Monthly Archive: September 2008

Happy 250th, Horatio Nelson!

Gallant British admiral Horatio Nelson was born 250 years ago today in Norfolk, England.

Paul Newman: Grace Notes and Memories

The death of Paul Newman has opened up a big box of Newman memories. Here are some highlights.=> The LA Times has marvelous photos of Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward as a young couple.

Paul Newman Moves On

Holy cow, it happened: Paul Newman died yesterday.

Ken Jennings, Honored Citizen

Ken Jennings, eternal Jeopardy maestro, reports on his blog that he went 24 of 38 on our recent are-you-ready-to-be-president quiz. 24 answers qualifies him for Honored Citizen status, and it’s also a scary good score. He had a close call on the Snickers question, sounds like. Thanks for the mention, Ken!

“I Like It When She Plays With the Froggy”

Jim Henson’s Muppets are “getting the Hannah Montana treatment” with today’s kiddies, says The New York Times.It never occurred to us that the Muppet Show Muppets were considered such separate entities from the Sesame Street Muppets. Says The Times:

The Jeopardy Champion’s Hard-Nosed True-Life Are-You-Ready-To-Run-For-President Quiz

Speaking as a former game show champ, I want my president to know a lot of facts. Rock-solid facts. World capitals, world leaders, currencies, the works.Not facts for their own sake, but because knowing facts is the residue of knowing a lot about the world and how it works. It’s a handy test for global savvy.

Dude Gets to Take Water Breaks?

Entertainment Weekly cracks on stuntmeister David Blaine.[Update: The Times of London says Blaine is being “rubbished” over the breaks. And The NY Daily News suggests the stunt deserves “an asterisk.”]

Happy 60th, Phil Hartman

Comedian Phil Hartman was born 60 years ago today.And it’s been 10 years now since he was killed, alas.

Experience of the Vice Presidents

Fascinating: Law professor Lawrence Lessig dashes through the backgrounds of all the U.S. vice-presidents in history, comparing them to the experience of Sarah Palin.His conclusion: Palin has significantly less experience than any VP except Chester Alan Arthur and (arguably) Spiro Agnew.

The Dave Hampton Game

Speaking of crazy endings, here’s the NFL version: the Dave Hampton game.

The Merkle Blunder

It was 100 years ago today.(And Three-Finger Brown was a minor footnote.)

He Never Said It

Turns out Sen. Everett Dirksen never said “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”(Great research. Who knew there was a Dirksen Center?)

Happy Birthday, Dear Draco!

Tom Felton, who plays “wicked little snot” Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, turns 21 today.Before Felton landed the part of Draco, he tried out for the hero roles of Harry and Ron. Judging from the photo on Felton’s official site, that’s hard to believe. With that widow’s peak and a name like Draco Malfoy, he should have a future as a James Bond villain.

Monday Mornings and the NFL

Media note: I really look forward to Peter King’s weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column in Sports Illustrated online. (He’s an Ohio University boy!) And I also love how, in the year 2008, when you hear about a great play you can just jump to and see the highlights immediately. Yes, I enjoy being in thrall to the NFL juggernaut, even if the business side of it is nasty and all. You’ve just got to appreciate their multimedia savvy.

Meanwhile, In Japan…

“Taro Aso, a former foreign minister who delivers snappy speeches, reads Japanese ‘manga’ comics and talks tough about China, was selected Monday to be Japan’s next prime minister.”And!”A trim man who favors finely tailored suits, he is a former Olympian who competed in clay pigeon shooting in Montreal in 1976. According to the Japanese press, he used to travel to shooting practice in his Rolls Royce.”

New Profile: Tzipi Livni

Tzipi Livni is the new head of the Kadima political party in Israel. And she may be the country’s next prime minister.

‘Michelle Wie Does It Right’

So says Bill Dwyre of The Los Angeles Times, noting that Wie just made it through the first round of qualifying school.

An Existential End for the ‘Nothing’ Ads

“This the way the ad endsThis is the way the ad endsThis is the way the ad endsNot with a bang, but a whimper.”      -T.S. Ogilvy EliotThose weird Microsoft ads with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld are suddenly kaput.

Angelina Jolie at Sixteen

The Daily Mail has photos of Angelina Jolie at age 16. (“Before the tattoos and vials of blood,” as they put it. Those Brits!)It is kinda remarkable how much she looks like Jolie of today. Crazy lips and all.

The Sarah Palin Name Generator

Heh! What would your name be?[Update: Turns out the system is borrowed from the Captain Underpants book series. Tip o’ the cap to Cousin Mike!]

Ol’ Number 31

We noticed yesterday that the Katharine Hepburn’s profile at the Internet Movie Database has this URL: we wondered what lucky actor was #0000001. It must be the greatest or the most popular actor of all time, right? Surprise! Hey, we love him, but… you know.

Happy Super Awesome 16th Birthday, Nick Jonas

By popular demand, we’re now profiling the individual Jonas Brothers to go along with our profile of the entire group.First up is the youngest member of the band, singer Nick Jonas, who turns 16 years old today.The fan site Nick J Online has a typical fan’s wish for Jonas: “A VERY PRETTY AWESOME, SUPER AWESOME, SUPER DUPER, SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY!”

Shirley MacLaine is Coco Chanel?

“Even before she died in 1971, Chanel had to witness her life turned into a Broadway musical. At first, she was thrilled that Hepburn would star in ‘Coco.’ When she learned it was Katharine and not Audrey, she was horrified.”Heh. We were wondering why Coco Chanel is so high on our Who Popular? list this weekend.

Author David Foster Wallace Found Dead

“Wallace is to literature what Robin Williams or perhaps Jim Carrey is to live comedy: a creator so maniacally energetic and amused with himself that he often follows his riffs out into the stratosphere, where he orbits all alone.”David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, apparently hanged himself on Friday night.

Boy, She Really Does Look Like Tina Fey

Tina Fey made an encore performance on Saturday Night Live last night, spoofing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.The likeness was uncanny. The Chicago Tribune has details.

Gapper: John Maynard Keynes

‘Gapper’ is our term for famous people whom we probably should have profiled long ago.Here’s a great one: John Maynard Keynes. Editor Paul Hehn, at the English economics desk, has just whipped up a nifty profile of Keynes, whose “notion that governments should intervene in times of market distress” seems awfully timely these days.

Microsoft Hates the Working Class

Boy, Bill and Jerry — we’re trying to go with the flow here, but we’re just not feeling it.Ballyhooed Microsoft ad number one had Gates and Seinfeld shopping at Shoe Circus alongside the “clowns” of the mall-going public.Now ad number two has them eating scalloped potatoes and sharing toothpaste with a working-class family who also seem to be clowns. Very unpleasant clowns at that.

Happy Birthday to the Walrus of Love

“Dubbed the Walrus of Love, he enjoyed a virtual monopoly on pillow talk disco… His singularly deep voice caused his mother to scream with fright when it first broke at the age of 14.”So said the BBC about Barry White in its 2003 obituary. His voice was so seductive it could help sharks mate.

Ocho Cinco’s Big Buy

Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ocho Cinco may have a few old jerseys around soon.The NFL says that before the former Chad Johnson can wear a jersey with his new name, he has to buy out the entire nationwide stock of NFL-approved “C. Johnson” jerseys now in stores. At $48 each.

Kim Jong-il Paralyzed?

First there were reports of a stroke. Now the Associated Press says that Kim Jong-il may be paralyzed.

Mo’ Better Bond

Speaking of James Bond… here’s the new longer trailer for Quantum of Solace, due out October 31st in the UK. (November 14th in the States.)

100 Years of Bond

So we missed this back in May, on the 100th birthday of Ian Fleming.The Times (London-style) dished up a very slick feature called 100 Years of Bond. It mixes odd notes from Fleming’s life (f’rinstance, Winston Churchill wrote the Times obituary for Fleming’s dad in 1917) with his love affairs and then the release dates of the various James Bond novels and movies.

Mr. Darcy Inches Toward Fifty, Fully Clothed

Good heavens. Colin Firth, also known as Mr. Darcy in the iconic 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, turns 48 today.Which gives us the chance to scratch our head publicly over one of the most famous moments from that film: the lake scene. We’ve heard many, many times about the moment in which Firth strips down to take a swim. The scene is supposed to have the power to make strong women go woozy, and make weaker women swoon outright.

The 60-Year-Old Groupie

Rock ‘n roll butterfly Pamela Des Barres turns 60 today.

Castro in the Comics

Sometimes the comic strip Pearls Before Swine just cracks me up.But yesterday’s strip was a double whammy. As editor Paul Hehn points out, Cuba’s Raul Castro actually did make an appearance, however oblique, in ‘Hi and Lois’ on the same day.

Tom Brady May Be Done for 2008

Tom Brady’s season may be over. The New England quarterback went down with a knee injury on Sunday.Before the game, The Boston Globe ran a retrospective that made Brady sound oddly like a missing antelope species which may no longer actually exist.

Happy 851st, Richard Lionheart!

Richard I of England — Richard Lionheart to you and me — turns 851 today.He’s also called Richard the Lionhearted by some, and Coeur de Lion by the French.Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph ran an odd little item about a night Richard spent in bed with Phillip II of France.

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Shot by Teens

We’ve finally just seen Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. And what a laugh it was.We first read about the movie in a Vanity Fair article in 2004. The backstory, in brief: in 1981, after Harrison Ford wowed the world as Indiana Jones, a 10-year-old Mississippi kid named Chris Strompolos talked two friends into filming their own shot-by-shot version of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Ishtar for Windows?

“The spectacle of… watching the two eternally boyish, care-free retired zillionaires try on shoes leaves a bad aftertaste.”Harsh reviews for the new Bill Gates / Jerry Seinfeld ad for Microsoft.It’s a headscratcher, true enough.

Wait — Walter Reed Middle School?

Was John McCain standing in front of an accidental photo on national TV last night?The political blog Talking Points Memo is also on the case.

“Bond… 69-Year-Old Bond”

George Lazenby, the forgotten Bond, turns 69 today.It was ’69, coincidentally, when he played superspy James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That was his only Bond film.He’s not the oldest actor to play Bond, not by a long shot. Sean Connery turned 78 in August, and Roger Moore turns 81 (!) next month. The current Bond, Daniel Craig, is a lad of 40.

John McCain Accepts GOP Nomination

“You know, I’ve been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it’s meant as a compliment and sometimes it’s not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don’t work for a party. I don’t work for a special interest. I don’t work for myself. I work for you.”John McCain formally accepted the Republican nomination for president last night.

So Long, Bill Melendez

“Charlie Brown has a big head, a little body and little feet. Normally, a human takes a step every 16 frames — about two-thirds of a second. But [Charles Schulz’s] characters would look like they were floating at that pace. After several experiments, I had them take a step every six frames — one-fourth of a second…

Sarah Palin Convention Transcript

Courtesy of The Chicago Sun-Times, here’s the transcript of Sarah Palin’s speech to the Republican Convention last night.It seemed to go well. But did she really sneer at Obama’s work as a community organizer? “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” That’s one of the most mean-spirited comments I’ve ever heard in a political speech.

Bristol Palin’s Boyfriend Joins the GOP Convention

Taking things over the top: Levi Johnston, the boyfriend of Bristol Palin, will now attend the Republican National Convention.Bristol is the 17-year-old daughter of GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Bristol’s pregnancy has been a surprise story of the last few days, and Johnston is now being pulled into the spotlight as well.

“In a World…”

Don LaFontaine, movie voiceover legend, has died. (At Cedars-Sinai, natch.)

Christa McAuliffe +60

Citizen astronaut Christa McAuliffe would be just 60 years old today. She was a 37-year-old schoolteacher from New Hampshire when she died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Sarah Palin’s Daughter Is Pregnant

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned…