Saturday, April 10, 2004

THE MOLE: One of three things must be true about the final task on The Apprentice:
1. Omarosa really is that rude and incompetent, and is behaving this way of her own volition;

2. The producers persuaded Omarosa to behave in such a way, in order to make for better television, but this will not be acknowledged on-camera. (It's not like such manipulation would be unusual for Mark Burnett. See Deposition of Dirk Been in SEG, Inc. v. Stillman at 32:22-35:22, 37:14-44:25 and beyond); or,

3. The producers persuaded Omarosa to behave in such a way, in order to make for better television, and they also persuaded someone on Bill's team to do the same, with the intention of forcing each finalist to make a decision as to whether to fire the poor-performing employee -- and this will be revealed as a deliberate twist at the conclusion of the final episode.

I mean, she can't just be that bad, can she?

Friday, April 9, 2004

OH, THOSE JOKE-CRACKING LIBERTARIANS: From a WaPo online chat today with John Stossel, 20/20 co-host and author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media...":
Philadelphia, Pa.: John, did you have to pay Nell Carter's estate any money for the rights to this title for your book?

John Stossel: No.

Later, however, he did acknowledge that he pays Keith Hernandez a licensing fee for the mustache.
AUGHTN'T WE DECIDE? You know, it's 2004 already, and we still don't have an agreed-upon name -- or any name, really -- for this decade. Is it the Double-O's? The Zeds? The Zeroes? The Aughts? The Ohs?

C'mon, people.
PIE-YANNA MAN: An early entrant in the Belated Comeback of the Month competition -- lookie here at Josh Gracin's lone fan, who defends the tone-deaf Lance Corporal's year-old decision to stay and sing rather than fight in Iraq with his fellow Marines.

Nicole writes: "If you think about it if all the Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton went to Iraq then there would be no one protecting your but here in the United States."

Well, thank you, Josh Gracin, and thank you, Nicole. If he's as good a Marine as he is a singer . . .
APPRENTRIXES NEED NOT APPLY: I can't possibly be the first person to notice this, but I haven't seen anything about it on, so I'll post it: Last night's episode of The Classiest Show in Alla Television ensured that the first season will end with Trump never having fired a man when he could have fired a woman.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

IN HIS HONOR, JOHN STEVENS WILL BUTCHER 'STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU': Next week on AI3: special guest judge Quentin Tarantino for Movie Night.
THIS MAY BE THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY YOU EVER HAVE IN YOUR LIFE TO USE THE WORD 'DEFENESTRATE': Via Gawker comes this fascinating report from a writer who lived downstairs from one of the apartments renovated and rented during week seven of The Apprentice.

Oh, the things Mark Burnett doesn't want you to know: like that the apartment's previous occupant committed suicide there. Or this, which is pretty damning of the Burnett-Trump notion of "reality":
It turned out that [the successful renter] had actually rented the apartment before it was renovated. She had looked at a few places in the neighborhood, picked the apartment upstairs from us, and made arrangements to move in before learning that it had been pulled off the market for the show. She went ballistic. The landlord told her not to worry, she could still have the apartment at the agreed-upon rent but would have to participate in the episode in order to get it. During the filming, she went through the motions and rented the apartment at a price higher than the one she would actually be paying. The negotiation was a sham.

Up next: will we hear from the penthouse-renters from last week? How did they know to find Nick and Amy with just minutes to spare?

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

MY GUESS IS THAT PAULA POUNDSTONE WILL NOT BE THE ANSWER: The NYT's Bill Carter, about whom I said plenty last week, had an online Q&A session to discuss his recent pieces on the topic of What's To Become Of That O'Brien Boy From Harvard?

In it, he notes the following:
One thing seems clear. Late-night comedy is still all about guys. A woman may be in the White House before one sits behind a late-night desk.

Hmmm: Hillary '08, or Kelly Ripa replacing Jimmy Kimmel sooner?

You tell me what's going to happen first.

Monday, April 5, 2004

ALL IN ALL IS ALL WE ARE: Ten years ago today, I was sitting around in the Green Lounge at The University of Chicago Law School on my Admitted Students Weekend visit.

And then the news came in. He's dead.

No one was surprised. I remember explaining to one guy (then a stranger) what I thought it all meant, but the thing I remember most about that day was the utter inevitability of how it all felt. Kurt Cobain lived a junkie's life, and died a junkie's death, and there was nothing glamorous about it, then or now.

What I remember about his life isn't the sadness, but the excitement. Throughout my college years, the big musical arguments were over "indie cred" -- was a band being true to its musical tastes, or was it just trying to make money.

Well, with Nirvana, they got both. I remember the first time I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on Dave Jarman's WAMH radio show. And then I heard it again two hours later, when the next DJ knew he had to play it. And over, and over, and over. You could not get away from that goddamned upside-down take on Boston's "More Than A Feeling", and it it just felt liberating. The mumbled verse-chorus-verse made you want to, need to, rock out loud.

Did Nirvana change anything culturally? Only for a few years, during which other underground bands finally got paid, finally got airplay, until "alternative" and "counterculture" just became hipper marketing labels, but that's a tale Thomas Frank tells better than I do.

What we still have are the songs, whether it's the unplugged "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" with Kurt in that old ratty sweater, the fury of "Territorial Pissings", the sadness of "All Apologies" and the way my hairs still stand on end from excitement every time I hear the chorus of "Lithium". I remember moshing, and feeling liberated in the pits. I remember the live concert at MTV in 1992 when they trashed the stage. I remember Kurt's anger at those assholes who ruined "Polly" for the rest of us.

None of it feels long ago at all.

That summer, after Cobain's death, I was working again as a counselor at a summer program for gifted kids (12-16) at Johns Hopkins. Among my responsibilities was deejaying the Friday night dances. Every week, some of them would demand that I play something off of Nevermind, and I'd always think, "How could these kids get Nirvana?"

But then I'd play the disc, and they moshed their little hearts off. There was something so primal, so basic in what Nirvana was doing that they felt it too. Maybe it's that desire we all have, sometimes, to declare our independence and individuality. Maybe it's just that it was loud, and loud = cool.

We've all got our Nirvana memories. What's yours?

(Also worth reading.)