The One I Wrote on my 38th Birthday

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Goddamn Trojans.

On my 10th birthday, I scored a goal against my own team. I was a bad youth soccer player, except for one year - the first year after we moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to rural Ohio. I was awesome that year. Shockingly, youth soccer in Northern California had a talent base deeper than did rural Ohio a quarter century ago. For like 2 1/2 months I was the best 12 year old goaltender in Marion County.

On my 16th birthday, Mike Scott no-hit my San Francisco Giants, clinching the NL West for the Astros. That was a bad day.

Yesterday was my 38th birthday, and my Trojans got whipped. The final score was 27-21, it wasn't that close, we got hit in the mouth and couldn't recover. No national title game this year either. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Oh, and my bank got seized. So there's that. And the President of the United States, talking about the economy, actually said "this sucker could go down."

I'm not going to have time for a separate political blog today, let me just offer the following - this is Bernie Sanders from CNBC Tuesday night talking to Larry Kudlow:

Larry, if I ask you that the government should intervene like every other industrialized country does and provide health care for all people, you’d say ‘oh no!’ And if I ask you to support government intervention so that we don’t have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the world, you’d say ‘oh no!’ But when Wall Street screws up because of their greed, you say, ‘oh yes, it’s a great idea!’

Which, if McCain shows up tonight, should be posed to him. As should the provision of the 2008 Republican platform that stands in diametric opposition to government bailouts. And he should name specific Bush Administration decisions he disagreed with. And if he believes the Iraq War was worth 3 trillion dollars. And the role he believes deregulation has played in the financial crisis. And if he believes economic inequality is a problem and what he's done to minimize it. And why he's opposed to bailouts for those foreclosed on. And why he's voted 19 times against minimum wage increases. And why he's stood in opposition to national health care. And how do you square Sarah Palin's actual record on the "bridge to nowhere" with repeated claims that she stopped it. And if, as Palin told Katie Couric, we've "won the war" in Iraq. And given that he will be 77 years old at the end of his first term, his evidence that Palin is qualified to be President, particularly given that she wasn't his choice to be the running mate.

As I've mentioned, the Republicans love socialism - socialism for the wealthy - you don't need to dig too far into American history to realize that "free market" capitalism has been based on tax breaks to corporations and sweetheart land deals for enormous developers. How do you think the railroads got built? As Dave Sirota writes:

Bolivian socialists nationalize to combat wealth stratification, remove greed from human necessities like energy, and allow the public to own the means of producing valuable commodities. Amerika’s socialists nationalize to preserve inequality and force the public to own the means of worthless production. Most recently, taxpayers’ $85 billion will purchase bankrupt AIG and its means of producing paper, all to let speculators continue profiteering off the human need for housing.

Close a factory in socialist Denmark, and workers get immediate government help, along with their free health care. Shutter one in Ohio, and workers get nothing, except politicians saying their jobs are never returning and national health care is “unaffordable.” But if investment banks teeter, those same politicians quickly find billions for bailouts.

At time of this writing, the bailout negotiations are stalled; apparently the House Republicans wanted to hold up the agreement until McCain could make it back to DC to claim credit for it (Barney Frank apparently compared McCain's arrival at the negotiations yesterday to Nixon's "blowing up the Vietnam peace talks in 1968"). Shockingly, the House Republicans alternate proposal, according to CBS, "include(d) fewer regulations and more corporate tax breaks."

After 5 1/2 years of the corporate money grab that has been the 3 trillion dollar Republican War on Iraq, clearly, they want as much time at the domestic trough as they can get.

And if you can't read the quote from the pic at the top of the post - it's Palin, giving her foreign policy credentials to Couric:

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."

She's Quayle 2.0, but not quite as hot.

Not to deviate too far from the American political party from which I am most closely aligned - but I'm glad the Democrats lost today in their efforts to get Bush's Bailout passed.

Now is exactly the time for legislation that helps the working class; now is exactly the time for legislation that minimizes the ability of giant corporations to hold Americans hostage. The Gilded Age didn't end because Rockefeller and Carnegie decided they had made enough money; the Gilded Age ended because Americans - forced legislative and judicial action. Regular Americans. Journalists and union members. Farmers and factory workers. Regular Americans, if we're going to hand out 700 billion dollars - someone has to explain to me how it's better for we "regular" Americans. the ones who have been putting Republicans in the Executive branch for the past 40 years - the ones who are supposed to identify with the "ordinary-ness" of Reagan/Bush/Palin - to give that money to the people who caused the crisis (GD2K?) in the first place. Henry Paulsen made 16 million bucks in his last year at Goldman-Sachs. I have two graduate degrees and a state Bar membership and can barely afford groceries. Why is my money going to bail out Wall St.?

We have, right now, the largest gulf between haves and have nots - hell, between the UberRich and Everybody Else - in the history of the Republic. Unlike every other western nation, we have only political parties devoted to large corporate shareholders - we have seen the Republicans pursue policies of deregulating everything, permitting modern day robber barons to amass obscene amounts of wealth while simultaneously the mass of Americans live perilously close to an economic precipice -- and we have seen the Democrats trailing not far behind in their support of those policies.

It is not a surprise that today, the BushBailout's chief supporters were the mainstream, corporately controlled, establishment Democrats.

We are in 2 wars, the Iraq War, as discussed in this space, will cost the United States economy 3 trillion dollars - and during those wars, we have slashed taxes for the wealthiest Americans, all policies, as discussed in this space, that would be furthered were John McCain elected President.

The New Deal was a massive legislative effort for the stated goals of "relief, reform, and reconstruction" - the massive amount of money, an unprecedented amount of money, designated by the federal government to essentially alter the nation's economic structure went to revitalize American infrastructure. Parks. Schools. Bridges.

That massive New Deal - not just the initial expenditures but the totality of the New Deal - in present day money was approximately 500 billion dollars.

The BushBailout, supported by the establishment Democrats - would have been 700 billion just handed over to Wall Street.

There is a bill that can be passed. There is legislation that should be passed. And much like the Progressive Era followed the Gilded Age, it can be that legislation which begins a turnaround from decades of an orgy of deregulation which has eroded our safety net, forcing millions and millions of Americans to live on the social margins - always an illness or a job loss away from absolute financial catastrophe.

We need a bill. We need lots of them. We need legislation. We need planned government involvement within the American economy, as did we to end the Gilded Age, as did we to end the Great Depression. A moratorium on foreclosures, universal health care, a comprehensive environmental policy should be front and center to a restructuring of the American economy.

Of course it will be expensive. The Iraq War has been expensive. The defeated bailout would have been expensive - as detailed here --

The National Debt has gone up 71+% in the 8 years of the Bush Administration - the greatest increase in American history.

And what do we have to show for it? The hungry are not fed, the sick are not tended to, the working class fall further and further in debt - the middle class - the vast majority of Americans, living on an increasingly thin edge as wealth - wealth becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

4 decades of conservatives in the White House. Including the two Democrats. A quarter century of a constant drive trumpeting the value of laissez faire. A quarter century of a constantly expanding military, swallowing up a greater percentage of our budget - currently, in adjusted dollars - a military more expensive than any point since WWII.

Wall St. has had its way - had its way for four decades - controlled both political parties - controlled the entire mechanism of government.

Today it didn't. Today they lost.

Have hearings. With economists. And consumer advocates. The Democrats, for decades becoming just pale, slightly less odious versions of Republicans (as seen just last week, honestly, by Obama's debate performance, "I agree with John, let's increase the bombing of Afghanistan") have a chance to capitalize on a real popular uprising - on real discontent -- to change the trajectory of the Democratic Party and the United States of America.

I'm not an economist. I'd rather just do the baseball list. It's fabulous. I have much comedy and wrestling analysis and whatnot. But "hurry, let's give Wall St 700 billion dollars with virtually no oversight or consumer protection or any fundamental change to the weakass fundamentals of the American economy" strikes me as error.

We can do better. I'd like my candidate to lead the way in articulating how. I'm gonna vote for Obama in November (and, as I've been saying for a year now, he's gonna win) I'd like to feel as if I were actually casting a vote for change and not just against more of the same.

'Member When the Economy Tanked? That Was Awesome.

(I wrote like a crazy person in the run up to that election; I may have thought I was influencing votes. Yeah! Fightin' for democracy!

You'd think that on a day where John McCain said the "fundamentals" of the economy are strong; then, when criticized, given, you know, the 504 point drop in the Dow, said that by "fundamentals" he was referring to the American people - American people, the American worker is the "fundamentals" of the economy about which he was speaking (therefore, making any criticism of the American economy really criticism of the American worker - much like criticizing the 3 trillion dollar Republican War on Iraq is really just hating the troops. You guys are the best!) you'd think that had to be the dumbest, least credible, most indefensible thing a Republican said today.

But it wasn't.

George Allen, on Laura Ingraham's radio show, said the following:

America is addicted to oil. What an elitist point of view. Americans are not addicted to oil. Americans are addicted to freedom.

Elitist is clearly the new epithet - the new "liberal" in the Republican lexicon; Democrats abandoned the high ground on liberal (you know, the belief system of workers and equal rights and civil liberties and justice for all - you know, the things liberals believe in) hopefully, they'll do a better job defending their turf on "elitist." Something like "one of the two political parties fights increases in the minimum wage; hell, one of the two parties is ideologically opposed to the very idea of the minimum wage - and they also happen to be the political party that spent the last 8 years lowering taxes on the MegaRich - and wants to spend the next 4 years doing the same. Would that sound to you like a party that favored the elite? Hmmm?"

But placed here is laugh out loud funny - particularly since I'm almost certain I've heard those exact words, "America is addicted to oil" before...who was it who said that...

Oh yeah, it was in Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

That's the transcript. It's on the White House website.

So, I guess I was wrong - George Bush is the best friend the elite ever had. And he said it - took a lot of guts for someone from his own party to call him out like that 2 1/2 years later. I look forward to what is sure to be a spirited debate.

we're going to bailout AIG, at a tune of 85 billion dollars
Lehman Brothers just filed for bankruptcy protection
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both got bailed out
The Bear Sterns buyout was federally guaranteed
What happened to "shrinking the federal government to the size of a postage stamp"?

What happened to "making the federal government so small you could drown it in your bathtub"?

Not, as mentioned, that the conservatives ever meant any of that. On gay/lesbian issues, abortion, "decency", drugs, the death penalty, mandatory minimum jail sentences - the Republicans want the government all over the lives of those affected. Always have.

And the military, one notes, still a part of the federal government. Any other wars you guys would like while you still have a few months? Iran? Russia? Spain?

But what about all of those "rugged individualist", "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" "the real problem is not enough personal responsibility" bromides that conservatives love to toss off as eternal truths?

Let me offer this - there are 8 thousand homeowners every single day facing foreclosure. About 4 million homeowners losing their homes during the morgage crisis.

Where's their bailout? I get the AIG bailout, I do. Lot of folks would be hurt without that bailout.

What about the foreclosed upon?

45+ million Americans have no health insurance.

What about them?

If they get sick, can't pay for procedures, for medication, can't pay hospital bills - can they turn to the federal government for bailout? Hell, since 2005 tightened bankruptcy protection so severely, that level of safety has diminished. I mean, unless you're Lehman Brothers.

Real wages are down. Lower than they were 30 years ago. Executive pay up. Disparity between UberRich and everyone else never greater. John McCain's solution, written about in this space, is to cut taxes for people making a quarter million dollars a year and up.

Conservative dogma, sold relentlessly as gospel by the Republicans, the media, and most of the corporately controlled Democrats is that financial markets self regulate. At the cornerstone of the conservative ascendancy, the conservative dominance of the federal government of the United States for the past quarter century+ (we've had two Democratic presidents, and conservative ones at that, in the past 40 years) is the idea that unfettered capitalism is the essence of America - to criticize it, to talk about economic justice, became engaging in "class warfare" and got you branded a communist. The lessons of the 1920s were forgotten; the drive to deregulate had fewer and fewer obstacles; and we created a have/have not society that reached Gilded Age levels. Republicans driving the train and most Democrats right behind.

And here we are.

How's your money market fund? How's your 401K? How's your bank doing?

Income down. Stock market down. Dollar weaker.

How much does it take to fill your gas tank? How much did it take before the Republicans 3 trillion dollar Iraq War?

How much do your groceries cost?

Are you better off than you were four years ago? 8 years ago?

So - what to do about the economy?

The Republicans are onto something with this social distribution of wealth. During World War II, the tax rate for Americans who made a million bucks a year was 94%.

Conservative orthodoxy would say that should have caused the economy to shrink. What is the incentive for people to continue to produce if their incomes are taxed? It's socialism, by god - and socialism failed!

The GNP, in constant dollars, was 88.6 billion in '39. It grew to 135 billion by '45. We've never had that type of growth before or since.

Perhaps, with the new regulatory zeal being shown by the conservatives - with John McCain, who until, like 17 hours ago said that regulations were the problem with the economy - now saying we need more of them - we'll be able to roll back some of the harm done by the laissez-faire acolytes.

Maybe the Republicans will pursue corporate accountability and corporate regulation with the governmental aggressiveness they've pursued marijuana users. That would be terrific.

I'm coming around on this whole "maverick" thing. Now, if we can get Sarah Palin to come out in favor of animal rights...or same sex marriage...or abortion in the case of rape...or evolution...

George Bush's approval rating is 19%.

Is it not required of John McCain to detail the decisions made by the Bush Administration that he disagreed with and the policies of the Bush Administration he will not continue?

Simply calling yourself an agent of change really isn't enough, right?

Particularly when your campaign is being run by the entrenched Bush establishment.

From today's Washington Post "Far from being a group of outsiders to the Republican Party power structure, it (the McCain campaign) is now run largely by skilled operatives who learned their crafts in successive Bush campaigns and various jobs across the Bush government over the past eight years."

Last week, almost half of Americans believed a Great Depression was somewhat likely.

We've had a quarter century of a two pronged conservative belief system becoming entrenched as collective American wisdom:

1. Expansionist American military presence throughout the world. Culimating in a 3 trillion dollar Republican Iraq War.

2. Corporate deregulation. Culminating in what is now a proposal for a 700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout.

Was it worth it?

Ike, you know, the only Republican President from 1932-68, a time that encompassed (1) overcoming the Great Depression (2) winning World War II (3) the civil rights movement - Ike said Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the houses of its children. This is not a way of life…Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging itself on a cross of iron.

Even were there good evidence of WMDs (nope) or an Iraq connection to 9/11 (nope) or that Hussein's brutal dictatorship was quanitifiably different than other brutal dictatorships the US has endorsed, trained, supported, or ignored throughout its history into today (nope) - was it worth it?

Why don't the fiscally conservative Republicans - the ones who oppose increases in the minimum wage - the ones who oppose universal health care - on the grounds that we can't afford it, the ones who say that the Democrats are always wanting to "tax and spend", stand up and say "this 3 trillion dollar Iraq War has been too expensive; it was a mistake. We were wrong."

Aren't McCain/Palin required to do that to call themselves mavericks?

The debates begin Friday. Will they be required to do that?

The money we spend on the military is money we don't spend elsewhere. The money we'll be giving away to the bankers will be money we won't spend elsewhere.

Make McCain/Palin demonstrate they understand that in ways the Bush Administration has constantly proven it does not. Make McCain/Palin go on record in their assent or disagreement with the above Eisenhower quotation. Hell, let's see if Palin can identify the speaker.

In fact - let's see if Obama/Biden are willing to go on record as agreeing with Eisenhower. Before we commit to however many more years in Iraq - before we commit to however many more billions of dollars both parties are promising to throw at the military-industrial complex (another Eisenhower coined term) before we spend another 700 billion dollars to give away to giant corporations while those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed will remain that way andwill be told they are that way because of their own failures, their own weaknesses - their own lack of individual responsibility and personal character --

Before we do that - let's take the opportunity of the debate season to see if we have a candidate in 2008 who is as progressive as Ike was in 1958.

I Talked More about Sarah Palin Here, Probably Some of It Made Sense

(this is back when Obama was trailing in the polls; easy to forget that happened)

The Gibson/Palin interview has been lots more interesting than one would have guessed.

Of the highlights:

Palin responded to a question about her "national security credentials" with the non-sequitor:

PALIN: Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

Which not only is off topic (although repeats a claim that McCain made to Gibson earlier this month) but untrue.

Alaska produced 3.5% of the US domestic supply of energy in 2007. Which is less than nearly 20.

Better was her response to the following question about the budget:

GIBSON: So let me break some of those down. You talk about spending. How much smaller would a McCain budget be? Where would you cut?

PALIN: We’re going to find efficiencies in every department. We have got to. There are some things that I think should be off the table. Veterans’ programs, off the table. You know, we owe it to our veterans and that’s the greatest manifestation that we can show in terms of support for our military, those who are in public service fighting for America. It’s to make sure that our veterans are taken care of and the promises that we’ve made to them are fulfilled.

GIBSON: So you’d take military off the table, the veterans’ benefits. That’s 20 percent of the budget. Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

PALIN: I am sure that there are efficiencies that are going to be found in all of these agencies. I’m confident in that.

GIBSON: The agencies are not involved in entitlements. Basically, discretionary spending is 18 percent of the budget.

PALIN: We have certainly seen excess in agencies, though, and in — when bureaucrats, when bureaucracy just gets kind of comfortable, going with the status-quo and not being challenged to find efficiencies and spend other people’s money wisely, then that’s where we get into the situation that we are into today, and that is a tremendous growth of government, a huge debt, trillions of dollars of debt that we’re passing on to my kids and your kids and your grandkids … It’s unacceptable.

So, not only does Palin not know what the Bush Doctrine is (you know who does - my students in US Government, 'cause I teach it to them) she apparently thinks the word "efficiency" means "inefficiency."

Oh, and you know, the idea that it isn't the trillion dollar Republican War in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars of Republican Tax Cuts for the MegaRich that have led to the debt - but instead some nebulous bureaucrats not doing their jobs efficiently enough is beneath the level of intelligent discourse.

In other words, perfect for a Republican in 2008.

It seems to me acceptable for an honest person to say - "I supported Bush; McCain supported Bush; McCain will continue Bush's policies; I support McCain."

I would disagree with that support vociferously, but it's not dishonest.

It seems acceptable for an honest person to say - "I supported Bush; McCain supported Bush, but we were wrong - McCain will discontinue Bush's policies on X, Y, Z - bringing change to Washington after 8 years of Bush."

I wouldn't buy that argument; George Bush may well go down historically as the worst President in American history, an epithet I don't throw around lightly; from the domestic economic struggles to the foreign policy disasters, to the litany of illegal activities, to the refusal to consider actual scientific facts when considering the environmental disaster looming - it is an 8 year record of constant misery heaped upon the American people. And if he was your guy - twice - it's hard for the political party that elected and supported him - to now disavow everything they've supported and say they will bring in change and reform to Washington.

But it is absolute demagoguery to say 'I supported Bush; McCain supported Bush; we were right; Bush was successful, and now McCain will bring change and reform to Washington."

A big applause line for Mitt Romney at the GOP Convention was the following:

"We need change all right -- change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington -- throw out the big-government liberals and elect John McCain."

There is simply no honest argument that after 8 years not only of a Republican Administration - but this Republican Administration - that what we have had is a "liberal" Washington.

No one could possibly believe it.

Except maybe people who don't know the meaning of the word efficient.

McCain's now leading in the polls. It's gone beyond a convention bounce - he's winning, winning the popular vote, winning the electoral vote. And somehow, someway - that message that he's the reformer - the change agent - has resonated.

You've got no argument here. You can argue the Iraq War was a good idea (it wasn't) the economy isn't so bad (it is) that tax cuts for the wealthy are what's best to stimulate the economy (they're not) that we need less money spent on social welfare programs (we don't) that abortion and homosexuality are the vital moral issues of the day (they're not) that the war on terror is real, and not just a way to generate income for the military industrial complex (you're wrong) that the Bush Doctrine (huh?) is a valid exercise of American power and not just the latest expression of imperialism from a country historically willing to commit its own people to kill and die at the behest of giant corporations (you're still wrong) that the United States is the greatest country on the face of the earth (no such thing) chosen by God (no such thing) to be a beacon of freedom and justice for all (you're cute when you're wrong.)

You can be a conservative Republican and be all that entails. I disagree with virtually everything for which you stand, but I know you honestly believe those ideas.

But the idea that: McCain will now bring reform to Washington 'cause those liberals have had power for too long...

There's no way to honestly believe that. None.

You can vote for McCain if you like. You can believe McCain/Palin is a better choice than Obama/Biden.

You're wrong. I mean, unless you're a millionaire, you're wrong.

But you can't agree with Mitt Romney. This argument McCain is currently making, succesfully, making - that he isn't repudiating anything George Bush has done in the last 8 years but nonethless plans to bring sweeping change to Washington that argument is dishonest.

It's beneath you Republicans. It's beneath you.

(Oh - USC 35 Ohio St. 3. Just sayin'.)

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

You need to read the lengthy New York Times piece about Palin from Sunday. The phrase blank slate was written to describe Palin; she has no knowledge, no curiosity, there is nothing in her record or public statements that suggests anything beyond religiosity and a desire for power.

She's Bush without the coke problem.

Which, of course, is why people like her. The Republicans have made a calculation that a candidate who is "just like reg'lar people" is who reg'lar people want.

Maybe they're right. Maybe we don't want smart; maybe even a trillion dollar war and 4 buck gallon gas isn't enough to convince the people of the United States they're headed down the wrong path.

The Democrats should have made George Clooney the running mate. I'm completely serious.

If you haven't seen Mike Judge's Idiocracy, it's a dystopic view of America 500 years from now; social Darwnism has turned out to work, and its been the smartest who have died out. A relentless genetic selection of the ignorant, mindlessly chanting their slogans while rolling back centuries of knowledge accumulation. Soon we'll look to solve global warming by sacrificing virgins into volcanoes. Fortunately for Sarah Palin, we know her eldest daughter will be safe.

Your empire is collapsing. You've allowed the conservatives (in both parties) to tear the fabric of the social safety net for the last quarter-century. You've allowed the media, under the cover of "objectivity" refuse to challenge the arch right wing as they returned our nation to Gilded Age levels of economic injustice and scientific ignorance. We're debating lipstick and flag pins while in a war that economists now estimate will wind up costing us three trillion dollars.

The next time a Republican votes against a half million dollar program for working mothers and talks about fiscal responsibility; the next time a Republican says the Democrats are the party of big government - you ask about the 3 trillion dollar Republican Iraq War.

Republicans want less government when black people are drowning in New Orleans. Republicans want less government when rejecting increases in the minimum wage. Republicans want less government when a half dozen corporations divide up all the media in the country so their propaganda can make its way out unfettered. Republicans want less government whenever someone mentions the 45 million Americans without health insurance while the US ranks 37th (according to the World Health Organization) in quality of health care. Republicans want less government when union organization is busted, when soldiers' families have to live on food stamps, when American corporations kill the planet with polution, move their factories overseas, shield their assets from taxation.

That's the party of small government.

But when it comes to spying on you, arresting and detaining you, squelching dissent, spending tax dollars on their religion, getting in your bedroom - getting in your uterus, handing money to the Royal family of Saudi Arabia, the stockholders of Haliburton, and oil company executives - when it comes to a 3 trillion dollar war that was fought because Iraq had weapons of mass dest...I mean, because they were behind 9/11...I mean, because Saddam had to be remove...I mean, to protect the 600,000 Iraqi citizens now killed in our war...I mean, for any reason other than gigantic corporate profit and a desire for the corporately controlled US government to stride the world like a colossus --

Then they want the biggest, baddest government they can get.

They're about power, imperialistic, unmitgated, unvarnished power that both fills their shareholders bank accounts and appeases their millennialist need to ready the world for destruction. They're flim and flam, hocus and pocus. John McCain and Sarah Palin are going to ignore science, continue and expand war, cut taxes for millionaires, appoint judges who will pare back abortion rights even further, continue to rip away at the separation of church and state and rudimentary civil liberties protections, exascerbate the economic conditions that make it increasingly difficult for "reg'lar people" to feed their families, and further the Republican policies of the last 8 years -- the conservative policies of the last quarter-century - that have the American empire in its death throws.

Put any flavor of lipstick on that you like. It's still Idiocracy.

'Cause you Can't get Enough of the 2008 Election!

(I'm in full on triage mode for my nearly 400 posts over the past year at the other place; yes, it would have been better if I could just export that blog completely. Yes, you make a compelling case. Stop now.)

Rick Davis is John McCain's campaign manager. He recently said "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

If you agree with him, you're reading the wrong blog. Come back when I finish the football pics (5 divisions left, I know, I'm behind, all the time with the working and whatnot).

If what matters to you is what Obama bowls or Palin's knocked up daughter or Biden's hairplugs or (spoiler alert) that McCain was a POW 35 years ago then vote accordingly.

Me, I don't know, seems to me that issues matter more than personalities. You know who has a terrific personality - that dude who won the last Project Runway.

That dude was entertaining. And I think he lives in New York, probably just a short cab ride away from the site where the World Trade Center once stood. Which, since apparently, living near something (Alaska...very, very close to Russia) equals having experience with that thing; this Project Runway guy is poised to lead our War on Terror.

And if you say he doesn't - you hate women. Or fashion designers. Or something.

For too many years, people like me (The Angry Left) have largely just resigned themselves to shaking their heads as this country has been taken over by the stupid.

I don't mean the leaders of the corporately owned political parties are stupid, I mean the American people have gone stupid; as I've written in previous places; I think the Iraq War has largely been a success for those who concocted it. If I had money in oil or a gigantic "defense" contract (incidentally - next time a conservative sneers about political correctness, probably because he can't call people fags anymore without fear people will think he's, you know, a scumbag - suggest that whenever it is we stop using the word "defense" to refer to money we spend on the military, and "collateral damage" to refer to the civilians that military murders, we can start talking about the language) I'd have gotten rich.

And that's what it's about, if you've seen McCain's plan for hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax cuts for each American multi-millionaire, you understand that. It's about oil rising from 20 bucks a barrel when Bush took office to over 120 bucks a barrel now. It's about Exxon-Mobil having the most profitable quarters in the history of civilization. It's about you paying 4 bucks a gallon for gas, watching your food prices skyrocket, and worrying every month if you can afford your electric bill. It's about a repeal of an estate tax that none of you will ever be in a financial circumstance to pay while the United States ranks 37th in overall health care quality in the world. It's about 45 million Americans with no health insurance; two million Americans in prison; about a Vice-Presidential candidate who wants creationism taught in schools, who opposes allowing women the right to abortion even in the cases of rape and incest. It's about 7000 foreclosures a day. It's about plans of permanent global wars; permanent tax cuts for the wealthy; permanent disregard of science. Of facts. Of issues.

John McCain said last night that "we need to change the way government does almost everything."

Fine. Let's start with changing the political party which has controlled the Executive branch for the past 8 years.

Oh - and for another "issue" that we should ignore - read this

I don't care even a tiny bit who anyone but me sleeps with, despite what may or may not be on my DVR (multiple input porn + giant HD resolution is error, word to the wise) whether the underage daughter of a woman who attended a half dozen crappy colleges has another kid (er, I mean, a first kid, of course) could not possibly matter less to me. I'm more interested in why Audrina blew off Lauren at Frankie's Vegas birthday bash (I know, right?).

But as a thought experiment, consider the following:

What if the African-American candidate for President of the United States had a pregnant 17 year old daughter?

How would the conservative (and the mainstream) media be discussing it?

Would there not be talk about "babies having babies" and the pathology of the Black community and how if Obama has those permissive liberal values at home imagine what would happen if he ran the country?

The conservatives would sneer derisively. Hell, Fox News coined the phrase "terrorist fist jab", what do you suppose they'd do with a pregnant 17 year old black teenager?

But better than that - what about this:

"Ya fuck with me I'll kick [your] ass."

The father's an 18 year old athlete with an arrest record. His name is Levi (what the hell's going on with the names in Alaska?). The above quote's his, from his myspace page (now set to private)

It it were a 17 year old daughter of Obama, with an 18 year old African-American athlete, with an arrest record, whose myspace page said, "Ya fuck with me I'll kick your ass." then what do you suppose the reaction would be?

Do you think the young black athlete with the arrest record who knocked up the 17 year old girl, who said "ya fuck with me I'll kiss your ass" would have been invited, as Levi was to the Republican's - to the Democratic National Convention?

Would he be onstage? Would he hug Obama, shake hands with Biden? Would there be an AP photo like the one above?

And if that happened - would the response from the media, both conservative and mainstream, be "leave them alone?"

Or would it be "gangsta" this and "thug" that and "baby daddy" over there?

I don't care about any of that. But it's interesting to think about.

I do care that Sarah Palin believes the Iraq War was declared by God.

I do care she opposes abortion in cases of rape; she'd like to see creationism taught in schools; she supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, and you should read this

about her Pentecostal Church and this

about how Palin's committment to life doesn't extend to wolves.

Really, it never stops. But she kinda looks like Megan Mullally, so, you know, it's probably all okay.

Now, to consider if Obama had the same connections with a secessionist movement that Palin does - or... consider when it will be that Spencer's sister proves Brodie right by turning on Lauren. Either way.

Repost: The Baseball Hall of Fame is No Longer a Museum

In the history of Major League Baseball, there is only one ball which was hit for a ballplayer's 756th home run. Of the arguments made for Congressional intrusion into the affairs of baseball with the steroid hearings was baseball's singular historic role in the fabric of the United States; long running and continuous, we can draw a direct line from games played during Reconstruction to games being played tonight. In my countdown of the 200 Best Major Leaguers ever, I'll include ballplayers who began their careers in the 1880s, the ability to adjust statistics for era allows baseball, really more than any other human endeavor, to cross space and time.

I know, I'm going all "if you build it, he will come" on you. I apologize.

But baseball, for a hundred and fifty years, has had a cultural impact on the United States which is undeniable.

And that means that the artifacts of baseball - the material culture which makes up its history - matters.

You know the story about 756; Marc Ecko, a pointless man living a trivial life, purchased the ball, used the media's insatiable need to ridicule Bonds to drum up publicity over an internet poll, and affixed it with an asterisk, a literal branding that reflects the tarnish the sports punditry and Major League Baseball have so assiduously tried to layer upon the home run record.

And now that ball is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The arguments used to support Ecko are that the ball was his personal property (true) and he could do with it what he wished (legally true).

Consider this thought experiment if you would.

Do you know there is more than one original copy of the Declaration of Independence? Not replications - original, hand written by Thomas Jefferson hisownself, copies.

True story. And one you should know, given that Friday is the 4th of July.

Do you know who owns one of those copies?

Norman Lear. Hollywood liberal. All in the Family. People for the American Way. Normal Lear. Part of the counter-culture that Obama attacked.

The Declaration of Independence, the birthing document of the United States, "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," is owned by Norman Lear.

He bought it.

It's his personal property.

He has the legal right to annotate it - scrawl "Jefferson was a slave owning rapist" or "There is no creator, grow the hell up" or "Sure, all white property owning men are created equal - but you founding fathers sure gave the rest of the people the shaft."

And on and on and on. Right there. He could do it on the 4th of July. Could do it on PPV. Could do it on the Washington Mall.

It's his personal property after all.

And let me suggest that while we can be pretty sure Bonds took steroids, you don't have the slightest idea what impact they had on his ability to hit home runs. If you think his 755 is more tainted than Babe Ruth's 714, given that he didn't have to face African-American pitchers, you and I pray at different churches.

But while we aren't sure about Bonds - we do know about Jefferson. We do know about what "all men are created equal" meant in force and effect of law at the time of the Declaration and then after the Constitution was ratified in 1789. The expanse between the rhetoric of American freedom and the conditions of American reality are a matter of historical record and became embedded in America's game of baseball, which is why, until 1947, every single home run ever hit in the major leagues deserves an asterisk far bigger and bolder than the one the fashion designer chose to attach to Bonds.

But we don't do that. We use statistics to adjust for era, adjust for rule changes, for ballpark effects, for the wide variations in space and time in which baseball has persists. And that allows us, somewhat fictionally, but better, again, let me suggest, than in any other human endeavor, to mathematically quantify events. We don't need asterisks. We can use statistical adjustments.

Facts. Glorious facts.

Ecko's defacement of 756 was treated by the sports punditry as a joke, defended as being his "personal property."

Were Lear to annotate the Declaration - my guess is the very same people would argue that free speech and personal property be damned - he should be locked up - waterboarded - held without charge in Gitmo.

But take it a step further and imagine that the defaced Declaration was then donated to the Smithsonian, for example - and displayed, comments and all, as a symbol of American history.

What would the reaction be to that?

Marc Ecko doesn't get to change facts. His voice doesn't get to speak louder than mine on 756; his view of history doesn't count more even though he had three quarters of a million dollars to spend on a baseball and I'm clipping coupons for diet cheese.

How much will we allow the wealthy to change the truth?

The baseball is no longer the thing that happened. Now, it's a fashion designer's interpretation of the thing that happened.

He's allowed to have his view. You're allowed to have yours. You can think that Barry Bonds's home run records, both career and single season, are tarnished.

I mean, you're wrong. But you can think that.

But what we don't do is solely on the basis of one of those views being backed by money, display that defaced ball in the museum of record for that sport.

Were Norman Lear to scrawl his thoughts on the Declaration of Independence, even though they might be thoughts I agree with, Lear should be shunned from polite society. He has the right to do it, but it is wrong to do.

Marc Ecko should be treated exactly the same way.

Repost - More from the Campaign Trail - 2008

(the working idea of my having this blog of revelation was for it to be a sports blog, or rather, a blog where I could write about everything through the context of sports, use sports as a window through which to view politics and culture and whatever else I felt like talking about. Sometimes it works better than others.)

Play the game.

In 1974, in the United States, African-American families earned about 66 cents for every dollar earned by white families.

So, in 2002, in the United States, African-American families earned about________for every dollar earned by white families.

75 cents? 82 cents? What?

58 cents.

Okay, how about this - for those black families who do have the same income as white families in the United States - they have how much wealth compared to those white families?


I offered those statistics at the beginning of a recent discussion of race in 2008 to a class I was teaching; at the end of class, I asked for written thoughts about the current state of race relations. The plurality of students offered some variation on the theme that things used to be bad in some unnamed past, but now are pretty good (which is a very common American narrative; past mistakes now nearly overcome by the goodheartedness of the U-S-A) or that even bringing up the topic was the real problem, that the only time race ever mattered was when people brought it up.

No one mentioned the above statistics.

Can't blame the students; psychologically, one of the most difficult things to do is change the way one views the world; when objective information that contradicts how we see things crosses our path, the way we cope is by ignoring it.

And why shouldn't the students view the world that way? As part of the coverage of the Democratic National Convention this week, the phrase "post-racial" to define current United States has been used almost as often as "post-partisan" has.

Post-partisan is my new favorite term, replacing "frenemies." One of the Republican talking points this week, as was it in the days after the Democrats retook the Senate in the midterm election, was that what the American public was asking for was bipartisanship.

This is the equivalent of when the wrestling heel uses every nefarious trick he can to press an advantage on the babyface - just cheats with a brazen and wanton nefariousness - but when the worm turns, and the babyface begins to turn the tide and gain the advantage - the heel will drop to his knees and beg for mercy, offering a hand in friendship.

The Republicans will spy on you, out your CIA wife, send you to die in a war that is almost entirely motivated by corporate profit, they will strip your right to vote, steal an election when you do, leave you to die after a hurricane, refuse to let you debate resolutions on the House floor, threaten any dissent as dangerous and unpatriotic, ignore warning shouts as loud as "Bin Ladin Determined to Attack in US", then be unable to capture him 7 years later, despite killing well over a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians and still claim to be the party best positioned to keep you safe; they will deregulate the banking and mortgage industries, watch as record foreclosures disproportionately take wealth from black families while bailing out their corporate partners; while they bailout corporations and handout billions to military contractors they either were, are, or will again be corporate officers of they refuse national health care as "socialized medicine"; they claim to be in favor of "small" government as they build a military larger than the rest of the world and constantly look for ways to legislate what you smoke, what you can hear on the radio, and who you can marry; they lock up suspects without lawyers, they torture, they daily devalue our standing in the world, they will author a tax decrease that only impacts millionaires and accuse you of engaging in class warfare for mentioning it; they have eroded the fundamental bedrock principles of federalism and democracy, cashing in on the blood of American soldiers; they lie and cheat and steal and do so with a fuck you smirk and a "what are you gonna do about it" swagger.

But when they lose...when they're out of power...when the public has clearly, vociferously, in every possible way rejected virtually everything they've done -- when it looks as if the Democrats will have power in both the Executive and Legislative branches -- they (and the corporate media who parrots their thoughts) talk about the importance of post-partisanship.

If the media (and the American public) watched more wrestling, they'd know what to do.

They'd see that chickenshit heel (technical term) beg off, back away, offer a hand in friendship - and they'd root for the Democrats to punch them clean in the throat.

Every speech in the Democratic Convention that hasn't talked about 4 dollar a gallon gas and torture and Katrina and huge tax breaks for the wealthy and foreclosures and the price of a pound of hamburger and a trillion dollar war and oil companies having record profits and the disparity between uberwealthy and working class being beyond Gilded Age levels and "we'll be greeted as liberators" and "we're not in the reality business" and "I want to make the American government so small it can be drowned in the bathtub" and "people need to watch what they say" has been a mistake.

Because wrestling fans understand - if you accept their hand in post-partisanship, they'll slap you with their free hand, pull the brass knucks out of their trunks and split you between the eyes.

There shouldn't be post-partisanship, there should be grand jury investigations. We should attack the Bush Administration with at least the fervor that it's gone after Barry Bonds.

There is no such thing as post-partisanship, there's Republican domination and Democratic accomodation.

There's no post-racial either, but man, do white people want there to be.

My question is always - when did this period where "racism doesn't really matter anymore" begin?

Almost 15 years go, during the OJ Simpson trial - you heard that the real racists were on the defense team. They were "playing the race card" somehow injecting race where race did not belong. They had a white LAPD detective, coming off the heels of the acquittal of the white LAPD officers who beat Rodney King half to death on video, scaling the fence around the house of a black suspect - without a warrant - and appearing with a bloody glove - they had that detective - caught on tape lying under oath, caught on tape discussing manufacturing evidence - caught on tape discussing the vicious beatings he and fellow officers had administered to black suspects - they had that detective respond to the question "did you manufacture evidence in this case" by invoking the 5th Amendment - and it was the defense team who were the real racists, the defense team "stirrin' up trouble."

(Incidentally, anytime that Mark Fuhrman perjury prosecution wants to gear up, I'm ready. Probably the LA District Attorney's office is out on the golf course looking for the real perjurers.)

Was that the post-racial society? Where white Americans suddenly decided their were inequities in the justice system - and those inequities tilted in favor of black defendants? There are more blacks in prison or on parole than in college. Blacks are disproportionately investigated, charged, accused, convicted, sentenced, and held. Is this the post-racial US?

Recently, ridiculously inspid tool Jonah Goldberg criticized ESPN for honoring John Carlos and Tommy Smith upon the 40th anniversary of their protest on the medal stand at the Mexico City Olympics. Goldberg wrote that one of the problems with the protest was that, hell - it was 1968 - that conditions for blacks were pretty good by then and what were they complaining about?

Was that the post-racial US? 1968? The year MLK was assassinated? One year after the Supreme Court case that declared state laws preventing interracial marriage were unconstitutional? 4 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (opposed by the Republicans) that ended the ability of restaurants or hotels to refuse service to black customers?

Civil rights leaders were told they were agitators. Stirring up trouble. That race relations were fine in the segregated south - the apartheid American south, thanks - that the real problem were northern racial instigators. Was it a post-racial society then?

Goddamn Muhammad Ali. Why can't he just know his place like Joe Louis did?

Goddamn WEB Dubois. Why can't he just know his place like Booker T. Washington does?

Barack Obama's going to be the next POTUS (and honestly, if he loses, the Democrats need to disband or be dropped into the second division like a British soccer team; if their 2012 candidate can win the Presidency of, say Trinidad, then we'll talk about letting them run again in 2016) and that's a good result.

It means blacks aren't 3/5 of a human being anymore. It means they don't need to sit at the back of the bus.

And it means that we probably aren't going to war with Iran or with Russia.

But it won't end the level of disparity that exponentially exists in the US beyond any other western nation - the disparity between rich and poor - and the disparity between white and black.

66 cents for every dollar in 1974.

58 cents for every dollar in 2002.

Those aren't numbers you can whitewash.

White Americans had better hope they aren't ever in the position of the chickenshit heel, begging in a nation where they are vastly outnumbered by racial minorities.

'Cause I've been to lots of wrestling shows with lots of black fans. I'm guessing they'll know what to do when that hand of "reconciliation" is extended.

From the Washington Post:

Obama and McCain Tax Proposals

According to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are both proposing tax plans that would result in cuts for most American families. Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy. For the approximately 147,000 families that make up the top 0.1 percent of the income scale, the difference between the two plans is stark. While McCain offers a $269,364 tax cut, Obama would raise their taxes, on average, by $701,885 - a difference of nearly $1 million.

That top .01% have incomes of nearly 3 million a year, for those of you who haven't clicked the above link.

John McCain, in a time where many of us are struggling to afford groceries, wants to cut taxes of people who make 2.87 million dollars a year by $269,364.

Why? 'Cause he's a Republican. And that's what they do.

If you make 600K-2.8 million a year - your McCain cut would be smaller, only 45grand.

And if you make a quarter million to 600K, your break is not quite 8 grand. Obama wouldn't raise your taxes though, unlike the other two groups who are going to get hit.

Anything less than that - and Obama's the one cutting your taxes.

Go look at the chart. Find where you are. Go ahead, be selfish. Sure, you might want to think of those less fortunate than you - you might, if you have the means, look at that chart and say "huh, given where we are, given the condition of most Americans economically - is it really best for most Americans to cut the taxes of the wealthiest Americans more (not just in dollars, obviously - but as a percentage - it's a regressive tax decrease) than everyone else?" Does this seem like the direction we should be going; is this really what we're crying out for - as you see 4 dollar a gallon gas - if you have no health insurance and can't go on vacation and have stopped paying for haircuts (guilty) and question literally every purchase of meat you make at the grocery store or every time you run the air conditioning (guilty - and I have two graduate degrees, a Bar membership, live in the tropics and am cute as all get out) - is the answer to that really - "shit, let's cut the taxes of people making 3 million bucks a year by a quarter million and do it yesterday! Haven't America's millionaires suffered enough??"

Or, if you like - just think selfishly.

Read the Post piece. Find your income bracket and compare the policies.

I'm a college instructor. I won't tell you exactly how much I make, but I'm nowhere near any bracket where McCain's tax plan puts more money in my pocket than Obama's.

Vote your pocketbook in November. Forget about torture. Hell, you weren't tortured, why do you care. Forget how the Bush Administration spied on American citizens. You have nothing to hide - so what if the giant, omnipresent monstrously powerful federal government the conservatives have always spoken so highly of is in your telephone. Why do you care? So habeas corpus, maybe the bedrock principle of all evolved systems of justice since the Code of Hammurabi has been discarded. It's in latin for Chrissake, how could it matter? Sure, we've killed a couple hundred thousand Iraqi citizens and inflamed worldwide passions of young Muslims against us. What are the odds we'll ever feel any blowback from that? And hey - aren't those Iraqi citizens, the women and elderly and children - murdered during this unprovoked war that has almost entirely been about profit for corporations that you don't have any financial relationship with (but the Republicans do) really better off dead than under Saddam? And so what if the Bush Adminisration's ignored the environmental catastrophe, ignored science - effectively said the sky is not blue and water is not wet and if you say different we'll drum you clean out of the government. Don't you know Jesus is coming anyway? Who cares about the planet? The good people will get beamed up and the dirty heathens will burn for all eternity. None of that matters, don't base your vote on any of it.

Just vote your pocketbook. Look at the chart. Think about you.

I'll be voting mine.

And I live in a swing state.

Repost - SummerSlam 2008 Preview

This blog, where I'm largely doing sports, or doing lists, or doing sports lists of some other such variant that I really have absolutely no time to do but will continue to do anyway is about a month old. was its predecessor. It only existed a couple of months in its form, as I moved The Blog of Revelation over here in order to try to generate some ad revenue (I've made 50 bucks, so, you know, there's that).

My blog at is the predecessor to that. Those are essays, hyperrealized accounts of my life largely written for comedic purposes. And to meet girls (which i did, so, you know, there's that). I like them. I'm now doing this instead.

That blog was birthed from the blog at (you'll have to poke around) that blog was designed to promote the professional production of a play I co-authored, Spoon Millionaires. If you are in a position to mount a theatrical comedy that I guarantee an audience (sophisticated and good looking, with disposible income and a maximum number of chromosomes) would enjoy, I could make you a helluva deal.

But before all of that - there was - What if Steamboat Beat Hogan? That's a Counterfactual history of the World Wrestling Federation since 1985 if it was Ricky Steamboat who was given the role of promotion standardbearer as opposed to Hulk Hogan. For about 600 pages and 20,000 words, I've totally re-written the past two plus decades of North American professional wrestling.


Yeah, I don't know. I'm sort of quixotic by nature, I guess; I'm always looking to put right what once went wrong. It's for the most narrow of reader; someone with both an obsessive interest in professional wrestling and a vague animosity toward the McMahon version thereof. It will be the very last thing in my life I give up doing. If there isn't an update for a few months, you should assume I have died.

Anyway, this is not that. This is something from prior even to that - this started in 1996.

In the piece I wrote explaining why I hate Brett Favre (oh - before the NFL season I'll put up my picks; here's a preview - the Packers are going to the playoffs, the Jets aren't) I reference Kirk Hiner, my writing partner in undergrad and the co-author of Spoon Millionaires (so funny, theatrical producers, so funny. Kirk and I were similarly situated as wrestling fans, specifically WWF fans, in the 1980s - as years have passed, he's drifted away as, you know, adults do, and I've become encyclopedically rabid in my devotion to all matters graps. Since '96, I've kept him in contact with the goings on in what is now called WWE with previews before the 4 largest annual PPVs.

This is that.

Why am I putting it here?

'Cause what's the point of saying anything if it isn't in a blog, you know? It's my version of having a camera crew film the birth of my baby for a reality show.

So - with that - the 21st edition of Summer Slam is this Sunday from Indianapolis.


-Edge is the top heel in the company now, and sizably so - really, all of the other top acts, with the possible exception of Jericho (who has turned heel, but I don't think you'd say he was on Edge's level at this point) are babyfaces. It's striking actually, the imbalance; I'd be surprised if they didn't have a high profile turn sooner than later. Oh yeah, Orton's a heel, but he's hurt.

This seems like the main event; I assume it will be last with their using the Cell gimmick.

Edge and the 'Taker have been feuding for over a year; Edge took the Smackdown title from 'Taker last May; after having to forfeit because of injury, he retook from Batista in a 3 way with the Undertaker at Armageddon in December; dropped to the Dead Man at XXIV - and then, with the belt again vacant, beat the Undertaker in a TLC match in June, a match that forced the Undertaker out of the WWF.

'Taker's taken the summer off; Edge and Eddy's widow Vickie have been in a program on Smackdown; Vickie's the heel general manager, she and Edge were in a romance - which led to all manner of skullduggery, including running the Undertaker out of town.

Edge and Vickie got married, but Edge was caught on videotape cheating with the wedding planner; and that's pitted the two against each other - Vickie reinstated the Undertaker and is sticking Edge in a Cell with him at SSlam.

They've held off bring the 'Taker back, so Edge has been carrying the whole program; it's been good sports entertainment; Edge is at the top of his curve right now as a character; he and Foley (Foley had been the Smackdown color announcer until recently; his deal is up and he looks to be leaving the company again) had a helluva confrontation a couple of weeks ago.

As a match this will be an okay-good-solid enough brawl. I like the Edge/Taker matches more than the Batista/Taker matches from last year that others preferred, but the WWF style is really tough to watch in the past couple of years. I only have one WWF match above 3 1/2 stars since the top of '07 (Money in the Bank at XXIV, 3 3/4) so the expected top limit to this match isn't as high as one would hope. The gimmick helps; Edge's work level has slipped and the Undertaker, while not bad, is still the Undertaker - the more they can gimmick this up the better it is likely to be.

I don't know who wins - I would guess Edge; perhaps with he and Vickie reuniting. Vickie's been good, by the way, both on her own and more importantly, in furthering the Edge gimmick, which subtextually, is "the guy who will fuck your girl" -- he stole Lita from Matt and fucked Eddy's widow. It's good heel stuff; Edge is a good character. If there was a possibility this would be a better match, I'd be interested based on Edge's promo work.

2. Smackdown Title: HHH v. KHALI

-Hunter's on Smackdown now; this is the lineal WWF Title; Hunter and Orton had traded it from end of last year to this spring (Hunter's now won this title 7 times) HHH got drafted to Smackdown this summer, bringing the title with him; Edge lost what was the Smackdown title to CM Punk on RAW, effectively switching the belts.

There's not much program here; Khali won a battle royal to get the shot - there's not much chance the belt's gonna switch hands and absolutely no possibility this will be anything but an awful match. HHH can't do much and Khali does much less than that. I would guess they'll build to Edge/HHH for XXV, which would be another reason to keep Edge hot. Or - they'll turn HHH and build to HHH/Taker. I don't think they could do anything that would get me interested in HHH; he's beyond Hogan at his most obnoxious for me and his work, at this point, isn't much better. Further, to whatever extent the current WWF style is a reflection of HHH's limitations as a worker, I'll pin that amount of dissatisfaction on him too. I have nothing good to say about this match.


-I did not think this would happen. Punk appears to be the breakout from the new wave of 21st century indie workers who I've been talking about for 8-9 years. He's the guy I've structured the Counterfactual around for the past year and a half. The thing is - he's never really beaten anyone in the WWF, they haven't given him a long match, they haven't shown any interest in him from a work standpoint (and, while Punk's a good worker, it doesn't entirely translate to the WWF style - and, while Punk's a good worker, he's not a superpremium elite worker in the way that some of the other indie guys I've been talking about for years are) the other thing is, he's far better as a heel than a babyface - and he's been a face in his entire WWF run, really not able to do the shtick that would really get him over (I would have thought). Instead, Punk's become sort of Cena-lite; his fanbase seems to be girls and kids. Considering I'm the very opposite of girls and kids, that what I like in a wrestler is the opposite of what they like - that we are together in our rooting for Punk is a peculiar twist.

Punk's a fluke; he was ECW champion - but only because Johnny Nitro (now called John Morrison, but that's a lesser name) picked up a drug suspension and had to drop. He only won Money in the Bank at XXIV because the booked winner was Jeff - and Jeff got suspended too. And that was sort of turned into the storyline - he cashed in his title shot after Batista had laid Edge out, and since then he's been booked as weak as a champion could be, he gets beaten up, he needs interference to win - it's like a heel title run. The storyline is that Bradshaw carries himself as a legit star, unlike the indie wrestler Punk - and therefore deserves the belt more.

Which is a good program; Bradshaw's a good character very well played - and the level he particularly works is the "shoot-like" stuff like he did before the first ECW reunion PPV, where he's basically saying "no one cares about your workrate and your star ratings; if WWF says I'm the best wrestler or Cena is the best wrestler or Hunter or Hogan or whomever -- that means we're the best wrestlers - no one else matters, and if you think they matter, then you don't matter."

You know, which is what they believe, and certainly what Vince has always believed.

Which makes Bradshaw a real good heel for a guy like me, and a real good heel for a guy like Punk - if they'd let Punk talk about how the WWF style sucks, how he's really wrestling for all the guys out there right now who are better wrestlers than Cena or HHH or Batista - and who are doing matches all across the world a billion times better than most WWF fans will ever get to see.

That would be a better program. I'd pay for that program.

But you get what you get. And what you get here is a lesser match, 'cause while Bradshaw has never been a good worker, at his very, very best he was a passable brawler - and he's pretty degraded now.

I've gone back and forth - but I think Punk's gonna escape one more time.

4. ECW Title: MARK HENRY(w/Tony Atlas) v. MATT HARDY

-Yes, that's the Tony Atlas with the Mark Henry. Yes. He's ECW Champion. He won a 3 way to take from Kane. He's a heel...but really seems to be more of a tweener. I guess. He's Mark Henry.

Matt lost his US Title to Shelton (who, for purposes of my Counterfactual, hopefully will work dark) then got drafted to ECW. He won a 4 way to become number one contender and there we go.

Matt's still Matt, Matt's good, works hard, people like him. No chance this is a good match and I assume Henry keeps, maybe in a screwjob that allows this program to continue - or it could be that Henry's gonna turn face and get programmed against Nitro while Matt gets programmed against Miz. Regardless, I assume Henry keeps.


-These are big stars; Cena's still the top guy in the company; Batista's probably...4th now, I'd guess. They aren't any good. They aren't Khali - but there is a body of opinion that, particularly Cena, has become a really good worker, that body of opinion is incorrect. This is a standard babyface program, hotshotted when the new RAW GM (Mike Adamle, longtime sports announcer) made the match for Summer Slam. It's a "who's the man" match - which plays off the idea that no one really thinks Punk's on top on RAW. The angle is they've never met in a singles match before and they've been top guys for years - so here we go.

Lots of people are disappointed they aren't doing this match at XXV, I assume they still will, but I don't care - the thing is at best this will be an okay enough match since neither of these guys can work. It's not that they don't try; they aren't slugs; they just do a lot of restholds and posing and looking at the crowd. It's WWF style. This is the opposite of what I want to see.

I'd guess Cena wins - actually, what I guess is Batista turns, or moves toward a turn - it makes sense that Batista turns, takes from Punk, and then Cena chases. But we'll see. I don't care. They're part of the big lie that WWF wrestling is good, the US is the greatest country on earth and there is a god.

God/Country/Cena - lot of sacred cows to hit in one paragraph.


-If they give it any time, it would be the best match of the show. More likely, it's 10 minutes with 6 of them good and it's only the second best match of the show.

MVP is one of the...maybe half dozen, maybe top ten, yeah, more likely top ten, workers in the company. He's cocky heel - Jeff is Jeff. MVP was US Champ for like a year before losing it to Matt, this is his first real program since. Jeff was on RAW in the title mix until his suspension; he's getting relaunched on Smackdown. It looks like they're gonna do Jeff/Benjamin for the US title in a program, so I'd assume Jeff goes over here or Benjamin screws him. I'm cool with Jeff/Benjamin as a program -- maybe they'll do the Benjamin screwjob, give MVP the win, and then do MVP/HHH. That's a good idea; MVP can drag some good matches out of HHH maybe. I'd like to see them take that direction for a few months.


-Kingston's all babyface, doing a Jamaican gimmick; he's green, but good enough, has an interesting enough style. He got hotshotted into the IC, taking from Jericho when Michaels, who is in a program with Jericho, interfered. They've not really done much with him since and I think they're pulling the plug.

Coincidentally, the last time they gave the IC to an underdog no name babyface type it was Santino who beat Umaga on a fluke in Italy. They pulled that plug too, turned Santino - and he's become a heel comedy act; he's doing a jokey version of Andy Kauffman wrestling women - or appeared to be, until he started a romance with one of the more mannish women on the roster, Phoenix. They're doing a comedy act together now. It's not bad comedy (grading on a wrestling curve) and people like it lots more than I do. What it is though is bad wrestling. I have no patience for comedy acts, I just want the wrestling.

The premise to this match is whomever wins gets the belts - pretty clearly, it's a switch, also pretty clearly, it's Phoenix who will get the fall - which would win herself the Womens title (this is the RAW womens title - they've added a second women's title for Smackdown. Seriously) and win the IC for Santino. This just smells of some writer who wants to write comedy - and the matches are serving as backdrops for the jokes.

Which is more stuff that I hate, of course. For me, all booking just serves the matches; whenever the matches are backdrops for the story they want to tell - particularly when it's comedy - I can't tune out fast enough.

Also on the show - Michaels, selling an eye injury from Jericho, will announce his future plans.

That's a good program, although not as good as people think it is -- it could be that this eye injury has some degree of legitimacy, Michaels work has fallen off the table and he's taken a lot of time off. Clock's ticking on how much more Shawn we're gonna get.

So - that's the show. No chance at a great match; Undertaker/Edge will probably be a good garbage match that people will say is better than it was. MVP/Jeff will be good but short. If anything else makes 3 stars, that would probably be all you could expect from those matches. In other words, it's 2008, it's the WWF, you get what you get.

1. WWF Championship Steel Cage Match: Bret Hart d. Owen Hart (1994, 4 3/4 stars, 32 min.)

-This is the best cage match I've ever seen; Bret and Owen followed their 5 star match from X with this just a few months later. Other good matches at SSlam '94: Razor Ramon d. Diesel (3 stars). Main Event: Undertaker d. Undertaker. Notable: Tatanka's heel turn.

2. IC Championship: Davey Boy Smith d. Bret Hart (1992, 4 3/4 stars, 25 min.)

-There are those who like this match less than do I; they are wrong. In Bret's new book, he says Davey got lost just moments into the match and had to be led through all of it. I don't have the ability to discern that from the match, but Bret's got more credibility in my eyes than other wrestlers at his level might. Regardless, these top two were incredibly well worked matches for this era. Other good matches from SSlam '92: Ultimate Warrior d. Randy Savage (3 1/2), Shawn Michaels draw Rick Martel (3 stars). Main Event: DBS v. Bret. Notable: Return of Roddy Piper.

3. TLC Match: WWF Tag Titles: Edge/Christian d. Hardys d. Dudleys (2000, 4 1/2 stars, 15 min.)

-I really like a good spotfest; the wheel has turned against collision matches like this, for multiple reasons, but anytime you hear criticism about a match that is along this line "it was just a bunch of meaningless moves strung together" that's probably a match I liked. If it's Super Dragon, circa 2004, I'm probably watching it right now. This match is short for 4 1/2 stars; it may be a quarter star lower. This was a helluva series, the best work by any of the participants. Other good matches from SSlam '00: Chris Benoit d. Chris Jericho (4 stars, 6th on this list) The Rock d. Kurt Angle/HHH (3 1/4). Main Event: Rock d. Angle/HHH. Notable: Chyna won the IC title.

4. IC Title Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels d. Razor Ramon (1995, 4 1/4 stars, 25 min.).

-Play the game. If you take the entire Clique, Shawn/Razor/Diesel/Waltman/Hunter, out of the wrestling business entirely, so none of them ever existed - is that a net loss or a net gain? I think that's a tougher question than it appears at first blush. Other good matches from SSlam '95: Hakushi d. 123 Kid (3 1/4 stars) Bret d. Isaac Yankem (3 stars). Main Event: Diesel d. Mabel. Notable: Yankem's (Kane) in ring debut for WWF. 13 years later, he apparently killed Rey Mysterio.

5. IC Title: Bret Hart d. Mr. Perfect (1991, 4 1/4 stars, 18 min.)

-This was the first WWF PPV match that I can recall that was explicitly sold chiefly on it being a great workrate match. There were matches before it that were great matches, obviously, but in terms of the essential selling point being "you need to buy this show to see high quality work" I don't know if I recall a WWF match before this that was sold in that way. I know that's why I bought this show; it's why the only PPV's I actually buy and watch on their first airing right now is ROH. I don't buy for the storylines - I only buy for the work. Next time you read someone say no one does that, you know that is false. Other good matches from SSlam '91: none. Main Event: Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior d. Sgt. Slaughter/Gen. Adnan/Col. Mustafa. Notable: The NWA Title made an appearance.

6. 2 of 3 Falls: Chris Benoit d. Chris Jericho (2000, 4 stars, 13:30 min)

-Again, too short; this might be a quarter star high given the length. See #3.

7. WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels d. Vader (1996, 4 stars, 17:30 min)

-This match had a DQ/restart that maybe should knock it down a quarter star. Other good matches from SSlam '96: Mankind d. Undertaker (3 1/2) Owen Hart d. Savio Vega (3 1/4) Goldust d. Marc Mero (3 stars). Main Event: Michaels d. Vader. Notable: Lawler pours booze down Jake Roberts's throat. Shameful.

8. WWF Tag Champs: Brainbusters d. Hart Foundation (1989, 4 stars, 16:30 min)

-Bret's 4th match of the top 10. Other good matches from SSlam '89: Rougeaus/Rick Martel d. Rockers/Tito Santana (3 3/4) Ultimate Warrior d. Rick Rude (3). Main Event: Hulk Hogan/Brutus Beefcake d. Randy Savage/Zeus. Notable: Mean Gene says "fuck" on the TV.

9. Shawn Michaels d. HHH (2002, 4 stars, 27:30)

-I waffle on this in a hard way; in separate viewings I've rated it 3 3/4 and 4 stars; it pretty much depends on the day of the week. That makes 3 Michaels matches on the list. Other good matches from SSlam '02: RVD d. Chris Benoit (3 1/2) Edge d. Eddy Guerrero (3 1/4) Kurt Angle d. Rey Mysterio (3). Main Event: Brock Lesnar d. Rock. Notable: Lesnar wins the WWF Title.

10. WWF Title: Kurt Angle d. Steve Austin (DQ) (2001, 3 3/4 stars, 22:30 min)

-There were all manner of ref bumps and a heel referee stoppage; that mess does drop it the quarter star and keeps it at the bottom of the top 10. Ideally, the top 10 matches for all 4 of the major annual WWF PPVs would all be 4 stars and up, so I'd like to see this match off the list, please. Other good matches from SSlam '01: RVD d. Jeff Hardy (3 1/2) XPac d. Tajiri (3 1/4) The Rock d. Booker T (Main Event, 3 stars) Edge d. Lance Storm (3 stars). Notable: WCW World Title, Tag Title, Cruiser Title - all held by WWF wrestlers.

Top 100 Movies of the Past 25 Years

(hey, a repost of a repost)

In the previous incarnation of this blog (the version where I hadn’t earned 34 American dollars from ad clicks; get to work people – I get 8 cents a click – I got kids to feed…okay, there are no kids, but my goal of pantsless work requires that you click you some ads, like for that Derek Jeter hitting dvd or whatever the hell’s going on; and sure, sure, sure, I can’t quit my job after only 34 dollars, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and if I’m ever going to be able to indulge my agoraphobia and desire to get so fat the reanimated corpse of Dick Gregory has to coax me off the couch with some hook-like device, say like you’d use in a vending machine at the Sacramento fairgrounds to try to grab a stuffed penguin in the summer of 1995 for Laura Arnold while you ate roast beef sandwiches during Day 2 of the California Bar Exam - you good people are going to have to click, click, click on some ads. Is Dick Gregory dead, incidentally? If you are Dick Gregory and you are not dead and you are reading this blog, perhaps looking for number 183 on my list of the top 200 major league baseball players of all time, you know, holla at your boy and whatnot and click some ads.) I deconstructed the Entertainment Weekly list of the Top 100 films of the past 25 years. The first half of the EW list is below.

My list is coming in a couple of posts. For those of you who are reading the baseball 200 list (who will be 183? Who? Who? Maybe it will be Joaquin Andujar!) understand that my warrant about that is distinct from my film list. I have only rudimentary knowledge of film, really limited to the United States; I feel stronger on documentaries than fiction, stronger on the quality of sports films than other types of fiction - I think my list is better than the EW list, but, honestly, that's all the warrant I'll give it.

And now – here’s half of the the EW list. The lesser list. The list not as good as my list.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

-Yup. Only question for me would be 1 or 2. Interesting is that Forrest Gump, Pulp's chief competition for critical acclaim in '94, is not on the list. I concur with that also. This is the only Tarantino, which is error. Reservoir Dogs is a Top 40 film, and maybe Jackie Brown at the bottom of the list.

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)

-Wouldn't make my list. I sat in a theater through the first one and thought I'd only escape by cutting a hostage tape. Near as I can figure, these movies were about jewelry.

3. Titanic (1997)

-Did Titanic have a soundtrack? I can't recall. Little Children and Heavenly Creatures are better Kate Winslet movies not on the list. Gangs of New York, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and that one episode of Growing Pains where Mike made a wisecrack about his sister being too fat to enter the kingdom of heaven were better DiCaprios that didn't make the list.

4. Blue Velvet (1986)

-I'd like it lower, say top 75; my brother Joe says Mulholland Drive is better. Hoosiers was another Dennis Hopper from '86, it didn't make the list. My favorite Hopper from the time period was True Romance, it would make my top 50 but didn't make this list.

5. Toy Story (1995)

-I gotta tell you, there aren't too many elements in our culture more overrated than kids movies. You can wrap up all of the various animated movies on this list in a big sack and throw them in the water with DiCaprio for my money. None of them ever say anything besides believe in yourself and take your vitamins. Neither Philadelphia nor A League of Their Own made the list; I take them both as Hanks films over the cartoon. Hell, I take Splash over Toy Story and it's not even close. Wouldn't make my list.

6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

-Hanks goes back-to-back. I'm not in love with war movies; there's one later on the list that's way too low - but not on the list are Platoon and The Thin Red Line, both of which I'd like in the Top 80. I haven't seen Letters From Iwo Jima (not on the list) but I wouldn't have put Flags of Our Fathers (not on the list) on mine. This would probably make my list, but at the back.

7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

-I prefer Crimes and Misdemeanors (not on this list); that would crack my Top 20. I'd move Hannah down, bottom of the Top 50. Zelig was released in '83 and I'd consider it for the bottom of the list, it's not on this one.

8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

-Yup. I like it right here. Yup. It's the only Jodie Foster here; Little Man Tate is a film I'd consider for the bottom of the list. It's the only Hopkins, there's one more I'd consider that I'll mention later. It's the only Demme; I've already mentioned Philadelphia, which would be on my list, and I'd consider Swimming to Cambodia for the bottom of the list.

9. Die Hard (1988)

-I love me some Die Hard too; it's my favorite action movie, and since abovee only kids movies in my cinematic circles of hell are heavy CGI films, it's unlikely an action film in the future will seriously challenge. And Die Hard would be on my list and be high on my list. However - not on this list from 1988 were Bull Durham (my favorite sports movie ever) and Dangerous Liaisons (Uma Thurman, young and shirtless). They'd both be on my list ahead of Die Hard. Also missing from '88, Midnight Run, and A Fish Called Wanda

I'd put all of them on my Top 100. Why you gotta hate '88, EW?

10. Moulin Rouge (2001)

-One asks, if all of those movies are going on your top 100 - what are you taking off, Jividen?

And then we find Moulin Rouge.


Moulin Rouge was fine. I prefer Once, which wouldn't make my list, although the soundtrack would make my list of the top albums of the time period. Of Nicole Kidman films - I'll take To Die For.
That's the top 10.

11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Not any complaints; I like it right here at number 11. It would be the second comedy in my list; my top comedy is Raising Arizona, which is not on the list. One assumes that with Fargo (too low) and No Country (a little high) the Coens were thought to be sufficiently represented. This is error. My list would also include Barton Fink and Millers Crossing. It might include Blood Simple. And Lebowski, while it wouldn't make it, wouldn't be far behind.

Oh - and a mockumentary that I'd like at about number 50 which isn't on this list - Bob Roberts.

12. The Matrix (1999)

I liked the Matrix. It wouldn't make my list, but I liked it. I've already mentioned that I'd put Dangerous Liaisons on my list - that might be the only Keanu that would make it, but River's Edge would be tough to leave off (it's not on the list). The other good Keanus - Parenthood, I Love You to Death, My Own Private Idaho, would miss by a little more, but I like all of them more than the Matrix. Speed, which I also liked, also makes this list, but shouldn't.

13. GoodFellas (1990)

Yup. And right here too. Departed, which I think is ranked correctly, is the only other Scorcese, meaning there's no Cape Fear on the list, which would be another very tough bottom list call for me. I also have an enormous amount of affection for Color of Money, which would have to find a bottom of the list spot.

14. Crumb (1995)

Hmmm. I liked Crumb and it’s an out of the box choice, but I don't think it makes my top 50 - I like it in the top 75 though.

The real problem is that there are only two documentaries on the list (Hoop Dreams, which is maybe a tick high) now, my bias is toward documentaries, but my list would conservatively have 10.

I'd like to have 15. Jim hearts documentaries.

4 Little Girls -
American Movie - which not only is on my list, it's in the top 20
Bowling for Columbine -
The Corporation -
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room -
Fahrenheit 911 -
The Fog of War
Hearts of Darkness
The King of Kong
No End in Sight
Roger&Me -
When We Were Kings
Why We Fight
The Thin Blue Line

That's 15 more. Plus the two on the list - that's 17. If I had to, I could cut that to 10, but 10 would be the fewest number of documentaries which should be on the list of the top 100 films of the past 25 years.

15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

I liked it, it wouldn't make my list, but it would be close. Donnie Brasco and Ed Wood are also both on the list for Depp -- I don't know if I'd have any, they'd all be close, but might be victims of the documentary onslaught. Brasco would make it before the other two.

16. Boogie Nights (1997)

This is a top 5 film for me. It might even be number 3. In fact, let's go ahead and say it - Boogie Nights is the 3rd best movie of the past 25 years. There Will Be Blood is the other PTA on the list, it wouldn't make it for me - but Magnolia would and I'd also really have to consider Hard Eight.

17. Jerry Maguire (1996)

I'm willing to say Jerry Maguire belongs on the list, but in the 90s - I like it, I don't hate Cruise or Cameron Crowe, it's sweet and pleasant and all good things and I'm good with its being at the bottom of the list. But 17 is just silly. Risky Business and Rain Man (properly ranked) are the other Cruises on the list; I've already mentioned Magnolia and Color of Money as being on my list - I'm also of a mind that All the Right Moves is the most underrated sports movie ever, and not just for Lea Thompson. Okay, maybe just for Lea Thompson, but seriously, that's good stuff. In fact, actually, even as I write this - I think Moves is a better film than Jerry Maguire. I'm knocking Maguire out of the top 100 - putting in All the Right Moves instead.

Oh - I would have Say Anything not only on my list, but in the Top 10.

18. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Recall my comment about Pulp Fiction, that the only conversation was 1 or 2?

This is the other film in that conversation. 18 is nutty low. It's either 1 or 2 and there's really no discussion beyond that. It's the only Spike on the list and the only one which should be, as Malcolm X just misses for me - I've already mentioned 4 Little Girls which would be one of those 7 I'd cut to get my docs down to 10.

Why Entertainment Weekly ain't got no brothers on the wall?

19. Casino Royale (2006)

This is error.

I liked Casino Royale; it's the only Bond on the list or that should be anywhere near the list. But I wouldn't put it in the top 250. This choice won't hold up all that well, let me suggest.

I mean, JFK isn't on this list. JFK would be in my top 10. There's no argument that Casino Royale is a better film than JFK. And I liked Casino Royale.

20. The Lion King (1994)

See the Toy Story discussion for my thought about the merits of the big, sprawling kids movie. Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 movie that didn't make the list. I'm just sayin'.

21. Schindler's List (1993)

Since Jamelle Hill got thrown under the ESPN bus for making a Hitler joke, I wonder the degree to which I can criticize a movie about the Holocaust - but my favorite part of Schindler's List was when Jerry was making out with the girl who was on As the World Turns in the middle of it.

It wouldn't make my list.

There. I said it and feel better for having said it.
22. Rushmore (1998)

Loved me some Rushmore. I like it and like it right here. Lost in Translation (properly ranked) and Ghostbusters are the other Murray on the list (Ed Wood, too). I prefer Groundhog Day to Ghostbusters - and I like Kingpin more than a little bit, it wouldn't make the list, but I'd give it a wave.

23. Memento (2001)

Yup. And properly ranked. In fact, were it to be..21st...that wouldn't break my heart. Interestingly, not on the list is The Usual Suspects, a film with which Memento is often associated. Memento's better - but Suspects makes my list.

Appropos of absolutely nothing but it's in my head right now and I don't want it to slip away - Lone Star would also make my list.

24. A Room With a View (1986)

My favorite Merchant-Ivory was Remains of the Day. I liked a Room With a View - I don't think either of them would make my list.

25. Shrek (2001)

-Rinse, repeat on the Toy Story discussion.

The only other Eddie Murphy on the list is Beverly Hills Cop; I don't know if that's better than Trading Places or not - I don't know if either of them should make the list - but that got me to think about Raw, which also shouldn't make the list - but, that, that makes me consider Stop Making Sense - and goddamn, that not only should have been in my list of docs - it would be in my top 100.

So, take out Shrek, put in Stop Making Sense.

26. Hoop Dreams (1994)

The sports film which has to be included is Bull Durham; for the life of me, there are some films the absence of which on the list is flat goofy, Bull Durham is one of them. I think its the best sports movie ever made and that includes Raging Bull.

I liked the other Shelton movies, White Men Can't Jump and Tin Cup a lot, but wouldn't be able to find places for them. I referenced Hoosiers, but don't think it gets a spot either. I liked Eight Men Out more than the more heralded baseball films of the era, but wouldn't find a place for it.

That's a Cusack film - you know a Cusack film which is kind of a sports movie and absolutely should be on the list, and would be in a world where people understood funny?

Better Off Dead. On the list.

I've mentioned my affection for Kingpin, but that wouldn't make it - League of Their Own would be close, but I'm bettin' it gets squeezed by one of my documentaries. If you add Color of Money and When We Were Kings, that's the sports run.

27. Aliens (1986)


Aliens was good; it certainly shouldn't be this high; my guess is it wouldn't make my list. A better Sigourney Weaver was The Ice Storm, which probably doesn't make it either.

28. Wings of Desire (1988)

Wim Wenders was a fun choice; I don't think I like it or End of Violence enough to put them on my list, but I accept that makes mine even more US focused than EW's. I will throw here a film no one but me has ever seen though - Tom Noonan's What Happened Was.

29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Huh. Okay - similar to Casino Royale; this was a good action movie and I really like Damon, but it wouldn't approach my list, much less 29. I'm not sure the argument that it's better than Good Will Hunting, which I don't think would make my list either. Damon's only film that makes it is Departed, which is on the EW list (oh yeah, he's Private Ryan too, that's right) I liked Mr. Ripley and Rounders but not enough for the list.

30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

Yup. Maybe high; I'll accept that it's high, but of romantic comedies of the era, this is the best going away.

31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Actually, I feel about Brokeback the way I feel about Wings of Desire, I liked them both and am glad to see them on a list like this - but if you're asking me what are the Best 100 Movies of the past 25 years, I wouldn't have room for either. I already mentioned The Ice Storm, an Ang Lee I'd rank higher. I've already mentioned Donnie Darko, a Gyllenhaal I'd rank higher, but which probably doesn't make the list - and I think my favorite Gyllenhaal film is The Good Girl, which also doesn't make it, but like To Die For is an excellent use of Nicole Kidman's lack of emotional accessibility, Good Girl really takes advantage of Jennifer Aniston's limitations. She's not a bad actor, she just needs to be used in a specific context; a comparison might be with Adam Dunn; he strikes out too much, can't field at all (I mean - he can't field at all - every time you've heard that 45 year old Barry Bonds couldn't play in the NL in 2008 because his fielding has deteriorated so much has been a lie of omission, because Adam Dunn, to borrow an old line, is taking fashion advice from 1980s Michael Jackson and wearing one glove for no apparent reason) Dunn drives broadcasters crazy; they've wanted to run him out of town for 3-4 years, but because he's got good power and because he can take a walk, he really can help you if used right. The Good Girl not only maximizes what Aniston can do, it gives her a character which uses what would be flaws in another setting.

Chuck and Buck didn't make EW and wouldn't make mine either, but it's a good movie too if just for that one line.

32. Fight Club (1999)

I like it and I like it right here. Good work. I've already mentioned Rounders as a really good Norton, who also had American History X as a film which wouldn't make the list, but deserves note. This is the best Brad Pitt; I've already said True Romance would make my list - as would Thelma and Louise. Se7en is a good film which wouldn't quite make it for me.

33. The Breakfast Club (1985)

I'm an 80s kid; I'm 37 years old as I write this in the summer of '08, making me 14 when I saw Breakfast Club; so I am as married to John Hughes as is everyone else who thinks Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way" is criminally overlooked as one of the great pop songs ever written.

That said, I don't think Breakfast Club makes my list, and surely not at 33. It's an iconic film and relfective of the times and all of that - but when you use the word "Best" to modify "films" you've built a box in which Judd Nelson doesn't fit. As earlier mentioned, Say Anything makes my list and makes it terms of iconic 80s teen films, I'd like Ferris Bueller before Breakfast Club.

34. Fargo (1996)

As mentioned, I'm in and I'd like to see this a little higher. Also on my list would be Raising Arizona (top 10) Barton Fink and Millers Crossing. Blood Simple would be close. A non Coens movie doing a Coens thing that is good is Red Rock West. A Simple Plan is also good in that tone.

35. The Incredibles (2004)

Nope. All of these movies, wiped clean off the list. I liked Incredibles, but it's disposible. Why are there more cartoons than documentaries on the EW list? Fahrenheit 911 also came out in 2004, for example. Hotel Rwanda doesn't make my list, but it's another 2004 film I'd like more than Incredibles. Traffic was a better Cheadle than Rwanda, but I wouldn't put it on my list either - Out of Sight, I think, is better still - but still wouldn't make the list. A better Clooney than that is Three Kings, and that might make it.

36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Nope. Just a popcorn movie. A well made enough popcorn movie, but a popcorn movie. Pleasantville was a better Maguire, and that might make the list.

37. Pretty Woman (1990)

I watched Pretty Woman again for the first time in 15 years just a year or so ago - I liked it more than I did the first time; I get the whole Julia Roberts thing. Thumbs up.

That said, there's not really an argument it belongs on the list.

Closer, I think, is my favorite Julia Roberts movie. It wouldn't make the list. I think...Unfaithful would be my favorite Gere of the time period, and it wouldn't make it either.

38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Yup. And in my top 20. And behind Adaptation, which is my favorite Charlie Kauffman movie. I'd put them both in the top 10. If there's a Charlie Kauffman, I'm first in line; I don't think he's missed.

39. The Sixth Sense (1999)

I got off the M Night bus hard with Signs, which I thought was awful; I liked Unbreakable and Sixth Sense, but not enough to put either of them on the list. Know what I prefer in terms of "don't reveal the surprise twist" - David Mamet's psychological thrillers. On my list would be The Spanish Prisoner and maybe House of Games. And that brings up two more Mamets, Wag the Dog (which probably misses) and Glengarry Glen Ross (which does not miss). No Michael Moore and no David Mamet for EW. But a whole assload of trillion dollar budget cartoons. Okay.

40. Speed (1994)

I discussed Speed in the Matrix comment. I liked it. Not on my list. I don't have a Sandra Bullock on the list. I think actually Speed might be her best film, so I'll sign off on that one.

41. Dazed and Confused (1993)

It makes my list, but this is too high. It's the indie slice of life of the moment selection, I get it, but I get it about 50 spots lower.

The film that isn't on the list, that would occupy a similar slot, would be Clerks.

Clerks is in my top 20 and I might actually like it as high as number 12, just behind Spinal Tap.

I've been saving the mention of Clerks, and one other film - Leaving Las Vegas - as they're the last films that are sitting in my brain as obviously needing to be on my list. Their omissions glare.

I don't think Before Sunrise, speaking of Linklater, makes my list, but it's close - Clerks is the only Kevin Smith, but I also really liked Chasing Amy.

42. Clueless (1995)

I liked Clueless, funny and cute, both Alicia and the screenplay, but it wouldn't be within two hundred spots of the best 100 movies of the past quarter century. My apologies to Amy Heckerling as Ridgemont High was a year too early for the list.

43. Gladiator (2000)

No. Crowe's had 3-4 better films; my favorite is The Insider, which probably wouldn't make the list. Dude may be a pain in the ass, but he's crazy talented.

44. The Player (1992)

And higher. Top 25. Short Cuts also makes my list.

45. Rain Man (1988)

Yup. Right here too. Tom Cruise has always appeared to me to be hatched, Gatsby like, what's his real name, where did he grow up, did he have parents, did he hire Joey Potter to give birth to the Messiah - he has an interesting life. Now, I don't see any difference at all, literally none, in believing the Scientology rap, the aliens and L Ron and the thetans and meat bodies - and Christianity or any other theistic worldview. I'm not a man in the sky guy; I made reference to George Carlin the other day as the top stand up comic ever - I actually think he's more significant than that, I think he's Mark Twain except funnier and more prolific, and as important as any of his accomplishments was his willingness to stand out all by himself and offer the incredibly dangerous view that Christianity is just superstition with a better marketing campaign. To my eyes, do whatever you need to do to get you through the day; I'd just rather your particular worldview didn't run public policy. But I've been on the "Cruise is a curious cat" train for a couple decades.

To recap the Jerry Maguire thoughts: Risky Business is on the list and should be; I like both All the Right Moves and Color of Money for the list; his best performance was in Magnolia and that makes my list too.

You know what Hoffman would make my list?

Death of a Salesman.

No reason why TV movies don't count. I'm putting Death of a Salesman on my list.

46. Children of Men (2006)

It can take this spot right here. I don't get this choice at all; I rolled through this film as if it weren't even there; it's not that I disliked it (like the Lion King, for example) it's that it I thought of it as entirely disposable.

I've already said Closer's the best Julia Roberts, I think it's the best Clive Owen too, but it still doesn't make it, I don't think. Julianne Moore already has Boogie Nights, I'd add Short Cuts and Magnolia - I liked Far From Heaven a lot, but it wouldn't make it. Either would Safe or that Uncle Vanya version she did, but they're both good -- you know what might make it would be The Fugitive; in terms of action movies - I'll take The Fugitive over the Bond or Bourne movies.

47. Men in Black (1997)

I'll also take The Fugitive over MIB, speaking of Tommy Lee Jones. I didn't like MIB or the sequel or anything similar to either. Not to hit the JFK button again - but, you know, MIB is 47th and JFK isn't on the list? Will and I share a birthday; although he's 2 years older, but he isn't on my list.

48. Scarface (1983)

Spoiler Alert:

Scarface sucks.

I know you aren't allowed to say that anymore, and it means I have to turn in my cool kids club card, but Scarface is a cartoon and not a good one.

Let's consider Pacino - I've never made it all the way through Angels in America, since we've broken the TV movie seal. I think if I were to go with a multi-part long form film it would be The Staircase first. I've already mentioned Glengarry (in) and Insider (out, with regrets) Donnie Brasco's on the list, as I recall, and it would be close for me, as would Carlito's Way, which isn't on the list. I liked Frankie and Johnny and Sea of Love, neither make it. Pfeiffer should make it with Liaisons, as mentioned.

49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Nope. It's pretty, but that's as far as I go with it. If Requiem for a Dream doesn't make my list, I don't think I have a film from 2000.

50. The Piano (1993)

I really liked the Piano. I don't think it makes my list, but I liked it. Broadcast News is coming up lower, and I'd like to move it up here and I'd like to pair it with Accidental Tourist, so that's the film I'd have take Piano's place.

Half down. Half to go.

51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
Out. See how easy this is?

52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)

Out. Good movie, but not near this level. I've already been through the films I would add in '88, the '88 comedies I'm adding are A Fish Called Wanda and Midnight Run.

53. The Truman Show (1998)

In. I liked this ranking a lot; Truman Show's tended to get forgotten in the last ten years, I thought it deserved this spot exactly. My regards to Amelie (and to Trainspotting, for that matter) neither is going to make my list. My apologies.

54. Fatal Attraction (1987)


55. Risky Business (1983)

In. 77. I'm...I'm gonna take The Big Chill too from '83. That gives me 78. as I put together my own list of 100 which will follow in the final post in this trilogy Oh - The Right Stuff. The Right Stuff is terrific, 79.

56. The Lives of Others (2006)

I lied, I haven't seen all the films on the list, in fact, I think there are 3 I have not seen - this is one of them. So, not on the list. I'm just one man. I did see Half Nelson and Borat from '06, they are good films which won't make the list.

57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Aw, hell....the thing is, I prefer Kingpin, and as mentioned, it's not going to make it - so...out. Still at 79.

58. Ghostbusters (1984)

I was 13, so I loved me some Ghostbusters. "Bustin' makes me feel good" is a solid, under the radar, extra dirty lyric from a kids' movie. But no - it doesn't make it; I don't currently have room for Groundhog Day, a Murray I liked more. No. Still at 79. Better as a kids movie from '84 was Buckaroo Bonzai, which doesn't make my, doesn't make it. Karate Kid was better and doesn't make it. Starman - Starman was the best film in this paragraph. It doesn't make it. Still at 79.

59. L.A. Confidential (1997)

In. That's 80 in my list that I'm putting together on this piece of legal paper next to me that also has my pre-season college football top 25. So many lists to reveal!

60. Scream (1996)

Out. Instead of '96 movies, let me consider '85, as I've just done '83 and '84 and that makes sense to me as I sit here on 80. Brazil....argh. Argh. Argh. Out. Argh. Prizzi's Honor - in. That's 81.

61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Argh. I'm an Eddie Murphy guy and the result of my list is that I';m not going to have any Eddie Murphy on the list. Out. Argh. Let's consider '86 - of the films I haven't yet discussed...where are we on Stand by Me? Nope. Still out. Sitting on 81.

62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)

In. 82. Of the films I haven't covered in '87...I don't think Roxanne makes it, No Way Out was also really good. I'm gonna stick at 82.

63. Big (1988)

In. I've done '88 talk - Talk Radio is a film that's just gonna miss for me. 83.

64. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Heads it's in, tails it's out.

In. Lower, however. I think this is it from last year for me. 84.

65. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Out. Way, way, way out. I'm good for other '89 films.

66. Natural Born Killers (1994)

In. And higher. That makes 85. The Grifters gets in from 1990. That's 86. I really liked both Metropolitan and Pump Up the Volume, they don't make it. I'm at 86 after all.

67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
In. I'll say Brasco in and Carlito's Way out. That's 87.

68. Witness (1985)

Argh...out. Yeah, out. I've got the Fugitive in and I'm gonna leave Witness out. Considering 1991, a note should be offered for all of the Michael Apted docs, they don't make it - I wanted to limit myself to ten and I've got 10. So, no. But 35 Up came out in '91. As did Boyz n the Hood - which is in, that's 88. And the Fisher King. Hell. 89.

69. All About My Mother (1999)

Out. Still at 89.

70. Broadcast News (1987)

In. 90. I've already put in Accidental Tourist, as mentioned. I'm gonna get stuck unable to put in either Defending Your Life or Lost in America. This list makes me sad.

71. Unforgiven (1992)

In. 91. And it should be higher. I've mentioned my '92 films.

72. Thelma & Louise (1991)

Yeah. 92. Clearly, I'm going to have to start cutting from my list. Fearless was a good '93 film as were Dave and Searching for Bobby Fischer. Oh - and Flesh and Bone, that was good. And A Perfect World and Bodies, Rest and Motion and Malice. "I am God" - who doesn't love some motherfucking Alec Baldwin? The War Room didn't make my doc. cut down to 10 incidentally.

73. Office Space (1999)

Nope. I'm at 92 and drawing the line! No, I'm not - Quiz Show was a 1994. That's in. I'm at 93.

74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhh. Ahhhhhhh. Out. Kicking and Screaming and Swimming with Sharks are both real good 1995 films.

75. Out of Africa (1985)

Out. Welcome to the Dollhouse and Slingblade miss from '96. Celluloid Closet was a doc that didn't make the ten as was Looking for Richard. I liked Walking and Talking

76. The Departed (2006)

In. 94. The Sweet Hereafter is just going to miss, right along with The Ice Storm from '97. Grosse Point Blank misses...but I'm going to put in In the Company of Men. 95.

77. Sid and Nancy (1986)

No, like Office Space, I don't have the room. Happiness and Gods and Monsters miss from '98, but The Opposite of, that misses too. Grumble.

78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Out. I thought I was going to leave out Being John Malkovich, but I'm not. 96. I liked Go a lot from ', I'm putting it in. Go. That's 97. I'm screwed.

79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)

In. 98. You Can Count on Me was really good from 2000. Yeah, it's in and the Fugitive is out, keeping me at 97. Okay, let's take something else out to keep me at 97...I'm going to take out the Thin Red Line. Not the Thin Blue Line, which stays - the Thin Red Line goes, keeping me at 97.

80. Michael Clayton (2007)

This is the second of the three movies I haven't seen, so out. 97. In The Bedroom was a real good 2001 movie that doesn't make it.

81. Moonstruck (1987)

Good film. Out. 97. I liked About a Boy, Igby Goes Down, and Roger Dodger from '02.

82. Lost in Translation (2003)

In. 98. The Cooler is a real good 2003.

83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

The 3rd movie I haven't seen. Out. You know what was good - Ghost, no room. The Notebook was 2004; I feel a little embarassed that I liked it, not enough for the list - but i liked it - and either I'm embarassed because it's manipulative (a good reason) or because we've designated it culturally as belonging to women - and like reality tv and soap operas, entertainment that becomes assigned to the women's sphere is treated with an extra disdain.

84. Sideways (2004)

In. 99.

85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

In. 100. I liked The Aristocrats - although the Seinfeld doc. Comedian is better. Yikes, I'm at 100. That means I have to dip into the original 75 if I'm going to add any of the final 15. A History of Violence was good in '05.

86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)

Out. I'm out of spots!

87. Swingers (1996)

In. 101. That knocks out All the Right Moves. 100.

88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Out. I've run through 2006 and 2007, so we're on the glide path home.

89. Breaking the Waves (1996)

In. I take out Good Will Hunting. What's the best women's performance of the past 25 years and isn't it this one?

90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Out. No room.

91. Back to the Future (1985)

Out. I saw it and St. Elmo's Fire in the theatre on the same day, by myself, when I was 14. Good times.

92. Menace II Society (1993)


93. Ed Wood (1994)

Ahhhhhh. Out.

94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

In. And much higher, this is so low I think I mentioned in an earlier post that it wasn't on the EW list. I'll take off Little Man Tate.

95. In the Mood for Love (2001)


96. Far From Heaven (2002)


97. Glory (1989)


98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

I really liked this. Out.

99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)


100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

And out. 100. We're good. I'll put the full list of my 100, although not in order given time restrictions and my baseball list requirements.

See previous posts with the label movies to see how we got here. Again, only 1-10 is ranked and my warrant for this is not the same as for my list of the greatest baseball players of all time. I enjoy films and think about them, but my cultural limitations are pretty evident and art isn't as amenable to reduction as is sport. There is less reasonable debate than you think about the greatest baseball players ever while, obviously, the "your mileage may vary" element in this list is significant.


1. Pulp Fiction

2. Do The Right Thing

3. Boogie Nights

4. Raising Arizona

5. Adaptation

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

7. JFK

8. Clerks

9. Say Anything

10. Fahrenheit 9-11.

And the rest, again, in no particular order.

-Blue Velvet

-True Romance


-Saving Private Ryan


-Waiting for Guffman

-Hannah and Her Sisters

-Crimes and Misdemeanors


-Full Metal Jacket

-Swimming to Cambodia

-Die Hard

-Bull Durham

-Dangerous Liaisons

-Midnight Run

-A Fish Called Wanda

-This is Spinal Tap

-Barton Fink

-Millers Crossing

-Bob Roberts


-Ferris Bueller's Day Off

-The Color of Money


-Hearts of Darkness

-Bowling for Columbine

-American Movie

-Hoop Dreams


-When We Were Kings

-Why We Fight

-Murder on a Sunday Morning

-The Thin Blue Line



-Shawshank Redemption


-Lost in Translation



-Lone Star

-Stop Making Sense (yeah, I know this is the 12th doc. and I said I'd limit it to 10, I lied)

-Better off Dead

-What Happened Was

-Breaking the Waves

-When Harry Met Sally

-Wag the Dog

-American Beauty

-Fight Club

-Three Kings


-Silence of the Lambs

-Being John Malkovich

-The Spanish Prisoner

-House of Games

-Glengarry Glen Ross

-Death of a Salesman

-You Can Count on Me

-Dazed and Confused

-Leaving Las Vegas

-The Player

-Short Cuts

-Rain Man

-The Accidental Tourist

-Broadcast News

-Reservoir Dogs

-The Princess Bride

-The Usual Suspects

-The Truman Show

-Risky Business

-The Big Chill

-The Right Stuff

-L.A. Confidential (I think this is #100, were I to make a change, this is the film that loses its spot. In my head, Brazil, Donnie Darko, The River's Edge all all sitting just outside the list, I could probably be convinced to swap any of them in this spot)

-Prizzi's Honor

-Sex, Lies, and Videotape

-No Country for Old Men


-Natural Born Killers

-The Grifters

-Donnie Brasco

-Boyz n the Hood

-The Fisher King


-Thelma and Louise

-Quiz Show

-The Departed

-In the Company of Men



-The 40 Year Old Virgin

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