Saturday, November 30, 2002

NO ONE -- AND I MEAN NO ONE -- COMES ONTO THIS BLOG AND PUSHES ME AROUND: If you're like me -- and even if you're not, if you've got cable, then undoubtedly you've seen the inspirational football film RUDY, or at least parts of it, at least half a dozen times. But does it have anything to do with the real life Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger? Not so much, says this ESPN article, part of an excellent series by ESPN's Jeff Merron on the real life stories behind Hollywood sports films.

But you will learn something. I mean, it's not surprising that Coach Dan Devine wasn't as much of a jerk as the movie portrayed him, or that various characters are composites. But did you know that the football scenes were choreographed by O.J. Simpson emergency chauffer Al "This is A.C." Cowlings? That the actual starting Notre Dame starting quarterback for most of that 1975 season was some guy named Joe Montana?

Learn even more, maybe, from Rudy himself -- right here. (Like, you can get Daniel Ruettiger to speak to your company for only $17,500, plus expenses -- but for that money, wouldn't you rather rent Cheap Trick or the guys from Mr. Show?)

(And that whole list, for what it's worth, is here.)

P.S. More on commerce: did you know that you could order the videotape of the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship during which tiny little Milan High bested Muncie Central, inspiring the movie HOOSIERS, which has its own set of credibility issues?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

HEY HEY HEY! IT'S TRA THOMAS! Now auditioning for the role of new Eagles quarterback: former Philadelphia high school sports star William H. Cosby, Jr., Ed. D. You can't make up stuff like this.
MORE HIZZISTORY: As it turns out, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer beat me to this story in an article published earlier this year. Among the linguistic findings:
The predominant theory seems to be that it comes from the Cuzz (sometimes "Cuz") branch of the Los Angeles-based gang, the Crips. The Cuzzes took to using zz's in place of s's, and then the z's started crezzeeping into the middle of the wozzurds. For example, "chronic" -- a slang term for marijuana -- became crazzonic. And guess who used to be a Crip until it got his bony backside into prison? That's right, Snoop himself.

The article concludes with instrizzuctions and a disclaimer: "Don't blame us if you sound laughably unhip -- in our experience, only rappers can (sort of) get away with throwing this lingo around."

Worth keeping in mizzind.
SOON TO APPEAR IN SPANISH PANTALONES II: As far as journalistic flubs go, this one's among the less damaging. Still, from this week's New York Observer:

In early January, Rolling Stone will publish a story by writer Robert Kurson, talking about what it's been like to lead a life with, um, a man with a big penis. Originally considered by Esquire, Rolling Stone managing editor Ed Needham said: "It's a story of man with an extraordinary gift. It's something new, something different, something you haven't read before. This is a biological fact of life that we find difficult and embarrassing, but this is a guy that was born with an enormous asset in an otherwise ordinary life.

"I'm not sure he has too many problems with it," Mr. Needham continued. "He's a fairly confident individual. He doesn't treat it like a disability or inconvenience. It tends to be the people around him that have problems with it."

So far, so good. But according to Robert Kurson:

Were it only true! The New York Observer noted that I would be writing an upcoming piece for Rolling Stone about my own large penis. In fact, the story is about the penis of someone else. Alas, I'm still the "normal" man I always have been. But what a thrill while it lasted! Think I should ask for a correction?

Courtesy Romenesko's MediaNews.
SPOILER ALERT: According to the review in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, one of today's holiday movie releases features a man tormented by the fact that his parents were killed in a tragic Hanukkah fire.

But which one? Is it Ararat, Atom Egoyan's inquiry into the legacy of the Armenian genocide? Solaris, the new George Clooney/Steven Soderbergh sci-fi intellectual romance mystery? Disney's Treasure Planet, taking a looser adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic than you anticipated? Perhaps it's Die Another Day, bringing a layer to our understanding of James Bond. Or, maybe, none of the above.

You'll have to read Carrie Rickey's review to find out.
NEXT STEP: REAL-LIFE CENTAURS: The New York Times reports today that scientists are considering a plan to inject human stem cells in a mouse and create a man-mouse hybrid to test the stem cells' usefulness in treating specific diseases. Here's what the working prototype looks like:

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

GUY RITCHIE ONLY AT #34? Film Threat magazine has now published its list of the Fifty Coldest People in Hollywood. A sampling:

Show him the money and he'll make the movie, no matter how demeaning or insulting the role. With garbage like Snow Dogs, Rat Race and Boat Trip taking up his time, it is mindboggling to remember he once made films like Boyz N the Hood and actually won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire in the not-distant past. You have to wonder what happened if Disney decided to remake Song of the South, we can bet even money that Gooding would be front and center doing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah!"

Darth Vader as you've never seen him...a pouty, petulant faux-teen with a sissy voice. A worldwide hunt for the new Anakin in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones resulted in... HIM? What happened, did Lucas lose Lynn Stalmaster's phone number?

Winner of the Louise Fletcher Award for the Worst Post-Oscar Career Trajectory, boasting a filmography littered with barely-noticed parts in barely-considered flicks (anyone remember Too Tired to Die or Lisa Picard is Famous or The Triumph of Love?). Her latest, Wise Girls with Mariah Carey (?!?), was so awful that it went straight from Sundance into an unpublicized cable TV broadcast. At the speed her career is declining, it shouldn't be long before she shows up hosting infomercials at four in the morning.

Edited to add: Jen notes that Marisa Tomei and Alicia Silverstone are now so cold as to not even deserve mentioning at this point. Guh.
LONG ARM OF THE LAW: I have a new second-favorite obscure location for a federal court: the federal magistrate court for Valley Forge, PA.

Favorite obscure location for a United States federal court? That's easy. The U.S. District Court for the District of Berlin, convened to hear one case for one defendant in 1979. (PDF required to read.)

Hans Tiede hijacked a Polish civilian plane to the Tempelhof Air Force Base (U.S.) in West Berlin to seek freedom for his family from the Iron Curtain. West German law encouraged such escapes, while international treaties on air piracy (signed by the U.S.) required the government not to condone such acts. So what did the West Germans do? Turn him over to us.

It's a fascinating opinion about the limits of jurisdiction and the scope of the rights granted criminal defendants under the Constitution with significant contemporary relevance. The prosecution argued that the Constitution only applied to this case insofar as the Secretary of State deemed it appropriate, as Berlin was militarily-conquered territory, and that therefore the criminal defendant was not entitled to a trial by jury. As the prosecutors argued in their brief:

The conduct of occupation is fundamentally different from the exercise of civil government in the United States. The actions of an occupying power, from necessity, may be inconsistent with the wishes or attitudes of the occupied population. In short, the assumptions and values which underlie the great common law conception of trial by jury do not necessarily have a place in the conduct of an occupation. Whether it does in a particular situation is quintessentially a political question, to be determined by the officers responsible for the United States conduct of this occupation, and not by this Court.

(Sound familiar?) Following a lengthy discussion of the the wartime authority of courts and the nature of the jury trial, Judge Stern held that a jury trial was required here:

[P]eople have been deceived before in their assessment of the intentions of their own leaders and their own government; and those who have left the untrammeled, unchecked power in the hands of their leaders have not had a happy experience. It is a first principle of American life -- not only life at home but life abroad -- that everything American public officials do is goberned by, measured against, and must be authorized by the United States Constitution.

As the Supreme Court made clear in Ex parte Milligan, supra, the Constitution is a living document to be applied under changing circumstances, in changing conditions and even in different places. The Court finds devoid of merit the suggestion that the Prosecution has no constitutional obligations or that this Court lacks the competence to inquire into those obligations. The Constitution of the United States manifestly applies to these proceedings.

Second, the Court rejects the Prosecution's contention that, even if the Constitution applies to these proceedings, it is the State Department rather than the Court which interprets the Constitution.

It is clear, because the Constitution applies to these proceedings, that the defendants have the right to due process of law. Due process requires that if the United States convenes this Court, it must come before the Court as a litigant and not as a commander.The Secretary of State, in establishing a court, appointing a judge, and then electing to appear before it as a litigant, delegates his powers to the Court. Thereafter, the United States may, and indeed it should, press strongly for its views. It may argue them and, if it is so authorized, may appeal from an adverse decision. It may not, however, compel that its views be victorious. Thus, the responsibility falls solely upon the Court to declare the requirements of the Constitution in this proceeding.

It is a great, great opinion, and well worth your time. Judge Stern published a book regarding his experience with the case that's well worth finding, if you can.
YOUR ADVICE SOUGHT: If anyone out there has any expertise or advice on purchasing a mattress, please email me at throwingthingsblog (a) Jen and I have been shopping for a bit, and we're still not sure -- between choosing a brand/model and choosing a store -- how we should go about doing this. We're looking for a king-sized bed, possibly with a pillowtop, and your advice would be most welcome.

(And if others are interested, I will post the most helpful responses here.)
HOLD THAT TIGER: I don't quite get the argument that some are making -- that if the New York Times doesn't want Tiger Woods to play the Masters at Augusta National this year or CBS to broadcast the event, that the Times should itself boycott the Masters and refuse to provide print coverage.

This argument misses the distinction between the news and editorial functions of a newspaper. When all the world's best golfers play at the same tournament, it is newsworthy, whether or not you believe they should be playing there. One wouldn't expect or want the Times to refuse to cover the signing of a bill for which it had sought the President's veto, or for the Times not to send Linda Greenhouse to report upon a Supreme Court opinion which the Times had hoped would go the other way. (It would have been a much shorter paper in December 2000, for sure.)

The Masters tournament is newsworthy. It's up to all the PGA players, CBS and the members of Augusta National to determine what kind of story it will be.
KOY-A-BUNGA! Well, it's as good a guess as any for tomorrow's Daily News headline following this most improbable Eagles win.

Detmer's injury tonight brought back memories of the Birds' ill-fated 1991 season, when a cast of nobodies on offense including Jack Kemp's son and a guy working construction (for real) had to quarterback the team following Randall Cunningham's opening-day season-ending injury. The defense, featuring Reggie White and the late Jerome Brown, was absolutely ferocious, best against the run and pass in the NFL, but their 10-6 record was not enough to make the playoffs. [See, similarly, my Little Lebowski Urban Achievers in the 12-team Vai Sikahema Fantasy Football League, currently 6-6 despite scoring the second-highest points in the league. But that's another story for another day.]

Still, we Philadelphians can survive without McNabb for a few weeks, especially if the Giants keep losing like this. The Texans? Guh.

Monday, November 25, 2002

HEY, JEALOUSY: The Boston Red Sox announced the hiring today of 28-year old Theo Epstein to be the team's new general manager. Grrrr.
THE AGING PROCESS: The Bush twins turn 21 tomorrow. Oh, well: their hijinks were a good story while it lasted. Are we due for a Culkins On Rampage cycle now?

In other news, the oldest Hanson member, Taylor, is now 19 and a father. The MMMBaby's name is Jordan Ezra. Taylor and his girlfriend wed five months ago in Georgia, and you can make your own jokes on that one.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

FO SHIZZLE? Am I the only one weirded out by the name of the extremely promoted Bridgestone winter weather tire, the Blizzak? While it looks like the tire first hit the U.S. in 1993, the term clearly seems derived from Snoop Doggy Dogg and the SoCal gangsta rap scene of the early 1990s. From Dr. Dre's 1992 multiplatinum smash The Chronic, I give you Snoop's intro of Dre on "Deeez Nuuuts":

But did you raise up all this nuts?
Cause Dr. Drizzay's about to rizzip sh*t up

Or on "Rat-A-Tat-Tat", Mr. Dogg introduced his mentor by noting:

it's 9-Deuce, Dr. Drizzay, is sittin on Tizzart! It don't stop
Treatin' busters like a punk ass kizzart!

The use of the superfluous" "izz" isn't just a West Coast thing. After all the first two lines of Jay Z's 2001 anthem "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" are:

H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A
Fo' shizzle my nizzle used to dribble down in VA

[Translation: Jay-Z, originally born Shawn Carter, often refers to himself as "J-Hova" to emphasize his sense of self. He's therefore introducing himself here, but since he's Brooklyn born and raised, I'm not quite sure what the VA reference is to.]

The earliest use of the term "blizzak" itself I can find is from the Notorious B.I.G.'s posthumous #1 single "Mo Money, Mo Problems" from 1997:

B.I.G. be flossin' -- jig on the cover of Fortune
Five double oh, here's my phone number
Your man ain't got to know, I got the dough
Got the flow down pizzat, platinum plus
Like thizzat, dangerous
On trizzack, leave your ass blizzack

So, should Bridgestone sue the estate of The Notorious B.I.G. for stealing their intellectual prizzoperty? Probably not. They've got enough to deal with right now.
THE BEST SHOW YOU'RE NOT WATCHING: Now that The Bachelor is off the air and The West Wing is off its level, there's no excuse whatsoever for you not to be watching The Amazing Race on CBS every Wednesday night.

TAR is everything that good television should be -- dramatic, surprising, engrossing, funny. Yes, it's a reality competition, but it's one that works far better than Survivor or the dating shows. Players aren't rewarded for being nasty to each other; they're rewarded for being smart and decisive. And it's in an arena we all can relate to: travelling in foreign lands and dealing with friends and emotions during tense circumstances. It is a show that rewards merit, and that's rare on reality tv these days.

The format is simple: make it from route marker to route marker, around the globe, by solving clues and performing tasks. This week, for example, starts with the following puzzle: what's the best way to fly from Casablanca, Morocco to Munich, Germany?

Catch last week's recap here on Television Without Pity, a website which is one of the true gems of the Internet.