Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

All day, I've been singing Alan Sherman's riff on tonight's big song, courtesy of my new hero Mark Steyn. You know how it goes:

I know a man, his name is Lang
He has a neon sign
And Mr Lang is very old
So they call it Old Lang’s Sign.

From Astro-Girl and me, best wishes for a great 2008!


1. Resolutions (Must Blog More, if only for one's mental well-being)
3. Did I say FIGHT ON! ?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New England 38, New York 35

Quick thoughts:

1. Omigod, what a game. It remains to be seen if the NFL Network gains or loses.

2. Four Pats games this season that could have gone either way--but, college football fans will mark, a BCS Champ (save this year) has to pull out a few of those games.

3. Tom Brady belongs in the pantheon of Reggie Jackson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, David Ortiz, Mo Rivera, Joe Montana . . . have I left out anyone? Who play their best when all seems lost.

4. Bryant Gumbel is an idiot.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nine days?

This is what happens when 1) the Santa Semester kicks in, 2) the countdown to the Marathon informs my every waking moment.

My own journal misses me.

Til the weekend, dear.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wow--could I have been wrong!

On the biggest pronouncement of my life--or one of them--I may have been wrong, dead wrong.

The next three seasons will tell.

But, this season, of the big three from the 2006 draft--Reggie Bush, Vince Young, and Mario Williams--the top player, by a long shot, is . . .

. . . er, Mario Williams.

Three sacks tonight, bringing him to 12 1/2 on the season. After the third tonight, he launched himself into a hula dance (for playing in the Pro Bowl, in Hawaii, eh?).

Not what I expected, and I could choose from a half-dozen other scribblings to demonstrate my stupidity.

Mario as Sam Bowie? Not this year.

Astros acquire Miguel Tejada

Cost them their two primary picthing prospects.

But this feels right: a middle-of-the-lineup of proven stars Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee, with kid comet Hunter Pence ready to show what he can really do.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Oprah endorses Obama . . .

. . . with a speech full of the usual liberal inanities, but delivered powerfully and to a rapturous audience.

Hillary needs a good segment of the Oprah crowd to reach the nomination, never mind the Oval Office.

So--prediction--Clinton's butchery of Oprah will be done with knives, this time, instead of hammers.

Boxer's Day: Senate Committee on Not-Energy Votes 11-8 to reduce greenhouse gases by 70% by 2050


Not eighty percent? Or ninety?

Is Barbara Boxer telling us the greatest country on earth cannot reduce its greenhouse gases by a hundred percent?

The fine points of the bill (which is more than an inch thick, though printed on both sides of the paper--who says it's not easy being green?) are meaningless here.

This bill is one of a piece with all those education bills passed in the ninety-nineties: you remember, the ones that promised that American eighth graders would be first in the world in math and science by 2005 or so--a logistical impossibility, given the sprawling, heterogeneous nature of our country compared to, say, Japan or Iceland?

These Jean-Luc Picard "Make it so" bills seemed inspired by one of the great lines in movie history, one spoken by Tim Matheson's Otter in Animal House:

"What this situation absolutely requires is a really stupid and futile gesture be done on somebody's part."

In this instance, Sen. Boxer stands in for John Belushi's Bluto, rejoining, "And we're just the guys to do it."

I mean, what does it mean being a Senator in times like these, voting for a bill that would destroy the greatest economy (hence producer of wealth, hence best apt to deal with whatever the environment dishes out) in the world; a bill that, if passed, would never be taken seriously, a bill that specifies targets that are a joke?

I'm gearing up for my annual viewing of The Homecoming, the TV-movie that essentially served as the pilot for the TV show "The Waltons." Take as good look at "The Waltons," if you ever catch it in re-runs. No air conditioning in the home. No heating, save for a wood stove and a wood fire. One car (also no heat, no air, factory or otherwise) serving as transportation for 11 people.

And a single phone, the one down at Ike's.

That is a life, writ large over an entire continent, that would be required under a 70-percent reduction is fossil fuels or greenhouse gases or whatever, in 2050 or thereafter.

Seventy percent. Getting back to my original point--why stop there? Why not mandate that by, 2050, all cars will fly through the air, powered only by sunbeams, cotton candy and the smiles of pretty girls?

And why do this at all?

In an unguarded moment, Senator Boxer gives the game away, conceding that this bill is to be distinguished from an actual energy bill.

Of course is it.

You see, this is something much bigger than us all. A moral imperative.

Ladies and gentlemen: the Religious Left.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cannot let Pearl Harbor Day Pass . . .

. . . without mentioning a familial tie to December 7th.

December 7th, you see, is also the birthday of my mother's mother (or "Nanny," as we called her). Her husband ("Pop-pop" to us) often marked the event by observing, "One day, two disasters."

She was born December 7, 1907, in County Cork, Ireland, and turned thirty-four on Pearl Harbor Day, a Sunday. The attack would have come directly after lunch, New Jersey time, as she tended the kitchen in her family's walk-up, while her two infant (just turned three months-old) twins (one of whom would grow up to be my mother, the other my Aunt Peggy) probably napped close by.

Pearl Harbor, of course, is at the front rank of "Where were you when you heard" moments of the twentieth century, along with the death of FDR, the shooting of JFK, and 9/11 (along with the Challenger explosion--put that at the front of the second rank). So it was with great curiousity, as a teenager, that I asked Nanny: what was it like, having Pearl Harbor interrupt her birthday? What happened? How did she hear?

Her answer: "I forget."

Oh well. Today is the hundredth birthday of Nanny Fox, who, years ago, found herself in heaven before the Devil knew she was dead. Happy birthday, Nanny, and Up the Irish.

Monday, December 03, 2007

You're kidding me

One remembers with a kind of glee the endless fun we had with the Clinton Justice Department (Janet Reno (aka The Butcher of Waco), Web Hubbell, Vince Foster, the Marc Rich pardon, et al), and beyond that conservatives remember the game we used to play, called What if Ed Meese Had Done the Same?

What if Ed Meese had ordered the napalming of a religious cult that was under seige, thus presenting no clear and present danger to itself or anyone--an attack that resulted in children's spines being curled backward, the result of cyanide poisoning?

What if Ed Meese's deputy had been found with a bullet in his head in Fort Marcy Park, his arms by his side, coffin-style, at a time when various Congressional Committees were clearing their throats about one hearing or another?

What if Ed Meese's justice department has recommended the pardon of a fugitive whose wife had just donated five million dollars to the George H.W. Bush Library?

Okay, you get the drift.

I'm now caught with the game of, What if W had done this?

Meaning, What if W's oppo press releases extended to his Obama's third-grade--no, make that kindegarten--essays?

Obama says, I've had no lifelong ambition.

Hillary says, Look at his kindergarten essay, which clearly disproves . . .

No, really. That's what she says. No, really, that's what she says.

Well, such is what Hillary has done (first item).

We've gone from Life Imitates the Onion to Life Outpaces the Onion.

Headline: Hillary's Oppo Unearths Obama Kindergarten Essay Disproving Obama Claim!

Stop the presses: Streisand for Hillary!

Martin Peretz reports on a bit of predictable, yet mundane news.

He also reports: Streisand has also given to Obama and Edwards.

And wonders: will Streisand put her money where her mouth is?

Surely he has it backwards.

Will Streisand put her mouth where her money is?

Patriots' Game

Was the game over when the Ravens' defensive coordinator negated the Ravens' historical stop on fourth-and-one by one of those chic, too-cute-by-half pre-snap timeouts?


Too many times--times we condition ourselves to forget--we think: Ah, it's over.

Carlton Fisk's home run, Jake Plummer's fourth-and-eleven gallop, Alfonso Soriano going deep against Schilling . . .

. . . So, okay, this is what I was thinking: in sports, the first rule is, beware of false omens.

So: a stop on fourth and short negated by a cutesy time-out, as Ray Lewis flops on the turf in disbelief.

Another fourth-and-short. Another stop.

Tweet. False start. Can't be declined.

Fourth and six. Brady, flushed out, scampers for the first.

Illegal contact.

Three plays later, fourth-and-five. Brady throws to the end zone, incomplete . . .

Tweet. Holding.

One play later, touchdown pass to Gaffney . . . who was once cut by the Texans.

Yeah, had 'em all the time. Knew it the instant Baltimore called time out.

More here.

Ohio St. v. LSU

Which, all told, was about as good as we could have hoped for.

One could make the argument (and the argument has been made) that USC is playing as well as anyone right now, but in college football that's irrelevant. There was no shame in losing to Oregon on the road--back when Oregon was number two, half the Trojan starters were in the hospital, and Dennis Dixon was sprinting toward New York and the Heisman Trophy--but losing to Stanford was just inexcusable, a breakdown in playing, coaching and good judgment all at once. (Someone explain to me again why Booty was out there to throw four second-half interceptions with a broken thumb, with a perfectly competent back-up in Mark Sanchez standing on the sidelines? Oh, right: Drew Bledsoe had once won a Patriots' game with a broken finger while Pete Carroll was head coach. Nice to know Carroll can, from time to time, draw on his fantastic success in the NFL.)

Anyway, and this goes back to 2003 and continues to this day: it is hard to feel bad when your team is headed to the Rose Bowl.

Of greater concern is the screw job put on Arizona State, who lost two games (to Oregon-with-Dixon and the everybody's-back-and-healthy Trojans), and for whom the Kansas Jayhawks would be thin gruel.

In the hours before Fox's selection show (which show was lousy, by the way: where was the interview with Pete Carroll with the requisite spray of roses in the background?), the only real question had come down to the Fiesta, ASU v. Kansas. I posted this comment on The Irish Trojan:

I was home in the Valley over Thanksgiving, and all I heard was that the Fiesta Bowl committee presently has some sort of animus toward Arizona State, and that the powers of Phoenix and Glendale (remember, the game was moved across the Valley last year, from Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium to Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium) were quietly (should last night's events take place) urging the committee to choose an out-of-town team, in order to boost hotel and restaurant dollars.

If the first part of the above is true, it's nuts, as the whole reason the Fiesta Bowl was created back in the day was to give Arizona State some national attention. (The Devils played in five of the first seven Fiesta Bowls, winning four.) No ASU, no Fiesta Bowl.

If the second part is true, it's a shame, for one would think that civic pride would prevail.

I don't know how true any of this is true. But I'll be keeping it in mind this evening.

And then came the announcement.

Well, Kansas has one loss. And the entire non-Manhattan state of Kansas will point their Winnebagoes and tractors Phoenix- and Glendale-ward on Christmas week, and fill the greater coffers of Phoenix and Glendale buyin' sparkly things and all them talkin' picture boxes.

Was Arizona State the victim of a travelism? Maybe.

Was the animus toward ASU part of the equation? Maybe.

What is undeniable is that, when it comes to the Pac-10, the BCS always seems one slot short.

Courtesy the Irish Trojan, a more conspiratorial take here.

Pettitte to return; and Santana . . . ?

Andy Pettitte will return, presumably for the same $16 million he turned down a few weeks ago.

This gives the Yanks a rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Moose, Hughes, amd Joba, with Ian Kennedy in reserve . . . pending the Santana deal. On which subject . . .

Look for the Santana matter to be resolved (at least as far as the Yankees are concerned) today.

The Twins, who have played the Yankees off the Red Sox for a week now, may end up holding the bag. The Yankees will part with Hughes, Melky and a minor leaguer, but only reluctantly. If the Twins think they can get Kennedy added to that package, they're fooling themselves.

It may be that, all along, the Twins have been using the Yankees to pry loose Jacob Ellsbury (whom they prefer to Melky) from the Red Sox, plus either Jon Lester or Clay Buckholz (either of whom they view as more or less equivalent to Hughes).

Know this: George Steinbrenner has been coveting Santana for going on four years now, but son Hank and Brian Cashman--fresh from their A-Rod triumph, fresh from retaining every single one of their front-line free agents (Jorgie, Mo, Pettitte)--would happily stand pat and see what Joba, Hughes and Kenndy have.

Neither Steinbrenner nor Cashman wants Hughes to go off and become a 20-game winner (which, in limited work last year, he showed early signs of becoming). And Joe Girardi does not relish moving Johnny Damon back to centerfield, where Melky (who has all of Damon's speed plus a cannon arm, which Damon, uh, does not) blossomed last year.

For Santana, though, you take the chance. This is Barkley to the Suns, KG to the Celtics, Unit to the Astros. You roll the dice.

But--but--you don't get jerked around doing it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Fine Mess

Well, ASU hangs on.

And everyting else . . . mercy.

Nationally, numbers one and two lose.

Ohio State goes from five to (presumably) one by not playing.

Two conference champions (LSU and Oklahoma) will finish, in the BCS, behind two teams in their conference that didn't even qualify for the championship game (Georgia and Kansas, respectively).

An attempt to sort it out here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Championship Saturday, cont.

LSU beats Tennessee, 21-14, thus shutting off any miniscule hope USC had for the BSC Championship.

Oregon State just scored a 41-yard field goal in OT, to send the game into a second OT and keep me from Arizona State-Arizona.

Mizzou/Oklahoma, West Virginia/Pitt, just underway.

And USC is going to the Rose Bowl, if you haven't heard.


Good Lord. Oklahoma beats Mizzou.

And West Virginia loses.

USC ends up one LSU loss away from the BSC championship.

But the Rose Bowl has its invite.

Championship Saturday . . .

. . . Which is quickly replacing NFL Conference Championship Sunday as my favorite sports day of the year.

First quarter, USC 7, UCLA 0.

Third and sixteen . . . and Joe McKnight drops the ball.

And a missed field goal.

Well, this is a big red-letter day so far.

Now UCLA punts . . .

USC recovers . . .

Okay, this is what happens when you try to keep up. Booty intercepted . . .

And USC gets the ball back almost immediately.

End of the first quarter.

I know USC is a slow-starting team, but this is ridiculous. Why this game isn't 21-0 already I have no idea.

In other news, Navy defeated Army 38-3, a game significant for two of the coolest moments in sports: the playing of the National Anthem while the Middies and Cadets stand at attention, and then the playing of the schools' alma maters after the game, while the two teams stand as one. Fabulous stuff.

Va Tech over Bocton College . . . to secure the Orange Bowl, probably no chance for anything more even if all the dominoes fall.

Tennessee 7, LSU 6. One of three games that could push USC back to glory.


Booty fumble. SC recovers. Mercy.

3rd and 12. Timeout.

Still ahead: Missouri v. Oklahoma, West Virginia v. Pitt, and the Territorial Cup: Arizona State v. Arizona. Robbie-Boy checks in with this analysis:

ASU has got to run the ball. If they can get push from the O-Line and pop Keegan and Nance for some nice gains, ASU wins going away.

The Sun Devils are ranked FIRST in the nation for Time of Possesion. They have got to keep that hybrid poor-mans version of the spread run by ConcussionTama off the field. That's how you beat a gimmick offense.

Update: Filed under "Boy, that was dumb, but I'm glad it happened . . ." having stopped USC on third down for about the 27th time so far this game, a UCLA defender performs some weird roughing/late hit/facemask maneuver on Booty, a personal foul so blatant not even a Pac-10 official could miss it. Automatic first. Chauncey Washington, in for the score. 14-0, USC.

UCLA gets the ball back . . . after a kickoff goes out of bounds, which play goes unremarked by either announcer, nor why the ball is spotted at the 35. No matter; UCLA doesn't come close to not going 3-and-out.

Update: After a late second-quarter TD by UCLA, USC's lead is now 17-7, third quarter.

Dennis Erickson should send Steve Sarkisian a boquet of roses; the pattern for USC is: run for 15 yards, runs for twelve yards, pass pass pass punt. USC's O-line is blowing UCLA off the ball; McKnight and Washington are constantly a half-step from breaking one . . . and Sarkisian keeps going to a Booty, who is clearly off-target today.


(Note: The laptop ran out of batteries and erased the rest of the third quarter.

Which is just as well.)

Update: Unbelievable. A second God-that-was-dumb, etc. moment. USC has the ball on the two, third-and-goal, runs up the gut, is stopped. Fourth and goal--except, USC is flagged for holding.

Let us linger on this moment, because if UCLA had fired Karl Dorrell yesterday and hired the drunkest brother of Sigma Chi to coach the Bruins today, they'd be in better shape as of this moment. Frat Boy would have declined the penalty, given SC the ball fourth-and-goal at the two, and put the onus on Carroll: go for it (the Trojans were stuffed the last time, and does anyone think Carroll would do anything but run a tailback behind Baker?); (Has Carroll, for all his stones, ever done anything else on fourth and short?); or else kick a field goal and leave UCLA with a chance to win with two touchdowns.

No: Dorrell accepts the penalty, which actually gives Booty more space. Sarkisian calls for an iso play--All-American tight Davis vs. a linebacker; Booty dumps the ball off, Davis leans forward and scores. 24-7. Game over.

As a Trojan of good standing, I can't believe my good fortune. GAME OVER.

Update: Rose Bowl, baby. Freaking Rose Bowl.

Some kind of season.

Hughes plus Melky for Santana?

This may be enough.

And, significantly, I can't see the Twins doing better.

I say do it.

Thought(s) for today


Beat the Bruins.

Friday, November 30, 2007



Why does it have to be November?

Thanksgiving and football (more to the point, Thanksgiving during football) was my undoing.

15,000 words short.

I shall fight on!

Final totals here.

ASU v. Arizona: the meanest rivalry, one year later

(My first reprise: with the Fiesta--or perhaps Rose--Bowl on the line, a look back to my post of a year ago: The Meanest Rivalry).

Tomorrow the college football nation will be treated to a special game: the, by all available evidence, meanest rivalry in college football.

Arizona State v. Arizona.

There are older rivalries (Lafayette-Lehigh, Harvard-Yale). There are more historical rivalries (Army-Navy). There are rivalries with more National Championship implications (Ohio State-Michigan, Notre Dame-USC, Texas-Oklahoma). And there are rivalries that produce better games (Notre Dame-USC again, plus Oklahoma-Texas again and, until recently, Miami-Florida State).

For sheer unvarnished hatred, however, perhaps only Alabama-Auburn can crowd the annual Thanksgiving-weekend tilt between the Sun Devils and Wildcats.

This fact may come as a surprise to most people, who associate Arizona with Lute Olson's basketball teams and think of Arizona State as the place Pat Tillman attended two decades ago. But as a veteran of USC-UCLA, USC-Notre Dame, and as someone who has seen both UT-A&M and Ohio State-Michigan fans up close, I can testify: nothing, nothing matches Arizona State-Arizona for sheer unvarnished ugliness.

My younger brother Robbie-Boy once put the ASU-UA game in perspective. He told me he'd spoken to an alumnus of the so-called Big Game, Stanford-Cal, and was told, "Sure, it's a rivalry, and we want to win. But we have friends on the other side from college and we spend the days before the game wine-tasting and going out to dinner. It's part of the fun." Such behavior would be unthinkable between Sun Devil and Wildcat fans, who, starting four hours before game time, begin eyeing one another from one tailgate party to another like panthers circling the same watering hole.

The fist-fights come later, on and off the field.

The hatred has grown in two stages, and its story is a lovely sliver of college football history. The man most deserving of credit (or blame, as you will) is Frank Kush, the coach who put ASU on the football map in the late sixties and early seventies. It was Kush--along with a slew of quality quarterbacks, including Danny White, Dennis Sproul, Fred Mortenson, and Mark Malone--who made Arizona State a football power. A writer in previous generation once said, "For me, college football gives out west of New Haven and doesn't pick up again until Palo Alto." In Kush's early years, the flyover area was shorter: college football gave out west of Lincoln, Nebraska, and didn't pick up again until Los Angeles. And so it was, until Kush's Sun Devils emerged in the desert and introduced not only to a team but an entire region to the rest of the country.

I was barely old enough in the middle seventies to remember the extent of the bias against Arizona State and other small schools in distant regions. Today's so-called East Coast bias (it is really an L-shaped bias, starting in Ann Arbor, stretching south to Austin, then east through Alabama to Gainesville) has not a patch on football in the seventies, during which the NCAA held a stranglehold on television rights and restricted broadcasting not only to a handful of games, but the same games every year: USC-Notre Dame, Ohio State-Michigan, Pittsburgh-Penn State, Oklahoma-Nebraska. Arizona State was turning out first-rate team after team in virtual anonymity; two months into almost every season, Kush's teams would be 6-0 and perhaps eighteenth in the country, behind many teams with one loss and a few (an Alabama or an Ohio State) with two. A single loss, and ASU would drop out of the Top 20 (as it was called back then). It is hard to remember, but well to remember, that much of the reason the Fiesta Bowl came into being was to gain Arizona State national exposure; the original contract was for the Fiesta Bowl to feature "the WAC champion," but in those days everyone knew who that would be.

It is also well to remember that, in those days, the hatred between Arizona State and Arizona was mostly confined to one day a year. Frank Kush did his level best to express his loathing of all things Bear Down: refusing to land at the Tucson airport when recruiting the latest stud from Amphitheatre High School, for instance. But mostly the fans of both teams (the Devil fans especially) wanted their school to beat the other without wishing the other school ill against, say, UTEP. As a kid whose parents took him to ASU games six Saturday evenings a year, I remember when the PA announcer at Sun Devil stadium would read the days' scores, an Arizona win would be greeted with general applause.

That all changed when the rivalry moved uptown, in successive stages. Stage One was The Game, which featured The Catch. In 1975 Arizona State came into the game 10-0 and flirting with the outer edges of the Top Ten for the first time ever; Arizona, for its part, was 9-1 and ranked 17th. This was the first time in the rivalry where a victory by either side would secure a bowl berth. What followed was the greatest ASU-UA game ever, a 24-21 victory by Arizona State featuring a lunging, diving touchdown catch by sophomore wide receiver John Jefferson. (It was a foretelling of the bitterness to come that, starting then, and to this day, certain Wildcat quarters claimed the catch was a trap.) In the Fiesta Bowl a month later, Arizona State pulled off not only a fabulous upset, but one of the most consequential games in college football history, a game to rank with Notre Dame's defeat of Army in 1920 or Miami's upset of Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl. ASU's 17-14 victory over Nebraska was consequential in the way the other games were: not just introducing a heretofore unsung football power, but literally moving the center of the sport. Notre Dame introduced the country to the football of the Midwest, and specifically to Knute Rockne's Irish; Miami established the primacy of Florida. In the final 1975 tally, Arizona State jumped from number 7 to number 2 in the rankings (many said it deserved the whole macaroni); more importantly, its victory introduced an entire nation to football in the Mountain Time Zone, to Arizona and Colorado State, to Brigham Young and Utah, to Boise State and Air Force. Every time one of these schools finds itself on ESPN or in a BCS Bowl, it should throw up a silent prayer of thanks to Frank Kush.

The events of 1975 were far-reaching in another way, and became the catalyst for the Pacific-Eight to extend an invitation to ASU and Arizona to enter the conference, thus becoming the first of the large conferences to alter itself in any meaningful way. Over the next thirty years, the Big East would be formed, Penn State would join the Big 10, Arkansas would leave the Southwest Conference for the Southeast Conference, the Big Eight would become the Big 12, the SWC would be smashed into half-a-dozen pieces, and--in the last few years--a dozen schools would switch allegiances for an upgrade in status.

It was this trade-up in class that brought the rivalry to Stage Two. Suddenly, both teams were fighting for the Rose Bowl--or rather, Arizona State was, and Arizona was obsessed with playing the spolier. The nastiness reached its present level in the early 1980s, when twice (1982 and 1985) ASU needed to beat or tie Arizona to advance to the Rose Bowl. Both times ASU lost, and both times the sheer joy Arizona took in denying the Sun Devils laid the hatred bare. It was along this time that Arizona State began losing almost every year to Arizona--usually under the most freakish circumstances--that it became clear that Arizona, a basketball school in a football conference, saw its entire season in terms of a single game, Arizona State on Thanksgiving Friday or Saturday. This, then, has been the dynamic of the ASU-UA rivalry for going on a quarter-century: Arizona State, almost always the better team, looking to use the game for a stepping-stone to a bowl, or a better one; and Arizona, almost always the weaker team, taking malicious delight in every bad bounce, every tipped pass, every bad call (and in the Pac-10, the calls can be atrocious).

I have been to four Fiesta Bowls, two Rose Bowls, a Cotton Bowl. I have been at Yankee Stadium for a Yankees-Red Sox double header, been at Fenway Park when Jose Canseco came to bat, sat in the bleachers to watch the Angels come to within one pitch of the World Series, and lose. I have seen Cubs fans up close, and learned the truth of the adage that the Cubs aren't a baseball team so much as an excuse to drink in the afternoon. And nothing--nothing--beats the sheer raw hatred of Sun Devils for Wildcats, or vice versa. And at 5 pm central time tomorrow, I'll turn on my TV and feel a little of that hatred for myself.

Three words.

Skin the Cats.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coliseum, cont.

A former college classmate and fellow DT-er sends me this:

From Bill Plaschke's column in the LA TIMES:

The most amazing part of this story is that UCLA has given USC
permission to negotiate with the Rose Bowl.

That's UCLA, as in, a university owned by the state of California.

Which is the same entity that owns the Coliseum.

Has everyone here lost their minds?

The day that the Coliseum allows USC to leave is the day they fire up
the bulldozers and tear that sucker down.

The day that Carroll has to drive a recruit through rush-hour traffic to
Pasadena to show him his new field is the day that Carroll joins the San
Diego Chargers.

This is a lose-lose proposition that needs to be fixed, and fast.

As smoke bombs go, this one really stinks.

Yes, precisely, but more to the point, without the Trojans in the Coliseum, why exactly would the Coliseum--and, by extension, the Commission--even exist? The Rams, Raiders and UCLA have vacated the Coliseum; the Lakers, Kings, Clippers and USC basketball have all fled the Sports Center. (One need only look a few miles north on Figueroa, to the Staples Center, home of both the Lakers and Clippers, to see what the CC could have accomplished with with just a little imagination.)


The Coliseum, as presently constituted, will never host an NFL game, not even on a temporary basis if LA ever got a team (which it doesn't want).

The Coliseum, as presently constituted, will never host another Olympic Opening Ceremony. It would be lucky to host soccer.

So, if the Trojans leave, precisely what would the Commission do? Concern itself with Monster Truck Rallies and renting out the place for the filming of The Last Boy Scout II?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

USC to the Rose Bowl? (as in--home games, 2008?)

The Los Angeles Coliseum is an ancient, crumbling, smelly old husk of a stadium, one that could be saved only with a face-lift that ran into the scores of millions ($100 million would get its foot in the door), which face-lift would include a complete renovation of its restrooms and concessions, a new sound system, a new video system, new entrance gates . . . and a replacement for every one of its 90,000 seats.

It is, also, situated in South Central LA, part of fifty blocks of squalor surrounding the green and pointed USC campus--a locus for the university that, pre-Pete Carroll, served as one of the great recruiting deterrents in the nation. All through the eighties and nineties, potential USC recruits were warned away by rival assistant coaches: "Why you wanna go there? The ghetto? In front of a half-empty stadium?" For it is gospel truth that the USC fan base is, collectively, the biggest group of front-runners in American sports, and not without reason; for if, on a gorgeous October afternoon, one is given the choice between driving into South Central to watch a dreary Sun Bowl-bound team tangle with Oregon State, or heading out to Santa Monica, up to Ventura, down to Disneyland or San Diego--well, did anyone hear the surf's up at Zuma?

So, it is one of the great ironies that these two institutions benefit from one another. The Coliseum is run by the Coliseum Commission, one of those civic institutions in which cronyism, sloth, and ineptitude are forever battling for supremacy. Including the nearby SportsCenter, the CC has run off, at various times, virtually every non-baseball team between San Jose and San Diego. It is left, really, with USC football and nothing else.

(And the Olympics? The Coliseum has hosted two Summer Olympics, dating back to 1932; in 1978, hot on the heels of the '72 Olympics humiliating one country (West Germany) and the '76 Olympics bankrupting another (Canada), the 1984 Olympics was LA's for the asking, and the city was allowed to call the shots, including staging the Opening Ceremonies in a stadium whose construction preceded the Great Depression.

This leads us to another irony: Peter Ueberroth--who created the modern Olympics as much as anyone--demonstrated in LA '84 that the Games could be run at a profit, or at least the break-even point; so now, thanks almost exclusively to Ueberroth, two dozen cities compete for the Summer Games every quadrennial. If Los Angeles were ever to beat out, for instance, Tokyo and Istanbul and Johannesburg for the Summer Olympics--in 2024, say--the entrance fee would be a behemoth venue, the sort of which is being constructed in the tumescent smog of Peking. The Coliseum, in that instance, would be a non-factor.)

As for USC, one of the selling points of autumn Saturday afternoons is the walk across Exposition Boulevard to that crumbling, smelly old masoleum. The band, the beers, Tommy Trojan, the kicking of the light pole (a tradition born only after my graduation), the walk past the rose garden, the view of the field that once featured Gifford, Garrett, Davis, Bell, White, Lott, Allen, Keyshawn, Carson, Leinart, Bush--this is not nothing.

The solution (or solutions) seem simple: Either the CC upgrades its venue, or USC upgrades it by themselves, in exchange for a long-term lease and some say in management. Apparently the CC is content to agree to neither, and allow USC to follow everyone else out the door. This matter was covered first in The Irish Trojan; I wrote this comment:

The Coliseum Commission, in my lifetime, has driven off the Lakers, Kings, Rams, and Raiders, plus UCLA football and USC basketball (albeit that last one was a long time due).

It was said that when one high-ranking Laker official, feeling jerked around by a CC seat warmer, broached the possibility of moving the Lakers to a new venue, and got this as a response (and I quote): "Har dee har-har."

The result was the Forum, and ultimately Staples, a mere few miles from the Sports Center, and everything a rebuilt Sports Center could have been. Har dee har-har, indeed.

Granted, Al Davis is nobody's hero, and moving the Raiders from Oakland was a huge mistake. But the CC did lure Davis to LA with the promise of refurbishments and luxury boxes. It delivered on nothing, and when the Raiders complained, the response was, "Fine. Sue us. See you in court for the next ten years."

The result: your new Oakland Raiders.

The Coliseum is a venue of historic proportions. If the Commission won't do right by the place, it should hand the keys over to someone who will.

Further down, this from hero Mike Garrett, who won USC's first Heisman, and later helped return the Trojans to glory as AD:

November 28, 2007
Dear Fellow Alumni:

It gives me no pleasure to write a letter of this kind, but there are issues facing our university which you need to understand. The University of Southern California has been negotiating diligently for months, trying to renew USC's lease with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and trying to get guarantees that USC's football team and fans can enjoy home games in a completely renovated and improved stadium.

Unfortunately, talks are at an impasse, and right now we have no lease for the Coliseum next year. As a precaution, USC has negotiated a lease with the Rose Bowl to ensure that we have an acceptable stadium in which to play our home football games for the foreseeable future. But this arrangement is not what we want. We want our football program to remain at the Coliseum. And we want the Coliseum Commission-our "landlords" who manage the stadium-to begin the long overdue rehabilitation of the Coliseum.

You all know the many things which need attention:
Complete replacement of concession facilities to afford modern food and beverage services like those offered at all major stadiums.

Replacement of, and additions to, the currently inadequate restroom facilities.

All new, state-of-the-art video and score boards.

Replacement of the grossly inadequate sound system.

Improved access through renovated and replaced stairs, elevators and escalators.

Repair of crumbling concrete stairs, walkways and infrastructure.

Replacement of all seats.

Reconfiguration of entry gates in order to move fans in and out of the stadium safely and efficiently.
This is not just about people's comfort and enjoyment; it's about the long-term viability of the structure. It's old and worn out. And it is not being used to its fullest potential by the wider community.

USC has been waiting-I believe patiently-ten years for the Commission to do this, but they have not taken the necessary steps, and they will not promise to do so anytime soon. For a decade the nine-member Coliseum Commission has hoped to attract an NFL franchise to the stadium. Their plan has been that the NFL would pay for renovations. There was a clear message from the NFL last summer stating that "notwithstanding all of our best efforts to identify a mutually acceptable solution, we have determined that the Coliseum renovation project, as currently contemplated, would create significant economic risks for the NFL such that we are not prepared to move forward with the project at this time."

The Coliseum Commission asked USC to submit a proposal. So we did. We made to them what I think is an amazing offer. USC offered to spend $100 million to repair and improve the stadium on a ten-year plan, phasing in renovations each year. In return, we requested a master lease that would allow us to play football in the Coliseum for many years. We asked to participate in making decisions regarding the Coliseum and to be given opportunities that would allow us to offset our outlay of money by controlling more of the stadium's revenues. And we'd help make sure the Coliseum has a full life all year round, with entertainment and sporting events, both large and small, not just the six home games for the USC football team.

But the Coliseum Commission rejected our offer.

Our team deserves a great stadium. So do our fans. So do the people of Los Angeles.

The Coliseum Commission is made up of representatives from the city, the county, and the state. They need to know how you feel about this. I believe that our voices will be heard if we work through our elected officials. I urge you to e-mail, fax, or phone the appropriate official asking them to:

Let USC direct and fund the Coliseum's refurbishment in partnership with the city, the county, and the state.

Let USC, in collaboration with the Coliseum Commission, determine and perform vital repairs while ensuring steady income to offset expenses and upkeep.

Let USC be more than a tenant. (USC already brings in 60 percent of the Commission's revenue and that has been the only steady tenant for 80 years! ) We seek to be a key player in the preservation and enhancement of this great civic treasure and historic landmark. Remind them that for 80 years USC has stayed while other teams have gone, and that our home games spark spending in the neighborhood each fall to the tune of approximately $5 million. And that, in total, USC contributes $4 billion to the local economy each year.
If you'd like to join me in taking action, click here for the names of the people to contact.

Your support and commitment to the University of Southern California is invaluable. Together, let's continue to work hard to keep the USC football program in our beloved Coliseum.

Thank you for caring about this issue and for expressing your concerns.


Michael L. Garrett '67
Director of Athletics
University of Southern California

Keeping USC would seem to be in the Coliseum Commission's best interests. But what do they care?

Santana update

With Joba untouchable, and Hughes-plus-Melky unlikely to get it done, the Yankees and Twins are at an impasse.

Reaction: ambivalence.

Going with Wang-plus-kids-plus-Moose may not be the worst thing in the world.

And Mely might be hard to replace.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Swing and a Miss

My quest for 50,000-wor November novel will fall a bit short.

I stand at 34,356, and could make it working night and day, but finals loom.

Thanksgiving takes me down again. Oh well.

Always December.

Santana to the Yankees?


From what I've seen, I say: for anyone but Joba.

French "Youths"

So here's the latest from Paris, courtesy The New York Times:

Two suburban kids, by all accounts, steal a motor scooter, speed around without a helmet and collide with a police car, killing themselves.

(Oh, wait. The stealing part was left out of the Times, as was the top-speed part.)

The result: three days of riots, in which suburban French "youths" wreak havoc, not with rocks as with two years ago (when two other "youths" ran from police, hid in a power plant, and electrocuted themselves), but with shotguns.

Now, guess what two things the story does not mention.

Aww, you peeked:

*The boys' last names.

*The religion of the rioters, who are merely described as "unemployed, undereducated youths, mostly the offspring of Arab and African immigrants."

Umm, anything else they might have in common?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Missouri over Kansas

Kansas, by losing, may yet prosper via the "Nebraska Loophole."

2001: last regular-season game of the season, Thanksgiving Friday, undefeated #2 Nebraska loses to Colorado and falls out of the Big 12 Championship game.

With undefeated, #1 Miami waiting in the wings, new presumptive #2 Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State. Then new presumptive #2 Tennessee loses.

The following weekend, in the Big 12 Championship game, new actual #2 Texas loses to Colorado. With Colorado eliminated from consideration with two losses, and with one-loss Oregon oddly never given much credit, the second slot in the title game goes to . . .

Nebraska. Who gets clobbered by Miami, by the way, but that's not really the point.

People talk about Ohio State being "in the clubhouse with one loss." Well, that's the same status for Kansas. In the clubhouse with one loss, able to sit and watch Mizzou and West Virginia beat their brains out and maybe hand them a bid to New Orleans.

Had they lost (badly, say) to Oklahoma last week, Kansas may have been surpassed by a two-losser (LSU?) dominating in its conference championship. As it is, by losing a week earlier than all the conference championships, end-of-year showdowns and so forth, Kansas may have done itself a favor in the long run.

This year is so screwy that, as in 2001, keeping your team off the field may be the best strategy.

(With apoligies to Brendan Loy) Go Bruins! BEEEAAAAAT the Ducks!

Third quarter, Bruins lead Oregon 6-0.

It goes without saying: Bruins beat Ducks, Trojans beat Bruins, Trojans go to Rose Bowl.

UCLA leads 6-0 . . . no, make that 9-0, as a third Duck turnover leads to a third Bruin field goal.

The Bruins--who have featured three different quarterbacks--cannot move the ball on the Ducks' side of the field, simply intercept the ball and kick it essentially in that very spot.

The Ducks--who have featured three different quarterbacks--cannot move the ball, period.

Never has a boring game been so thrilling.

Fourth quarter.

Update: UCLA intercepts, penalty takes the ball inside the twenty, whatever yokel is working with Dan Fouts says, for the third time--"You gotta go to the end zone," when clearly what UCLA needs to do is run a few plays into the line, burn the clock down, and . . .

Update: . . . Oh, never mind. Oregon intercepts in the end zone, does nothing, punts, and UCLA drives back for a touchdown. 16-0 Bruins. Game over.

And USC, which--with a win next week--goes to the Rose Bowl, has got some work to do.

Of course it is

Alec Baldwin: "Go see No Country for Old Men. It's a metaphor for Iraq and the post-9/11 world."


Friday, November 23, 2007


So . . . how does a USC-Hawai'i Fiesta Bowl grab you?

A Kansas-West Virginia National Championship game?

Today was just the latest in the craziest college football season in memory.


*Two dramatic, BCS-affecting upsets (Arkansas over LSU, Texas A&M over Texas), one of them in a rivalry game, and both winning coaches (one for sure, the other almost certainly) headed out the door in dual jump-or-be-pushed scenarios, both of said coaches are involved in separate off-the-field kerfuffles best described, both of them, as bizarre.

*The team with the second-to-easiest schedule in the country plays the team with the third-to-easiest schedule in the country--and the game has major BCS implications.

*Kansas--at this moment in time--is essentially the number one team in the country, and yet no one gives it any chance at all to survive the next eight days with more than the Orange or Sugar Bowl as a consolation prize. Probably correctly.

*Three years ago, Cal, with one loss (and that by six points, on the road, to the undefeated Leinart/Bush/Lendale/Tatupu/Cody/Jarrett Trojans) was left out of the BCS in favor of the Vince Young/Cedric Benson Longhorns, who themselves had one loss (by twelve points, on a neutral site, to the Jason White/Adrian Peterson Sooners). Now teams with two or three losses (a considerably not-as-good Trojans team, first and foremost) find themselves in the catbird seat, and little seems to stand between Hawai'i (which played a weaker schedule than Odessa Permian) and a fat New Year's payday. Yes: the extra BCS game is a factor. However, between 2001 and 2005--a five-year span--we were treated to four BCS Championship games featuring two undefeated teams from major conferences, and in one case an undefeated from a top-tier conference (Auburn, 2004), on the outside looking in, and probably incorrectly. (Would Auburn have fared better against USC than 55-19? Probably.)

The moral? The era of the super-team is on hold. In 2004 we spent four months waiting for USC-Oklahoma; likewise in 2005 with USC-Texas. This year? Does Kansas-West Virginia grab you? Missouri-Ohio State? Brother.

*As for USC-ASU. In Sun Devil Stadium yesterday, enjoying my Thanksgiving dinner out behind Packard Stadium (my brother's father-in-law brought the game he'd shot: pheasant, grouse, and so forth), I reached an inner peace about the whole affair. Strange how my mood seems to affect USC games. 2002 against Notre Dame and (in the Orange Bowl) Iowa, I was quietly confident. Two blowouts. 2003: the Rose Bowl. Quietly confident, USC whallops Michigan. 2004: Oklahoma, a kind of "well, let's see what happens" attitude. Result? 55-19. 2005: Absolute, infinite, obsessive insanity from about Labor Day on, as I realize USC and Texas are headed for a collision course. Result? The Vince Bowl.

Last year: the Rose Bowl. Even keel. USC blowout.

So: my lesson learned. Even keel is good luck. So: yesterday, I went with my Sun Devil family to enjoy my repast, the gorgeous weather, and see what happened.

Then USC took the kickoff, marched smartly down the field and scored.

And I knew the game was over. I knew the game was over because finally, finally the team that we might term the post-Jarrett era was hitting on all cylinders and playing the way their press clippings claimed they would play.

To look over the season. Idaho State was basically a scrimmage. Nebraska (a far worse team than we thought) was won when Carroll simply abandoned the passing game altogether, and rammed the ball down the Blackshirts' throats. Then the injuries piled up, complacency set in; the Stanford game (or something like it) was inevitable. Arizona was close. Notre Dame: next.

In the end, Oregon was an unfortunate happenstance, a loss against a better team, a hard pill to swallow, as it represented the end of USC hegemony lasting all the way back to the fifth game of 2002.

And then? The Cal game might have been the fulcrum, the game that saved the Trojans from (ick) El Paso. And then there was last night, with some crucial pieces (COUGHsambakerCOUGH) back in play. At 7-0, it was over. At 7-7 (with the fluke of a kickoff runback) it was over. Booty had all the time in the world, and Carpenter didn't. And that was your ballgame.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

USC v. ASU: one day to go

It is, at this moment, well to remember the first meeting between the same schools as Pac-10 rivals, 29 years ago this fall. USC had come in the 1978 season off what, for the Trojans at the time, was a dreadful '77 campaign, an 8-4 season salvaged only by a thrilling victory over UCLA (this pushed UCLA from the Rose Bowl all the way out of the bowl picture altogether, while sending Washington--featuring quarterback Warren Moon--to the Rose Bowl, in which they defeated Michigan in a wild New Year's Day that sent number five Notre Dame, led by quarterback Joe Montana, all the way to number one); followed by a victory in something called the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, a tilt not long for this world.

Arizona State's status, at that moment, was best appreciated by taking in their previous three years. In 1975 they had pulled off the sort of season that followers of college teams wait 25 years for: an undefeated regular season (featuring a classic victory over a hated archrival--how'd JJ's catch taste, Bear Downers?), followed by a bowl victory over a heavily favored, historically powerful power (a 17-14 thriller over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, a game that ranks among a half-dozen in influencing the course of college football in the 20th century). Sun Devil Stadium (then the host of the Fiesta Bowl) was only a single deck in those days, and held a mere 52,000 or so fans, the Fiesta Bowl had been a sellout, of course (one Phoenix sports anchor memorably described the attending faithful thus: "52,000 fans paid for seats they didn't use much today"), and the rabid nature of the Sun Devil faithful attracted the attention of the nation generally, and the Pac-8 (as was) specifically. This was the game that led to the invitation of Arizona State and Arizona (keeping things even, keeping rivalries intact, etc.) to the Pac, making it the Pac-10.

Understand: this was the first major invite of its kind involving football since the major conferences were formed. The Big 10 had ten teams; the Big 8, eight. The SWC, nine teams from Texas, plus Arkansas. The SEC, Bear Bryant and a bunch of pretenders.

So: this invite was a major thing. To take effect in 1978.

Okay. In 1976, off their Fiesta Bowl win, ASU enters the season number three in the country (the highest pre-season ranking ever, I'm assuming), loses to UCLA 28-10 in a game that deflates the whole season in a way that defies explanation, and finishes 4-7.

1977: In its last year as a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) representative, ASU wins the conference championship, only to meet up with Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. Penn State pulls off a number of special teams plays and wins 42-30.

Which brings us to 1978. Arizona State is now part of the Pac-10. They have suffered one loss, that to Washington State (Jack Thompson, the Throwin' Samoan), and therefore are 4-1.

USC is undefeated and number two in the country.

USC holds a number of All-Americans at several positions. Anthony Munoz, at left tackle, future NFL Hall-of-Famer. Charles White, tailback, who was just (at this moment) awarded the Heisman. Paul McDonald, quraterback, on his way to a good payday.

And. And. A true freshman named Ronnie Lott is at safety.

And my brothers and I are high in section 219, row 17, seats 1, 2 and 3--the first season my father sprung for season tickets for the entire family.

And? And. Improbably, ASU wins 20-7, in the biggest upset of the season. This would be only loss that USC would suffer in a two-season span, during which time it would go 21-1-1 and get only half of one national championship that year, 1978.

ASU would go on to something called the Garden State Bowl and defeat Rutgers.

And all this I was thinking about today, as we head into maybe the most consequential ASU-USC meeting of all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

National Write a Novel in One Month

The Final push!

31,004 words.

2,000 words today, the last 900 of which were written on this laptop as I sat in an overstuffed chair in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore.

USC-ASU: Two days to go . . .

And it only gets better.

A-Rod, Jorgie, Mo all back

The next step, again: Pettitte.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mo Rivera, back in pinstripes

Three years, 45 mil.

Details here.


The Yankees kept all their non-retiring free agents.

And if Andy Pettitte comes back . . .

. . . and Mike Lowell is lured to first base . . .

Okay then.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ASU-USC and some BCS

Six days out, soaking in the Valley desert, the host of a Sun Devil family and the run-up to the game, I thought I'd look at the BCS and who might qualify:

1. LSU--win out, they're in. This may require a victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game, a harder row to hoe than you might think.

2. Oregon--out.

3. Kansas--win, they're in. This means beating Missouri and Oklahoma. Frankly, I don't think they can do it. I am always suspicious of basketball schools playing football in football conferences (Arizona, UCLA, Kansas, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Kentucky), and aside from UCLA's Pac-10 football prowess, which basically started with John Robinson's first departure from USC in 1982 and basically ended with Pete Carroll's arrival at USC in 2001, I've mostly been proven right. To drive to the Kansas Athletic Department, you take Naismith drive--and Naismith? Who did what? Kansas hasn't mattered since Gale Sayers, who was portrayed in the movie by a young Lando Calrissian, and they've played a succession of cupcakes, save Oklahoma State. Which brings us to . . .

4. Oklahoma--out.

5. Missouri--Wow! Win, they're in! From the five spot! But: Means beating Oklahoma and Kansas. Something tells me that the Big-12 is going to play rock, paper, scissors. Oklahoma beats Mizz, then beats Kansas. Okay, scissors, paper; scissors, paper. But the Big-12 will cancel itswlf out, call it a hunch.

6. West Virginia--suddenly . . . in a good spot. Never mind LSU; if the Big-12 RPS takes place, UWV zooms to #2. No kidding.

7. Ohio State--This is what the Big-10 goes through every year, and will go through for the next few years. Back in the day, Ohio State would play Michigan for the Rose Bowl on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, ABC would carry the game, Keith Jackson and Ara would call the game, and all was well with the world. If Ohio State won, Woody Hayes would drill his team into the ground, check his team into a Pasadena monastery, and then watch his Buckeyes get their asses kicked (save 1968) on New Year's Day. If Michigan won, Woody Hayes would attack a cameraman, Bo Shembechler would issue a thousand homespun statements, and Michigan would get its ass kicked (save 1989) on New Year's Day.

Now? Now the Big-10 resembles a kid who is back of the pack in Augusta or Pebble Beach, then comes out on Sunday and shoots a 62 with eight groups ahead of him, and heads to the clubhouse with the best final score. Ohio State played Michigan today, and secured, at worst, a Rose Bowl bid, with five other conferences and four other bids still to be hashed out. This resembles nothing so much as Arizona State 1975, which went into the Fiesta Bowl undefeated and number 7, beat number 3 Nebraska, and spent a week noodling over how, if every New Year's Day Bowl went their way, they would be number one!

That was the year Arizona State finished number two, as the unclean, once-defeated Oklahoma won the Orange Bowl, and outpolled the Sun Devils at the end.

But this is where Ohio State is: siotting pretty, the only BCS-qualified team, but watching the world do what it does around them.

8. Arizona State--so here we are. USC is better than Michigan. Arizona was helped by beating Oregon. So. With Ohio State in the clubhouse (this becomes a problem!) ASU beats USC, then beats Arizona, then waits for the Big-12 rock-paper-scissors to play out, and hopes to outdistance tOSU.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ducks lose?

So all of a sudden the Sun Devils can get to the Rose Bowl, but the Trojans can't, not without some help.

I think.

College football is the only venue in which the team ahead of you losing is potentially bad news.

A-Rod, Yanks agree in principle

With a little help from Goldman Sachs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I write it here, it comes out there

So I no sooner post on A-Rod that Lupica weighs in.

Wrote this yesterday: When Lupica lays off Rove and Cheney and Halliburton and college football and sticks to New York sports teams, he's as good as they come.

Today he's in top form:

If Alex Rodriguez wants to come back to the Yankees, and there are people close to him in Miami who think he does, here is how it happens, and maybe happens soon:

He starts by going to Tampa and meeting with George Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner and Hal Steinbrenner and tries to make things right. Then he tells them he will eat some of the money the Yankees were getting on the last three years of the contract he signed seven years ago with the Rangers. Then he tells them he is sorry for the way his agent, Scott Boras, opted out of his contract, the way Boras acted insulted about an offer he never even allowed the Steinbrenners to make, even though this is the family that makes the best offers in the business.

Finally, A-Rod gives them the money quote, the one that gets the Steinbrenners to back off their ultimatum about not negotiating with him ever again, tells them that he wants to spend the rest of his career as a Yankee, the way a great Yankee named Bernie Williams did once.

If Rodriguez does all of this, it means that he takes control of his career and his life at last. He does not let Boras call the shots on his career and his life the way Boras has since A-Rod was 16 years old. He finally realizes that even the top agent in baseball is supposed to be an advocate for his player and not himself. If A-Rod does all this, he gets the Yankees to do an epic about-face, negotiate with him when they said they wouldn’t.

This is the family that makes the best offers in the business.

So true. So true.

And so good of Lupica--who has had an on-again, off-again feud with Steinbrenner for thirty years; who coined the term "Boss'; who repeatedly goosed Steinbrenner for hating, hating the credit Torre received for the Yankees success (achieved, let's give credit where due, with Steinbrenner's money)--to point out the Steinbrenners' largesse.

End of the day, the Steinbrenners want to win, and are willing to pay the price. In the world of sports, you can't say that about the Lorias, the Bidwells, and whoever the hell owns the Devil Rays or the Boston Bruins. That fact isn't nothing.


The ground may be shifting under A-Rod's feet.

The $350 million that Boras was pushing for may not happen--not even close.

The reason?

Take the Yankees out of the equation, all of a sudden . . . the Red Sox have Lowell, the Mets have Wright, the Cubs are for sale, the Dodgers seem less interested, and so the Angels are, sans Yankees, bidding against themselves.

$350 million? At the moment A-Rod would do well to find someone to pay him the 25 mil a year he walked away from.

Re-enter the Yankees, who would have been happy to pay A-Rod $300 mil, saw him walk away, now see him come back.

Okay, say the Yanks.

But two things.

First, opting out put us 21 mil in the hole. We'll give you the original 300 mil in theory, but that 21 mil comes out of your end, not ours.

So 300 rounds down to 275.

Second, we talk to you, and you alone. Boras is out of the room.


Full story here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Carolyn Farina, Part 3

Yeah: Sundevil Joe, Carolyn Farina re-appeared as Audrey in Last Days of Disco to give a coda to Metropolitan.

Apparently, she had reached a position of authority in Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and had furthermore chosen Charlie over the prig Tom Townshend as her guy.

Still, all this begs the question: Where is Carolyn Farina?

The Search for Carolyn Farina, stage two

Three days out, no clues. No information re Carolyn Farina. Meanwhile, some questions from SunDevil Joe:

Tell me, do you have all of the lines in "Metropolitan" memorized as I do for "Sands of Iwo Jima"?

Oh, I finally saw "Last Days of Disco" and loved it. Also, I did notice Carolyn Farina's cameo appearance and thought it a bit strange.

From Metropolitan:

"Oh, so you're a public transportation snob."

"Good luck with your Furriorism (sic)."

"Driver, follow that pedestrian."

"Mom, get off my back!"

More to follow. Especially about the Vienesse sausages.

Al Gore . . . again

I'm sorry, global warming doesn't worry me.

One reason: the people who most cry about it are the people the most resistant to changing their own lifestyles to suit their warnings, save for bogus "carbon offsets," a secular form of indulgence that Chaucer mocked, oh, about a thousand years ago.

On that, more in a minute. But first:

A thousand years ago, by the way, Greenland was home to vast tracts of farmland, and English vineyards produced the finest wine in Europe. Today Greenland is a sheet of ice and English wine is sold to London alcoholics out of bargain barrels in Picadelly Circus. A million years ago Chicago was under a sheet of ice a mile thick; ten million years ago the very spot where I sit was submerged under briney salt water a half-mile deep.

So the global warriors blame Bush, Or Halliburton. Or Exxon, or DeLay, or Dick Cheney--anything, anything, except the nature of climate change that has existed since fifteen minutes after the big bang.

As for Gore:

I goose Mike Lupica for throwing in (in his otherwise valorous "Shooting From the Lip" Sunday column) easy shots at Bush and Cheney, views apparently culled from a five-minutes' reading of Kos and the Huffington Post. Greg Easterbrook (Tuesday Morning Quarterback), though ostensibly a sportswriter, actually looks into his declaimings. Understand: Easterbrook's politics are not mine; he, by all accounts, backs Edwards for the Oval Office (a poor choice, in my view, but not an insane one); and his asides tend to the liberal, but nothing, lately, as passionate as his ridicule of Al Gore:

Those Hollywood Searchlights Around Gore's Home Sure Eat Power: Gore wasn't the first quack to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and history suggests he will not be the last. Gore spent eight years in the White House, and in that time took no meaningful action regarding greenhouse gases. The Clinton-Gore administration did not raise fuel economy standards for cars and trucks or propose domestic carbon trading. Though Clinton and Gore made a great show of praising the Kyoto Protocol, they refused even to submit the treaty to the Senate for consideration, let alone push for ratification. During his 2000 run for the presidency, Gore said little about climate change or binding global-warming reforms. In the White House and during his presidential campaign, Gore advocated no consequential action regarding greenhouse gases; then, there was a political cost attached. Once Gore was out of power and global-warming proposals no longer carried a political cost -- indeed, could be used for self-promotion -- suddenly Gore discovered his intense desire to demand that other leaders do what he had not! It is a triumph of postmodernism that Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for no specific accomplishment other than making a movie of self-praise. Gore caused no peace nor led any reconciliation of belligerent parties nor performed any service to the dispossessed, the achievements the Peace Prize was created to honor. All Gore did was promote himself from Hollywood, and for this, he gets a Nobel. Very postmodern.

First person ever to win the Nobel Prize for Self-Promotional Hectoring.
An annoying complication of Gore's Nobel is that few realize the award was given jointly to him and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization well worthy of distinction. The IPCC is a group of scientists who have spent two decades studying climate change in obscurity, and in many cases without pay. The IPCC's efforts have been selfless, motivated only by concern for society. Had the Nobel Peace Prize gone solely to the IPCC, it would have been a great day.

An astonishing measure of how out-of-touch the Norwegian Nobel Committee seems is that it gave a prize to Gore for hectoring others about energy consumption in the same year it was revealed that Gore, at his home, uses 20 times the national power average. Gore's extraordinary power waste equates to about 377,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually, or about 20 Hummer Years worth of global warming pollution. (A Hummer Year, TMQ's metric of environmental hypocrisy, is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year of driving a Hummer.) When his utility bill made the news -- though apparently not in Oslo -- Gore responded by saying he buys carbon offsets. That takes you back to the offset problem: All offsets do is prevent greenhouse gas accumulation from increasing. If you really believe there will be a global calamity unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced 80 percent, as Gore told the Live Earth crowd, you would buy offsets and cut your own energy use. Instead, Gore flies around in fossil-fuel-intensive jet aircraft telling others: Do as I say, not as I do!

The whole thing here.

National Novel Writing Month

18,145 and counting.

I may not have to take pad and paper to the ASU-USC Thanksgiving game after all.

Posada to stay with Yanks


As I thought, he got his fourth year.

Mike Lupica, who embarrasses himself when he thinks he's Paul Krugman (as if simply being Paul Krugman isn't embarrassment enough), can pull one off when he sticks to sports:

He got overlooked for a long time. Jeter was the face of the franchise and then A-Rod became the face of the franchise, whether we all liked that or not. There were Steinbrenner and Torre and Rivera, the greatest closer of them all, and Roger Clemens, and high-priced talent up and down the lineup and all over the field. It was easy sometimes to overlook the catcher, even if he could hit for power and hit from both sides.

One day this past season, in front of his locker, a few down from A-Rod, it was pointed out that it would soon be time for Posada to get paid.

"I just want to win," he said.

The Yankees won this season. Just not enough, and not the way they did when Posada was young. He still gets paid now. And stays where he belongs. He will catch the last pitch in this Yankee Stadium, and first one across the street. Good deal. Great Yankee.

Onto Rivera.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Today's Question

I'm gearing up to watch my Christmas movies, one of which is Metropolitan.

Which brings me to today's question:

Whatever happened to Carolyn Farina?

She was the girl who played Audrey in Metropolitan, then Daniel Day-Lewis's priggish sister in Age of Innocence, then a cameo in Last Days of Disco, then one other film I'm going to see, then--NOTHING--the past nine years. No online info about her deciding to do experimental theatre or switch to architecture or enter an ashram in western Oregon. No walk-on during the last two years of "Will and Grace."


The long-awaited Metropolitan DVD came out. A certain Astro-Girl assures me that if I'm a good little boy, Santa may ho ho ho a certain winky winky into my stocking, itself containing commentary from Whit Stillman, Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols, whose character Charlie (if I read my Disco symbols correctly) ended up with Audrey in the end. But nothing from Carolyn Farina.

Where is this person?

Jorge should stay; Tejada might arrive

Three bits of Yankee news:

1) Jorge Posada wants to stay, and the Yankees want to keep him (from the sound of things, keeping Posada appears to be job 1 for Cashman and the Steinbrenner boys). Anyway, judging from here, there is reason for optimism. The Yanks and Posada have seemingly come together around 13 mil per year; the sticking point is over the fourth year Posada wants. There may be an option or end-of-contract buyout involved, or the Yankees, knowing that 1) Posada seems to get better with age; 2) Posada is beloved by fans and media alike; 3) Posada is Derek Jeter's best friend on the team (a not entirely unimportant point); and 4) the market for catchers drops off considerably after Posada (with Paul LoDuca available as a stop-gap, and after him, pee-yew, open a window), may simply cave and give him a 13-million gold watch.

2) The Yankees have made an identical offer (3 years, 40 mil) to Mariano Rivera, who is not only a Hall of Famer still pitching well but is the linchpin of the Yankees plans for the pitching staff, with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy set to follow Chin-Mieng Wang in the rotation. If Mo goes, Joba will be pressed into closer duty, much as Dave Righetti (following a season, 1983, in which he pitched a no-hitter against Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and the rest of the Boston Red Sox) was dragooned into replacing the departed Goose Gossage. No word from Mo.

3) The most hopeful and sensible solution for third? Try Miguel Tejada. Apparently the Birds are the only team not asking the moon (Hughes/Joba/Ian) for a third baseman. Tejada knows the division, and he hasn't gained 70 pounds lately. The Yanks might could package Kyle Farnsworth (who, if he starts pitching in that bandbox in Bal'mer, could inspire Francis Scott Key to write another song). Details here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Writers' Strike continues

Took Astro-Girl to Gone Baby Gone on Saturday, saw the Horton cut-out in the lobby and thought: Hmm, did I cross a picket line? I asked my friend Cinco Paul--co-Horton writer, WGA card-holder and late-blooming rabble-rouser. Cinco's response:

No, you didn't cross a picket line. There's really
nothing for you to do, except spread the word, which
you seem already to be doing, and which I appreciate.
Public support is important. In January when scripted
TV runs out, just don't watch all the reality TV that
gets foisted on you (as if you would).

Went to a big rally on Friday. The Rev. Jesse Jackson
spoke, which I know you'd appreciate. Say what you
will about the man, he's a mesmerizing and effective
speaker. Rage Against the Machine also performed. It
was a bit of a left-fest. But for a middle of the
road guy like me, it was nice to play radical. And
march next to greats like Norman Lear and Garry
Marshall and all The Office writers and Julia
Louis-Dreyfus, etc., etc. It was fun wondering to
myself, "What do all these people write? What have
they written?" Ken and I designed our own t-shirts,
which read (as a tribute to Horton--which is at Fox,
the site of the rally): "a writer's a writer, no
matter how small."

Astro-Girl, when told of--come January or so--the loss of her beloved "Grey's Anatomy," her beloved "Private Practice," her beloved "Boston Legal," and her beloved (in all its forms) "Law & Order" (the regular, the major case, and the SUV) spoke out in favor of a quick settlement.

She quoted a famous Angeleno: "Can't we all get along?"

And she said, "We should all do what Horton says. We should give a hoot."

And, by the way, I did hear Reverend Jackson speak, in 1988, when I was TA at Binghamton University in upstate New York and the Rev was running for President. Ah, were those the days. Binghamton U is basically the five buroughs of New York City shipped 70 miles north and 100 miles west, but with all the city's appetites, resentments, and prejudices intact. I happened, 15 minutes before Jesse's speech, to stand at a the flashpoint of two flying wedges headed straight for one another: the Jewish students (still seething over "Hymietown" and whatnot) and the black students (taken as read). The lead Jewish flyer was screaming about how Jesse hated Jews; the lead person of color was going on about how the black soliders freed the Jews in World War II. Entertaining stuff.

Yes: Jesse is mesmerizing; I saw it for myself. And I'm happy he's helping out the screenwriters (and by extension, my friend Cinco) against the lying bloodsuckers of Hollywood. But what keeps him from greatness is that so much of what he says is crap; not just lies ("Why, Mr. O'Neill, here is the proof that Lt. Kerry was in Cambodia") but just so much bibble-babble: five, ten, fifteen bits of horsecrap for very minute expended, followed up by a plea for lighter sentences for crack dealers. Now, that's something we can all get behind, ya think?

But: Fight the power! Don't watch "Survivor: Hoboken," or whatever the hell it's called this month.

Eleven Days Out . . .

And with both teams having a bye next Saturday, it's not too early to talk a little junk re Arizona State and USC, and their Thanksgiving evening tangle . . .

. . . a game I realized last night, as soon as I heard Illinois had beaten Ohio State, that may very well have Rose Bowl implications.

C'mon, Robbie-Boy, how do you size them up?

Novel word count: 13,866

Thirty-three thousand and change to go!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

ASU, USC both win

And, to quote Dick Enberg, Oh my.

All of a sudden those Devil-Trojan tickets I secured months ago now glisten with possibility (bless you, SunDevil Joe).

Will ASU face USC on Thanksgiving Day with the Rose Bowl on the line?

My answer, right now, is yes.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

Up to 10,871 and counting.

Coffee, tea, or carbon offset?

As if the experience of flying has not become excruciating enough (from the near strip-searches at the gate to that flight attendant who yells at you to return your seat to the upright position, and when you explain that you'd love to but the seat is busted, she glares at you as if it's your fault--always one of Mark Steyn's pet peeves), comes the latest news: Virgin Atlantic employees will now be jobbing their paying customers, while in their seats, to pay for their portion of their carbon footprint.

Story here, including this classic passage:

A spokesman for Virgin said the airline had decided on the policy after noticing low participation in schemes offered by competing airlines through which customers were presented with the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions of their flight online.

"If the person sitting next to you chooses to offset their flight, it may prick your conscience and you may pay too," the spokesman told the Times of London.

Questions. Will the captain and crew be asked to fork over their fair share? Will the flight attendants?

Most importantly, will the passengers be asked to provide exact change?

Snagged by Lucianne, one of whose commenters sums up my sentiments exactly:

I would laugh right out loud if whatever that offset stuff is was offered to me. I'd just tell 'em bring me a beer and leave me alone.

Coincidentally enough, just as I'm typing this, a Ford commercial comes on. As a father and daughter approach their SUV, the daughter asks the dad, "Could you drop me off a block away?"

Immediately we're like: Right. Dad's a doofus, can't be seen by the cool kids. But no, Daughter has other ideas: "People in that part of town are riding bikes, driving hybrids."

Well, it's a Ford commercial, so it turns out Dad drives a hybrid, too. A Ford hybrid.

But in the meantime: if daughter is so ashamed of Dad, can't she get her ass on her own bike? Or if "that part of town" is too far, walk to the bus stop?

So she's happy accepting a ride in an SUV as long as nobody knows, and as long as she can feel morally superior to her father, who's being nice enough to take time out on a beautiful day to drive her to her entertainment?

Give that girl a "Gore '08" button and the tableau would be complete.

Yankee Stuff

*Pettitte opts out of his $16 million option--while he considers returning or not. This is the Rocket's buddy, remember.

*Posada to test market. He wants to stay a Yankee--I think--and the Yankees want him. Guess what keeps them apart.

*It is axiomatic that the market for premium free-agents is driven by the dimmest owner (see Hicks, Tom). Regarding A-Rod: the Cubs, Dodgers and Marlins have declared themselves out. The Red Sox will probably re-sign Lowell, the Mets are delighted with David Wright, and now come the rumors that A-Rod has no desire to return to short.

Which leaves?

The Angels.

Who all of a sudden--Scott Boras's witchcraft aside--may suddenly be bidding against themselves.

Funny thing, though.

You know where A-Rod would fit in perfectly? The Astros. The park is heaven for right-handed pull hitters, the 'Stros need a third baseman, and A-Rod could slide in perfectly between Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee and hit forty balls a year in, over, and above the Crawford Boxes. Furthermore, the city has one daily paper, the press and fan base are mostly gentle (not Phoenix gentle, but gentle), and Houston is a football city anyway.

Of course, no way Drayton McClane pays thirty mil for a single player--not just after clearing hometown heroes Biggio and Bagwell off the books--so that's that.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Back into Politics

One of the bests moments of the early "Saturday Night Years" featured a Weekend Update commentary by Bill Murray on the subject of women in the military. Murray said that not only should we allow women in the military, we should have only women in the military.

"I mean, let's say we go to war against Russia," he said. "If we win, great. If we lose, we can so, 'Wow, you beat up a bunch of girls. I bet you feel tough.'"

This, right now, is apparently the strategery of Clintons and their acolytes against Hillary's Democratic foes (and presumably her future GOP opponent): if she wins, great. If she loses (or appears to lose), say, in effect, "Wow, you beat up a girl."

The use of this tactic is the only possibile explanation for Clinton supporter's reaction the the first piece of bad news in maybe months, the first since the long-forgotten "liar" comment that former supporter David Geffen made months ago. At first glance, the news would seemingly be not that bad. She stumbled over a question on whether she would agree with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens, and she so butchered a question regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions that there was laughter--ouright merriment--in the venue, ninety percent of whom will probably vote for her in twelve months.

It is part of the Clintons' political DNA that Dem presidential losses happen when Dems don't fight back: Dukakis and Willie Horton, Gore and the internet, Kerry and the Swift Boat vets. Hence their week-long screed toward Edwards and Obama, so over the top it only focused attention on Clinton's blunders and the questions regarding her invulnerability.

Right now, she's not going to lose--not the nomination, anyway. None of the second-tier candidates have even approached anything resembling Huckabee chic on the GOP side, and Obama's and Edwards' best hope is for one of the two to drop out right after New Hampshire and the remainder to go hard, hard left (as in Kucinich territory) on the war. If both Obama and Edwards stay in long enough to carve up the anti-Hillary vote, they will doom each other.

Hillary's problem is neither Obama nor Edwards, nor her performance. Her problem resides in those two questions, and others like them.


The first question concerned driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Would she support the idea? The second concerned a nuclearized Iran. Would she pledge that such would never happen?

Ask Mitt Romney or Rudy Guiliani, "Should the states have the right to issue drivers' licenses to illegal aliens?"; and, "Will you pledge that you will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon?", and both would emphatically say "No" to the first and "Yes" to the second.

Hillary, not so much, and that could be a problem that transcends a November debate performance.

The failure of President Bush's immigration reform, followed by the presumptive failure of DREAM, only demonstrated that the Won't-Get-Fooled-Again consensus regarding immigration has coalesced, to wit: build the fence, and then we'll talk. Talk amnesty, but it had better be for the last time, and it had better be accompanied by enforcement that works.

Hillary, no dummy, knows all of the above, and she also knows that her primary consituency views such talk as flat-out racism. Hence the mangled answer. Hillary has a problem here, and it won't go away.

The dynamics are the same for Iran, but I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November is Novel-Writing Month, cont.

"Murder in the George Lucas Building" (working title) is now up to 7,378 words.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Writer's Strike and Cinco

So, a writer's strike.

Meaning, I think, my friend Cinco Paul, whose Horton Hears a Who! is due out next spring.

I remember the last strike, nearly twenty years ago. I was addicted to Letterman then (no more), and the Oscars (same) and disruption of both was the most tangible effect on my life. Carson and Letterman went with re-runs for a few weeks, then both came back, wrote their own stuff for awhile (or so we were told), and waited matters out.

Anyway, the strike does raise a point, one that is touched on by an essay by Rob Long and published a few weeks ago in the LA Times. The whole thing is here, but the important passage is here:

In 1988, when the last WGA strike reached a settlement -- and in this context, the phrase "reached a settlement" refers to the moment that the guild membership, exhausted and broke after five months, whimpered its way to an unconditional surrender -- a few days later there appeared all over town, like crocuses poking through the snow, an awful lot of spec scripts.

The town was flooded with buddy comedies, cop dramas, blended-family sitcoms, erotic thrillers and cop-partnered-with-orangutan projects. So many, in fact, that it was clear that a lot of striking guild members, when not picketing on Lankershim or brooding about their ill-treatment, had been doing a good deal more than noodling around an idea.

Although they publicly claimed to have spent the five-month strike merely thinking about writing -- and the three days after it up in Big Sur, you know, just plowing through it, totally focused -- it was hard to deny that some guild members took the strike as an opportunity to hit reset on their careers. So among the foreclosures and the cancellations and the force majeur'ed contracts, there was, apparently, a bright side. Something to look forward to, I guess.

But that was back in 1988, before Starbucks and iPods and Wi-Fi. Back then, most writers wrote at home, so it was easy to sit in the backyard, away from prying eyes, and work on your serial killer spec in between strike meetings. Things are different now. These days, writers sit in public places all over town, earbuds in, laptops out. The strike is going to change all of that.

Okay, begs the question: how far-reaching is a writer's strike, exactly? Certainly those on salary stay home: no commuting to the studio, sitting around the table with Woody and the Simon brothers, sending out for Chinese. The on-site stuff is out.

Okay: what about scripts for hire? William Goldman wrote he never signed a contract to write a script for hire; instead, he and The Suit sat down, hammered out a fair price, shook hands, and months of agony later Goldman delivered his draft, then his second, then his third. And in a near half-century of writing in Hollywood, Goldman can count only one time he was completely screwed over: in the making of Memoirs of an Invisible Man, a vehicle for Chevy Chase when Chase was still hot, a Top-5 star in the midst of his last two moneymaking franchises (Fletch and Vacation). Goldman (his account) delivered what he thought was a Chevy Chase script, only to find that Chevy Chase all of a sudden didn't want to make a Chevy Chase movie; all of a sudden Chevy Chase wanted to be Max Von Sydow and make a movie about "the loneliness of invisibility."

Please stay seated for the rest of the story. The director attached to the project was Ivan Reitman, whose Stripes had made him a name and whose Ghostbusters had slotted him second as a license to print money, right behind King Spielberg. Reitman, no dummy, sided with Goldman, said he would straighten it out, and so he went to the money people and said, "Chevy is way off the reservation, doesn't know what he's doing, ruining the picture, and Chevy can't be budged. Goldman and I are in agreement. Him or us."

Reitman had his money on us. The studio went with him. And when Memoirs of an Invisible Man came out, starring Chevy Chase, it didn't last its first weekend before winning the hundred-yard dash to the video store.

I re-tell the story only to bring up one last anecdote, and a question.

The anecdote: After all was done, after three drafts had been turned in, after Goldman had been fired, he went to the studio to collect his money. Again, by his account, the Studio Guy said, No, we're not going to pay you.

Goldman: Come again?

Studio Guy: No, we're not going to pay you. We have a lot of lawyers. How many do you have?

Eventually Goldman was paid--not nearly what he was owed, he maintains, but paid.

The question: let's say you've hired yourself out. You will produce a script on X day for Y dollars. And now a strike. Do you stop working?

Finally, the big macaroni. Lord knows it may be a rule more honored in the breach, but:

Does a strike theoretically compel a SWG signatory to stop writing altogether?

Check out the Long passages above. Of course a striking writer will spend his evening hours tapping out a spec for CSI: Miami or the next Sting, or Diner, or Annie Hall. But is writing in and of itself prohibited, even in theory?

Update: An answer from the source, Cinco himself:

So here's how it works:

During the strike, no writer is allowed to do ANY WORK for a struck company. If you've made a deal for a screenplay with a studio, you don't write another word until the strike's over. It's a legal strike, which trumps your contractual obligation.

For instance, my situation with Horton Hears a Who. In the next couple of months they are going to need writing done. I can't help them. It's frustrating, because I want the movie to be the best it can be...but I can't do it. I shouldn't do it. One of the main reasons I'm on strike is because the studios don't pay any residuals to writers on animated features. You heard right. Zip. Horton is going to make hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. But I will get no residuals. Is writing an animated feature different from writing a live action one? No. Except that it actually is a lot more work--I've been working on Horton for four years now. No live action movie in production demands that sort of time.

Now, as far as spec scripts go--there's nothing prohibiting you from writing one. And it's nearly impossible for a writer not to write. So I personally have no problem with people who do. As long as they're doing it completely on spec. Trouble is, the spec market isn't what it used to very few of them will sell.

Anyway, that's the situation. Fight the Power!

Apropos of nothing . . . .

. . . the funniest thing I've read in awhile, courtesy of NRO's Jay Nordlinger, who discovered it in an newspaper dispensed in an Indian restaurant in Cleveland (yes, a Cleveland Indian restaurant). Nordlinger writes:

At a U2 concert in Ireland, the lead singer Bono asks the audience for some quiet. Then he starts to slowly clap his hands. Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone, “I want you to think about something. Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.”

A voice from the audience yells out, “Then stop clapping, you a**h***!”

To which one can only add: up the Irish.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

November is Novel-Writing Month

The goal: a 50,000-word novel in one month.

I entered last year, started well, petered out at word 28,000 or so.

I ended up with a good chunk I can use one day.

Well, this year they opened the stakes again, and again I have entered.

5,040 words so far.

Which means--with the fifth coming up tomorrow--I'm technically behind!

Oregon 35, Arizona State 23

Now, I didn't know tonight's game was over at 13-0. But I did know the Devils had dodged a couple of bullets and were gaining confidence. They gave Cal a quarter-and-a-half. Not much. But the Bears needed to take it, and they didn't.

Well, Oregon took it. What was a cute affectation through eight games--the Devils' notoriously slow starts--finally came back to haunt them.

More experienced viewers of the Devils than I will have to explain why the Devils' defense seems not only overmatched but--as with Cal last week--positively flummoxed for the first three or so possessions for so many games. The only difference was that Oregon cashed in where Cal didn't, and Oregon's first three possessions all ended in touchdowns for a score of 21-3. The Devils outscored the Ducks 20-14 thereafter, to no avail.

Also: what in the world was Rudi Carpenter doing at the end of the first half? With the momentum ready to shift, with ASU ready to cut the lead to less than seven with any score at all, and thereby prepared to go on offense to start the second half with a chance to take the lead, Carpenter . . . well, he didn't do any one thing, save run a play into the line with zero time-outs and the clock under thirty seconds. In a situation like that, you either spike the ball or run a set play with a spread offense. In any case, you give yourself a minimum of two real snaps, and each time you look first for the end zone, second for the sideline, and if the D gives you nothing, you heave the ball into the tenth row. Coaches who understand clock management--the Bill Parcells, Bill Belichiks, Mike Shanahans, and Jeff Fishers of this world--usually have a play in place for just such an eventuality (first-down, field goal range, no time outs, half a minute left); QBs can either run their play or spike the ball to stop the clock. The hash that Carpenter made of things had to contribute (of this I am sure) to the missed field goal. Things were sliding.

ASU could not even take solace in the BCS fall-out. With LSU winning a game it had no business winning (thank you, Nick Saban) the Tiggers are poised to run out the table with walkovers against La Tech and Ole Miss and a mere trifle with Arkansas. Had Alabama won (and I can't think of that game, or the SEC in general, without hearing that loathsome CBS trumpet blast--DAH, dah-deh-dah, dah-deh-deh-dah! Duhduhduhduhduh, DAH!--or Verne Lundquist's unctiousness, in my head), Oregon would be poised to go to the BCS championship game, with the Rose Bowl grabbing the Pac-10 runner-up (which suddenly made the ASU-USC game three weeks hence glisten with possibility).

Now? La Tech. Ole Miss. Soo-Piggie. SEC championship game. Hold that Tiger, indeed.

Ohio State v. LSU for the National Championship? Excuse me while I go throw up.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Foot-dragging on Posada?

I can't say I haven't enjoyed Scott Boras's desperate spinning, his attempt to squelch the vitriol aimed at his favorite client.

And of course I've enjoyed every second of the Yankees' squeezing A-Rod, or A-Rod and Boras's near-simultaneous "Oh crap, they're serious" moment.

But every so often you run across a story like this. And all you can do is scratch your head.

If Mariano Rivera goes, Joba stays in the pen as closer.

This mere fact alone make Georgie the second-most indispensible Yankee, right behind Jeter.

With A-Rod gone and Clemens going, the Yankees just freed up about a hundred million dollars over the next three years, more than enough to pay Posada, Rivera and Abreu combined.

It is true that, for catchers, when it goes, it goes fast, even for Hall-of-Famers named Bench, Carter, Fisk. Posada could take the money, then come out next year and bat .240.

I just don't think he would.

So sign the guy already.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Think Scott Boras is feeling the heat?

The assumption Buster Olney has gone with all week is that Boras surely had something worked out, something in place of the $75 million had had, guaranteed, or the $225 million more the Yankees would have happily paid him?

If that were the case, would Boras be speaking in a tone that sounds suspiciously like a whine?

Boras maintained Wednesday that the Yankees should treat A-Rod the same way they deal with reliever Mariano Rivera and catcher Jorge Posada, who also are free agents.

"Why is it that Alex is the only Yankee who can't become a free agent?" Boras said Wednesday. "That question was not answered, and we think it's a question that's going to be asked for years to come."

Or not.