defend our interests and values in places where they are threatened. These are important questions; worth arguing about. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis, especially in times of crisis, we fight among ourselves for the things we believe in. It is not just our right, but our civic and moral obligation.”

-Senator John McCain, making a fair-minded appeal to civility and respectful debate across partisan lines. It’s unfortunate that the graduates at the New School weren’t interested in such things, and instead chose to boo, heckle, and turn their backs on a true American hero.

Too Jewish?

The Boston Globe ran a story over the weekend– one that was sent to me by multiple people- on the question of whether Brandeis University is “too Jewish.” It’s certainly a question that the university has wrestled with for much of its 58-year history, one that returned to the forefront last month when Matt Brown, a writer for my old student paper The Justice, wrote an article accusing the school of being “too Jewish.”
My take? The level of Brandeis’ Jewishness is in the eye of beholder. I can certainly understand how non-Jews could feel uncomfortable in an environment with a Jewish majority, at an historically Jewish institution, at which most people assume classmates are Jewish unless they know otherwise. Then again, there were certainly various levels and cliques of Jews at the school, from Orthodox, to Reform, to Israeli expats, to secular Zionists, to unaffiliated.
The truth is, everyone choosing to attend Brandeis knows when they arrive that the school has a Jewish majority. True, it sometimes bothered me that campus all but shut down on Friday nights, and yes, I often found the “Jewish supremacy” among some of my classmates troubling.
But that didn’t bother me nearly as much in my college days as the culture of political correctness (or, for that matter, the culture of JAPpiness) that I was surrounded with at all times. The PC/”social justice” crowd, I thought, contributed a lot more to prevalent anti-fun vibe that was around campus my entire four years than any form of excessive Jewishness.
The “How Jewish should Brandeis be?” question is one that will likely always be with us, and it probably always will be. Let’s let future generations decide the answer.

Us For Sale

Apparently a deal is near to sell Philadelphia’s newspapers– including the Inquirer, Daily News, and my paper, the Trend Leader- to a local group called Philadelphia Media Holdings, which is led by PR executive Brian Tierney. I don’t know much about the guy or the group, but I like that they’re local, and I like that it appears that they actually care about journalistic stewardship, and aren’t beholden to Wall Street. But like I said, we don’t know much yet.