Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The 2010 NFL Season: Your Guess is as Good as Mine

In about a week the nation’s eyes will turn to New Orleans. It has been a long, arduous, and grueling seven months since the NFL season ended. The NBA regular season, a neutered Tiger PGA tour, tennis, and the World Cup have all tried to take the place of the country’s #1 sport. They have succeeded as well as Tiger has at golf since he stopped Tiger-ing every cocktail waitress and porn star between Las Vegas and Orlando. Well fear not, because like a newly divorced Tiger, the NFL season is back and coming to millions across the country.

Since the fall television season doesn’t get started for a few more weeks, I’m going to try to get my previewing skills sharp by taking a shot at the NFL. Most of what follows is nothing more than speculation based on cheap observations and very little facts or research.

Today is the NFC’s turn to get prognosticated. Come back Friday for their AFC brethren.

Let the baseless guessing begin…

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys (12-4): This team is stacked. A talented quarterback with some big December wins under his belt, coupled with a fast defense that gets after the ball and quarterback. Plus the Super Bowl is in Dallas this year and Jerry Jones wants to be the first team to host the Super Bowl and play in it. Based on the last twenty years, what JJ wants, JJ gets. Unfortunately WR Roy Williams was one of those things and he drops more passes than Jack Tripper at the Regal Beagle.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): The loss of Donovan McNabb will help this team. Still having Andy Reid at coach will offset that benefit. Bank on at least two losses because of Reid’s clock management acumen. He is to the 2:00 drill what Dina Lohan is to parenting.

New York Giants (8-8): Eli Manning will always hold a special place in America’s heart for leading his team over the most hated group of assholes from New England since Gary’s Old Towne Tavern, but Eli just isn’t a very good quarterback. Not to mention the defense is getting older and as long as Brandon Jacobs is the featured back, the punter should be getting a lot of action.

Washington Redskins (6-10): I live in DC. Ever since Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb got to town, all people talk about is playoffs and MVPs and a return to glory. This is essentially the same team as last year except a year older and with a worse quarterback. Their offensive line, while marginally improved, is still going to have McNabb on his back more than Pamela Anderson at CrueFest. Not to mention Clinton Portis is pushing 30, which in running back years means he has roughly the same shot at 1,000 yards as Justin Long has at making a good movie.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers (12-4)
As long as their defense gives up less than 30 points a game, the Packers are going to be very difficult to beat. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Ryan Grant is a steady running back and Greg Jennings is a top flight wideout. Charles Woodson is the reigning defensive player of the year. Not to mention playing in Green Bay in the winter for opposing teams is as appealing as free tickets to a Glenn Beck speech.

Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Even with the injury to Sidney Rice, Adrian Peterson and their defense will make the Vikes successful. However, this team can’t fail enough for me, and it has everything to do the narcissistic grandfather they have at quarterback. Minnesota used to be a team you could root for. They run the ball, play good defense, have a good group of loyal fans, a prominent history in the league and so on. Well that all changed when they brought in Brett Favre. The guy has gone away and come back more than Jesus Christ. I could watch this all day.

Detroit Lions (5-11): Two years removed from an 0-16 season, this is the year things start to go in a positive direction for the Lions. They have had a successful past couple of drafts. Calvin Johnson is a big play wide receiver and Matthew Stafford can get the ball to him. Jahvid Best is a potential playmaker in the backfield and Suh is a potential beast on the defensive line. But they are still young and prone to making mistakes.

Chicago Bears (4-12): Mike Martz is the Bears new offensive coordinator. People seem to get excited by this. Aside from a short tenure in St. Louis when his scheme was very successful, what has this guy done at stops in Detroit and San Francisco since 2006? In case you’re wondering, he has as many playoff appearances since he left the Rams as I do, and I haven’t coached in years. 33 of them to be exact.

NFC South
New Orleans Saints (11-5): There’s going to be a championship hangover in New Orleans this season. Last year’s run can’t be duplicated. Their defense was very opportunistic and came up with big scores last season. Not to mention last year they played a last place schedule, and this year they’ll have a first place one. Repeating is hard to do, unless you’re Jimmy Two Times or play in New England with state of the art recording equipment.

Carolina Panthers (9-7): Every year they seem to be a popular pick to do well, and every year they come up short. Last year, despite two stud running backs and a tough defense, it was because their quarterback liked to throw to the other team more than his own. This year, who knows what the reason will be. But like most of Adam Sandler’s latest films, the Panthers look good on paper but are destined to disappoint.

Atlanta Falcons (8-8): 2009 was a turn in the wrong direction for one of 2008’s surprise teams. Michael Turner was overworked in ’08 and it showed last year and Matt Ryan experienced the Sophomore Slump popular in pro sports. Seeing how he never won anything in college other than a few secondary bowl games, maybe 2009 wasn’t a slump, but more an indicator of how good he actually is.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): This is a very young team, and young teams don’t win in the NFL. Its quarterback is in his second year. Their top defensive lineman and wide receiver are rookies. Hell, their coach is barely ten years out of college. One of the few guys on the team with any years under his belt is running back Cadillac Williams, who plays the one position you want youth. Not only is he a veteran but he’s also gone under the knife more often than Heidi Montag. The Bucs will have more bad plays than Leo Bloom.

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers (9-7): This year’s popular pick to make the leap is the 49ers, and since I wasn’t popular in high school, I might as well be with this pick. The 49ers have a no-nonsense coach, a strong defense and a powerful running game. Their biggest problem is their quarterback, who has hands too small to grip the ball, which is kind of like having a teacher afraid to speak in public.

Arizona Cardinals (6-10): As long as Matt Leinart is the quarterback of this team they might as well spot their opponent two scores, because that’s how many points are going to result from his turnovers. Even if Leinart doesn’t play, the Cards other option is Derek Anderson, who in 2009 was benched for Brady Quinn in Cleveland. That’s like losing the Emmy to Jim Parsons.

St. Louis Rams (4-12): This is a bad team, and has been for a while. Given their schedule and the fact they have one of the best running backs in the game, a few wins should come their way. Starting rookie Sam Bradford at quarterback is in essence throwing in the towel before the year begins, but maybe by Week 12 he’ll have learned enough to win a few games. Apparently their new owner isn’t entirely opposed to moving the team back to California, so enjoy the weekly beatings of your Rams while you still can St. Louis.

Seattle Seahawks (2-14): This team has poor wide receivers, not much of a running game, an injury prone quarterback and a bad secondary. Other than that they’re in great shape. Not to mention their coach just high-tailed it out of USC right before the NCAA came crashing in with sanctions. That’s the real stand-up kind of guy I’d want leading my football team. They might as well have hired 1940s France.

Playoffs: Dallas and Green Bay win byes; Philadelphia over San Francisco, New Orleans over Minnesota. Dallas over Philadelphia, Green Bay over New Orleans; Green Bay over Dallas.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Emmys - Where Undeserving Actors Can Be Winners

Last night was the 62nd annual Prime Time Emmy Awards. Like all awards shows, it was mostly a waste of time and a chance to let actors and show business types fawn all over each other for a year of very few accomplishments and more bad programming created than good. Fortunately the successful new shows outshine the bad, even if they are outnumbered worse than Republicans living in San Francisco.

This year’s program was hosted by Jimmy Fallon. It has to be said what an outstanding job Jimmy Fallon has done at turning the tide on his career. He went from being a terrible member of Saturday Night Live who couldn’t make it through a skit without laughing and appearing in horrible movies like Fever Pitch and Almost Famous to become the successful successor of Conan O’Brien’s 12:35 time slot on NBC. If Marty McFly went back in time to 2003 and told Doc Brown that Jimmy Fallon was tearing up late night in Conan’s spot, Doc would have been more incredulous than finding out Reagan was president in 1985. Not to mention Fallon allowed his Twitter followers to send in presenter introductions, which is a cool gesture to his fans. Now if only SNL will let its fans write the sketchers this season. It’s not like they’d be any worse.

The purpose of this posting isn’t to vilify the Emmys award by award on how for the most part the voters don't reflect the opinions of the masses. Well yes it is, and I can do it on one award – Best Actor in a Comedy Series. The nominees were Steve Carell (Office), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Matthew Morrison (Glee), and Tony Shalhoub (Monk).

Let’s break these guys down one by one.

Tony Shalhoub: He has won three Emmy awards for his role on Monk, even though I will always see him as Antonio Scarpacci from Wings. Monk was on the USA network, so it probably lost some viewers as a result, but the show was funny and Shalhoub did a great job as the obsessive-compulsive former detective with more hang-ups than I got asking girls to my high school prom. The show ended in 2009, so he might have been the sentimental choice.

Matthew Morrison: I’ve seen a few episodes of Glee but am not a religious viewer. Musicals aren’t my cup of tea, especially after Adrian Zmed got hosed by the Academy for his work in Grease 2. From what I saw, Morrison seems to do a good job portraying the choir coach who the always excellent Jane Lynch hates with a passion. By the way, is there anything Jane Lynch has been in that wasn’t great? If Jane Lynch sold Frosted Flakes I would buy them. Wait a minute.

Alec Baldwin: Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy is one of the best characters on television, right up there with Phil Dunphy and Creed Bratton. Donaghy is the straw that stirs 30 Rock. When people quote 30 Rock, chances are it’s a Jack line. Some of my favorites are “The Italians have a saying, Lemon, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." And, although they've never won a war or mass-produced a decent car, in this area they are correct.”; “If I want to lick a hippie, I'll just return Joan Baez's phone calls.”; and “Tracy, I don't believe in soulmates and I worked to hard to get where I am to sacrifice it for some woman. I don't care if she is beautiful, brilliant and she does it like her father's a minister.” Of course there are many, many more. Baldwin is a two-time winner in this category for his role as Jack, and it should be more. If I had a vote, and one day I hope I do, this is the winner. My reasoning is simple, if you put anyone else in this role who could make it as good as Baldwin does? No one.

Steve Carell: This will be the last year for Michael Scott at Dundler Mifflin. I may be in the minority, but I’m glad to see him go. You can only watch so many inane conversations, clueless attempts at meeting women, and juvenile attachments to his co-workers. He is running out of ways to look stupid. Michael cries when confronted by Stanley, he tries to be Jim and Pam’s best friend, he spills the beans on every secret he’s ever had, he is in his 40s and has no clue how to talk to women yet by all indications gets laid fairly regularly for such a schmuck. It’s time to move on. Here’s hoping corporate makes Creed the new boss. He has to have seniority, right?

Jim Parsons: Like Glee, I’ve only seen a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory. It is on CBS on Monday nights so from September to December it competes with Monday Night Football. The rest of the year my only reason for not watching it is, well, I just don’t like it very much and don’t think it’s funny. Try to laugh at this without a laugh track telling you to. I can buy these sitcoms where the fat slob has the hot wife, mostly because they’ve been engrained in my head since I started watching TV. But I draw the line on a show where the guy from Roseanne who dated Darlene trades up to the girl from 8 Simple Rules. I’m not saying that physics guys can’t date attractive women. I’m sure some do, but not girls in their early 20s. It takes a few years for good looking girls to date the worst sample of the male species (i.e. any contestant on the Bachelorette) before they wise up and realize a guy who frosts his tips might not be the one for them. I guess my point is, I don’t like this show and Parson’s character is the worst of the bunch. Plus he’s not even the lead. He must have voted for himself an awful lot to get nominated.

Larry David: For this nomination I am biased since Larry David is the co-creator of my all-time favorite show and stars in my current favorite show. I could watch Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld on a continuous loop. The worst Curb episode is better than any Entourage episode. Plus Jeremy Piven is no where to be seen, an added bonus. So as the star of my favorite show, I root for him to win. However, he’s not really acting. Everyone on the show says he isn’t really acting and Larry on Curb is Larry in real life. As much as I would like to see him win, I’ve got to give the nod to Alec Baldwin since he is actually acting. If nothing else, you know it kills Baldwin to act like a Republican.

In conclusion, if I had a ballot for Best Actor in a Comedy Series it would look like this: Baldwin, David, Shalhoub, Carrell, Morrison, Parsons.

And the winner was…Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory. Of course.

I’m sure Brian and Stewie would have had something to say about that.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In the Cable News War It's Best If No One Wins

In the battle of cable news outlets there are no winners, only losers. Unfortunately those losers are you, me and everyone who watches FOX and MSNBC. Oh and CNN. However, much like how when a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it we don’t know if it makes a sound, since no one watches CNN it’s kind of hard to gauge their impact on the American populace. Like American Dad and the Nielsen ratings.

Since most of cable news is dominated by its commentators, let’s take a deeper look at some of the cable news personalities who help make us more misinformed.

Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews is one of the main reasons people don’t like liberals. As a member of the media he was supposed to stay neutral while covering the presidential campaign of 2008. By now we all know he was about as neutral in that race as Tim Donaghy was refereeing NBA games. Matthews is (in)famous for saying he felt a tingle run down his leg after hearing a speech by Obama. It’s not that often when an inspirational speaker comes along, and while I don’t condone what Matthews said, maybe he was caught in an honest moment. On second thought, nah he liked Obama more than Joni loved Chachi. To prove that point, after Obama was elected Matthews went on air and said it was his duty as a journalist to help Obama succeed. This coming after spending years absolutely crushing George W Bush on everything the man did. At least wait a week before you change your mind, man. That's what John Kerry and Mitt Romney do.

FOX and Friends
How anyone can watch these three ignoramuses is beyond me. My apologies, I’ve used a word outside of their lexicon as they don’t even know what ignoramus means. Just about every day one of the three makes a comment that causes the viewer want to beat their head against the wall to make the pain from listening to them stop. I’ve already covered Barbie, I mean Gretchen Carlson’s ineptitude. Let’s move on to Ken’s. I’m sorry, I mean Steve Doocy. I think Doocy would believe anything someone told him. Gullible isn’t in the dictionary…You don’t say? The Earth is only 5,000 years old…Really? I have foreign affairs experience because I can see Russia from my house…You should be Vice President. Brian Kilmeade rounds out this triumvirate of idiocy. In the 21st century you’d think it would be hard to find someone who’d say on air that Americans aren’t “pure” because we have inter-ethnic marriage. Well it’s not as hard as you think if you watch FOX and Friends.

Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann is a hero of the left, mostly because of his Special Comments during the Bush Administration. Many people forget he was a SportsCenter anchor, perhaps one of the best they’ve ever had. Then he burned that bridge and after several years of bouncing around from job to job found his voice as a progressive. To examine Keith’s career through a sports analogy, let’s say he was a top prospect rookie who broke into the bigs and succeeded (cushy job at ESPN). Eventually the team got tired of his prolonged slumps and prima donna attitude and released him (leaving ESPN). After bouncing around from team to team, without ever putting up the same stats as before (time at FOX Sports, MSNBC pre-Countdown, etc), Keith found a magic substance (liberalism) that helped the older veteran put up the big numbers with a new club. I’m not saying that Barry Bonds ever took steroids to rejuvenate his career. I’m also not saying Keith Olbermann isn’t really a Democrat or doesn’t believe most of what he says. But let’s be honest, most sportscasters don’t suddenly give up their passion for sports television to pursue a career in politics without a catch. Like becoming governor of Alaska.

Glenn Beck
Where to start with this guy? Is it calling Obama a racist? Or developing a hit list of sorts for Administration officials he thinks doesn’t pass his McCarthy-style smell test? Or his crying on air because he fears for his country that he loves so much? Or his connection to the people who sell gold to paranoid citizens and advertise on his program? Or the time he said he went into a movie theater in New York carrying his gun? Or the fact he started an online university to further spread his beliefs? Or the fact he looks like he could be Biff Tannen’s father?

Ted Turner thought he was onto something when he launched CNN and its 24 hour news coverage. It sounded good in theory, but as Homer Simpson said, so does communism. Communism faltered when, after years of success, the people realized the information they were being fed was nothing but lies and smear tactics aimed at suppressing the truth and promoting a political agenda which they simply stopped listening to.

We can only hope something similar happens to cable news.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Commercials are Like Taxes, Only Less Popular

Part of watching television means having to deal with a few bothersome obstacles. In baseball games, it is the constant throws to first to check a speedy runner. During The Simpsons, it’s a Lisa episode. On Countdown it’s one of Keith Olbermann’s Special Comments. And during Glenn Beck, it’s everything after the opening credits.

However, the most irritating part of trying to enjoy a television program is the commercials. Commercial breaks kill the momentum of an exciting show, prolong every sporting event (especially the touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial sequence), and interrupt breaking news reports. I understand commercials are a necessary evil and without them television would have a hard time to exist. But like with a movie featuring Ashton Kutcher, just because I watch, doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The following are some of the more annoying commercials currently on television. While I am grateful for their patronage of various networks that enable them to run entertaining programming, I despise them for everything else.

AT&T
The first time I saw this commercial the first thought that came to my mind was, wouldn’t it be funny if the lady’s husband came out of the bathroom and sat down next to her immediately followed by the guy realizing he just got on a train for Boston when he lives in New York because some random woman looked at him. The second thing I thought of was if this train couple’s kid becomes the 57th president, at minimum we’re looking at 52 years into the future. This assumes every president going forward serves only one full term. Every president either serves a second term or tries to. The last elected president to serve one term without seeking re-election was Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. The point being, we’re looking at more than 52 years until the 57th president is inaugurated. Finally, the parents smiling fondly at their child-president look to be in their late 50s to early 60s. The same people look to be in their early 30s on the train platform, putting them well into their 80s upon inauguration. If AT&T wanted this commercial to be accurate they should have had a couple of five year olds exchange glances on a school bus.

KFC
Never in my life have I taken a bite of something purchased at KFC and said “so good”. Nor have I ever seen a woman as attractive as the one in this commercial either a) eating at a KFC or b) even think about eating there. This commercial shows people in various points of life celebrating something. The fans at a sporting event are cheering the home team. The kid at the mailbox is happy with whatever letter he got. The two douche bags are pleased CVS just got a new shipment of Axe Body Spray. Everyone in the commercial is happy, but their day is really made when they sink their teeth into KFC. I know nothing caps off my day better than a sandwich that uses fried chicken as bread. Mmmm…angioplasty. If the commercial was an accurate portrayal of the KFC dining experience, the person sampling some of the Colonel’s best would take a bite, get an unpleasant look on their face, spit out the food and say “What is this shit?”

iPhone
There are a series of these commercials promoting an iPhone feature where you can see the person on the other end of the line in a small box on the phone. This is actually a pretty cool feature of the phone and comes in handy for certain momentous occasions. However, there is one in particular that really grinds my gears. First of all, it looks like the woman is in a house and so does the guy. I think she’s downstairs and he’s in the study. There are more bookshelves in this commercial than a professor’s office. While questionable, the most irritating part of these thirty seconds from Hell is when the wife says to the husband “you know that thing we’ve been working on?” Does she mean sealing the deck? Or maybe she’s talking about the addition of crown molding in the guest room. Why be coy? They’re a married couple who, judging by the tone of her voice, have clearly been trying to start a family. Just come right out and say she’s pregnant, which is news I’d like to think he could walk downstairs to find out.

It is very tempting to change the channel when a show breaks for commercial. At this point it is almost reflexive for most viewers.

The aforementioned commercials are doing their best to get almost removed from the last sentence.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ronnie & Sammi: If Ross Took Steroids and Rachel Had No Personality

Everyone has a show that is their guilty pleasure. Even Jerry Seinfeld had one in Melrose Place. Mine is Jersey Shore, which is documented here and here. Maybe it’s my Italian heritage. Maybe it’s my familiarity with the Jersey shore. Or maybe I’m just an immature 33 year old who watches bad television. Anyway you shake it, I knew the second season of Jersey Shore wouldn’t be as good as the first, especially with Angelina back in the fold. However, I didn’t expect it to fall off this fast. Caddyshack 2 was less of a disappointment.

There are two reasons Jersey Shore isn’t as good this time around. Their names are Ronnie and Sammi. Together they are killing Jersey Shore. Angelina, while a bigger pain in the ass than a trip to Fletch's doctor, at least provides some excitement to the mix with her drunken antics.

Ronnie and Sammi need to understand that people watch reality TV for fights, hook ups and drama. While these two have all three, unfortunately it is always with each other. Even if Ronnie does go out, he ends up back with Sammi regardless of how many girls he meets at the clubs. Sammi doesn’t do anything close to that. All she does is talk to the camera and cry. At least Ronnie has the villain angle going for him. They get a pass for season one because they didn’t know the show would take off like it has. For season two every cast mate knew there was about eight minutes left on their clock before time ran out.

On TV as soon as someone finds a significant other they instantly become less interesting. Jim and Pam from The Office are a great example. They were always destined to be together and it was obvious from the start, but their being apart was interesting and helped drive the show. Getting a shotgun seat to the chase helped build anticipation and interest in the show. Once they got together, began dating and eventually got married, they've become almost as irrelevant to The Office as Steve Carell is to good movies.

This isn't a new phenomenon either. Friends was entertaining for the first few years it was on. This could be because I was in high school, hadn't yet discovered alcohol, and girls only spoke to me if they needed someone to cheat off. Everyone says they hated Friends, and towards the end of the series – rightfully so. But those people are full of shit when they say they never watched it in the first place. When I went to college my whole floor would get together and watch it, and we were mostly guys. Anyway, the show got worse over the years, mostly because Ross was the biggest vagina not attached to Roseanne Barr to ever appear on television. But once Monica and Chandler got together, combined with the on-again off-again nature of Rachel and Ross, Friends was on its way to becoming Couples. And no one wants to watch couples.

This is even true in real life. My friends and I used to hang out, drink, play sports, gamble, and so on. Then, one by one, we slowly started meeting the future wives of our lives and went from wild and crazy to mild and lazy. For example, I now go to bed at 11:00 - on the weekends. I still enjoy a nice tall glass of Iced Tea, but now it's not from Long Island and has a Turkey Hill Lemonade Tea sticker on it. I'm not complaining. I'm very happy with my life. To be honest, I have no desire to go to a bar and wait in line for a drink when I can sit on my couch and watch TV with a fridge full of whatever I want mere paces away. Not to mention I don't have to compete for a female's attention anymore with douche bags who wear wrist bands on their arms and pop their collars unless my wife puts a golf shirt on our dog.

The lesson is this for Ronnie and Sammi. Most of their fellow cast mates all have a gimmick they are getting paid and notoriety from. The Situation is selling work-out videos. Pauly D spins the ones and twos. JWoww is selling clothes and defying gravity. Snooki is charging thousands of dollars to appear at a bar - and getting it. All of them are taking advantage of their time in South Beach to live it up and further try to establish whatever brand they may have.

However, Ronnie and Sammi stay in, fight, then make-up. When they actually go out all they do is talk to each other and fight. They should have just stayed home and saved the cover charge. Occasionally Ronnie will knock someone out for telling him to go back to New Jersey (even though they were actually in New Jersey at the time) and spend the night in jail. Sure they break up, but it’s never for good. Just like Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston.

Come to think of it, Ronnie has a lot of similarities to Levi. Both are about twenty years old. Both date brunettes. Both will only see a college diploma when they are in their lawyer’s office.

The best thing about Levi Johnston is he will soon be forgotten and off the national landscape. Unless they change their ways, Ronnie and Sammi will be too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Somewhere Johnny is Smiling - Just Not During His Old Show

Like many different aspects of conventional TV, the late night talk show is gaining traction on cable TV. Several cable TV shows are stealing viewers from Jay and Dave. There are a few reasons for this.

Jay Leno is a washed up hack who is using the same recycled bits, some of which he stole from Howard Stern, to placate an audience he hijacked from Conan O’Brien. But Jay’s still on TV and at the top of the ratings so two things we can surmise – 1: A lot of Americans wouldn’t know a good talk show host if it fell on them and 2: being a washed up hack people are tired of seeing pays well, just ask Brett Favre.

Dave Letterman, while a comedy and talk show icon, has slipped a bit. Why he could never take down Jay I will never know. It might have something to do with #1 in the previous paragraph. However, lately Dave has become a little too political for most people. Viewers want to be entertained, not bear witness to one-sided partisan hits on Sarah Palin and John McCain. If I wanted to see that on a regular basis I’d read the New York Times.

A problem that Jay and Dave share is their format. They have three guests on every night, two of which are probably not worth sharing a cab with, let alone listening to what they have to say. With a bit between the monologue and first guest, people get distracted. There’s only so much Jay Walking someone can watch before hearing about the shitty new Drew Barrymore and Justin Long movie that won’t make any money. Between all the filler, worthless guests and kibitzing with the house band, you’ve seen enough and want to go to sleep.

But before you do, think about watching one of two late night shows that are on at 11:00 - not 11:30 – feature a stand-up comedian born after 1950, has one guest, runs for only a half hour, and hosted by two of New Jersey’s best. Which is not an oxymoron.

Chelsea Handler is the funny, intelligent and blatantly honest host of E!’s Chelsea Lately. Being easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt either. She’s from New Jersey and girls from Jersey rule. When I was in college I spent four years desperately wanting to sleep with a particular NJ girl. I assumed being an Italian Jew would give me a better than even chance with her since those backgrounds make up most of the NJ populace. Well, you know what happens when you assume. You don’t get the girl from NJ, I can tell you that much.

The show has two primary features. The first is a roundtable discussion of the day’s pop culture events. Chelsea leads the talk and lets the three panelists, usually comedians, run with it. This part of the show lets the viewer enjoy something everyone likes doing – taking pleasure in the misery and idiocy of people who are famous because they chose their parents well or fucked the right athlete.

The second main part of the show is an interview. Similar to other talk shows, Chelsea spends a few minutes talking to an actor, author, singer, etc about an upcoming show or book the person is promoting. Even if they've never met, this seems more like two friends talking than a standard interview, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s also nice to see if there’s some genuine hatred involved, those feelings aren’t masked either.

Like any good late night talk show, Chelsea has a sidekick. In this case he’s a vertically challenged Hispanic guy named Chuy - prounced like the Wookie.

Jon Stewart is the former William & Mary soccer player who has since gone on to host the main news outlet for high school and college kids. The Daily Show, in my opinion one of the best shows on TV, was originally hosted by Craig Kilborn. Kilborn left ESPN to host The Daily Show. ESPN got better with him gone (even though it has recently taken a huge turn for the worse). Kilborn then left The Daily Show to host a talk show after Letterman on CBS, which is now Craig Ferguson’s show. As you can see, both shows also got better once Kilborn left. I wish Craig Kilborn owned my house before me.

Jon Stewart, although clearly a Democrat, is one of the closest things we have to a neutral commentator on the political landscape. He just as easily takes shots at MSNBC as he does FOX. Granted the shots at FOX are more frequent than to those at the Peacock, but what fun is it to pick on the losing team? They already feel bad enough losing to FOX re-runs. For as well as Stewart came off destroying Jim Cramer as the fraud he is, Stewart’s crying the night Obama won the presidency might have hurt his credibility just as much. Everyone knows the media was in the tank for Obama, but come on, Halliburton execs giving to Bush’s campaign was less transparent.

Despite being left-leaning in his politics, Jon Stewart is always willing to give someone on the opposite side of the aisle a fair shake in an interview. He’s had on numerous Republicans and Conservatives, including those he’s panned in the past. Other left-leaning news agencies make it a policy to not have on those with opposing views, which doesn’t really make them sources for news but more sources of red-meat for their base. Say what you want about FOX, but Democrats appear on their shows. They get shouted down and mocked, but they’re there. At least going on The Daily Show you can get a parting gift of Baconnaise.

Unless Jay Leno steals it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jeffrey Ross - Roastmaster or Idol Judge? Why Not Both

A wave of public opinion is sweeping the internet. The hope of the masses is to replace the stuffy old administration with a fresh, new, and younger replacement. This isn’t 2008 and I’m not talking about the grassroots efforts that helped Barack Obama become president. This growing clamor is to get Jeff Ross hired as a judge on American Idol. Opposed to President Obama and the fear of taxes being raised, if Jeff Ross becomes an Idol judge the only thing that would go up is the sale of pants to replace all the ones ruined from being pissed in from laughing so hard.

American Idol, the television juggernaut of the past eight years, has recently seen three of its four judges leave the show. Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi are all off the panel. The only remaining judge is former Journey bassist Randy Jackson. The ratings for American Idol have decreased the past few seasons. This is due in large part to the product becoming staid. People know what they are getting.

Disclaimer – most of what is written next is speculation. I haven’t watched American Idol since I was dating my now-wife. Once she said “Yes”, I said “No” to TV I didn’t want to watch.

The best part of American Idol is the tryout section for those that don’t have the voice to make it as a member of The Eagles, let alone become a singer in a good band. Simon was the reason the tryouts were entertaining because he was the only one of the judges that was honest. Plus you’d have the occasional William Hung who lets the insults write themselves. With the addition of bland personalities like Ellen, and the loss of people like Paula Abdul who were probably on more substances than the cast of 1970s SNL, the tryout portion of the show became just as boring and predictable as the show itself. Adding Jeffrey Ross would add a new dynamic the show desperately needs. If people liked Simon basically because he was brutally honest, they’ll love Jeffrey Ross.

Simon Cowell was an unknown, at least to the average American, when Idol debuted. Jeff Ross is a household name. He’s been doing comedy for years. Back before Comedy Central was where college kids got their news, it used to showcase comedians. One of these programs featured Jeffrey Ross and his poems, such as “Why I Love My Gangsta Bitch Girlfriend” and “Hey, Wait a Minute”.

Since then we all know Jeff Ross has become the pre-eminent comedian at the Friar’s Club and Comedy Central’s Roasts. There isn’t a funnier, more honest, or fearless member of those daises and roasting isn't easy, believe me I've tried. He’s roasted Pamela Anderson, Hugh Hefner, David Hasselhoff, Gene Simmons and whoever else pulls up a seat next to him on a stage. He may have the most memorable Roast line of all-time for telling Sandra Bernhard he wouldn’t have sex with her with Bea Arthur’s dick. May she rest in peace.

Not only would Jeff Ross bring this acerbic humor to American Idol, but he’d also bring with him a love of music that goes back to his college days at Boston College where he was music director of the school’s radio station. He was a DJ and played in bands. Plus he was a member of the KISS Army as a kid. Simon didn’t have a comedy background yet people tuned in to laugh at what he’d say to aspiring singers. Not to mention Simon Cowell was probably in the Pet Shop Boys Coast Guard.

The question isn’t why Jeff Ross should be a judge now, the question is why wasn’t he made a judge eight years ago?

FOX may be concerned about bringing Jeff Ross onboard – afraid he might tell a contestant he would rather listen to a lecture on law enforcement from Hooks from Police Academy than one more note from their mouth – but Jeff Ross has experience on network TV’s prime time ratings bonanza - he was a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Even though he didn’t last long, ABC invited him back to roast the finalists. There is no chance the Disney-owned company would let him on the cast or have him back if there was any fear of Middle America making a call to the FCC. Hell, they don’t even let ESPN hire real journalists anymore.

As I said earlier, I don’t watch American Idol. I’m not a huge music fan. I would rather sit on the T between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner full of Sawx fans immediately following a game at Fenway than go see live music. If Jeffrey Ross were to become a judge I would make sure to tune in. My guess is there are many more potential viewers like me.

American Idol is a known quantity. Its true fans aren’t going to go anywhere, regardless of whether or not Simon is drinking from one of the big red Coke cups. Cowboys fans didn’t stop coming to Texas Stadium because Jimmy Johnson was gone. And Jeffrey Ross is no Barry Switzer.

A finer compliment couldn’t be had.

Join the movement on Facebook here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Vegas, Pawns Are Kings

Pawn shops have a reputation as being somewhat shady places. Maybe this is because of the frequent use of fluorescent words painted on the windows. It could be because to some they are considered to be in the same circle as loan sharks.

For a long time I thought pawn shops were nothing more than indoor garage sales. If you go into a pawn shop, and aren’t trying to put up your security for a cash loan paid back at a set interest rate, there usually isn’t much to choose from for that special person in your life. There might be a hidden gem buried somewhere in the store, but for the most part we’re talking about tools, lawn furniture, or cheap jewelry. As a result, I was skeptical of going to one.

Sure part of it might have to do with what happened in Pulp Fiction to Butch and Marsellus at Zed’s, but if I made it a rule not to go somewhere because a couple of people were balled and gagged in front of a leather-clad gimp, how would I get to hang out with my Republican National Committee friends in Los Angeles?

However, like Jules Winfield after some time in Brett’s apartment, I have seen the light. And I didn’t need to get shot at multiple times to see it. All I needed to do was watch the History Channel’s Pawn Stars.

Pawn Stars shows the day to day activities of operating a pawn shop in Las Vegas. The store, Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, has four primary employees.

The Old Man co-owns the store with his son Rick. It takes a lot of trust for a father to let the fruit of his labor be shared with his son. As the son of a successful self-employed man, it’s a pretty safe bet my dad would rather let Mr. Kruger run his business than turn it over to me. Although I am pretty good at chair-spins.

Rick’s son Cory who they call Big Hoss because, well because he’s a big dude with a lot of tattoos, also works in the store. As does his friend known as Chumlee. It’s not entirely clear how Chumlee got that nickname. And like the truth about Area 51, it’s probably best we never find out.

What makes this pawn shop different from Zed’s and every other pawn shop is the amount of legitimately valuable material it sells and people bring in to sell. An autographed Chuck Berry Fender guitar, an 1861 Civil War cavalry saber, a 1950s Coke machine, a 1970s Indian racing mini motorcycle, and a 1901 Edison phonograph are just a sample of the items that pass in and out of the store. The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop can give the Smithsonian a run for its money on some days.

While good old cash is always accepted, the main currency at the store seems to be a handshake. No matter if a sale is made or not, if the peddler brought in something fake or stolen, Rick and the guys always close with a handshake and not even a glimpse of Purell anywhere to be seen.

The merchandise and nostalgia that comes through the store is the best part of the show, but a close second is the amount of experts the crew knows. Every single thing that is brought in for sale, there’s an expert for it. Fortunately for the show, Las Vegas is home to not only an abundance of black jack dealers, strippers and cab drivers, but also experts in any given field.

You name it and the guys always know “a guy”. You’d think their last name was Antonelli. Need that old barbershop chair restored – they know a guy. Or perhaps that cannon needs to be tested – they just call up their artillery expert. Need to find out how accurate that 17th century parchment is – well why didn’t you say so? In all the episodes I’ve seen there hasn’t been anything too obscure for the guys not to know someone to verify its value. Since the show takes place in Vegas, I’m waiting for the day someone brings in an antique sex toy only to have Rick say “it just so happens my buddy Chris is an expert in pocket pussies.”

And after sitting through an episode of Pawn Stars, you will be too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Come And Get It - The Roast of David Hasselhoff

Roasts have been a large part of the American comedy life since 1950 and have taken several forms. They began with The Friars Club in New York. Some of the all-time greats of comedy have been ridiculed and made fun of by the people claiming to be their friends. Some of those who sat in the roast chair are Redd Foxx, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr. and Johnny Carson.

Dean Martin, one of the great entertainers in American history, hosted a TV show on NBC called The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. This show ran for about ten years and its victims included Lucille Ball, George Burns and Ronald Reagan, among others.

In the early 2000s Comedy Central instituted their own version of roasting. To say the people getting the roast treatment on Comedy Central’s program carry the same comedic weight as those from The Friar’s Club or Dean Martin’s show is like saying Jimmy Carter should be etched on Mount Rushmore. Those who’ve had their pride decimated on Comedy Central include Jeff Foxworthy and Flavor Flav. The same network with great shows like South Park and The Daily Show green-lights making these people the feature of a roast when there are legitimately great comedians still performing, many of whom are the roasters. Who’s calling the shots over there, the White House social secretary?

While these roasts are different in many ways, the presentation remains about the same. Put the guest center stage, briefly make fun of the other comedians, and then destroy the guest of honor’s self-worth by making fun of every character flaw they have, no matter how serious and personal it may be. As The Friar’s Club says, “we only roast the ones we love”.

Any way you shake it, the roasts are some of the funniest shows you will see on TV all year. Aside from when Sarah Palin thinks it’s wise to look at her hand and share her opinion with the country.

This year’s roast on Comedy Central, airing August 15, is that of another comedy legend if every comedian on Earth never existed, David Hasselhoff. The roasters include some of the best comics today in Lisa Lampanelli, Jeff Ross, Whitney Cummings and Greg Giraldo, among others. Since this is Comedy Central they brought in non-comedians like Hulk Hogan. Because nothing says I want to laugh more than a bald 57 year old man with shrunken balls who's most common article of clothing is a feather boa.

In honor of this year’s roast, I am going to attempt it myself**. This might not be fun for anyone involved and there’s a good chance it could get messy. You know, like sex with Kirstie Alley.

Without further ado...

Seth MacFarlane is roast master and doing a hell of a job. Just not as good as Matt Groening would have done.

Jeff Ross is here – no surprise there. These roasts are the only thing we ever see Jeff at. All he seems to do is go around looking for roasts. You’re like a fat kid who eats two dinners.

Lisa Lampanelli, where are you? We all know until recently Lisa had a fondness for black men. Lisa’s had more dark meat in her than Americans on Thanksgiving. She's screwed more black guys than Jim Crowe.

Hulk Hogan has joined us. Hulk was a great champion for many years. He body slammed Andre the Giant. Or as Kevin Smith’s wife calls it, date night. We all know Hulk went through a messy divorce. His ex-wife is dating a kid barely out of high school. Looks like backne and bleached hair is her type. But Hulk isn’t lonely. Not at all. He’s moved on and is with a girl who looks just like his daughter. John Phillips wasn’t this obvious.

Pamela Anderson is here. Did Kid Rock’s tour bus need to stop for gas? I kid. Pam is every guy who grew up in the 80s-90s fantasy. Because of you, more kids have been lost in socks than on America’s Most Wanted.

Sadly this dais is not the reason we are here. We have all come together to honor a great American actor. An icon. A hero in his own right. But enough about Gilbert Gottfried.

A quick look at David Hasselhoff’s film and TV work says it all. And it’s not good. Seriously, the guy has done three shows. He’s been acting for 35 years. You have less to show for your career than Willy Loman.

You were in one of the most popular shows in TV history and helped make Pamela Anderson, Nicole Eggert and Carmen Electra household names. You’ve done more for population control than the pill.

Then you hosted America’s Got Talent. Letting you have a vote in deciding the winners of a show called America’s Got Talent is like putting Roman Polanski in charge of a Brownie troop.

No wonder you drink so much. To be fair I would too if I spent four years talking to a car. Which is better than the time you’ll probably spend sleeping in one.

You’ve been in and out of rehab so many times you make Lindsay Lohan look like a princess. A princess who likes to drive drunk and let others use her body as a garbage can for bodily fluids, but a princess nonetheless.

Despite the bad career choices, the drinking, the horrible marriages, the drinking, the late night cheeseburger binges, and even more drinking, Germany sticks with you no matter how often you embarrass it. For Christ’s sake, just look at that video. You are to Germany what Bill Clinton is to Hillary. Given the Germans track record of buying into bad ideas, is anyone really shocked by this? Is it any wonder this walking Gin and Tonic can sell a CD over there?

In closing, David you’ve provided us years of entertainment. You are a TV icon and international superstar. Just do us all a favor. When you want to eat a cheeseburger, keep your clothes on.

**Any similarities between jokes in this blog and the actual roast are unintentional and completely coincidental. There’s a better chance of Knight Rider actually being knighted.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Where Knowledge is Useless - Your 2010 Fantasy Football Preview

With the NFL season right around the corner, there are a lot of questions about to be answered. How will Donovan McNabb perform in Washington? Will T.O. and Ocho-Cinco be able to co-exist in Cincinnati? Will the Saints repeat as champs or will they suffer a hangover from last year’s miracle run? Will the Patriots cheat their way to more wins? And will Ben Roethlisberger be able to go to a year without being accused of sexual assault? Only time will tell.

You, as the fan, have no control on the outcome of a game. However you do have control over the make up of your fantasy team. And I’m here to help.

I have a love/hate relationship with fantasy football. I love the NFL and could watch it all year round. It is hands down the best sport going. However, like some sort of masochist, I am in three fantasy leagues. It took a little bit of time, but I now realize that no matter how much I prepare for a draft, what pick I get, or who I decide to sit or play every week, it won't make a bit of difference. I have been playing fantasy football for ten years and have won three times. 24 total seasons played and only three titles is a cool 12.5% success rate. Congress’s rating isn’t even that low. At least not yet.

Fantasy football requires the same amount of skill, knowledge and ability to win as it does for some Atlantic City, chain-smoking, octogenarian with an oxygen tank to win a million bucks on one pull of a slot machine. So consider the following advice on the same level as someone telling you what quarter to use in the slots.

With that disclaimer out of the way, hold on to your knickers. A lot of hot air based on complete speculation and very little research is about to start blowing in.

For each position I am going to list a generally underrated player I think will be a top performer and one highly-touted guy I think will not be up to snuff.

Quarterback

Pro: Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles
In two starts and some mop-up duty last year, Kolb threw for 741 yards. Granted one of those starts was against the Chiefs, but the other was against New Orleans and if memory serves they had a good year (highly recommended clip). The Eagles’ receivers are a year more experienced and should give Kolb some nice opportunities for big plays that stretch the field. Plus the Eagles running back situation doesn’t keep defensive coordinators up at night. In other words, they have to throw to win. This should make the Philly receivers happy. That, and they have a guy under center this season that should complete more passes to them than he does to the ground.

Con: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Every announcer’s wet dream not named Bret Favre is now 34 years old. In the history of the NFL, only 8 of 44 Super Bowl-winning teams had a quarterback 34 years old or older. Three of them happened in the first five years of the game when it was a much different era. John Elway counts for two more of them and he’s one of the all-time greats who made it to five super bowls in his career. Brad Johnson was 34 when Tampa Bay won in 2002, but let’s be honest, I could have been under center and won that game. Basically what I’m saying is unless you’re John Elway or have Marcus Allen as your running back, you’re not winning the Super Bowl if you’re a 34 year old quarterback. The Colts rely almost entirely on Manning to win. He’s had a great career and has to slow down sooner or later. Can’t get much sooner than 2010.

Running Back

Pro: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
In the last eight games of 2009, Charles rushed for 968 yards, had 7 TDs and averaged almost 6 yards a carry. Projecting those stats out to a full season and you have almost 2,000 yards and 14 scores. Not a bad year. Hell it’s not bad if he just repeats those stats. There are a couple of potential red flags for Charles. Number one is Thomas Jones is in town and may steal some touchdowns and carries from him. Number two is that the Chiefs coach is Todd Haley. Last season he let Larry Johnson start over Charles. This is the same Larry Johnson who can’t run more than two yards without running into someone or throwing a drink in their face.

Con: Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
I think people like this guy only because he’s a Steeler and everyone loves the Steelers. They have six rings. They play hard for a blue-collar city. They ship out wide receivers that fail drugs tests but keep quarterbacks around who you wouldn’t let your daughter be in the same state with. The truth is the Steelers haven’t had a great running game in a few years and are a pass-first squad. Mendenhall got most of the touches last year after not-so-fast-anymore Willie Parker got his annual injury. Mendenhall did fine in 2009 but got shut down by the Browns twice. That’s like losing Best Actor to Keanu Reeves two years in a row. The Steelers lost their best o-lineman for the year already and will be without Ben ‘No Means Yes’ Roethlisberger for four to six games while he serves a suspension for something he should probably be in jail for. That means Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch will be the starting quarterback. If this were the early 2000s those guys could be an issue for opposing defenses. But it’s 2010 so don’t be surprised if some teams just let the Steeler receivers run down the field unguarded just to see if either of those guys can complete a downfield pass. In other words, teams will be eyeing up Mendenhall like Larry King does potential new wives.

Wide Receiver

Pro: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens
Derrick Mason is 5’10 and 36 years old. Last season he caught 7 touchdowns and had over 1,000 yards for the Ravens. In his five seasons with Baltimore, Mason has had four 1,000 yard seasons. Anquan Boldin is younger now (29) than Mason was in any of his years with the Ravens. Boldin spent the last few years sharing the field with Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers in the game (more on him later). He still put up Pro-Bowl caliber numbers. Now Boldin is the main target in Baltimore not tied to Marlo Stanfield or Avon Barksdale. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is in his third season and has shown great improvement in his first two seasons. As long as Boldin avoids hits like this, he should be able to push top-5 status at the position.

Con: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
The retirement of Kurt Warner and promotion of Matt Leinart to starting quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals will manifest itself both on the field and off. Warner is a devoutly religious guy who is the father to seven children, two of whom he adopted. Leinart is a poster-boy for the word douchebag who spent time with Paris Hilton and is friends with Nick Lachey. If he has poor judgment on easy things like who he hangs out with, how will he be able to make snap decisions on his blitz reads? More important than their private lives, Kurt Warner had a Hall of Fame career and the only way Leinart gets to the Hall is if he buys a ticket to Canton. Not to mention Leinart is left-handed and aside from Steve Young, Ken Stabler and Boomer Esiason, lefties make for terrible quarterbacks. The most prominent one in recent memory is Michael Vick. To borrow a phrase Vick has heard before, the prosecution rests. Good luck Larry Fitzgerald, you’re going to need it.

Tight End
If you don’t get Dallas Clark or Antonio Gates don’t worry about grabbing one until you fill up on running backs and wide receivers. There are about ten guys who will put up similar numbers and not cost you an early pick. That being said, Brent Celek is going to be awesome and Chris Cooley is not.

Defense
Don’t pick teams that suck. Pick teams that are good. There’s a reason the saying “Defense Wins Championships” exists.

Kicker
No one on their own teams care about them. Neither should you.

So there we have it. Use this advice, and while you won’t win your league, you may very well not come in last.

In closing, and I believe this sums up the joy and pain of playing fantasy football to a T, my wife calls fantasy football my mistress. After giving it some thought, she couldn’t be more right.

I see it once a week, it regularly takes my money, and somehow I always end up getting fucked.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Watch Louie - Everyone Else Is Doing It (Or Should Be)

Many different stars take a long time to gain success and popularity. When people say someone came out of nowhere, chances are those people are wrong. Hard work coupled with years of training and practicing one’s craft is the part no one sees of overnight sensations.

Except for Brody Jenner. He is just plain lucky because there is no talent, hard work or any sort of skill involved with him not having to wait in line for bread.

This season F/X, an underrated channel for original programming in its own right, decided to give comedian Louis C.K. his own half-hour show (Tuesday at 11:00). The show has received great reviews and has been picked up for another season. These are great things for Louie C.K., and for us, since the show is one of the few genuinely funny programs on TV. At least of shows that want to make you laugh. Try watching a Keith Olbermann Special Comment or a Glenn Beck chalkboard demonstration without losing it – because let’s be honest, those two certainly have.

To many people, as a result of his show, Louis C.K. is a break-out comic in 2010. While he might be gaining mainstream popularity, he has been on the stand-up map since the mid-90s. Hell, he had a series on HBO three years ago and an hour special on the same network in 2006 and 2008. Not only a great stand-up comedian, but Louis C.K. is a former writer for The Chris Rock Show, The Late Show w/ David Letterman, Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Why is it the good writers remain behind the scenes and the bad ones get to host Weekend Update?

If Chris Rock, David Letterman and Conan O'Brien think someone is funny, they’re funny. Lorne Michaels is a maybe. While a pioneer in comedy, he has hit some major speed bumps along the way – like most of the current cast. The fact that Seth Meyers is a bigger household name than Louis C.K. is a crime against comedy – just like most of Saturday Night Live’s skits.

Not only is it unjust that people like Seth Meyers get to be head writer of a comedic institution without any real comedic talent, but Dane Cook has been stealing Louis C.K.’s jokes for years. Louis C.K. caught a mainstream break after being one of the best comics for years, even if he wasn't as well-known to the general public. Dane Cook is a multi-millionaire who has played opposite Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Jessica Simpson in some of the worst movies ever made. And people say life is fair. You know who says that? Dane Cook and Seth Meyers say that.

History is full of red-headed entertainers. Lucille Ball led the charge in the 1950s with her iconic show “I Love Lucy”. Next was Ron Howard who played Opie and Richie Cunningham but eventually went behind the camera. The next prominent red-head was Danny Bonaduce, who was successful for a time, but ultimately fell to the temptations of all that Tiger Beat can offer. Finally, by using tawdry props, telling bad jokes, wearing too much eyeliner and buying clothes at Baby Gap, Carrot Top completed the disintegration of the red-headed entertainer. There’s a poster that shows the evolution of man, going from the earliest of our species to our current form. Well, if there was a similar poster of red-headed comedians it would go in the opposite direction.

Until now that is – Louis C.K. has reversed the degeneration of the red-headed entertainer.

Somewhere in America Molly Ringwald is calling her agent.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

There's Nothing Wrong With A Little Dirt

A lot of television gets watched at TV Steve. Some would even say too much. To which I say some people should keep their opinions to themselves and let a grown-man, no matter how juvenile and immature he may be, choose how to spend his free time.

But I digress.

While I like TV and all the channels it has to offer at all times of the day, I’m also not opposed to the written word. After all, you can’t take your big screen on the subway with you to help shorten the daily commute. Today will be the inaugural book review at this humble blog.

To kick start the heart of this new theme, I will be reviewing The Dirt, the autobiography of one of the most legendary bands of the 1980s, Mötley Crüe.

The Dirt is a feel good story of four friends – Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil - with a dream and taking whatever steps they had to in order to achieve it. If those steps involved doing more drugs than the ’86 Mets, having more sex than Wilt Chamberlain and applying more make up than J. Edgar Hoover, then so be it.

To say Mötley Crüe achieved everything they set out to accomplish is an understatement. They sold more than 80 million albums which in turn made them millions of dollars. They each married pin-up girls, some of them more than once. Tommy Lee was married to Heather Locklear AND Pamela Anderson. That’s like Phil Jackson getting to coach Jordan and Kobe.

The days of 1980s heavy metal were spawned at Whiskey a Go-Go on Sunset Blvd and The Roxy in West Hollywood. Based on The Dirt, the best parts of what happened at these iconic clubs were not the shows.

The band lived up the street from The Whiskey at what was called “The Motley House”. The stories in The Dirt about the goings-on there make the party scene in Midnight Cowboy look like a church gathering. A few years ago when I was in Los Angeles I made a point to walk past The Motley House just see if the city was still haz-matting it.

One of the questions I had while reading The Dirt was how in the hell do these guys remember the parties, shows, women and tours so vividly? They drank from the time they woke up until they passed out at night. They did what seems like every drug available, and weren’t shy about it. Yet no detail seems hazy or unclear. If this recall is accurate then modern medicine needs to do a study on these four guys. I don’t remember what I had for lunch two days ago and I’m pretty sure my day didn’t start off with a boilermaker and a bump.

It should be said that The Dirt is not for everyone. If you are easily offended or think Cameron Crowe’s version of a band biopic is troublesome enough, then this is probably not one for your book club. However, my wife read it based on my recommendation and didn’t once hit me with it for suggesting it to her. At more than 400 pages, I’m glad she didn’t.

According to IMDB The Dirt has been green-lighted to become a movie, but nothing seems to be progressing on that front. There were rumors that Val Kilmer signed on to play David Lee Roth. At least we know his schedule isn’t holding up production.

A lot of people love the movie Almost Famous, and just like how Jack Black is a movie star, I will never understand why. If you want to see what being backstage with a band is like from beginning to end, pick up a copy of The Dirt. You won’t be disappointed.

I guarantee you Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Vince never would have sung Tiny Dancer on their tour bus. They were too busy watching Ozzie do a line of ants.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Real Housewives Are Neither Real Nor Housewives - Discuss


According to Dictionary.com, a housewife is defined as a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.

In what was a reality-based spin-off of Desperate Housewives, Bravo decided to have a series of reality shows based on housewives located in different parts of the country. Much like an airborne disease, this show keeps spreading and there doesn’t seem to be an easy cure to make it go away.

The latest version of the series is based in my hometown of Washington DC. Now Washington isn’t exactly used to having Hollywood film crews and entertainment TV studios around. Washingtonians went crazy over MTV’s The Real World when it was here. Don’t these people understand they could have seen a prom queen, meathead, homosexual, closed-minded Republican, and tree-hugging liberal just by walking up and down M Street?

The paparazzi aren’t in town chasing down John Boehner or Harry Reid coming out of Capital Grille. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call has what amounts to a gossip section called Heard on the Hill. Read it and you can find juicy details like which Member of Congress wore a golf shirt on the House floor. Not exactly US Weekly. There’s a reason this town is called Hollywood for ugly people.

Several things bother me about the Real Housewives series. First, let’s examine how much of a misnomer the title of the show is. Real Housewives of wherever. If Bravo is going to put the word “real” in the title then the cast should be made up of real housewives. Not every housewife lives in a multi-million dollar house with five cars and live-in help. Not every housewife can try to become a singer and call that her job. Not every housewife looks at her kids and asks “who are you again?” Real housewives are women more like my mom and yours. Peg Bundy was more of a housewife than the people on this show are.

Secondly, the word “housewife” isn’t exactly a uniform description of the cast. On the DC cast two of the women aren’t even married, which by definition means they can’t be a housewife. It’s like calling yourself the real J. Peterman. Although that tour bus was a more accurate portrayal of J. Peterman’s life than this show is of real housewives.

As much as the show in general bothers me, this DC season irritates me even more. This is due to the presence of one cast member in particular. Michaele Salahi should be on probation or worse, not the lead of a TV show. She and her husband Tareq, better known as the White House Crashers, by all indications knowingly skirted security to get their camera-whoring faces attention. This is nothing new to people in Washington who know the couple. They have a long history of questionable business practices.

Evidently, the couple is pretty good at making things up. According to a local DC blogger who knows these kinds of things, the house in the show the Salahis present as their own is actually borrowed from someone else. They can’t even tell the truth about where they live. They must have spent some time at Costanza University.

In another example, Michaele Salahi claimed she was a Redskins cheerleader. Organized groups tend to keep records of these things. When it involves a team, like the Redskins cheerleaders, there’s usually a team photo accompanying the history of rosters, none of which include her. The amount of delusion involved in this person’s life makes John Edwards’s presidential campaign seem balanced and rational. And I’m just talking about the part where he thought he could win.

This couple is the embodiment of all that is wrong with the narcissistic, fame-whore, famous for nothing culture that reality TV has spawned. By Bravo not tossing them from the cast after the White House crashing, the channel is essentially condoning the trespassing of government property - the White House of all places - for ratings.

The Salahis are nothing more than a real-life Gepetto and Pinocchio. But instead of being made of sturdy and durable wood, they are nothing more than cheap fake plastic.
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