Sunday, December 30, 2007

how meaningless can suddenly become meaningful and yet stay meaningless

when i made christmas travel plans, i recognized that the giants and pats would be playing a game on saturday night, and i figured that would be a great way to spend half of my cross-country trip on jet blue. i didn't think much of the giants at that time, and didn't think they would put up any sort of fight.

obviously, i was wrong. eli played like the eli we've been waiting for. they ran the ball down new england's throat. they played with passion and purpose. and, although they'd already made the playoffs, they turned a meaningless game into something meaningful - added confidence and arrogance into the only football season that matters.

and yet, i rendered it meaningless.

i didn't take into consideration how my emotions would translate on a plane. i didn't realize that i couldn't yell or high five or throw stuff. every emotion i had came into the form of a fist pump - either good or bad. it wad frustrating.

i should have had faith in my g-men. i should have watched it with my father and my brother. i should have yelled and screamed and been myself and found other ways to spend six hours on an airplane.

hell, it would have been meaningful because i would have been with them, and that's all that would have mattered, meaningless game or not.

dammit. the giants didn't blow it last night. i did.

how i've been too fat to blog

it's true.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

how i'm not sure which is the scariest

A. mommy jamie-lynn
B. aunt britney
C. grandma lynne

at least uncle k-fed will bring the sanity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

how knicks fans are in the middle of an elaborate dare

anybody else get the impression that the knicks fanbase is caught up in the middle of a huge elaborate dare?

isiah is daring dolan to fire him by making idiotic signings and acting less like an executive and more like a thug.

dolan is daring isiah to behave like that by paying off his sexual harassment settlement and absolving isiah of any wrongdoing.

so isiah dares dolan further by not playing the most effective players on his roster.

so then dolan sees that and dares isiah again to act even more like an idiot by making his standards for a firing to be impossible to reach.

so isiah raises the bar by daring dolan to fire him by kicking marbury off the team, learning that his team doesn't want him back and then plays him 33 minutes in a return.

what imbecilic dare will dolan do next?

the knick fandom holds their breath and gags in unison.

Monday, December 17, 2007

how "also notable" is better than not noticeable at all

i'm proud that my agency was named interactive agency of the year by shoot magazine.

and i'm really proud that the lebron work is "also notable".

kudos to everyone.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

how this is truly the whole truth about the baseball steroids era

of everything i've read about the mitchell report, this article is easily the best to explain how inadequate and unfair it is. and although it wasn't as bad as i thought it would be, it's still pretty much what i feared it would be.

buster olney's article is reprited below, before it becomes an insider that you have to pay for. it's about at smart and concise you'll find about the subject.

Mitchell lacked critical insight
by Buster Olney

After the commissioner's office received access to the report, word leaked out that the Mitchell Report was tough on Major League Baseball; the advance notice was that individuals within the MLB offices were upset, angry. Which is, of course, what Major League Baseball needs everybody to believe: That it really got thumped.

Then George Mitchell stood in front of a microphone and said out loud, "Everybody involved in baseball -- commissioners, club officials, the players association and the players -- shares responsibility to some extent for the Steroids Era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem and deal with it early on." Baseball had a drug culture, Mitchell said, a nice general thesis that was fresh when it was first reported years ago by the San Francisco Chronicle, ESPN, the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and just about every other major news outlet.

But if you expected any critical insight from the report into how that culture developed, well, forget it. Baseball's leaders should send a Christmas basket to Mitchell for the way he glossed over the decisions -- their decisions -- that created the vacuum in which hundreds or even thousands of players, in the majors and minors, felt free, or felt the need, to take drugs.

Oh, sure, Giants general manager Brian Sabean looks awful in anecdotes on pages 122-126 of the report, and union counsel Gene Orza is alleged to have tipped off a player to a forthcoming test. But the report is almost wholly absent of a direct examination and assessment of how the decisions of Don Fehr and Bud Selig led us to where we are today.

We are told of the alleged drug use of 86 players by name, but nothing that addresses almost all of the big-picture questions: Why did baseball not act decisively after the sport's first steroid scandal, around Jose Canseco, during the 1988 World Series? Why did the owners and union leaders do nothing?

In a 1995 article in the Los Angeles Times, Selig made reference to a meeting in which owners discussed steroids. What was said, specifically, in those meetings? What were owners saying about the change in size in bodies? What were they saying about the Athletics of the late '80s, the Reds of 1990, the Rangers of the early '90s, the Phillies of 1993?

We are told that after the noteworthy L.A. Times piece was published in 1995, with quotes addressing the perceived rise of steroid use from Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, GMs Randy Smith and Kevin Malone and Selig, there was no follow-up. Why not? What was Selig's thinking? Why didn't he view these words as an alarm in the night? Why didn't he ask Thomas, Gwynn, Malone and Smith about what they knew? Why didn't he do something? Why was it that when Kevin Towers spoke out loud in the spring of 2005 about how executives in the game had known for years about steroid use, he was admonished by baseball executives? Why did Selig issue a public gag order on executives on the issue of steroids?

In fact, there is no mention of Towers' statement in the report. There is virtually no information within the report about the players' union deliberations and conversations about steroids during the mid-'90s. Where was Fehr? Where was Orza? What were they saying and doing? What was being said in the meetings? We understand that the union didn't cooperate with the Mitchell investigators, but there have been many newspaper and magazine stories written about this, and Mitchell could have cut-and-pasted all of this for context, as he did in so many other places in the report.

The commissioner had full autonomy over the minor leagues and could have implemented drug testing at any time. So why did it take 13 years after the Canseco scandal to do so? What were owners saying about all this in meetings? Is it true, as sources indicate, that one owner was so fed up with the union wars that he said, in so many words, If the players want to kill themselves by taking that stuff, then let them. It's not our problem.

We got a whole lot of information about the symptoms of the problem -- the cases of individual players -- but almost nothing about the virus of failed leadership that is the root of baseball's drug culture.

Selig has said that he wanted the report because it would show that he had nothing to hide. But it was, in fact, another example of a lack of leadership, a lack of accountability.

In March of 2006, he could have stood up, perhaps with Fehr at his side, and said: We blew it. The entire institution of baseball shared in this failure to ask the right questions at the right time, and failed to take the right action at the right time. But we could learn the full extent of how pervasive that problem was, so the best thing that we could do would be to strengthen our drug-testing program as much as possible, and move forward.

A number of executives who work for Selig believed, in March of 2006, that a mea culpa was the best action possible for the sport. But Selig has never been someone to admit mistakes. So he hired a baseball executive to investigate the sport, paying Mitchell and his firm tens of millions of dollars -- and the leaders of the sport largely got a pass.

And it's possible that in lieu of Selig standing up and taking the hit for his sport, individual players and the game itself may suffer enormous collateral damage.

None of that excuses the individual decisions that were allegedly made by players. Look, if Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or others took performance-enhancing drugs, then they have to live with the ramifications of their actions.

But it's possible, as Fehr said, that players have had their reputations wrecked forever, and perhaps wrongly.

Mitchell established his own standard of fairness, his own standard of proof. A lawyer within baseball said early this week that because Mitchell had so much power, in deciding which names to include in the report, that he really needed to go on beyond a reasonable doubt in the cases of individual players.

And this, he did not do.

On page 146 of the report, it is written that former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski provided information, and in "many cases, his statements were corroborated by other evidence."

What the report does not say is that in many cases, the statements of Radomski, former Oriole Larry Bigbie and others were not corroborated by other evidence.

Now, we cannot be naïve to the probability that most and perhaps even all of the players named in the report used performance-enhancing drugs, and that the impact of steroid use on the game and the results of games has been nothing short of extraordinary. The belief here has been for some time that perhaps 75 percent of the major awards won from 1988 forward were done so with the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and we should assume that championship teams for the last 20 years probably fielded one or more players using the stuff. But Mitchell effectively ignored the possibility that in some cases, Radomski's version of events, or that of Larry Bigbie, might be untrue or inaccurate. If Kirk Radomski says he talked to you about steroids or sold them to you, well, Mitchell's Report embedded Radomski's version of events into history.

Mitchell clearly was frustrated with the lack of cooperation from the active Players Association. But for some former players, challenging Radomski's assertions didn't make a bit of difference: Mitchell went full-speed ahead with the naming of names, in the face of denials, just as he did in the face of silence.

"It was," said one Major League Baseball lawyer, "nothing short of reckless."

Brian Roberts is in the report, on page 158, because Bigbie told the Mitchell investigators that Roberts "admitted to him that he had injected himself once or twice with steroids in 2003."

That's it.

Radomski told investigators that he sold steroids to Matt Franco, and the former Mets player denied this. There is no other evidence. A case of he-said, he-said. And Franco is in the report, on page 165.

Jack Cust is in the report because of a Bigbie interview. Nothing more.
Mark Carreon: Radomski interview, and nothing more.
Todd Williams: Radomski interview.
Phil Hiatt: Radomski interview.
Todd Pratt: Radomski interview.
Mike Stanton: Radomski interview.

In the cases of other players, the corroborative evidence is the fact that a phone number or address is in a book owned by Radomski.

These players could sue, of course; Roger Clemens's lawyer said his client has been "slandered," and he, more than any other player in the report, has the money to go head-to-head with Major League Baseball, which indemnified Mitchell in the event of possible lawsuits.

But that probably isn't going to happen, and in any event, a lawsuit isn't going to change the reality that a player's name is in the Mitchell Report, forever. There's not a damn thing you can do to change that if you are Brian Roberts and you just might be innocent; George Mitchell has already been the prosecutor, judge and jury in his case.

The issue of the Steroids Era is multi-layered, with nobody really clean. For instance: There has never been anything tying pitcher Tom Glavine to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and when his name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot, he will presumably be voted overwhelmingly on the first ballot, as a 300-game winner -- and rightly so. But in the '90s, Glavine was probably in the best position, among all players, to influence the velocity with which the Players Association dealt with the growing problem of steroids, as a leader in the union.

He had been willing to go to the White House in the midst of the players' strike and stand up for the union, but as steroids became more prevalent, he -- like Fehr, like Orza, like Selig -- did little or nothing. In the big picture, his decisions had a lot more practical impact in the rise of the steroid problem than Jason Grimsley or Chuck Knoblauch.

(And as has been written here and elsewhere many times before, I believe I did a lousy job covering this issue in the '90s).

It's true that the problem really started with the players who cheated. They deserve most of the blame, and in the casting of the Mitchell Report, it is the players, generally, who are blamed the most.

But you cannot issue a credible report without fully addressing the actions of the most powerful men in the game, the caretakers of the sport in the '90s: Fehr, Orza, Selig.

A last thought: Baseball executives express their frustration often over the fact that their sport is scrutinized more than any other, at a time when baseball is hardly alone in its struggles to cope with performance-enhancing drug abuse. They've ceded their right to complain about that now, because Selig made the decision to plow ahead with an internal investigation that had no chance of ever providing the full context of the problem, something that the commissioners of the NBA and the NFL have never done.

Friday, December 14, 2007

how we have this year's "little miss sunshine", except somehow impossibly better

starring ellen page, michael cera, jason bateman and jennifer garner
written by diablo cody
directed by jason reitman
viewed at the sundance kabuki, san francisco, ca

every movie is made of characters. they are fake. they don't exist. and most of the time, they are just nothing more than flat caricatures, fleshed out cliches, completely unrelatable in every way. but sometimes, a character is created that is so unique, real, cool and brilliantly human, that they completely grab you and you just fall in love with them.

i would like to introduce the world to juno macguff.

actually, she'll do it herself, along with the other kinds of shenanigans that she could get herself into.

i don't want to give anything away. so even beyond the non-stop laughs, this is a feel good movie that really makes you feel. it's superbly written by the freshest voice in years. jason reitman directs it with the gentlest touch it deserves. and the acting is just dead on, from the always brilliant michael cera and j.k. simmons to jason bateman and even jennifer garner. and, obviously, ellen page, who takes the words that make up juno in the script and turns her into the most engaging character to hit the screen in years.

if this is not the best film this year, then it's surely the most entertaining.

how i can finally be in the same sentence as michael jordan, bo jackson, charles barkley, lebron james and kobe bryant

as in, we've all appeared in a nike ad.


go here, check out the banner ad at the top, and watch either oakland during the day or atlanta at night time. the odds are great you'll see me, lighting it up from the outside.


(yes, i wrote myself into a nike ad. is that so wrong?)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

how they can use this script for free

we open on a golf course. roger clemens' cellphone rings. he walks away from the tee and answers it.

ROGER: hey honey, if my name is brought up on that report, tell me now.

cut to his wife, talking and screaming at the top of her lungs, but we don't hear a thing.

cut back to roger, pumping his fist.

ROGER: thanks hon. great news.

roger turns back to the tee and pats andy pettitte on the ass.

the new AT&T.

how as a mets fan

i still sincerely hope that derek jeter, bernie williams, jorge posada and mariano rivera are not fingered in the mitchell commission report. those guys transcend the pinstripes they wear.

and, of course, beyond any sort of measurement standards, i obviously pray to the best of my abilities that david wright and jose reyes come out scott free too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

how modern-day baseball is much like the food industry

i'm reading this awesome book called "what to eat", in which this nutritionist breaks down where food comes from, what's pumped into it, what is organic, what's best for us, what happens if we eat toxic food and so on. it's a primer to educate a food idiot like me to make better choices in a supermarket - or a whole foods, which is now where i need to do all my shopping (more on this eye-opening book later).

anyways, the biggest shocker in the book is how the government food agencies that we rely upon for health regulations - the FDA and the USDA - actually don't give a crap about health. i mean, okay, they do, but it's tertiary, because their most important responsibility is to promote growth within the industry of food. and that means, simply, to make money, shortcuts are needed, and when those shortcuts are put into effect (additives, hormones, farming conditions, etc), the consumers suffer with a weaker and more dangerous product.

but they obviously can't say that. so they manipulate the nutritional labels to tell us basically a fourth of the story. "20% lean" sounds healthy until you realize that it really means "80% saturated fat". "natural food" sounds healthy, but that means it only follows a couple of organic guidelines. "farmed fresh seafood" sounds healthy because of the words "farmed" and "fresh", but those words take completely different meanings with fish.

the onus is on the consumer to eat healthy food, and not on the producer to make it or sell it. get them to buy it, and all bets are off.

what am i getting at? you can't trust the people who are sell you shit. their only intent is to make money and protect themselves.

that's kinda how i'm looking at the mitchell commission's study about steroids in baseball. i can't help but believe that a study authored by a co-owner of the red sox would implicate his fellow co-owners, who if they didn't sign off on it, they encouraged. and i can't help but believe that they're not going to implicate those who can't help themselves - the trainers and the general managers - who also knew but were powerless. and i can't help but believe that it's not gonna try to take a chunk out of the ballplayers who did it - but more importantly, the ballplayers whose salaries take a big bite out of their bottom lines. it's going to be worded that way. it's just impossible to trust and, to be honest, i don't know exactly what it's going to change.

although things are different for steroids, you can't test for HGH, and it wasn't illegal when ballplayers took it - and there doesn't seem to be any side effects found yet.

but it's something else to blame.

it's just the way big business works.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

how context changes everything

without context, this photo is about:

- strippers dressed as nuns for halloween
- nuns waiting for the strip club to open for the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet
- sister mary hearing "pour some sugar on me" and getting all jiggy
- nuns spitting on the wall of a strip club
- nuns checking out the rumor that an apparition of the virgin mary appeared in the reflection of a stripper pole
- nuns angling for a possible kid rock sighting
- nuns mistaking a possible kid rock sighting as a possible jesus sighting
- nuns asking if they can use one of the private rooms as a possible confessional
- nuns looking to spend those extra singles that "fell out" of the collection basket

it's actually nuns protesting a strip club opening in their neighborhood.


how the holidays is a time of cleansing

like, for example, cleaning out the inbox on my hotmail account, and suddenly being able to walk upright, without an anchor dragging behind me, suddenly 85 pounds lighter and detached from any sort of e-commitments.

so, if you're taking your time to clean out your inbox this holiday season, i do recommend it. hey, you might even sleep better at night.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

how i didn't need yet another reason to admire the guy, and yet, here's another

as if creating characters such as the masturbating bear,, the offensive radio singer ghost and coked-up werewolf wasn't genius enough, conan o'brien announced that he is paying his staff members out of his own pocket, even though production on his show has been shut down due to the writer's strike.

that rocks.

and letterman, leno and finally jimmy kimmel are all doing the same.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

how most of us have spent our entire lifetimes looking for this

and here it is, on ebay, as if it would be anywhere else. it'd make for the perfect holiday present, even moreso than "guitar hero".

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

how clooney doesn't fool around

sorry that this has been the steveohville film review recently, but there's no better time for it than now.

starring george clooney, tom wilkinson, tilda swinton and sydney pollack
written and directed by tony gilroy
viewed at the empire, san francisco, ca

i was talking to my buddy will about this, and he mentioned that he watched (or read) an interview with tony gilroy, who not only wrote and directed this film, but also wrote the bourne movies. he said that by directing his own scripts, he's given the power to protect his dialogue and to actually make the characters speak, to say something, to emote with their words.

of course, a movie like this, about a large agricultural company hiding the truth about their harmful pesticides and their defense lawyer who begins peeling off an even deeper truth, well, it needs words. many words. but they need to be written in a way where you're not being told what to think, but led along the right path. there's a fine line between compelling and boring.

tony gilroy, you did one helluva job.

this movie reminds me much of michael mann's "the insider" - tough, strong, intelligent, with an extremely skillful cast and an explosive ending that, for some reason, you just don't see coming (at least i didn't). it leads you to places you don't expect but completely logical. it offers reasons and motives that don't insult. it treats you like an adult, and expects the same in return.

it's an intelligent movie, one of the very best of this year.

how wikipedia is god blessed

even though it mocks my alma mater, this is awesome, and it answers many questionable boxscores.

Monday, December 03, 2007

how a cattle drive can last for 857 wonderful pages

i really don't do many of these. maybe i should.

more than one person had recommended this book to me. that's more than enough for me to seek it out and jump into it. usually, the recos are dead on.

in this case, i owe thanks.

if ever 857 pages could fly, then these are the words that give it wings. if ever 857 pages could not seem tedious, then these are the characters that do the heavy lifting. and if 857 pages could leave me wanting 857 more, then this is the author who could deliver them.

i've never read a book with such masterful patience. for example, nothing much actually or physically happened throughout the first 250 pages, but trust me, so much happened. and it just felt so real, so honest, so pitch perfect, even for a time that happened 100 years past doing things that have been long gone from the modern age.

a cattle drive from south texas to northern montana should not be this interesting, compelling and brilliant. but it was.

thank you, my recommedators.

how i was there for an amazing performance

starring christian bale, cate blanchett, heath ledger and others
written and directed by todd haynes
viewed at the empire, san francisco, ca

i'm gonna get this out of the way first: this is a great film, and an amazing achievement in storytelling. bob dylan's life is not told linearly or even literally, but you get it. my lord, do you get it. if you don't know the man after you leave this film, then you just weren't paying attention. and, much like the artist, it was told by not following the rules. bravo. a tremendous achievement.

in fact, outside of the richard gere segments, everyone was tremendous. and it's not that gere was terrible; he just wasn't as good, and his part wasn't as compelling. but there's so much to this, just so much, that you just sink your teeth into it and allow yourself to drown in it. and the soundtrack? wonderful. as if you had to ask.

now that all that is out of the way, the rest of this will be about the brilliance of cate blanchett. and i'm not just talking about conquering the obvious obstacles of a woman playing a male role, but playing as a male with an incredible deal going on. she was mesmerizing.

how good and absorbing was she? during my five minute post-film gushing about her, the first lady of steveohville asked me what character did cate blanchett play. i mean, she played the lead character, and the first lady had no idea. how amazing is that?

this is easily one of the best films i've seen this year. but moreso, cate blanchett's performance is one for the ages. check her out. she's incredible. bob dylan has never been so appealing.