Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Draft thoughts 

I promise, I'll let it go in a bit. A day later, I can only describe this draft as somewhat of a disaster for most of the lottery teams, resulting in a couple of the teams selecting in the teens basically winning the lottery. Bill Simmons pretty much nails everything that was great and hilarious about last night's first round. Some thoughts:

Draft winners:

Boston - Stole consensus top four selection Gerald Green at #18. Coupled with Al Jefferson, Boston's future looks very bright as Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker continue to lead the way. Picking up Ryan Gomes late in the 2nd round was a terrific value, too. If Mark Blount can make Boston's roster, Gomes certainly can, too.

Indiana - One of the most talented teams in the league just got better with perhaps the steal of the entire draft, nabbing consensus top ten pick Danny Granger at #17 (How Granger and Green slid this low, no one will ever know. Some teams opted to address needs, but others suffer from complete stupidity).

Charlotte - Some people say they selected Raymond Felton too high at #5, but honestly, I believe it was the right pick. Paul and D. Williams were gone and Bobcats needed a point guard. If they had waited until their 2nd pick at #13, Felton would've been gone. The guy can run the floor and promises to be a stellar player in this league. He was UNC's motor during the season. UNC's motor during the NCAAs? Charlotte got him, too. Sean May was a great selection to partner with Emeka Okafor down low. The Bobcats can now employ and running, attractive style of basketball and boast two hometown boys which will drive ticket sales through the roof. They picked up talent and revenue!

Memphis - In keeping with the "teams that lucked out in having star players fall into their laps" theme, the Grizzlies certainly deserve a mention if only for drafting Hakim Warrick. The guy is versatile and definitely capable of being a 1st team all rookie member by season's end. Love his game.

Atlanta - You know, Bill Simmons disagrees on this one, but I think drafting Marvin Williams isn't a bad thing by any means. If you're Atlanta, you shift some pieces around and seriously think about playing small ball a la Seattle this season. Also, grabbing Salim Stoudamire at the top of the 2nd round was a great pick. He's the best shooter in the draft. Not often you pick two players who can start in your lineup immediately.


LAKERS - And how! Woof! I'm sick over this Desagana -- err -- Andrew Bynum pick. Sick, I tells ya! The Lakers have always been expected to be a team that should, can, will win now. You don't win now by throwing away a top ten pick on a project. You're the freaking Lakers, for crying out loud! Being competitive is imperative! Free agents come to you! Why take a flier on this galoot? 'Cause he's been able to keep his weight down for a whole month? Gasp! What discipline! Ugh. Why they didn't pick Sean May, I'll never know. Of course, in the slim event that Bynum does pan out, I am willing to eat crow. I do, however, like the Ronny Turiaf pick in the 2nd round. He's a guy who can step in immediately and help out in the post. You know? Kind of like Sean May! Von Wafer, I could take or leave. Practice squad is calling.

Toronto - And the winner for worst draft of any team by a country mile is... I wonder if there are any Toronto fans left. This team has absolutely no direction whatsoever. None! Two years ago, they draft Chris Bosh, who by all accounts is well on his way to becoming a star. That's great. How do they follow it up? The next two seasons, they reach (and I mean reach) on two first round picks who are not only way out of their league, but play the same position as Bosh! What the hell are you doing, Rob Babcock? Charlie Villanueva may yet turn out to be a good player, but he is not worthy of being #7 overall and he will flail in Toronto. Truly awful. Between this and giving away Vince Carter, I wouldn't be surprised if the Raptors wind up with the worst record in the league next year.

Portland - Because what this team needs is another high school player. One that will definitely be impressed upon by Portland's stand-up (ha!) roster. Taking Webster over Gerald Green took balls. Putting him in the backcourt with Sebastian Telfair (himself only a year out of high school) could be disasterous early on. To top it off, Portland made waves by trading out of the #3 spot because they weren't interested in a point guard (Chris Paul was ready and waiting), then later in the draft they pull a trade with Denver to acquire the rights to Jarret Jack. Guess what position Jack plays? Point guard! And he isn't nearly as good as Paul is! Honestly, what? What are you thinking, Blazers?

Minnesota - Right upfront, let me say that I like Rashad McCants' game a lot. The guy could be terrific in this league. Great scorer, great ability. But, if you're going to replace headcase Latrell Sprewell, you don't do it with another headcase! McCants has an ego bigger than maybe anyone in this draft and at least 3/4 of the league. This is the stable influence you want replacing Sprewell? Okay, whatever.

All 2nd round high school selections - Check it out guys, you don't have guaranteed contracts and all of you (except for CJ Miles) have forfeited your college eligibility by signing with agents. Sucks for you. Hope it was worth it. Peace.

How about all the early college entries who had their minds poisoned with thoughts of being a first round pick, then went on to be undrafted? Matt Walsh, John Gilchrist, Randolph Morris, etc. Seriously? You thought you had a chance? Oy...


Go monkey, go! 

- Perry Bible Fellowship in the house.

- My interest in Cinderella Man has never been higher. I'm so pumped to see it for "free."

- Dudes. It's all about Lionel Messi. Argentina vs. Nigeria in the Under 20s final. Lionel Messi is the next great one. And he's proving it in Holland right now.

- Jeremy Roenick has my full support for blasting critics of the NHLPA and candidly speaking his mind.

- Meanwhile, George Steinbrenner has, upon his retirement, willed the New York Yankees to his son in law... a man with no baseball experience who runs a tow truck company in NYC. What? Seriously? Is this the definition of nepatism? Well, yeah! I mean, this guy is essentially George Costanza! He's a fan. Been a "general partner" since '98, but what does that even mean? Is that how long it's been since he married into the family? Wow, man. It takes stones to put the biggest sports team arguably in the world and put them in these green hands.


A familiar tune 

This bears repeating.

From this morning's New York Times

June 29, 2005
Union Plans to File Suit for Reality TV Workers

LOS ANGELES, June 28 - In the end, it wasn't the 18-hour days, the job
instability, the lack of health care or pension benefits that sent Todd Sharp, a 44-year-old Hollywood writer, into the arms of a labor union. In the end, it was the missing loggers. The reality-show producer, responsible for coming up with a story line for a one-hour episode of the ABC series "The Bachelor" this year, found that the production had eliminated the low-level clerks, called loggers, who catalogue the contents of hundreds of hours of video taken of the contestants.

"They were trying to save money," said Mr. Sharp, who said he subsequently had to wade through the tapes himself and try to remember where the most interesting moments lay. Editors stitched it all together to create the show. "It's definitely getting worse," he said. Mr. Sharp is one of nearly 1,000 writers, editors and producers who have signed with the Writers Guild of America, West, to try to force
reality production companies and the networks that present the shows to
negotiate a union contract. As inducement, guild officials said they would file a lawsuit next week against some networks and production companies, charging breach of California's overtime laws. While the reality genre has matured, creating shows that commonly compete in the ratings with scripted entertainment, conditions for those who work on the shows have worsened, not improved, those workers say. Although the most popular reality shows compete with scripted entertainment, the genre remains a seat-of-the-pants culture, with some shows taking only weeks, rather than months, to be bought, produced and appear on the air.

This has made for intense competition among reality-show producers. Budgets and shooting schedules are being squeezed by the networks, producers say. And the burden, say those who work on the shows, is falling on them. "It's the Wal-Mart model," Mr. Sharp said. "The networks offer a low amount of money, and if one production company can't do it, they'll go to another production company. And it's all coming down on us." ABC declined to comment for this article, as did the other major networks. Mike Fleiss, whose company, Next Entertainment, produces "The
Bachelor," also declined comment, as did all other reality show producers
contacted. The production companies themselves have not organized into an association of any kind.

J. Nicholas Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who negotiates with the unions on other labor matters, said the issue was not a simple one. Because the reality genre was so diverse, ranging from bare-bones shows like MTV's fantasy-fulfillment program "Made" and Fox's ratings behemoth "American Idol," it was impossible to come up with standards to apply across the industry, he said. "My point of view is this has to be handled on a production by production basis," Mr. Counter said, adding that this was the course agreed upon by the networks and the Writers Guild during their negotiations last year. A guild official responded that the production companies have ignored their formal requests for negotiations.

Working on a show-by-show basis, the Directors Guild of America has struck agreement with about 35 reality shows, but an official declined to disclose the names of the shows. "Part of our approach to working with producers is in not going public with the deals that we have," said Warren Adler, national executive director for that union. "It's our job to help them make the transition to becoming an organized industry." Mr. Counter added that reality workers shouldn't complain. "A lot of
people in this country would love to have the work these people are doing, and the rates of pay that they receive, millions of people," he said. "Sports people work long hours. News people work long hours. It's a business that basically adjusts to the needs of production, and hopefully people get time off later." *Someone's getting a horse's head in his bed tonight*

But that's exactly what editors and producers in the reality genre say that they do not get. On scripted shows, they said, writers work abnormally long hours during the year, but have long hiatuses between seasons. And their compensation is commonly twice what reality show producers - the people who devise the story lines, but who are rarely called "writers" in the credits - earn.

Salaries for producers and editors on reality shows vary widely, and often depend on the production company, though network shows tend to pay more than cable. One show may offer $2,500 a week for a field producer, while another may offer $1,600 a week. By comparison, the minimum guild rate for a writer on a prime-time, 13-week scripted show is $3,477 per week.

"What I found almost from the beginning is this across-the-board fury about the circumstances people got into," said David Young, organizing director for the Writers Guild, who has been working on the issue for a year. "It's a burnout lifestyle. Sometimes it pays O.K., a lot of times it doesn't. There are no benefits. It requires people to work on compressed schedules. Something will be supposed to take 16 to 20 weeks, and then they hear, 'The network wants it in 12 weeks.' "

Interviews with numerous editors and producers reflected similar complaints. David Rupel, a veteran reality producer of shows from "Temptation Island" to "Big Brother," recalled that in 2003, NBC would extend the length of the show at the last minute on "Meet My Folks." "A week before they would say, 'We want you to be 90 minutes,' and you'd have to work seven days a week to do that," he said. "But my paycheck didn't change. They think of us as filler. You'd never call John Wells
a week before 'ER' and say, 'We want it to be 90 minutes.' " Mr. Wells is the executive producer of "ER." Mr. Rupel added: "And when NBC was supersizing 'Friends' and 'Will & Grace,' they had to pay everybody extra money."

The comment underscores a delicate question in the organizing effort of the Writers Guild: Is the work done by producers and editors on reality shows really the same as writing? From a creative standpoint is it comparable to the efforts of writers on scripted shows like "ER" and "CSI"? Mr. Sharp and others say it certainly is. "We have to take all the little bits and give it a clear story arc, give it structure, out of what in reality might be a big mess," he said. "That, to me, is writing."
Several talked about the common practice of "Franken-byting," in which the unpaid contestants on reality shows were made to say things by editing together individual words to make up an invented sentence. Rebecca Hertz, a 28-year-old story producer, said that after three back-to-back stints on reality shows, she was exhausted, and disgusted. On "Big Man on Campus" for WB, "I'd often wrap at 1 a.m. and need to be on another shoot at 8 a.m.," she said. Postproduction on Fox's series "The Swan," she said, was worse. On a crash schedule, there was a day editor and a night editor, but only one producer, she said. "I'd be there from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., and then have to be back," Ms. Hertz recalled. "It would be dawn and I'd be going home."

Mr. Sharp, a father of two and a former screenwriting professor, finds himself completely demoralized between reality gigs when he goes home, he said. "I can't keep doing this much longer if the conditions don't improve," he said. "I can see the end of the road for me. I just hobble in, and I've been gone for weeks, and I don't have anything to show for my disappearance. You're working years and years, and you're not putting anything away."


Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Andrew Bynum?! What the crap? That's who the Laker's just snagged 10th overall. I don't know about this. The upside is that he's a physical freak - 7'1", 300lbs. Yipes! The downside is that he's still incredibly raw - only 17 coming out of high school. Behemoth? Unpolished? Put those two together and what do you have? Bingo! A project! Argh! Who knows, maybe he's the next Shaq. Yeah right and maybe he's the next Desagana Diop!

Lakers apparently made him a promise at the #10 spot, but still, argh. All I can say is that he better have a bigger career than Sean May. Diogu went 9th. D'oh... Thankfully, the Lakers went with a big man and avoided the temptation of drafting Gerald Green who is the unlucky prospect taking the pill. As of now, eleven picks have been made and still no Green. The guy was projected top four. There's one of these in every class.


Real quick NBA draft thoughts 

The thing starts in 10 minutes, so hot damn here are some quickies.

1. Utah just got the #3 pick from Portland in exchange for picks 6 and 27. Jazz are all over Chris Paul, I'm sure, though Paul hasn't worked out with the team and Deron Williams has. Very interesting. Who Portland takes at #6 will determine the rest of the first round. My guess is the Blazers select Danny Granger to fill the void that Shareef Abdur-Rahim will leave once he bolts via free agency.

2. Lake Show, oh Lake Show please land Raymond Felton. Please? Either a marvelous point guard or a studly presence down low will do nicely as the team is desperate for both. I doubt Channing Frye will slip to the #10 pick and that slot may seem a little high to select a Charlie Villenueva or Ike Diogu (they could probably trade down and get either of those two, but maaaaan do I love Diogu's game). I hope big Phil avoids selecting a Euro, though. None of this year's crop are said to be tough or overly aggresive save for Johan Petro of France.

3. Marvin Williams will probably be selected 2nd behind Andrew Bogut, thought he should be 1st. The upside for Williams is sky high. In five years, he'll firmly be among the marquee names in the league.

4. This promises to be one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory. It's deeper (at first look) than the last few, as well. There are a bevy of power options to choose from (Villenueva, Diogu, Simien, Taft, Turiaf), but as far as little guys go, Jarret Jack and Nate Robinson may be the only servicable options outside of the big three (Paul, D. Williams, Felton). Maybe the most interesting prospect is Hakim Warrick. Whoever lands him will be happy. Everyone seems to love Croation pg Roko Ukic. Gotta say, he has an awesome name. Sharpshooters seem slim, too. Indiana, Denver and Phoenix will all be looking at Rashad McCants and Francisco Garcia. Antoine Wright may already be gone by the time these teams get on the clock.

5. Much love to Salim Stoudamire. He's likely for the 2nd round, but will definitely make someone's roster.

6. Projected lottery order:
1 - Mil - Andrew Bogut
2 - Atl - Marvin Williams
3 - Uta - Chris Paul
4 - NO - Gerald Green
5 - Cha - Deron Williams
6 - Por - Danny Granger
7 - Tor - Channing Frye
8 - NY - Fran Vazquez
9 - GS - Sean May
10 - LAL - Raymond Felton
11 - Orl - Martell Webster
12 - LAC - Antoine Wright
13 - Cha - Hakim Warrick


Monday, June 27, 2005

Know what's scary? 

This guy is real. Pillar of the community, to boot. Read this article, then do your best to convince yourself that the death penalty is a bad thing. I know you can't.


New SMRT, Monday is dumb, Weekend was too short 

Issue #7 is up an running for your reading pleasure. I feel a draft.

This weekend was pretty awesome. It wasn't nearly long enough and really the type that just makes you hate Monday mornings. Is there anything more depressing the coming in early to work on a Monday morning? Probably, but for now I'll say there isn't. Some notes on the last four days.

- Land of the Dead - Yup. Definitely a zombie movie. The ending is cringe-worthy. I understand Romero's point in trying to show that while the undead have evolved to a point where they employ primitive communication, the living have evolved too. But c'mon, man! The most obvious sticking point of evolution is that over time only the strong survive. It's kill or be killed. Every evolved sentient being's foremost interest is in self-preservation. So tell me, why would you not kill a freaking zombie?!

- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - Friends came over on Friday night and this happened to be on HBO. After having seen it again, the Burton entry seems worse for wear. Hmm...

- Four stops, one night - Saturday was a lot busier than I thought it would be. Started the evening off at a barbecue, then motored over to a surprise birthday dinner at this delightful Japanese restaurant called Gyu Kaku on La Cienega. From there it was off to the far-too-trendy Falcon, an uppity bar on Sunset full of Hollywood types. It was pretty much exactly as I imagined it would be. Wall-to-wall a-holes all looking around, looking cool with their exotic drinks. Thankfully, I was with an awesome crowd and ended up having a blast. After that, off to a "Sake prom" which, as far as I could tell, was a prom where much sake was consumed. Polite guest that I am, I participated. Actively. To the tune of about three quarters of a bottle of cheap whiskey (the rest of which I obsconded with and now sits at home in the kitchen). I remember getting home, but not going to bed. I guess that would explain waking up in my clothes from the night before, shoes still on, lying on top of my made up sheets. My head: it hurt. Nothing a delicious, greasy Fatburger couln't cure, though.

- Hollywood Bowl - Last night was my first experience at this venue. As someone who usually poo-poos giant concert venues, I have to say, I really like the Hollywood Bowl. Not because the performers are tiny dots on the stage, of course. The place just has this kinetic feel to it. The enthusiasm in the crowd is tangible and definitely spurred on by the fact that every single concert goer brought a picnic with them. We were among those. It was grand. The show wasn't too shabby either.

- Arcade Fire - I've heard the cd. I like it. Now, I really like it. They put on a great show. Any band that has a hype man on stage earns an extra ten points in my book. People are running around swapping instruments! The drummer's wearing a helmet! So is some other guy! That stage a fight in the middle of a song! Plus the music was great. Did I mention helmets were worn?

- David Byrne - The headliner of the night, he did not disappoint. Totally enjoyable. High point is definitely when he brought a "marching band" on stage, complete with color guard. Ahem... sexy color guard. Erm... ahem... scantily clad, they-lost-their-tops-and-grinded-on-stage-in-skimpy bikinis-with-pom-poms color guard. At one point, there was a staged orgy, right when David Byrne closed the show with... wait for it... Crazy in Love by Beyonce. Amazing? Um, YEAH! Plus the color guard! I mean... how am I supposed to react to that. Clap? Stare? All I know is my jaw dropped and the rest is pleasantly blurry. Then one of the giant monitors cut to a dude not wearing a shirt and gyrating on stage and that snapped me back to reality right quick. Still, I want to join the color guard so I can writhe on stage with many beautiful ladies and get payed for it. Either that or be the hype man and charge people with a helmet.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

A couple nights ago, a friend popped over and surprised us with an advanced copy. It's all right, funny at parts and often unsettling to the point of creepy (which is pretty fun), but once again prompts the question, "Why do we need remakes?" I have to say that given the trailer, I probably would not have seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the theater and having now seen it, I feel a little justified. It certainly is newer and the character of Wonka is flushed out, but its not better than the 70s entry.

Tim Burton definitely puts his stamp on this film. The photography and set design are fantastic. The look and feel of the chocolate factory and Willy Wonka, himself, are batshit crazy. The darker, creepier take on the tale is definitely an interesting one (the opening credits make it seem like I'm in for an action/adventure movie) though the I had problems with this version. There were simply no small surprises or treats or idiosynchracies like there are in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (that's an inherrent flaw) -- no anti-gravity burping, no shrinking hallways, nothing. The Oompa Loompas are certainly there (and improved, mind you), but then, you already knew they would be, didn't you? While you're waiting for something new to happen, the story that you've seen before just trots along until it finally comes to an end. I know that this version is more faithful to Roald Dahl's original novel, but half the fun of going into the Chocolate Factory is the mystery of it all. "What wackiness awaits us? Oh, I see. It's just the same rooms and trappings with less of the charm. Hmm..."

Again, I know this version is more faithful to the novel, but hear me out. There's a reason for film adaptation. Remember how in Willy Wonka... finding the final golden ticket was an actual plot point? In this version, it's glossed over incredibly quickly. So much so, that I'm not even sure if Charlie is really dying for it like he claims to be. Freddie Highmore (who some will remember as the little boy from Finding Neverland) isn't so much a character as he is an innocent little boy who extols the virtues of morality and selflessness almost as if he was programmed to do so. That's not a knock on the performance, it's on the writing. Charlie is just this empty shell with warm-hearted soundbytes. It's a little off-putting. At least 70s Charlie has some enthusiasm.

Something odd is that Willy Wonka... treats Charlie as the main character (which, to me, is correct - after all, you're embarking on this journey through his eyes), while Wonka is the titular character. Charlie..., however, does the inverse of that and focuses on Wonka, flushing out his backstory and psyche, attempting to show reason behind his madness. Within the film, this is consistent and credible. However, by injecting this psycho-therapy, they ruin the mystique of Wonka -- something illuminated marvelously by Gene Wilder. Depp's Wonka seems a lot more methodical and pre-meditated in his actions. The scene leading to Veruca Salt's demise is a particularly fantastic example of this (and probably the best scene in the movie). I never thought that darker would yield less mystery, but it does. It is definitely more ominous, though. The delivery of Willy Wonka's proclamation that he will allow five children into the factory envokes images of Michael Jackson at Neverland Ranch (or even J.M. Barre in Finding Neverland - wink).

The casting of the children mostly fails with the exception of one: Violet. New Violet is awesome! Certainly an improvement on the prior film entry and her mother, played by Missy Pyle, is hysterical as an unblinking, determined Stepford wife. These two are real scene-stealers and pretty much demand your focus every time at least one of them are on screen. Charlie, as I've mentioned, is quite inferior. Veruca isn't even close to being as bratty which is something that I thought would be a given. After all, "newer" usually means "bigger" and New Veruca is definitely in Old Veruca's shadow. Augustus has his moment and then is forgotten. Mike Teavee? Well, no one's ever really cared about that character anyway. I will say that he was curiously far more bratty and annoying than Veruca, which is bizarre. But I'm telling you all, Violet and her mom are the MVPs of this movie.

Final verdict: No need to run to see this one. Walking is just fine. It's a solid film, but overall, does not equal it's predecessor. That's the problem with remakes. They come in with expectations that automatically put them behind the 8-ball. You already know what happens. This time, it just happens to be a shade darker.

One last thing I have to say on this is that Roald Dahl is a genius. He got everything pitch perfect in writing a children's story with the moral clarity that an innocent child can expertly perceive. How you get rewarded for being good, loving your family, the vice of chocolate, etc. It's all perfect.


It's Game 7, ya'lls 

I know! I'm just as surprised as you. I thought the Spurs had it in game 6 until they folded in the last two minutes. Duncan's horrendous free throw shooting (Shaq, anybody? How about Nick Anderson?), Ginobili's truly awful decision-making (how many times can you dribble too deep into double teams and turn it over before you realize it's a bad idea?), and Antonio McDyess really shining for Detroit, as well as last year's Finals MVP, Chauncey Billups, who if Detroit wins tonight, really has a lock on earning the honor for a second time in as many seasons.

I'm just hoping for a good game tonight. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't rooting against Detroit (find me a Laker fan who likes Detroit and I'll find you a Leprachaun), but I just want more of what we've been getting in games 5 and 6.

Is this the tale of two Finals or what? The last two games were great, the first four were an abomination. It's almost like the Spurs and Pistons went WNBA on us and decided to make the Finals a best 2 of 3 series, using the first four games as warmups.

Here's to game 7! To Duncan's free throws, Rasheed's belt, Horry's threes, Chauncey's invicibility, SBC Center playing The Undertaker's theme music during Detroit's intros, Hubie Brown, and all! And together we say, amen.

Also, only six days until the Draft! Can you feel it?


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

No lockout? Color me shocked 

In a stunning turn of events, the NBA actually managed to get out of it's own way and avert a lockout. Amazing! The principles of the new agreement are as follows:

The league and its players' association on Monday night were close to agreeing on a new CBA that would institute a new 19-year-old age limit, reduce contract lengths and raise the salary cap, according to sources close to both negotiating committee.

I have to say, even at 19 years old, I'm a bit surprised that a minimum age limit made it into the negotiations. That point is, of course, commissioner David Stern's pet. But still, the only sport an age limit is truly necessary is in football just becuase of the sheer physical brutality of the sport (can't throw in a boy amongst men there). Tennis, soccer, hockey, baseball, gymnastics, swimming and countless other sports see no need for an age limit. Why should basketball not be among them? At first, I used to agree with Stern as the some of these kids out of high school are gambling far more than they realize by jumping straight to the pros - many under ill advisement. But I've adopted a laissez faire approach to the issue lately. If you're comfortable with being on the street with no life skills three years after you flame out of the NBA, go right ahead and jump.

Anyway, this news overshadows the possibly penultimate game 6 of tonight's Finals. As I've said all year long, Spurs close it out tonight. If that happens, by the way, I will have correctly predicted the outcome of every single playoff series during this NBA post-season. When you think about it, that's not terribly impressive seeing as how all those matchups were so awfully predictable.


There's something happening here 

Well, it's public.

Los Angeles Times

New York Times



WGA reality check
Scribe tribe on warpath over unscripted TV


After several years of little success, the Writers Guild of America
West has stepped up its campaign to organize reality TV writers,
producers and editors -- a move that has producers crying foul.
The guild said it attracted more than 500 people to an organizing
meeting last month and has received nearly 1,000 signed authorization
cards from writers, producers and editors who work in reality and want to
be repped by the WGA West. It also has sent a demand letter for
recognition to all the major reality production companies; none has yet signed.
"This is the most aggressive organizing effort the guild has
undertaken since its founding," WGA West prexy Daniel Petrie Jr. said Monday.
"The secret about reality TV isn't that it's scripted, which it is; the
secret is that reality TV is a 21st-century telecommunications industry
AMPTP prexy Nick Counter said the WGA's effort flies in the face of
an informal agreement reached by producers and writers during the most
recent contract talks.
"There was an understanding between the (WGA) and the companies that
discussions would take place on a production-by-production basis,"
Counter told Daily Variety. "To my knowledge the WGA hasn't attempted to do
this, but has instead decided to engage in this tactic."
Counter called the WGA's move "most unfortunate and unproductive, and
even self-destructive." He said the problem with what the WGA is trying
to do is the fact that reality producers, editors and writers all serve
different functions depending on the show.
"There's such a wide range of programming in this genre, it can't be
dealt with on a rubber-stamp basis," he said.
The guild could take the matter to the National Labor Relations Board
and seek a federally supervised election, but that process likely would
take several years -- by which time many of the shows probably would no
longer be on the air.
There's also the problem of which union has jurisdiction over reality
gigs. Counter said IATSE and the DGA have "advised my office that they
dispute the claims" of the WGA and that, in some cases, their
respective unions rep staffers the WGA is trying to recruit.
"The only way that could be resolved is through the NLRB," Counter
Several top reality producers declined comment or were unavailable,
according to their reps.
In addition to concerns over the various kinds of reality shows,
producers contend the programs should not be under WGA jurisdiction because
the shows aren't scripted. They also assert that the costs of operating
under the guild contract would drive all but the most successful shows
out of business and that few have any chance at ancillary revenues from
syndication and DVD.
Though reality fare sometimes involves 100-page episode outlines,
producers won't label those who perform those tasks as writers, opting to
use terms like "story producers," "story editors" and "segment
Each reality show usually has a "story staff" of three to seven;
average pay is about half the WGA minimum for a primetime network show.
However, on many successful skeins, like "Survivor" or "American Idol,"
top producers can make much more than guild minimums.
"The creative men and women who make reality television possible work
without health and pension benefits or minimum salary protections or
residuals," Petrie said. "They often work under oppressive conditions,
among them near universal indifference to and noncompliance with state
and federal overtime laws. The Writers Guild is committed to seeing the
end of this 'Holly-Mart.' "
Petrie also hinted the guild may seek legal action if the companies
don't sign with the WGA. "If the industry refuses, we are prepared to
take the actions necessary to achieve our goals and to assist the reality
TV workforce as they seek enforcement of state and federal overtime
laws," he added.
In a clear signal as to how reality is hurting the guilds, the WGA,
Directors Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild all agreed in their
most recent basic contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture &
Television Producers to free reuse of dramatic series for two months and to a
one-year deferral of below-the-line wage hikes in new one-hour series.
By making the concessions, the guilds were seeking to help traditional
shows succeed because of the incursion by reality shows -- an area in
which the guilds have little jurisdiction.
The WGA West hired labor veteran David Young as director of
organizing last year, to replace the departed Gerry Daley, but the guild's
success in reality has been limited to one show: HBO's "Curb Your
Enthusiasm," which agreed to sign in 2003.


WGAW looks to halt reality 'sweatshop'
By Jesse Hiestand and Andrew Wallenstein

WGA West launched a campaign Monday to organize reality television
writers, producers and editors in pursuit of better contracts.

Nearly 1,000 of these story producers quietly have signed
authorization cards requesting union representation, allowing WGA to demand
recognition from more than 70 production outfits, including Bunim-Murray
Prods., Bruckheimer Television, Next Entertainment, Nash Entertainment,
Endemol Entertainment and Shapiro/Grodner Prods.

So far, none of the companies have offered to negotiate, according to
WGAW, prompting the union to take the campaign public and threaten
further action, including a strike.

"This is the most aggressive organizing effort the guild has
undertaken since its founding," according to WGAW president Daniel Petrie Jr.
"The secret about reality TV isn't that it's scripted, which it is; the
secret is that reality TV is a 21st century telecommunications industry

Working under a union contract would set minimum wages, health and
pension contributions and -- perhaps most importantly -- rules on working
conditions. An alleged indifference to state and federal overtime laws
is a chief union complaint.

"In reality TV you can work 42 days in a row, 18 hours a day, and you
will just get your regular paycheck," said Dave Rupel, a WGA organizer
and veteran of such series as "Temptation Island" and "Real World."
"And with network competition, what normally would be done in six months,
they expect you do to it in three months."

But Phil Gurin, a veteran reality producer whose credits include "The
Weakest Link," suggested that production companies are not the source
of the problem.

"It's not so much independent production companies that have the
biggest burden to shoulder; it's the broadcast or cable networks or
syndicators that give us money to make shows," he said. "They're the ones that
really need to recognize that to get really top-drawer writing, you
have to pay for it."

The campaign started a year ago when seven story producers met with
WGAW staff after a grueling field session on "Australian Outback." They
complained of working without food and water in 100-degree heat and for
30 straight days in one case, according to union organizer David Young.

WGAW invited reality editors to join the campaign in January and, on
May 7, about 500 story producers gathered at the WGA Theater in Beverly
Hills to discuss strategy and start gathering authorization cards.

Union leaders have promised to use innovative tactics in the coming
months to pressure production companies, including those owned by
conglomerates that are otherwise signatories to WGA contracts.

"These tactics may lead industry executives to accuse us of breaking
the 'gentlemen's agreement' that has existed between the talent and
studios, but that agreement was broken long ago by the reality producers
and the networks that chose to promote nonunion production of these
shows," Young said. "You should know as well that as a last resort, we are
prepared to lead reality writers and editors out on strike, should they
decide to take that step."

Even union officials acknowledge that their use of the term
"scripted" in terms of reality TV can be confusing.

Instead of writing dialogue, reality TV writers say they help craft
the overall sense of story. According to the union, this includes
casting, creating scenarios, conducting field interviews and guiding the
postproduction process so hundreds of hours of video end up with a
meaningful beginning, middle and end.

For that reason, video editors feel they are equally deserving of WGA

"These stories come together in post -- stories are pulled out by us,
in collaboration of course with storytellers -- but we're in there
creating stories so it's a logical conclusion to be part of the Writers
Guild," said editor Donna Egan, who also is help> ing organize this
campaign. "A lot of it is just about having basic benefits -- health and
pension. We have to change the system because the system isn't going to
change voluntarily."

Gurin noted that the absence of any uniform division of labor on
reality shows only complicates the WGAW's efforts, with so many different
people taking on writing duties. "Writing is clear when there's a
script, and not all of these shows have a script," he said. "There's a lot of
moving parts in this area."

Bertram van Munster, Emmy-winning producer of the CBS reality series
"The Amazing Race," took issue with the timing of the guild's position
given the history of unscripted television.

"Everyone should be part of the community," he said. "But why should
this be an issue now? The reality genre grew out of the writers' strike
more than 17 years ago. The reality train left the station a long time

A top reality producer and WGAW member who wished to remain anonymous
was critical of WGAW's strategy, questioning its ambition to represent
the field producers and editors who have guilds of their own. "They're
casting too wide a net," the producer said. "I want them to focus on
the writers, get some turf and build out from there. But they're trying
to conquer Europe instead of taking it one nation at a time."

The producer also believes WGAW should set its sights on broadcast,
not cable, where the budgets are already tight. "If you've got to reduce
what small fee you're already getting on these cable shows, you'll have
a lot of problems," the source said. "(Broadcast) network shows are
where the money is."


Monday, June 20, 2005

Hall of Horry 

His 1 for 28 shooting nightmare in the 2003 playoffs (leading to his ticket out of LA) not withstanding, Robert Horry freaking rules. Last night, he once again became "Mr. Clutch." He'll never make the Hall of Fame because he is most commonly seen as a role player... who just happens to always find himself on championship teams. If the Spurs win game 6 on Tuesday, it'll be Horry's 6th title. Last night he tied the mark for most playoff games played. Ever. Think about that. It's too bad he'll never make the Hall, but their should be a place where Horry can be remembered long after he retires. He's right there with Reggie Miller for clutch shots. If you need a big time three, you give the ball to Robert. He sunk the winner in overtime last night and single-handedly made this Finals worth a damn.

Favorite Robert Horry moment: Game four, 2002 Western Conference Finals, Lakers vs. Kings. Horry grabs a loose ball and sinks the game-winning three as time expires to lift the Lakers level with Sacto at two games apiece. The Staples Center goes wild.


Friday, June 17, 2005

The NBA is in a heap of trouble 

There is one thing clear about this series: It's the worst. Possibly ever! Every game has been a boring blowout, never in doubt for either eventual winner. Heading into last night's game 4, the tv ratings for the Finals were down a whopping 30% from last season. After last night, I'd be stunned if that number didn't balloon to 80%. Unless you live in Detroit or San Antonio, honestly, why in the world would you care to watch any more of this garbage? Does the fact that it's now a best of three series change anything? I refer you to the Pacers/Celtics series from round one (all blowouts) and firmly answer, "NO!"

To be clear, once and for all, I'm not ripping on the low scoring or the defense (only one team is playing any depending on the day). That's not something I "have to get used to." I accept that. My complaint, which is shared by countless others, is that these games are not competitive. None of these games were ever in doubt! Game three is the only maybe, but even then the Pistons were the only team playing for the last 20 minutes in the game. That's exciting??? That's interesting??? Gimme a break.

This is not about parity, its about entertainment. When impartial fans watch the Superbowl, they hope for a close game. It's the same principle here.

Say it with me:

Worst. Series. Ever.

If this is the NBA's swansong before the eventual lockout (there's no doubt there'll be a lockout, both sides are so incredibly selfish) at the end of the month, then God help them. It's absolutely terrible. It's drek! Worst of all, it isn't over yet.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Oh, I get by with a little help, I get by 

Here, it's funny.

Also funny? If you called up a sex-line and when the "hot" girl picked up, you said, "I'm 15, bitch!" What's she going to do? Continue? Eww. Hang up? Possibly, though the temptation to discuss puberty might be too much. You're paying for it, though. Probably not worth the listing on your credit statement.

Know what the key to living longer is? Friends. Make sense to me. Have you ever felt so lonely you could just die? That's the way my grandpa feels right now. Oh...

NBC must be really desperate. They hired John Madden.

Game four of the most boring series is tonight. And this time... well, it'll probably be another blowout.

I've got the brief theme that HBO plays in front of their original programming stuck in my head right now. It's important. Thought you'd like to know.


He's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack 

Cash! AAAAHHHHH! He'll save every one of us! This week, The Milliondollars takes a shot at the clergy.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Phil Jackson is Batman... And he begins! 

I mentioned yesterday how my expectations for Batman Begins were fairly reserved. Let's just those expectations were exceeded. By a lot. I really really really like this movie. Haven't seen more than 8-10 movies this year, but this is my favorite of the lot, so far, no question. Aside from a few (I'd say 5 or 6) cut away points during action scenes to random characters for comic relief (that poorly miss their mark) and one devestating betrayal to Batman's moral code (spoiler: it involves death and a bad guy), I'd say it was pretty darn great. I think Bale's cold Wayne facade and completely f'ing crazy Batman are pitch-perfect. Strong performances all around. Ra's is awesome. The relationship between Batman and Gordon is perfect! And I really appreciate how fantastic Gotham looked, something I clearly preferred over the Burton entries. I'll even go so far as to make this statement, which I'm sure will piss off some of my friends: Batman Begins is the best of the Batman movies. If you're coming into the film with a rich history of the comics, try not to cling to every detail of the origin story as you know it. Opening up on Bruce Wayne in a Chinese prison is such mind-fuck. I love it. In my opinion, the origin story presented by Chris Nolan actually improves upon the original, at least in a cinematic format. That's the scary thing about doing an origin story -- they tend to be a little dull and formulaic. Hence why I was reserved heading into the theater. That is definitely not the case here. But I love that Nolan started from the very very beginning and leaves us at the point where Bruce Wayne is just starting to get the hang of being Batman.

Just for kicks, a brief retrospective of the Batman films.

By the way, Batman's real identity is Phil Jackson. The more I think about his re-hiring by the Lakers yesterday, the more excited I get. It can only mean good things. Here is why it is a fantastic move for the Lakers organization and here are a list of reasons why Laker fans have just reason to be excited.
Third, Lamar Odom gets better with this, because he gets some true point-forward opportunities and some show-me-what-you-got defensive challenges.

Fourth, the man coaches defense, the glaring absence of which was the real reason for the Lakers' demise this season. People are always talking about the offense and the triangle and such, but the '96 Bulls and 2000 Lakers (according to stats analysis guru Dean Oliver) were the 10th- and 11th-best defensive clubs all time. The 2004-05 Lakers on the other hand, were 29th in the league in points given up per 100 possessions, just barely better than the Hawks.

Amen, brotha!


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This is priceless 

Up for the award of "Biggest Douche" for 2005: Florida State QB Wyatt Sexton.

An incident report by Tallahassee police officer Zachary Lyne said he was called to a residential neighborhood about reports of a man doing push-ups in the street and jumping on a car.

Lyne said he found Sexton in the middle of the road wearing only a wet pair of shorts. The officer asked Sexton several times to identify himself, and eventually he said he was God.

Sexton later got on his hands and knees, yelled obscenities at the officer and stared at him. He was doused with pepper spray and handcuffed, and identified himself as Sexton.

A staredown?! Pure... Awesome. This guy is a hero of sorts. Cracked out of his head, but still a hero. And perhaps it's not so ludicrous for him to refer to himself as God. Picture it: You're a 20 year-old meathead football player at one of the sleaziest universities in the country. You quarterback one of the nation's most prominent football programs, so you're probably banging co-eds left and right. Quick recap: You're 20, a meathead football player, sluts are falling all over you. Yeah, I could see how you'd think you're God.

Man, this is funny. Why the hell were his shorts wet? I can't stop laughing at the thought of him being "doused with pepper spray" after the stare down. This, my friends, is comedy.


The Zen Master is back in L.A.! 

Today, the Lakers re-hired the only man who could possibly perform the job of Laker head coach: Phil Jackson. Why did this happen? Is it good? Bad?

The buzz in LA for the last few months (literally, they don't talk about anything else here) is Phil was actually hoping for a small percentage of ownership. There's no mention of that, yet, but also Jeanie Buss lobbied pretty hard for his return. And he likes LA. Those are all superficial reasons, though.

Jackson has been behind the scenes with LA since about February. The Lakers needed a big hire like Phil Jackson because the atmosphere in the Staples Center is, well, dead. There has to be a name on the sideline that commands respect and gives the illusion that this team is better than it really is. Jackson inherits a pretty shoddy squad with almost zero flexibility. The power dynamic, however, has shifted from Kobe to him. Why? Well, consider that Bryant is for all intents and purposes responsible for Jackson's exit last season. This year, Kobe runs the ship... into the bottom of the ocean. Now that Jackson has returned, Bryant will defer to someone who knows how to steer. Phil and Kobe met before this announcement came, so it isn't like Bryant's not on board. I'm imagining a re-implementation of the triangle with Kobe playing the MJ role.

Barring a Minnesota Timberwolves-style collapse, the Lakers are still probably a year away from realistically thinking playoffs in the Western Conference and Phil knows that. But if you're going to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs. It'll take time, but from LA's point of view (and it's the correct one), he is the ONLY man for the job.


SMRT-TV: Issue 6 and other assorted fart noises 

- Mr. and Mrs. Smith certainly has its charms and it is about what I expected, but I was relatively bored for most of the second half of the movie. I was surprised to learn that the film was only two hours. All starts to feel a bit one-note past the halfway mark. The big finish is pretty lame, too. "Hey, Hottie McHot! As a symbol of our love, let us run into the middle of this room and proceed to blow away a veritable army of special agents clad in bullet proof gear by neither evading bullets nor aiming, but rather artfully posing and shooting in a choreographed motion like a new age dance squad."
The End
Vince Vaughn is pretty enjoyable, though.

- Movies in general have been of a pretty middling quality as of late. Tickets were purchased on my behalf for a midnight screening of Batman Begins tonight at Mann's Chinese. I'm not flipping out about it, but have reserved hopes. Hopefully, it's better than the fare that's been hitting the theaters recently.

- I'm really happy that the Michael Jackson trial is over. Hopefully, whatever new tabloid headline replacing it won't drag out for, I don't know, twelve years.

- OK Go still freaking rules! Even when they're the opening act of a three band lineup and only have 30 minutes of stage time, they still manage to blow everyone away and upstage the other acts. This performance at the Avalon was definitely better than when I last saw them at Spaceland. A high-energy band like that benefits greatly from having any room at all on stage. They featured a new dance at the end of their set, too. Hilarious and cool, as always. This was OK Go concert #4 for me. I think it's pretty safe to say they've cemented themselves amongst my favorite bands. Definitely buying the new album on August 30th. You should, too!

- Related to the above, Kaiser Chiefs were okay. Mostly, I was distracted by how 90% of the people around me were 14 years old. That's what I get for going to a KROQ show. The difference between a KCRW show (Athlete, last Thursday) and a KROQ show is vast. Soooo vast. KCRW shows are comprised mostly of college graduates. KROQ shows are comprised mostly of high school freshman (if that!). I felt so old drinking a beer while towering three feet over nearly everyone around me.

- Yay! South Africa! Yay! Oh God am I glad I moved.

- Game 3 of the NBA Finals is tonight and the question has suddenly turned from, "Will anybody be watching this series" (No. Hell no. I have, but really, it is ugly) to "Will the Pistons even win a single game after getting their asses handed to them in games 1 and 2?" Manu Ginobili is a certified star. Tim Duncan, predictably, is having a field day against the Det-riot's "intimidating" front line. Ben Wallace might very well be the most overrated player in basketball. So much for that whole "no blowouts" thing, huh?

- Seriously, guys! Are you reading SMRT-TV? Are you? 'Cause you should, damn it! Hey, I think this guy is the most valuable sports analyst perhaps ever.


Friday, June 10, 2005

It was never in doubt 

Saw Athlete in concert last night. Great show. It was actually the capper for their first ever tour of the States. Good vibe. I think my enjoyment of the concert was heightened by the antics of this total douche bag standing a few steps in front of us who kept waving his arms around in the air. He was definitely popping pills and "Just trying to enjoy the show." That was his response when we told him to watch the flailing elbows. Anyway, the guy was high as a kite and some poor blonde girl who was at the show by herself was trapped next to him. He was ogling her. She was creeped out. The douche even went so far as to put his fingers around her head and slur, "Isn't this amazing? It's just amazing. It's so fantastic. You're so pretty... (creepy stare)." I was a little pissed at that point, so I stepped in and played the "is there a problem here?" card, then pulled her back to stand with me. She was very thankful. We made out. She left after the show. I don't know her name. All in a night's work.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals. What do you think happened? Duh.

As expected, the Spurs nabbed game one. As expected, Tim Duncan was unstoppable not only on offense, but also defense. Read: Rasheed Wallace - six points, sat out most of the game with four fouls. Really, it was the Spurs' Glenn Robinson (even though he only scored two points in six minutes) who was the catalyst for getting San Antonio into rhythm back in the 2nd quarter, though Duncan and Ginobili shined the brightest. Detroit will come back with some adjustments for game two, to be sure, but I still peg their chances as slim given that the Spurs pretty much had the Finals won back in March when they swindled New York and acquired Nazr Mohammed. Incidentally, solid ten points, seven board game for Mohammed last night.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Memo to Pistons Fan: Stop your whining 

In the lead-up to tonight's game one, I've encountered a lot of Detroit fans online crying that they're not getting any respect in the upcoming finals against the Spurs. There's a lot of crying and harping and moaning about being the defending champions and extinguishing last year's Lakers (w/Shaq), as well as the Heat (w/ Shaq) in this year's Eastern Conference Finals. So why is it, they wonder, that nearly everyone is picking San Antonio to win it all? Some blatantly obvious answers:

1) What's done is done. Past series' don't mean anything now. That includes last year's finals. To rant about championship experience in this series seems a bit foolish given that the Spurs convincingly won the title the year before in 2003.

2) This year's Spurs are a much tougher propisition than the Laker team that showed up (or didn't show up, depending on your perspective) in last year's finals. You can't really compare the two. Last June, the Lakers were falling apart internally, as is evident by the fact that Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Karl Malone are all gone as a result (be it direct or indirect) of Kobe Bryant. Nevermind the fact that Malone didn't even play in the Finals. San Antonio is much more stable. They're the picture of consistency. No one brings 25 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks a game as steadily as The Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan. Manu Ginobili has blossomed into a star with a complete game. Tony Parker is every bit the equal, if not better than last year's Finals MVP Chauncey Billups. As mentioned earlier, this club has it's own championship experience and has displayed the ability to not only defeat, but adapt to any type of scheme thrown at them. Whether it be banging down low against Denver, keeping up with Seattle's small-ball lineup, or outrunning and gunning the Suns.

Yes, the Pistons can claim back-to-back trips to the Finals as an image of consistency, but if you watched the Miami series (and even the Indiana series, for that matter) you have to admit that they have looked pretty erratic this post-season.

Miami, by the way, had a losing record against Western Conference teams this season. So if you think the Heat with a hobbled Shaq and an obviously hurt Dwyane Wade (nobody misses a game 6 unless its really serious) provided stiffer competition than what San Antonio has in store, you've got another thing coming. I don't think anyone is dismissing the Pistons outright, either. I think all the Detroit fans need to settle down on that one. Just because most of us are picking the Spurs to win doesn't mean we don't respect Detroit (the team, not the city). Most, like myself, believe this will be a six or seven game series. Spurs and Pistons are ranked #1 and #2 in defense, but the plain facts are that San Antonio has a significantly better offense, the best player in the series -- Tim Duncan (who Detroit has no hope at containing down low), and homecourt advantage. The last one is particularly significant given that between the regular season and the playoffs, the Spurs have lost all of, what, five? Six games at home? How is picking them in six or seven games disrespecting the Pistons?? Honestly, stop waving the flag for five seconds and try look at it objectively.

Tim Duncan claims a third Finals MVP as Detroit does down in six games, the majority of which will have final scores in the mid-seventies. Additionally, I see each game being a closely contested affair. No blowouts coming in this series.


Mosquito Circus #11: Seven Minutes in Heaven 

Well, the show is actually longer than seven minutes, but whatever. You should listen, yo! Then kindly vote for us over at podcast alley. Many thanks.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my friends at the Sight Unseen Summer Theater Festival who scored a mostly glowing review from Backstage West. Special congrats to "Forget My Chrome Embrace" and "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (which I still need to see). Excellent job, guys.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's Wednesday. That means today is going to suck. 

Another day of the listless and mundane. Job satisfaction has reached an all-time low. Still better than working at Burger King. I've been at work for two hours and haven't really done anything productive. It doesn't seem like I'll have to anytime soon. There's just nothing to be done. Wednesday. Hump day. Sloooooooooowwwwww day.

- ESPN drops their affiliation with the coaches poll. As the article details, this may be a promising omen for those sickened by college football's polling system. God bless the AP for withdrawing their poll from the B(C)S. In the meantime, fuck college football.

- The Michael Jackson jury is deliberating and who really cares?

- Saw Crash last night. Let me start by saying that it is a good film, but at times feels a little too contrived. Perhaps those "forced" moments would've played differently under a director other than the film's writer, Paul Haggis, who also adapted Million Dollar Baby (with that credit in mind, it's no wonder a couple scenes felt overplayed). The scene with William Fichtner, for example, just made me cringe -- and not because I was meant to feel uncomfortable, but because it was so unbelievably on the nose to the point where I almost didn't buy it. But otherwise, I thought it was pretty good and it is affecting. Solid ensemble cast. I recommend it with a miniscule grain of salt.

- I have to believe that while Damien Rice is an incredibly talented musician/songwriter, if someone were to sing one of his songs at a karaoke bar everyone would pull out a revolver and cap themselves in the head with no regrets. This is what I think of when I'm singing Damien Rice in the car.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

South Africa has a military 

No, I'm serious. Okay, I'm laughing, too. But really, there is a South African army and, my heavens, they are going to war! To fight AIDS! Honestly, though, you should stop smiling. This is a rather discouraging piece.


Oh Craigslist, thou art fairest of the internet oddities 

This is truly extraordinary. Thank the heavens for Craigslist. In times of boredom and in need of laughter, it surely is the cure.

I have a special talent...I use my special place...

Hello boys. I am a 23 year old poet living in the weho area. You may or may not have heard of my work at this point- if you haven't, you surely will sooner or later. I write my poems with a fountain pen that I have placed in my vagina.

Basically, I insert the pen just deep enough so that the tip, or the writing end, is sticking out. Then I squat down over a piece of paper and let the words fall out of my womb, through the pen, and into history. I have written over 2,000 poems in this fashion, and recieved many awards and trophies for my work.

I just wrote one earlier this morning with the intentions of placing it here, in this ad.

O! What sorrows me
My heart
Hath worn!
I need a man
I have no need
For no more porn!
This pen is pleasing
Pen is
That is what I want!


So if you're interested in being with a creative, artful girl like me, reply.
Hope to hear from you soon...lover....

Freaks are funny. Wouldn't you agree... lover?


NYC blew it. Olympic Hopes: Faded 

To all the conspiracy theorists who believe the United States has the IOC wrapped around it's wang, behold: your longshot bid. The big announcement for the host of the 2012 games happens on July 6th. Paris, as most expected, has emerged as the front runner. London still has an outside chance, but it's likely that the French will get the bid.

Now, repeat after me: Pataki. Pataki. Pataki. (Sucker! You just got Beetlejuiced! Now George Pataki is going to run rampant over your menial existence. Ooooh! Burn!)


All over the map 

Here's a little round-up about round-ups. Round-up edition:

- Yesterday was eight years to the day since I was last in Cape Town. It's like my own personal D-Day. Only depressing and without the eventual surrender of the Nazis. Not that D-Day wasn't depressing in it's own way, but, you know... eventual Nazi surrender.

- If I've already seen the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys (which is pretty good) and Lords of Dogtown is essentially the exact same movie, only fictionalized, then why would I want to go see Lords of Dogtown? I guess the same question applies to why people bother going to see remakes.

- Speaking of movies, the Mayday screening went off smashingly this past Saturday. Hope Decoyed is really good! Nearly all contestants can claim that. Early word is that the next edition of mayhem will be happening some time in Novemeber. Woot.

- HBO Sunday night: Entourage! Yay! The Comeback? Where's the funny? Couple of small jokes I laughed at with the reality tv cameras (like when the director dives out of the way of the shot), but otherwise... wha happen? I'm going to give it a couple more chances before laying down a definitive verdict.

- NBA Finals: Spurs v. Pistons. Gee. What a shocker that these two made it to the finals. I don't think anyone saw this coming. Oh wait... I forgot about the part where if you've been watching the NBA at all this season, a San Antonio/Detroit Finals was inevitable. Hey, who else here is looking forward to a long and potentially disastrously boring series of 78-74 final scores? Sweet.

I don't think the rest vs tired issue coming out of the Conference Finals will be a factor. Game 1 isn't until Thursday. That's plenty of time for an NBA team, let alone a defending champ, to recover.

I'm sticking with my original call of Spurs in 6. Pistons have been inconsistent at points during this post-season and the Spurs are about as consistent as it gets. Not only that, but they can match the Pistons' defense every step of the way, while providing formidable offense. Detroit may enjoy the advantage on the perimeter, but I'll take Tim Duncan and his rested ankle in this one.

Also, I'm hoping for Darko Milicic to improbably find his way into the starting lineup at some point so that he can be further exposed as a fraud of an NBA player. But that's just me.

- Are we there yet? By "there," I mean, "August 5th" because that's when I supposedly go on brief hiatus from work.

- Going to a couple concerts this week. On Thursday, it's my new band of the moment,
Athlete, at The Troubadour. I'm getting pretty heavy into these guys who just recently released their second album, "Tourist." If you don't know 'em, they have a Coldplay/Keane/Travis vibe to them. Really good stuff. Then on Saturday, I'm seeing Kaiser Chiefs and OKGo at the Hollywood Avalon. Should be good times. It'll be the fourth time I've seen OKGo, whose new record drops August 30th. I'm interested to see Kaiser Chiefs, too. I like about 80% of their album, "Employment," but that 80% is really good. Should be cool.


Friday, June 03, 2005

The hottest name in the world of sports. Period. 

No one is hotter or has been more talked about these last two weeks than Rafael Nadal. The 19 year-old just beat Roger Federer in the French Open semis today. He all but has the title sewn up. Seriously, worldwide, this guy is a phenomenon with recognition surging up the charts like a young Andre Agassi. Remember how big a deal Andre Agassi was when he first broke on the scene? Most Americans do. Well, Nadal is the equal of that.

Globally, the hottest names in sports right now:
1. Rafael Nadal
2. Danica Patrick
3. Dwyane Wade
4. Shaquille O'Neal
5. David Beckham

Additionally, the hottest dreamgirls right now:
1. Jennifer Connelly
2. Maria Sharapova
3. That hot assistant editor who works upstairs
4. Angelina Jolie
5. Heather Mitts


Yo, this ish is whack! 

Has anyone seen the preview for the upcoming kids movie, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D? What kind of hellish fever dream is this? I saw this trailer in front of Episode III (which gets worse the more I think of it) and holy Moses, is it F'd in the head.

"I was fishing. And there was a boy. He was saved and raised by sharks (saved and raised by sharks!). He grew gills (huh?). Shark Boy. Then I had a wet dream. Lava Girl. Then we had adventures... in 3-D!"

Yeah, because if there's anything that's going to save a hastily slapped together piece of crap courtesy of Robert "I'm spread waaaaaaay too thin" Rodriguez, it's 3-D. Quoi?


Mayday is tomorrow! Plus other stuff is... stuff? (kill me) 

- Are you long and strong and down to get the friction on? Yeah?! Good! 'Cause tomorrow night is the big Mayday Film Festival screening extravaganza at Melrose Lightspace in glamorous Hollywood, CA. Have some details. If you live in LA and don't show up, you're a total sac.

- Hey, you know who has balls? I mean real balls, the kind that dwarf a ripened grapefruit. Know who? The Arclight Hollywood Theater, that's who. Some of you may be familiar with the "Hollywood's Master Storytellers" series they put on in which cinema's finest engage with the audience in a Q&A after one of their films. Master Storytellers, they call it. Still with me? Okay. Behold the contents of the weekly newsletter I received this morning:


"HITCH" (PG13)
Tuesday, June 7, 7:30pm
Director Andy Tennant Q&A Follows Film
Will Smith is the “Date Doctor” who needs to follow his own advice when he meets the gorgeous Eva Mendes. A big part of the success of HITCH can be credited to director Andy Tennant.

Hitch? Fucking Hitch?! This is your master storyteller?



- 2nd season of Entourage premieres on Sunday. Nice. There.

- Lastly (for this post, anyway), Shaquille O'Neal is a class act all the way. I'm not talking '49ers classy.' I mean genuinely classy.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

"This is too lowbrow for you," I said. 

"No, no," you replied, "I'm quite lowbrow."

I feel a little lowbrow, myself, posting this link, but I only felt compelled to do so because all four people I work with in the office (as well as I) kept clicking on all the many colorful sounds... for thirty minutes... straight. That's four computers with the volume on their speakers turned up all the way, making fart noises. Cripes, you could hear the ruckus from out in the hallway.

This is what the workplace deteriorates into when the boss isn't in.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Classiest franchise in sports 

Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for yyyyyyoooooooouuuuuuurrrrrr San Francisco 49ers!

The video, sent anonymously to the paper, also featured racial jokes, lesbian soft-porn and topless women.

This is a public relations training video.

100% class.


Mosquito Circus #10 

Here's show #10. Here it is. Listen to it. Enjoy it. Love it. Dream about it.

Hot hot transitional action.

Mosquito Circus once featured Philosobees. Philosobees are bees. These are also bees. 20,000 of them.


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