No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The View from Here

The video footage is, in fact awkwardly compelling. If you haven't seen the verbal smackdown between Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck that led Rosie to leave the show several weeks early, you should check it out. It's eight or nine minutes of squirm-inducing, friendship-ending bitterness.

Rosie and Elisabeth have been at odds for months - the liberal lesbian feminist versus the very conservative Christian cupcake. They've argued over gun control, over President Bush, over all the things that conservatives and democrats argue over. It's all about good TV, after all. So what's behind the big blow-up - the one that ended Rosie's controversial but ratings-booting tenure on The View?

Well, as with so many friendship-ending feuds, it all comes down to whether your friend has your back or not.

Here's the back story: It actually started on Monday when O'Donnell said this:

“655,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Who are the terrorists?”

Conservative pundits pounced, arguing that O'Donnell was calling the American troops in Iraq terrorists. When asked about it, Elisabeth deflected questions back to O'Donnell rather than simply say that O'Donnell meant no such thing - that it was clearly the administration that O'Donnell was condemning.

And the fact is, whether O'Donnell did or did not mean to imply that US troops are terrorists, the implication was not an absurd one to draw. She may have been throwing grenades at Bush and his buddies, but some shrapnel would inevitably hit those people actually serving overseas. It may not has been as ill-advised as Bill Maher essentially calling the American military cowards relative to suicide bombers, but Rosie can't have been surprised that the Fox Newsies would be all over her.

And it seems like you can make a perfectly rational argument for Hasselbeck to stay out of the fray; they weren't her words, it wasn't her fight, and commenting could just add fuel to the fire. But O'Donnell clearly expected more. A spirited defence, a sign of support, something that would suggest Hasselbeck supported O'Donnell's right to speak her mind. Yet even when pressed on Wednesday's show, Hasselbeck could not or would not say what O'Donnell wanted to hear. Perhaps she really does think O'Donnell believes the troops are terrorists. Perhaps she really is a coward. Certainly, she didn't want to associated with the comment in any way.

Which is understandable for a TV personality. For a co-worker. But for a friend, which O'Donnell and Hasselbeck had insisted they were? It's just about not caring enough - about not having her back - about not being a friend after all.

Oh well. At least Elisabeth still has her conservative Christian cred, her third-string QB husband and 3 or 4 fans from her Survivor days. Who needs friends when you have all that?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No, really...

Remember how upset people got when Nike used John Lennon's song 'Revolution' in a TV ad? Well, have you seen this Doc Marten ad?

Apparently, the idea is to promote how long-lasting Docs are. Good taste, it seems, doesn't stick around quite as long.
This ad is part of series - the others feature Joe Strummer of the Clash, Joey Ramone and, get this, Sid Vicious. 'Cause Johnny Rotten pretty much pissed on the Pistols' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Sid would have been okay with shilling shoes?
Which doesn't even address the idea of how Nancy Spungen's family and friends would feel seeing her murderer in 'heaven', Docs or no Docs. As for Kurt, I'd ask what Courtney Love was thinking, but I'm guessing it's 'ka-ching'.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Women and Power

A recent study by Jennifer Berdahl at U of T suggests that our perception of what sexual harassment is, and why it happens, may be seriously askew. Not Demi Moore putting the moves on Michael Douglas in Disclosure askew, but askew nonetheless.

Seems the majority of cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are not, in fact, quid-pro-quo propositions between a superior and an attractive subordinate. This happens, of course. But Berdahl suggests that in most cases, harassment is not about someone hitting on someone they find sexually attractive. If this were the case, the most attractive women - the most classically feminine (pretty, sweet, submissive) - would be the primary targets. But Professor Berdahl's studies suggest that, rather, the women most likely to face harassment are those who dare to transgress traditional gender roles - women who overreach, who work in traditionally male roles, who work in male-dominated companies or who have 'masculine' personalities (for 'have masculine personalities', read 'are assertive bee-yotchs'). The men they work with, it seems, feel it incumbent to put these uppity women in their place. It's not through overt sexual overtures, but by creating an environment in which the woman is made to feel unwelcome or is demeaned on the basis of gender. Interesting finding, I'd say, and not all that surprising.

As an uppity women myself, I tend to think that discrimination based on gender is real, but often subtle and insidious. I was once told that I was too ambitious - by a guy who would have slit his mother's throat to get ahead and who, incidentally, had at least in some degree slept his way to the top. It wasn't harassment - but man did it piss me off.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nerdy Boys are So Hot

It's no secret that I have always had, and will always have, a thing for boys who are, well, on the slightly dorkier side. So imagine my delight at this list, Best Week Ever's Top 15 Sexiest Nerd Boys.

Lets see... Hugh Laurie - check. Funny and smart and beloved since the Blackadder days. Topher Grace. Yup, I get that. Parker and Stone - yes and yes. Donald Faison - interesting that they chose him over Zack Braff - I guess Braff has too much indie-movie cool. Will Arnett. Totally. Wes Anderson, Daniel Radcliffe, John Krasinski. Check, check, check. Jon Stewart as number one. Big check. Great list, really, but for me, it's all about number 7. Ewan McGregor. Perched atop Jen's personal freebie five for many, many years. The man for whom the weary hubby would be gone in a heartbeat. Which is okay, because the hubby would dump me for Zooey Deschanel even quicker.

So who's missing from the list? The very proto-type of the sexy nerd: John Cusack, of course. Adam Brody, too - clearly a dork beneath the hipster facade. Other than that, it's pretty faultless. Mmmm, nerds.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The End of Gilmore

It's official - tonight is the last episode of Gilmore Girls. It's a melancholy event for someone with every season so far on DVD (if I'm home sick I rotate between Gilmore and Sex and the City until I either feel better or decide I need a lot of new shoes).

For Gilmore, this season - the non-Palladino season - has basically sucked. The characters lost their spark, the show lost its way and Lorelei - our beloved Lorelei - acquired and discarded a husband in a matter of a few short weeks. So, the series finale can't help but disappoint, even more so knowing that Amy Sherman-Palladino had the perfect end in mind back in season one - an ending we'll never get to see.

All the more reason, I suppose, to revel in the glory days. Over on EW, Sean Gunn (the indispensably funny Kirk, criminally underused this season) has listed his top 10 Gilmore episodes.

My favourites tend to be the season enders:
  • Season 1: Max proposes to Lorelei with 1000 yellow daisies
  • Season 2: Sookie gets married while Lorelei comes this close to finding happiness with Christopher and Rory gets caught up in Paris' political ambitions
  • Season 4: The girls open the Dragonfly Inn with a test-run weekend for all of their friends, sparking the beginning of Luke and Lorelei and an adulterous affair between Dean and the no-longer-perfect Rory
Other favourites:
  • the early episodes with Rory and Dean, which captured the awkwardness of first love beautifully including a dorky first kiss in Dosse's market
  • the episode where Rory takes in a hockey game. Kirk as the play-by-play announcer is brilliant. Also an excellent Dave Rygalski episode (woo hoo Adam Brody!)
  • The Thanksgiving episode where Rory and Lorelei make the rounds to 4 Thanksgiving dinners - notable for the introduction of the evil cat Kirk and Lane's first kiss
  • the episode where Lane's band plays their first gig and Dean finally punches Jess in the face
  • the episode where Lorelei's secret affair with Jason Stiles finally comes out, and Richard mercilessly takes young Jason out at the knees
  • Emily and Richard finally renew their wedding vows, Lorelei vows to finally cut her mother out of her life, Rory finally makes a move on Logan

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Baseball Player with a Sense of Humour?

No, not Barry Bonds. Actually, it's Blue Jay's centrefielder Vernon Wells. Seems Wells was recently the target of a persistent heckler at a recent game at Cleveland's Jacob's Field. By the 7th inning, Wells sent those fans a message, tossing them a signed baseball. It read:

"Dear Mr. Dork, Here is your ball! Can you please tell me what gas station you work at, so when you are pumping my gas, I can yell at you!!! Now sit down, shut up and enjoy the game.- Your favorite centrefielder"

I love it. I really do.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Race and the NBA

Race and sports. It's always been a hot button issue - particularly in the States where race issues tend to run a bit hotter than they do in Canada. Here, our biggest issues tend to be whether star ballers have been pulled over in their fancy SUVs for DWB (Driving While Black) or whether Team Canada captain Shane Doan once pointed out the preponderance of French-speaking refs in Montreal in a less-than-friendly manner.

In the States, race in sports has long been a powder keg. Jackie Robinson - the first black man to play on a Major League Baseball team - faced death threats. So did Tiger Woods, who, incidentally, would still be denied membership at scores of all-white golf clubs across the country. For years, until Kordell Stewart and Warren Moon and Doug Williams changed perceptions, a black quarterback was a rarity; absurd as it seems, some argued that black players just didn't have the goods, mentally speaking, to be the pivot. The same argument has been made -in public no less - to explain why there have traditionally been so few black coaches and managers. The success of Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith has hopefully done away with that little chestnut of untruth too.

But racism runs deep - some argue it is innate and unknown in all of us to some degree - and has effects we would never have anticipated. A new paper, written up in the New York Times, explores just one aspect of this - the effect of race on officiating in the NBA. The upshot of the argument is this: white referees call a disproportionately high number of fouls on black players and, to a lesser extent, vice versa.

I stumbled across the article on the Freakonomics Blog, where Levitt and Dubner provide a general endorsement of the science behind the piece and a bit of explanation. Levitt points to a piece on where they do "a nice job of putting the magnitude of the bias into perspective: the coefficient estimates imply that if LeBron James faced only white refs the whole season relative to having only black refs the whole season, he would be expected to run up an extra 11 or 12 fouls over the course of the season and score about .3 fewer points per game." Not huge, but multiply that by a team, or by a league, or by a career. It's pretty significant. But what does it mean. Do white refs favour white players, or disfavour blacks? And for black refs, which is it?

And is it just basketball?

You could do the same study in the NHL - except, wait, are there any black officials in the NHL? Hmm. Maybe we should look at those Francophone Montreal refs instead.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Perfect Storm of Cheese

It really was too perfect. A Bon-Jovi/American-Idol mash up - could there be anything more deliciously velveeta?

No. No there can't.

I was worried going in. A beat boxer, three R&B-esque divas, a pale Justin Timberlake clone (amazing, considering how pale Timberlake is to begin with), and a bald guy who is clearly out of his league don't seem like the most likely bunch to tackle the subtle, New Jersey-tinged strains of the Jovi.

So, it could have been a disaster. But as it was, only one of the performers - cute-as-a-button Jordin - stank out loud. JT-lite and the bald guy muddled through. LaKisha and Melinda looked for - and mostly found - the soul and the blues in their hard-rock anthems. And Blake - the beat boxer - actually made an 80's relic sound astonishingly contemporary. No kidding, his version could be on the radio tomorrow. I loved it. Is that so wrong? Is it also wrong that a good part of the reason that I loved it is that I still do love the cheesy goodness of the original? Really?