Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Maryland Cornholin'

Apparently, Maryland now holds a Cornhole Cup & Beerfest competition every year. Will someone please explain this phenomenon to me? Because everytime I hear the word "cornhole" I snicker like Beavis and Butthead ("I am Cornholio!"). At the very least, I think they should consider changing the name, because when I hear the word "cornhole" I envision hillbillies pulling down Ned Beatty's tighty whiteys in Deliverance and...well, it's not a pretty picture. I mean, how many words have such a diverse definition, one referring to a bean-bag tossing variation on the game of horsehoes, the other referring to backdoor lovin'? The cornhole game is also known as "tailgate tossing," but since Brits call people who stroke their John Thomas "tossers," this too takes on a randy meaning!

No way I can wear this shirt!

Related Links:
Corn-hole (Online Slang Dictionary)
Cornhole (Wikipedia)
Cornhole 101

Monday, September 28, 2009

Horrorfind Weekend in Death Valley

Horrorfind Weekend: The Spookiest Show On Earth

Horrorfind Weekend
September 25-27
Hunt Valley Marriott

I had nothing better to do this past Sunday so I headed out to Hunt Valley (formerly known as "Death Valley" in the days before the mall got injected with steroids in the form of Wegmen's, the Regal Cinemas multiplex, and all those new retail "shoppes") for the Horrorfind Weekend horror fan convention. I'm not a horror or gore hound by any means, but I do like to check out the obscure cult, foreign and sci-fi movie bootlegs that are offer in the dealer rooms there - plus my ever-shrinking libido doesn't mind looking at the all the pale-faced tatted-and-pierced Goth babes (who are instinctively drawn to horror and gore like moths to the flame) in their Betty Page 'dos, platform heels, and form-fitting leather clothing so tight their naughty bits are almost hermetically sealed.

"Which way to the Dealer's Room?
We heard there are some pale gore hunks there!"

Of course, some lost "Simpsons Comic Book Guy" souls actually go to these events to meet and get their photos taken with washed-up celebrities like Margot Kidder (who looks like a homeless person you'd see pandhandling outside at the downtown library), Corbin Bernsen of L.A. Law (who I didn't even notice because, in my friend's spot-on description, he was "that bald guy sitting in the corner with his face buried in his Blackberry") or even scraping-the-bottom-of-the-name-recognition-barrel celebs like the Z-list actors who will forever be known as "the black guy in Ghostbusters" (for the record: his name is Ernie Hudson) or "the black guy from Night of the Living Dead (Ken Foree).

"Wait - the black guy from Ghostbusters is here?!?"

OK, I will admit this year I was kinda interested in seeing Danny Trejo - the pock-faced, tough-skinned Latino bit player who's made a career out of playing bikers, druggies and assorted badasses (not to mention "Carlos Santana" in Delta Farce!), most recent high-profiled as the star of the bogus movie "Machete" in Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. I later saw "Machete" lobby cards and posters for sale in the dealer room, which makes sense because the Machete trailer spoof was so popular in Planet Terror that Rodriquez decided to make a real movie of that name starring Danny Trejo (tagline: "They fucked with the wrong Mexican!"); it's due out sometime next year.

Looking Sharp: Danny Trajo is...Machete!

Walking across the parking lot on my way in, I spied a spiffy looking black hearse. My first thought was that it was Chris X of Reptilian Records back in town from his Satanic honeymoon (he was recently married on 9-9-09 after missing out on making his vows on 6-6-06), but it was actually "Queen of Ghouls" Kim Yates of Kim's Krypt ("We'll scare the living yell out of you!") rolling uptown in style from her Dundalk domain. (By the way, her '68 Cadillac Crown Superior hearse is available for rental.)

Dundalk Representing: The Kim's Krypt Hearse

Kim's Hearse: Gettin' its full-frontal hood-on

I later saw Kim outside the dealer's room and asked her if she escaped any flooding from the September 18th broken water main deluge in Dundalk. She did, then proceeded to try and get me to buy her band's CD. Kim started out doing a Halloween-themed Haunted House but now offers family-oriented thrills for Kryptmas, Valentine's (Massacre) Day, and Friday the 13th, though no word on Yom Kippur as of yet (not a big demand for that in Dundalk I 'spose). Charismatic Kim is always "on" like a carnival pitchman, while her female "partner" Lil' Angie silently mans the merchandise table, the two as different as night and day. I gotta make a note to get down to Kim's Haunted House at the Merritt Park Shopping Center this Halloween and visit her crew, which includes her pets Boo "The Dog that Eats His Own Poo" and Spooky "The Exorcist Cat That Eats Rats." Even Alice Cooper is a fan of Kim's Krypt!

In Like Skint

I think they charge $20 to get in, but no one stopped me when I walked in - and I walked very slowly with my hand clasped around a $20 waiting for someone to greet/accost me - and, well, this Fanboy About Town has places to go and people to see! (Besides, I think the cashier chick was too busy texting away on her cell phone - today's Youth are very easily distracted).

Almost as soon as I entered the dealer's room, I ran into my Frederick, MD-based artist friend Steve Blickenstaff and his lovely wife Pingzhen, who had a table there.

The Blissful Blickenstaffs, beaming

Steve is most famous for his Good Music For Bad People album cover for The Cramps...

...but he's also done created artwork for They Might Be Giants, Thin White Rope, and even local blood-sucking surf-rockers The Atomic Mosquitos (with whom he plays theremin). Steve's wild Basil Wolverton-meets-Big Daddy Roth-&-Robert Williams-style art celebrates everything I love about monster, alien, zombie, and Pin-Up Gal kitsch.

Blickenstaff's usual suspects

Blickenstaff's art is an eyeful!

Steve's "Guitar World" illustration

Steve really knows how to market himself (it's surprising how few artists do), offering his work in every size, shape, and price range - from $1 pins and stickers to paintings in the low $$ hundreds. And accessories! Pendants (I bought a Ghoul Girl cameo for my GF), wall clocks (I bought one for the kitchen), keychains, you name it, he's got it. Check out his amazing artwork at

At the next table I heard what sounded like a bug zapper, but instead it was a tattoo artist inking some design on the back of a dude's leg.

Inkers were on hand to Tattoo You

There were actually two tattoo vendors in the dealer's room. That's a new trend. A bunch of inked babes in fetish gear were working the other table down the aisle. I fought the temptation.

At the table I was watching a screener of the locally-produced Cannibal Holocaust spoof Isle of the Damned (available from

... when a voice behind me said, "You really should buy this, Tom!" Looking around it was my Facebook friend Armando the flesh! Armando's not only a film geek, he also likes the same music as me. he filled me in on what a great show the Pet Shop Boys put on at D.C.'s Constitution Hall on a rare tour this past summer.

Professor Warner (note granny glasses) finally met his
Facebook virtual friend Armando Valle in the flesh
at the booth

But the highlight of the dealer's room awaited me right across from this table, where I saw a guy selling a cornucopia of film and TV-related ID badges. As a Lost fan, I had to pony up for a couple of Dharma Initative Parking Permits...

Perfect for a VW Bus!

...and as a media maven about metropolitanland I had to grab the Jimmy Olsen Daily Planet press badge (no doubt it'll help me get into this week's Comic-Con for free, too!).

Cub reporter Jimmy Olsen press badge

The guy also had some nice Blade Runner IDs, including a "Spinner Operator's Permit" badge but I don't look enough like Harrison Ford to pull it off.

Deckard says "Come Fly With Me"

Right around the corner a guy had a great bootleg DVD table where I found Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years packaged together for $10.

Declines I & II: One for each ear

Though I have multiple copies of both films on video and DVD, the quality was so good I had to pick it up; it looked like it was taken directly from a laserdisc. (I just wish I hadn't been so tight-fisted and am now regretting not picking up two rare and out-of-print items, namely former Saturday Night Live writer Michael Donohue's Mr. Mike's Mondo Video 1979 TV special and Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre. Doh! Oh well, there's always Comic-Con this weekend...)

The ones that got away...

As I was walking away from this table I almost bumped into...Danny Trejo, who had just strolled in with some young babe with Pepto Bismol-pink hair.

"Danny Trejo!" I blurted, showcasing my flair for the obvious. "I loved you in that movie you made with Patricia Arquette," I blathered away. His face squinched up as he drew a blank, no doubt because, retard that I am, I was confusing Patricia Arquette with Maggie Gyllenhaal in the 2006 rehab movie Sherrybaby, in which Danny plays 12-step veteran Dean Walker (a good guy for a change!) who meets Gyllenhaal at an NA Meeting. But Danny sympathized with the mentally challenged and graciously agreed to let his pink-haired friend snap my photo standing next to him. Wow, I never realized what a little guy this badass is!

"Delicate" Danny Trejo with "Testosterone-Teeming" Tom Warner

It's funny, I had just screened The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years at the Enoch Pratt Central Library the day before and commented that I didn't know anyone who had seen Penelope Spheeris' even rarer 1998 followup The Decline of Western Civilization Part III. Well, I found a copy at another vendor's table on the other end of dealer's the room.

Decline Part III

I passed, since it featured bands I had never heard of (Litmus Green, Naked Agression, Final Conflict, The Resistance), but it was there along with the other two voumes of Spheeris' music doc trilogy. I felt like calling up my friend Paul Wegweiser and telling him about the bounty of Decline of Western Civilization DVDs (Paul has searched for the original for years!). It was right next to The Complete Howard Stern Show on Channel 9-WOR bootleg (too expensive at $70) and the Japanese live-action manga adaptation of Rapeman (too disgusting). Spying a boot of The Complete Parker Lewis Can't Lose, I had to tell the young vendor that it had finally been given an official release so he might want to pull it now.

I mosied over to the adjacent table, a vendor from Michigan for a company called Monsters Among Us (, who had an amazing collection of pristine laserdiscs - still the best visual medium for watching movies (even though, like LPs, you have to flip sides) - in addition to an impressive array of cult LPs (natch), monster magazines, old Playboys, and even some vintage copies of Movie Club, the local movie mag produced between 1993 and 1997 by Baltimore's late great B-movie king Don Dohler. (Blood, Boobs & Beast, a documentary about Dohler that premiered at the 2007 Maryland Film Festival, is now available for purchase on

Don Dohler's legacy was in da house!

Right next door to this guy's table I saw a painted-by-numbers Hipster Doofus (well-trimmed goutee, Colonel Sanders glasses, Sinatra fedora, racetrack shirt hanging over his beer belly) holding an expensive mini-digital camcorder and interviewing some artist's crotch. "So, Mr. [name]'s crotch, tell us about your art, blah blah blah." How utterly fascinating!

Hipster paparazzi, representin'

God, there but for the grace of Atomic TV go I, I thought. This schmuck took glib to levels even I hadn't descended. The guy he was interviewing actually had some cool t-shirts for sale. I liked the one of Baltimore's Bromo Seltzer Tower with a bunch of guns jutting out of it. Since I recently read about a Hopkins student who killed a burglar with a samurai sword, I expect an update in next year's tee.

Harm City, representing, horror/gore-style!

Labels: , ,


Anyone who works downtown can appreciate Peter Bagge's take on this bi-coastal phenomena that was originally published in the April 2007 ish of Reason magazine (and also included in his Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me Fantagraphic Books collection). Bagge's observations about Seattle's homeless ring just as true for Baltimore - or any major metropolitan area, for that matter; far from a rant, his panels offer some quite cogent facts about the people and the problem.

Bums page 1

Bums page 2

Bums page 3

Bums page 4

The point that really resonated with me, was "...there are so many charities and agencies that are ready and eager to help that it' almost impossible for anyone to go hungry in the U.S. these days..." In the one-block radius around where I work there are three churches, two Catholic charity organizations, and a soup kitchen offering services to the homeless, including rides to shelters; so when I'm stopped on the street and asked for money, I always question what it's for. Naturally, the cynical side of me suspects it's for some "vice" (e.g., cigarettes, alcohol, drugs); in other words, a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Plus some of these people are downright rude, turning what should be a plea for a hand-out into something that borders on a shakedown (one guy made me spill my coffee when he leaped in front of me to bark "Yo - 50 cents!"; I didn't know if it was a request or a statement). Thus I could totally relate to Bagge's description of his 10-block to work being "choked with crazy street people..." that "...all seemed to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement, putting on loud air guitar concerts while practically demanding change from passers-by..."

But Bagge does understand that most of these people suffer from one or more mental illnesses, which is a shame...but again, there are agencies to help the people who want help all around these areas. And stopping people walking to work and asking for hand-outs only gets local businesses to enlist the aid of law enforcement or security personnel to hassle these people and tell them not to loiter around their businesses or institutions, giving the poor souls already burdened with enough problems additional bad press and resentment.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me

and Other Astute Observations

Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations
A Decade's Worth of Cartoon Reporting for Reason Magazine
by Peter Bagge
112 pages, Fantagraphic Books (2009)

I've loved Peter Bagge ever since I started reading his Buddy Bradley and Hate comics back in the Nineties when Seattle's hipster grunge scene was reigning supreme. Post-Hate, Bagge dropped below the radar for a while, had kids, and became a libertarian ("the other 'L' word" in his words). But regardless of his politics or life situation, Bagge has always maintained a critical eye for pretentiousness and pomposity - whether it be from the left or the right - as this collection of comic rants from his Noughties stint at Reason magazine ("the magazine of free minds and free markets") makes clear.

The book is organzied into thematic chapters of comtemporary American stupidity - Stupid Sex, Stupid War, Stupid Business, Stupid Arts, Stupid Politics, Stupid Tragedy, Stupid Boondoggles - culminating in "Our Stupid America." Bagge is even-handed enough to follow-up a dig at war protesters (with whom he sympathizes in idealogy if not execution) with an even harsher lambasting of pro-war zealots, and he even takes his libertarian chums to task - including his beloved Ron Paul ("In Search of the Perfect Human Being") - but what struck me most was his take-down of modern art and artists in "'Real' 'Art'" (Reason magazine, August/September 2004). They already made a movie out of Daniel Clowes' lampooning strip "Art School Confidential" but had Terry Zwigoff elected to make a documentary instead of a narrative film, he might well have used Bagge's cruel observations as source material. Brilliant stuff. I'm sure the old school folks at Baltimore's Schuler School of Fine Arts would be proud!

Real Art, page 1

Real Art, page 2

Real Art, page 3

Real Art, page 4

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Long Goodbye

directed by Robert Altman
MGM, 1973, 112 minutes
Cast: Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Henry Gibson, Mark Rydell

It's Fall, my favorite season and the time of year when I revisit the things I love Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels. Spying a new edition of Chandler's best, most mature work The Long Goodbye (1953) at Daedalus Books & Music, I quickly devoured it. It was one of the few Marlowe novels that wasn't pieced together from short stories Chandler had previously published in pulp magazines (a cherry-picking technique he called "cannibalizing" his own narratives).

Chandler's late great masterpiece

The following week at Daedalus, I saw the DVD reissue of Robert Altman's 1973 adaptation of The Long Goodbye, starring Elliott Gould at the height of his anti-Establishment, anti-hero popularity (Little Murders, Getting Straight, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, M*A*S*H), and picked it up, remembering only that I liked it when I saw it some 20 years ago. It's a command performance, Elliott's favorite in fact, but with Chandler's rich prose still fresh in my mind from reading The Long Goodbye, I was somewhat irked at the liberties taken with the source material.

Style Over Narrative

Then I realized that Altman, like Chandler, was always someone more interested in style - and especially language and characterization - over narrative. For his part, Chandler even admitted as much when, during the filming of The Big Sleep (1946), a confused Howard Hawks (besieged by his head-scratching script-writers William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett) contacted Chandler to ask who exactly killed whom and the author famously replied that he himself wasn't sure! Likewise, Altman was only attracted to the script of The Long Goodbye when he was given the assurance that he could cast Elliott Gould as Marlowe and that he could tack on his own, anti-hero ending. So, purists beware, if you want adherence to Chandler's novels and dialogue, watch Bogie in Hawks' The Big Sleep or Dick Powell in Edward Dmytryk's Murder, My Sweet (1944). (Interestingly enough, The Long Goodbye and Hawks' The Big Sleep shared the same scriptwriter, Leigh Brackett - though she passed away before Altman's film was released in 1973).

And Altman, who wasn't interested at all in faithful adaptations of someone's else's work, was more interested in the idea of what it would be like for an Old School '30s and '40s-era hard-boiled romantic like Philip Marlowe (for that's what Chandler considered him and Marlowe even describes himself in The Long Goodbye as "a romantic...I hear voices crying in the night and I go see what's the matter") to be placed into the middle of the sexually liberated, New Agey hippie landscape of 1970s Southern California. In fact, "Rip Van Marlowe" was his working title for The Long Goodbye. And he gave Gould, like all the actors he worked with in his career, free reign as far as improvisation. "I make them do the what they're trained to do, to act," he said.

So after Elliott Gould has been finger-printed at the police station and wipes the ink all over his face while doing a blackface impression of Al Jolsen, it's a total ad-lib. Gould's Marlowe is an update for sure, but his sarcasm and attitude are firmly in the Marlowe tradition of the '30s and '40s. But even in his day, Chandler considered his P.I. a throwback, a "man out of time" who is out of synch with the values surrounding him - or in Chandler's words, "this strange and corrupt world we live in." "Nobody understands me," Marlowe tells Mrs. Loring in The Long Goodbye. "I'm enigmatic." Another character in the novel, the Latino thug Mendy Mendez, seems to sense this too when he refers to Marlowe as "Tarzan on a big red scooter" - that is, someone out of his element, stubbornly clinging to his archaic vine (and values) in a mechanized modern age.

And the rest of the casting is inspired as well, with Nina Van Pallandt as the blue-eyed ice-princess wife Eileen Wade, Sterling Hayden as madcap alcoholic writer Roger Wade (a second, but excellent, choice following the death of Altman's good friend Dan Blocker), the menacingly meek Henry Gibson as the quack Dr. Verringer, and former Major League Baseball pitcher (and Ball Four bad boy author) Jim Bouton (great '70s Jiffy-Pop bouffant!) as Terry Lennox. But Altman's most brilliant casting coup was signing Mark Rydell to portray the loony sociopathic Jewish mobster Marty Augustine (this character was a complete Altman-Brackett invention, standing in for and expanding the novel's Hispanic gangster Mendy Mendez). I love Rydell's first encounter with Gould when he tells him he "should be keeping shabbos" instead of wasting his time with a schmuck like him. And, of course, the scene in which he and his thugs take their clothes off - while attempting to force Marlowe to - so that no one has anything to hide behind in their interrogation (a scene also featuring a non-speaking but pectoral-flexing, cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger as a bodyguard!). I wonder if Gould's quip in this scene - after Rydell says he used to be self-conscious about taking his clothes off because he didn't get his first pubic hair until 15 - about how Marty must have felt like one of the Three Little Pigs, was also an ad-lib. Hilarious scene and vintage Altman.

And speaking of traditions, the Hollywood studios have a long one of mis-marketing their releases. The Long Goodbye was no different. When the film opened in Los Angeles and Chicago, the original poster for the film showed Gould holding a gun and looking like a classic Bogart-era gumshoe with the tagline "Nothing says goodbye like a bullet." It was an anachronistic pitch to a genre (and audience) that just wasn't happening in the post-Easy Rider 1970s American cinema.

Another poster showed Gould with a cat on his shoulder and cat food in his hand, a gun sticking out of his pants and a ciggie stub sticking out of his mouth, and Nina Van Pallandt walking her dog in a doorway. The tagline was "I have two friends in the world. One is a cat. The other one is a murderer." This tough guy neo-noir pitch tanked with audiences as well.

The cats, dogs, gats and blondes poster

Altman complained about the posters and the producers came up with the idea of getting Mad magazine's legendary cartoonist Jack Davis to come up with a hipper poster. One that reflected the irreverent, sarcastic "no heroes" spirit that Elliott has mastered in th early '70s. The result, shown below, was used for the film's New York release where, suddenly, the film "killed," in Altman's words.

Jack Davis' poster for "The Long Goodbye"
ensured its cult status

"We did great box office but by then it was too late." And so The Long Goodbye missed out on being a commercial success but gained its long-running status as a cult film in the process. Thank you, Jack Davis!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another "Oh My" Moment for Dick Enberg

When is a Dick an Ass? When he's an Enberg.

2009 U.S. Open tennis winner Juan Martin Del Potro got a trophy, $2 million dollars and a Lexus, but all he really wanted to do was say a few words in Spanish.

Once again, Dick "Oh My!" Enberg has lived up to his name by squeezing the air out of big broadcasting moments and begging the question: why don't you retire and leave the airwaves to the competent? As a sports commentator for CBS Sports, 74-year-old Dick Enberg has stayed too long at the fair and should be put to pasture. All he can add are the usual bromides about the obvious stars, though even then he manages to mangle their names, tennis being an international sport and Enberg being the lazy and embarrassing embodiment of The Ugly American aesthetic. Remember Enberg's gaffe at the 2007 U.S. Open when he called Justine Henin - who was so shattered by a messy divorce settlement earlier in the year that she withdrew from the Australian Open - by her married name of Henin-Hardenne during the trophy presentation? But hey, as Shakespeare pondered, what's in a name, right?

And as far as international relations go, who cares if these award ceremonies - with the exception of the French Open (God bless the French!) - are by defacto conducted in English. Is that a problem, we monolingual Yanks ask? (Made me think of that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in which a clueless Larry David mistakes the Norwegian golf pro for a Swede: "Swedish, Norwegian - what's the difference anyway?" to which Sven angrily retorts "Language, history, culture!") U.S. Open Women's Singles Runnerup Caroline Wozniacki conducted her post-match interview in English, Danish, and Polish. Federer speaks at least four laanguages fluently, and even Nadal has gotten savvy enough with his Spanglish to talk to the American press. But with the exception of soccer star Landon Donovan and Lakers star Kobe Bryant, I've never seen an American sports figure conduct an interview in a foreign language.

But I digress (as I usually do) point is, we're lucky that so many international sports figures - many of whom have bypassed school to turn pro at an early age - can speak English. But it is their second language at best. So during their Taylor Swift moment of glory in the spotlight, let them express themselves in their native language if they want. And don't first refuse and then grudgingly let them speak "quickly" as Dick Enberg did on Monday night. As Progressive pitchwoman Flo would say, "That's cold!"

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the U.S. Open trophy (or rather atrophied) ceremonies Monday night following world No. 6 Juan Martin Del Potro's exciting five set victory over five-time defending champion Roger Federer when Enberg brusquely brushed off Del Potro's request to say a few words in Spanish like the teary-eyed 20-year-old Argentine wunderkid was a panhandler asking for bus fare.

Del Potro's Spanish address prompted a huge ovation from the crowd (which included many Argentines in their national soccer jerseys and waving flags) and brought tears to his eyes. It was a big moment of national pride - one that Argentina needs in a year in which their soccer team is struggling to qualify for the World Cup.

I'm glad that I'm not the only one to criticize Enberg and CBS for the awkwardness of the trophy presentation ceremnonies. I agree with the viewer who wrote the following complaint to the U.S. Open officials, one that perfectly illustrates how demeaning this dis was to Del Potro:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to register a very strong complaint about the US Open telecast last night - in particular, about your hosts’ behaviour at the presentation ceremony.

Juan Martin del Potro had just won his first major, defeating his idol in the final, and he wanted to address his friends and family in his native language - I don’t understand Spanish, but it was clearly something that meant a lot and was a very emotional moment for him.

It was most disrespectful and extremely crass of Dick Enberg to deny del Potro his moment by first declining outright his very polite request, and then later granting it only after being extremely condescending (”Quickly.”). I don’t know whether it was him personally, or whether someone from CBS was in his ear telling him to finish it quickly, but how can anyone possibly promote, defend or excuse such behaviour? In addition, the pathetic excuse given was a lack of time - but there was obviously enough time to tell del Potro that he was getting a nice Lexus (and making a pitch for the product at the same time)!! I am sure that Mr. Del Potro would have greatly preferred to speak to his people instead of being told what wonderful prizes he was getting for winning.

Again, I am dismayed by the great disrespect shown to a worthy champion in favour of appeasing corporate sponsors and/or pursuing the regularly scheduled programmes, and hence I am of the opinion that Juan Martin del Potro is owed an official apology from CBS and Mr. Enberg

And a blogger named YoungGuns added:
During tonights US Open award ceremony Dick Enberg did a couple things that were more disrespectful than what Kanye West did last night. What Kanye did was a classless thing to do and whether or not he was drunk (which I believe he was) it was something that no entertainer should do to another.

What Dick Enberg did did is much worse however. Dick decided to treat Roger Federer like the winner of the tournament while Del Potro was treated like an aftershow. He allowed Federer more time at the mic and made many references to the past championships rather than the one at hand. To top things off he orginally did not allow Del Potro to speak in his native tongue to his fellow countrymen after the English interview stating that they were running out of time and needed to get on with the ceremony. Only after a little convincing did he allow the rebuffed and crestfallen Del Potro to speak "a few quick words in Spanish."

His U.S. Open quips won't make this edition

Naturally the suits at CBS defended Enberg and said he was only doing his job. As the National Post wrote, "Enberg's bosses were probably screaming in his earpiece to move quickly to get back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother — reruns, no less — on the air." But as a supposed lover of the game of tennis, Enberg surely must know that regardless of the corporate vultures for whom he shills, there is the Sportscasting Moment that can never be replayed. This was it, this was Del Potro's moment, and Enberg the Company Man sided with the filthy lucre over The Beautiful Game. Swing and a miss, Dick. Again.

Related Links:
Can I Speak in Spanish? (NY Times)
Angry reaction to host who refused to let Del Potro speak in Spanish (Buenos Aires Herald)

Labels: , , , ,

Federer Doesn't Give a Shit!

And That's OK!

"It's not the end of the world"

Although I was initially sad that my man Roger Federer lost last night's U.S. Open final to Juan Martin Del Potro after five mentally and physically draining sets (6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 6-7, 2-6,), upon reflection it made me appreciate the man and the athlete - and his accomplishments - even more. Federer made the finals of all four Grand Slams this year - for the unprecedented third time in his career! (2006, 2007, 2009) - and three of them went to five sets - five-set defeats at the Australian (to Nadal) and U.S. Open (to Del Potro) bookending the year, and a miraculous five-set tuff-it-out win over Andy Roddick (playing the Game of His Life) at Wimbledon being even more impressive to me than his French Open straight sets win over Robin Soderling (who in tennis terms became "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" for his upset dethroning of the King of Clay, Rafa Nadal) that gave him his career Grand Slam, broke his perennial run as Nadal's runnerup at Roland Garros, and reminded people once again that he was the Second Greatest Clay Court Player of his generation (a fact lost amidst all the "All-Time Greatest Player" talk). This was Roger's seventh consecutive Grand Slam final. He's appeared in a record 21 Grand Slam finals, winning 15 of them (but this was his first loss to someone not named Nadal). He had won 40 consecutive matches at Flushing Meadows. He had won 33 of his previous 34 Grand Slam matches. And he has made the final at 17 of the last 18 Grand Slam tournaments. And serving for the match at 5-4, 30-love, he was two points away from his 16th Slam.

He gave it his all, but at the end of the day maybe he just wasn't that hungry for it after all those accomplishments.

"Can't have them all," he said afterwards.

Federer's very competitive but even champions need their motivation recharged. I mean, even adult film star Johnny "Wadd" Holmes, after sleeping with over 1,000 women, must have reached a point where he found it hard to "erect the architecture of success" (if ya know what I mean, and I think ya do) at the sight of yet another nekkid babe. In other words, Federer's been there, done that (done it it all, in fact), and has no real hurtles to jump. As New Jersey Sports pointed out in its excellent "Grading the U.S. Open" review, "He's at a crossroads, really. There's no barriers left. He's conquered history and ruled the game for a while..." And let's face it, Roger's quip before the final that it would ne nice to win his first major as a Dad seemed a stretch even for him (the "First Dad To Win a Grand Slam" distinction isn't really a much coveted or sought-after goal on the men's tennis tour). Hardly a die-hard motivation, like beating Nadal at the French. But that's OK.

Tennis Superman Starting to Show He's All Too Human

Just as we get less tolerant as we age and let our true feelings be known (because we don't care what people think when we're running out of time and don't have anything to lose), Roger's starting to loosen up, show more emotion, show some human frailty, and let it all hang out - for better or worse. Witness him tossing a racket in a match earlier this year and then his heated expletive-not-deleted exchange with the chair umpire during the final when Juan Martin Del Potro was allowed to challenge a call after a lengthy period of time. Federer had already headed to his chair where, seated, he argued "I wasn't allowed to challenge after two seconds. The guy takes like 10 every time. Don't you have any rules?"

When the umpire told Federer to be quiet, the usually overly polite and gentlemanly champion took umbrage: Stop showing me the hand, OK? Don't tell me to be quiet, OK? When I want to talk I'll talk, all right...I don't give a shit what he said, OK? I just say he waited too long. Don't fucking tell me the rules. I was not allowed to challenge..."

Opening Up at the U.S. Open

I like it. It's controlled petulance and it makes it easier for us mere mortals to relate to The Living Legend. In this regard, perhaps only this regard, he is just like us. I'm actually finding the runner-up Federer to be a much more interesting and complex character than Roger the unassailable King. It may just keep him hungry instead of being merely sated once again, sitting at the head of the banquet table. Now he not only has Nadal chowing down at the fete, but now a giant of a giant-slayer in Del Potro (who also seems to have Nadal's number) - not to mention Andy Murray, Djokovic, and other would-be spoilers in the ever-competitive Top 10.

Back to New Jersey Sports' and their spot-on question of the hour about the man already called The Greatest Tennis Player Ever: "Can he keep himself motivated enough to maintain his place? The talent is there. But he needs to respond better when players punch him in the mouth. He rallied past Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, but couldn't conjure up the same spirit in the final against del Potro. Now that all the barriers are gone, will Federer keep his form up?"

So far, the form's there. But maybe there's just that little suggestion of, "Well, it's not so bad if I let this one slip away" lurking in deepest recesses of his will. Don't forget, back in August at the Montreal Masters, Roger inexplicably let a 5-1 third-set lead against Jo-Wilfried Tsongo slip away to lose his quarterfinal match 7-6, 1-6, 7-6. "I never should have allowed it," Roger said afterwards. "But it did happen."

We're all waiting to see what happens with Roger Federer from this point on. To see if he really doesn't give a shit, as he told that chair umpire. Or if he can rekindle the kind of competitive fire that saw him break down in tears after Nadal defeated him at this year's Australian Open final. Either way is OK, Roger; you've more than earned your place in tennis history. I'm just curious how this drama is going to play out.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Flavia of the Month

The WTA & I Agree: Flavia Pennetta's a Perfect 10

Flavia Pennetta: Italy's First Top 10 Player

I only just discovered Flavia Pennetta, Italy's first tennis star to crack the Top 10 on the Sony Ericson Women's Tennis Tour, thanks to her outstanding run at the 2009 U.S. Open, where she lost (as expected) to a pre-meltdown Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.

She ain't no flag hag: Neopolitan 'nockout Flavia Pennetta, representin'

The 27-year-old got a lot of much-deserved press in August when she became Italy's first top 10 female player (after previously having been tied for the national record of No. 11 with Farina Elia and Francesca Schiavone) - and even more after fighting off six match points in her gutsy come-from-behind 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 fourth round win over Russian nutjob Vera Zvonareva (the world No. 7 whose tears-and-ranting exit from Flushing Meadows was accompanied by the retort "I hate this city!") - but what impressed me even more than her grit and moto bene volleying was her beauty. Mama mia, Flavia is bellisimo!

Former French Open champion Carlos Moya obviously thought so, as the two were a couple up until Wimbledon 2007. (Curiously, they only played one mixed doubles match together, which they lost. Guess it wasn't meant to be.)

A view privy only to few (like Moya)

Sartorially, Flavia is also very stylish in her attire (a national attribute, perhaps?), which is to be expected when your clothing sponsor is Sergio Tacchini - the most stylish (along with K-Swiss) brand name on the tennis tour in my not-so-humble opinion. And, being of her Twentysomething generation, on the skin-deep-beauty front I noticed she has some ink, which may or may not be the result of Carlos' influence - his signature look is the sleeveless tank top that shows off his inked guns.

Generation Ink: Note the "tramp stamp" at base of spine;
she also has a tat on her inside wrist

The late-bloomer (27 is relatively old in tennis terms) is certainly in outstanding form at the moment. She was 21-3 in her matches following Wimbledon and at the U.S. Open eliminated Edina Gallovits, Sania Mirza and Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets (losing only six games in the process) before her dramatic match against Zvonareva. According to Wikipedia, Pennetta has defeated multiple Grand Slam singles champions such as Justine Henin (at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in 2005), Martina Hingis (in Gold Coast, Australia at the beginning of the 2006 tour), Amélie Mauresmo (at the 2008 US Open en-route to her first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal), Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and former World No. 1 Jelena Janković (at the 2008 Zürich Open). Pennetta is also one of only seven women to beat Venus Williams three consecutive times. She has eight career singles titles (six on clay) in the WTA and seven on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) circuit. In doubles, she reached the 2005 US Open final with her partner Elena Dementieva, and is currently ranked No. 21 with six career WTA titles to her name. As a 17-year-old junior, she won the 1999 French Open in girls' doubles with fellow Italian Roberta Vinci.

On the home front, the Brindisi, Italy native was pronounced a Knight of Order of Merit of the Republic on January 24, 2007 by the President of Italy. She's represented her country on the Italian Fed Cup Team in 2003 and from 2005-2009 and was a member of the 2008 Italian Olympic Team.

Oh behave, Flavia Flav!

Flavia's in the swing of things in her current form

No. 10 and moving on up...

Playing the Field

The WTA's Toothsome Twosome: Pennetta and Wozniacki

Flavia's also got the personality to match her natural beauty. Along with Caroline Wozniacki, Flavia's one of the the most popular WTA players for Sony Ericsson stunts and back in August they ran tennis balls down the Yale Bowl football field to promote the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament in New Haven. Watch the video below.

Pince Me: I Think I'm Dreaming...

Flavia Pennetta also appears in this Crab TV spot promoting the Mexican Tennis Open.

Related Links:
Flavia Pennetta Website (
Flavia Pennetta (Wikipedia)