Thursday, June 30, 2005

Joke of the Day

A shepherd is tending to his flock out in the fields when he sees a BMW come screaming down the dirt road towards him. The car screeches to a halt and out steps a very well-dressed young man. Armani suit, Rolex watch, Gucci shoes, the works. He says to the shepherd, "sir, I've got a proposition for you. If I can tell you how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"

The shepherd mulls it over and says, "sure, I'll do that."

Immediately, the young man pulls out his laptop and cell phone and gets an internet connection. From there, he gets a satellite image of the area, and begins doing all sorts of calculations on his Excel spreadsheet and after an hour or so, announces confidently, "you have 1286 sheep in your flock."

"That's absolutely right", says the shepherd. "Go ahead and take your pick."

The young man selects from the flock and is about to drive off when the shepherd says, "hang on, young man. If I can tell you what you do for a living, may I have my animal back?" The young man agrees, and the shepherd says, "you're a consultant."

The young man says, "that's amazing, how did you know?"

"Well, you show up unannounced and uninvited, you take far too long to solve a problem that I already know the answer to and you expect to be paid for it, and you don't know the first thing about my business."

"Now", continued the shepherd, "may I have my dog back?"

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Aloha Means Goodbye and Hello

First, your link of the day...

http://www.freestarmedia.com/hotellostliberty2.html

It's juvenile, it's mean-spirited, it's nearly guaranteed to fail....and I love that they're trying. (Hat tip to Ron and Stacy, each of whom sent this to me individually within a couple hours of each other.)

Also, if you want to know how the NBA Draft SHOULD have gone, click here...

http://www.finheaven.com/boardvb2/showthread.php?t=84209

---

Next, a fond farewell to the one, the only, Dr. Pete, who leaves us to embark on a new journey in Philadelphia. Hopefully, he'll be returning here to charge outrageous prices for small metal instruments placed on the teeth of your children. We'll miss you, bro. The staff members at The Distillery are wearing black Budweiser caps in mourning.

Strange month for this sort of thing. Pete leaves us today, and my friend Doug, who will be equally missed, leaves at the end of this month. Double bummer.

However, there's a trade-off. Returning to Rochester, after a long and mostly miserable exile to Parts Unknown (okay, Gloversville, NY), is my old friend Dave. Dave's career includes distinguished service as a henchman, er, groomsman, in my wedding, and dozens of as-yet-unproven charges of being an accessory to chaos and mayhem in bars all over Monroe County.

Welcome back, buddy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Five Questions from the Doctor

If you haven't checked out Steve Sykes' (aka Dr. Astro Zoom) blog, take a few moments and do so. Go ahead, I'll wait right here.

In any event, Doctor Z (infinitely cooler and more knowledgeable than the Sports Illustrated hack) has passed onto me the blogosphere's equivalent of a chain letter; 5 questions to be asked by one blog to another. Kind of like ESPN's Budweiser Hot Seat, but more intelligent and entertaining.

So … how are you coping with the Pistons’ defeat in the NBA Finals?

Pretty well, actually. It's hard to get too upset when your guys make it to game 7 of the NBA Finals the year after winning and still have a very bright future. The Spurs were the better team, there's no getting around it. The Pistons had been prone to cold spells all year, and it bit them in the ass in games 1 and 7, both of which were very winnable. Adding in a spectacular defense like the Spurs' doesn't help that, either.

What movie character most closely shares your worldview? Elaborate. You know you want to.

Telling me to elaborate is like telling a dog to scratch itself. If we were talking about TV characters, the runaway choice would be Alex P. Keaton, with a nod to the comically introverted Gil Grissom, but we're not. As such this is a tough question. Most of the lead characters (I would never pick a supporting character; if it's my life, I'm the star. Duh.) of my favorite movies are just horribly flawed. Vincent Vega is a drug addict. Michael Corleone is just a TAD too ruthless. Andy Dufresne got anally raped, so he's out for obvious reasons. Ricky Vaughn probably did too. I'm not going to flatter myself by throwing James Bond at you. John Connor and Batman between them are an absolute cornucopia of psychoses.

I guess I'd have to opt for Crash Davis. He's got wisdom beyond his years, and knows what it takes to be a gentleman. He's got minimal tolerance for nonsense, and eschews doing anything in something other than a straightforward manner. He's constantly teaching and trying to help people learn. And he retains a healthy amount of cynicism, but is a good person at heart.

As a practicing attorney, I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of lawyer jokes. What’s your favorite?

Telling a lawyer joke is as much art as science. No one loves a lawyer joke like a lawyer, but they need to be good. There needs to be some creativity to it. There needs to be at least a nod to the fact that attorneys are forever scheming and negotiating. I mean, any asshole can throw the old "what do you call 10,000 attorneys at the bottom of the ocean?" joke on you. Here are a few of my favorites...

* NASA was interviewing professionals to be sent to Mars. Only one could go, and could never return to Earth. They chose an engineer, a doctor and a lawyer as the final candidates.

The first finalist, the engineer, was asked what he wanted to be paid and said, "one million dollars, so I can donate it to M.I.T."

The second finalist, the doctor, was asked the same question and said, "two million, so I can make sure my family is well provided for in my absence."

Finally, the lawyer was asked and said, "three million dollars." When asked why, he responded, "if you give me three million, I'll keep a million, I'll give you a million, and we'll send the engineer to Mars."

* A golfer hooked his tee shot over a hill and onto the next fairway. Walking toward his ball, he saw a man lying on the ground, groaning with pain."I'm an attorney," the wincing man said, "and this is going to cost you $5000."

"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry," the concerned golfer replied. "But I did yell 'fore'."

"I'll take it," the attorney said.

* (this is probably my personal favorite) An engineer dies and is in front of St. Peter. St. Peter says, "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm afraid you're going to Hell."

So the engineer descends to Hell and Satan is about to put him to work in the sulfur pits, when the engineer says, "I think I can make this place a lot better for everyone." Before you know it, Hell's got air conditioning, massage parlors, sports bars, and all in all, it's a happening place. God takes notice and calls to ask Satan about this.

"Hey Satan, what's going on down there? How did you make all the improvements to Hell?"

"Well," says the Devil, "that engineer you sent down here a few months ago had some ideas for improvements."

"Wait a minute," responds God, "that guy wasn't supposed to go to Hell, he was supposed to go to Heaven! There was a mistake, send him back right away, or we're going to sue you!"

"Really? And where are you going to find a lawyer?"

Ok, you have full hypothetical carte blanche on this. You’re hosting the Dolphins season opener. What five people do you invite, and what are you serving?

We're serving beer. That much is a given. We'll also have pizza, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and my homemade chili. Maybe even some deep-fried turkey. My dad got me an outdoor deep-fryer for my birthday, which was probably the coolest gift I've received in a long time. I cite that menu because, frankly, that's probably a good approximation of what we actually will serve when we host the Dolphins season opener (albeit with a less distinguished guest list than the one I'm going to cite). I love cooking chili and take a lot of pride in my work.

So who's coming over? Don Shula and Dan Marino, for sure. I don't think there's anyone I'd rather watch a football game with than Don Shula. The guy's forgotten more about football than almost any coach, past or present, has ever known. It would be absolutely fascinating to hear his unvarnished insights on a game. Marino, of course, is my hero. Then I'd invite President Bush. Seriously. Although I think he's doing a decent job as president, that's not why I'd invite him. I just get the feeling that GWB is an all-around good guy who would genuinely be fun to hang out and watch football with. (In the interest of fairness, I think Bill Clinton was the same kind of guy, but I'm a Republican, so there.) Then my buddy Sal would be over. Not that he's famous, or a Dolphins fan or anything like that. But he's one of my best friends, and the poor bastard never gets a Sunday off, so if it's my hypothetical, I'm getting Sal over here so the guy can get enjoy some downtime from work.

And the last invite? Mike Shanahan. If Shanahan's at my party, that would somewhat decrease the Broncos' chances of beating the Dolphins, wouldn't it?

You’re trapped on an island with a book, a movie, a CD and a woman for the rest of your natural life. What are they and who is she?

The woman is my wife. That's obvious. Sure, Angelina Jolie and Danni Ashe are appealing options, but in the end, I'd like to have someone I'm confident that I can actually talk to and enjoy spending time with, and who can cook. You're putting us on this island with food, right? Because if I'm going to starve to death, I don't want to go.

The book is "The Count of Monte Cristo". I've read it probably four times and have yet to tire of it. In my opinion, it's the greatest book ever. If I could only read one book for the rest of my life, that would be it.

The movie is "Terminator 2". I'd love to pick a selection that's a little more appealing to my wife, but hopefully she's getting the same deal I am (and hopefully picking me to accompany her on said island as opposed to Brad Pitt), and gets her own movie to watch.

The CD is "Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Live 1975-1985". The absolute greatest boxed set ever. There are no others that compare. Sure, that's a 3 CD set, but it's my blog, dammit.

Monday, June 27, 2005

NBA Mock Draft

Milwaukee - Marvin Williams - word is that Terry Porter was a big Bogut fan. With him gone, they're free to make the right move.
Atlanta - Andrew Bogut - the Hawks, like many teams, are weak at the big and small spots and loaded with swingmen.
Portland - Chris Paul - they won't take him; someone's trading for this pick.
New Orleans - Deron Williams - in fact, think there's about a 50% chance someone's moving up for this pick, too. There's talk about a Jamaal Magliore for 7 and 16 swap, which would be terrible for the Raps but great for the Hornets.
Charlotte - Gerald Green - the Bobcats can afford to be patient. Also, I think they're swapping picks with Portland, and if that's the case, Green's definitely the man at 5.
Utah - Danny Granger - Martell Webster is a popular pick here, but given Jerry Sloan's distaste for the three pointer, I don't think he's the guy. I look for Granger, who's a finished product. This would also make sense if Utah and New Orleans make a swap, and I think they may.
Toronto - Raymond Felton - they want Green, but not enough to move up for him. They settle for a very good point guard.
New York - Channing Frye - the Knicks have promised this spot to Frye and are glad he's still around.
Golden State - Fran Vazquez - they want Frye, but he's gone, so they go for another long and athletic forward to add to their frontcourt.
Los Angeles Lakers - Martell Webster - I'm not sure the Lakers are picking here, and if they are, they're definitely bummed that Felton is gone. Webster's the long-range shooter they need, though.
Orlando - Antoine Wright - in the absence of a big point guard, the Magic take probably the best available swingman.
Los Angeles Clippers - Yaroslav Korolev - word is they've promised him this spot, and I'll buy it.
Charlotte - Sean May - the Bobcats are conscious of the local fanbase, and could use a good low post scorer, to boot.
Minnesota - Andrew Bynum - word is that either they or the Lakers promised him a spot. I'm buying that theory. The Wolves need a real center but can wait a coupe years for Bynum to develop.
New Jersey - Hakim Warrick - this is one of the few mid-round picks I'm pretty sure about.
Toronto (from Philadelphia via Denver and New Jersey) - Joey Graham - adding Felton and Graham would really help the rebuilding process around Chris Bosh.
Indiana - Ike Diogu - this team is extremely thin at power forward.
Boston - Martynas Andruskevicius - the C's have a lot of talented youngsters vying for playing time, so taking a player they can stash overseas for a couple years makes sense.
Memphis - Jarrett Jack - best available point guard for a team that's probably losing Earl Watson and would like to lose Jason Williams.
Denver (from Washington via Orlando) - Roko Ukic - the Nuggets are probably stashing one of their two first rounders in Europe for a couple years.
Phoenix (from Chicago) - Charlie Villanueva - this athletic forward is a perfect fit for their run and gun style.
Denver - Francisco Garcia - I think everyone has this pick locked in. Who am I to argue?
Sacramento - Chris Taft - total hunch here; I just don't think Taft, who has the talent of a #1 pick, is going to fall much farther, considering the Kings' constant need for bigs.
Houston - Wayne Simien - the Rockets need a sharp-elbowed, belligerent 4, and Simien isn't ideal, but he's good enough.
Seattle - Julius Hodge - I'm stealing from FOX, who claims that Hodge is a lock at 25 if he's there.
Detroit - Ersan Ilyasova - the Pistons have a history of taking Euros, and are counting on bigger roles from Darko Milicic, Carlos Delfino and Carlos Arroyo to solve their depth problems, so they take the talented Ilyasova and stash him.
Utah (from Dallas) - Monta Ellis - rough draft for the Jazz, who miss out on their preferred point guards, and are left to try and develop Ellis.
San Antonio - Rashad McCants - I don't actually think he gets this far, but he won't fall any farther.
Miami - Randolph Morris - at first, I was thinking Luther Head, but with retirement a possibility for Alonzo Mourning, and Udonis Haslem a restricted free agent, getting a big man is a priority.
New York (from Phoenix via San Antonio) - Andray Blatche - the best guys on the board are swingmen, of which the Knicks already have too many, so they go for upside.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Phunwin at the Movies

I saw Batman Begins last night. If asked to rate it, I'd probably only go about 12 or 13 thumbs up. 14 at the most.

I can't possibly say enough good things about this movie. This was easily the best movie I've seen at the theater in...hell, I don't know how long. Better than Spider Man, better than Star Wars III, better than any of the Lord of the Rings movies, better than Terminator 3. This movie rounds up the previous Batman movies, grabs them by the collective throat and beats the living shit out of them. I might never watch Batman (1989) again.

Apparently, they've signed on for a three-movie deal where they've flushed the old series down the toilet and started anew. I doubt I'm spoiling anything here, (but if you're skittish, skip down a paragraph right away) but the Joker's in the next one, and Two-Face is in the third, which is perhaps the most obvious sign of all that Chris Nolan and Co. said, "you know what, forget the old series, we're taking it from the top and pretending it never happened." And that's absolutely the proper approach. Burton did okay with the first, but bombed on the second. Joel Schumacher took over the franchise and turned the whole thing into a clusterf**k of cataclysmic proportions. Between the two, they used up almost all the good villains: Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze and Bane, usually screwing up in the worst way (Bane was particularly egregious). And "Batman and Robin" was such a bad movie that they burned the original film and shot Schumacher in the head just to be sure it wouldn't happen again. So a fresh start was in order.

Where did Chris Nolan go right where Burton and Schumacher went wrong? For one thing, the casting was perfect. The previous Batman movies were more focused on finding the right Bruce Wayne, thinking that they could just throw a Batman suit on the guy and everything would be fine. The only problem with that is that you or I could hand Michael Keaton his lunch in a fight. Ditto George Clooney. Val Kilmer was the closest to pulling it off, but still doesn't hold a candle to Christian Bale, who comes off looking like the toughest guy on Planet Earth. Bale is 6'2 and looks like he spent the last 2 years in a gym lifting weights for this role. The guy is absolutely cut from granite, and gives Batman the physical presence he needs and that no actor since (believe it or not) Adam West has been able to provide the Dark Knight. Bale also affects a voice for the Batman scenes that sounds like it was forged in the ovens of Hell. It's deep, it's primal, and it's downright scary. Keaton made a noble attempt at this, but didn't quite get there. Kilmer and Clooney completely ignored it. There's a scene where Batman is interrogating a corrupt cop, who's hanging upside down from about 10 stories in the air where Bale really unleashes the Voice on him. That scene alone is probably worth the price of admission.

What the guys who did this movie understood is that Batman has to wage physical and psychological warfare against the bad guys. He's got to be big, tough, and almost supernatural in appearance. Check. The way they film the fight scenes adds to this in a way Burton hinted at in the first movie, but no one ever revisited. Many of the fight scenes are filmed from the perspective of the bad guys. They hear some moving and some rustling, but they (and thus, you, the viewer) have no idea where Batman is coming from. Up, down, one side, another, underneath, wherever. The action scenes are filmed in a very tight fashion, which makes everything look much more realistic. The martial arts training montage at the beginning of the movie is masterful, with Liam Neeson delivering his usual understated brilliant performance. Liam, to me, has become one of those actors who gives instant dignity and credibility to a movie. Throw him in a role, and you can almost guarantee the movie will be good. How good was the training scene at the beginning? Even my wife thought it was awesome, and she wouldn't watch a martial arts movie unless I clubbed her and dragged her by the hair like a caveman (which I've been known to do).

Tim Burton kind of got obsessed with the story of the Bat-villains, which had its advantages. Jack Nicholson's Joker was one of the best villains in movie history, but by Batman Returns, Batman had been reduced to nearly a cameo role, as the whole thing centered on the Penguin and Catwoman. I'm not sure what Joel Schumacher was focused on. He basically took a bunch of villains, a bunch of good guys and some special effects, cooked it together and threw it to the wall to see what would stick. This movie is about Batman. That's it. We know a little about the bad guys, but the focus is right where it's supposed to be. It's not as needlessly dark as Burton's movies, and it's not as pointlessly bright and cartoony as Schumacher's. It's gritty, it's tight, it's focused, and it's absolutely awesome.

---

None of this, of course, changes the fact that Hollywood hasn't had a truly original idea in, like, five years. The big movies this summer are all sequels, prequels, remakes, stolen ideas or adaptations of TV shows. Now don't get me wrong; I'm looking forward to "Dukes of Hazzard". By the way, I hate to say this, because he's the anti-Christ and all, but Ashton Kucher would have been ideal for the Bo Duke role. Of course, if they had already been set on Seann William Scott for the Luke role, they probably didn't want people subtitling the movie, "Dude, where's my Dukes?" And yet, I digress. Seriously, name one big movie this summer that's an original idea. And if you say "Cinderella Man", you will be shot at sunrise. Obviously, Revenge of the Sith and Batman Begins weren't original, even if they were totally awesome.
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith"? Based on a short-lived TV series, with a hat tip to "True Lies".
"Madagascar"? Come on, the genre of cartoon movies where they make adult jokes that go over the target audience's head was played out long ago.
"Stealth?" Machine built for national defense and the all-around good of humanity goes wrong and we have to destroy it...hmm, that's never been done before.
I guess there's another Rob Zombie flick coming out, where a few hundred people die in a gory, stupid and pointless fashion. I guess that passes for an original idea these days.
"The Brothers Grimm" is an original idea...if you've never read a book in your life.
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? If ever a movie has earned a prize for most unnecessary remake, this is it. Seriously, who couldn't leave well enough alone?
"Fantastic Four"? This is Marvel's annual "let's see if we can duplicate the commercial success of 'Spider Man' and 'X-Men'". See also "Hulk", "The Punisher", "Spider Man 2", "X-Men 2" and (in 2006 or 7) "X-Men 3", which is guaranteed to stray WAY the hell away from the storyline, but might lead to a Wolverine solo movie, which might not be so bad. By the way, they made a Fantastic Four movie back in the early 90s. It was an atrocity of Rwanda-esque proportions and didn't even make the "straight to video" cut.
If I'm missing something, it's probably not important. This is what Hollywood's come to. They are out of ideas. Who wants to bet against me that we'll have a "CSI" movie within the next 3 years? They've been kicking around the idea of an "A-Team" movie for some time, and the way things are going, that's bound to get done. They're working on Rocky 6, for some unknown and incomprehensible reason. I'm not complaining about these movies getting made, mind you, just that a new idea would be really welcome.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

An Open Letter to the Female Gender

"I will never understand women, and here's how I know. The two most popular topics in women's magazines appear to be: 1. why men are filthy, disgusting pigs, and 2. how to meet men." - Dave Barry

Dear Babes, er, Chicks, er...um....Ladies:
I've had a lot of female friends over the years try to give me the idea that my gender is somehow complex and difficult to understand. As a public service to you, the fairer sex, I present to you everything you ever needed to know about men. You don't need to read Cosmopolitan for this stuff. In fact, that nonsense (which doubles as borderline soft-core porn...I'm just saying...) really doesn't help you. That article entitled "100 Ways to Please Your Man"? Rubbish. 95 of them were worthless. You want to know how to make your man happy? It's easy, just follow along with...well, I'm not going to call myself Dr. Phil (even though my name's Phil, and I am a Doctor of Law), because that guy's as useless as tits on a boar.

I'm a fairly typical male. Sure, I'm more intelligent, successful and (oh, why be modest?) handsome than the vast majority of the rest, but I'm an authority on the subject, having been a male for 28 consecutive years. Take my word for it, these are the things you need to know...

We like sex. A lot. In fact, it's pretty much all we think about. We equate nearly everything of value in our relationships with you with sex. If you ever want proof of this, look at a bad relationship where one person's cheating on the other. The woman's first question will be "so, do you love her?" The man's will be, "so, did you f**k him?"

We hate your movies. We'll go see them, sure, (see below) but just accept that we're not going to find George Clooney's ice-melting charm quite as fantastic as you will.

Everything is a compromise. As above, we'll go see "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" with you, but that's a deposit in the almighty Favor Bank. And we're going to withdraw it when we want to go see "Batman Begins". (As a side note, my wife has turned the tables on this one, and in fact, when it comes to movies, my Favor Bank Account is running on overdraft.)

You don't have to be a sports fan, but don't ruin it for us. Please, please, please, limit any question that doesn't go something like, "why is Nick Saban leaving AJ Feeley in the game? He's got three interceptions and it's only the first quarter!" to commercials. Any deep, meaningful conversation that requires our attention should be put off until after the game's over. We'll listen. Hell, we'll even pretend we care. Just give us the 3 hours we require with our favorite team.

No, you're not fat. So stop asking.

You can tell us to do something, or how to do something. But not both.

Don't ask questions you don't want to know the answers to. And if you do, just tell us the answer you want to begin with. Here's a great example: "Is she prettier than me?" If we're watching Angelina Jolie on TV, the answer is probably yes. Most guys, of course, will say, "of course not" (if they have at least a couple functioning brain cells). Sometimes, that's sufficient, and everyone's happy. Sometimes, you go off on us and say "stop it, you know she is! You're lying!" And then you get mad, and we don't understand why. If you're fishing for a compliment, just say so. We will be happy to oblige. "What are you thinking?" is another great example of this. Chances are, you don't want to know, because we're thinking about a threesome with the Hilton Sisters right after winning the Nobel Prize for kickboxing. And don't even get into "how many girls were you with before me?"

So there it is, girls. All the insight you'll ever need to the male gender. Good luck!

Yours,
Phunwin

A Man's Home is His Castle...Well, it Was, Anyway

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/06/23/scotus.property.ap/index.html

It's official, the judiciary in this country has spiraled way out of control. The original purpose of eminent domain was to allow the taking of private property, with compensation, for public use. Few disputed that this was a good thing when it came to things like hospitals, police stations and schools.

As time marched on, developers and tax-base-hungry local legislatures pushed the envelope a little farther, taking private property from some developers or in blighted areas and using it for "economic development". The new mall in Syracuse is such an example; the city condemned the old Carousel Mall and turned it over to a new developer. Is a mall "public use"? Not really. Is condemning the commercial neighborhood in Brooklyn to build a new arena for the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets "public use"? Not even remotely.

But previously, your home was unimpeachable. Previously, unless you lived in a rathole that was a health hazard to both flora and fauna, your home couldn't be condemned.

Until now.

The Supreme Court, in its finite wisdom, voted 5-4 to give local legislatures nearly unlimited powers to condemn private land for new development. The "public use" cloak has fallen completely off now, as the concept of "economic development" is sufficient to allow your local legislature to use eminent domain to take your home and turn it over to your local development corporation.

"But they'll pay you for it, right?"

Yes, but if you think they're going to be paying market value for your home, you're nuts. The issue of "assessed value" vs. "market value" is frequently litigated, and more often than not, the "assessed value" (read "lower value") wins out. So, in other words, you can take a huge hit (in places where property values have increased greatly, like San Francisco, the assessed value of a home may be 1/5 of its market value) on the resale value of your home so that your local county legislature can have an office park with a Starbucks built.

It's noteworthy that although the GOP is considered the party of the wealthy, it was the liberal side of the court, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, Stevens, joined by swing vote Kennedy, that voted this opinion through. Who benefits most from this? Wealthy property developers and corporations, at the expense of the little guy. I'm not saying the GOP is the most magnanimous party, but it merits mention that Scalia, Rehnquist, Thomas and O'Connor were severely opposed to this, with O'Connor writing a stinging dissent.

Ah, judicial activism. If we can't legislate from the legislature, let's do it from the bench.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Brilliant!!!

This might be the best idea ever. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. From today's Bill Simmons mailbag...

"With the Michael Jackson trial over, my office has started a pool over who the next big celebrity trial will center around. We're allowed three picks. Who would you go with, and why? Also, who would you pick as a dark-horse candidate (someone you would never in a million years expect to see in court, like Martha Stewart)?"

I mean, wow. That's just incredible. I've got to take some time to consider this one, but for now I'll take Britney Spears, Eminem and Allen Iverson. My dark horse candidate would be Oprah Winfrey. That represents less of a genuine belief and more of a hope.

Also from the "I can't believe no one thought of it sooner" department: http://www.weeklyworldnews.com/features/politics/61691

Finals Talk

I wasn't so impressed with Detroit's game 3 victory. No team going home down 2-0 loses game 3 at this level. Hell, the 99 Knicks, arguably the worst Finals team of the last 30 years, won game 3. So when Detroit won game 3 in convincing fashion, I wasn't so excited. "Show me a game 4 win," I said to myself (since almost no one else I know likes basketball and I have a habit of talking to myself, hence the blog, which is really just talking to myself under the pretense of talking to you, dear reader. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, game 4...), "and then I'll believe my beloved Pistons can win this series."

To say that Detroit beat San Antonio last night would be unfair. More appropriate would be to say that they jumped the Spurs from behind, peppered them with right hands, smacked a chair over their head and stole their wallet. Last night wasn't a beating, it was a full-on, call-the-National-Guard-because-it's-getting-out-of-control ass whipping. Not good times, but great times.

The Spurs catch a break, though, because the NBA apparently believes that Sunday night is a fantastic time to broadcast a game, so they'll get two full days of rest, rather than one. That's two full days for Gregg Popovich to scream at them and insult their collective manhood. Actually, maybe that's not a break.

But Popovich would be right; Detroit's done what no other team in the playoffs has: they've pushed the Spurs around. The Spurs have faced a physical team in the playoffs in the Denver Nuggets, but they haven't faced anyone on the level of the Pistons. Seattle had some toughness in Danny Fortson and Reggie Evans, but Fortson was mostly on the bench for that series as the Sonics elected to play smallball. That's looking like a mistake now. Bill Simmons, who repeatedly skates dangerously close to the edge of the Hypocrisy Cliff when talking about the Pistons, made a fantastic point after game 2: the Pistons have to push the Spurs around. Hard fouls, no easy buckets, knock Ginobili and Parker down as much as humanly possible. It's worked to a tee the last two games. And as much as Tim Duncan has earned the rep as the best power forward ever (he gets my vote), he's not a really physical player. If Ben Wallace gave him a hard foul, Duncan wouldn't give one back at the other end, he'd just walk away. That's good behavior in a human being, of course, but in the rough-and-tumble NBA Finals, you can't do that.

If you think about it, Duncan's NEVER played a guy like Ben Wallace in the playoffs. He's never played against a guy who plays that hard, that physical and who will gleefully knock him on his ass with malice aforethought. Kevin Garnett? Nope. Garnett's obviously ten times more gifted than Wallace, but he's nowhere near as tough and physical. Shaq? Plenty physical, but you forget that Duncan rarely guarded Shaq; that was The Admiral's job, and later (regrettably for Spurs fans) Rasho Nesterovic. Kenyon Martin? More bark than bite. Karl Malone? Early in his career, maybe, but by his last few years (the time when Duncan faced him) he was far more of a jump shooter on offense and not nearly as nasty on the defensive end. Plus he was terrible in the playoffs anyway.

You can certainly say the same for Ginobili and Parker. They don't like contact at all. It took the Pistons a couple games to figure this out, but giving hard fouls wherever possible will discourage a lot of those forays to the basket. Moreover, the Pistons have an added advantage because it's the Finals; the rule is "no blood, no foul". If you think the last couple games have been called loosely, it's because they have. The refs traditionally swallow their whistles at Finals time and this year is no exception.

If you had offered the Pistons the chance to go back to San Antonio down 3-2 after their awful showing in the first two games, I'm pretty sure they'd have taken it. But after blowing out the Spurs for two straight games, anything less than a sweep would be a disappointment.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wyatt Sexton is GOD...and other tidbits

Who would have thought that the folks at Free Shoes U would long for the glory days of Chris Rix?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8218327/

---

Guess who's back....back again....Philip's back....tell a friend.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2084948

---

One of my clients is appealing a $50 penalty, and it will cost them roughly $75 to do so. You're never going to believe this, but they're a government agency.

---

At least a little bit of my faith in humanity was restored today when I checked CNN.com for the first time at about 4 pm and the lead story wasn't "Jacko Walks!" By the way, when I saw this picture, I thought (just for a second) "wow, what has Jacko done to himself now?"

As for whether he deserved an acquittal or not, frankly, I neither know nor care. I didn't follow a second of this trial and don't regret it.

---

The Mets are getting a new stadium! And it's being paid for (mostly) by private funding. Better still, the prospect of holding the 2012 Olympics in Queens should pretty much put the kibosh on that little disaster.

Can't you just see Bob Costas waxing poetic about the marathon? "Ah, the Olympic marathon, a wonderful tradition. This year's course will take the competitors around this garbage dump, through this Section 8 housing project, past the junkyard on Roosevelt Avenue, and then into Shea Stadium, where they'll make 5 laps around the stadium with angry fans cascading them with a shower of Budweiser."

If it's not obvious to you, I'm pulling hard for someone else to get the 2012 Games. They're expensive (they practically bankrupted Greece, though no one talks about this), pointless and dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Hosting the Olympics in New York? You couldn't come up with a more terrorist-friendly target if you tried. That's not a huge factor for me, but combined with all the other things I don't like (have I mentioned the tremendous cost that New York State taxpayers would endure?), I say let 'em do laps around the Eiffel Tower.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lord, I Was Born a Ramblin' Man...

My wife just watched the infamous Queer Eye episode with the Red Sox. If I was a Sox fan, I probably wouldn't trade the 2004 World Series title for having that episode never air...but I'd definitely consider it.

As an aside, the only other episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy I can remember had Patriots left tackle Matt Light. This leads me to only one conclusion: all Boston-area athletes are closet gays. Uh, not that there's anything wrong with that.

(And no, I'd never say that if the NHL was still in business.)

---

My wife and I just had a discussion on college majors that have zero practical application in the real world. Top of the list: philosophy. Her attitude? "You want to be a 'deep thinker'? Fine, drop some acid. There you go."

---

Saw another movie today that definitely makes my list of favorite enjoyably bad movies: "The Mask of Zorro". I was never totally sure whether this was a bad movie or not until today, my fourth viewing. One scene drives the point home. Catherine Zeta-Jones, arriving in then Mexican-owned California from Spain, was having a conversation with a local woman. The local woman had her daughter translate.

There's just one problem: she was speaking Spanish. Catherine apparently couldn't understand this, despite being from...Spain. You know, the place where they originated the language? I accept that there's a distinct difference between Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish, but come on. Considering that everyone else in the movie spoke English, that little bit of poetic license was pretty embarassing and insulting. (Or maybe it wasn't...after all, I just caught it on my fourth viewing.)

As an aside, in "Mask of Zorro", Catherine Zeta-Jones was looking insanely hot. To express her appearance in baseball terms, she'd have a 98 mph fastball that tailed away from right-handed batters. Nearly unhittable. I don't know if anyone has ever compiled a list of hottest female movie characters (some college dropout with an IQ of 74 and a job at Maxim Magazine has surely done so), but Catherine's character would be a lock for the Top 10.

---

Fun site of the day: songfacts.com. Plenty of sites have a library of song lyrics. This one has news about the songs, i.e. what inspired them, what the band was thinking, why they were written, etc.

And no, no one quite knows what "Stairway to Heaven" was about.

---

Game 1 wasn't a real good sign for the Pistons. They jumped out to, what, a 13 point lead? And then the Spurs absolutely took control. Lan had a very astute comment before game 1: a team with a long rest like that either comes out rusty or comes out all guns blazing. With the Spurs, it was obviously the former, and this was Detroit's best chance to steal a game in San Antonio. Instead, they blew probably a dozen layups and open 8 foot jumpers in the first half alone. Very frustrating.

Now, they're facing what's nearly a do-or-die game 2. Win, and they salvage a split and go back to the D feeling good. Lose, and they've got to take four of five from the best team in the NBA.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Want to Trade Places?

Ordinarily, this is where I'd give a breakdown of the NBA Finals, featuring my beloved Pistons against the Spurs. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time, so let's go with Pistons in 7 because I'm a homer.

I've got a dozen cases this afternoon, at least half of which look like they have headaches in store, and then I'm teaching a double session of my class this evening. And then, of course, the Pistons are probably going to get whupped by the Spurs in Game 1 of the Finals, just to cap it off.

Not the best day to be Phunwin.

Monday, June 06, 2005

This Feels Weird

I can almost guarantee that this is the first, and last, time I'll say this, but thank you, Sheldon Silver.

Silver, New York's poster child for limosuine liberalism (he's the State Assembly Majority Leader, from Lower Manhattan), voted against the funding plan for the $2 billion megaplex the city and state were going to build for the Jets, effectively killing the plan. I've seldom thought of Silver as a responsible, thoughtful politician who had the best interests of the taxpayer at heart, but for today at least, he's on my good side.

Walking for Ron Santo

90% of the non-Bill Simmons content on ESPN's Page 2 is crap. This story, however, is not. Mr. Bill Holden, congratulations, you're an official Home Team Nominee for the coveted "Man and a Half Award". Previous winners include (among others) LaVar Arrington, Bill Laimbeer and 73-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

How did our previous winners get the award?

Armstrong's obvious. Even if cycling is a sport to which I profess complete indifference, when you win its most important race 6 times in a row AFTER beating testicular cancer so virulent as to give you a 10% chance of living, you've earned whatever accolades people want to give you.

Arrington had the single most impressive play of the college football season that year; vaulting over an offensive tackle to get a sack.

Laimbeer won for his work coaching the WNBA champion Detroit Shock. So what, you ask? Look, any man who can give orders to five women and get them to execute his orders flawlessly is a bigger man than me or anyone I know.

---

God bless the New York Times. I can't possibly express how angry this whole $2 billion stadium nonsense makes me. Never mind the fact that it could be built for HALF that cost if they ventured out a little further from the World's Most Expensive Real Estate. An Olympic bid, sham or not, is a stupid reason for building anything that expensive. Let's put this in common sense terms: they're going to spend TWO BILLION DOLLARS on a building to support a 3 week event 7 years from now that probably won't come. This is yet more evidence of the massive common sense gap that exists in politics, both on the left and the right (or in the case of New York State politics, the left and the center; there's very little "right" to speak of in this bluest of states).

Incidentally, you'd think that Woody Johnson might be just a little bit ashamed of this exorbitant expenditure at a time when the Giants (their neighbors) and the Dolphins (their hated rivals) are building and renovating, respectively, their stadiums at a combined cost to the taxpayers of ZERO dollars. I guess not. That said, I don't really blame Johnson here. All accounts are that the state and city of New York said, "we want you to move back to NYC and we'll pay for a new stadium." What's he going to do, say no?

Meanwhile, all this comes at a time when Erie County, a place near and dear to my heart, is all but checking the couch cushions at Buffalo City Hall for loose change in an effort to close a $130 million budget gap. Think about that for a moment: the county containing the second-largest city in New York State is on the verge of bankruptcy, and yet the state is opting not to assist in bailing them out. I don't have a problem with that, in and of itself; if Erie County screwed up, there's no reason the rest of the state should pitch in and bail it out (well, maybe I should help; I did vote for current county exec Joel "Emperor Nero" Giambra when I lived there). However, if the state then goes and spends almost 16 times more than that on a project that will benefit far fewer people, in an area that already gets far too much state funding, well, that's a problem.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Fight Night at the RRCC

I love boxing, and I want you to love boxing too.

Last night, Pete and I went to the Rochester Riverside Convention Center for boxing. Immediately, we noticed some distinct differences between fight night in Rochester, and fight night in Las Vegas. As such, direct from the home office in Mississauga, Ontario, here's our top ten differences between the two...

10. Fighters are introduced as hailing from "their second home town of Rochester, New York!"
9. Promoter's daughter was on the card.
8. Ring card girls actually looked attainable.
7. Heckling the girl who's singing during intermission gets you a talking-to from a massive and frightening security guard who says, "cool down, she's my cousin."
6. You can carry on a 10 minute discussion with the fight doctor.
5. Guest of honor, a legendary local boxer, pinches your cheek. Repeatedly.
4. Gambling is limited to "$1 per fight, I'll take the blue corner, you take the red."
3. Promoter's answering the phone and taking ticket orders himself.
2. Two of the upper-card fights get cancelled right before the fights start and no one really cares.
1. Not only were we sitting ringside and no one had to sell a vital organ to make it happen, but we were the most famous people there.

I'm looking forward to Fight Night at Frontier II, which will be August 17. However, I'm a little concerned. We overheard the promoter mention that there would be a "big surprise" on the card. If I learned one thing from watching pro wrestling, it's this: "big surprises" almost always suck. If it was a legitimately big deal, they'd publicize the hell out of it to sell tickets. Still, it's a good time, and there's at least a chance that Hasim Rahman (another guy who calls Rochester his second home town) will show up and headline the card, which would be great.

And by the way, yes, #7 actually happened.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Quick post

Your link of the day:

http://mrt300.ods.org/snl/

You "Celebrity Jeopardy" fans can thank me later. (BTW, I haven't watched the vids yet, so if the quality sucks, don't complain.)

---

A doctor vacationing on the Riviera met a lawyer friend and asked him what he was doing there.

The lawyer replied, "Remember that lousy real estate I bought? Well, it caught fire, so here I am with the fire insurance proceeds. What are you doing here?"

The doctor replied, "Remember that lousy real estate I had in Mississippi? Well, the river overflowed, and here I am with the flood insurance proceeds."

The lawyer looked puzzled. "Gee," he asked, "how do you start a flood?

---

Most of my office is participating in the Chase Corporate Challenge tonight. That's a 3 mile run for charity, or some such thing. I will not. I will be watching boxing at the Convention Center with my buddy Pete.

The moral, as always: it's better to watch stuff than do stuff.

---



It's really sad, because most teachers are competent, caring, and understand that you can't coddle kids endlessly. And yet, they get marginalized by these pinhead hippies who think that the big problem isn't the three R's, but self-esteem. Not only should people like these be denied tenure, they should be shot at sunrise. Possibly by the very same kids they're unwittingly destroying with their namby-pamby "everybody's a winner!" nonsense.