Guess how many graduates of Pat Robertson's Regent University are working in the Bush administration?
Go ahead, I dare you.
41 minutes ago
It became clear to me in Bentonville that Wal-Mart’s senior executives had been tightly scripted. When I talked with John Menzer, a company vice-chairman, a spokeswoman named Sarah Clark, my official escort there, told me that the conversation would be limited to the company’s new Jobs and Opportunity Zones concept, which is designed to help smooth the arrival of new stores in urban areas. (A company source told me that the Zones idea was intended by Edelman as a public-relations maneuver to soften Wal-Mart’s image among minority communities; the entire budget for the program is five hundred thousand dollars over two years.) Menzer, a slender man with a thin smile, explained the company’s attraction to underemployed inner-city residents, saying, “One of the biggest opportunities a person has at Wal-Mart is to be part of this growth company. There are always opportunities for promotion, learning, and education, and people know they can build a career here.”
When I asked about the “open availability” policy, Clark interrupted, while Menzer stared at me. “I can certainly take that one,” Clark said. “I’ll make a note of that. We’ll talk about that later. We don’t have ‘open availability.’ ” Menzer continued as if the question had not been asked. “Now we’re expanding outside our four walls to invest in the community, so let me add that in as another step we’re taking,” he said. (Sometime later, Clark suggested that I interview an employee about flexible scheduling, and she provided the name and number of one who would talk to me: Latoya Machato, a cashier at a Texas Supercenter. I called the store and asked for Machato, but was told that “cashiers can’t come to the phone during work.” I called later and was told that Machato could speak to me on her break, but would not be allowed to call long-distance from a company phone. I asked Clark if Machato could talk to me after her shift, but Clark said that that would be impossible, because the store would have to put her “on the clock,” and thus file the paperwork to get her paid an extra hour’s wage.)
PLANET OF TERROR is directed by Robert Rodriquez, which is all I need to say. In fact, instead of his name on poster saying, “Directed By”, he can legally change his name to a picture of a naked Viking woman on a snowmobile with flamethrowers out the back and the flamethrowers are killing a Yeti. That’s the level of guaranteed quality his name brings to stuff.
Then there’s three other trailers – one by Rob Zombie that involves Nazis and werewolves (more factual research), one by Edgar Wright that made me laugh harder than seeing an old man give the finger to a fat kid, and then one by Eli Roth that Eli Roth should make.
Actually, the fake trailers are kind of a bummer, because I really wish they weren’t fake. Maybe the government will put some “don’t be a pussy” drug in the water supply, and everyone will go see this instead of PILLOW FIGHT AND SCENTED CANDLES AND BOREDOM, or whatever Sandra Bullock movie’s coming out, and they’ll make more of these.
Hulk Hogan on what would've happened if Andre refused to lose the match to him at Wrestlemania III: "I'll tell you, Hulk Hogan would've turned into a bad guy a lot quicker. My good guy run would've been over that night if I didn't beat him. I would've got up, shook Andre's hand, then hit him over the head with a steel chair and beat the hell out of him. It would've changed everything."
Lockheed Martin has conceived a new class of high-speed amphibious combat craft with a top speed of up to 50 knots on water and up to 80 miles per hour on land. Significantly, the vehicles can make the transition from land to water and vice versa in five seconds and will be capable of traveling 50 miles on sea and then 100 more on land without having to refuel.
Georgetown didn’t win; North Carolina lost--or so friends from down South have been calling to insist. The Hoyas played well down the stretch and through the overtime, they admit, but just look at the Tar Heels’ collapse: a stretch of 1 field goal in 14:37 minutes and 23 misses on their final 25 shots.
That sure does look like a collapse. But is it true that North Carolina’s failure decided the game more than Georgetown’s success did?
Some obvious things should be said here: Teams don’t collapse without a lot of help from their opponents. When good shooters start clanking their shots at the end of a game, it often comes from tiredness that playing against a well-coached team induces. A strong defense inside forces a team into low-percentage shots outside, and after a stretch of that outside game, even average shooting starts to look very cold.
That said, North Carolina didn’t manage even average shooting down the stretch and through the OT. They took 4 three-pt shots in the final six minutes of regulation--by my count, 3 of them good, reasonably open looks--and missed all 4. Along the way, they hit 1 of 3 strongly contested two-pt shots and had Hansbrough fouled twice for 4 free throws.
That’s 6 points from inside play for nine possessions over six minutes--which isn’t really too bad. The question is why they took and missed 4 three-pt shots during that same six-minute stretch. Part of the answer has to be Georgetown’s defense: The Tar Heels tried to get the ball inside on 3 of those 4 possessions and just couldn’t manage it. The other part of the answer is panic--induced by the fact that the Hoyas’ offense over the last six minutes was something close to perfection.
Look at it this way: At 6:03, Georgetown is still down 10. They score on eight of the next nine possessions, for 16 points in six minutes:
6:02 Green hits 1 of 2 free throws
5:37 Sapp layup
5:09 Green hook
4:19 Hibbert dunk
3:15 Wallace hits 2 of 2 free throws
2:43 Ewing lob from Green
2:13 Sapp layup
1:25 Green misses layup
0:35 Wallace three-pt. shot
(10th possession, with 2 seconds left: no shot)
Well, who wouldn’t panic? North Carolina was ahead through all of this until Wallace tied it at 0:35, but the feeling of the game had shifted entirely to Georgetown, and the Tar Heels were obviously burdened by it. North Carolina got no offensive rebounds during this stretch, and that was all: 10-point lead disappears, and the game heads into overtime with momentum all on Georgetown’s side.
Interestingly, in overtime, the reverse is true: Georgetown’s defense was better than its offense. The Hoyas did allow three offensive rebounds and turned the ball over once immediately after a defensive rebound. But they closed down the inside completely until Hansbrough was fouled at 0:31 after an offensive rebound, and they strongly contested the first 4 three-point shots North Carolina took.
Meanwhile, the Hoyas’ offense was very good during the OT, but not the perfection you might expect from the lopsided scoring. Georgetown had 10 possessions in OT, but 6 of them came in the final 1:38, with Summers’ dunk the only basket and the other 5 producing foul shots after deliberate fouls by North Carolina (all by Summers and Sapp, with Summers 4 for 4 and Sapp 3 for 5).
So Georgetown’s offense in OT essentially came down to the first 4 possessions, after which a scoreless North Carolina was in a deep hole. Here’s the breakdown:
1. Green miss, ball out of bounds on NC, Wallace scores on backdoor cut at 4:22. (G’town 1 for 2 shots.)
2. Loose ball, scramble, Summers stuffs at 3:57. (G’town 2 for 3.)
3. Green banks it in at 2:53. (G’town 3 for 4.)
4. Lost pass, Green blocked, Sapp misses 3-pt shot at 1:54. (G’town 3 for 6.)
That’s excellent basketball--6 points in 3 minutes, 50% shooting--but not the high-speed perfection I felt it to be while watching it live.
Turns out that what was high-speed perfection in OT was the defense. Hibbert, in particular. North Carolina got some second chances--preventing offensive rebounds has to become a higher priority for the Hoyas--but Georgetown shut down the interior and contested the low-percentage outside shots that the Tar Heels didn’t make.
So, did Georgetown win or North Carolina lose? The Hoyas’ amazing 8-for-9 run at the end of the regular game makes it look as though Georgetown won, while the Tar Heels’ 4 missed three-pointers (three of them good looks) over that same stretch make it look as though North Carolina lost.
But the Tar Heels had reasons to miss those shots: tiredness, panic, and a Hoya zone defense that confused them at the end. That’s enough to make it definitive: Georgetown won.
There were cries that Green had not reestablished his pivot foot, and therefore traveled. But basketball minds much wiser than us surmised you can't make a call like that to end a taut thriller.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this thing may officially kill the novelty of the “celebrity” sex tape. Not only is it boring, but the chick in it is only a celebrity because she has a celebrity sex tape. That’s circular logic, at best. A boat show in Iowa has bigger celebrities than this tape. And since she’s only famous because some dude fucked her after checking his lighting, I’m almost positive that makes her a porn star. So that’s how this needs to be judged, and on those merits, this chick would barely crack the top 100 (just after Jenna Haze but well before Wifey). Today’s porn has hotter chicks, more deviant sex and even more exotic locations. "Buttman & Rocco's Brazilian Butt Fest" has everything this tape does, but with more star power and at one point they interview a girl next to a pretty fountain. Three minutes later they shove unspeakable things inside of her, of course, but the fountain was a classy touch.
To put the PS3's situation in context, Patel said, "PS3 consoles are available at retail but sales are lackluster. Its 130K units sold in February was less than Xbox 360 sales last year (160K) and even less than the original Xbox sales of 140K in Feb-2002."
Nintendo changed the playing field in the handheld wars by taking risk - by changing the input (stylus) and introducing the two-screen layout - while Sony focused on graphics and processing power. The results thus far are conclusive - and damning - for Sony. The big question is whether or not the proposed changes are meaningful enough to tip the competitive balance, and if they are truly going to result in a handheld player with mass appeal.
As noted above, it appears that as goes the handheld market so goes the console market, with the Wii continuing to trounce the PS3 by a 3:1 margin. Further, another interesting tidbit are the latest web traffic stats for the "Big Three" native sites - Nintendo.com, Xbox.com and PlayStation.com. Nintendo.com is up 91% year-over-year, while PlayStation.com is down 8% over the similar period (FYI, Xbox.com is up a healthy 47% YoY). Conclusive of Sony's defeat? Of course not. But are the trends disturbing for Sony? Absolutely. At some point Sony has to get the joke: is it super hi-tech and niche or mass market? Because right now it is straddling two worlds and not serving either one - or its shareholders - particularly well.
In one dialogue-free spot, we see a caveman riding an airport people-mover. He glides past a Geico billboard with the "So easy a caveman could do it" slogan, and he sighs in disgust. This surface joke is fine. But what I adore here is the sparkling precision of the art direction. The soundtrack is bouncy synth-pop from the little-known indie band Röyksopp. The caveman (en route to or from a vacation) totes a wooden tennis racket in a canvas shoulder bag. The implication of these careful cultural signifiers: The caveman has grasped not just literacy and reason but also the affectations of the modern hipster aesthete. (That knowingly antiquated racket might easily have been stolen from a Wes Anderson set.)
At the campaign's ancillary Web site, CavemensCrib.com (it lets you poke around their apartment), we learn that the cavemen are into (among other things): blogging, Tolstoy, yoga, smoked Hungarian paprikash, and Paddy Chayefsky movies. They have poetry magnets on their fridge … in Esperanto.
I'm not sure what Sony's plan in this fight is. They slightly missed their goal of 2 million PS3s shipped by the end of 2006, then got scared and changed their prediction of 6 million PS3 shipments by the end of March to just 4.5 million shipments instead. Since then, Nintendo has continued to fall behind the voracious demand for their Wii console, and have achieved a substantial early lead over the PS3.
There's talk that Nintendo already reached 6 million console shipments, but if demand is really that high, then the number of shipments should equal the number of sales, and according to VGCharts they're still a little short of their six million goal. It also lists Sony at barely beyond the 2 million PS3 sales it reached in January.
LAST Monday, Jared Kushner, the boy publisher of The New York Observer, was nestled in a wingback chair in the book-strewn office of the newspaper’s longtime editor, Peter Kaplan. They were talking about Mr. Kushner’s latest acquisition, the Web site politicsnj.com. “The more stuff he buys,” Mr. Kaplan, said, leaning back, “the happier I am.”
Happiness can take time to grow, both men know. Back in October, when Mr. Kushner invited Mr. Kaplan to a Yankees playoff game three months after buying The Observer, the gray-templed editor, who has been a mentor to waves of young journalists in New York, wasn’t so confident things would work out with his new young boss.
Mr. Kushner, 26, the scion of a troubled New Jersey real estate family, who is also a full-time graduate student, had dabbled in Boston-area condominiums, not publishing, while an undergraduate at Harvard. The sum total of his journalism experience was writing an article about dorm food for a student magazine. In the short time he owned The Observer, Mr. Kushner had found little time even to meet with Mr. Kaplan.
“It was tense,” Mr. Kaplan, 53, recalled of their early relationship. That October night, there was a rain delay of hours. As other fans sought cover in the tunnels of Yankee Stadium, Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Kushner remained in their field-side seats, drinking Bud Lights and talking newspapers. Mr. Kushner told Mr. Kaplan he had been at a game two weeks earlier and sat next to the owner of another New York news media property, and he was astounded at his disdain for his staff.
Every time I log on to eBay and do a search on myself, I find a little piece of my past:
“Jan. 1983 Issue of Easyriders magazine with Jewel Shepard on the cover and inside. Jewel Shepard is famous for her appearance in Hollywood Hot Tubs and The Return of the Living Dead movies.” That's a real one. In case you've never seen a copy—and I don't know how you could not have—Easyriders is one of those successful lifestyle publications. In this case, the lifestyle is riding the biggest, noisiest motorcycle you can afford, with a beer and a babe who flashes her tits and tattoos at UPS drivers. Each issue features a photo spread of a nude lady and a Harley, both displaying their trim.
I have only the vaguest recollection of how I wound up being one of those nude ladies . . . Must have happened during those drug years that neither I nor the Republican candidate for president can recall. I do remember thinking the pics would be off the newstand in short order, never to be seen again. That was before eBay. The Easyriders issue offered there went for 50 bucks—probably about what I got for the photo shoot.
I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, it's flattering to know that enough guys out there want me badly enough to jack the price up that high. On the other hand, it's annoying to discover your own body priced out of reach.
I didn't set out to write about junkets per se. I set out to write about Mark Burger, a likeable guy who is the film, theater, and video critic for the Winston-Salem Journal, published in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A member, as it were, of the media non-elite, who also happens to be a fairly accomplished junketeer.
He gets lots of free stuff: T-shirts, sweashirts, hats, bags, and even soap—most recently, pink soap, courtesy of the makers of Fight Club. (The first rule of Fight Club is: You don't talk about Fight Club—unless they send you pink soap.)
More importantly, he gets to be up close and personal with many famous people, some of whom he has admired for years. He also gets to see a whole bunch of movies, and—as he tells me several times—“movies are my life.” Wanting to see precisely what that life consisted of, I made arrangements to meet him in New York and tag along for a particularly big junket weekend. It was pretty surprising to learn that movie studios both major and minor, which normally engage each otherin pit bull-like competition, actually cooperate in the scheduling of their junkets, co-ordinating things so that all the journalists they gather from far and wide can cover more than one movie on their trip to fabulous Gotham or Los Angeles or wherever. Kind of restores your faith in the brotherhood of man and all that stuff.
GN Comics: Will this season be as dark and moody as Seasons Six or Seven?
Whedon: No, you gotta bring the goofy on… a little bit. The goofy is where an enormous amount of the fun lies. Like the show itself, the series will ping pong. It will go from Greek Tragedy to French Farce between issues and sometimes between panels. Having the characters just talk, just yak at each other, is just so glorious for me. I love their voices and that's always really fun. But Brian is doing the Faith arc and that's not without the darkness. Drew Goddard is coming in and he's not without the silly. It doesn't mean that each won't have some of the other, but yeah not a Season Six kind of comic. That would be pretty much all blacks with word balloons.
The long-running rumour that Incognito Entertainment’s tilt-controlled PS3 title Warhawk has now become a download only title have finally been confirmed by the game’s developer.
In an interview with IGN, Incognito admits that the single-player element of the title has been cut as it was judged as being far weaker than the multiplayer component. The final release will be a smaller game than the one first aired at E3, with its size having been trimmed to ease its download time over the PlayStation Network.
Sony has yet to announce a release date for Warhawk . . .
"Something like 80 percent of our guys have graduated from college," White said. "Compare that to boxing where it’s always the same old story — the guy grew up on the mean streets and he would be dead or in prison without boxing."
One UFC fighter with a master’s degree, Rich Franklin, began fighting while employed as a high-school math teacher in Cincinnati.
Nonetheless, Arthur Schlesinger was a delightful interlocutor. It was simply that he had not had a fresh thought for years. Our last encounter was at Princeton in 2004 at a conference occasioned by the twentieth anniversary of my book The Naked Public Square. I’m not sure he had ever read the book, but he used the occasion of what he understood to be its argument to blast the Bush administration for being the most dangerously religious presidency in American history. He was then age eighty-six and somewhat frail, and the other speakers at the conference were gentle but firm in trying to set him straight. But I had the impression that Schlesinger wasn’t listening. At that point, and for many years before that point, he had made up his mind.
I propose that things that are paid will become free and vice versa. So music and books and other media are turning from paid products to free marketing, while free-to-air video and radio become a subscription or on-demand product for a fee. If I explain any more the premise will fall apart, so I'll stop here. It is now A Law. Obey.