Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

20,150,000th Floor Please 

NASA is looking into the possibility of building a 62,000 mile (21,150,000 stories tall) long elevator that would reach into space, a quarter of the distance to the moon. Its not as far-fetched as it sounds.

The elevator would be anchored in space and would be made of ribbons of carbon nanotubes. One nanotube string is about half the diameter of a pencil and is able to support 20 full-size cars. A "climber" would haul cargo, as well as passenger modules up and down the length of ribbon. It hangs from the ground and falls into the sky -- thanks to the Earth’s spin and centripetal force. The primary system is a ribbon attached at one end to Earth on a floating platform located in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The other end of the ribbon is in space. The ribbon/elevator is able to stay straight much in the same way that if you attach a ball to a string and swing it around your head the string remains taught.

Once operational a space elevator could ferry satellites, spaceships, and even humans into space using electric lifts clamped to the ribbon. Research points to a space elevator capable of lifting five-ton payloads every day to all Earth orbits, the Moon, Mars, Venus or the asteroids.

It could be ready in as little as 15 years, and cost around $10 billion. Which is a bargain, considering we spend roughly the same amount per hour financing Operation Iraqi Freedom. George W. Bush wants to put a man on the moon again by 2020. I think it would be a whole lot more interesting if that man took an elevator to get to there.

Of course everything with NASA gets stuck in a quagmire, so who knows how long it will take for this project to come to fruition. But if I see a space elevator in my lifetime I'll be one happy Billiken.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Tim McCarver says,"Snacks Make Sluggers Sluggish!!!" 

I don't want people to get the impression that all I do is hate on this blog, but there is no way around it, I hate Fox baseball announcer, Tim McCarver.

There are many bad professional sports announcers who both AWood and I have commented on, but Tim McCarver certainly takes the proverbial cake. McCarver does the color commentary for Fox's Saturday afternoon game of the week, while Joe Buck (another absolute nimrod) handles the play-by-play. McCarver often gets credit for his specific, scientific approach to analyzing the game of baseball. A fan may often hear McCarver put forth such overwrought predictions as-

"On the next pitch Randy Johnson will throw an inside fastball, Chipper Jones will get jammed and break his bat, weakly grounding the ball to shortstop, because not only does Johnson have a good four-seam fastball, but the shipment of oak bats that the Braves received from Guatemala on Tuesday are more brittle than normal because of an ongoing drought in Southwestern Central America coupled with a strike at the baseball bat factory in Chiquimulilla." Or something to this effect. The man does his research. On Saturday, this dynamic duo of Buck and McCarver covered the much-hyped annual Mets-Yankees Subway series.

It was the late innings of a game that was already decided. The Mets had a 9-3 lead and McCarver decided to wax scientifically. Mike Piazza was at the plate and McCarver decided to bring up the much rehashed topic of the 2000 Mets-Yankees game where Piazza was hit in the head by a Roger Clemens' fastball. Clemens, a notorious head-hunter, was accused of recklessly throwing a 95 mph fastball at Piazza's head. It added fuel to the Mets-Yankees rivalry. But that was 4 years ago, Clemens is now playing in Houston, and everyone has moved on. Except McCarver. McCarver recalled the fateful evening in June 2000. I paraphrase-

'The game that Piazza got hit in the head, was the second half of a day/night double header. Piazza had caught the first game. He was out in the heat so, naturally, he was tired. Between games what a player will usually do is have a small meal, a light snack. Now in the second game of the double header Piazza was playing as DH. Now because he played catcher in the first game and ate a meal before the second, he was probably feeling a bit sluggish. So when Clemens threw the fastball high and inside Piazza was unable to get out of the way of it. On any other day Piazza would have been able to duck out of the way of the 95 mph fastball, but because of the between game meal and the heat of the afternoon game he was unable to do so."

This is a interesting theory, and a new way to assign fault in seemingly cut and dry cases. Following McCarver's logic the reason Nicole Brown Simpson was stabbed to death was because she had too many Fig Newtons after lunch and was thus too slow and sluggish to move out of the way of O.J's knife. Any other day of the week she would have been nimble enough to duck out of the way.

But I have another theory. McCarver is a pedantic jackass. A verbose baseball bobblehead.

My fondest memory of Tim McCarver is when Neon Deion Sanders sprayed him with champagne during the post-game celebration when the Braves won the World Series.

I realize baseball is slower than some of the other professional sports. There is a significant amount of down time that the announcer, specifically the color commentator, has to fill in. But, Buck and McCarver are like listening to static. However, I'll give McCarver the benefit of the doubt and chalk his asinine comments up to a bad hot dog he ate in the broadcast booth.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Bill O'Reilly You're Only Riling Me Up 

I was watching The O'Reilly Factor last night for as long as I could bear it. O'Reilly is rude, sarcastic, smug and has a proclivity for interupting his guests, but I realize this is all part of his appeal (if you can call being obnoxious appeal). Bill is a straight shooter, like a Don Imus, or a Howard Stern. At times I do enjoy O'Reilly's show. For instance I loved when he took issue with Jenna Jameson and her peddling of pornography, or when he criticized Pepsi for using the rapper, Ludacris, to sell soft-drinks. Those were some funny interviews.

Last night's focus of Bill's ire was The New York Times. It was also the topic of his latest column on his website. O'Reilly took issue with the way in which The Times has covered a number of recent stories. He claims the Times has misled the public by reporting that no links have been found between Al Quaeda and Iraq. Bill criticized The Times for focusing too much on the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. He claims the sole purpose of The Times plethora of stories on the topic was to make the Bush administration look incompetent and cruel (O'Reilly completely ignores the possibility that the Abu Ghraib scandal was a legitimate, and vital news story). O'Reilly also went on the offensive against a Monday Times article which suggested that the intelligence received from the detainees at Guantánamo Bay has not been as significant as the Bush Administration has suggested. Additionally, O'Reilly took Times business reporter Geraldine Fabrikant to task for referring to him as a conservative in an article she wrote about him a few months back. I don't watch The O'Reilly Factor every evening but I have gotten the general impression that Bill is, to say the least, a conservative.

This is all fine and well. I tend to agree with the The New York Times and its "liberal" slant. But, O'Reilly is entitled to point out what he perceives as biases. However, if O'Reilly, really maintains that his show is "Fair and Balanced," then he should submit The Ny Post to the same degree of scrutiny. If The Times is tilted towards the left, then The Post is completely slanted and threatening to fall through the floor towards the right. Lest you forget I pointed out the Bush propoganda splayed across the front covers of The NY Post last week.

Granted, I don't watch The O'Reilly Factor nightly, but I seriously doubt that Bill has been critiquing the The NY Post the same way he has The Times. Not only does The NY Post promote his conservative agenda but it happens to be owned by the same media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News Channel which broadcast The O'Reilly Factor. That sounds like a conflict of interest to me. Come on Bill, I thought yours was supposed to be the "No-Spin Zone".

I really am sick of watching these news programs critiquing other news media, newspaper reporting on other newspapers, and all this incessant politcal bickering. I also hate writing about it but can't help being drawn into this adolescent game of name calling. It really has taken on the feel of a 4th grade classroom--

Your newspaper is so stupid it locked itself in a supermarket and starved to death.

Yea Well--

Well your parent company is so fat it got on the scale and it said, "To be continued..."

Oh Snap!

Monday, June 21, 2004

Proboscises on the Pitch 

On Sunday Thai prison officials organized a soccer game that pitted a team of elephants against a number of inmates. The officials staged the game in hopes of discouraging gambling on the Euro 2004 Championships.

After reading the lead paragraph of the story I was a bit confused. I began conjuring up images of tusk gougings, brutal stompings and crushed soccer balls. I assumed that this soccer match was set up as some kind of sadistic punishment for those inmates who had made that fatal mistake of gambling on soccer.

I was wrong. These elephants were well-behaved and displayed excellent footwork, as well as body control. The prison officials simply wanted to show that soccer can be fun and enjoyable without gambling.

These inmates sure look like they are having fun.

"The prisoners cut through a forest of elephant legs to score the first goal. But without clear rules against "trunkball," the elephants, guided by their riders, moved the oversized ball easily. The game ended in a 5-5 tie. "

"They are not the best players because they are quite slow," [one elephant trainer] said. "But they try their best. These elephants can do everything."


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Kerry, The Invisible Man 

Politics frustrates me. I hate taking time out of my BUSY work schedule to post on it. But as much as I would like to, I can't ignore it. Every morning on the Subway I see the cover of the NY Post and I want to tear it to shreads. I am aware that it is a Right Wing tabloid, yellow journalistic, piece of pulp paper, but it irks me nonetheless. Everyone on the F train seems to read it. Let's review a sampling of the front covers of the Post from the past week...

There is a pattern developing-

Cover 1. Reagan's Funeral- George W. Bush gets credit for consoling the grieving Nancy Reagan.

Cover 2. Again the Post lauds George W. for putting aside partisan differences and welcoming Bill and Hillary into the White House for the Clintons' portrait unveilling. Truly unsurpassed gallantry!

Cover 3. Clinton comes out with his memoirs and the Post runs with it. Focusing attention on a past Democratic President, a passe scandal (Monicagate), instead of on the upcoming presidential election.

I realize that the Post isn't the only news outlet focusing on these three stories, but it is the way that they frame them that makes me want to spill my coffee in the laps of my fellow communters who are reading this drivel.


-Bush Jr. is considering using Reagan in his TV campaign ads.

-The 80-yr-old Bush Sr. is skydiving out of airplanes, and making headlines.

It's a fine ol' time for the GOP. Of course the big loser in all of this is John Kerry. For the past 10 days, no one has so much as mentioned his name, or that he is still, in fact, running for president. If I turned on the TV this past week, or glanced at a newspaper I would swear that Clinton was running for a third term in office. John Kerry has been turned into a veritable invisible man.

Kerry also deserves some of the blame for fading quietly into the night. He is not charismatic, and has not taken a firm stance on any issue (and even when he tries take a stance his detractors claim that he is flip-flopping).

I was planning on making this post brief. I have things I should be getting done, but all of this just aggravates me so much. I really wish these issues weren't so important because I would much rather focus on Summertime BBQs and Vodka Tonics.

What the Democratic party really needs is an issue that ignites all those dormant voters (particularly the youth vote). And there is only one issue that will bring the droves of 18-25 yr-olds out to the polling booths. It isn't 9/11, The War on Terror, Hussien, Bin Laden, Abu Ghraib, Global Warming, or The Unemployment Rate.

The one issue that would defeat Bush is The Draft. US troops are spread thin, and there is mummering about the need, the possibility, of reinstituting the dreaded draft. Remember when you signed up for you Driver's License? Well you also signed up for the draft. Sure you thought the US would never actually need to reinstitute the draft. You thought it was a formality. You, who are in your early 20s and grew up in the ONLY superpower left in the world, probably thought (if you gave it any thought at all) that there could be no forseeable reason, at least in the next few decades, that would the US would need to reinstitute the draft. Well if Bush and Friends, do in fact bring back the draft, the Democrats will finally have an issue to rally around.

Speaking of invisible men, where has N. Dot been? The current news begs for an N. Dot analysis and yet he is M.I.A. in Beantown.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Ralph Wiley Passes Away 

SportsCenter was on in my living room this morning and I heard the news, muffled through the wall, that Wiley had died. I first thought of Rick Reilly Sports Illustrated columnist, but after going into the living room I found out that in fact, Ralph Wiley age 52, had died of a heart attack. Naturally, when a 52- year-old healthy man dies it comes as a shock.

Wiley wrote regulary for ESPN.com, Sports Ilustrated, and was author of several books including, "Serenity: A Boxing Memoir" and "What Black People Should Do Now: Dispatches from Near the Vanguard". He co-wrote "Best Seat in the House: A Basketball Memoir", with Spike Lee. And at the time of his death, he was working on the script to Spike Lee's follow-up to "He Got Game."

Rico always made fun of my affinity for Ralph Wiley's writing. And its true I really did love to read his work. Wiley brought a unique style of writing to sports journalism. He was outspoken about social issues pertaining to sports. He was an intelligent and polished writer, and yet he was unafraid to write in the vernacular. In an October 2003 column Wiley wrote:

"Sometimes ESPN.com will sponsor a chat, and invariably, with all the good sports questions that come in to me, there will be some that, how shall I say this, express "social concern." They accuse me of being racist, talk of how I and some of my occasional writing styles bring down the quality of writing for good educated people. Invariably, I will post one of those replies in the marathon chats, just to remind, not the readers, but myself, that some people can't get past color to performance, no matter what you do, no matter how well you perform. I know that I have forgotten more about composition than any of the hateful posters and their descendants will know in their lifetimes. And yet I end up defending my credibility again and again simply because of a trait I can't even see unless I look in a mirror."

It may sound silly to mourn a sports journalist's passing, but I was an avid reader of his ESPN.com column for the past 3 years and when you read so much of someone's work you feel as if, to a certain degree, you know them.

Peace Ralph Wiley.

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Jolly Plaid Giant 

I tuned into the NBA Finals game last night duped into thinking that the game would start promptly at 8:30 PM EST. It, in fact, did not tip-off until 9:10 PM. I was too lazy to locate the remote so I sat through the 40 minute of pregame rigmarole, which included a rendition of America the Beautiful by Kid Rock. Simply breathtaking!

But not as breathtaking as Tom Tolbert's blue plaid suit. I was truly shocked and awed by his wardrobe selection. I trolled the internet and unfortunately could not find a photo of "The Suit" (not to be confused with Jackie Chan's "The Tuxedo"). However, what I discovered is perhaps even more disturbing. This was not a one-time occurrence, a singular lapse in sound judgment. I found this picture of Tolbert wearing another plaid suit during a previous broadcast.

Andre 3000, Big Boi, P. Diddy's man servant Farnsworth Bently, or possibly even CNN Crossfire host Tucker Carlson might be able to pull off such eccentric suits, such audacious haberdashery. Tolbert, however just looked like a colorful hippopotamus.

Of course Tom Tolbert should really be trying emulate Bill Walton, who not only knows how to dress, but knows how to play the part of the colorful 7-foot color commentator.

In all fairness the true travesty is not Tolbert's wardrobe, but the fact the Bill Walton hasn't been providing the commentary for the NBA Finals. Al Michaels has a decent track record announcing Monday Night Football Games, but Doc Rivers??? WTF!!! They should have had the Dream Team of Marv Albert and Bill Walton , maybe with a little Steve "The Snapper" Jones covering the NBA Finals. It's a travesty, a sham, and a mockery. A Travishamockery!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Big Aristotle's Philosophizes on Skillz 

Now it has been no secret for some time that athletes love to give it a shot on the microphone. Ice Cube once said that it was almost inherent that big time athletes have a desire to rap because they have developed an affinity for the stage their entire lives. The rush of performing in front of thousands of people can be like a drug, and rappers don't even have to use their body to attain such levels of natural intoxication.

Well Shaq Diesel was perhaps the first of these ballers to give emceeing a shot, and while I copped his first album (shit is still slept on, wake up) I must admit that he is a subpar lyricist at best. I haven't heard much about his rap game until very recently when I read an interesting article on AllHipHop.com, describing a normally subdued Aristotle calling out the rapper Mad Skillz on a recent freestyle mixtape. This just seems ludicrous to me. Not only is Shaq currently embedded at center for a very competitive NBA Finals, but now he is also the epicenter of a hip-hop beef against someone who actually has some skills.

Upon hearing the news, Skills seemed to chuckle, and almost brush it off until his boys pestered him about the whole ordeal. In essence, he could hardly believe his ears. There seems to be no prior animosity between the two, however Skillz did put on a freestyle diss chastising Mr. Kobe Bryant, and it just may be that the future officer of the law, Shaq, took offense to this(Umm, no way in f*ck). Besides that, Shaq's diss record flying seemingly in from deep left field has struck some chords, as Skillz vows to spit heat of his own in return. “It’s a lyrical mismatch; him going at me is like me coming down the [basketball] lane at him. It’s actually kind of funny,” Skillz exclaimed. “But the streets ain’t gonna stop talking about until I answer. Plus I talk too much s**t to not answer back,” he said.

Regardless of how I feel about Skillz, although he did do a track on Soundbombing with Mos Def and Mr. Eon of the High and Mighty, he is right on when he speaks of Shaq's verbal barrage. Shaq can throw elbows in the lane and push heads around in the paint with his gigantic frame, but he is a lightweight on wax. This is a man who once spit, "I flow like a stream, better yet a river, you need to call me mailman, cuz Karl cannot deliver." Not only is this downright lame, it also shows he's not so prophetic, as Malone ended up being his cohort this year, on and off the court.

Anyway, I felt the need to include Shaq's battle rhyme, as he would have it no other way during negotiations, "“I dont care how “mad” your “skillz” is you cant serve me/ You don’t like these, take off my throwback jersey/ Lil’ ni**as better stay in their place/ hold you hostage in the toilet and s**t on your face…Matter of fact I don’t know what you look like/ you be spittin metaphors like you a geek Canibus studio book type/ I ain’t into f**kin’ beefs and battles/ I’m into smackin’ n***as back into playing with rattles…/Don’t respond, don’t reply, layoff/ Give this autograph to your mom and watch me in the playoffs.”

While I guess this isn't entirely horrible, Shaq geniunely seems to be pissed at someone or something. Another thing that pops out of the page is his constant reference to basketball in his free. Listen Shaq, we love you as an interview and we respect you as a great baller, but nobody is copping your throwback, and I'm sure Skillz's mom ain't gonna watch your boring ass in the Finals. His diss gave us one lesson if nothing else, if your reputation as a rapper is based on your athletic ability (see free up top), and that only, you need to put the mic down, and pick up the rock. (the Spaulding diesel, it's brown, nor yellow) And seriously, if you've got all this time to lyrically assault brothas, you must have some spare time to get to the charity stripe and develop a touch. So Shaq, when it comes to balling and rhyming, "you better make a funky decision, cuz i'ma be a Shaq-knife, and cut you with precision. And on that note, SupercalifragilisticShaqiswhackatrocious.

Allow Me to Retort 

I know its not PC to dissent from the laudatory/mourning period we are currently in the midsts of, but it says fair and balanced at the top of the page, so I feel I must at least try to provide some peanut butter to complement N. Dot's jelly. What the hell am I talking about you ask?

N. Dot promised not too fawn over Reagan, but the entire country is doing it, so I won't blaim N. for writing the following about Reagan: Certainly one of the greats, the dollar bill kind. Then Secretary of War Stanton said at the deathbed of Lincoln, "Now he belongs to the ages." So we'll have to say about Reagan. (N. Dot let's take it back to Catholic Church Choir Days, sing with me now...Cue the choir, the trumpets, please... He will raise you up on eagle's wings, Bear you on the breath of dawn, Make you to shine like the sun, And hold you in the palm of His Hand)

N. Dot, like much of the nation has been singing the praises of former president Reagan for the past week. N. Dot told me over the weekend that Ronald inspired an entire generation of politicians and journalist, and after watching countless news segments recapping his presidency (and film career), it is easy to see why. Reagan was very well-spoken. And not just because he was an actor (although that does help). In fact, I always tell N. Dot that I wouldn't have such a problem with George W. Bush if he were a better, more fluid public speaker. N. Dot likes to respond by saying that Clinton was a smooth speaker, but told, what amounted to a bunch of beautiful lies. Like Clinton, Reagan can orate with the best of them. And like Clinton, or JFK for that matter, Reagan was easy on the eyes, you look at him and you want to like him, you want to believe in him.

But surely Reagan's merits as an orator alone do not justify the title "Greatest President" as the NY Post (a truly fair and balanced newspaper) referred to him as in this morning's paper. What is the point of all this? Why try and rank the presidents, as if someone were keeping score?

The "liberal media" has been conspicuously silent on the Reagan topic this past week. Well except for the good ol' Southpaws at the Village Voice. Tom Carson wrote this article, "The Death of a Salesman". Carson explains that this "week of mourning" was prepared and planned for years in advance:

"Overseen by Grover Norquist, the Reagan Legacy Project has had all this well in hand for years. Besides working to stick Reagan's name on as many buildings, streets, ships, and mountains as possible, the organization's goals include carving his face on Mount Rushmore and putting his face on the dime. Even George Will huffed at "trying to plaster Reagan's name all over the country the way Lenin was plastered over Eastern Europe, Mao over China and Saddam Hussein all over Iraq." Norquist's basically Stalinist propaganda technique—enough memorials, and it could take a century to unconvince future generations that this was a great man—is sure some way to honor the most famous anti-Communist of all time. But to be fair, Reagan only objected to the "Workers of the world, unite" part, not the cult of personality. "

N. Dot is better equipped than I to take you on a junket through Reagan's presidency and subsequent legacy (I don't doubt that he will wax poetic about Reagan in response to this). I was 6 when Reagan left office so I didn't have too much to stay about politics at the time. (Although I was hella pissed when the Olive North Trial kept pre-empting Sesame St., but I digress). I do remember that my liberal family (we are from NYC mind you, which is notorious for producing liberals), certainly didn't view Reagan as "One of the Greats." I know some of the catch-phrases that were coined during his tenure. Reaganomics, the ill-fated Star Wars Program (talk about the conflation of Hollywood and the White House), Trickle-Down Economics, and who can forget Crack Cocaine, and none of those are intended as compliments.

Friday is a national holiday of sorts. Federal buildings, banks, public schools, and even Wall St. is closed for the day. It is a day of mourning.

When my grandmother, age 87, heard about Reagan's passing, she said-

"It's about time."

"Grandma! The man just died!" I said, shocked at her impropiety.

"It was a blessing. He was 93. His mind has been gone for 10 years," she responded.

A day of mourning? We should all be so blessed as to live to 93. A day of reflection fine. But I know how the game is played. Whenever a teenager dies, the newspapers report that the adolescent was an honors student and beloved by all, even if the youth was nothing of the sort (even if the teen went around stealing pound cake!). I realize its in poor taste to speak ill of the dead. Reagan had many critics while he was alive, yet all of them seem to have vanished since Saturday.

So I pose this question to you... Can you have respect for the deceased and be honest about that person at the same time? Or do you have to walk around with blinders on?


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Peace Out, # 40  

I was a little vexed this morning when I scoped out Billiken and realized that during my hiatus a major oversight had been made. It just doesn't seem right that our aspiring journalistic enterprise would continue to report on Larry Bird and spelling bees with nary a word on the passing earlier this week of our 40th president, Ronald Reagan. So without too much of an interruption of the usual Billiken business - and in keeping to a promise to Zwill not to fawn over the man - let me just give a quick shout out to the Gipper on the eve of his passing.

See, I myself had a number of issues I wanted to post on before this happened. Al Gore was here at NYU spewing lies like some sort of mendacious Mount St. Helens. I had seen the ridiculous movie The Day After Tomorrow. And, of course, John Kerry has been annoying the hell out of me flying around in that jet that says "John Kerry, President" (that's a little bit ahead of yourself isn't it John?). But the death of President Reagan makes any negative post I wanted to do silly, irreverant, and somehow out of place. Negativity and cynicism simply were not in the spirit of the man; when I heard Reagan was failing, I just lost interest.

I think that was the nature of #40. I could go on for days in salute to his resoluteness and his vision, his legacy of ending the Cold War and reviving a dying economy. But I think in our time the part of Reagan's legacy that is most important to remember is the fact that he didnt have a cynical bone in his body. He had an unfailing optimism through a dark period for the US, believing and speaking of a great America, and finally giving us one. And although he had political opponents and "enemies," as any strong leader naturally will, the ways he debated them and took their criticism were the truest examples of courtesy, humility and humor the last half century of American leadership has offered.

Many called him the "Great Communicator," but Reagan himself denied this truth, and said only that he had a great message to deliver. During his time many of the academics told him and us that the Soviet Union and a spreading threat of Communism was just something the US was going to have to live with. But Reagan never bought the idea that freedoms and the principles of democracy were only for certain people, within certain borders. He went to Berlin and told Gorby to "tear down this wall!" - and wouldn't you know it, not long after that son-of-a-bitch came tumbling down.

Well, anyways. Just wanted to pour out a little of my 40 on the sidewalk for the man, for he remains of the most popular leaders our country has ever had, and for many of us Billikens the first American president we lived under. Certainly one of the greats, the dollar bill kind. Then Secretary of War Stanton said at the deathbed of Lincoln, "Now he belongs to the ages." So we'll have to say about Reagan, I guess. Other media have and will continue to spend days sharing the many great stories, speeches, writings, debates, and ideas that have come from the man and his era, as his supporters will continue to honor him and his detractors attempt to slander his memory. On Billiken, let us just say this: Peace Out, #40 - you were a hell of a president.

The Birdman Ruffling Some Feathers 

ESPN.com had an excerpt from Jim Gray's upcoming TV interview with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James:

Gray: "Does the NBA lack enough white superstars in your opinion?"

Bird: "Well, I think so ... I think it's good for a fan base because as we all know the majority of the fans are white America. And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited."

I couldn't find out what night the interview is airing, but needless to say Bird's candid comments will cause all hell to break loose on such instituions as Sportscenter, PTI, and Mike and the Mad Dog.


Monday, June 07, 2004


I had this post written and ready to go on Thursday, but the waters here at Billiken were swirling a bit too turbulently for my taste, so I postponed it. It may be old news for some, but for all of you jimillikens out there who missed this story-

If my name were AWood and I had a Thug of the Week it would have to go to Akshay Buddiga. In fact I'll name him Billiken of the Day. Not too catchy, but still. Akshay Buddiga and his fellow contestants were competing in the National Spelling Bee on ESPN2. The top prize was $17,000 in cash, a lifetime of facials ticks and twitching, and a healthy dose of ridicule and wedgies from their adolescent classmates at their local junior high.

It was an intense and grueling contest. 9 of the first 15 on stage advanced, acing such words as "xerostomia," "technetium," and "Weimaraner." The stumper words included "belonoid," "Nigerois," and "solipsistic."

Akshay Buddiga stepped to the mic and was confronted with the word "Alopecoid". Akshay hesitated, his eyes fluttered, he wobbled for a moment before fainting onto his back (It looked like an ill-fated attemptmpt of The Walton Shuffle). This was unprecedented in the annals of National Spelling Bee history. There were no medics prepared to revive him, no security personal equipped with a stretcher to carry Akshay out on.

But Akshay was in no need of assistance, a few seconds later he gathered himself, stood up and to the amazement of the judges, immediately started spelling his word: "alopecoid." He got it perfectly, drawing a standing ovation. He finished in a respectable second place.

The National Spelling Bee is a strange fruit. It is truly a spectacle, worthy of an ESPN2 broadcast. It has provided us with a number of memorable moments.

Who can forget this girl? She single-handedly made the National Spelling Bee a sport, an event to be covered. She had a plethora of her jitters, ideosyncracies, plus she was from Brooklyn.

My only question for Akshay would be can you spell Billiken?


Friday, June 04, 2004

.....Are you sniffing my boxer's dude?? 

As I'm sure I have mentioned before, I have a proclivity to keep my ear real low, like to the pavement low, street level if you will.....just to stay privy with pop culture and provide all of the Billikens and Billikenettes with the latest and most interesting tidbits, at all costs. Before I begin, we must keep this on the down-low, because I'm not exactly street legal.

Sadly, this may not be anything new to those who have done their googling (N dot probably lexus-nexused this 3 years ago), but I have gotten a little bit of encouraging news on one of the most anticipated sequels in a long time (at least in my eyes, but my visions blurred, just ask Possum Jenkins). Meet the Fockers, the follow-up to one of the greatest comedies of our era, Meet the Parents, is in the process of filming as we speak. Now while this in itself gets me a little euphoric, apparently screenwriter John Hamburg, who also penned the first film, has signed on Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand to play the role of Ben Stiller's parents. Admittedly, Streisand (she was slightly funny in What's up Doc) doesn't exactly wet my willy, the potential for a Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro conflict as opposite in-laws-to-be is monumentous.

This news does manage to satiate some hunger and answer some questions I've held for awhile, I'm still left wondering what the hell took so long, and why has this sequel been seemingly kept underground (that's where my ear to the street came in). A man should not be reduced to his hands and knees, with his head cocked to the side, pressed firmly against smoldering concrete, just to get a little insider info, but as Bill Cosby wouldn't say......we is here fo' da people b*aaaaatch!

While this film has a ways to go before it can be considered a finished product, the rumor mill indicates that Meet the Fockers will churn out sometime around Christmas. Despite the fact that this production has taken forever to come to fruition, it's not that bad, especially considering it was widdled by hand from one piece of beechwood. The wait has served to up the ante a bit though, as the interest for the upcoming film is somewhere around say....strong to quite strong??? Look who's back in the circle of trust. Keep it clean Billikens.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My Last Picture I Promise 


The Billiken Is Late.... AGAIN!!! 


Twin Towers 


I Felt Like Two Cents Asking For Change 


There's a Man in the Bushes Does He Have a Gun... I Don't Know!!! 


Slow Down Flash Gordon 




Tuesday, June 01, 2004

New York, New York 

First off guys, promise me that this doesn't turn into some Mid-Atlantic East Coast Vs. New England East Coast Beef. Let's all try and remember what happened to Biggie and Tupac (R.I.P).

Rico has cajoled me into posting a New York rebuttal to Mal's extolling of Philadelphia. I think, actually, the fact that I am a "native New Yorker", might make it harder for me to sing the praises of fair Gotham, than it would be for someone like Rico.

Firstly, when you are a tourist, like Mal was in Philly, or you are a student living in second city, like Rico in NYC, I think you are better able to see a city, maybe with a clearer perspective than a native like myself.

And secondly, I grew up in Queens, not Manhattan (and no N. Dot I do not have an accent. It's most certainly pronounced Basketball, not Basketbawl). Queens is technically part of NYC, and one of the 5 boroughs for certain, but to quote Mos Def, the skyscrapers in Queens are not colossus and the cost of living is not exactly preposterous. But, if you are in a New York State of Mind, parts of Queens, like Howard Beach, and Ozone Park might remind you of Goodfellas, or to make a more timely comparison, The Sopranos. And if you travel to Jamiaca, Queens, 30 blocks south of my apartment in Fresh Meadows, you might catch a glimpse of 50 Cent, "the Silver Back Gorilla in the Concrete Jungle" (He's the strongest around, you know how he gets down).

Fresh Meadows, isn't quite as Italian, nor quite as concrete. There are a bunch of apartment buildings, and a bunch of greenery. Actually, I have to admit, I don't quite recognize my own neighborhood anymore. My three-story apt. has become something of a middle-class boarding house, with families moving in and out every 6 months. I don't recognize half of my neighbors, and I came back from school this year to find that the signs in front of the rental office are now written in Korean. Talk about a fast turnover. Maybe if there is one constant in Queens, or Manhattan for that matter, it is change. (Wow that sounds cliched!)

I'd say I know Manhattan about as well as N. Dot or any NYU graduate who spent the past 4 years living in the city. As Thomas Wolfe once wrote, "One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years." There are a million quotes about NYC, and just about as many coffee table books filled with those millions of quotes about NYC. (A coffee table book about coffee tables, BRILLIANT!!!)

As I said you get a clearer perspective on a city as a tourist or when it is your second home. Last year I spent 5 months living in Prague, and got to see the way in which NYC is 'understood' by Europeans. This was back in March 2003, just before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Americans stuck out, and were always the topic of conversation. I was often asked, Where in the US are you from? I'm from New York. Oh, you're ok then. I got this response a lot, as if New York, was somehow seperate from the rest of the United States, and in a sense it is. I drove to Mexico a few months ago, all the way through the American South, and it there really is a stark contrast between NYC and the majority of America. I'm not going to knock the rest of the country for being less diverse than The Big Apple, but the fact that there is such a noticeable contrast is the reason why Europeans think of New York as a not-so-American-Animal. It is the most metropolitan of all cosmopolitan cities (if that even makes sense).

My favorite quote about New York City comes from a tourist and it is hardly celebratory of the city. Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish poet, wrote this about NYC, while visiting in 1931:

"New York is something awful, something monstrous. I like to walk the streets, lost, but I recognize that New York is the world’s great lie. It’s Senegal with machines. The only things the United States has given to the world are skyscrapers, jazz, and cocktails. And in Cuba, in his America, they make better cocktails."

Now I wouldn't say I agree with everything Lorca said (Cuba does make great cocktails though, try a Mojito), and I also think he was partly kidding. Maybe I'm just a cynical, jaded New Yorker (it comes with the territory), but Lorca's view of NYC sounds more authentic than any of the post card depictions people like to cue in their memory when they think of NYC.

And this is all sounding way too serious, I'm sure Rico was looking for something a bit more funny and clever. I'm just not in the mood at the moment. Maybe I'll come up with something a bit lighter and fluffier later.

I will say this though, I will take issue with anyone who says New York does not have the best pizza. If any of you are ever in New York, you should take a brief junket out to Queens and get a slice from Brothers Pizza (185th and Horace Harding).

What does everyone else think of Gotham?

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