Saturday, July 30, 2005

Plugs and palmettos

The writing of Sam - which you might know from such blogs as Blue Cats and Red Sox - has been plugged twice here in the past week. Well, I'm going for a third because today was a busier day than expected and this piece, comparing the merits of Boston Red Sox second basemen to a dead sea lamprey, might be the funniest thing you read all week. Baseball analysis has never been so astute.

On another note, Fried Rice Thoughts is broadcasting from down south one more time for the summer. The people of Charleston, SC have spoken, so I have returned to the Lowcountry. (Translation: Lil' Sis asked if I wanted to visit. I said sure - there are at least 237 restaurants I haven't been to yet. And I can scratch my minor league baseball itch by catching a Charleston River Dogs game. $8 for a seat behind home plate, and less than $5 for a beer? Count me in. Even if it's hotter than a jalapeno in a fiery brick oven dipped in molten lava down south.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dear Colgate

Long-time user, first-time e-mailer. How are you fine folks doing this morning? I bet you all have lovely smiles, as a result of working at that fine institution. I'd like to think my smile is brighter and healthier, thanks to the dental care products you offer. Anyway, I know you guys are probably busy trying to come up with even more toothpastes that make the seemingly simple task of picking a toothpaste at the drugstore into a 30-minute ordeal. ("What's more important? White teeth? Less tartar build-up? Do I need baking soda? Do I really want a toothpaste that tastes like vanilla?") So I'll get right to the point.

I just bought one of your "Active Angle" toothbrushes, and hey, it did a great job. There are absolutely no bran flakes stuck between my teeth, and as I brush over them with my tongue, my teeth feel as smooth as ivory piano keys. So hey, no complaints with the performance.

But might I offer one suggestion to you in future toothbrush design? Some of the bristles in the middle of the toothbrush are colored red. Now, maybe that's an exciting color to some toothbrush users. It conveys energy and passion for good dental care, which is something I think we all want. However, for someone still trying to wake up as he brushes his teeth, looking at the color red on his toothbrush bristles is - please forgive my bluntness - kind of #@$%ing scary.

See, for a brief second there, I thought I was bleeding from my gums, tongue, or cheeks. That's a sensation I can do without. Sure, I sometimes bleed in the morning when I try to shave too fast. But if I wasn't bleeding from anywhere when I went to sleep, I sort of assume I won't be bleeding when I wake up in the morning.

So you might want to consider eliminating all of the red bristles from future toothpaste design. Just a thought. Keep going with the blues and greens. Those convey cleanliness, and to some people, they might be just as exciting.

Okay, good talk. Love your work. The ladies love my smile, and I have you to thank for that. You keep figuring out ways to keep my teeth cleaner, and I promise I'll keep using them.

Ian Casselberry

Thursday, July 28, 2005

All the Nationals' Men

Forget Woodward and Bernstein. They're soooo 1972. The Washington Post has a new pair of investigative reporters willing to ask tough questions and uncover the truth hidden in our nation's capital.

Since the Washington Nationals began playing in April, I've become something of a fan, probably because I read the Post online every day. Plus, I think the paper has some of the best baseball coverage in the country right now. (Feel free to disagree; I don't read all the newspapers.)

But one of the most frequently discussed topics from day one has been how difficult it is to hit a home run in their home ballpark, RFK Stadium. (Ms. Feline Anarchy, always a Fried Rice Thoughts favorite, visited RFK last weekend, by the way - ooooh, I'm so envious) And that's left many baseball followers scratching their heads.

C'mon, aren't you interested? Just a lil' bit?

The fences weren't that far away, were they? The distances in the power alleys at RFK are listed at 38o feet in the power alleys (to the right and left of center field, for you non-sports fans who are surely enjoying this), which is average for a Major League ballpark. (To compare, Detroit's Comerica Park originally had a distance of 395 ft. in left-center field, which was deemed too far and eventually shortened to 370 ft.)

Not so fast, my friend. Here's where the new Woodward and Bernstein come in. The Post's Barry Svrluga and Thomas Boswell heard the complaining and knew something just wasn't right. So they decided to measure the fence distances themselves. And what did they find? In the power alleys, the fences are actually 395 feet away from home plate. Scandalous, no?

If you didn't know already, question everything, kids.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

To drive & crash in L.A.

I forgot to blog about this yesterday, probably because I was embarrassed to admit I watched it. But I did watch it, and dammit, I loved it. While flipping channels with my morning coffee, I found good ol' FOX News following an early morning high-speed car chase through Los Angeles. There was something hypnotic about watching the car zoom through quiet, empty streets from a helicopter camera's point of view. And there were a couple of "whoa!" moments when the car narrowly missed colliding head-on with another vehicle. But the thing that made me spill my cereal (which I got 15 minutes into watching this chase) was watching a California Highway Patrol car launch straight into the wall of a building, as it tried to turn a corner in hot pursuit. (BOOM! Get your video right here.)

Maybe the cops should've been chasing down this guy instead.

(Image from

Couch crush

It's been, what, a couple of weeks now, but what do you think of the new set on The Daily Show? Dana Stevens of Slate hates it. This guy really misses the set's old couch. I kind of like it. It's supposed to be a fake news show, and it looks much more "news-y" now.

Tonight, however, with the muy caliente Diane Lane as a guest on the show, I would've brought back the couch. Just for one night.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Requiem for a nickname

According to a gossip item in the New York Daily News (scroll down to the bottom), Sean "P. Diddy" Combs reveals in the latest US Weekly that he wants to change his nickname. I don't think he should've nixed "Puff Daddy" in the first place, but hey, that's how he rolls.

I'm a firm believer that one should never give oneself a nickname. Believe me, I've tried. "I-Dog" never really stuck with my friends. Nor did "I-Diggity." Nicknames can only come from other people. Though I've never been too happy with their efforts. Past attempts have included "I-Beam," the grammatically incorrect yet phonetically aesthetic "E," and for some reason, "Dooba."

What will P. Diddy come up with? I might actually lose a minute or two of sleep over this. But then I think about his Diet Pepsi truck commercial (which still cracks me up - oh, Carson Daly, you're such a tool), and I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

I was just, uh, waiting for my latte

So is it impossible to look manly and macho (the exterior image I naturally maintain) while flipping through Bust magazine at the bookstore? Not that I care. I'm totally secure in my sexuality and stuff. I was just wondering. It's an icebreaker for the day.

Anyway, I was looking through Bust because one of my favorite comic book writers, Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina) is featured in the "Men We Love" issue.

Really, that's why.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Footnote to yesterday's Top 10 list

Considering he's in two of my Top 10 sports memories, I should note that Darren McCarty was placed on waivers by the Red Wings today, in order to shed his salary from the payroll, and likely ending his hockey career in Detroit.

Uncle Grambo at whatevs (dot org) wrote a better "obituary" on McCarty's career than I probably could, so I'll defer to him. I agree with Greg Eno that Steve Yzerman is the greatest Red Wing ever (Hey, I didn't see Gordie Howe play, okay?), but to me, Darren McCarty provided the heart for those Stanley Cup championship teams.

If he's willing to come back for a lesser salary and Detroit still wants him, it'd be nice to see him end his hockey career with the Red Wings.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Rainy day Top 10

Just over two weeks ago, Ms. Feline Anarchy over at Blue Cats and Red Sox, posted her "Top 10 Sports Memories You Saw in Person or on TV." Me see, me like, me intrigued, me want to do one too. Since it's raining in Ann Arbor, today seems like a good day for it. These are the 10 moments that gave me that feeling in my chest you get when you know you've witnessed something special (or infamous). I'd love to hear some "How could you forget __________?!" responses, so if you got 'em, lemme have 'em.

10. Mike Legg's "lacrosse" goal vs. Minnesota - March 24, 1996: Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, MI. We scored seats three rows behind the Minnesota bench (I still remember the smell - yeesh) from a scalper. From behind the Minnesota net, Michigan's Legg picked the puck up onto the blade of his hockey stick and stuffed it in over the clueless goalie's shoulder to tie the game. Only after seeing a replay on TV did I realize how the goal was scored.

9. Darren McCarty's goal, Game 4 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals: Who would've guessed that a bruiser could score such a pretty goal? McCarty deked Philadelphia goalie Ron Hextall right out of his skates, faking one way with the puck, and then flicking it into the net for what turned out to be the game- (and series) winning goal, and Detroit won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. Even non-sports fan Mis Hooz called the goal "gorgeous." (She may not remember, but I will never forget.)

8. Drew Tate to Warren Holloway - 2005 Capital One Bowl: Hey, I was blogging by then. Fortunately for my soon-to-be-tired typing fingers, here's what I originally wrote about this game. I woke my dad up from his New Year's Day nap after Holloway scored his game-winning touchdown.

7. Vinnie Johnson's game-winning shot with 0.07 seconds left - 1990 NBA Finals: How could I not rank the moment when my Detroit Pistons won their second straight NBA championship? "The Microwave" was my favorite player on those "Bad Boys" teams, and him hitting the shot that won the series cements his place in Detroit sports history. (I just wish I could still fit into my Vinnie Johnson t-shirt.)

6. Scott Dreisbach to Mercury Hayes - August 25, 1995: What I remember most about this game is how damn hot it was. Way too hot to watch a football game. I don't know how they do it in Texas and Florida, man. Anyway, I was in the stands, but didn't see the catch. On the final play of the game, Dreisbach threw the ball toward the end zone, 15 yards away, and everyone stood up, blocking my view. Only from the crowd's reaction did I know Hayes caught the ball for a game-winning touchdown.

The Top 5 awaits you...

5. Game 1 of the 1989 NBA Finals, Pistons vs. Lakers: Chris scored two tickets to Game 1 of the NBA Finals and flipped a coin to see which of his buddies would get to join him. Guess who won? (I should've ranked winning that coin flip, eh?) We made signs, had great seats, and watched the Pistons beat the Lakers 109-97, on the way to their first NBA championship.

4. Chris Webber's time-out vs. North Carolina - April 5, 1993: I don't think I've ever been angrier after watching a sporting event (along with several hundred - maybe it was a thousand - fans on a jumbo TV screen at Crisler Arena). I wasn't even disappointed. I just wanted to ring Webber's neck. Obviously, the guy should've stayed in college because he didn't know how to count. No time-outs means zero time-outs, Chris. Technical foul. Michigan loses the NCAA championship game, 77-71. (And yes, Carolina fans - I know Webber committed a traveling violation just before trying to call time-out. It all worked out. You won the game.)

3. Darren McCarty pummels Claude Lemieux - March 26, 1997: I don't generally care for fighting in hockey. But occasionally, it serves a sadistically delicious purpose. To me, that was never truer than when Detroit's McCarty sought out Colorado's Lemieux, who seriously injured Kris Draper by shoving his face into the boards during their 1996 playoff series. The next time these teams played, before the puck even dropped to start the game, McCarty attacked Lemieux, and began beating him like a chef pounding a veal cutlet. Lemieux turtled into a protective shell for self-preservation, and was essentially never heard from again. If raw meat had been in front of me while watching this, I would've eaten it, wiped the blood from my chin, rewound the tape and watched the whole thing all over again.

2. Joe Carter's World Series-winning home run - October 23, 1993: Through most of my teens, it was a family tradition to visit Toronto every summer. And I always went to a Blue Jays game. Thus, I became a Blue Jays fan, much to the puzzlement of my friends. In Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, Toronto trailed 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth. My roommate's girlfriend came over and said she wanted to watch Saturday Night Live. That 'ho still has two scars on her forehead from the holes my eyes burned into her when she made the suggestion. Two minutes later, Carter hit a three-run homer off Mitch Williams, and that might be the highest my feet have ever gotten off the ground.

1. Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook - Sept 24, 1994: The reason I will never, ever leave a game early. I will put it in my will that generations of Casselberrys must tell their children that I was at this game. Michigan led by 12 points with two minutes left, and many fans left Michigan Stadium, thinking a win was secured. The place had to be half-full at that point. I still wonder how many car crashes there were along the streets and highways surrounding Ann Arbor when Stewart threw a ball 73 yards, which was tipped in the air, and then landed in the hands of Westbrook. Final score: Colorado 27, Michigan 26. I'm convinced the whole thing really happened in slow motion, no matter how many times I see it at normal speed on TV.

Steak dinner tonight!

Happy Birthday to Cecilia Casselberry, who will always be the real "Mama Cass" to me. It's a bittersweet occasion, I realize, but we'll try to enjoy a nice steak dinner. Dad will be there with us in spirit, Mom. Best of all, I'll use the rest of my student loan money to pay for the meal. Ah, there's the smile I know.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rock Star? Nice try, but no.

While I was growing up, INXS was one of my favorite rock bands. I have every one of their albums, most of them on both cassette and CD. One of the best concerts I ever attended was an INXS show at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where I was lucky enough to score 10th row seats on the floor, easily the best seats I've ever had for an arena concert.

By the time lead singer Michael Hutchence killed himself, INXS's time in the rock spotlight was probably over. I think only diehards (myself included) bought their last couple of albums. But the band insisted it would somehow carry on, and eventually find a new lead singer. Rumors of several replacement candidates have swirled around in the eight years since Hutchence's death, none of which I can remember.

Having failed to find a new front man (or woman), INXS has opted to use a "reality TV" show to audition lead singers. If you haven't seen it - and the ratings imply that you haven't - CBS's Rock Star: INXS is American Idol with the band as judges.

If you’re really interested, please continue.

Since many people who sit down for a reality TV show might not recognize INXS, Dave Navarro is on the show as... well, I have no idea what he's supposed to be, other than a rock musician who doesn't look too old to be a rock musician and can wear a feather boa without embarrassing himself. The producers also hired Brooke Burke as host, which is just a shameless attempt to get horny guys to watch. Of course, I saw right through that and focused on the music. (Ahem.)

So I tuned in, mostly because I just wanted to hear INXS again, but also with the shred of hope that this would revive a once-great (at least to me) band.

Guess what? It ain't happenin'. First of all, the show is a glaring example of just how formulaic reality TV has become. (Most of you probably already knew that. But with the exception of The Apprentice, I've managed to avoid most of these shows.) All the contestants live in a big mansion, viewers vote for their favorite performers, and at the end, someone comes in with the final judgment. (In this case, guitarist Tim Farriss, who sputters the might-be-an-attempt-at-a-catch-phrase, "I'm sorry. You're just not right for our band... INXS." If the pause is meant to be dramatic, it's not. It comes off more like Farriss remembering he'd better remind people of the band's name.)

After watching the first handful of shows last week, I was going to write a blog with comments on each contestant. But since I bet no one else is watching the show, I'm sure that'd be boring as hell to read. Besides, I kept writing the same thing. None of these guys are the right lead singer for INXS. Of course, I'm comparing them to Hutchence.

Well, not all of them are terrible. Only a couple flat-out just can't sing. But a handful of them can. They just don't have the right sound (too deep and "soulful," for instance). Three or four actually look the part, and one practically sounds like Hutchence (maybe because he's a fellow Aussie.) There are two people (the punky redhead and the token black guy), however, who would be quirky choices and I think that's the way INXS should go. Not only would they be different and seem refreshing, but they have the requisite ability to sing and cocky stage presence. If you're going to do this, why not try something different? Maybe you'd cheese off the old fans, but they'd just go back and listen to the old albums anyway.

I might tune in at the end to see if that's the way INXS goes, but for now, I'm done. I tried. Hell, I tried four times. I don't want to hear these people sing "California Dreamin'" or "Hard to Handle." I don't want to see INXS bop their heads and sing along to their own songs. And if no one's going to be mean (Dave Navarro, I'm lookin' at you), there's really nothing fun to watch. Wake me up when this thing is over.

Longing for 'Last Days'

Speaking of dead rock stars, there was an interesting discussion on the resonance and influence of Kurt Cobain's death over at Pub of Knowledge. The chat came at an interesting time, with Gus Van Sant's not-a-biopic Last Days being released this weekend (at least in New York and L.A. - the Midwestern moviegoer in me always seethes at that).

The website and trailer are a bit haunting, as the lead actor, Michael Pitt, seems to embody Kurt Cobain. Although the main character is named "Blake," and Van Sant insists this isn't "The Kurt Cobain Story," it's pretty clear what the story is based on (just as Van Sant's last film, Elephant, was obviously a simulation of the Columbine shootings).

As a follow-up to the Cobain discussion, Susannah linked to the Village Voice's "An Open Letter to Gus Van Sant" and an NPR feature on the movie, which had a variety of opinions from people such as Charles Cross, who wrote a Cobain biography called Heavier than Heaven, and is definitely worth a listen.

But there's plenty more in the Village Voice besides that "letter." They're all over this flick, with reviews from film critic Dennis Lim and music critic Robert Christgau, along with features on Van Sant and Pitt. After reading all that, I'm - dare I say it - dying to see this movie. But I don't know when we'll get it in the Midwest. But maybe a certain New York correspondent will see the film and can send over a review. Mis Hooz, a Midwest nation of Cobain-starved fans turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo.

Craptastic Bore

I finally saw Fantastic Four. I wish I'd have saved my money or opted for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory instead. There was a reason not many comic book movies were being made until X-Men and Spider-Man were successful. This was a painful reminder of those days. Not to director Tim Story: Look at your last name and remember what is necessary for a good movie.

Surprisingly, Jessica Alba wasn't that bad. But you do have to convince yourself that she's believable as a scientist (who, strangely, rarely does any scientist-like things in the movie, except for saying stuff like "the test results look promising.")

I knew this would be crap. But the geek in me had to see for myself, and couldn't wait for the DVD release. Discussions are currently under way within myself as to whether the geek in me should no longer be allowed access to my wallet.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Why I need my HBO back

Sure, HBO has great envelope-pushing dramas and comedies like The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, and Entourage - shows that put everything on network TV to shame. But here's the reason I like HBO...

if you're curious:

At least once a year, but sometimes two or three times a year, I can count on them to run a documentary about strippers. (They do prostitutes too, but those make me feel dirty.)

And really, isn't that the reason we pay for premium cable channels? I don't know about the rest of you, but when little Ian was, well, little, back in, er, a different decade, getting a channel like HBO meant one thing: naked women late at night. (It made me very popular with my friends in elementary and junior high school.

Now, Comcast is telling me I can't have HBO unless I get a digital cable box. And I'm not sure if I want a digital cable box if I don't have digital cable. Is that silly of me? Those boxes are huge and clunky, and there's only so much room on my TV stand. One channel doesn't seem worth all the trouble, does it? Why don't I just get digital cable? Well, that's a great question. The easiest answer is my current lack of a regular paycheck. The other is that I've realized that I watch, like, eight channels - ten, at the most. Do I really want or need another 100, 80 of which are just other versions of HBO?

But see, here's the thing: It's been about a year, and I haven't watched any HBO stripper documentaries. And thanks to this article in Slate, I discovered that they ran a new one called Pretty Things on Tuesday night. I have no idea what it's about. And I really don't care. All that matters is I didn't get to watch it because I don't have HBO anymore.

This isn't about titillation, either. (Or other things, which certain red-headed bloggers have implied within the last 24-48 hours.) This is about the natural order of things. This is the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. And at least once a year, HBO runs a show about strippers (which they will call a "documentary"), which I will watch at some point, either intentionally or accidentally. Or used to watch at some point, because I don't have HBO anymore.

I need my HBO back, man.

The "Dwell generation"?

You ever read an article that seems like a direct response to something you've been thinking? That's how I felt after reading Tom Vanderbilt's piece on self-storage facilities in Slate.

"... the country now possesses some 1.875 billion square feet of personal storage. All this space is contained in nearly 40,000 facilities owned and operated by more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, including a handful of publicly traded giants like Public Storage, Storage USA, and Shurgard.

What this translates into, apart from one hell of a lot of stationary bikes kept behind padlocked metal doors, is an industry that now exceeds the revenues of Hollywood (and doesn't have to deal with Tom Cruise). One in 11 American households, according to a recent survey, owns self-storage space—an increase of some 75 percent from 1995. "

Why were self-storage facilities on my mind? Hey, I had to find a place to put all my junk (crappy furniture) after moving back to Michigan from Iowa. And I chose the storage unit closest to my house. Or at least the one I thought was closest to my house. Actually, there are several near my house, which I only began noticing after I put my stuff (crappy pots, pans, and plates) in storage. And a few of them appear to be cheaper than the one I impulsively chose. Hmm.

Anyway, it's everything you ever wanted to know about self-storage units. I can't be the only one who finds this stuff interesting. Am I?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I could be sleeping

But I'd prefer to read Sarah Vowell argue for abolishing the Electoral College.

"But here's the depressing what-if. If neither John Kerry nor George Bush had received the necessary 270 electoral votes to win - which was a real possibility - the House of Representatives would have chosen the president. What's wrong with that? Nothing much - if each state's representatives all voted. But in such a contingency, each state in the union is allotted a single vote for president. Let me repeat that: a single vote. So the half-million residents of Wyoming would have had the same amount of say in electing the president as the 34 million citizens of California?"

Can we keep Maureen Dowd on book leave a little bit longer? Just curious.

No sighing allowed - This week's sports blog

Detroit's long national nightmare is over. The Pistons finally shoved their coach, Larry Brown, off the bus yesterday, ending what had become one of the more needlessly aggravating episodes in recent Detroit sports history. And there is plenty to be found all over the internet about this, from both sides involved.

Check out the various takes on the story, including mine, here.

Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News says both the Pistons and Brown are to blame for this mess, but ultimately, Travelin' Larry's track record speaks pretty clearly:

"It's easy to say you want to return (and after the emotional playoff run, I think he did) when you're fairly certain it won't be allowed. But everyone knows, or should know, what Brown is about. This is what he does, embrace and love a job for a short period, then start wondering whether he's being loved back. The Pistons knew the history -- 10 stops in 33 seasons -- but took an educated gamble."

On his blog, Terry Foster says Brown just had to go:

"From that room comes anger. It boiled during the playoffs. It got hotter after every Brown press conference where he proclaimed he wanted to coach the Pistons the following season.
Players were not buying it and privately hoped their coach walked or was forced out.
This isn't to say a mutiny was on the horizon if Brown returned, but there was a strong possibility.
I've run into players here and there and they privately talked about their anger. Some even wanted to show their displeasure during the playoffs, but were told by President Joe Dumars to keep quiet."

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News gives Brown's side of the story (while also admitting he's a long-time friend of the coach):

"[The Pistons] want this whole thing to be another example of Brown, who has moved all over the place in basketball, wanting to make another move, this time to the Knicks.

They have cleverly used his resume against him, even though the most recent part of his resume - the way the Pistons have played ball the last two seasons - sure works against Davidson and Dumars as they try to fire Brown and make it his fault."

Marc Stein of reminds us all of perhaps the worst-kept secret in professional basketball (other than Flip Saunders becoming the Pistons' next coach):

"Larry Brown will be the next coach of the Knicks.

The only unknown is exactly when that will happen.

Now that he's free contractually to pursue other jobs, Larry has the ability to sign with New York in time to start the 2005-06 season. He also has the option of taking some extra time to get healthy or even sit out a full season if he chooses..."

And I like this take from Richard Justice's blog:

"Brown wanted out, but refused to quit. He said he wanted to coach, but refused to commit to coaching.

He whined that the Pistons forced him back from surgery last season, which was silly. He gave the media more updates on his future than he gave Pistons GM Joe Dumars.

He negotiated with one team (Cleveland) while coaching another (Detroit) in the playoffs. Had one of his players done that, had Ben Wallace opened talks with, say, the Lakers, Brown would have rightfully been furious."

The comments I left on Foster's blog and Out of Bounds sum up my thoughts on the situation. Regardless of what he says, I think Brown's behavior showed he wanted to go. And the Pistons had to let him go, rather than risk a player mutiny. For a team that could still win another NBA title, that was too big a chance to take. And those who think the Pistons are suddenly going to become terrible with Flip Saunders as their coach are delusional.

The current roster knows what they have to do to win, and almost did it this year in spite of Brown. All Saunders has to do is not screw things up, and he's more than capable of that. When Saunders had his most talented team in 2003-04, Minnesota finished with the best record in the NBA and made it to the Western Conference Finals. Some will point to the fact that Saunders hasn't won a NBA title. You know how many championships Brown won before coming to Detroit? Zero. When he had his best team, he won.

Maybe I'm underestimating how important Larry Brown was to the Pistons, but there are many other good - and maybe great - coaches out there. Brown didn't invent the game of basketball. He's not God's gift to coaching. Well... okay, if he can win with that New York Knicks roster, maybe he is.

Snark attack

Salon runs a series called "Object Lust," in which a writer espouses the virtue of a recent fetish, guilty pleasure, or otherwise new discovery. Maybe I'm just feeling snarky, but today's installment - in which the writer gushes about Netflix - strikes me as, well, a little late to the party.

"Now I live with no deadlines. No minimum or maximum number of DVDs. And no judgmental clerks. I can have practically the entire Criterion Collection and every volume of 'Freaks and Geeks' at my fingertips. And I can luxuriate in every bonus feature without speeding through to get the damn thing back by noon. Dude!"

Please, let me know if I'm being that guy. ("What? You don't know about Netflix? What's the matter with you? Oh my GOD, you're out of touch! EVERYONE knows about that! You're so out of it!") I used to live with that guy, and I eventually hated virtually every word that came out of his mouth. It's a wonder I'm not in jail for attempted homicide. So if that's how I'm coming off, slap me perspective into me. Otherwise...

Is there anyone who doesn't know about Netflix by now (other than Mary Elizabeth Williams, the author of the Salon article)? It's responsible for virtually every pop-up ad or banner you have to deal with these days. It's the reason Blockbuster claimed to waive its late fees. When I recommended it to a friend, he immediately made a face and said, "Yeah, their ad is all over my screen everyday. No thanks." Never mind that he has kids and would probably save a bunch of money in late fees (not to mention having to buy every DVD that's released by Disney, out of parental obligation).

You think Salon would accept an article from me that fawned over the wonders of Caller ID? ("Now I can see who's calling me! And if I don't want to talk to annoying what's-her-face, I don't have to! You guys should all get this!") I guess I won't know until I try.

I'm being that guy, aren't I? Dang it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Episode VII: The Carb Side

I found this last night at The Movie Blog. One of the more unseemly elements of the latest Star Wars release was its crass commercial tie-ins, wasn't it? Or did you enjoy seeing Darth Vader on a box of Cheez-Its? This $#!+ needs to stop, doesn't it? Or is it okay to take two of the more memorable bad guys from the Star Wars saga and turn them into... Mr. Potato Heads?

First, it was Darth Tater. Next, we're getting Spud Trooper. My morning coffee is still kicking in, so I can't think of some more Star Wars-related potato puns. Any ideas from the rest of you?

Monday, July 18, 2005

I'll take the penguins. You keep the kids.

What could be better on a hot, oppressively humid summer day than watching a film about tuxedoed birds waddling across the Antarctic? Over the weekend, I marched with the penguins.

Nothing will cool off your sweat glands faster. I wanted to join those guys and slide across the Antarctic tundra on my belly. Life as a penguin didn't look so bad; you get up, look for food, find a mate, make a baby, and then one parent stays with the kid, while the other goes off to search for more food. Actually, that doesn't seem too different from my current daily routine, except there's no baby involved.

Well, that, and the minus-80 degree temperatures at certain points along the journey. That didn't look too fun. 80 degrees below zero. And as Morgan Freeman's narration points out, that's without factoring in the wind. You need a bunch of mates to snuggle up with.

I can't imagine anyone not getting caught up in the lives of these penguins. It's a treacherous endeavor for them that makes for an amazingly compelling film. Watching the penguins care for their offspring is very poignant - especially when some of those babies can't bear the awful cold. It's heartbreaking stuff. Even a tough, macho guy like me got choked up. (I know, that's hard to believe. But I loved those lil' #@$%ers, man.)

There's some humor, quite a bit of drama, and a healthy dose of suspense - just about everything you need in a good movie. And if you like love scenes, well, there is that mating stuff. Not full-out penguin sex (if there's even such a thing), which may or may not disappoint some of you. (But if petting does it for you, maybe you should go to the movie by yourself.)

Speaking of going to a movie by yourself, an article in yesterday's New York Times assured me that I'm not the only one who likes to catch early matinees during the summer. (Besides having the time, the matinee price is admittedly a consideration. Unfortunately, that's not an option for New York moviegoers. I cry for you, Mis Hooz.) I would've loved to watch March of the Penguins in a near-empty theater. Kids should see this movie, and it's great that the Michigan Theater offered family-friendly showtimes over the weekend, but I could've done without a bunch of brats talking at the top of their lungs, jumping up and down in their seats, asking for more candy, and running up and down the aisles. (I wonder if I would've avoided the kids up in the balcony?)

Look, I'm not a parent, so I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to deal with this $#!+, but seriously, if you can't keep your kid still for 80 #@$%ing minutes, parents, maybe taking the kid to a movie isn't a good idea. I haven't wanted a dart gun that badly since I had to work in the childrens' book section at Borders. Parents - tie your kid down. Stuff a handkerchief in his or her mouth. Sprinkle some Ritalin - or better yet, some tranquilizers - in the candy or popcorn. Take the brat outside and tie him or her to a fire hydrant until the movie's over. Just do something.

At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, my parents never would've let me get away with that junk. I just don't get these parents who let their little $#!+heads run around like a hyper-manic pinball and wreak havoc without any repercussions. Is this some currently popular parenting philosophy? It's #@$%ing bull$#!+. Sure, maybe I could've gone to a later show. But should I have to? Shouldn't everyone in the theater be allowed to enjoy the movie, which is presumably the reason we're all there? Send the kids to live with the penguins for the summer, man. That'll shut 'em up.

(And to my friend whose soon-to-be-five-year-old daughter is having a birthday party in a couple of weeks: Thanks for the invite, but maybe I should pass.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday stir-fry

▪ ▪ Hey, Detroit! Want to keep the glow from the All-Star Game going? Go to Gridskipper and cast a vote for Detroit, which is up for... um, World's Least Sexy City (not hott). Er, never mind. (Thanks to Gawker for the link.)

▪ ▪ Speaking of keeping that All-Star glow, when Detroit is still luminous from the All-Star Game and the area is excited about baseball again, it's not a good idea for a team - I'm talking to you, Detroit Tigers, you know who you are - to lose 12-9 to the Kansas City Royals. The Royals, by the way, have the second-worst record in Major League Baseball. My tooth enamel is wearing away.

▪ ▪ One more All-Star Game note, once again from Salon's King Kaufman: Did you catch that moment in the 3rd inning where FOX cameras "noticed" a banner with the letters "HHRYA" on it, painted in an Asian-type of style? Joe Buck and Tim McCarver then pretended to wonder what that banner was all about. Gee, that couldn't be an ad, could it? Apparently, FOX thinks we're all #@$%ing idiots. (Here's more from The Register.)

▪ ▪ Why I wish I was smarter: Some people don't just buy electronics like computers, cell phones, and digital video recorders. They buy these things and then tinker with them to make them better. (Read all about it in the Washington Post.) People are out there turning Roombas into security robots. Meanwhile, I'm happy because I finally bought a phone that has Caller ID.

▪ ▪ I noticed tickets were going on sale Saturday for a Nine Inch Nails show at Joe Louis Arena in October. Does anyone actually listen to Nine Inch Nails anymore? "Back in the day," (Jesus, did I really just type that?) my friends and I blasted Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral as loud as anyone. (And I was always amused by watching sorority girls scream out, "I wanna #@$% you like an animal!" at NIN shows.) That seems like a completely different person now.

(By the way, if you buy tickets through the link I provided, shouldn't Ticketmaster give me a cut? It's not like they haven't sucked hundreds of dollars in "service fees" out of me over the years...)

▪ ▪ So I had lunch at Taco Bell yesterday. (I know, I know. It wasn't my choice. Really.) My lunch companion (whom I may or may not be related to) tried the new Crunchwrap Supreme, which is really just another combination of the same terrible-for-you wrap, shell, meat, cheese, and sour cream that Taco Bell offers. But no matter how they try to dress up something new, aren't the old stand-bys, the simple things like tacos and burritos, still the best thing on their menu?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Far from an All-Star moment

I was thinking about writing a diary for last night's All-Star Game, but decided not to because I'm terrible at it (that's the quote I was hoping to get into this article). And also, without actually being there, I thought there was only so much I could say. Thankfully, we have Sam over at the hilarious Blue Cats and Red Sox. Not only did she blog about the All-Star Game, Sam wrote the comment every Detroit Tigers fan (and probably every baseball fan) was thinking when FOX's Jeanne Zelasko cut off the legendary Ernie Harwell in mid-sentence so the broadcast could move onto some music montage/Chevy ad. Outrageous. But Sam says it so much better:


FSN Detroit has been doing this spot all season, where they just sit Ernie Harwell down and ask him to talk for 5 or 10 minutes. And he does. He just sits down and tells a story about the Tigers, or about baseball, just off the top of his head. And that’s just Ernie Harwell. It sounds like he’s narrating, all the time, but he’s not, he’s just talking. No script. Ernie Harwell in a black velvet chauffeur-style hat! OH MY GOD YOU DO NOT CUT OFF ERNIE HARWELL YOU HORRIBLE WHORISH WOMAN. OH MY GOD. OH HOW DARE SHE! YOU ARE NOT FIT TO LICK THE SOLES OF ERNIE HARWELL’S SHOES YOU CHARLATAN!

Didn't that feel good to read? And if you'd like to read more about Zelasko's horribly rude interruption, maybe a less, oh, emotional take, check out today's column from Salon's King Kaufman. He points out that FOX's treatment of Harwell is just a reflection of the network's terrible (and insulting) baseball coverage.

Mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore?

I didn't post this yesterday, while in the throes of All-Star fever (Can't catch it! It's gone!), but it brought a huge smile to my face, so I wanted to make sure I didn't forget about it.

In lieu of the revelation that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to Time reporter Matthew Cooper, Democrats (such as Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer) went on attack mode. After all, didn't President Bush say that he would fire anyone involved in the leak? On Monday, the White House Press Corps played the dogs, while White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was the raw meat.

Here's how the press briefing began:

Q: Does the President stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a CIA operative?

Mr. McClellan: Terry, I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked relating to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

Hiding behind "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation" wasn't good enough for the reporters, however, and they kept going after McClellan.

Q: So could I just ask, when did you change your mind to say that it was okay to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?

Q: Scott, can I ask you this; did Karl Rove commit a crime?

Q: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?

How about this exchange?

Q: Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

Mr. McClellan: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --

Q: Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

Mr. McClellan: If you'll let me finish --

Q: No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?

Mr. McClellan: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

Mr. McClellan: Again, I've responded to the question.

Just give those two some boxing gloves and let 'em go at it. Jab! Jab! Bob-and-weave, bob-and-weave. Jab! Jab!

There's plenty more from the official White House transcript, if you're interested in reading it.

Are reporters mad because one of their own, Judith Miller, was sent to jail over this, as the New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin writes? Maybe. But I think there's a Howard Beale complex among the White House Press Corps, as well. And it makes the old Journalism major in me smile.

Still good when he wants to be

I've been pretty critical of Mitch Albom over the past few months (and probably even before that), including his misguided response on Monday to the NY Times piece on Tiger Stadium, but there have been flashes of the old Mitch recently in the Detroit Free Press. So if I'm going to rip the guy when I feel he's mailing in a lackluster column or just coasting on his reputation, I should give him credit when he produces the kind of work that made him who he is today.

On Sunday, Albom wrote a sad piece on basketball coach Ben Kelso, who is leaving for an assistant's position at Kansas State after battling officials in the Southfield school system who seemed intent on destroying the reputation he'd built in his years of coaching high school ball in Detroit. (Kelso won three straight state championships as coach at Detroit Cooley, and was once named national high school basketball coach of the year.)

And in today's Free Press, Albom captured the mood that I think most of metro Detroit feels after the city hosted baseball's All-Star Game. Maybe it's our Midwest sensibilities, but we all seem to enjoy the affirmation that comes from out-of-towners visiting the area and realizing that Detroit isn't as bad as its national reputation. And there's definitely a sense of pride over a big event like the All-Star Game taking place without any embarrassing (or dangerous) incidents occurring.

Do you think we'll ever get past feelings like that around here?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Okay, that wasn't bad

Had last night's Home Run Derby not taken place at Comerica Park, I doubt I would've been interested. Besides the fact that it's essentially a non-event/exhibition, I wasn't too thrilled with the "international" format, with each participant representing his home country. With players who weren't named to the All-Star team participating in the contest (such as Korea's Hee-Seop Choi), Home Run Derby looked to be in danger of becoming the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest, where the game's best players (and most exciting dunkers) opt out of the event.

Here's what I mean: You know who won last year's Slam Dunk Contest? Josh Smith, of the Atlanta Hawks. Not Lebron James. Not Kobe Bryant. Not Dwyane Wade, or any of the other "superstars" a sports fan (casual or fanatical) might recognize. Josh Smith. Raise your hand if you know who Josh Smith is, and you're not a member of his family or an employee of the Atlanta Hawks.

In last night's Home Run Derby, only two of the current top ten home run hitters - Andruw Jones and Mark Teixeira - participated. But those who did attend still put on a show, one of the best in the history of the contest, in fact. Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies hit 41 home runs, destroying the previous record of 27, set last year by Baltimore's Miguel Tejada.

So much for Comerica Park not being conducive to home runs. Abreu hit baseballs into parts of the ballpark that had never been reached before, such as the upper deck in right field - 517 feet away from home plate. Abreu's first turn at-bat, in which he hit 24 homers, lasted almost a half-hour. Suddenly, I wasn't balancing my checkbook anymore. This wasn't just on for background noise; I was actually watching.

But okay, I didn't watch the whole thing. (But Sam, Ms. Feline Anarchy herself, did. I'm glad someone kept track of how the Tigers' Ivan Rodriguez fared.) I have no idea when Home Run Derby ended last night. 11 pm? Midnight? Did it end after Rock Star: INXS was over? (More on that later, either today or tomorrow.)

One more thought: Doesn't Comerica Park look so much better when it's full of fans, rather than empty seats?

And for some actual correspondence from the event, check out the Detroit Tiger Weblog. I'm envious, very envious.

Hey, he likes us!

I mentioned this in the comments section of yesterday's entry, but for defensive Detroiters (or Michiganders, since I'm in Ann Arbor), it's worth noting again: An out-of-town sportswriter not only gave Detroit some love, but called it "the best sports town in America." Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star (but writing for didn't follow the same tired formula as many of his lazy sportswriting peers, writing off Detroit as a hellhole where fans set cars on fire when their teams win.

Granted, Whitlock used to write for the Ann Arbor News, so he probably knows the area better than other out-of-town writers. But it's still nice to see someone stick up for Detroit and remind the rest of the country that it's been fortunate enough to host virtually every major sporting event (How many Super Bowls have been played in Chicago, Boston, or New York?) and has a rich tradition of both collegiate and professional sports that many other cities don't even approach.

"Laugh all you want, but the Motor City gets the job done. Detroit is the old high school sweetheart who landed the boy who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and put together a Hall of Fame career. Yes, she lost her hourglass figure three kids ago, and suffered through some painful public infidelity. But now, in her 40s, she's still on the arm of the man of most women's dreams, controls most of his money, and has the freedom, emotional leverage and confidence to come and go as she pleases."

Thanks, Jason.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The "old lady sitting in the corner"

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game being played in Detroit tomorrow night, quite a bit of national sports media is streaming into town. Since it's essentially a two-day event (Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game), I'm not sure how many sportswriters will take the time to check out the city (and find something to complain about). Plus, the weather's nice and the area around Comerica Park looks pretty good, so some preconceived notions about Detroit might be dispelled. (But watch out next February when the media is here for a week during the Super Bowl.)

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, however, was in Detroit a couple of weeks ago with the Yankees, which is his regular beat for the paper. And he couldn't help but notice the contrast between the glitz and glamour surrounding the Tigers' new ballpark and the rusting, deteriorating husk of Tiger Stadium a few miles away.

"It's like the old lady sitting in the corner with nobody paying any attention to her, and the young debutante here's getting all the attention."

-- Former Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell, from the New York Times

(Image via

His story in yesterday's NY Times is a pretty heartbreaking read for anyone who enjoyed a game at the Tigers' old home. Yet it's also an all-too-familiar story to Detroiters, who have seen too many formerly great buildings abandoned and left for dead, reducing so much of the city into a virtual ghost town.

Here's a quote in the story from Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter, a Kalamazoo native:

"We were saying, 'What are they going to do?' " Jeter said. "They probably should tear it down if they're going to just let it sit there and rot. Either keep it up, or tear it down and put some kind of monument there. I don't think it's fair to just let it sit there and rot."

That's the thing: What is going to happen to Tiger Stadium? Other than standing in for Yankee Stadium for the film *61 and hosting a handful of college and semi-pro baseball games a few years ago, the ballpark has been left unused. The Metro Times ran a story last March, detailing the city's stubborn refusal to let anyone maintain the stadium in hopes of future refurbishment or development. In May, Terry Foster wrote that several Corktown (Tiger Stadium's neighborhood) businessman want a new Joe Louis Arena for the Detroit Red Wings to be built on the site. Personally, I think that's a great idea.

Just do something with the site. Many sportswriters, such as Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle, remember that Detroit is a great baseball town that just wants a good team to root for. But it's difficult not to question that when you see what's left on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. As Kepner writes in his article, this is only happening in Detroit. Since 1981, 17 major league teams have moved to new ballparks. And 13 of those old stadiums have been torn down. (The other three are still used for football games.) Tiger Stadium is the only one rotting away into a civic eyesore.

▪ In today's Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom responds to Kepner's piece and sticks up for Detroit. Unfortunately, it seems like Mitch misunderstood the NY Times article. Kepner was writing about Tiger Stadium, not Detroit. I'm defensive about Detroit's image too, but let's be fair. This wasn't a shot at Detroit. It was a lamentation for a piece of history.

▪ Last week's Free Press questioned how much economic benefit the All-Star Game will bring to Detroit.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pardon the narcissism

Considering what's going on in the world, my blog entry yesterday feels particularly self-centered. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was rather (blissfully?) ignorant of what happened in London, other than hearing a few notes about it while dialing through radio stations in the morning. But I didn't look for news, choosing instead to trudge through the errands of the day while listening to music and sports-talk radio. And then I spent most of the afternoon in a bookstore. For whatever reason, as I slowly renew the interests that filled my life before my father passed away, paying attention to the news seems the most difficult for me to embrace. But I don't like feeling uninformed. And I definitely don't like feeling apathetic.

So I'd like to tip my cap to my fellow bloggers who chose to write about something more substantial and address significant events occurring in the world. There's an interesting discussion at Evan's blog regarding how some people in this country are reacting to the London bombings. Susannah (who I swear does not pay me by the link) also has an interesting take on how this incident was perceived, while Chris reacts a bit more emotionally. And Terry Foster takes a sharp departure from his usual sports-oriented writing to express his thoughts on the subject.

And if you haven't seen these already, here are some interesting articles and discussions concerning the bombings:

▪ In Slate, Tim Naftali thinks Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff sent the wrong message by raising the terror alert to orange.

▪ has insightful discussions with University of South Carolina sociology professor Matthew Deflem about the policing of terrorism, national security and intelligence reporter Dana Priest, and former FBI agent Mike German.

▪ Also in the Washington Post is Yuki Noguchi's piece on the role cell phone cameras played in yesterday's TV coverage.

▪ Novelist Ian McEwan writes that Londoners somehow always expected this in an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times.

▪ Writer Warren Ellis, meanwhile, has a more defiant take on his Bad Signal e-mail journal. Unfortunately, that requires a subscription, so here's a quote: "Listen, Christmas bombing campaigns used to turn up with the same regularity as the Queen's speech. We've done this before, and, frankly, the IRA were better at it."

▪ Also on the NY Times' Op-Ed page, Peter Bergen worries that many terrorist threats are hiding in the United States' greatest ally country.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Remotely scattered

Fried Rice Thoughts is doing the live remote thing from the Barnes & Noble cafe today. You think they'd let me do the same thing radio stations do? Ian will be typing LIVE from 2 to 4 p.m!

I'll set up a tent, give away some t-shirts, let you pose with the Fried Rice Foxes (their calendar will go on sale in October - in plenty of time for Christmas), and, uh... well, that'd be it. I could buy you an iced latte, maybe. (Especially if you've found me for the first time through Chris' blog. Thanks for stopping by.)

Since I usually like to do my writing without pants on, I won't be able to do my usual routine here in the cafe. In lieu of finding my muse while in boxers, it's quickies and links today.

▪ Over at Pub of Knowledge, Susannah has started such an intriguing discussion that I think as many people as possible should swing over there and join in. The more opinions, the better. What makes a book a "classic"? Is it the style of writing? The themes? The characters? The staying power of the book itself? And can those sorts of criteria apply to other works that are often tagged "classics," such as films and albums? Hell, what makes a particular sporting event "classic"?

▪ Further dap to Susannah for her frequent Literary Adventures, which make me feel like the total reading slacker that I am. (And what am I doing while in a bookstore? Typing. Sheesh.) The latest additions to the Summer 2005 Stack of Stuff I Hope to Read? Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett (love all the Iowa City references) and Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman (which I've been meaning to read for what seems like years; Klosterman already has another book out, for Christ's sake). If I could just read one of 'em by the end of July...

And I thought I was going to spend my money on the new Coldplay, White Stripes, and Fountains of Wayne CDs. Oh well.

▪ Sticking with music for one more bullet, I love Brendan Benson getting some love in the new Village Voice. Yes, he's local (Detroit!), but the man writes songs that should have already made him a superstar. If you have some music money itching to be spent, we here at Fried Rice Thoughts (the acronym "FRT" looks too much like "fart") recommend One Mississippi or The Alternative to Love. Great roll-down-the-windows-and-blast-it music for a summer road trip. What does his stuff sound like? I hate to marginalize it by saying "power pop," though that's not a bad description. The Voice calls it "good straightforward pop rock/roll." Good enough?

▪ Is anyone going to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Detroit next week? If so, I am totally envious of you. I've always wanted to attend an All-Star Game. Now, one's in my backyard, but I'd have to sell my house to afford tickets. I know this is nothing new about professional sports, but the exclusivity of such events turns me off a bit. But I can still soak up some All-Star flavor at all the surrounding events in town. I might just do that. (Possible future blog entry: I struck out against a pitching machine, got pissed off, and smashed the machine with my bat. The All-Star Fanfest is fun! Whee! Where's the bar?)

Roger Ebert says Fantastic Four stinks like old cheese. (Okay, those are my words, not his.) Hey, you didn't have to twist my arm, Rog. I was planning on saving my money for a matinee showing. (Still have to feed the geek in me.) But comic book fans, such as Heidi McDonald and The Beat, aren't liking it much either. Ouch.

▪ Are the Red Wings really going to fire their coach? Well, I guess you could say he hasn't worked in a year. But that seems like some cold $#!+ to me (insert ice hockey pun here). Greg Eno has more to say on the subject at Out of Bounds.

▪ Speaking of coaches: If you're a Detroit Pistons fan, how sick are you of this will-he-or-won't-he bull$#!+ going on with Larry Brown? Would the Pistons find a better coach than Larry Brown if Detroit let him go? Probably not. But is it in the organization's best interests to make sure it has a coach that will demonstrate commitment and be around for a full season? I think so, though I realize we're talking about medical issues here, which complicates the matter. But what if the players have had it with Larry, as Terry Foster says? Keeping him around only makes things worse.

Time for another latte, folks. Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hot dogs and hot tempers

What would sportscasters have shown on the 11 o'clock news last night, if not for hot dog eating machine Takeru Kobayashi? I'm not ready to call it a tradition yet, but for three years in a row, I've turned on the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest, only to be disgusted within five minutes and turn the channel. I can't watch these people gorge themselves with sausages, while water and bits of hot dog bun dribble down their chins and chests, yet I'm strangely intrigued by this "competitive eating" thing.

Do I want to do it? No. Anyone who knows me knows I love to eat, but see, I like how food tastes. I don't think I could eat 49 almonds in one sitting, let alone 49 hot dogs, like Kobayashi. Though anyone watching me eat popcorn at the movies on Sunday might think I'm pretty good at shoveling a bunch of food in my face.

And I was shoveling popcorn down my throat because I was roped into seeing Bewitched and needed to do something to make that hour-and-a-half enjoyable. This is how I was rewarded for being a team player, for not rocking the boat, for going along with the crowd, for being nice. I wasted 90 minutes of my life watching what had to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it actually made you angry as you were watching it? Angry at the waste of your time and money, angry at the waste of talent on the screen, angry at the squandering of a possibly clever premise, and angry at yourself for not trusting your judgment and going to a better movie?

Nicole Kidman should've already fired her agent. But maybe she got a sweet paycheck out of the good thing. I hope so. There were good actors in that movie - funny actors - and virtually all of them were wasted. Something must have attracted them to the project in the first place. Where the hell was it? I didn't see it on the screen. (Mis Hooz attributes it to the power of Nora Ephron. I think we all owe it ourselves to stop encouraging the contrived, sugary, toothache-inducing crap Ephron creates. I've now contributed to this encouragement, which is yet another reason for my anger.)

I will have to watch a film with subtitles tonight, just to scrub the dross from my brain. Do you understand? Subtitles! To everyone involved in Sunday's ordeal: You have to take me to see Batman Begins in IMAX. You so owe me. And even then, I should be allowed to $#!+ in your popcorn.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Did you know today was "Canada Day"?

Well, Hokkaido did. I wish I'd known, before agreeing that today would be a nice day to drive to Windsor to find a Vietnamese restaurant.

So I got to play the dumb American, driving around with my head sticking out of the car window, wondering aloud, "Why's everything closed today?"

Christ, did I feel old while driving by all the bars and clubs I used to frequent before I turned 21. I doubt I've been back to Windsor more than once since then.

And there are some perfectly fine Vietnamese restaurants in Ann Arbor (actually, Ypsilanti). Serves me right.

I'm looking into my crystal ball and predicting a post about the Tigers tomorrow...