Friday, May 27, 2011

Idol Chatter

I guess Scotty deserved to win. I think he will do better than previous American Idols, Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze who hardly sold any albums.

I think the voting is shifting more and more to tween and teen girls. The first 4 seasons had 3 female winners (Kelly, Fantasia and Carrie). The next 6 seasons had 5 male winners (Taylor, David Cook, Kris, Lee and now Scotty).

Overall I thought the finale show was pretty good though I was really disappointed Steven Tyler and Lauren Alaina didn't do a duet of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." I really didn't get the point of having Steven sing "Dream On" by himself.

And though I would have loved to see a goofy duet of her and Scotty I much preferred the J.lo booty shake.

I liked the Jacob performance of "Smile" with Kirk Franklin and special guest Gladys Knight. I still think he was the best singer the competition but his personality was just terrible. He turned everyone off when he refused to sing "Let's Get It On" and when he said if he got voted off after singing "Man in the Mirror" it would be because America didn't want to look in the mirror.

I loved the skit between James and Casey arguing over the most shocking elimination.

I love how they just shut it down when Pia came in with her Most Shocking sash

pia toscano most shocking sash

I don't think Jack Black is funny but he did something very subtly hilarious. As Scotty was singing his new single, after he won, he came out and hugged his whole family, and Jack Black wanted a hug too.

Note: I love how I can now cue up youtube videos to the exact spot I want.

I loved Tom Jones but I thought it was insulting to make James sing "What's New Pussycat." Why not make one of the effeminate guys sing it? Why neuter the rocker in that fashion?

I liked Beyonce's two performances. I like her new song "1+1" (though I do have a complaint about it which I think I will get to in a separate post) but I'm surprised she performed such a slow song in that venue.

Beyonce's crotch

I enjoyed seeing TLC and it was a cool performance with all the girls but it was sad without Left Eye. And T-Boz has really let herself go. At least Chili is still killing it.

Chili's abs

Sometimes your kids ask you impossible questions. Why is the sky blue? Why don't people in China fall off the Earth? Why is the dog licking himself? But during this show Chase hit me with one I couldn't even begin to formulate a response to: What is Lady Gaga wearing?

what is Lady Gaga wearing?

I think Haley Reinhart is setting herself up to turn into a total slut when she starts her career. I'm not opposed to that at all, I think she's kinda hot. But she's like a less pretty, less curvy and less talented version of Carrie Underwood. And she doesn't have a clear genre that she fits into either. Not sure her Tony Bennett duet earned her any points with the 12-17 male audience.

Haley Reinhart Garter

More than 30 million people watched this finale of American Idol, which I believe is down from previous seasons but better than last year's number and better than this year's Dancing with the Stars finale from Tuesday night.

I guess any obituaries for the show were a bit premature and I'm pretty sure this train still has at least a few more seasons to roll through.

Does He Know Anne Frank Was Hiding From Nazis Not Paparazzi?

When Tiki Barber was cheating on his beautiful Asian wife with his beautiful blonde, much younger girlfriend while the aforementioned wife was pregnant, sometimes the paparazzi got to be too much.
So Barber hid out in the attic of his agent to get away.
And since his agent is Jewish Barber said "it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing."

Tiki Barber and his hot young girlfriend

This could hurt Barber's NFL comeback. If I were a Jewish owner I would tell Barber to go fuck himself before I signed him.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Side-Boobie Action

The rain is over the sun is shining and Lindsay Lohan is showing a little side-boob at a photo shoot in Miami. OK, a lot of side-boob.

Lindsay Lohan side boob

Mets Update

Since we last spoke about Fred Wilpon's comments in the New Yorker, there has been a major development. Hedge fund manager David Einhorn bought 49% of the Mets for $200m.

This solves any short-term liquidity crisis the Mets may have had and it tells us who the likely next owner would be if the Wilpons were forced to or chose to sell their remaining stake.

I don't think it means the Mets as a team are worth only $400m. The Wilpons refused to give up control of the team and very few powerful billionaires would be willing to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars without getting say in how that money was spent.

But that's exactly what Einhorn did because he is a lifelong Mets fan. That could be good or bad. If he someday becomes the principal owner and runs the team like a fan he could run it like a rational fan (desperate to win, but willing to be patient and build an organization the right way) or a crazy WFAN caller (buy free agents, trade every prospect) which as we have seen doesn't work for anyone other than the Yankees.

Most likely though the Wilpons will reach a settlement for $300m - $400m in the Madoff case and still have enough money left over to keep running the Mets.

Separately, a brilliant Wall Street Journal article analyzes the Beltran signing and agrees with my assessment: it was a good deal at the time, it didn't work out as well as hoped because of injuries and the bad team around him, but it was still worth it. Comparing Beltran's value to the average cost in the free agent market that season, the Mets got their money's worth on Beltran, according to the article.

One more thing, poker watching Mets fans may remember Einhorn from the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event. He finished 18th, good for $660k. And he wore a sweatshirt with kids' handprints on it for some kind of charity.

new mets part-owner David Einhorn

Still Schoolin the Youth With Wisdom

Raekwon from Wu-Tang clan was recently in Illinois for a concert and he must have made quite an impression on the State Assembly's Republican Leader.

Cash rules everything around me, CREAM, get the money, dolla dolla bill yall.

Glad to see that fiscal sanity has been restored to Illinois.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Idol Chatter

I want Lauren to win but I think Scotty is going to win.

I just like Lauren better as a singer and a person.

Plus in my first Idol Chatter of the year (this is only the third) I said "Scotty McCreery is not going to win this competition." Now I think he is. He has a more loyal following, he hasn't been in the top 3 once.

Plus all the judges seemed to go for Lauren last night. Like they were pumping her up to make this a more even fight.

Idol got lucky this year in that both of these contestants were featured prominently straight from their initial audition. Or maybe they made it that far because they were featured.

Speaking of auditions, I think it would be a crying shame if Lauren and Steven Tyler didn't do a duet of "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" tonight.

And Scotty and J.lo should do "Jenny (Scotty?) from the Block."

My one complaint with Lauren is I think they have hypersexualized her. They made her lose 20 pounds and they have put her in short skirts, low-cut dresses and push-up bras. She's 16 for heaven's sake.

Scotty will have a long and successful career in country music, win or lose. But Lauren at her young age has a chance to be a combination of Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood.

Before the season started I worried the judging changes and the decline in talent would spell the beginning of the end for American Idol.

One major improvement they have done this season: showing more behind-the-scenes life of the Idols, I never remember seeing so much from the Idol house, though I still wonder if Lauren and Scotty stayed there alone all season or had parental supervision, esepcially at the end. They also used more features and performances to prevent the results shows from turning into drawn-out fake-suspense-fests.

Much to the dismay of Simon Cowell, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were quite fun and entertaining and their near-constant positivity didn't detract at all. Simon pointed criticisms were not missed.

Looks like American Idol will be around for many more seasons to come.

Song of the Week

"All About the Sex" - Donnell Jones
Another example in overzealous editing. When you hear this on the radio the word "sex" (which appears quite frequently in these lyrics), is edited out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Truth Shall Set You Free

A new article in the New Yorker about Fred Wilpon written by my old colleague Jeffrey Toobin is getting a lot of attention for the frank way Wilpon discussed the team and it's players.
The article is very long (I suggest you read it anyway) and it mostly focuses on the Wilpons association with Bernie Madoff.
There's some interesting backstory in there: the Wilpons and Madoffs first got together when Jeff Wilpon met Mark Madoff at Roslyn High School.
The story doesn't really shed new light on whether Wilpon knew that Madoff was a fraud. But it does raise a pretty good refutation: if Wilpon did know the nature of the scam (a Ponzi scheme) why did he keep $550m of paper money in his Madoff accounts?
I think it's more likely the Wilpons suspected he was doing something illegal or questionable (insider trading maybe) and chose to look the other way. I doubt they would have thought a Ponzi Scheme of this magntitude could have lasted this long.

Barring all that, here's the part of the article that has everyone talking:

"In the game against the Astros, Jose Reyes, leading off for the Mets, singled sharply up the middle, then stole second. “He’s a racehorse,” Wilpon said. When Reyes started with the Mets, in 2003, just before his twentieth birthday, he was pegged as a future star. Injuries have limited him to a more pedestrian career, though he’s off to a good start this season. “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” Wilpon said, referring to the Red Sox’ signing of the former Tampa Bay player to a seven-year, $142-million contract. “He’s had everything wrong with him,” Wilpon said of Reyes. “He won’t get it.”

After the catcher, Josh Thole, struck out, David Wright came to the plate. Wright, the team’s marquee attraction, has started the season dreadfully at the plate. “He’s pressing,” Wilpon said. “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

Wright walked.

When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.” Beltran singled, loading the bases with one out.

Ike Davis, the sophomore first baseman and the one pleasant surprise for the Mets so far this season, was up next. “Good hitter,” Wilpon said. “Shitty team—good hitter.” Davis struck out. Angel Pagan flied out to right, ending the Mets’ threat. “Lousy clubs—that’s what happens.” Wilpon sighed. The Astros put three runs on the board in the top of the second.

“We’re snakebitten, baby,” Wilpon said."

Let's take all the claims separately:

Jose Reyes is not going to get Carl Crawford money because he's always hurt. Indubitably that is accurate.

David Wright is a very good player, but not a superstar. I could publish reams of statistics supporting that claim but I don't think I need to.

Wilpon was a "schmuck" for giving Carlos Beltran $119m. I disagree with this one, but its a popular opinion. He had a very bad 2005, a great 2006 (marred by one negative image), very good 2007 and 2008, then two years ruined by injuries.

Ike Davis is a good player on a "shitty team." Wilpon said that when the team was 5-13. Even now at 22-24 I'd agree with the assessment.

I just don't see how anyone can take issue with anything he said as far as its veracity, whether an owner should be that honest is another matter, but I personally enjoyed his candor.

As for him hurting the trade value of Beltran and Reyes, can you imagine any GM in the majors who changed his opinion on either of these players based on Wilpon's comments? That's a false argument.

There's a lot of hate for Fred Wilpon (much of it comes from anti-Semitism I believe) and very little of it has any basis in fact. He's not cheap, he's spending $144m for this last place team. He's not the problem with this franchise, payroll is in the top 10, results are in the bottom 10, that's the fault of the players and front office (his blame for that ends and hiring those fools). And he's not ripping his players, he's just being honest.

Who the Bleep is Editing These Songs?

For years TON misunderstood the message of 2Pac's "How Do U Want It?" He'd only heard the radio version in which 2Pac says "all I want is money plus the fame." With the explicit lyrics TON would have known the true sentiment "all I want is money fuck the fame, I'm a simple man."

But that censorship I can understand. But I have recently been confronted with several instances of censorship not involving cursewords.

For instance, in Notorious BIG's classic "Juicy" the original lyrics are "time to get paid blow up like the World Trade." That's a reference to the 1993 bombing. But given cultural sensitivities after 9/11 you can no longer hear those lyrics on any radio station.

And if you hear Juicy on any station other than Hot 97 you will hear "peace to Ron G Brucey B, Kid Capri (edit) Lovebug, Starsky"
Why? Because the actual lyric mentions Funkmaster Flex, who works for Hot 97.

The radio station wars also affecting the lyrics of Nikki Minaj's "Your Love." "Hot damn, make you scream like Summer Jam" is edited on other stations, because Summer Jam is the annual concert sponsored by Hot 97.

One thing I would like these radio stations not to do, please don't use a police siren as a sound effect to cover an edited lyric. Many of us are listening to the radio while driving in our cars. Hearing police sirens is unsettling at best and dangerous at worst.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Oooohhhhh Yeahhhhh

When Master Bates and I were little there used to be a couch in our basement that had two 5 foot tall foam pillows. We used to do tag team matches against said pillows. And I remember jumping off the couch doing the Macho Man flying elbow onto one of the prone cushions.

We were big wrestling fans when we were younger, and we thought it was "real." We'd hear the occassional sketchy rumor that Randy Savage was living on Staten Island (true). That he wasn't married to Elizabeth (he was), she was actually married to George "The Animal" Steele and they lived together in Boston where Steele was a Harvard Professor (not true).

Randy Macho Man Savage, another dead wrestler

Later in life I got into wrestling again when The Macho Man was known as the Madness and part of WCW's nWo alliance which totally reshaped wrestling. No longer were we led to believe it was real, we reveled in the story lines.

Now Randy Savage (Poffo was his real last name and yes Leaping Lanny Poffo/The Genius was his brother) is the latest in a startling trend.

Former professional wrestlers are dying way too young -- and it's happening way too fast.

Savage lived to the ripe old age of 58 before he died in a car crash (though it is believed he had a heart attack behind the wheel) but many other wrestlers had their hearts give out on them at a much younger age:

Brian Pillman
Rick Rude
Davey Boy Smith
Big Boss Man
Eddie Guerrero

And these guys all died of other causes, suicide or drugs, but definitely negative side effects to professional wrestling:

Bam Bam Bigelow
Mr. Perfect
Chris Benoit

Here's a very complete list of dead wrestlers.

That list is only going to get longer.

From Real World to Real Hot

"Hangover 2" comes out this week and while there is no way it can live up to the original I still imagine it will have some laughs and generally be a funny way to spend two hours. I will be looking forward to another cameo from Mike Tyson, but I am also intrigued to see the role of Jamie Chung, the smoking hot but under-the-radar during her season cast member from Real World: San Diego.
She apparently plays Stu's fiance.

Jamie got me thinking, who is the hottest girl in the history of the Real World. I've posted one representative picture for each of my 7 nominees and linked to their Google images page if you want to do further research. Then vote at the bottom of the page.

Note: I excluded Mallory Snyder from Real World: Paris because she became a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and the available images of her would make it impossible to vote for anyone else

Jamie Chung - San Diego

Svetlana Shusterman - Key West

Melinda Stolp - Austin

Kelly Anne Judd - Sydney

Johanna Botta - Austin

Irulan Wilson - Las Vegas

Cameran Eubanks - San Diego