Thursday, July 31, 2003

KOBE LEGAL THEORY: Dahlia Lithwick explains the history of rape laws, leading into their current ineffectual state.
YES, BLAME IT ON JERSEY. OF COURSE: From Bill Jemas' conversation with Matt Hawes that Ike Perlmutter told Jemas to have as related by Rich Johnston:

That brings us to today's phone conversation. Mr. Jemas tells me that there will be changes coming from Marvel in the upcoming six months. First, he assures me that he will not be making the kind of comments he has made in the past. He tells me that he couldn't understand how people in comics could take things so seriously and that growing up in New Jersey he was raised to make fun of people as a game, and that he laughs such stuff off. He explained that he didn't understand why others do not do the same. I explained to him that comics fans have enough of others making fun of us, and that we should at least count on the publishers not to denigrate us. If we don't take ourselves seriously, I asked, how are others going to do so?

APPENDIX: Bill Jemas: Publisher of Marvel Comics. Ike Perlmutter: Owner of Marvel Comics. Matt Hawes: Comics retailer and gadfly. Rich Johnston: Comics' greatest rumormonger and news source ever; Drudge-like, if Drudge had some kind of coherent personality. There you go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

NBA=WWE: Mavs open season at Lakers. What better way to debut the new look Lakers than against those perennial "tough competitors," the Dallas Mavericks? Who will put up a good fight and lose in the last five minutes and--since they are a credible team--make the Lakers and themselves look good. That's good booking by D. Stern.
LAKERS GET EVEN MORE GERIATRIC; TIMBERWOLVES SUDDENLY ANNOYING: Mark Madsen signs with Minnesota, Horace Grant signs with Lakers.
VINDICATION OF MY THEORY ABOUT SLATE BEING THE NPR OF THE INTERNET: Slate debuts show on NPR. See, Slate going on NPR proves it's the NPR of the Internet. Yep.

Friday, July 25, 2003

NOT REALLY RAISING ANYONE'S OPINION OF THEIR MARRIAGE: Kobe buys Vanessa $4M ring. Kobe's really got this next Jordan thing down, eh? This relentless self-creation of an image for public consumption. He's the Anti-Iverson, the Karaoke Jordan.
FAIR & BALANCED ESSAY ON MICHAEL MOORE: Via Matt Welch: Kay S. Hymowitz in City Journal extracts the kernel of Moore's genius:

Yet for all his fame and achievement, the most important fact about Michael Moore—and the foundation of a populist philosophy that verges on the reactionary—remains his birthplace. Moore is from Flint the way Odysseus was from Ithaca; his home haunts his every thought and feeling. “This was Flint as I remembered it, where every day was a great day,” he says in a voiceover in Roger and Me, a movie in which he sets out to track down Roger Smith, the General Motors CEO who ordered the factory closings that turned Flint into a rust-belt disaster in the 1980s. The movie is a paean to his beloved birthplace, an evocation of the populist’s lost golden age, an industrial counterpart to the agrarian Brigadoon, where life was whole, people were genuine, and everything felt secure. Moore has a wistful vision of Flint as the birthplace of the modern labor movement with the famous 1937 strike that culminated in the founding of the UAW, which he presents as a progressive union that integrated the assembly lines and secured its members health-care benefits and enough money to buy homes and cars of their own. He evokes a vanished time, when laborers and corporate elites joined in a mutual spirit of loyalty and honest exertion. “My dad didn’t live with this kind of fear,” he has said of contemporary job instability. “The social contract then was, if you worked hard and the company did well, he did well.”

Moore’s image of Flint makes him the ideal poet of the Naderite Left. The city symbolizes the sadness and populist outrage over a world lost to the New Economy and its voracious global corporation. In Roger and Me, the camera lingers on block after block of boarded-up houses, and Moore interviews desperate people, some being evicted from their homes. The fallen landscape is for Moore a symbol of a lost world, in which people like the laboring men of Flint made real stuff—steel, cars, trucks—before being swept away by the flabby and artificial post-industrial economy.

And here's something I just didn't know:

In an appearance on Comedy Central’s Daily Show in March 2002, Moore announced that during the period that planes were grounded for two days after the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration allowed a Saudi jet to whisk away bin Ladin family members over FBI objections. As, an Internet site devoted to tracking down urban legends, points out, the planes did pick up bin Ladin family members—on September 18 and 19, days after commercial flights had already begun flying again, and they did so only after the FBI had questioned the departing Saudis.

Huh. I will still hate on the Saudis, as long as they get to sleep with more and better hookers than I could ever afford--and here I am subsidizing them at the pump like a schmuck. That's a good book, by the way, though it doesn't go much beyond the author's Atlantic essay; Baer just throws in some personal anecdotes here and there. I read while drinking my coffee at the Barnes and Noble. Up yours, corporate booksellers! I got something for nothing, so double dumbass on you.
PROBABLY INTENTIONAL NBA COMEDY: "I'm really going to miss Hedo. Who's going to get my coffee in the morning?" Thank you, Chris Webber.

This is only the least important aspect of that trade, but how is good old boy Brad Miller going to fit in with the goofball Kings of Comedy? Well, he'll find a way--obviously.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

THANKS, DIRK!: I've been Journalistaed and I love it!

There are no innocents in this story. That said, I tend to believe the woman. After she gave Bryant a personal tour of the resort, did this star-struck concierge make a mistake in accepting the invitation to continue their conversation in his room?

I suspect she did. But perhaps it was Bryant's sterling, polished reputation that disarmed her. She wasn't dealing with Shawn Kemp or a Trail Blazer. She was meeting a charismatic young man with a beautiful 20-year-old wife and a 6-month-old daughter.

And it is precisely because Bryant admits to betraying them that night that, for me, he loses much of his credibility. At a bare minimum, within an hour of checking into a Colorado resort Bryant was having sex with a 19-year-old he'd never met before.

Whomever you believe in this story, the public undressing of this woman is pathetic and shameful. The "hottest discussion" at is whether the woman is attractive. Topless pictures and other photographs of high-school classmates -- apparently misidentified -- are randomly tossed into the mix on Web sites that are little more than dartboards.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we're probably still six months away from a trial date! We've only just begun the dive toward the gutter, a descent that will illustrate why so many women believe they have more to lose than gain by seeking justice in a rape case.

Will Bryant's life also be torn apart in the process? I wouldn't be surprised. But you wouldn't wish that upon him, and we shouldn't be so cavalier or detached now that it's happening to her.
DEPARTMENT OF INAPPROPRIATE POSTS: Has anybody noticed that Kerry Howley is a fox? Shoot, I assumed she was a guy when she started posting at Reason. Just don't tell them she wrote an anti-SUV article once--she was young, and needed the money.
I LIKE THIS DEAL: Brad Miller to Kings--it doubles the chances of another Shaq-Brad Miller near-fight. Of course, Brad most likely won't be an All-Star again unless he somehow becomes more popular than Shaq and Yao Ming. But he's a great Shaq foil and a great fit for the team who hate the Lakers like no other.

Also in this deal: Pacers get Scot Pollard and Danny Ferry, Spurs get Hedo Turkoglu and Ron Mercer. Heeeeey--it's the whitest megatrade in NBA history!

Local reaction from the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz:

If Walsh has his way, this will be the first of many moves this summer. "I'll try to make some moves," he said. But unless he's got Shaq-for-Croshere up his sleeve, or some similarly one-sided blockbuster, it's almost impossible to see how the Pacers can reduce the stench of the past 72 hours.

"Shaq-for-Croshere." That's funny.
WATCHING THE KURDS: Tim Noah is still paying attention.
GUESS THE INTENDED AUDIENCE FOR TEEN TITANS WAS NOT......ME: Teen Titans most popular Cartoon Network debut ever with boys 6-11.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

AND THE SEMI-WINNER OF THE NAMING OF KOBE'S ACCUSER DERBY IS: Tom Leykis, "radio personality." The real winner will be whichever respectable news organ does it first, of course, with bonus points for tortured reasoning.
INTERESTING MOVE: Robert Horry to Spurs. Via Lang Whitaker.
MAC FILE: Northern Illinois picked to win MAC. And--once again--screw the BCS.
DEPARTMENT OF OVERRATED CITIES: San Francisco bleeding citizens. Remember when this whole warblog thing got started, one of the early cross-blog debates was the vast superiority of LA over San Francisco? Ah, memories.
"ANYONE BUT BUSH": Salon interviews Todd Gitlin. A sample:

TG: If you shudder at the thought of power, you don't belong in politics. You can't emote your way to power, you can't moralize your way, you have to strategize your way to power. The right has produced leadership between the saints and the politicos, people like Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, people who can harness the spirit without ever turning their backs on the prospect of real political power. And it got them a long way. They're still there, and they're central.

And the result is that the Republican Party now has 30-40 years of experience of holding their crazies with the promise of rewards -- either at the judiciary level, or making inroads on abortion, or walking the line on gay issues and so on. They've been able to distribute enough goodies to keep them loyal. They've also produced generations of politicians, like Bush himself -- not to mention Bush's brain, Karl Rove -- who know how to dance between these worlds and keep everybody reasonably content.

While the left is always ready for carnivorous action against one of its leaders. They're always ready to shred a standard-bearer if he or she fails to deliver the maximum. They're very quick to send somebody out the safe house of sainthood, because they've let them down.

SALON: Why do you think that is? I'm wondering if there's not a deeper ideological difference between the conservatives and liberals that would make the left carnivorous and the right not.

TG: Yes, distrust of authority. Which is obviously not a problem for the right, because they're authoritarian. I think it's about that simple.

Todd Gitlin continues to be My Favorite Leftist, "Leftist" being defined as "someone who writes for The American Prospect. But not The Nation. They're waaaaay out there." It's a personal definition.
AND--JEEZ--HOW BOUT THOSE TIMBERWOLVES: You got Sam Cassell, Garnett, Olowakandi and Wally (both of whom might be drawbacks, of course) and Latrell Sprewell. It's a B-level All Star Team, which won't help them against the A-Level All Star Team called the Lakers come playoff time. But they can always hope they get lucky and play--and play--the Rockets, I guess. There still isn't a West playoff team they can clearly beat, is there?
LOOK OUT, EAGLE COUNTY: The fixers are already among you. And how's South Park going to handle all this? Colorado is such a weird place--it's like the Florida of the West.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

WELL, THAT'S--INTERESTING: India's abandoned newborn conjoined twins to be adopted by NGO.
VANESSA BRYANT HATE WATCH: From another female columnist in another tabloid newspaper:

With wife Vanessa smiling like a ninny, Bryant masterfully transformed himself from an alleged victimizer into a hapless victim of his own testosterone, weepily admitting that he did, in fact, have sex with that woman.
NOT QUITE KOBE'S ACCUSER REVEALED BUT: Richard Roeper tells you how you can figure it out for yourself. Of course, if you're reading this, you already know how.
STRANGE FANBOY DREAMS: Dr. Light will be in Episode Two. So stop worrying. I know you were worried. But I didn't care. Nope. Not me.
THE STRANGE FEVER DREAMS OF A MEDIA CONGLOMERATE: To whom, exactly, is the new Teen Titans cartoon supposed to appeal to? It's a strange graft of Powerpuff Girls upon Bruce Timm-style DC superhero cartoons that utilizes none of the Wolfman/Perez Titans mythos except for the characters' names. The vast Time Warner/AOL hivemind must've decided to split the difference when they thought this thing up. "Let's create another cartoon for the aging fanboy audience before they all get thrown out of the house." "Let's create another Powerpuff Girls mass-merchandising phenomenon." "Those fanboys won't have money for deluxe action figures much longer." "It can't be hard to synthesize Japanese anime style in a purely American context--our McCracken underling did it, surely his works can be replicated for the coveted 9-to-13 demographic." "I'm seeing lifesize anatomically-correct Starfire dolls." And so, Teen Titans was born fully-grown from the brow of the Mental Organism Designed Only For Merchandising--and yes, I do picture AOL higher-ups wearing AIM helmets.

I mean, I'm watching it and thinking, "Where's the rest of the Fearsome Five? Where's Neutron? Where's Mammoth's sister? Where's Psimon? Where's--Dr.Light?" (Yes, that's six--Dr. Light experienced a Big Ten-like loss of counting ability.) And why couldn't Jinx be Indian? And a hundred other geekish questions, all essentially asking: why use the character's names but no other part of the source material? It has to be an attempt at audience-doubling by getting the fanboys and actual adolescents to watch, instead of one (as Justice League does by playing it pretty straight to the source) or the other (kids who are possibly graduating from Powerpuff Girls.) That's all I can think of.
THE KIND OF BIZARRE QUESTION THAT ONLY GETS ASKED, LET ALONE ANSWERED, AT GENE EXPRESSION: Godless Capitalist poses the musical query, Is China's booming market oligarchy system superior to liberal democracy in an age of genetic engineering? Depressing hijinks ensue--Godless thinks all the surplus Chinese males with no hope of marriage are going to go conquer the world with all their spare time. Perhaps we need to cultural-imperialistically "introduce" those Vermont-like civil unions over there, just to survive....
INDY SCUM SPORTS BWAH HA HA: Meadowlands National Lacrosse League franchise moving to Anaheim. I await the migration of volleyball teams to the East Coast--hopefully the Brazilian female kind.

Monday, July 21, 2003

YOU CAN TAKE YER MYSTERY OF CAPITAL AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS: The rooking of the Third World. Via Julian Sanchez. "By rigging the global trade game against farmers in developing nations, Europe, the United States and Japan are essentially kicking aside the development ladder for some of the world's most desperate people. This is morally depraved. By our actions, we are harvesting poverty around the world."

Yeah, Bendis is still dining out on the whole Kingpin-Bullseye meal that Frank Miller laid out twenty-five years ago and that a generation of Daredevil writers has been living off ever since.

Except for that one great beautiful period of Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.--the only time post-Miller that anyone has dared to write Daredevil in a different way. Tired old Catholic guilt imagery was shed for trips to a Hell that existed only in John Romita's head. Karen Page was a multidimensional character for the only time in her existence. There were like nine different bleeding-heart liberal causes advocated. Daredevil wandered with the Inhumans across upstate New York and it was great. We had a crazed feminist supervillain (Typhoid Mary) and a crazed victim of the beauty myth (Number Nine) and Karnak and Gorgon acting like the Two Stooges. Hell's Kitchen was practically a character, that's how well JR Jr. drew it. Just great great comics, and--like I said--Nocenti was the only writer to consciously not walk in Frank Miller's footsteps, and I remain appalled that the Miller version is somehow the "iconic" one today. I will prove it via a deep close-text reading and analysis of the Miller and Nocenti runs right after I finish rereading the Giffen/DeMatteis/Helfer Justice League. BOY! Those are great comics. Why, the Kooeykooeykooey issues are alone are the funniest superhero comics ever....
I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE: With this Eric Neel column about the "lost idea of Kobe Bryant." What, you mean the lost idea of the completely manufactured superstar about whom we knew nothing--nothing--about? Nobody ever bought Kobe--his persona is just too vapid, a shamless attempt by Phil Knight (I'm guessing) to milk the remaining velocity of the Jordan era. Contrast Kobe (yet again) with Allen Iverson, someone who lives his life completely publicly and as a result is a minor American deity, and you'll see what I mean. I mean, Kobe never had any sort of life in the American consciousness outside of his endorsements--and they were uniformly bland. And for bland products. McDonald's? Sprite? Yikes.

So, the only idea we're losing here is that manufactured public personas based around basketball talent tell the truth about the person they represent. Especially when said public persona appears designed to be as inoffensive as possible. And any citizen born into our media-saturated existence should be immune to that idea from day one. There you go.

Check out Max Power on the Kobe case. Via Eric McErlain.
DID BUSH REALLY SAY THIS?: As quoted by Jonathan Turley in the LA Times: "I'm the commander I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president." Via Matt Welch. It sounds like something Shaq would say....
"LAWYERS ARE FREELANCE BUREAUCRATS:" What a fascinating way of thinking of the World's Most Maligned Profession. From Ron Bailey on tort reform. You shoudl read his back and forth with Greg Burch too.
NOW TAKING BETS: Which news outlet will be the first to name the woman known as Kobe Bruant's Accuser? Or has it already happened? I'm guessing since everybody in Eagle, Colorado knows who she is every reporter in Eagle, Colorado knows who she is. But somebody's gonna let it slip, unless Kobe Bryant's Accuser has a counter-news conference at some point and names herself.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

WHY WE ALL MISSED LETTER FROM DIANA: Somebody still has to take down Andrew Sullivan. I mean, right? He wouldn't go away if we all ignored him like those giant advertising icons in that one Simpsons Halloween special....

"That's Andy's juice talking, not his neocortex." HA!
I DON'T BELIEVE IT: Clippers retain Brand and pursue Arenas. Read on:

The Clippers still expect to match Utah's $7-million-a-year offer to Corey Maggette and are hoping to extend Lamar Odom for a salary in that range.

The Clippers already lost center Michael Olowokandi and signaled they will not match Denver's offer to point guard Andre Miller. However, getting Brand, Odom, Maggette and Arenas would leave them with a deep, talented roster.

It would also give them something they have never had: a stable nucleus, all locked up for years and able to concentrate on the task at hand.

Who got to Sterling to get him to do this? Mike Dunleavy? I'm at a loss. If they sign Brad Miller I'm back on the Clippers bandwagon. Yes, I never learn. But--with this roster--they're at least a "Should Watch" on the old League Pass-o-meter, along with the 03-04 Cavs and Nuggets.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

FULL TEXT OF THE PAUL KELLY TRIPPLEHORN, JR. BREAKUP LETTER E-MAIL: Snopes has it. Via Daze. You know, he isn't a very good speller. And--in a completely unrelated putdown--maybe he and Blair Hornstine can trade career-destroying tips sometime. Or they can coauthor a "Chicken Soup For The Teenage Cutthroat" book. Et cetera.

Friday, July 18, 2003

FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE REVIEW CLEARINGHOUSE: Reviews are coming in, and they are uniformly positive:

Ray Tate of Silver Bullet Comics.
Tim Hartnett also of Silver Bullet Comics.
Randy Lander of 4th Rail.
Don MacPherson, also of 4th Rail.
Jeffrey Neary of Broken Frontier.
Jim Smith of Shiny Shelf.
John Hefner of Zentertainment.

Rich Johnston likes it too. And I love it--my day is better because I got to read Max Lord convince Ted Kord and Booster Gold to rejoin his goofy new superteam. I can't tell you how much mine or anybody else's reactions are out of nostalgia for the old Giffen/DeMatteis/Helfer/Dooley League. How would I even articulate in a serious, non-dorkish way why the JLI was so great? People call it a superhero sitcom and it was and it wasn't. It was more like a group of people employed as superheroes who got through the day with gallows humor or with terrible humor. Somebody called it the Hill Street Blues of superheroes and that might be pretty apt. I'd say it was one of those magic moment deals (like Casablanca) where everything just works out right artistically in a commercial, collaborative medium, except that Giffen and DeMatteis minus Helfer and Dooley seem to be doing just fine in FKATJL. (It's one of those creative ironies that J.M. DeMatteis, a comics creator who has always aimed at Serious Adult Artistic Themes does his best on a superhero relationships comedy. Though JLI isn't/wasn't quite a comedy either; reading it through, you enjoy it because of how familiar these characters are, which is a testament to how well they've been portrayed in the comic. So that's the formula: clear, enjoyable characterization leading to familiarity leading to enjoyment.) It's a precise, well-crafted enjoyable comic book and it should stand up with the best of (say) Carl Barks or Herge or whoever--though I may be going out on a limb here--I think this is one really clear instance of a book not getting its due because it's an American commercial mainstream superhero comic book. Even though it's a study in everything to do right with a narrative. There you go.
HAVEN'T POSTED ONE OF THESE IN AWHILE: Ralph Peters in his element: pea-soup thick Rummy hate. "Rummycrats." That's a good one....

Thursday, July 17, 2003

INDY SCUM SPORTS WATCH: Crikey--a new World Hockey Association? And they're pretty serious, apparently, having Bobby Hull to be commissioner and all. Via Eric McErlain.

Wait, they're doomed--they're looking at a franchise in Birmingham. No successful startup league can have a franchise in Birmingham, Alabama. That is the Law.
I DUNNO: Out of the three most famous NBA couples--Jackie and Doug Christie, Jason and Joumana Kidd, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant--are the Christies actually the least pathological? Or are they just the most openly pathological? Sure, it's weird to follow your husband around for the entire NBA season, but at least Jackie is sure Doug isn't fooling around. Meanwhile Joumana is forcing T.J. on the nation (resulting in his broken collar bone), you have those unspecified domestic abuse charges--quickly filed away--and just the general impression that she's CEO of Jason Kidd Enterprises. And Vanessa Bryant nee Laine has always given off the crazy vibes to me--Kobe shoulda listened to Jellybean. Anyway, discuss amongst yourselves.
CLIPPERS DISINTEGRATION POST: I don't have the stomach to have any hopes for the Clippers anymore--as long as The (Other) Donald owns that team, they have no chance. So there'll be no talk around here about how this is going to be their year to make the playoffs. I hope Elton Brand gets signed to the Heat and Corey Maggette to the Nuggets and Andre Miller to the Jazz and there's such an uprising that Sterling has to sell the team. Like, I hope his office gets egged or something. Read this:

These days, Sterling has access to more money than ever, in the once-forlorn Clippers' new incarnation, as yes, cash cow.

The team has not only become profitable but hugely so, with more windfalls coming. Teams get rebates of the luxury tax money according to how little they spent, and the Clipper payroll was last at No. 29 last season. One West general manager says their just-calculated rebate this summer was a whopping $15.8 million.

There must be a real flaw in the NBA's salary cap structure that allows a team to become noncompetitive, and not to increase their chances in the draft--the usual reason for a team intentionally tanking--but to make money for the team's owner.

Friday, July 11, 2003

AND THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR INSPIRED WORK IN THE FIELD OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OBSESSIVENESS GOES TO: Galvatron, for thoroughly cracking the Matrix. It's the best Matrix-related speculation I've read. Via the DVDVR.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR 2003 LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND NBA TRAVELLING ALL-STAR TEAM: Jeebus, look at this lineup. Why hasn't Jason Kidd immediately announced his intention to sign with the Spurs? Why haven't the Spurs signed Zo, P.J. Brown and some serviceable Olowakandi-or-Brad-Miller-or-somebody center? Is the rest of the league ceding the title to the Lakers? I hope not. A two-team league is a zillion times better than a one-team league--just look at how much better the Bird-Magic years were over the Jordan years. The Spurs have just got to put themselves together. That is all.
YOU CAN EXPECT TO BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER(S): Harvard revokes Blair Hornstine's admission.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

OH, GOOD NEWS: Big East may raid MAC. I mean, probably bad for the MAC, but I love the MAC teams: Marshall, Toledo, Akron, Ball State, Western Michigan, Miami of Ohio--an amazing collection of underappreciated universities and areas of the country. And Central Florida? The hey?

But let's go THUNDERING MUTHAFREAKING HERD! That would be better, actually--the Marshall Muthafreaking Herd. I like the ring of that....

Hell, just give the MAC a BCS berth and let the Big East schools keep playing basketball and I'll be happy. Doesn't everyone want to see Miami-Marshall? Or Miami-Miami?

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

JOSH CROCKETT'S COMMENTS SECTION IS REFUSING TO ADMIT MY POST: So here's what I wanted to say in response to this post:

I've said this before but it bears repeating: college football is low low low on the Northeast sports totem pole. Nobody seems to mention this when talking about how the Northeast is the last part of the country without a dominant football conference, and it's contribution to the Bad Idea that is Big East college football. People just have too much invested in the pro teams around here--they take the place of people filling up football stadiums in less populated parts of the country. Why the Big East thought their survival depended on anything more than marginal college football I have no idea.

It's just college basketball first around here. I mean--the NIT? MSG? Every year?