Monthly Archives: November 2010

Why I don’t understand guys like Tony Parker. And Jim Morrison, pardoned?

I think average-looking guys like myself always are shocked when we hear news like this week’s celebrity gossip, when the super-gorgeous Eva Longoria announced she was divorcing Tony Parker, the San Antonio Spurs basketball star.
Apparently, according to A.C. Slater (I mean, Longoria’s friend Mario Lopez, who played A.C. Slater on TV), Longoria found a bevy of text messages from the wife of one of Parker’s Spurs teammates, on Parker’s phone.
I don’t get it. I just don’t. Tony, sweetheart, you’re married to Eva Longoria, one of the most beautiful women in the world.  What would possess you, an NBA star with fame and fortune beyond your wildest dreams, to find Eva Longoria, not enough for you?
Maybe Eva is mean in real life.
Maybe Tony no longer respected her work on “Desperate Housewives.” Maybe hanging around all those beautiful women who stalk/follow NBA players made him weak.
Whatever it is, it’s astonishing to me. And Eva, I’m here for you if you need a shoulder to cry on.

**So here’s something our current governor of Florida can hang his hat on: Sure, he didn’t win his Senate race, but Charlie Crist is trying to right a historical wrong: He’s trying to get Jim Morrison pardoned.
For those who are not Morrison fans, or have forgotten, the Doors lead singer was arrested and later convicted of exposing himself at a 1969 concert in Miami.
A great phrase from this story: “The evidence Morrison unzipped his pants was flimsy.” I’ll let you make your own joke there, this is a family blog (then again, I did write last week about the woman who attacked the police with a sex toy.)
I also like the sentence “none of the 100 photos admitted into evidence showed Morrison’s genitals.”
I love it when politicians get involved in this stuff, because really, who’s going to argue against it? The morals police? Free Jim Morrison.
But not, of course, his genitals. Those should stay packed away. And apparently in 1969, they did.

The guy who really hated Bristol on DWTS.” Tackling 8-year-old kids. And a sign of the apocalypse

We’ve all been mad at something on our televisions before.
And sure, we’ve all been mad at a Palin family member or two.
But only Steve Cowan, of Vermont, Wisc. has combined those two things.
It seems that Steve, a 67-year-old man, became so enraged watching Bristol Palin on “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night that he took out a gun and fired it at his TV because he thought Palin wasn’t a good dancer, his wife alleges.
Then Cowan turned the gun on his wife, but fortunately she escaped and was able to call police, who later arrested Cowan.
Who knew Bristol could have that kind of effect on men not named Levi Johnston?
I don’t watch “Dancing With The Stars,” but all I hear from people who do is how great a dancer Bristol Palin is.
I really shouldn’t be surprised; her mother has been dancing around reporters’ questions for two years now.

**Of course this story infuriates me, and not just because it involves a little Jets fan.
A drunk and angry Cleveland Browns fan tackled an 8-year-old kid wearing a Jets jersey in the parking lot of Browns Stadium Sunday after the Jets beat the Browns in overtime.
Yeah, that’s right he tackled an 8-year-old!
Read the gruesome details here.
And we New York fans get the rap for bad behavior all the time.

**Shamelessly stealing from the weekly Sports Illustrated feature of the same name, I give you my latest sign of the Apocalypse: Workers at a company called Aynsley China in Britian have rushed through production a whole series of commemorative mugs and plates honoring the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Which was announced, two days ago! And the china is already produced and available.
Sigh. I’ve never gotten Britain’s obsession with the royal family. Then again, I’m sure Brits don’t get our obsession with the Kardashians, so why don’t we call it even.

A classic book I finally got around to reading. And the coach who whips his players

You know those books that people are always telling you to read, the ones that have been on your “I gotta read this book eventually” list? We all have a few of those.
For me, for the last several years, Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” has been on the list.
But I always pushed it off. It was another Vietnam War book, and I’d read enough of those. And I knew it would always be there, and I’d read it “someday.”
Well, someday finally came.  And Tim O’Brien’s masterpiece, a collection of short stories first published in 1990, was every bit as good as I’d heard.
O’Brien, who served in Vietnam, said the stories are “a work of fiction,” but they feel incredibly accurate and real. O’Brien gets you totally absorbed in the jungle and the incredible hopelessness of the war, and what it felt like to be a soldier there.
Two of the stories blew me away, more than the others: One,  called “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong,” was about a soldier’s girlfriend who arrives an innocent, and leaves quite different. The other amazing story, “On A Rainy River,” is about how a young man battles his conscience when he’s drafted.
I can’t do justice to how outstanding O’Brien writes, and the vivid language and imagery he uses.
It’s a beautiful, haunting book, that’s as relevant now, with our equally hopeless war raging in Afghanistan, as it was 20 years ago.
It makes me want to read everything else O’Brien wrote; it’s that good.
Check it out if you’re looking for a modern classic that you’ve never read.
As for me, next up is the final Harry Potter book. I know, I know, if I’ve read the first six how come I haven’t read the last one yet?
No good excuse. With the movie coming out, I’ve got no choice but to dive in to the last saga of Harry and Hermione.

**We have a possible new winner in “Most disgusting behavior by a coach,” ladies and gentlemen.
Meet Marlon Dorsey, head boys basketball coach of Murrah High School in Jackson, Miss. Seems that Mr. Dorsey, a first-year coach, has been accused by three players of whipping them using a weightlifting belt.
Corporal punishment, which has only been banned in the Jackson school system since 1991 (Seriously, only since ’91???), is being taken very seriously by the principal, he says in this article.
Whipping players. With a belt. In the year two thousand and freaking ten.

Here’s a clip of Dorsey “in action.” This man should be fired immediately, end of story.

“Boardwalk Empire” keeps getting better. And the most amazing “Wheel of Fortune” contestant ever

If you have HBO, and aren’t already watching “Boardwalk Empire,” you absolutely should.
Yes, I’m telling you what you should do with an hour of your week. Watch this show.  My friend Tony, who is the king of hyperbole, says after seven episodes that it’s already as good as “The Wire,” which is only the best show ever on TV.
I don’t think it’s quite ready to take its place with the Barksdale crew, but “Boardwalk” is pretty freaking good. Steve Buscemi gets better every week as Nucky Thompson, the boss of Atlantic City during Prohibition. The characters are getting fleshed out more and more, the character of Arnold Rothstein is simply fantastic, and he steals every scene he’s in, and the writing of the show is incredibly sharp.
My only quibble is that there are too many characters, and keeping them all straight, remembering who’s in cahoots with who, has been a little tough. But then again, “The Wire” had that same problem in the beginning and it worked out OK.
Seriously, go watch “Boardwalk Empire.” It’s utterly fantastic.

**So a while back I linked Chris Jones’ excellent piece in Esquire about the guy who hit the Showcase Showdown exactly to the dollar on “The Price is Right.”
Well, here’s another incredible game show feat. Watch how long it takes Caitlin Burke to solve this puzzle, last week on the show. Pat Sajak had to pick his jaw up off the floor.

Another week, another heart-attack win from the Jets. And can you be too drunk to Facebook?

One of two things is happening here with the New York Jets in 2010:
Either this really is one special season because every single thing is going their way, or,
B, they’re trying to kill me.
I’m voting for A. Sunday brought yet another miraculous, incredible, heart-stopping game, the seventh one in nine this year that was decided by 9 points or less.
After playing a really strong offensive first half and really strong defensive first half, the Jets had to go to overtime against Cleveland because the Jets’ kicker really, really stunk Sunday. After an entire agonizing quarter of OT, the Jets won because Santonio Holmes is fast and the Browns forgot how to tackle.
Tremendous football game to watch, unless you were a Jets fan pulling your hair out.
A few quick thoughts on the game, and the other NFL action Sunday, as I celebrate the fact that the Jets are 7-2, tied for the best record in the league with Atlanta and some crappy team from New England:
— Mark Sanchez is becoming a man. He’s having his NFL bar mitzvah before our very eyes. What a tremendous game he played, while injured. He looked like freaking Michael Vick a few times with his pass rush escapes.
— Santonio Holmes, you are now entitled to a major contract extension from the Jets. That’s two straight weeks you’ve saved our butt from defeat, or, Sunday, a tie.
— Incredible finish to the Jacksonville-Houston game, when a poor Texans defender tried to bat down a Hail Mary and, well, this happened, something you may never see in 100 years of watching football.
How could you not love Gus Johnson on the mike here?
— Finally, a word on Chad Pennington. We Jets fans still love him, even though he plays for the Dolphins now. He’s such a good guy, he’s suffered through so many injuries with such grace, and Sunday, after a year of sitting as a backup in Miami, he finally got another chance to play.
And he got hurt on the second play from scrimmage. And missed the rest of the game.
Feel so bad for the guy.
**This may be the greatest thing ever. Or a really, really horrible idea.
You’ve heard of drunk-dialing, when you’re so wasted at 3 a.m. that you think it’s a good idea to call your ex-girlfriend and yell at her.
Well of course now we have “drunk status updating” on Facebook and Twitter. So a company called WebRoot software has come up with something called the “Social Media Sobriety Test,” and here’s how it works: You download the program, and tell it that between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., you’re occasionally drunk. Then, when you try to log on to social network sites during those hours, you have to pass, and I swear I’m not kidding here, a sobriety test using your mouse and keyboard.

If you pass, you can log on to those sites and post whatever the hell you want. If you fail, well, I guess you’ll have to tell the ex about the three-way you just had some other time.
This is incredibly awesome, the way every single thing in our society protects us from ourselves these days.
Check out their website here. And here’s their “tutorial” video. I love it.

Attacking the police with sex toys. And a great sports Sunday (for me) on tap

I’m just going to report this next story without comment, because I really don’t know what I can say and still keep this sorta PG-13 rated:

A woman named Carolee Bildsten of Illinois was arrested recently, on aggravated assault charges. What did Ms. Bildsten do?
Well, she tried to assault a police officer with a sex toy. Specifically, and this is why you have to love police reports, it was a “clear, rigid feminine pleasure device.”
Even more specifically (because I know you want more specifics here), it was “six inches long and attached to a nylon harness.”
All the requisite jokes you and I are both thinking right now (a “stiff” sentence for her, perhaps) have already been made by The Smoking Gun’s readers.
And most disappointingly, there is no photo of the offending “weapon” at the link. Sigh. 

I think I should just present this story without comment, since whatever I say will likely get me in trouble.

**Very excited about two sporting events today. There is, of course, my weekly three hours of angst and screaming with the New York Jets at 1 p.m.. My boys play at Cleveland today, and suddenly the Browns look like they don’t suck. Our old friend Eric Mangini, last seen in New York leading the Jets’ collapse in 2008, has the Browns playing better. I am officially worried about this game.
Then at 5, my beloved Duke Blue Devils tip off their national championship defense against Princeton. Insanely excited to see freshman phenom Kyrie Irving for Duke, and the rest of the new guys. Love, love love college basketball, especially this time of year when everything is new.

The government tries for the 4,343rd time to stop kids from smoking. And the best NYT correction ever

The Federal Drug Administration is like Charlie Brown sometimes.
They try, really, really hard to get kids not to smoke. Charlie Brown tried really, really hard to kick that damn football.
The FDA this week, I read, unveiled their latest and greatest attempt to show young people that smoking is bad. They’ve got these really intense, huge warning labels ready to be rolled out on packs and in ads, showing corpses, and a tag on a dead guy’s toe, and all kinds of other frightening things.
And I see it and laugh. Because God bless the FDA, but none of this stuff is going to work. Teenagers who want to smoke, because they know it’s wrong but don’t care, because they want to rebel, don’t care about any labels. They don’t care what you do to their cigarettes, they’re going to smoke them anyway.
I was a teenager once, as were you. If you wanted to smoke, was anything going to stop you? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I’m glad the FDA is trying, I really am. But it’s all just deck chairs off the Titanic. Unless you actually outlaw cigarettes in this country, or make a law that no one under the age of 30 is allowed to buy cigarettes, teen smoking is going to continue.
It’s just a battle the FDA can’t win. But God bless ’em for trying.

**You know I love newspaper corrections here at Wide World of Stuff. So when my old journalism professor, and new Facebook friend Ben Yagoda pointed me to this one, I had to write about it.

An article on Nov. 4 about the San Francisco Giants’ victory parade referred incorrectly to the type of underwear shown to the crowd by first baseman Aubrey Huff. His “rally thong,” which he said he wore for luck during the Giants’ run to the World Series title, was designed for men, not for women.

I would have LOVED to have been in the morning meeting at the Times where that one was discussed.

I ruminate on John Mayer’s love life. And an incredible essay on Springsteen and life

I very rarely spend much time thinking about celebrities, and even less time on their love lives.
But for some odd reason I found myself thinking about John Mayer Thursday night, after I sped past yet another news headline on the Internet about him dating Giada De Laurentiis, the hottie from the Food Network.
I got to wondering, what is Mayer’s life like? He seems to have all these short relationships with all these gorgeous women like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston.
And they all end, and women seem to say bad things about him. But then he dates another beautiful woman, so clearly he’s got something going on for him.
I mean, behind the handsome face and cool musician vibe. I wonder if he’s happy bouncing from girl to girl, or if he wants to settle down.
I have no idea why I’m wondering these things. But it seems to me impossible that John Mayer could find this fulfilling, having a new girlfriend every few months. I wouldn’t want that kind of life; just when you’re getting to the good stuff of the relationship, Bam, he’s out of there.
If any of my readers know him, could you ask Mr. Mayer about all this for me? Thanks.

**So I am clearly obsessed with the great writer Joe Posnanski, as those who are on my email list know. And I could truly link to and recommend everything the guy writes, but I realize that would dilute the effect.
So hopefully when I tell you that this incredible essay, about Bruce Springsteen, one of his obscure 1970s songs, and fathers and sons, is going to be the best thing you’ll read this month, you’ll believe me.
Please take 10 minutes and check it out; it got me choked up and nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend. Here’s a clip of Bruce playing the song discussed in the essay, by the way:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The toughest waiter in America. And the NHL does a very cool thing

So you think being a waiter is a tough job requiring tough people? Well, you’re right. But not many are as tough as my new hero, a waiter at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Skokie, Ill.

Peter Crotty is a 24-year-old waiter who was working on Oct. 29 when three teenagers came in, ordered $51 worth of food, then tried to dash out with it without paying. So Crotty, naturally, chased after them, flung himself onto the side of their SUV, and hung on as the men tried to punch him and get him to fall off.

Eventually, Crotty jumped off, but the police caught the hooligans and arrested them.
I love it. A waiter who takes it personally when you try to stiff the restaurant. That’s one bad-ass waiter, to go chasing after three kids who ran out.
And I loved his quote at the end of the story, about why he ran back to work: “I still had tables.”
I hope everyone in his section gave him a nice big tip that night.

**I don’t write much about the NHL on this blog because I’m sure few of you care as much as I do, and also I haven’t had time to pay much attention to hockey yet this season.
But I heard this Wednesday and thought it was awesome. At the NHL All-Star Game this year, instead of just playing the Eastern Conference vs. the Western Conference, they’re going to select 2 captains and let them pick teams.
Yeah, just like we all did on the playground when we were kids. So Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin could conceivably stand there like two 11-year-olds, going “I’ve got Mike Green,” “OK, then I’m picking Ilya Kovalchuk,” and so on and so on.
I love it. The NHL has said, though, that the last few picks will be made all at once, so some 27-year-old millionaire who’s an All-Star doesn’t have his ego wounded by being the last pick.
Hey, I turned out OK.

You can now make a cell call from Everest. And a nice moment of human compassion I saw

I’m not sure how I feel about this. At first I was annoyed, but then I was sorta like, “Of course this happened.”
What I’m talking about is last week, a company called Ncell announced that it had put up the first cell phone tower on Mount Everest.
So now after you achieve one of history’s most incredible accomplishments, you can whip out your Blackberry and tell all your friends about it.
I am a giant contradiction when to cell phones. I’m certainly an addict, and love that you can reach out and get in touch with anyone, anywhere, just about anytime.
But I also got annoyed when New York City allowed cell phone usage in the subways. And I feel we’re missing, as a society, those moments of quiet and peacefulness we used to have so often.
So yeah, I don’t know. I guess it’s cool, and probably safer, to have cell phones work on Mount Everest.
But it seems like one more way that noise is interfering in our lives.

**Was reminded again Tuesday night about the basic goodness of people. A very popular high school volleyball coach in my area suffered a tragedy last week, when her 10-year-old son was hit by a car while walking near the school.
The boy was in critical condition for a while, but he’s now doing better and is stable in the hospital.
Anyway, the coach’s team is in the state playoffs, and obviously she’s been distracted for the past several days. But Tuesday night, in the regional semifinal, she returned to the sidelines. The game was at an opposing gym, and still, the support for the coach was overwhelming. A donation basket to help cover medical expenses raised what looked to be hundreds of dollars. Fans chanted the coach’s name when she was first introduced before the match.
And when the match was over, and the coach’s team had lost, small group after small group came up to her to offer embraces,  kind words, and to show support.
It was really something to see, watching how touched she was by the outpouring of love.