Sunday, August 29, 2010

The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Winners

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, Modern Family - "Pilot"
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Jane Lynch, Glee
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Outstanding Reality Competition Program: Top Chef
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy, Mad Men - "Shut The Door. Have A Seat."
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series: Steve Shill, Dexter - "The Getaway"
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Special: Dave Boone, 63rd Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Special: Bucky Gunts, Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony
Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Bob Hope Humanitarian Award: George Clooney
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Julia Ormond, Temple Grandin
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: David Strathairn, Temple Grandin
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: Adam Mazer, You Don't Know Jack
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Claire Danes, Temple Grandin
Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special: Mick Jackson, Temple Grandin
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack
Outstanding Miniseries: The Pacific
Outstanding Made for Television Movie: Temple Grandin
Outstanding Drama Series: Mad Men
Outstanding Comedy Series: Modern Family

The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Nominees and My Predictions

I haven't really had a chance to make my Primetime Emmy predictions, mainly because, at the time, I was unsure as to which categories were going to be presented at the Creative awards ceremony. As always, the lead actor in a comedy series and the Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series are the hardest categories when it comes to making predictions. Jim Parsons is hilarious on The Big Bang Theory, which I believe was snubbed for Outstanding Comedy Series. On the other hand, 30 Rock is one of the best shows on television right now. That goes without saying that I love the character of Michael Scott on The Office.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie
The Office
30 Rock

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad
The Good Wife
Mad Men
True Blood

Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Georgia O'Keeffe
The Special Relationship
Temple Grandin
You Don't Know Jack

Outstanding Miniseries
The Pacific
Return to Cranford

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Matthew Morrison, Glee
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Matthew Fox, Lost
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House M.D.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Jeff Bridges, A Dog Year
Ian McKellen, The Prisoner
Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack
Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship
Michael Sheen, The Special Relationship

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Lea Michele, Glee
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
January Jones, Mad Men
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Joan Allen, Georgia O'Keeffe
Claire Danes, Temple Grandin
Hope Davis, The Special Relationship
Judi Dench, Return to Cranford
Maggie Smith, Capturing Mary

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Chris Colfer, Glee
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age
Michael Emerson, Lost
Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Martin Short, Damages
John Slattery, Mad Men

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Michael Gambon, Emma
John Goodman, You Don't Know Jack
Jonathan Pryce, Return to Cranford
Patrick Stewart, Hamlet
David Strathairn, Temple Grandin

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Jane Lynch, Glee
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men
SofĂ­a Vergara, Modern Family
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Rose Byrne, Damages
Sharon Gless, Burn Notice
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Kathy Bates, Alice
Catherine O'Hara, Temple Grandin
Julia Ormond, Temple Grandin
Susan Sarandon, You Don't Know Jack
Brenda Vaccaro, You Don't Know Jack

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

SNL hires Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, and Taran Killam

Vanessa Bayer and Paul Brittain have been hired as a featured player for Saturday Night Live. Both performed during the IO Showcase in Chicago when Lorne Michaels and various writers were scouting for new cast members.

Joining them as a featured player is Groundlings' Sunday Company cast member Taran Killam.

Going the Distance and Kashrut

Going the Distance was filmed at the home of an Orthodox family in Queens. Justin Long recently spoke to George Lopez about some of the issues involved with filming.
An Orthodox Jewish couple is more upset about non-kosher hamburgers being cooked on their grill than a sex scene on their dining room table, actor Justin Long said.[...]

In an interview with George Lopez on Lopez Tonight, Long described the couple as "serious" about their Judaism after describing how angry they got when they discovered that non-kosher hamburgers were cooked on their grill for use in a dinner scene.

Long continued: "Somebody, while we were shooting the sex-on-their-dining-room-table scene raised the point 'Well, if they had a problem with that meat… . "

The studio replaced the grill and the utensils.
It's nice that the studio replaced the grill and intensils. I'd be as upset if someone treyfed up my kosher utensils and dishes.
The recent wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky has led to Rabbi Leon Morris to call for a moratorium of Shabbas weddings for all Jewish denominations.
The recent wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky has triggered a spate of articles about interfaith marriage, rabbinic officiation, co-officiation with Christian clergy and the like. Considerably less attention has been focused on the fact that the wedding took place on a Saturday before nightfall. Perhaps this was deemed less newsworthy because it has become so commonplace. I’m asking myself whether the most publicized Shabbat wedding in American Jewish history might have the unintended consequence of questioning anew the propriety of performing weddings on the Sabbath.

The need for Shabbat is greater now than ever before. Folks from widely divergent population segments are beginning to reclaim the Sabbath in a variety of ways. There are the hundreds of secular Israelis gathering at the Tel Aviv port to welcome Shabbat with prayer, poetry and song. There are the innovative hipsters of the Shabbat Manifesto declaring a “national day of unplugging,” inspiring thousands of individuals to “put down their cell phones, stop their status updates on Facebook, shut down Twitter, sign out of e-mail and relax.” A best-selling book on the Sabbath was published this past spring that prompted several stories in The New York Times about the reconsideration of the Sabbath. Families are looking for ways to connect with each other, and to re-institute the family dinner at least once each week. The time is ripe for us to be more strident in our embrace of Shabbat, particularly in the public domain.

In addition, our increasing environmental awareness reminds us of our own place in the larger universe. Deciding to officiate at Saturday weddings after 6 p.m. is not only arbitrary but represents a kind of environmental hubris in which human beings think that they have the power to make the stars appear earlier. With all of our human knowledge and advancement, we still cannot cause the sun to set. We experience awe of the cosmos when we make ourselves subject to time that lies beyond our control.

The prohibition of marriage on Shabbat is a rabbinic ordinance connected to the concern that the ketubah might be written on Shabbat. It is based upon the notion that traditional Jewish marriage is a form of kinyan (acquisition). To be sure, rabbinic sources from as early as the 12th century have in fact permitted weddings to take place in particular circumstances and under emergency situations on Shabbat. But Shabbat weddings in contemporary Jewish life today are not the unusual circumstance but rather de rigueur.
Go read the rest of it.

A good read...

Ray Hanania wrote an interesting column in the Jerusalem Post.
When was the last time leading Arabs or Muslims came to the defense of Jews? I say that because a phenomenal thing happened in America last week. American Jews were divided, but still led the national debate on whether or not a mosque should be allowed within blocks of “Ground Zero,” the spot where the Twin Towers collapsed under a terrorist assault on September 11, 2001.[...]

The ADL noted the intense emotions aroused and said that Muslims seeking to build the mosque should recognize the feelings of those who lost family, relatives and friends in the al-Qaida terrorist attack.

Yet the ADL was just one of the American Jewish voices addressing the controversy; the leading Jewish defenders were not only passionate in their defense but stubborn about the principle involved.

Among those voices was one of the country’s leading Jewish politicians, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose eyes welled up with emotion while he declared that Muslims have every right to build a mosque, just as Christians and Jews could build a church or synagogue nearby.

Bloomberg was consistent in May when he declared: “I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try to build a church or synagogue on that piece of property, nobody would be yelling and screaming.

The fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it, too.”[...]

Bloomberg remained principled on August 3, when he insisted: “Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors mourned with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values – and play into our enemies’ hands – if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave in to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists – and we should not stand for that.”[...]

I hope to one day hear Arab and Muslim voices speak in defense of the Jewish people as powerfully as the Jewish community has spoken in defense of Muslims.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Will Forte leaving Saturday Night Live

Will Forte is leaving the cast of SNL.
Will Forte, the longtime “Saturday Night Live” cast member who portrayed that incompetent adventurer, among a wealth of other eccentric characters, will not be returning to “S.N.L.” when the NBC late-night sketch series begins its 36th season in the fall. In an email message, a representative for Mr. Forte said he offered his thanks to his colleagues and the “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels, writing, “After eight great seasons, Will has made the decision to move on from ‘S.N.L.’ to pursue new opportunities. He is eternally grateful to Lorne and all of the incredible people he worked with over the years.”

Mr. Forte, an alumnus of the Groundlings and a former story editor for “3rd Rock From the Sun” and “That ’70s Show,” joined “Saturday Night Live” in its 2002-2003 season and rapidly built a portfolio of memorably off-beat characters, including the soft-spoken political candidate Tim Calhoun; a member of the Bon Jovi “opposite tribute band” Jon Bovi, and, of course, MacGruber, a gloss on the television series “MacGyver.”

Monday, August 23, 2010


There's been a lot of controversy over the recent Community Center/Mosque that is being proposed a few blocks from Ground Zero. Here's a tidbit of interest:
The head of the Manhattan JCC is advising the effort to build an Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero.

Rabbi Joy Levitt, executive director of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, is calling on Jewish and Christian institutions to accept the couple behind the project. She discussed her institution’s connection to the project in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week With Christiane Amanpour. She appeared alongside Daisy Khan, the wife of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, who is the religious leader associated with the controversial project, which will include a mosque.

“The JCC has invited Daisy and the imam to come speak at the JCC in September, and I hope that we'll be able to do that," Levitt said on the program. "They've certainly accepted our offer, and I hope that JCCs and other community centers in the Christian and Jewish community and in the secular world will come to do that, because clearly what this whole controversy has unleashed is a tremendous amount of misinformation, lack of knowledge about Islam that we need to address.”

Levitt confirmed that the JCC has been advising Khan and Rauf. “Well, we got a call from Daisy when they began to think about this project, and said we want to build an MCC just like the JCC,” Levitt said.[...]

In the interview, Levitt slammed former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- one of the most prominent critics of the project -- for comparing the project to Nazis putting up a site next to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. She also invoked periods in early American history when some colonies outlawed the building of synagogues.
This is where I remind people that religious freedom is one of the foundations of America. This is what the founders would have wanted.

In other news, former Virginia Senator George Allen has realized that denying his Jewish roots was a cause in losing the 2006 election.
Allen, who lost the Virginia seat in a razor-close election to James Webb, spoke Thursday for the first time of the fallout from the controversy of his denying his Jewish past. He also spoke of his Jewish roots. At the time of the election, Allen heatedly denied any Jewish heritage, although research by the Forward and other Jewish media outlets made it clear he had Jewish ancestors.

The journalistic digging into Allen's past was prompted by his use at a rally of the word "macaca," a slur against people of color that is commonplace in North Africa. Allen subsequently revealed that his Tunisian-born mother, traumatized by the Nazi occupation of her native land, had sworn him to secrecy about his Jewish roots.[...]

His biggest takeaway, he said, was greater sensitivity to minority rights -- he said using the word "macaca" to needle a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent was a mistake, but he denied knowing that the term was a slur.

From the moment his mother revealed her Jewish past to him in the summer of 2006, Allen said, "The core principle of freedom of conscience, beliefs and religion was no longer just a matter of enlightened philosophy to me -- it became deeply personal in my heartwrenching realization of how fear and persecution so tormented my loving, loyal mother."
In Middle East news, we have this piece of information:
The PLO repeated Mahmoud Abbas' assertion that the Jews have a history in Palestine and rejected charges that this means Jews have an exclusive claim to the region.

The Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington this week re-released the Palestinian Authority president's statement delivered in a meeting with Jewish leaders in Washington in June, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported. The statement said: "Nobody denies the Jewish history in the Middle East. A third of our Holy Koran talks about the Jews in the Middle East, in this area. Nobody from our side at least denies that the Jews were in Palestine, were in the Middle East."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart

"I'll say it one more time cause it's that good: read Super Sad True Love Story!!"
--Adam McKay

Nasim Pedrad to star in untitled comedy feature

She's only been on Saturday Night Live as a featured cast member for one season but Nasim Pedrad is going to be starring in feature film.
Nasim Pedrad has already set up her first feature film, working with producers Will Speck and Josh Gordon, the directors behind the upcoming comedy The Switch. This news comes from The Los Angeles Times, who also mention that Speck and Gordon are collaborating on the Untitled Lucas/Moore Christmas Party Comedy with The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.

Nasim Pedrad will write and star in the Untitled Nasim Pedrad Culture Clash Comedy. The film is being described as a Down and Out in Beverly Hills-style look at the differences between an All-American family and their Persian neighbors next door. The comedy will have a distinctly Southern California feel to it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fighting the GOP with their words

Last night, in describing the Ground Zero/Mosque controversy on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jon used the Charlton Heston's words against them.

Charlton Heston addressed the NRA convention in Denver, Colorado on May 1, 1999.

Here's an excerpt that Jon used in order to make the point:
Tragedy has been, and will always be, with us. Somewhere right now, evil people are planning evil things. All of us will do everything meaningful, everything we can do to prevent it. But each horrible act can't become an axe for opportunists to cleave the very Bill of Rights that binds us.
Jon's comments after the video clip:
Thank you, Charlton Heston. Of course, he was speaking out after another tragedy, when people on the left had demanded that the NRA, out of respect to the recent victims of Columbine, not hold their scheduled NRA convention in Denver, near the site of the tragedy. And by the way, I'm sure I probably would've been one of those people, painting too narrow a picture, connecting irresponsibly the actions of two psychotics, to an entire group of reasonable people expressing their Constitutional rights.

(photo graphic of younger Jon)

I was angry, and very thin. And my hair was dark, and I could not apparently buy a suit that fit. Why... did I have to wear Kilborn's suits? Wha... I don't understand!

The point is, I was wrong, and Heston was right. And if you replace "NRA" with "Muslim community", and "Second Amendment" with "First Amendment", he's still right.
America must stop this predictable pattern of reaction. When an isolated, terrible event occurs, our phones ring demanding that the NRA explain the inexplicable. Why us? Because their story needs a villain. ... That is not our role in American society, and we will not be forced to play it. ... If you disagree, that's your right. I respect that. But we will not relinquish it, or be silenced about it, or be told, "Do not come here. You are unwelcome in your own land."
Jon: Well said, sir, and it gives me hope. Because if there's anyone who can bring Muslims, Christians, and Jews together, it's Moses.

Moment of Zen from Charlton Heston's speech: "Hatred that is dividing our country. ... This harvest of hatred is then sold as news."

Seth Rogen believes in Marvel

As far as the movies are concerned, Marvel has really been on the ball over the past decade.

Seth Rogen commented recently on being a true believer of Marvel Comics.
Seth Rogen grew up loving Marvel Comics -- especially the high body-count exploits of Punisher and Deadpool -- and the years haven't softened his disdain for that other company. "I like Marvel," the actor and writer says. "I've kind of given up on DC at this point."[...]

"I hang out at a lot of comic book stores so that smell to me is genuine. The musk of the nerd reading the page. I loved comic books. But I don't like, keep them. If I did, I'd have so many.... I tend to collect things already and there are so many things that I have. Comic books are hard to justify. So mostly I read them once then I tried to give them to other people. I started reading them in 1980s and they were not really worth anything because they were so mass-produced by that point and everyone was saving them by then. If I started earlier before there were infinite amounts of all of them...."

"I always loved Punisher," said the 28-year-old Vancouver, Canada, native. "And I remember when Deadpool came out I loved that because he was funny. He was kind of crazy and funny and it was super-violent. It was like Frank Castle but he was funny. Or it was like Spider-Man if he was murdering people and wisecracking."[...]

"When I was watching this last X-Men movie, at the end they sewed up his mouth and I was like, 'What the hell are they doing?' Evan [Goldberg, my writing partner] and I will still talk about that; we'll be driving and just say, 'I can't believe they sewed up Deadpool's mouth.' I mean, why would you do that? 'We'll take a character known for his wisecracks and saying funny stuff and we'll just lose that entire aspect of him.' He's called the 'Merc with the Mouth.' I mean, that's what they call him."[...]

"I was pretty into Marvel growing up. Ed Brubaker came on the set of 'Green Hornet' a couple of times. That's what's cool is meeting these guys. I met him at Comic-Con a few years ago. It was one of those surreal moments at Comic-Con because it was me, Method Man and Ed Brubaker. But he's great.I love his stuff. But I like Marvel. I've kind of given up on DC at this point."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Post: Jay Deskins

My friend, Jay Deskins, wrote this and I am sharing it with you.

So I have never written a blog, or written a note on the internets, but I figure I might as well do this after a great discussion yesterday morning.

If you don't know, a Muslim group is planning on building a community center in Lower Manhattan, about a block away from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Now, several folks have been trying to stop this from being built, because they feel that all of Islam is at war with America. Some are trying to stop this because they see it as Islam using our freedom of religion and saying "nah nah nah nah boo boo." And some see it as Islam saying, we are winning this "war."

First off, Islam is not at war with America, or the West. Islam, as a whole, is not at war with us. Islam is, at its core, a very peaceful religion. For those of you who have never actually studied the religion, and go by what Fox News and what that hate monger and fake Christian Pat Robertson has to say, then you are uneducated on the faith of many of our fellow humans. Well, if Islam isn't at war with us, then who is? Well, a group of extremists are hurting us. Not all Muslims are extremists. Just like all Christians are not Republicans, or Baptists, or Catholics, or Klansmen (yes, the KKK is a branch of Christianity, sorry). I think it is so hypocritcal for Christians to say anything about anyone else's religion and how it oppresses people. THE WOMEN, JAY, THE WOMEN. Okay, in some countries that look to Sharia Law as their main source of authority do abuse women, however, their are many women in this country who are abused by their Christian families and churches, and they can use the Holy Bible as reason for why they abuse them.

Now, back to the Community Center... because it isn't a Mosque being built, this is like a YMCA or JCC. As a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a faith founded shortly after the adoption of the Constitution of the USA, and free to do so because of the freedom of religion, I feel that I should say we cannot stop a religious organization from doing anything, short of hurting people (re-read my first paragraph if you think that Islam is a violent religion, and I could write a whole paper on why Islam is not a violent religion). We stepped in with the Branch Davidians in Waco because they had guns and were abusing children and other things. But yet we still don't step in and stop terrorists being developed in our own country, the KKK, the neo-nazi's, the skinheads, these militias that are jumping up everywhere threatening the lives of innocent Americans. All of these groups are free to have training grounds where they train TO KILL INNOCENT AMERICANS. Now, before we stop a peaceful religion from doing something, I think we should stop these hate mongers, these violent criminals, who threaten the lives of you and me, because you probably have black friends, Jewish friends, Muslim friends, gay friends, etc., and they think you are just as bad as the minority groups. So, where should point our fingers next? No lets keep pointing it at non-whites... white folk can do what they want in this country... don't forget, Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Oklahoma City Building, was a white Christian. Don't forget the KKK has killed more people in the span of the last 40 years than anyother group in America. Don't forget, it is Christian men who abuse their wives on a daily basis and use our scripture as a reason why.

I am just saying. Think about it.

Sarah Palin hearts N-word

Sarah Palin really does not get it. She hearts the N word now with her defending of Dr. Laura.
Sarah Palin has used Twitter to share some advice with Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the talk radio host who apologized and decided to retire from her highly-rated program after using the N-word on the air 11 times in 5 minutes.

Palin's advice: "don't retreat...reload!"

It's a breathtakingly tone-deaf bit of provocation -- even by Palin's standards.
Palin's first tweet the other day:
Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")
Her second:
Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!
Least we forget all those Palinisms

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quote of the Week

"We win the right way and we lose the right way. We’ve received a lot of compliments over the years that when we lose we tip our caps and when we win we keep our mouths shut. That’s my comment...I don’t think that will go over well in his own clubhouse. Phillips is ripping his teammates — Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo, Russ Springer, Jim Edmonds — all the ex-Cardinals over there. He isn’t talking about this year. He is talking about the way we’ve always played and those guys are old Cardinals. Tell him he’s ripping his own teammates because they are all old Cardinals."
--Tony La Russa in response to Brandon Phillips' comments

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens dead in crash

Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is dead as a result of a plane crash.

May he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Is Mitch McConnell Ashamed of Kentucky?

Every Kentuckian ought to sing "My Old Kentucky Home" with pride but it appears that Kentucky's senior senator, Mitch McConnell, does not know the lyrics to the state song or is embarrassed his singing voice.

Well, which is it, Mitch?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Keep voting!!

Please keep voting for my cousin!

Let the Schmucks speak

The writers for Dinner for Schmucks talked recently about the movie.
“’Schmuck’ is a funny word,” said Michael Handelman, co-screenwriter of “Dinner for Schmucks.”

“It’s one of those very satisfying words to say,” added co-screenwriter David Guion.[...]

At the Beverly Hilton, the conversation veered from their respective Midwestern childhoods (Guion hails from Chicago; Handelman from Milwaukee); to meeting each other in a Yale University improvisational troupe; to performing improv together in Manhattan (after Handelman earned a masters in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh); to penning major Hollywood comedies. The writers also riffed on the nature of Jewish comedy and of course, “Dinner for Schmucks.”

Naomi Pfefferman: “Dinner for Schmucks” must be the first major studio film ever to have the word, “schmuck” in the title—which of course traditionally is a naughty word in Yiddish. How did that come about?

Michael Handelman: Nobody seems to know exactly where the title came from— it was already attached before we came on board. But one thing we’ve talked about is the fact that “schmuck,” at least the way it’s used today, can mean both “idiot” and “jerk.” The double meaning is quite appropriate because in our film, it’s jerks inviting idiots to dinner. So obvious question is, ‘Who are the schmucks?’”

David Guion: I don’t know if it’s ever decided who the real schmucks are. But the film is about questioning these labels that we put on people. We want audiences to be able to see the humanity in these so-called schmucks who are invited to dinner, and particularly in [Steve Carell’s] Barry.[...]

NP: Are either of you members of the Tribe?

MH: My father is Jewish – he was a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee—but we didn’t really practice, growing up. Yet I feel like Jewish humor definitely shaped my [comic] sensibility.

DG: Mine as well – even though my family isn’t Jewish. We were Huguenots [French Protestants who were persecuted by the Catholic majority]. The Guions were kicked out of France a long time ago. They have a centuries-old memory of being persecuted.

MH: I certainly wasn’t raised practicing any religion, but I think the Midwest is a relentlessly polite place, and I was definitely aware that my dad grew up in New York and was Jewish. He had a much more cutting and wry sense of humor than tended to be around, growing up in Milwaukee, and I was always very struck by that and influenced by it: The guy who will speak the truth, whatever the social cost. That’s something Woody Allen does, too, and I tend to think of it coming out of a certain Jewish tradition.

NP: Do you associate filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Mel Brooks with Jewish humor?

MH: I was probably a little bit more aware that they were Jewish. Although my family was sort of militantly anti-religious, I definitely thought of myself as a Jew growing up—maybe just because it seemed cooler than being a Catholic. So I was aware of those [filmmakers using] Jewish humor and that was maybe part of what attracted me to them.
Interestly, the movie's director, Jay Roach, is a member of the tribe.
“I love fear as a motor for comedy,” director Jay Roach said. “The nightmare of becoming the architect of your own humiliation rings true to me.”

This propensity for self-doubt isn’t what one might expect from Roach, 53, one of the top comedy directors in Hollywood, who has collaborated with Mike Myers and Ben Stiller to create the “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Parents” franchises, and whose “Dinner for Schmucks,” starring Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, opens July 30.

Yet, at the Beverly Hilton recently, Roach said he can relate to the anxiety and “identity crises” experienced by some of his own characters. As evidence, he cited the scene from “Annie Hall” in which the iconicly Jewish Woody Allen imagines himself as a Chasid in the eyes of his lover’s WASPy family: “I was the reverse of Woody Allen in ‘Annie Hall,’ ” Roach said. A convert to Judaism, he was raised Southern Baptist in Albuquerque, N.M., where his father worked for the military, and two of his regular childhood activities were hunting and fishing.

Roach remembers being at dinner with the erudite Jewish family of his future wife, Susanna Hoffs of the rock group the Bangles: “I imagined them looking at me, and I had a coonskin cap on — the hick WASP. I just didn’t think I was qualified for their level of sophistication,” he said.

Roach need not have worried — his future in-laws were as accepting as Stiller’s were critical in “Meet the Parents.” Yet he felt like a “total misfit.”

“I loved my wife, and I really loved her family, and so I wanted to impress them. I always was coming up with jokes, or digging up knowledge about psychology and just overcompensating. ... My father-in-law is a shrink, absolutely the least judgmental guy of all time.”[...]

The moral crisis at the heart of “Dinner for Schmucks” came off as the inspiration for its surprising title, as the comedy is the first major studio title to feature that traditionally naughty Yiddish word. Billboards with the phrase “Get Schmucked” have been placed all over Los Angeles, including significantly Jewish areas. Rudd, who is the son of British Jews, acknowledged that “schmuck” means “penis” in the mama loshen (literally, mother tongue): “I know there are some people who might [have taken] offense,” he said of remarks in the blogosphere, “but it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind that somebody might find this offensive.” His own grandfather used to call him “schmuck” or a “putz,” he said. “But it seems to me that most people use the word nowadays in the sense of: ‘Don’t be a fool’ or ‘Don’t be a jerk’ — as in, ‘Stop acting like a schmuck.’ ”

Roach said the title works because of schmuck’s more casual meaning of “jerk” or “idiot,” which could refer to each of the protagonists at different points in the movie. “The question becomes, “Who really is the ‘schmuck’?” he said. This, too, was the premise of the original French film, in which Veber, who is half Armenian and half Jewish, skewers the snobbishness of his wealthy characters and promotes a revenge of the downtrodden ones.

Roach also has an affinity for the underdog. “I was not in any stretch of the imagination smart enough to go to Stanford — I always assumed I got in on some kind of regional affirmative action,” he said of his undergraduate years. “But, again, I just overcompensated and found a way, at first, to just survive, and eventually I did sort of thrive there.”

Roach had completed USC’s graduate film program when, while working at his first television writing job on “Space Rangers,” his producer kept trying to fix him up with Hoffs.[...]

Roach converted to Judaism before their wedding in 1993 at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel; the marriage ceremony was officiated by Hoff’s grandfather and uncle, both rabbis. “I took it seriously,” he said of his conversion studies. “I found it so moving and meaningful.” (The couple’s two children, now 11 and 15, are being raised Jewish.) “There is something about my wife’s approach to life that I related to: being vigilant, which comes from previsualizing disaster almost all the time,” he added with a laugh. “I think that’s universal — we’re all in this pickle — but I think one of the great things about my wife, and Jews in general, is that there’s more openness about it; it’s vocalized more.”

Roach was expectedly vigilant when his friend, actor and comedian Myers, refused to do the first “Austin Powers” film without him, although Roach had previously directed only modest films; as it turned out, “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” was an enormous critical and box office hit and placed Roach squarely on Hollywood’s A-list.

Then came Roach’s collaboration with Stiller, whose turn as a male nurse with formidable non-Jewish in-laws propelled the comic angst in “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers.” “I look at those films as my own worst nightmare, whenever I would imagine my fear of being inadequate for my wife and her family,” said Roach, who will produce the next installment in the series, “Little Fockers.”
Turning it over to movie's roundtable...
Naomi Pfefferman: So Paul, do you have any elderly Jewish relatives who raised eyebrows about the use of the word, “schmuck?” in the film’s title?

Paul Rudd: Well, go right to the Jew (laughs). You know I was in shul…(joking) Actually, no, my grandfather used to call me a “schmuck” and a “putz.”

NP: Can you tell us what “schmuck” means in Yiddish?

PR: (wryly) It means “penis” right—is that what you’re looking for?...How about “putz?” I remember growing up saying “Ah, gosh, ‘putz’ is such a funny word. I would use it like, ‘Oh, don’t be a putz’— but then I thought ‘putz’ meant an ‘idiot.’ And I remember my dad saying, ‘Well, you know, actually, a ‘putz’ is a ‘penis.’ What’s up with all the [Yiddish] words, by the way, for penis?

David Guion (the film’s co-screenwriter with Michael Handelman): It’s like Eskimos have 200 words for snow.

PR: But it always took on I think not so much specificity as it does kind of a general, “Oh, you’re being an idiot, you’re being stupid – quit acting like a schmuck.” So it was strange, being Jewish—and I know there are some people who have taken offense that we called this “Dinner for Schmucks,” because I’ve read [some blog items exploring this]. But it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind that somebody might find it offensive, because I just never associated it, being Jewish, with being offensive.

Ron Livingston (actor): Also, “Dinner for Weiners” didn’t sound quite right.

NP: Will the title, as they say, play in Peoria?

Jay Roach: I think so…. For me it’s kind of an ideal word for what the story is about, because it does in modern usage have two meanings of “Don’t be a schmuck,” as in, “Don’t be a jerk,” which is what Paul Rudd’s character is going through, and “Don’t be an idiot,” which you can assume is what Steve Carell’s going through. And then in the end it sort of switches, because you find out that Paul’s character is the one who’s living a deluded kind of reality and Steve’s character is actually much wiser than he is. So it’s a funny word to say but it also resonates across what the two characters are about.

Double standard?

Jeff Jacoby asks why Mel Gibson gets slammed by the media and Oliver Stone isn't.
Yet far from triggering a media storm, Stone’s anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering barely stirred a breeze.

Seven days after his words first appeared, Nexis had logged fewer than 150 items mentioning Stone’s toxic rhetoric. On ABC, CBS, and NBC, the news shows completely ignored the story. The New York Times restricted its coverage to two short items in its “Arts, Briefly" section — and few other papers ran even that much.

Media mogul Haim Saban did urge Showtime to cancel Stone’s documentary, and posted an online message calling on Hollywood to give Stone “a vigorous shove into the land of forced retirement." But few if any media voices seconded the motion — not a word from Slate, for example — and some went out of their way to pooh-pooh it: Los Angeles Times blogger Patrick Goldstein pronounced the idea “not so different" from “the infamous 1950s Hollywood blacklist."

Gibson and Stone are both guilty of indulging in rank anti-Semitism (for which both promptly “apologized"), but only Gibson was buried under a newsroom avalanche of outrage and disgust. What explains that glaring difference? Surely the media don’t think Jew-baiting is intolerable only when it comes from a right-wing Christian like Gibson. Surely they wouldn’t overlook Stone’s noxious rant just because he is a pluperfect left-wing activist.
Jacoby raises a great point. Where is the media in slamming Stone?

Israel to participate in probe

Israel will be participating in the probe being conducted by the United Nations. Here is to hoping that the probe is conducted without bias. Knowing how the UN behaves, the probe will be with bias.
Israel has agreed to participate in a United Nations investigation of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla incident.

"Israel has nothing to hide," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday after informing U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon that Israel would participate in the panel that he is establishing. "The opposite is true. It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world, and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing."

Netanyahu and his inner Cabinet of seven ministers made the decision to participate in the international probe.

Geoffrey Palmer, the former prime minister of New Zealand, and Alvaro Uribe, the outgoing president of Colombia, will serve as chair and vice chair of the panel. Its two additional members will be from Turkey and Israel.

It marks the first time that Israel will serve on a U.N. committee that is investigating its activities, according to Haaretz.
Newsweek was recently sold.
Sidney Harman, 91, will buy Newsweek from the Washington Post Company, it was announced Monday. Bidding on the weekly magazine had lasted two months.

Harman paid $1 and will accept Newsweek's liabilities of approximately $71 million.

Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham reportedly chose Harman, the founder of audio equipment company Harman Industries and husband of U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), among several bidders because he is expected to leave Newsweek’s essential character unchanged and retain the highest number of staff members.

Rand Paul bullshits Baylor degree, gets away with it

Rand Paul lied to Kentucky about his college degree and got away with it? Why? It doesn't have anything to do with some mystery detectives and their great dane.

It's one thing for collegiate coaches to pad their resume but it's another thing when it comes to someone that is running to represent the people. You know, where you represent the people!

Rand Paul is openly lying to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Jake has the details.

Rand Paul does not have a bachelor's degree from Baylor University but has no problem with spreading articles suggesting he does. His campaign didn't even bother asking reporters to correct their articles?!? Have they no shame?!?

Jack Brammer reports:
It was not a dual-degree program so therefore, Rand Paul did not graduate undergrad before going to medical school. Rand Paul quit his undergraduate learnings to enroll in medical school, therefore, he did not finish the requirements needed to obtain an undergraduate degree.
Rand Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Kentucky, holds a medical degree from Duke University but never received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, contrary to several media reports in recent months.

Baylor officials confirmed this week that Paul was a student there from the fall of 1981 to the summer of 1984 but never obtained a degree. Instead, he left early when Duke accepted him in its School of Medicine.

Doug Stafford, a consultant for Paul’s Senate campaign, said Wednesday that Paul has never said he holds a degree from Baylor, only that he attended Baylor in Waco, Texas. Multiple media outlets, including the Lexington Herald-Leader, made an incorrect assumption, he said.

“I guess many people and some in the media have assumed Dr. Paul had a bachelor’s degree but he has never said that,” Stafford said.

Other media organizations that have reported Paul graduated from Baylor include The Associated Press, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, TIME and U.S. News & World Report.

Stafford said Paul and his campaign have not asked publications to run corrections because the campaign was not aware of the erroneous claim, which can also be found on several other Web sites, including Wikipedia, and Project Vote Smart.[...]

Michael J. Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs for Duke University in Durham, N.C., said his school’s records show that Paul received his medical degree from Duke in 1988 and completed his residency there in 1993.

“At the time he was admitted to our medical school, Duke sometimes did admit students of exceptional abilities. Other professional schools have done that,” said Schoenfeld, noting that Duke now requires its medical students to have a bachelor’s degree.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque sparks debate

An Islamic cultural center that is sparking waves of debate. If it weren't being proposed in the Ground Zero vicinity, I am sure that there would not be anywhere near the amount of debate that there is.

JTA reports:
Jewish organizations often file amicus briefs supporting Muslim religious rights in cases where zoning boards try to block the construction of houses of worship or bar the right of a Muslim to grow his beard.[...]

That made last week's announcement by the Anti-Defamation League opposing the construction of a planned mosque near the Ground Zero site all the more remarkable. It was a rare instance of a Jewish establishment organization explicitly opposing a Muslim project or distancing itself from the role of upholding liberties for all. The $100 million mosque center was proposed by the Cordoba Initiative, a group that promotes interfaith dialogue.

Despite their common interests, however, Jews and Muslims have forged few formal alliances, mostly due to their deep differences on Middle East policy and Jewish concerns over Muslim organizations’ ties to radical groups. This has made Jewish groups ambivalent, supporting Muslim rights in principle but reticent in practice to endorse specific Muslim organizations or programs.

This ambivalence was reflected in an American Jewish Committee statement supporting the Ground Zero mosque -- with caveats and demands.

The AJC "urged the leaders of the proposed center to fully reveal their sources of funding and to unconditionally condemn terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology. If these concerns can be addressed, we will join in welcoming the Cordoba Center to New York. In doing so, we would wish to reaffirm the noble values for which our country stands -- the very values so detested by the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks."

Defenders of the proposed Ground Zero mosque suggested that such calls are insulting, noting that the Cordoba Initiative and its directors, Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Kahn, have a long history of pressing for a moderate, engaged Islam.

"One of the ways to prevent future Ground Zeroes is to encourage moderation within Islam, and to treat Muslim moderates differently than we treat Muslim extremists," The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg wrote on his blog. "The campaign against this mosque treats all Muslims as perpetrators."

On Tuesday, the mosque project at Ground Zero cleared what may have been its final hurdle before construction could begin, winning unanimous approval for the plan by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Committee.[...]

The Jewish hesitancy to ally formally with Muslim groups is grounded in alarms raised in the past about the supposedly radical origins and alliances of groups claiming to speak for moderate Islam.

The Council on American Islamic Relations, often cited in media reports as the Muslim equivalent of Jewish civil rights groups, had relations in the 1990s with groups and individuals subsequently identified as close to Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

The council in recent years has issued statements distancing itself from such groups, but mainstream Jewish organizations still keep away in part because of the council’s vigorous criticism of Israeli actions. After Israel's deadly raid on a Turkish aid flotilla attempting to breach Israel's embargo on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the council charged Israel with a "blatant disregard for international law" and called for a reduction in military assistance to Israel.

Jewish groups have differed over associations with another Islamic American group, the Islamic Society of North America. The American Jewish Committee has refused to work with the group, citing government investigations of its alleged associations with radical Muslims, although the society was never charged with any crime. The ADL and the Reform movement have worked with the society, noting its overtures to Jewish groups and the Holocaust education it has promoted for its membership.

Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said he rejected the bigotry of some of the critics of the Ground Zero mosque but that the sensibilities of the families of the Sept. 11 victims should be paramount. The Philadelphia-based Shalom Center organized a statement from 29 Jewish lay leaders and clerics urging American Jews to press the ADL to reverse its decision.

Kaling and Kemper to make more songs

Subtle Sexuality, the duo of Mindy Kaling and Ellie Kemper from The Office, will be back with two more songs over the next year.
Vulture has learned that girl-power duo Subtle Sexuality, which burst on to the fake TV-band scene last year with "Male Prima Donna," is reuniting. Lead singer and director Mindy Kaling tells us there are "pretty ambitious" plans for the group: "There'll be two songs and two music videos, and the whole cast [including Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms and B.J. Novack] is coming back." Kaling will direct both videos, as well as the webisodes accompanying the songs.[...]

"The writers tried to cover so many different genres [with the songs] because we do it so infrequently," Kaling explains, promising that at least one video will have elements of time travel.

Eva Mendes Releases Sex Tape

Prop 8 overturned

The big news of the day is that Prop 8 has been overturned.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Arabs losing interest in peace talks

Seventy-one percent of voters responded that they do not care about the subject of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Al Arabiya news channel conducted an online survey over the past week to gauge the extent to which ordinary Arabs are still interested in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. The results were quite astonishing; 71 per cent of the respondents affirmed that they do not care to know anything about the subject.

“This is an alarming indicator. The Arabs, people and regimes alike, have always been as interested in the peace process, its developments and particulars, as they were committed to the Palestinian cause itself,” according to Saleh Qallab, a columnist with the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.
Efraim Karsh responds with an editorial in the NY Times.
This history of Arab leaders manipulating the Palestinian cause for their own ends while ignoring the fate of the Palestinians goes on and on. Saddam Hussein, in an effort to ennoble his predatory designs, claimed that he wouldn’t consider ending his August 1990 invasion of Kuwait without “the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories in Palestine.”

Shortly after the Persian Gulf War, Kuwaitis then set about punishing the P.L.O. for its support of Hussein — cutting off financial sponsorship, expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers and slaughtering thousands. Their retribution was so severe that Arafat was forced to acknowledge that “what Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories.”

Against this backdrop, it is a positive sign that so many Arabs have apparently grown so apathetic about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. For if the Arab regimes’ self-serving interventionism has denied Palestinians the right to determine their own fate, then the best, indeed only, hope of peace between Arabs and Israelis lies in rejecting the spurious link between this particular issue and other regional and global problems.