Friday, October 10, 2003

I DON'T EAT BUFFALO: Y'know, with a baby and all, I do rely on you all to let me know what television I need to be watching.

Why did it take me until this week to experience how hysterical 'Newleyweds: Nick and Jessica' is?

Man, is she dumb. Ozzy dumb, only without the drugs and alcohol excuse. And Nick? Being a passive-aggressive needy jerk who's on the tail end of his career (at 29) may be bad for a marriage, but, damn, it makes for fun television.

I've seen two episodes (the book tour/furniture moving and Bahamas shows), and I'm hooked. I don't know why the couple agreed to do the show, but I'm sure going to keep watching.

Seriously, you guys, this is a reciprocal enterprise. Next time, clue me in sooner.

Anything else I need to know about?
STRATEGERY: TWoP Survivor recapper Miss Alli, queen of most of what she surveys, asserts in her mini-recap of last night's episode, "In case you've ever wondered whether throwing challenges was a good idea? It's not."

Respectfully, I disagree.

[Obviously, if you're not a fan of the show, skip ahead to the next post. It's detail time.]

As NY Jets coach Herman Edwards said, we play to win the game. Period. And winning the game requires that you, as an individual competitor, somehow find a way to have fourteen other competitors eliminated before the final two. It does not matter one bit the order in which they are eliminated, except insofar as you need other people around to help you eliminate others and protect yourself from elimination.

So: if there are people in your tribe pre-merge who will be a danger to you post-merge, either because of their ability to win individual immunity challenges or because of the danger that they will form a voting bloc that might outnumber your own (or because they're just going to become increasingly sympathetic and unbeatable as the game wears on, see Christy), then it's better to get rid of them sooner rather than later.

The producers have long moved the game past the point where it's whichever tribe enters the merge with more members Pagongs the other tribe out of existence. You know, as a competitor, that there's goingto be some form of tribe-swapping at some point; moreover, you know that things are fluid and any bloc larger than four is going to break down at some point. There's just no need to have more people than that aligned with you, and eventually you'll have to turn on most of them anyway.

We play to win the game. To win, you've got everyone else eliminated, your tribe and theirs, and the only way to eliminate people in your own tribe is by going to Tribal Council. Q.E.D.

One final point on last night: regardless of what swapping's going to occur between the tribes, ala Rupert last night, it already seems all-but-assured that there will be more original Morgans than Drakes in the combined tribe once the merge occurs, Burton or no Burton. So cutting him off here and preventing him from making a Colby-esque individual immunity run later on seems to make a hell of a lot of sense.

Well, to me, anyway. Your mileage may vary.
YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS: Two odd types of Google searches have led a lot of people here lately:
1. Searches asking whether ER's Rocket Romano is really missing an arm.

Which lead people to this post, and frankly, if you think that Paul McCrane's so committed to his acting method that he'd lose an arm for the part, well, you're probably also willing to believe that Dr. Gallant's going to have a major plotline this year, that Doyle's coming back, and that some day we're going to find out who beat the crap out of Mark Greene in the bathroom -- because frankly, all those things are about as likely as Romano stepping near a helicopter again.

It's called digital effects -- or, alternatively, "wrapping your arm around your stomach and wearing baggy clothing." Or, as Jen put it, "There are people out there who believe he really lost an arm? What kind of douchebags are reading your website?"

Still, y'all are better off than group two:
2. People who are interested in Swan Brooner.

It's not like HBO's documentary "Living Dolls" has aired in months, and yet I swear something like one in every twenty-five visitors to this site are here because they're interested in this poor (then-)seven-year-old girl who was pushed into the beauty pageant scene by her intense, creepy, chain-smoking mom.

If you saw the documentary, you were alternately revolted and fascinated -- it was like Queer Eye meets Mommy Dearest. The best thing we can do for this girl now is leave her alone.

How come no one ever comes here looking for my Benigni/Pinocchio review compilations, the Shaq/Nietzsche tale of the tape or the Michael Jackson v. Mr. Rogers quote quiz?

Just saying. Is all.
SURE, BECAUSE NO WOMAN HAD EVER BEFORE SET FORTH IN A LAS VEGAS CASINO WITH BIG HAIR: Casino mogul Steve Wynn, trying to explain why Roy Horn wasn't really attacked at all:
"As Roy was leading Montecore out to stage front on a leash, the cat became fascinated and distracted by woman with a big hairdo in the front row. Instead of Montecore going down facing forward with Roy, he did a 90-degree turn and faced sideways towards the woman with the big hairdo. For whatever reason, Montecore was fascinated and distracted by the guest sitting ringside."

"Montecore got down on all fours and puts his 26-inch head four inches away from of the woman. She thinks this is adorable and part of the show and reaches out to try and rub him under his chin. Roy is talking and sees this move. That's way wrong all the way around. As usual the heroic fellow that he is, Roy jumps between the woman and the tiger."


Y'know, this event happened in Las Vegas. Are you really going to tell me that there's not a security video of what happened?

C'mon, release it already. It'll be at least half as fun as the bouncing bear.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

VICTORY COULD BE AT HAND: Knowing our interest in the subject, Graham Walker of the World Rock Paper Scissors Society wanted me to pass along word that the 2003 Rock Paper Scissors International World Championships will be taking place on October 25, 2003, in Toronto.

Walker tells me they expect to have about 1000 of the World's best players competing this year and have athletes registered from the UK, 6 US States and Canada. The winner will receive $5000.00 (CDN) (or, about $3,760 US) and, more importantly, will be able to claim the title of RPS Champion of the World.

The competition website has videos, rules and profiles of the leading competitors. (According to Rule 6.0.2, in case you were unsure, "Paper wins against Rock, loses to Scissors and stalemates against itself")

If you want to practice your skills, go here. Just one question: can you really call something a world championship when it excludes most of the planet from participating?
NO. 14 WITH A BULLET: If you're like me -- well, at least, more like me than you are like this guy when it comes to outside interests -- you probably were particularly intrigued by one paragraph in Neil Strauss' NYT piece today on the dangers of magic:
Meanwhile, at the Rio, the metamagic performers Penn & Teller do a trick known as the bullet catch. The feat, in which an illusionist seems to use his mouth to catch a bullet shot from a gun, has led to the death of at least 14 performers, said Ben Robinson, who has written a book on the subject.

What is the bullet catch, and how is it performed?

I've seen it performed by Penn & Teller as a show closer, and perhaps, you have too. Penn has audience member sign a bullet and slug, which is then loaded into a handgun. The gun is aimed directly at the Teller's head, through a pane of glass. The gun fires, the glass shatters and Teller "catches" the bullet with his teeth, presenting it to the audience with the same markings to prove yes, indeed, it was the same one loaded in the gun across the stage. It's a long buildup, filled with Penn's typical huckster patter, and the payoff is nice.

Robinson describes his experience of performing the trick here, but he doesn't say how it's done.

Thankfully, Eric Magai is willing to break the magician's code and reveal the secret of the bullet catch. He does so right here, but be wary. According to Magai, even the slightest screw-up means "if you don't kill yourself you will probably maim or disfigure yourself. If you are lucky it will only be you that gets hurt. "

So, seriously, don't try this one at home. Or anywhere else.
THIS POST CERTIFIED SERIOUS-POLITICS FREE: Well, almost. We Californians have a new governor-elect, and thankfully -- whether you like him or not -- he got more votes than "no," thus avoiding many of the direct-antidemocracy conundrums about which we were worried.

But this post is not about the above-the-line candidates -- career politicians, pundits, activists, or ex-bodybuilders running to win the race or shape the debate. This post is about the nutjobs, has-beens, delusional septuagenarians, and occasional cute software designers vying for Californians' love and affection, and the results are in:
7. Larry Flynt (15,155)
8. Gary Coleman (12,549)
10. Mary "Mary Carey" Cook (9,855)
16. Gallagher (4,784)
28. Angelyne (2,244)
34. Georgy Russell (1,926)

What can we learn from this? First, "Gary Coleman seriously needs a job" is actually a moderately effective platform. Look for the major parties to do some polling on it before the next general election. Second, Californians were about a third more interested in sending a not-particularly-attractive woman back to having sex for money than they were in sending a really-not-attractive man back to paying people for having sex for money. Third (and I realize he dropped out of the race but then again so did Huffington and Ueberroth), if Bill Simon can't beat the aforementioned trio of pornographers and layabouts, maybe it's time for him to rethink his political career. Fourth, the next time California sees Angelyne (who predates her breasts by approximately 40 years) -- stumping, on a billboard, idling her car near my house -- it will be too soon. And finally, best wishes for the earnest but oddball Georgy, who pioneered such campaign tactics as the sale (but not display) of branded thongs and getting assaulted by Arnold supporters.
ADMIT IT, PETA, YOU GREW UP ON THESE: If PETA feels like it doesn't have enough to do, perhaps it can electronically picket the iconic Cal Worthington archives, where Cal and his "dog" Spot -- sometimes a tiger, sometimes a kangaroo, sometimes an elephant -- shamelessly hawk used cars. I believe that Cal passed in a non-mauling manner some years back, but his commercials are helpfully and lovingly collected here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

JUST A MAN AND HIS WILL TO SURVIVE: Pouncing on a media opportunity as voraciously as a wild tiger sensing blood, and with the delicate touch of a four-month-old sampling rice cereal for the first time (trust me on this one), PETA has sent a public letter to Siegfried and Roy.

It reads, in part:
Perhaps Friday’s frightening incident will make you realize that a brightly lit stage with pounding music and a screaming audience is not the natural habitat for tigers, lions, or any other exotic animals. The only natural thing that happened on that stage was that this majestic animal lashed out against a captor who was beating him with a microphone because he wouldn’t do a trick.

You've got to hand it to PETA. If they had been around in 1925, they'd have complained about the use of Alaskan sled dogs to deliver diptheria serum to save a bunch of dying Inuit kids.
I'LL JUST TOSS THIS OUT THERE: You just know that VH-1's "I Love The 90s!" is coming within a year or so. Suggest some topics. The more forgotten now (yet important back then), the better.

Let me start it off: Living Colour, 'X' caps, and that moment -- did it last, what, a week in 1991? -- when it seemed like Jesus Jones and EMF constituted the future of rock music.

BACK ON TOP: I've been asked to comment on the new season of Survivor, and gosh darn it, am I happy about this season.

Why? If you're watching, you know why: St. Rupert, mentor to troubled teens, vanquisher of all who seek to do him ill. Rupert Boneham, or, as we like to call him around here, Hagrid (or, if you like, Gimli), is just awesome. Only Sweet Deaf Christy last season has ever approached this level of being so darned endearing and adorable that you're actually rooting for him to win the damn thing.

As Tim Goodman of the SF Chronicle said of Survivor: Amazon, "'Survivor' is, plain and simple, brilliantly constructed. The format has ensured that if the casting is right -- and it's been right all but once -- human behavior will bring in all the turmoil, intrigue, humor, deviousness and thrills you could ever want."

Indeed, it's the case this season. Long winning-and-losing streaks for the respective tribes have brought out the best and worst in each, especially the meltdown of the Morgan tribe. At this point, I don't want Mark Burnett to pull any of the tribe member swaps that have become typical at this point in the game -- I want to see Morgan decimated and then see what happens at the merge, and if they're Pagonged, so be it.

Which means I have to contradict myself a little, because what I liked about the past few seasons (well, Amazon and Marquesas) was how unstable the alliances were, and it took both earlier tribe-swapping by the producers and deviously-engineered individually challenges (the "chop off the other contestants' coconuts" challenge, in particular) to keep things in flux the whole time. (For me, it's all about the strategery -- I could care less about the survival/fatigue and eye candy aspects of the show.)

This time, I just trust producer Mark Burnett to step in when needed to shake things up, and we've got the Gratist Narrator Evir -- Rupert's as comfortable with the camera in revealing his thinking as Rob Cesternino or Richard Hatch, except he's not a total shithead.

It's going to be a fun season. Screw the competition -- the Pearl Islands are where it's at.
OR AS I LIKE TO CALL HIM, 'NEARLY-HEADLESS ROY': People in the news get two-word descriptives attached to their names all the time, little appositives that become journalistic shorthands for the subject. Take as examples "lifestyle maven", "disgraced reporter" or "shock jock" -- you read the descriptive, and you know exactly who they're talking about.

To that end, am I wrong to hope that "mauled illusionist" catches on?
LICENSE TO KILL: I'm still trying to figure out what to say about Rush Limbaugh. Adam likes to refer to this as a mostly non-political blog, so I'm treating it as entertainment. You see, after he revealed his true demon self on ESPN last week, Rush claimed that if people were offended by what he said then it must be true. Quoth he:

"All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh said. "If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community."

Putting the obtuse logic of that statement to one side, you have to recognize that it puts him in a uniquely vulnerable position.

So I'm taking the pseudo-intellectual hate-mongering blowhard at his word... and trying to think of something so outrageous to say about him that even he will have to admit it's true. It's really fun, and cheaper than therapy... It's been ten days, and I still haven't done him justice.

I'll keep you posted, but in the meantime I encourage everyone out there to take this opportunity to say something truly outrageous about Rush. Remember, outrageous = true, so tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.