September 09, 2006

Box Office Mojo weighs in on the anti-Clinton propaganda film ABC/Disney is airing this weekend, in a column that comes striaght from the Karl Rove playbook. I suppose it is to be expected that grass roots protest and attacks by the minority party are going to be conflated with "fascist jackboots." Seein' as how it's airing against The Manning War Sunday night, and ESPN's MNF doubleheader on Monday, it's ratings might be more akin to prime time ice hockey or men's tennis.

September 08, 2006

Blur: I can't say which excites me more: that Tony "Yo" Blair will be leaving office in a year, or that the blogmuse of this site, Phoebe Nicholls, will portray his wife in a movie set to air later this year on British television. To paraphrase "legendary record producer" Bruce Dickinson, I got a FEVER. And the only prescription is...MORE PHOEBE !!!
If you don't subscribe to Sports Illustrated, here's the article about Pat Tillman that everyone's talking about. It may be worth subscribing just to read it.

September 07, 2006

The very intricate dance continues on Capital Hill. There's no reason for Senate Democrats to distance themselves from Joe Lieberman, at least as long as he has a double digit lead in the polls. The expectation that the incumbent would fade after losing the primary has obviously not happened, and whining about his decision to take a mulligan and fight it out again in the general election will not make the problem go away. Party primaries are not, by law, single elimination semi-finals, and treating them as such effectively disenfranchises independents and moderates in the general election. If Lamont wants to earn his position, he must go before the entire electorate in Connecticut(even Republicans), and build his case. Expecting entrenched incumbents in Washington to kowtow to the "netroots" ain't gonna happen unless you first win elections in November.
The King is dead but he's not forgotten:

As iconic a 70's moment as Syd Barrett's performance on the Pat Boone Show was in the '60's.
Some thoughts on SprezzaturaGate, from Slate and Josh Marshall (here and here). Several months ago, after Michael Hiltzik was "reassigned" by the local paper after he was caught sockpuppetting, I posted my displeasure, only to be condemned in no uncertain terms by an anally retentive blowhard on the paper's staff. He didn't have a good explanation as to what Hiltzik did wrong, either; what it comes down to is that posting under a pseudonym (whether it be on your blog or elsewhere), and using it to attack third parties while extolling your courage and wit, is embarassing to the company, not unethical per se. The comments section of a blog is supposed to be for public debate, and even the most self-glorifying sockpuppetry can add to the debate, if only to encourage the readership to respond in kind.

Nevertheless, the LA Times and the New Republic have the right to "reassign" people for the crime of "lame-assery," as Josh Marshall puts it. When you accept a paycheck from someone to write a blog, you can't be surprised when they set limits that would be unacceptable to the rest of us.

September 06, 2006

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the forward pass. I've just finished reading a book that compared the evolution of baseball in the U.S. with soccer everywhere else, and one of the important things that characterizes the sport the rest of the world calls "football"* is that it was developed by committee. Several committees, in fact; the early Football Association basically consisted of a number of gentlemen representing various towns and "public schools", each of which played their own variation of the game, and in the mid-nineteenth century, the two most popular versions included one developed at the Rugby School, which allowed players to carry the ball. The committee ultimately split, with the majority favoring no hands, and that sport became popularly known as association football ("soccer" is a bastardization of the first word), and the sport known as rugby favored by the seceding minority.

In the fullness of time, soccer became less of a "gentleman's game," while rugby continued to have strong ties to English public schools, from which the early American version of the game spread to Ivy League students in the late-19th Century. Since the forward pass is inarguably the most distinctive difference in the rules between American football and rugby, it is interesting (at least to me) how the two sports differed prior to 1906. Both sports feature running with a ball towards the other team's goal, both permit the other side to physically stop the ball carrier via tackling, and both allow for more points if you cross the goal line with the ball as opposed to kicking it through the goal posts.

The impression I have is that prior to 1906, the American version had a great deal more violence, with several college players dying every season. President Theodore Roosevelt, whose son had played the sport at Stanford, threatened to outlaw the game, and a number of schools (including my alma mater, Cal) switched to rugby at around that time. If I had to fathom a guess, I would say the big rules difference before 1906 was that the "scrum" was more open-ended in American football, and was used as the primary means of moving the ball forward, as opposed to rugby, where it seems to be used to resolve possession disputes. Today, of course, no American football fan would even notice a "scrum"; it's the routine battle that takes place during every play at the line of scrimmage. In any event, the sports seem to have evolved quite dramatically in different directions even before the forward pass was legalized in the U.S.

[Cross-posted at Condredge's Acolytes]

*Except the U.S. and Canada, which favor "soccer", and Italy, which inexplicably calls the game "calcio." Since they're the champs, who's to argue?
College football fans call this sort of catfight a "Meteor Bowl" (as in, you hate both teams so much you'd rather see a meteor crash the field than see either win), but "Battle of the Blowhards" will do just as well.
Beating a Dead Horse: It's now been three days since his career came to a fizzling conclusion, and the LA Times is still publishing articles about the "greatness" of Andre Agassi. Jesus, enough already. This isn't Jack Nicklaus we're talking about here. The American people long ago reached a verdict on men's tennis, and pretending it's a major sport tantamount to baseball, football and golf isn't going to cut it, particularly when the Times is slashing its budget for the sports section. If it must insist on publishing articles about the sport, provide more coverage (and pics) of women's tennis, where the top athletes actually possess personalities.
Vice Paying Tribute to Virtue: In spite of making his opponent's alleged "ties" to Hollywood (itself a banal use of code) a major theme in his campaign, George "Macaca" Allen turns out to be one of the leading recipients of contributions from The Industry. I can see why Allen is sucking at the trough, but what do the studios get out of a relationship with the Senate's most unreconstructed racist? Something to think about the next time some exec or agent whines about Mel Gibson....

September 05, 2006

L'chaim, Tawana? Speaking of sockpuppetry, do the e-mails referenced here read like legit hate mail? As anti-Semites go, the "authors" seem to have all the authenticity of the "hippies" that occasionally appeared on late-60's episodes of Dragnet.
Mystery Solved?
I was tugging his shirt, he said to me 'if you want my shirt so much I'll give it to you afterwards,' I answered that I'd prefer his sister. It's not a particularly nice thing to say, I recognise that. But loads of players say worse things. I didn't even know he had a sister before all this happened.
--Marco Materazzi, on what he said to Zinedine Zidane that got him so riled up.

September 04, 2006

Proving once again that immigration is the GOP's version of HillaryCare, Congressional leaders conceded today that they do not have the votes to proceed with any action on the issue before the election.
Hopefully, my hometown's 225th birthday will be a bit more sedate than our bicentennial. [link via LAist]