Monthly Archives: September 2010

The billionaire now working as a volunteer. And Mike Tyson as Bobby Brown is hilarious

I love, love this story. When great writing meets a great subject, good things happen.

Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, a colleague I greatly respect, has the story today of Joe Moglia, the richest volunteer assistant coach in the history of college football.

Until two years ago, Moglia was the CEO of AmeriTrade Corp., and was worth billions of dollars. Then he stepped aside to pursue an old passion: football.
He managed to convince the University of Nebraska to let him be a volunteer, and help out around the program.
He may be the happiest guy in America, going from his exorbitant salary, to now making pennies. But he’s happy, as happy as he’s been, Moglia said.

Check out this wonderful tale from, and remember the lesson of Joe Moglia: Doing what you love is so much more important than making big bucks.

**I stole this from my buddy Pearlman’s blog, I freely admit. The brilliant website Funnyor has another great entry up. It’s comedian Wayne Brady, and Mike Tyson, with a parody of the great 1980s video from Bobby Brown, “Every Little Step.”

I freely admit this may only be hilarious to you if you grew up in the 80s and watched MTV a lot. But I laughed my tushy off:

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The awful stench of Carl Paladino’s mail. A really bad “Glee.” And the doctor who takes branding to a whole new level

Two disturbing stories today, for very different reasons:
Carl Paladino is one of the many, many nutjobs running for elective office this fall. Paladino will in all likelihood get crushed in the race for New York Governor by Andrew Cuomo, who I like very much but needs to learn to be less uptight in public.
Anyway, Paladino is a Tea Party-endorsed wingnut, and recently he and his campaign came up with a pretty foul idea to get attention.
They sent out mailer brochures with pictures of legislators who work in Albany, and the mailers have a distinct odor of … rotting vegetables.
The grabber headline at the top of the mailer: “The stink of corruption in Albany is overpowering.”
It happens to be true; Albany is a broken as any state capital could be (I hear you, Springfield, Ill., but New York has got you beat.)
But having people think of awful, putrid smells when they think of your campaign is probably not the best idea, though, Carl.
You’ll get thrown out into the trash just like your stinky mail did.
**I’m willing to concede that I may be in the minority on this.
But man, “Glee” has hit rock bottom. That was an astonishingly bad episode Tuesday night, and it’s not because they did Britney Spears music.
What started to happen at the end of last season, with the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, completely abandoning interesting storylines and plot and basically making the show one musical number after another, has continued totally this season.
This show has become, basically, “Cop Rock” in high school. And yes, I was a “Cop Rock” fan back in the day.
There used to be SO much good about “Glee.” How it confronted social issues, the brilliant Sue Sylvester, the heart and passion it showed.
Now, it seems to me, it’s just one jazzed up music video after another. Really sad to see it ride off the rails so quickly.
**I’m all for enthusiasm in a person’s job. But Dr. Red Alinsod took enthusiasm to a whole other level recently.
Dr. Red performed a hysterectomy on a woman named Ingrid Paulicivic. Except when he was done taking out her uterus, he decided to brand the removed organ by writing her name on the uterus using an electrocautery device.
There was no medical purpose for this; Dr. Red was just trying to make a “friendly gesture,” he says in this document in The Smoking Gun.
Ingrid is suing her physician. Can’t imagine why.
Hey doc, next time send flowers or something.

Obama obliterates privacy, again. Vegas baby, Vegas. And a very confused referee.

Another week, another reminder that the Obama administration really isn’t behaving that different from the W. administration, in a lot of ways.

Here’s a story from the terrific reporter Charlie Savage in the Times today, explaining how federal law enforcement officials are about to pass laws requiring that all forms of communication (Blackberrys, Facebook, Skype) be able to be wire-tapped.
And of course we’re all supposed to just go along, sure, fine, whatever you say, all in the name of fighting terrorism.
I think it’s a terrible decision. Glenn Greenwald, a much smarter man than I, agrees to in this scathing essay.
He basically shows that the U.S. is now doing some of the same things as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on  privacy issues.

Great, there’s a group I want America to be a part of.

**I’m a huge fan of J.R. Moehringer, the brilliant writer who penned the memoir “The Tender Bar” which I loved, and who also co-wrote Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” still the best book I’ve read in the last two years.

Well, Moehringer strikes again with this brilliant and quite funny essay about moving to, and living in, Las Vegas for the past two years. He strikes the perfect tone of an outsider in Vegas, questioning things in the beginning (slot machines in supermarkets?) and then accepting them toward the end (paper towels and Lucky 7s in aisle 9!).

Check out his great piece of writing here.
**Finally, check out this NFL ref trying to explain a penalty during Sunday’s Texans-Cowboys game. He, uh, had a little trouble getting it all straight:

A thrilling Jets win. More NFL thoughts. And a Craigslist rape victim speaks out

Huge win for the Jets Sunday night. H-U-G-E. Forget for a minute that once again a Jets-Dolphins game nearly gave me a heart attack, and two hours after it ended I’m still pumped up.
It was a tremendous win for the Green and White, for a lot of reasons. All the distractions of this week went away, and they just went out and played a great offensive football game.
— Mark Sanchez, you are very quickly earning my trust. Three straight games now without a pick, two straight games with three TD passes. Kid is growing up fast. It’s not even just the throws he’s making; it’s the throws he’s NOT making. He’s not forcing balls into double-coverage. He’s not trying to make a huge play on every snap. Tremendous, tremendous game.
— The penalties on the Jets were just so infuriating. So many dumb penalties. So many that cost them.
— Very odd seeing Jason Taylor play so well in a Jets-Dolphins game, and me cheering him on. Guy played great tonight, much as I still hate him.
— Braylon Edwards really learned how to be humble this week after his DUI arrest. He scores a touchdown, and does the same idiotic dance he did last week.
— Darrelle Revis, get well soon. Man was the Jets pass defense awful.
— Dustin Keller (above), you are becoming an elite NFL tight end. And his blocking has become so much better than it was.

— Still, 2-1 overall, 2-0 in the division, and a share of first place. It’s a great night, boys and girls. A great night.

**Couple other Sunday NFL thoughts:
— Shocking how badly the Giants imploded against Tennessee. Man that was tough to watch.
–Everyone who had the Kansas City Chiefs starting 3-0, please raise your hand. I don’t see anyone. The Kansas City Chiefs: One more reason I don’t gamble on NFL games.
— Brett Favre looks old. I don’t care that the Vikings finally won. Favre will not last the season in one piece.

**So I don’t usually watch Oprah, although I realize that she is the powerful force in the universe. Seriously, she is.
But a colleague of mine named Mark Harper pointed me to this story that was on Oprah recently; a woman named Sarah’s ex-boyfriend posted an ad on Craigslist, saying his ex was looking for a man to “be aggressive” with her, and please contact her to set up “appointments.”

161 men answered the ad, and one showed up and brutally attacked and raped her, later telling police he believed he was fulfilling her “rape fantasy” as described in the ad. The ex-boyfriend and the rapist are in prison for a long, long time. But can you believe 161 men signed up to do this?

Sometimes, the sickness of our society astounds me.

Colbert before Congress? What a joke. Jets-Fins thoughts. And the greatest Falafel picker ever

In case anyone still wonders why the American people hold Congress in such low esteem…

Look, I like Stephen Colbert as much as the next guy. I think he’s hilarious, smart, and I’m glad he’s on TV every night.
But you’ve got to be kidding me with him testifying before a Congressional committee Friday. Colbert, in character, came before a House Judiciary subcommittee looking at the rights and issues confronting America’s field and migrant workers.

Colbert, who spent one day as a day laborer in the fields for a sketch for his show, spoke to actual members of Congress, at an actual hearing.
I’m sorry, but this is 10 times as stupid as Congress getting involved in baseball’s steroid issue. What in the hell does Colbert have to do with any of these real, legitimate issues? Nothing.
I swear, sometimes Congress is like the star-struck 12-year-old who just wants to be around famous people. What was the great line that Clinton adviser Paul Begala once had about “politics is show business for ugly people?” So true.

What a joke.

**Definitely nervous about tonight’s Jets-Miami game down in Miami. Forget for a minute that my boys don’t have all-world CB Darrelle Revis, or that the idiot Braylon Edwards, who the Jets desperately need, won’t play for some of the game thanks to his DUI this week.
The Fins are 2-0, have a strong defense, and have owned the Jets lately, with three straight wins.
This won’t, I don’t think, turn into a huge game for Mark Sanchez. Jets need to pound the rock with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, and play great defense against Miami’s Ronnie Brown. I always feel confident against Miami, because I hate them so much I always think the Jets are going to beat them.
But I’m definitely nervous about this one.

**Finally, because it’s Sunday and you want to be impressed, I give you the greatest Falafel picker in the world:

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The death of Blockbuster Video makes me happy

I know it’s not really nice to take pleasure in the demise of a business.
But on behalf of all former Mom and Pop video store clerks everywhere, I enjoyed a few smiles yesterday when I read that Blockbuster Video had filed for bankruptcy.
Ah, Blockbuster. It’s hard to remember it now, but there was a time in the early-mid 1990s when it was a behemoth thought of like Apple and Microsoft. Blockbuster exploded into every town in America, it seemed, with five stores on every block.
In high school I worked at a Mom and Pop-style video store, Rainbow Video (free popcorn with every rental! You have no idea how sick I got of seeing popcorn when I worked there. Seriously, I don’t think I ate popcorn for the next three years after leaving.)
So many times we’d hear customers complain that “we only have five copies of “Fried Green Tomatoes? Mayve I should go to Blockbuster!” Or they’d whine about our lack of Nintendo games, or something else.
By expanding so quickly and flooding the market, Blockbuster drove thousands of small shops like ours out of business. And we hated them for it.
There was something so “corporate” about being in a Blockbuster store, too. An antiseptic feeling that was hard to put your finger on, but was always there.
As the digital revolution came, Blockbuster got left behind. Netflix and DVRs and movies on demand and all that completely blew Blockbuster out of the water in the last few years.

I can’t remember the last time I “rented” a movie; it’s got to be at least 4-5 years ago. Blockbuster says it’s not closing stores, that the bankruptcy is procedural, yada yada yada.
The bell has tolled for thee, Blockbuster. And I take a little bit of joy out of that.

The Facebook guy does a very good thing. A funny billboard I saw. And maybe the most disgusting political ad of the year

I’m never been quite sure how I feel about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
On the one hand, he’s a brilliant visionary who found a website that has tapped so deeply into our culture that I can’t name a person I know who doesn’t use it.
He’s made billions of dollars and integrated our lives in many wonderful ways.
On the other hand, he shares our personal data without telling us, sometimes comes off as incredibly cocky, and struggles to explain himself often.

But I’ve got to give him big props for what he did Thursday. Zuckerberg announced that he’ll be donating $100 million to the school system of Newark, N.J.
If you’re not familiar with Newark, read this fantastic Esquire article by Scott Raab, about its fantastic young mayor, Cory Booker. I’ve been reading and hearing about Booker for years; he’s definitely a rising star in politics, and I’ve been an admirer.
Newark is a place that needs a lot of help, and like so many school systems across the country, its desperately short of cash. Good for Zuckerberg for using some of his fortune to help one city give its young people a better chance in the world.

**So occasionally, like you I’m sure, I’ll laugh out loud at a funny billboard while stopped at a red light.
Saw a really good one today, from, I think, Volusia County Pest Control, or something like that.
It read “A roach can survive a nuclear blast. And you’re armed with only a newspaper?”
Loved it.

**I know I shouldn’t let stuff like this bother me. But it does. Renee Elmers is running for Congress in North Carolina. She put up this racist and bigoted ad and is getting all sorts of national attention for it.
How disgusting that she thinks putting up a house of worship is a “victory mosque,” and distasteful that she, like so many others, is using the tragedy of 9/11 to try to score some cheap political points with closed-minded, ignorant voters:

A “Glee” season premiere: Meh. And the Pentagon really doesn’t want you to read this book

Even though I thought “Glee” ended on a down note last spring, taking a once-brilliant show and watering it down, I was still excited for the season premiere this week.
Then I was pissed when my DVR oddly didn’t record it Tuesday night; it’s like my internal programmer said “Nah, I don’t want high school kids singing and dancing on my hard drive.”
I finally watched it Wednesday night, with much anticipation. And I thought it was … OK. Not great, not terrible.
On the good side, we got plenty of Sue Sylvester. Still the best thing about “Glee;” I particularly loved her rant to Santana about her “summer surgery.” And I like the opening Jay-Z number, good stuff.
But so many of the plotlines were just … stupid. Artie on the football team, the new female football coach kicking Finn off for no reason, Mr. Schuster becoming a worse and worse actor every week (seriously, the guy WAY overacts to everything), Rachel being more mean and self-absorbed than ever.
And where the hell was Emma? They just forget about the guidance counselor/Schu love interest sometimes.
I don’t know, maybe “Glee” is trying too hard, and putting way too many musical numbers in each show.  The new characters they introduced have promise, particularly the blond football player kid.
I hope “Glee” isn’t a one-season wonder.

**OK, so this is like a good news/bad news thing for every author. The good news is that all 10,000 copies of your new book have been bought already!
The bad news? Nobody can read them.
That’s the situation poor Anthony Shaffer finds himself in. The guy has written a new book, called “Operation Dark Heart,” about his experiences while in the army in Afghanistan in 2003.
Apparently Shaffer reveals a little too much about operations, so the Department of Defense is making an arrangement with the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of the book’s first printing.
That’s gotta suck if you’re Shaffer. You’ve got a best-seller that no one can read.
I hope St. Martin’s prints more, because I’d LOVE to know what’s so explosive that the DoD doesn’t want us to know about.

Can’t even work up anger over “DADT.” Federer and Nadal, laughing hysterically. And when mascots attack other mascots!

I can’t do it.
Nope, I can’t work up the usual outrage I normally feel when my government once again tells some of its citizens that their freedoms aren’t as free as the rest of ours.
When our government declares a certain group of people as “less welcome,” and tells them NOT to be open about who they really are.
I wish I could get worked into a lather tonight, about the cowardly United States Senate once again refusing to repeal the disgusting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that doesn’t allow gay Americans to serve in the military.
But I can’t. Harry Reid’s a bum, the Republicans are obstructionists, yada yada yada.
Our government is broken, has been broken for a long time. And I don’t have the energy to stamp my feet and jump up and down tonight screaming for change.
All I have is a deep sadness for the thousands and thousands of gay Americans who are being told by their country that their life isn’t worth much. That they’re not allowed to die for their nation, unless they lie about who they are.

**The Ohio University Bearcat was mighty ticked off at Brutus Buckeye, the mascot of Ohio State University, before Saturday’s game. Yeah, he’s now the former Ohio U. mascot. He said afterwards he’d been waiting a year to pull this stunt. I don’t know why furry men can’t just play nice:

**Braylon Edwards, Braylon Edwards, Braylon Edwards. You have a big game for the New York Jets Sunday, you already have a well-deserved reputation for being an off-the-field headache, and what do you do? You go out Monday night, get drunk, get behind the wheel of a car, and get arrested for driving under the influence.
What an absolute disgrace.  You’re an NFL player, hire a limo! Take a cab! What’s even more of a disgrace is that neither the NFL nor the Jets can suspend Edwards for this Sunday’s game, because of some obscure clause in the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL owners and the players’ union.
What a great racket it is, being a pro athlete.

**Finally today, a happy Wednesday moment from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, at the moment probably my two favorite athletes in the world. Theirs is a rivalry, but also a true friendship, and it made me laugh to see this. This is an outtake from a commercial the two were filming, for Federer’s charity.

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A brilliant start for “Boardwalk Empire.” And when a kid dies during a football game, STOP THE GAME!

A few housekeeping notes before the main blog post today:
1. I haven’t forgotten about my first-ever book giveaway contest, to the reader who sends me the worst summer camp horror story. I’ve got several really good entries so far, but I”m looking for more. I’ll keep the contest open through the end of this week; for details, read this post I wrote last week.

2. My Twitter account is sad. I only have nine followers so far. I’m trying to get better at putting fresh stuff on there, not just re-posting the blog. I’d like to get into at least double-digits in followers. So please, follow me, follow me to freedom!

3, An update on my bet with Ali Taber, good friend, excellent blogger, and Patriots fan: Ali lost our bet since the Jets beat the Pats Sunday, but she has as yet been unable to find a Jets jersey to wear, be photographed in, and post said photo on her blog and my blog. She said she’s tried, and I believe her. I’m seeing her in 10 days, so we’ve agreed if she can’t find a Jets jersey to wear by then, I’ll bring one up to her in Boston and she’ll put on one of mine. Don’t worry, I ain’t forgetting about this bet.

OK, on with the show…

For months I’d been eagerly anticipating Sunday night’s debut of “Boardwalk Empire,” the huge, wildly expensive new HBO show.
I heard so much about it: How it’s from one of the big writers of “The Sopranos,” how Martin Scorsese is directing it, and Steve Buscemi is the star. It’s set in Atlantic City, 1920, just as Prohibition is getting started.
It looked awesome from the previews. I went in expecting it to be fabulous.
And it totally delivered. What a fantastic first episode. They set up so many of the characters so quickly, and the writing was incredibly sharp.
The scenery was breathtaking, the acting fantastic (Al Capone’s first scene in particular was brilliant), and a whole bunch of other aspects were terrific, too.
Definitely check it out on HBO if you get the chance. First great new HBO series in a long, long time.

**OK, so this story angered me immediately when I heard it. Last Friday night, at a high school football game in Texas, a kid named Reggie Garrett suffered a seizure moments after throwing a touchdown pass in a game for West Orange-Stark High School.
Garrett was immediately rushed to the hospital, and according to reports, word began to spread that he died during the third quarter of the game.
And the teams kept playing.

That’s right. They kept playing, even after they learned of Garrett’s death. Disgusting. Despicable. You find out a kid on one of the teams dies, something that happened during the game, you STOP THE GAME. Have some respect for the kids involved, who saw their teammate collapse and never recover on the sideline, and have some respect for everyone in the boy’s poor family.

It’s a stupid football game, OK? It’s not life or death, it’s not that important. Stop the game, and allow the players to mourn. This isn’t a difficult call, yet these idiots involved apparently couldn’t figure it out.