February 22, 2003

My long-anticipated rebuttal to Charles Kuffner regarding Michigan basketball is up at Off-Wing Opinion. I really hope I don't have to explain who Sam Gilbert was.
Keith Olbermann writes a column decrying the invasion of Sandy Koufax' privacy, then returns a substantial sum of money from the publishing wing of the News Corp. Reich, and what does he get for it: a nomination for the coveted Begala Award !! Why can't I win one of those? Who do I have to f *** ?
A good essay on the topic of depression, and the use of anti-depressants, such as Prozac, here. I think it's safe to say that taking Prozac constituted a turning point in my own life, mostly for the better. I feel more confident, and do things now that I would avoid, or procrastinate before doing (one example is what you are reading: there is no way I would have freely published my thoughts six years ago, even if the technology had been available, and if I had, I would have quit after the first week, horrified that something I wrote might not please everybody). Where I differ from the writer is how I recall the emotional extremes; what I lost when I began taking medication was the intensity of the feelings, of the highs and the lows. I still think of those feelings as the times I felt most human.

February 21, 2003

My active social calendar brought me to Los Feliz tonight, for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Eric Alterman, The Nation columnist and author of the bestselling What Liberal Media? For those of you who haven't read it yet, the thesis of the book is that the notion of the "liberal media" is a myth, manufactured by conservatives in order to influence more favorable coverage of their agenda; as one former GOP chairman put it, to "work the ref" in the same manner that a Bobby Knight or a Gary Williams might. Although his book doesn't really go into detail about blogs, or the role they played in the fall of Trent Lott, he did note that this was a way in which progressive voices could similarly influence the coverage of the news.

Also, I found out that although this site has been on his list of favored links for the better part of the last six months, he's not sure if he's ever visited. Since I get about a quarter of my traffic from Altercation, and was admittedly thrilled and honored to have been linked there, I have to admit feeling humbled knowing that. Still, his lecture tonight will be on C-SPAN next week, with yours truly making a cameo appearance. Also, he told a great variation of the joke about the comedian's convention, which I will happily pass along to any who are interested.
Finally, a Michael Jackson interview you can trust....
Since The News Corp. purchased the L.A. Dodgers back in 1998, fans have had to swallow boneheaded trades, classless midnight firings of long-time personnel, front office policy that seems to be dictated more toward appeasing the sensitivities of white sportswriters than winning games, and of course, zero playoff appearances. Murdoch's thugs have traded away a certain Hall-of-Famer (Piazza) because they didn't like his contract demands, then signed a lesser player (K. Brown) for more money than what Piazza was demanding. They treated the player obtained for Piazza, Gary Sheffield, with contempt, even though the numbers he put up were, by and large, better than Piazza's, and he played with greater commitment and intensity.

All of that was well and good, since Murdoch has been trying to dump the team for the last year, so at least there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Just when it seemed Dodger fans might be able to breathe a little easier, Fox has apparently decided to drop yet another turd in our chili. The team's greatest pitcher, and arguably the greatest southpaw in the history of baseball, Sandy Koufax, has disassociated himself from the team because the N.Y. Post, a newspaper that holds the distinction of being the least redeeming and least profitable of all of Rupert the Mad's holdings, published an item in its gossip column claiming that the female writer of a best-selling biography of a Hall of Fame baseball player had to agree not to mention rumors of his homosexuality. Although Koufax wasn't named in the article, it was clear the allusion was to him; there just weren't that many best-selling bios written by female authors about closeted Hall of Fame players that were published in the past year.

Good for Sandy. The most disreputable form of journalism is the blind gossip item; there is no accountability for the writer, and the information usually turns out to be wrong (or significantly out of context) anyways. If you're going to out someone, than do so, straightforwardly. As you might recall, it was the N.Y. Post that spent the better part of last summer trying to spread rumors about the sexual preferences of Mssrs. Piazza and Alomar. Before Fox manages to do further damage by alluding to Jackie Robinson's "bizarre" fetish for cats, or to Duke Snider's "interesting" friendship with Don Newcombe, lets just hope they get out of baseball altogether.
Took in the CAL-UCLA game at Pauley last night with the lovely Miss Deborah Siemer (btw, we're just friends). Although my beloved Bears ended up losing in overtime, I did have the satisfaction of seeing a complete reversal in the positions of the schools during the course of my lifetime. When I was going to CAL, the UCLA game was the big draw on our home schedule, even bigger than Stanford, and was the one game guaranteed to sell out Harmon Gym. Still, about a quarter of the fans would be for the Bruins; at the time CAL did not have a very good team, KJ not withstanding, and UCLA was, well, UCLA.

Last night, CAL was actually favored to win at Pauley, which might be unprecedented. The Bears were ranked 18th going into last night's game, while the Bruins had lost ten straight in conference, and had not won at home since mid-December. At least a third of the fans, including the majority of the fans sitting outside the student and alum sections, were for the mighty Bears. And those chokers still got beat.

February 20, 2003

Gee, who could have seen this one coming? I mean, Prof. al-Arian had only taken on Gov. Jeb Bush and the entire state of Florida for his wrongful termination, so it's a bit of shock that the normally moderate and cautious A.G., John Ashcroft, would aim both barrels at him. The charges against him read like a McCarthy-era indictment of a Hollywood screenwriter, or a Red Scare persecution of a Wobbly cell: conspiracy to provide material support to the group, conspiracy to violate emergency economic sanctions, extortion, perjury, obstructing justice and immigration fraud. How the hell do you take part in a "conspiracy to provide material support" to an alleged terrorist group, or "to violate emergency economic sanctions?" Aren't such activities better known by their technical term, "speech"?
I assume there might be a few of you out there who still haven't already purchased What Liberal Media? If you haven't, you might like to join me tomorrow night at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, where the illustrious author might even autograph the book, if you're nice to him.
He was due for a letdown after his marvelous ten-game run, and especially after the previous night's 52-point effort in their double-OT win over Houston. Desperately battling fatigue and attempting to carry a Shaq-less team on his shoulders, Kobe Bryant was held to only 40 points in last night's 93-87 win in Utah. Sometimes, even the great ones slump.
Did you know that gay men are having consensual sex at the University of California? Well, one right-wing affirmative action diva didn't, so she writes this column. [link via Pandagon]

February 19, 2003

In case any of you missed The Shield last night, my new favorite actress, Melanie Lynskey, once again lit up the screen with her presence, portraying a gorgeous young woman with a dismemberment fetish. She's awfully young to keep getting typecast as a psycho killer, though.
The most important thing to come out of Arizona since Mo Udall and Byron Scott, "Them Durn Librals", is back, with a name change ("Soapbox Canyon") and a shiny new haircut.
The perils of publishing: yours truly gets taken to the woodshed by Charles Kuffner over my recent piece about Michigan basketball at Off-Wing Opinion. Doesn't he understand that if the Wolverines are banned from the tournament this year, the terrorists win? My response to follow....
Memo to the Washington Post: if you really want to convince Democratic Senators to end the filibuster against Miguel Estrada, do not use one of the most corrupt judges in the federal judiciary, Lawrence Silberman, as your key witness.

February 18, 2003

Having seen Magic and Michael at their peaks, I can say without qualification that Kobe Bryant's last ten games have been the greatest exhibitions of pure basketball I've ever seen. Tonight's performance (52 points, including all 9 in the first OT) in the Lakers' 106-99 double-overtime win over Houston made him the first player since Jordan to score 35 points in ten consecutive game, and may have been the most impressive game of his career.
John Kerry is being set up to be the Al Gore of this election, attacked not for the substance of his views but for trivial personality quirks. Apparently, Kerry, who recently discovered that a grandfather of his was Jewish, is being attacked because the Boston Globe referred to him several times over a twenty-year period as "Irish", and he supposedly didn't demand a retraction. A grave sin, to be sure; I mean, do you want someone facing down Saddam, cutting the federal deficit, or aiding the underclass if he doesn't write irate letters to the hometown newspaper everytime it gets his ethnicity wrong. In any event, it's like George Bush not demanding a correction from a newspaper everytime he's referred to as a "successful businessman".

In any event, there is an undercurrent of anti-Semitic/Our Crowd snobbishness in the attack on Senator Kerry, and after what happened in the last Presidential campaign and in the Whitewater "investigation", it is safe to say that the Washington press corps is neither a very good judge of character nor a reliable barometer of truthfulness. I have no preference in the 2004 campaign as of yet, but Senator Kerry has already chosen the right enemies: if the Media Heathers don't like you, you might have what it takes to be a great President !!!
An interesting column here takes the media to task for enabling the anti-Asian bigotry of Howard Coble, Shaquille O'Neal, et al. Much of the stereotyping resembles that of classic anti-Semitism, in which evidence of academic or financial success is indicative of the group's duplicity, with no less poisonous a result.

February 17, 2003

The stunning death of Baltimore Oriole rookie Steve Bechler has once again raised the issue of whether sports teams adequately monitor heatstroke. Bechler is the third athlete in two years to die of heatstroke: Corey Stringer and Rashidi Wheeler, two football players, died in 2000 following lengthy practices. As with Stringer and Wheeler, Bechler was seriously overweight, and the use of the weight-loss drug ephedrine is suspected as having been a contributing factor. He was 23 years old.

Obesity seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of the modern athlete. As Sports Illustrated noted several weeks ago, Warren Sapp has become a role model for other football linemen, weighing in at a not-so-slender 303 lbs (the Raider he bested in the Super Bowl, Frank Middleton, tips the scales at an even more corpulent 360 lbs !) On the other hand, Mo Vaughn has seen a certain Hall of Fame career go into the proverbial toilet as his weight has ballooned, and the Lakers' chances of winning a fourth straight title were shattered when Shaq was unable to get himself into shape at the start of the season.

Fat athletes usually are the subject of good-natured ridicule; George Foreman has practically built a second career out of his love for food. Not too long ago, the LA Clippers had two 300 pound centers, Stanley Roberts and John "Hot Plate" Williams, neither of whom could last more than five minutes out on the court. Local basketball fans always got a good laugh out of that, ignoring the fact that both men were taking severe health risks by playing an arduous sport while out of shape. It may take the death of a young athlete to force teams to view this problem more seriously.

February 16, 2003

Another blogger has nailed the social and cultural phenomenon that is J-Garn. But remember, I saw her first !!
Every Sunday, readers of the Los Angeles Times are treated to vanity ads featuring some philanthropic achievement by Donald Sterling. Usually, its something along the lines of the Police Protective League granting the uber-landlord and Clippers owner their "Humanitarian of the Year" award at a dinner next week, where he will be feted by the likes of Norm Crosby, Billy Crystal, Al Davis, and other similar worthies. I can't believe anyone actually contributes money to those charities after seeing these pathetic cries for help; basically, the ads exist to justify the continued existence of Mr. Sterling, who otherwise could not provide a reason to the basketball fans of the city to not publicly stone him.

I attended my first (and last) Clippers game of the season Saturday night. Lord, what an awful franchise. In terms of raw talent, they probably have more good players right now than the Lakers; if Shaq and Kobe were injured, the difference wouldn't even be close. Elton Brand and Andre Miller are good young players, and Lamar Odom and Michael Olowakandi have shown flashes of brilliance. But even though the Lakers have just completed a dreadful first half, barely rising above the .500 mark, the Clippers are even worse, 7 games behind their co-tenants at the Staples Center. The team plays with no heart, no spirit, and it is evident that the players view their current predicament with no concern; as Ron Harper said years ago, he's just serving out his prison sentence. Sterling will not spend the money to keep good players, or do anything to indicate that he is serious about winning. But when it comes to hyping his philanthropy with cheesy ads, he has a deep pocket.