Friday, July 31, 2009

Buy this book!

And Here's the Kicker... comes to you from Vanity Fair's Mike Sacks.

You know you want to read it. Go inside the writer's room!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PGA to come back to Louisville

The PGA is coming back to Valhalla!
The PGA of America is expected to announce Thursday morning that it will stage two major events Louisville's Valhalla Golf Club within the next five years.

The events are the 2011 Senior PGA Championship and the 2014 PGA Championship, one of golf's four major annual tournaments.

Both events previously have been held at Valhalla, which also was the site of the Ryder Cup matches between American and European pros in September 2008. The news conference will be held at the Valhalla course off Shelbyville Road in eastern Jefferson County at 9 a.m.[...]

The letter said that at the news conference “the PGA will announce the 2011 Senior PGA championship and the 2014 PGA Championship (are) coming to Valhalla Golf Club. … PGA President Jim Remy, PGA CEO Joe Steranka and several other PGA officials and special guests will be in attendance. …”

The PGA sent invitations to the news conference last week, but PGA officials and officials of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Greater Louisville Inc., the local chamber of commerce, and other agencies have remained tight lipped about the announcement in recent days.

“We've all heard the rumors,” said Carmen Hickerson, spokeswoman for Greater Louisville Inc., specifically mentioning talk of the senior event. “We love the PGA. It would be fabulous news,” about any major event coming to Valhalla. Local organizers estimated the Ryder Cup had a $120 million economic impact on the community.

Tisha B'Av

From sundown tonight to sundown tomorrow night, Jews around the world will be mourning in observance of Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av.

Historically, everything bad that has happened to the Jewish people has happened on the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av.

Here are the big five incidents:
◦During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)

◦The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)

◦The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)

◦The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)

◦The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.
Other misfortunes:
1.The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.

2.World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

3.On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
The laws of Tisha B'Av go into effect at sundown tonight:
Upon sundown, the laws of Tisha B'Av commence -- consisting of the following expressions of mourning:

1. No eating or drinking until nightfall the following evening.
-Pregnant and nursing women are also required to fast. If one suspects it could be harmful to the baby or mother, a rabbi should be consulted.
-A woman within 30 days after birth need not fast.
-Others who are old, weak, or ill should consult with a rabbi. (MB 554:11)
-Medicine may be taken on Tisha B'Av, preferably without water.
-In case of great discomfort, the mouth may be rinsed with water. Great care should be taken not to swallow anything. (MB 567:11)

2. Other prohibitions include:
-Any bathing or washing, except for removing specific dirt -- e.g. gook in the eyes (OC 554:9, 11). (Upon rising in the morning, before prayers, or after using the bathroom, one washes only the fingers. See OC 554:10, OC 613:3, MB 554:26)
-Anointing oneself for pleasure. (Deodorant is permitted.)
-Having marital relations.
-Wearing leather shoes. (Leather belts may be worn.)(see: ?Laws of Shoes and Chairs?)
-Learning Torah, since this is a joyful activity. It is permitted to learn texts relevant to Tisha B'Av and mourning -- e.g. the Book of Lamentations, Book of Job, parts of Tractate Moed Katan, Gittin 56-58, Sanhedrin 104, Yerushalmi end of Ta'anis, and the Laws of Mourning. In-depth study should be avoided. (MB 554:4)

3. Other mourning practices include:
-Sitting no higher than a foot off the ground. After midday, one may sit on a chair. (OC 559:3)(see: "Laws of Shoes and Chairs")
-Not engaging in business or other distracting labors, unless it will result in a substantial loss. (OC 554:24)
-Refraining from greeting others or offering gifts. (OC 554:20)
-Avoiding idle chatter or leisure activities.
-Following Tisha B'Av, all normal activities may be resumed, except for the following which are delayed until midday of the 10th of Av, because the burning of the Temple continued through the 10th of Av:
-Haircuts and washing clothes. (When Tisha B'Av falls out on Thursday, these are permitted immediately following Tisha B'Av, in honor of the coming Shabbat.)
-Bathing. (When Tisha B'Av falls out on Thursday, bathing is permitted on Friday morning.)
-Eating meat and wine.
-Music and swimming.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jim Bunning Not Running for Re-Election

Senator Jim Bunning, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, announced that he will not run for re-election. When told of his decision, Bunning said, "Strike 3! You're out!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Steve Beshear-Jerry Abramson 2011

It's official. Mongiardo has been removed from the ticket. He'll be replaced, officially on Monday, by Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.

An excerpt from the email that was sent out:
A global economic crisis and a series of unforeseen natural disasters have presented Kentucky with one challenge after another in the 19 months that I've been governor.

But with a steady hand, my administration is helping the state survive with a strategy that combines short-term help with long-term thinking:

*We've ratcheted back spending, just like our families have done, to make government leaner and more effective.

*We've preserved critical priorities in education, health care and public safety.

*We're reached out to vulnerable populations in need across the state.

*And, as showed by the economic development initiatives we persuaded the General Assembly to adopt in the recent special legislative session, we've focused on attracting good-paying jobs for our people.

*All the while, we have toughened ethics standards, expanded health insurance to more children and positioned Kentucky as a leader in the national energy issues of the future.

But there remains much to be done.

That's why on Monday, at 9 a.m. at the Berry Hill Mansion in Frankfort, I will be announcing my intention to run for re-election as governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

At the same time, I will be introducing Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson as my running mate.

Jerry is a leader of stature who has a proven record of accomplishment, particularly in economic development. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of the state's largest city. Now he intends to do the same on behalf of the entire state.

Jerry will serve out his term as mayor. At the same time, he will be traveling around Kentucky to hear input on how, in my second term, the Beshear/Abramson team can improve what state government does for you.

That, my friends, is exciting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2009 Emmy Nominations for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards

Here are the nominations for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards to be televised by CBS on September 20, 2009. The host will be Neil Patrick Harris, a nominee for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy. The Creative Arts awards will be handed out one day earlier on September 19, 2009. This is also the same weekend of Rosh HaShanah.

But anyway, here are the main awards

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
William Hurt, Damages
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Cherry Jones, 24
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Rose Byrne, Damages

Outstanding Actress, Mini-series or Movie
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby
Chandra Wilson, Accidental Friendship

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Mini-series or Movie
Len Cariou, Into the Storm
Tom Courtenay, Little Dorrit
Ken Howard, Grey Gardens
Bob Newhart, The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice
Andy Serkis, Little Dorrit

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie
Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Saddam
Marcia Gay Harden, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm
Cicely Tyson, Relative Stranger
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Grey Gardens

Outstanding Miniseries
Generation Kill
Little Dorrit

Outstanding Actor, Mini-series or Movie
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm
Kevin Kline, Cyrano de Bergerac
Sir Ian McKellen, King Lear
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption

Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords

Outstanding Actress, Drama
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Outstanding Actor, Drama
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program

Outstanding Series, Comedy
30 Rock
Family Guy
The Office
Flight of the Conchords
How I Met Your Mother

Outstanding Series, Drama
Breaking Bad
Mad Men
Big Love

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef

Outstanding Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow
Dirty Jobs
Dog Whisperer
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List

Oustanding Made for Televison Movie
Coco Chanel
Grey Gardens
Into the Storm
Prayers for Bobby
Taking Chance

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Brenda Blethyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Carol Burnett, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Sharon Lawrence, Grey's Anatomy
CCH Pounder, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Edward Asner, CSI: NY
Ernest Borgnine, ER
Ted Danson, Damages
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me
Jimmy Smits, Dexter

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Gena Rowlands, Monk
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock
Betty White, My Name Is Earl

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Alan Alda, 30 Rock
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock
Steve Martin, 30 Rock
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger
Kathy Griffin: She'll Cut a Bitch
The Kennedy Center Honors
Ricky Gervais: Out of England — The Stand-Up Special
Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America

Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
Late Night With Conan O'Brien
Mike Sweeney, Chris Albers, Jose Arroyo, Dan Cronin, Kevin Dorff, Andres du Bouchet, Michael Gordon, Berkley Johson, Brian Kiley, Todd Levin, Brian McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O'Brien, Matt O'Brien, Brian Stack, Andrew Weinberg
Late Show With David Letterman
Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel, Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Steve Young, Tom Ruprecht, Lee Ellenberg, Matt Roberts, Jeremy Weiner, Joe Grossman, Bill Scheft, Bob Borden, Frank Sebastiano, David Letterman
Saturday Night Live
Seth Meyers, Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Alex Baze, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, John Lutz, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Paula Pell, Simon Rich, Marika Sawyer, Akiva Schaffer, John Solomon, Emily Spivey, Kent Sublette, Jorma Taccone, Bryan Tucker
The Colbert Report
Stephen Colbert, Allison Silverman, Richard Dahm, Michael Brumm, Rob Dubbin, Opus Moreschi, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Tom Purcell, Glenn Eichler, Peter Grosz, Barry Julien, Meredith Scardino
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Steve Bodow, Jon Stewart, David Javerbaum, Josh Lieb, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Jason Ross, Tim Carvell, John Oliver, Sam Means, Rob Kutner, J.R. Havlan, Rich Blomquist, Wyatt Cenac, Elliott Kalan, Rachel Axler

Cards aiming for Roy Halladay

Who would not want a rotation with Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, and Kyle Lohse?!?

MLB Trade Rumors:
The Cardinals are prepared to offer talent for Roy Halladay, but they're not going to disassemble their entire system to acquire the Jays ace, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Excerpts from Joe's article on Halladay:
Halladay, who enjoys full no-trade protection, has made clear to Blue Jays general manager J.P Ricciardi that he would accept a trade only to a contender. He also enjoys a strong friendship with Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, his Blue Jays teammate before Carpenter signed here in December 2002.

Halladay stopped short of specifically commenting on the Cardinals as his next potential destination, but acknowledged knowing Carpenter's thoughts.

"Everybody raves about it here," Halladay said about four hours before Tuesday night's start. "I know how he feels and how much he loves it. That's from conversations we've had in the past. We haven't really discussed it recently."

Carpenter has publicly lobbied for the Cardinals to pursue the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner. Cards general manager John Mozeliak acknowledged last week his intention to approach Ricciardi with the organization's interest. As one Cardinals source suggested this week, "We may be able to give up an arm or a leg. But we're not going to sacrifice the whole body" in a trade.

Pressed on St. Louis as a potential destination, Halladay said, "I just hate to say. I really do. It's not because I don't want to go to a certain place. Out of respect to Toronto, I'd just as soon not put the cart before the horse. It's just kind of a tough situation."

The Blue Jays coveted infielder Brett Wallace before the Cardinals took him in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft. Wallace currently is the Cardinals' top prospect. The Jays apparently expect major league-ready pitching in any package for Halladay, which poses a serious challenge to the Cardinals.
I blame Walt if this doesn't happen.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Funny People

Judd Apatow answers your questions on the upcoming film, Funny People.
What is the movie about?

It is about a world famous comedian who gets sick, then gets better and doesn’t know what to do with this second chance. It is also about his friendship with a young comedian, and his attempt to win back his old flame who is currently married and has two kids. And it is about fifty other things too. Just see it. I will ruin it if I try to explain it.

Is it a comedy or a drama?

It is a comedy. I think it is as funny as "The Forty Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up." It is more emotional than my other two films, but if you hate emotions you will still like it. And most people do hate emotions.

How many times should I see "Funny People"?

Three. Once for the laughs. The second time to notice the details you missed when you laughed. And the third time just to make sure we beat "Transformers" at the box office. We must not let robots rule the world.

Is it long?

Depends on your attention span. It is two minutes shorter than "Transformers 2," but the extra fifteen minutes is free! No extra charge! Did I mention we do not have any robots? Is that a bad thing?

Who is in it?

Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bna, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Rza.[...]

Why do you put your children in your films?

Six words—I get to keep the money. And also, if I hire them I don’t have to meet anyone else’s weird kids.
The Second City ETC stage has a new revue making it's debut this month: Studs Terkel's Not Working!
According to the improv troupe, in the new show, "a cast of six talented actors take the piss out of what our world has become and how we got here. We've lost many things, but one thing will always stay the same — Chicago. We'll always have crooked politicians, civic pride and that crazy guy at Foster & Broadway."

Directed by Matt Hovde, the cast of Studs Terkel's Not Working includes Christina Anthony, Amanda Blake Davis, Tom Flanigan, Timothy Edward Mason, Beth Melewski and Andy St. Clair. Mike Descoteaux is musical director, and Joseph Ruffner is stage manager. Set designers are Kevin Depinet and Amy Jackson. The stylist is Logan Vaughn.

The producing team includes executive producer and proprietor for The Second City, Andrew Alexander; vice president of The Second City, Kelly Leonard; and co-producers Robin Hammond and Alison Riley.

Studs Terkel was a Chicago-based author, historian, actor and broadcaster, and typically referred to as the voice of the American worker. He is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans in such books as "Working" and "The Good War." His last book, "P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening," was released in November 2008. Terkel died on Oct. 31, 2008, at the age of 96. To learn more about Studs Terkel and his work, visit
Jason Sudeikis is set to join the cast of the rom-com, Going the Distance.
"Saturday Night Live" veteran Jason Sudeikis is in final negotiations to join Drew Barrymore and Justin Long in the romantic comedy "Going the Distance."

Sudeikis will play Box, a friend of Garrett's (Long) who counsels him against trying to maintain his long-distance relationship with Barrymore's character. Charlie Day and Christina Applegate also were recently cast.
If this is the world premiere, then what was the screening that I just saw this past Monday in Chicago?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 MLB All-Star Game Rosters

National League
Elected starters
C-Yadier Molina, Cardinals (1)
1B-Albert Pujols, Cardinals (8)
2B-Chase Utley, Phillies (4)
3B-David Wright, Mets (4)
SS-Hanley Ramírez, Marlins (2)
OF-Carlos Beltrán*, Mets (5)
OF-Ryan Braun, Brewers (2)
OF-Raúl Ibáñez, Phillies (1)

Heath Bell,Padres (1)
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (1)
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers (1)
Matt Cain, Giants (1)
Francisco Cordero, Reds (3)
Zach Duke[c], Pirates (1)
Ryan Franklin, Cardinals (1)
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (3)
Trevor Hoffman[d], Brewers (7)
Josh Johnson, Marlins (1)
Ted Lilly, Cubs (2)
Tim Lincecum, Giants (2)
Jason Marquis, Rockies (1)
Francisco Rodríguez, Mets (4)
Johan Santana, Mets (3)

C-Brian McCann, Braves (4)
1B- Prince Fielder, Brewers (2)
1B-Adrian Gonzalez, Padres (2)
1B-Ryan Howard, Phillies (2)
2B-Orlando Hudson, Dodgers (2)
2B-Freddy Sanchez, Pirates (3)
3B-Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals (1)
SS-Miguel Tejada, Astros (6)
OF-Brad Hawpe, Rockies (1)
OF-Hunter Pence, Astros (1)
OF-Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (1)
OF-Shane Victorino, Phillies (1)
OF-Jayson Werth[e], Phillies (1)

American League
Elected starters
C-Joe Mauer, Twins (3)
1B-Mark Teixeira, Yankees (2)
2B-Dustin Pedroia*, Red Sox (2)
3B-Evan Longoria*, Rays (2)
SS-Derek Jeter, Yankees (10)
OF-Jason Bay, Red Sox (3)
OF-Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (9)
OF-Josh Hamilton, Rangers (2)

Andrew Bailey, Athletics (1)
Josh Beckett, Red Sox (2)
Mark Buehrle, White Sox (4)
Brian Fuentes, Angels (3)
Zack Greinke, Royals (1)
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (6)
Félix Hernández, Mariners (1)
Edwin Jackson, Tigers (1)
Joe Nathan, Twins (4)
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox (4)
Mariano Rivera, Yankees (10)
Justin Verlander, Tigers (2)
Tim Wakefield, Red Sox (1)

C-Víctor Martínez, Indians (3)
1B-Justin Morneau, Twins (3)
1B-Carlos Peña[a], Rays (1)
1B-Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (2)
2B-Aaron Hill, Blue Jays (1)
3B-Brandon Inge, Tigers (1)
3B-Michael Young, Rangers (6)
3B-Chone Figgins[F], Angels (1)
SS-Jason Bartlett, Rays (1)
OF-Carl Crawford, Rays (3)
OF-Nelson Cruz[b], Rangers (1)
OF-Curtis Granderson, Tigers (1)
OF-Torii Hunter, Angels (3)
OF-Adam Jones, Orioles (1)
OF-Ben Zobrist, Rays (1)

a. Carlos Peña replaced Dustin Pedroia due to family obligation.
b. Nelson Cruz replaced Torii Hunter due to injury.
c. Zach Duke replaced Matt Cain due to injury.
d. Trevor Hoffman replaced Jonathan Broxton due to injury.
e. Jayson Werth replaced Carlos Beltrán due to injury.
f. Chone Figgins replaced Evan Longoria on the roster due to injury; Michael Young replaced Longoria as starter at third base.
* This player will not start.

Managing the AL is Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay and Charlie Manuel of Phildelphia will take care of managing the NL.

United States President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The game will be televised on FOX with Joe Buck doing the play by play and Tim McCarver providing commentary.

Starting Lineups
American League
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Derek Jeter, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Mark Teixiera, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Josh Hamilton, CF
Michael Young, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Roy Halladay, P

National League
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Chase Utley, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Ryan Braun, RF
Raul Ibanez, LF
David Wright, 3B
Shane Victorino, CF
Yadier Molina, C
Tim Lincecum, P

HP Dana DeMuth
1B Brian Gorman
2B Jeff Kellogg
3B Angel Hernandez
LF Tim Timmons
RF Paul Nauert

2009 State Farm Home Run Derby

National League Participants
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Howard, Philadelhia Phillies
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

American League Participants
Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay Rays
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers

The question remains, what will last longer, the Futures Game or the Home Run Derby?

Tune in to ESPN tomorrow night at 8/7 PM.

The Three Weeks

It's that time of year again. This past Wednesday, we entered the 17th day of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar, thus kicking off the start of the Three Weeks, a period of mourning. On the 17th day of Tammuz, the walls of Jerusalem were breached and that led to the destruction of the first Temple.

Here's some background on the 17th of Tammuz:
The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day commemorating the fall of Jerusalem, prior to the destruction of the Holy Temple. This also marks the beginning of a 3-week national period of mourning, leading up to Tisha B'Av.

The 17th of Tammuz is the first of four fast days mentioned in the prophets. The purpose of a fast day is to awaken our sense of loss over the destroyed Temple - and the subsequent Jewish journey into exile.[...]

Five great catastrophes occurred in Jewish history on the 17th of Tammuz:
*Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai — in response to the sin of the Golden Calf.

*The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.

*Jerusalem's walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

*Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll - setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries.

*An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple - a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.

(Originally, the fast was observed on the Ninth of Tammuz since that was the day Jerusalem fell prior to the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. However, after Jerusalem fell on the 17th of Tammuz - prior to the destruction of the Second Temple - the Sages decided upon a combined observance for both tragedies, the 17th of Tammuz.)
Here's an overview of the laws relating to the period of the Three Weeks.
The "Three Weeks" between the 17th of Tammuz and the Tisha B'Av have historically been days of misfortune and calamity for the Jewish people. During this time, both the First and Second Temples were destroyed, amongst other terrible tragedies.

These days are referred to as the period "within the straits" (bein hametzarim), in accordance with the verse: "all her oppressors have overtaken her within the straits" (Lamentations 1:3).

On Shabbat during the Three Weeks, the Haftorahs are taken from chapters in Isaiah and Jeremiah dealing with the Temple's destruction and the exile of the Jewish people.

During this time, various aspects of mourning are observed by the entire nation. We minimize joy and celebration. And, since the attribute of Divine judgement (“din”) is acutely felt, we avoid potentially dangerous or risky endeavors.

1. No weddings are held. (However, engagement ceremonies are permitted.)
2. We do not listen to music.
3. We avoid all public celebrations -- especially those which involve singing, dancing and musical accompaniment.
4. We avoid pleasure trips or other unusually entertaining activities.
5. No haircuts or shaving. (Fingernails may be clipped up until the week in which Tisha B'Av falls.)
6. We do not say the blessing She-hechianu on new food or clothes, except on Shabbat.
The Nine Days, starting on the 1st day of Av start an strict period of morning.
1. We avoid purchasing any items that bring great joy.
2. We suspend home improvements, or the planting of trees and flowers.
3. We avoid litigation with non-Jews, since fortune is inauspicious at this time.
4. We abstain from the consumption of meat (including poultry) and wine. These foods are symbolic of the Temple service, and are generally expressions of celebration and joy.
**On Shabbat, meat and wine are permitted. This applies also to any other seuduat mitzvah -- for example, at a Brit Milah or at the completion of a tractate of Talmud.
**Wine from Havdallah should be given to a child to drink.
5. We refrain from wearing newly laundered garments, or laundering any clothes.
**If the "freshness" has been taken out of a garment prior to the Nine Days, it may be worn.
**Fresh clothes may be worn for Shabbat.
**The clothing of small children, which gets soiled frequently, may be laundered during the Nine Days.
**Clothes may not be laundered even if done in preparation for after Tisha B'Av, or even if done by a non-Jew.
6. We do not bathe for pleasure.
**It is permitted to bathe in order to remove dirt or perspiration, or for medical reasons. This may be done only in cool water.
**Furthermore, the body should be washed in parts, rather than all at one time.
**Bathing in warm water is permitted on Friday in honor of Shabbat.
What happened on Tisha B'Av?
On Tisha B'Av, five national calamities occurred:

1. During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)

2. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)

3. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)

4. The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)

5. The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.
Some other misfortunates that came our way:
1. The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.

2. World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

3. On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

The USOC and Chicago 2016

This doesn't look good for Chicago 2016.
Just as Chicago tries to ride out one storm buffeting its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, it could face another problem: possible backlash from a money-related dispute between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

"I don't see how this can help," IOC Executive Board member Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico said via telephone Wednesday.

This week, Chicago's 2016 Olympic boosters unveiled a plan to meet with residents of all 50 wards in an effort to rebuild support in the wake of a controversy sparked last month when Mayor Richard Daley said he would sign a host-city agreement placing full financial responsibility for any losses on the city.

Now, Chicago's bid faces another potential hurdle because of actions not of its making.

The IOC is upset that the USOC, which would reap huge financial benefits from a Chicago Summer Games, went ahead Wednesday with an announcement about its Olympic television network launch with Comcast, despite the IOC's advice to wait until contractual issues were resolved.

The dispute boils down to what impact the U.S. Olympic Network will have on IOC cash cow NBC, the network of the Olympics in the United States through 2012, and to a long-standing question about marketing rights and use of Olympic marks that 1978 federal legislation granted the USOC.

In an interview with the Tribune after the IOC's position first was reported by The New York Times, USOC Chief Operating Officer Norm Bellingham said Chicago 2016 was not involved in discussions about the Olympic network.

"If this damages the [Chicago] bid, it would be deeply unfortunate, and it is in no way our intention," Bellingham said. "We are not trying necessarily to advance the Chicago bid, but we believe we are trying to advance the Olympic movement in the U.S. territory."[...]

The latest problems began after USOC Chairman Larry Probst called IOC President Jacques Rogge on Friday to let Rogge know of the impending announcement about the network, scheduled to launch after the 2010 Winter Games with programming that would include Olympic-related competition and archival Olympic footage.

Rogge advised the USOC to discuss the plans with IOC television director Timo Lumme, which Bellingham did by phone Monday. A day later, Lumme sent Bellingham what amounted to a cease-and-desist letter.

According to sources familiar with the letter, it expressed strong concerns about the network and said the IOC was not sure it would allow the USOC to use Olympic symbols or archival footage.
Here's a letter sent from the IOC to the USOC. It's not pretty, not at all.

The Chicago Tribune has comments from NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol:
NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, one of the most influential players in the Olympic world, blames the United States Olympic Committee for jeopardizing Chicago's chances to win the 2016 Summer Olympics.

"The only thing that can cost Chicago the Games is continuing squabbles between the two parties," Ebersol said Friday via telephone, referring to the latest quarrel between the USOC and the International Olympic Committee.

"And this one clearly is all on the USOC, no two ways about it."

This problem arose when the USOC went ahead with its Wednesday announcement about the 2010 launch of a U.S. Olympic television network despite the IOC telling it to delay the announcement until contractual issues were resolved.

Chicago has the best American bid I have ever seen," Ebersol said. "It is heartbreaking to see the continuing USOC-IOC squabbles get in the middle of it."

NBC's interests play a major role in this dispute because the IOC wants to protect its cash cow. NBC paid $5.7 billion for U.S. rights to the seven Winter and Summer Olympics from 2000 through 2012, which amounts to more than half the IOC's global TV revenue.

Talks for U.S. rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics are expected to begin after the Oct. 2 vote in Copenhagen on the 2016 host. Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo are the other finalists.

The USOC and IOC also have been embroiled in a long-standing battle over USOC share of U.S. broadcast rights. That had led to exchanges of vitriol hurting Chicago's bid until the parties agreed at a March meeting in Denver to start fresh negotiations after the 2016 host decision.

Ebersol said "absolutely not" to the question of whether the latest dispute doomed Chicago's bid.

"[Chicago] needs to make sure the IOC knows they were blind-sided just like the IOC was and that they will do their best as intermediaries to bring peace to the valley," he said.

Ebersol said it became starkly evident Chicago stood to lose in the latest dispute after the IOC issued a statement Thursday saying it was "disappointed the USOC acted unilaterally and, in our view, in haste."

He felt that statement was guaranteed to attract the attention of the IOC electorate, some of which would "come in full bore on the USOC and, consequently, Chicago."

"The IOC was forced to explain its position publicly when they probably would just as soon have settled this privately with something in it for both parties," he said.

"By rushing this announcement, [the USOC] put the IOC in a position where they have to react to protect their interests in the overall climate of the [upcoming] television negotiations and the Olympic advertising marketplace."[...]

Yarmuth walks out

When the Congressional Black Caucus decided to ask for a moment of silence on the U.S. House floor after the death of singer Michael Jackson, Rep. John Yarmuth walked out.

The 3rd District Democrat said his June 26 protest had nothing to do with Jackson per se, but rather with what he viewed as an inappropriate gesture in the middle of an important debate over energy.

"I just thought that was really ridiculous," Yarmuth said in an interview.[...]

But Yarmuth insisted that to interrupt a major debate over energy legislation, one of the most important bills the lawmakers will consider this year, to ask for silence for Michael Jackson was "over the top."

"We have many opportunities to pay tribute to people we want to pay tribute to," the Louisville congressman said.

Yarmuth said he does not recall a moment of silence after the deaths of other entertainers and athletes.

Former members of Congress are accorded the gesture, and every month the House has a moment of silence for the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. The House also has had moments of silence for the victims of Kentucky's ice storm and the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Yarmuth said.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Jim Wallis talks to Jon Stewart

Jim Wallis: The Hebrew prophets often use humor, satire, and truth-telling to get their message across, and I feel you do a combination of all three. How conscious are you of this, and are you trying to make social change happen?

Jon Stewart: It may be true that the Hebrew prophets used humor in that regard, to create social change, but it was also used by Borscht Belt social directors. We’ve got a lot more in common with them than the prophets. Everyone here has a lot of respect for activists and an appreciation for what it takes to be an activist. For most of us, writing jokes, playing a little Guitar Hero in the afternoon, and calling it a day seems to be the way to go. Because we’re in the public eye, maybe people project onto us their desires for that type of activism coming from us, but just knowing the process here as I do, our show is maybe the antithesis of activism, and that is a relatively selfish pursuit. The targets we choose, the way we go about it—it’s got more of a personal venting aspect than a socially conscious aspect.
Here's David Waters' take on that:
Stewart is more than a comedian. He’s the Will Rogers of our time, laughing with us as he sharply and satirically mocks the absurdities of politics, media and popular culture. But a prophet? Seems like quite a stretch, at least in the theological sense of the word.[...]

In Stewart’s world of real people and fake news, cause and effect are clearly comical, not theological.[...]

Stewart spends plenty of time exposing the phony and self-serving powers that be, but he told Wallis he doesn’t think people should see what he does as social activism.

Real prophets aren’t venting on their own. “G-d is raging in the prophet’s words,” wrote Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great 20th-Century Jewish theologian.

I don’t think Jon Stewart qualifies as a prophet, but who’s to say G-d doesn’t also send us court jesters?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Photos

Quote of the Day

"I believe that (the adoption of the Declaration of Independence) will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other."
-- John Adams

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:
New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

G-d Bless the USA

G-d Bless the U.S.A
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again
with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars
to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away.

I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
G-d Bless the U.S.A.

From the lakes of Minnesota
to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas
from sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston
and New York to L.A.,
There's pride in every American heart
and it's time we stand and say:

I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
G-d Bless the U.S.A.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Will the comedies get some love from Oscar?

The Oscars have expanded their list of movies to be nominated for best picture from five to ten. Will this mean that some comedies will actually get some love?
The move clearly solves some significant problems. Comedies, which are always among the year’s top-grossing films, never get a trip to the best picture party — Judd Apatow has always been a bystander when it comes to that storied walk to the dais. And well-made big movies — think “Iron Man,” not just “Dark Knight” — rarely get invited into the exclusive tent. And animated films that break through to become plain old great movies — “Wall-E” and “Ratatouille” come to mind — often end up in the animated category, which is viewed as the little kids’ table at the big show.
Who woulda thunk?
Rogen is attached to and developing a road (trip?) comedy called Mother's Curse that he'll co-star in with Barbra Streisand. Yep, you heard that right, the same Barbra Streisand that brought us "Happy Days Are Here Again" and played Mrs. Focker in Meet the Fockers.